Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A lesson in abundance

This year we planned to have slightly fewer dishes for Christmas. I should have been happy about that, considering what a horror it is for me to  realize that a holiday where we sing of the modest manger has turned in so many ways into a time we gorge ourselves in food and almost eat ourselves sick. Of course we do it out of a good intention of enjoyment and sharing, but it's kind of painful for me to hear all the time "I've eaten so much that I can barely move" or "No, no we cannot possibly take more cake home, we wouldn't know what to do with it". Sometimes I feel I am a part of some crazy game, we know we will have too much food, we know we will eat too much, but we still do it anyway because  we want to make our best foods and taste them with our loved ones and friends. 

It has taken me a bit of time to realize I don't actually have to eat everything there is on the table to taste the best things and enjoy myself. But it is much harder to stop myself from thinking "I need to cook, I need to cook, there won't be enough". And it seems like our plan to make maybe two or three dishes less woke up some inner panic in me, that we would be short of something. So instead of making one principal dish I planned (in our family we divide the cooking and each of each us makes something), I added a few more... Now, I don't have to tell you, that even if I hadn't made them, we would have had enough. Enough to go around, enough to share, enough to enjoy, enough new tastes to discover and traditional ones to savor. 

And so here is my lesson in abundance. My abundance at Christmas does not come from worrying, from calculating and making lots of food. My abundance comes from the fact that when you have a big, loving family and friends who will come for a visit and whom you visit, there will be enough, there will be sharing, there will be variety, and there will be all those special dishes that need to be there.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A place where it's okay to cry

Recently I have talked with some friends about how our culture is uncomfortable with crying. We never know how to react when someone is crying, we want to look away or try to fix things as quickly as possible.
Tears can be so much more than just a sign that something is wrong and needs to be mended. I cry when I am deeply moved by something, I cry when I realize something important, I cry when I need to let go of some things and cleanse my soul. Sometimes I cry out of rage. I do cry when I am in pain, when I am upset and helpless. In these moments it means so much to have another human being notice my tears and be there for me. But maybe instead of saying "Don't cry, be strong" we could say "Cry all you need to be strong?"

I spent ten days in an Non-Violent Communication training where it was okay to cry. At every session there was a box of tissues ready, in case someone got in touch with their emotions. They did come in handy. It's not that we always knew how to react to other's tears. Some people wanted to have their hand held, some didn't. Some wanted to talk about it, some wanted to stay in silence. But there was space for tears as a way to say " I am feeling something important right now and my tears are freeing the passage to it."

 As a parting gift each participant got a bracelet with a little dangling giraffe, the symbol of empathic communication. One of the things it reminds me is to make more space for myself and others to show and receive tears, even it it's not always easy.