Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Traditions: Of Love & Christmas (12/21)

December 21st
Tradition: What are your traditions of Christmas? Or Hanukkah, if that’s what you celebrate. Is there one thing that spans generations or your family or just in your life? 

This will be the fifth Christmas since my Grandma passed away and the sixth since we had Christmas with her last. So many of my Christmases and traditions involved her, but that was another time.

There are a few traditions that have followed my life.

One, my Dad has a little blue nightlight that he will plug in my bedroom and turn the light on Christmas eve. The theory was, if the light was off when I woke up in the morning it meant Santa Claus had come. The light was always off in the morning, even the last time I spent Christmas at home, when I was 29. 

Second, when I was a lot younger, my Dad started buying little house ornaments from Hallmark. They were on of the "collections." Each year, from about 1985, I'd get a new house for Christmas. When I was about 12 or 13, and I only had a few, I used them to be the "neighbors" for my gigantic dollhouse. Suddenly, when I was about 26 or 27, there were enough ornaments for my Mom to decorate the Christmas tree with only the houses. That's what she did this year, she said. [photo to come when I see it!] 

Now, as I look at these two, these are the only two traditions that continue to this day. But, there are others. 

There is the tradition that lasted for several years of my hometown Church holding a midnight service and we would sing Silent Night outside in front of the sanctuary. 

Then, there is the tradition when we would have Christmases with some family friends to watch a movie. 

For a long time, just after Thanksgiving, a package would arrive in the mail. It was a three foot piece of green felt with three golden rings tied to it, cascading in rows to the bottom. The dates were cut out in red felt. Each day, I'd have something new to open: a pencil, a dollar bill, a pair of socks, or maybe a piece of candy. 

Even still, another memory involves my Grandma taking me out onto the front porch to see if I could hear Santa Claus. She would bend slightly over with her arms around me, holding me close to keep me warm. Then, faintly, I'd hear, "Ho! Ho! Ho!" off in the distance. It wasn't until I was about 16... that I figured out how close Santa Claus was to my backyard. 

These are all memories that I'll be able to carry on into my own family, and one I'm already planning on passing along to my pseudo-nephew. Every child and every family needs a Christmas tradition that spans time, whether the people who helped make them happen aren't around anymore, or not. Sometimes, when we stop experiencing the tradition ourselves, it's time to pass it on to someone else. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fear: Fear Itself (12/12)

December 12th
FearWhat were you afraid of in 2011? How did you let fear control you? What will you to do confront it in 2012?

I was once afraid of seaweed. I grew up, for the most part, in Southern California. Boogie boarding and taking to the ocean were the highlights of much of my upbringing. Years earlier, however, when I visited Hawaii for the first time (25 years ago) I was pulled down by the undertow. 

A mixture of sand and water forced its way up my nose and into my throat, and while my eyes were peeled open, I couldn't see very well. Everything looked foggy and hazy like looking through a blurred and water-filled hourglass, the sand just slowly passing through. It would be at least half a year until I'd find out (as a second grader) that I would need glasses. 

I felt my body slam against the bottom of the ocean, which may have only been three feet down, and the force of the water sent me ashore. It felt like hours, but possibly wasn't longer than thirty seconds, and I remember it as if it were yesterday.

It was one of the most frightening moments of my young life; to be sucked beneath the surface, unable to see, hear, or breathe, until I appeared once again.

A theme for me this year has been to trust my instincts and let go of the fear. Instinct, I believe, is about seeing something and knowing it's there. Faith, on the other hand, is about believing in what you see, without knowing it's there. Somehow, Heaven-sent, I've been able to slowly grasp my instinct, and faith when allowed. 

The thing I feared most in 2011 was, in fact, fear itself. 

I pray that I'd be able to stare down the fear and be able to make the necessary decisions for advancement and contentment and pure joy in life from the perspective of faith and the instinctual good of the moment. 

To read more about the end of the year journey, visit Resonating Reflections of 2011 by clicking here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Miracle: Rediscovering Grace in the Restoration of Faith

December 4th
Miracle: Do you feel you experienced or witnessed miracle this year? How so?
It might depend on how you describe a miracle. Some people describe seeing them in the moonlight, or in the sunshine, or in how the rays of sun glisten through clouds.
Miracles, for me, come through receiving grace. It seems that it often takes feeling a hurt deeper than you ever have felt before and sensing that your friendships, or your job, or your sanity will come crashing down. The sense of feeling as if you don’t do something and quickly you’ll never recover is what I call grace and a defining moment. 
A long-term relationship ended just shy of one year ago. It pained me and yet I so desperately wanted to prove that I was going to be fine and that I could move on, I pushed myself to move on and be alright without ever actually confronting why it hurt so bad to begin with. Several months passed before I realized that this "thing" I wasn't dealing with could destroy every other relationship I had: feelings of doubt, feelings of mistrust, and a general feeling of abandonment. 

I was exhausted - emotionally, hurting and fearing that the people I love and who I believe cared about me and sustained me during the initial difficult time would back away. 
Tired, feeling very much alone, and with nowhere to go, I went to a Church. It wasn’t like any Church I’d ever been to... a satellite campus and broadcasted at  a high school auditorium. Yet, I walked without resistance into the quad of the campus to see a sign that said, “A Place Where It’s OK to Not Be OK.” I immediately felt tears streaming down my face. 

I was undoubtedly torn. At one point, I didn't know who I could trust nor did I know why I wondered and doubted that. This Church I had just walked into announced they were starting a series called, "Torn: Trusting God When Life Leaves You in Pieces." 

The Pastor, Jud Wilhite, said at the beginning, "Maybe you don't know why that relationship ended, or maybe you don't know why it hurts." The tears at this point poured down my face. 

I thought, and somewhat still believe that the people I wanted to confide in, or had already vented to, may have considered me too emotional, or presumed I would have already moved on. I felt as though also these people I loved had their own concerns that I didn’t want to bother them. My ears heard the words, "It's not about you." 

My heart ached. Of course it wasn't, it was about all of them. I wanted to be there for my friends and for my family but knew I couldn't because the hurt I felt inside was greater than any love - at that moment - that I could receive or offer. 

Drug addicts.
Domestic violence victims.
Assault survivors.
Job loss. 
And so on... 

Many of us often rationalize that our hurts, a simple breakup, or the natural end-of-life death of a loved one, are not significant enough in either the eyes of God or our peers because our neighbors may be dealing with something that much "worse" or difficult.

In discovering grace, it becomes known that it doesn't matter what it is because you're the only one who is experiencing it. Only you know what it feels like to lose the job, to be abused, to have lost your house or try to quit... something. The one common theme is that each of us can be torn by that one issue only one of us knows about. That's where we can come together. 

So, when I realized my life had left me emotionally in pieces, I chose to seek my faith. It was the beginning of the return back to feeling at peace with myself, at the risk of losing loved ones and friends in the process.

Whether fortune or unfortunately, I had to work at rebuilding my faith, then myself, before I could tackle anything else. It's now all an evolving process. 

Torn: Lyric Video from Central Online on Vimeo.
My prayer for the end of this year, is that through the restoration of faith and self-worth, may also my relationships with family and friends be restored too. That also, one day, if a friend is hurting and feeling like they need to climb out of darkness, I can either have the awareness or the invitation to offer a hand in that climb.

Join the Journey. Answer the Prompts & Tweet Your Link using #resonate11 & #reverb11

Friday, December 2, 2011

Make: A Master's Degree & Wine Corks (12/2)

December 2nd

Make: This is a two pronged prompt! What did you enjoy making this year? Did you “make the Dean’s list”? Or, maybe you made a really good wine, or maybe you made some furniture? And, what do you look forward to making during the holidays? Cookies?  Homemade gifts? 
In 2011
At the end of April, or at the beginning of May, I finished my last final for the last class of my graduate program. I can say, looking back, that I thoroughly enjoyed “making” my degree. After all, learning is a key part of staying alive. 
Deciding to go to graduate school in 2009 was a decision crafted by the downward spiral of the economy.
My profession and my skills felt as though they were headed to the grave. The Internet takes much away from broadcast and the monotony of my daily tasks left me craving creativity. Fortunately, the program I enrolled in allowed me much of that.
For the Holidays
Last year I blogged about looking forward to making something with wine corks. I now have enough wine corks to make a Christmas tree, place settings, and I could definitely contribute to making a wine cork chair. My friends at ONEHOPE Wine will understand where that came from. (Yes, finishing my Master's Degree has something to do with all the wine corks.)
And, speaking of wine, I was a part of a winemaking group at the end of 2010 and we bottled the wine in April. It’s supposed to be ready for the palate by Christmas. That’s something that I am looking forward to trying before the year is even over. Therefore, I suppose my answers could be the same. 
How about you? Did you make anything this year? What do you think about the value of education? 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Memory: An Empty Airplane Seat (12/1)

Earlier this week after learning that a blogging community I participated in last year would not continue, but would rather be a self-initiated event I decided to create Resonating Reflections. Last year, the group #Reverb10 built a community around one another and those who participated learned a lot about themselves, each other, and found support that otherwise may not have been there. Upon the suggestion that we each create our own #Reverb11, I settled upon the concept of #Resonate11. In essence, it's the same thing. I just used a different "name." So, whether you are in a #Reverb11 group, or joining this one, we're in this together. Thanks to the team that brought us here to begin with.

December 1st
Memory: What’s the first thing you remember about 2011? What stands out in your head? Grab a piece of paper and write down the first five things or moments that come to your mind. Then, write about them. Choose one that you remember the most. Why? Or, use your camera. Take a picture. Maybe you captured that moment you remember.
  1. Hawaii- Particularly an empty seat on an airplane
  2. Pretzel M&M’s in Nashville 
  3. A fun night with a friend with whom I hadn't spent much time with
  4. Watching Sara Evans sing “Stronger” on TV for the first time
  5. Being dumfounded and surprised

That’s my list. They didn’t come to me so quickly, did they come quickly for you? 

For anyone who has followed the journey thus far on the blog, they likely know why the song “Stronger” resonates with me so deeply. Yet it’s nearly been one year since I had to become stronger.
An Empty Plane Seat Next to Me
January 12, 2011
The first moment is the best moment that set me up for the whole year. I got on a plane to go to Hawaii, a trip I was supposed to take with someone else. Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean I realized why the seat was empty. I don’t know why it took me so long, I had only been single for a month. With the holidays in-between the four weeks felt like a mixture of four minutes and four years: a blur. 

As soon I figured it out, I took a picture. Then I asked the flight attendant for a glass of champagne. 

Join the Journey. Answer the Prompts & Tweet Your Link using #resonate11
Visit InfoServe for Blogger backgrounds.