Mental Wellness Challenge – 2020, December 11
My Challenge for the last week was:
- Be aware. Participate in your experience. Check for intention and purpose.
- Be kind. Be as kind as you can possibly be.
- Perform one random act of kindness… non-monetarily. Do something for someone else, give someone a genuine compliment, or some other ACT.
I’ve had a tough time the past 7 days… Seems that it’s headache season for me – or something is amuck in my world and I’m experiencing more brain aches than usual… I’ve been pushing through the days – but if I am being really honest – I’d really just love Santa to bring me a headache free decade or two… For folks that don’t get ‘em, they are a tough thing to understand… for those – like me – who get headaches and migraine headaches – they can range from being no more bother than a sliver in a finger to just wanting the hand or arm cut off because the pain is seemingly unbearable… Ya – I know – those that get them, get it, those that don’t are blessed to not understand.
So what does that have to do with my challenges – not feeling perky certainly does color my experience… Being aware and participating was both easier and harder. Easier because I knew I just wanted relief from this chunk of re-bar that is being shoved back and forth behind my right eye and the thunder clap brain busters that go along with that feeling… (I’m kind of whining here a little… sorry). So – being aware can be a spikey thing… I really need to watch my reactions to others when I am not “up”… and I have to watch my reactions to myself and my inner roommate too… Self deprecation is a go to in my “Just get off your ass and get at it…” piece.
I worked at kindness this past week. I know its starting to feel trite – the whole “BE KIND”… message… It is so incredibly important, especially as the world faces this pandemic and all the woes that come with it, to be mindfully aware of kindness. We have a long way to go and its looking a little like the barriers and hurdles in the path of “normalcy” keep changing, moving, expanding… but there is hope. The vaccines, the awareness and acceptance of caring folks and the firmness of resolve to get through this… those things all bring home hope.
I hope you were successful in performing a random act of kindness – that you brightened someone’s day and that – by doing that selfless act of kindness – some of the brightness brought into the other person’s life sparkled into yours a little.
This week I’d like to share a little about our family Christmas Tree, holiday tree, or whatever you refer to it as. My family, my wife and kids and I, have had Christmas Trees ever since we were family. Good years, bad years, happy hears, sad years, angry years, glad years… it’s one tradition that we have shared since the beginning of our time.
Our little tree always has loads and loads of lights on it (must be the influence of an electrician LOL – my wife likes lots of light too…) and we have piles of ornaments on the tree. Our trees are really celebrations of memories that get put out each year and -well – remembered, reflected upon, talked about, laughed about… and some yes – maybe even a tear or two.
Our tree means something to us – US as a family. My kids still come home and look at the ornaments that they made in grade school or the handmade ornaments that we made as a family sitting around the dining room table, or the “first Christmas together”, or Babies First Christmas, and cards and all sorts of things.
When I was a kid, it was my job to decorate the tree while my mother and father went to a Christmas party/dance. I was given carte-blanche to decorate however I wanted… this is back with the old C5 lights and those little lanterns with the liquid inside them that bubbled with the heat of the bulb and loads and loads of hand blown glass ornaments from where-ever they came from. I would spend the evening – listening to seasonal music, carols, ditties and snacking on really good cheese, fine cured meats and special crackers etc… it was something that I did… and I did that from when I was oh – 6/7 years old until I was a 16 year old with a driver’s license and job (and a girlfriend)…
When my wife and I first married, we would decorate our tree together… in our little apartment. Same story – tons of lights – but not many ornaments – we just didn’t have that many. Sure we had the “First Christmas Together” … but we were just building our own collections of memories. For those first few years of our lives together – we most often had our tree – but we usually travelled to my parents home for Christmas Eve and K’s parent’s home for Christmas morning… (the blending of two family traditions I suppose) …
As our little family grew with our babes, our tradition of the tree grew as well. We would still visit the grand parent’s homes for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning – but we also started to develop our own Christmas at home too. A few years past and we more or less stopped travelling to the grandparents homes for the 24th , 25th and 26th… and we would go up the weekend or two before and celebrate an early Christmas with the grandparents and then be able to be home for our own Christmas at home for Christmas eve through to boxing day. Our girls grew up and they started to bring their friends into our home to share the holiday as well…
Fast forward a few more years and our girls are bringing their children into our home for holiday… There’s another set of “Babies First Christmas” ornaments on our tree… there’s the odd ornament that is a bit tattered because someone played with it, or the cat knocked the tree over or for what ever reason, but they are still on there – they mean something to us.
So – what the heck does this have to do with my mental wellness. My experience, my life… well… its like the tree. I have my experiences that I draw upon to bring me to places of joy, introspection, remembrance. The Christmas Tree of my life has burnt out bulbs on it, lots of broken and glued back together ornaments, some ornaments remind me of others that I’ve lost along the way, but its my tree. I suppose the one real difference is that I don’t bring my life’s tree out as regular as I my wife brings out our Christmas tree. And that’s something that I need to work on more – for me. I need to make more room in my experience for – well – decorating, reflecting upon and feeling the glow of my own tree. I do this a little with a tool I call my smile box… but I am thinking that I MUST – read as NEED TO – start taking more of my time to recognize and celebrate the ornaments, mementos, memories and reflections of my experience.
This week – I’d like to challenge you to:
- Decorate your “life tree”… even just a little. Take some time to SEE the beauty you have created in your life. Maybe even write some of those decorations down in a special place.
- Cut yourself some slack. I know that I tend to be my own worst critic… and in that – the critical lens often darkens my experience… so – give the critic a week off… or two… or three… (Wouldn’t that be incredible to be able to do just that? Maybe its just that easy??? )
- Take time to look up a (ONE) mindfulness exercise and then do it. There’s loads on the web of things… I would suggest finding a beginners session by John Kabat-Zinn.
That’s it, I challenge you.