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HOLIDAY BURNOUT OR BLESSING?December 17, 2013
Even here, on this tiny island in the heart of the South Pacific, I see people taking one of two paths as they prepare for the holiday season. Family members arrive with every flight, filling the beds in front rooms, Marai style. Toys proliferate in all the little shops, and colorful garlands and lights festoon trees and buildings. Preparations are underway for celebrations, complete with costumes and skits and a Polynesian Santa. Music and dance rehearsals can be heard everywhere. As in more urban places, people are busy!!
One path is succumbing to the harried, hurried atmosphere of the rush to get everything done, like a drowning person surrendering to a whirlpool. Another is a more conscious way, which I needed to call on myself as I prepared a rather elaborate dinner for guests recently. In my morning routine of Reverence that day, I became aware of the buzzing tension of my To Do list, from cleaning to cooking, once again reviewing whether or not I had all the necessary ingredients. My lists had sub-lists. In that early pause for reflection, I asked myself the question a Tahltan medicine man had once asked me, "Would you rather be driven or would you rather be led?" Ego versus soul. Here it came again -- the basic question of life. And I realized it is mere habit to run around like a headless chicken, or like one of the long legged racers in our yard, and that I could choose otherwise. So I chose a pace of grace. Here is what that looked like in preparing for a festive occasion:
Plan a sustainable day: Make a plan for the day in which you include prayer, work, rest, self-care and play. Only do what is necessary. This is no time to start reorganizing your kitchen cupboards. I have never had a guest (even my mother) do a white glove inspection. People just want to have a good time and a good meal.
Pace Yourself: Plan out the big tasks, and then design breaks and breathers around them, including a walk or a nap if you need it. Don’t go full steam ahead. Go gently into that good work.
Pranha: remember to breathe. Take deep breaths throughout the day, and smile with gratitude for the strength, the money, the time, the energy, the friends you have, to do what you are doing.
Proactive Rest: Take a real rest before you get tired, about 6 hours after you get up in the morning. Have a nap, or twenty minutes with a good book.
Pace Yourself: Do one thing at a time, giving single-pointed concentration to each task. Do it as if you are serving the Beloved, for in everything, you are. Put love into each dish you are preparing or each cleaning task.
Put Your First Passion First: If finding the ideal gift for each person on your list is most important, spend time in thoughtfulness, and start your crafting or shopping early. Don’t wait til the last minute. If preparing a fancy dessert is important to you, make sure it is done first, then everything will flow from it, like the wake from the prow of a ship.
I was so relaxed by the time the guests arrived, and one arrived early (!) I was able to really enjoy their company, and feel a sense of satisfaction about the serene efficiency that carried me through the day. They keep telling us what a delightful evening it was.
This is meant to be a Holy season, so invest love, peace and joy into each day and each task. Remember, life is not a marathon, it’s a dance.