A journal of healing

Archive for the ‘Yule’ Category

On the horizon

moon-super-1

Thanksgiving has passed and now we are on to the “Holiday Season.” Ever since I was a kid I was bedazzled by the light displays. I think the spirit of Christmas is different from when I was growing up. There was religion still involved. I do not remember being bombarded with all the shopping stuff. Santa was important, but it still revolved around the celebration of Christ and traditional values. We learned about charity and giving in other ways than just presents.

The holidays now are  not about traditional values and the religious components. It makes me sad, even though I have severed my relationship with a formal church. I did that many years ago when I decided that the lies and propaganda that was being said at services was counter to my foundational principals of faith. There was too much political bias and discrimination being offered up as acceptable practice.

Let me be clear that I am not without faith. I have a strong spiritual belief which does not require me going to a church to practice.

No one can truly predict the future but from my view, I see Christmas becoming a completely different holiday and morphing to something that is not pleasant. I see it eventually disappearing. It will become so obnoxious that people will not celebrate it. The pressure to shop and get everything correct will become such a burden that it will be eliminated. I see it happening now where people do not want to bother because it is such a bother. My generation is getting too old to fuss and the next generations have not had the same exposure we did because parents are too tired and are working all the time. It’s now about the loot under the tree.

My youngest nephew sent me a text asking that I keep a look out for a specific gift for his daughter that she HAS to have. I was thrilled until I found it and saw the price tag. She is going to be seven. The toy is a stuffed fur ball that has a computer in it that makes it giggle and other things. It was $150.00. No way was I going to spend that much on one toy for a seven year old. I have seen pictures from their Christmas fall out of unwrapping gifts. That would be one of many toys for her. What was he thinking? What does this teach her? And in all honesty, they cannot afford spending money like that on toys that will be broken or not wanted in two months. But I know it all has to do with pressure and acceptance and nothing to do with Christmas.

Even my oldest brother does not want to exchange gifts anymore. There was a tradition that was attached which included spending the day and a luncheon together. But the last two years, the town they live in turns into a Dickens Christmas and is wall-to –wall people in every restaurant and store. They are in their 70’s and as my brother said, they do not need anything. It has always been a challenge to find something for them, but I spend the year doing it. It keeps them in my thoughts. I have not acquiesced to his desire to give up the practice yet, as I already had somethings purchased. I hope we will still get together but this has created some hard feelings.

What I see on the horizon about losing the tradition of Christmas is very sad but I am powerless to change it. Things will be different and a new set of traditions will be formed for the younger set. As my family gets older and we are separated by long distances, things will change. I can keep my traditions alive in my home and that’s about it. But as my strength and energy fails, I find even my normal over the top decorating of my house, my baking and candy making will not be over the top. But I know in my heart the spirit will be there.

 

Fill your lamp

star light

Mother Teresa said, “To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” As women, we often tend to do everything for everyone else. And then we get depleted and expect others to rally. The only one who can fill your lamp is you. What does this mean? And why should we think about this?

This holiday time of the year puts extra pressure on all of us. Whether you have kids or not, or celebrate Christmas, it is the end of the year and there are a lot of demands. In my household, we celebrate Christmas, honor Yule and our wedding anniversary all in the same week. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. But it is also a lot of work to prepare for.

I also have the demands of preparing and delivering and then tracking of all the required annual mandatory training for all the agencies I oversee. I was late this year rolling it out because I put it on a new system. It really stressed me out as it was a ton of work all on my shoulders. I also have a new training program that has to go to the State for approval for another division of the company. This was on top of two huge initiatives and four very big facilitated training for all of the supervisors and managers, all 55 of them, which happened in a span of two weeks.

My oil was spent.

And I sit here a type this, I am sick as a dog. The bug that was going around came to spend time with me on the day before my first vacation day since August. I was so run down, I was a perfect host. And so with all the good stuff of the holidays coming, I sit here with a box of Kleenex, a hacking cough and a pounding head.

Yes, I feel successful that I accomplished all that I did in the ridiculous amount of time that I did it in. But it was not about me. All that matters was someone accomplished the work. Work for me only deposits a small amount of oil in comparison to the amount it takes out. I think if I were younger and trying to climb “The Ladder” it would be different. But I am high as I want to go in the hierarchy of the company and my career is short lived by three or four more years.

I have been making promises to myself that I will never spend five months again like I did this fall. I hope that I can live up to that promise. The stress was ridiculous and in hind sight, I am not sure there was much I could have done to avoid it all. The only thing I could have done was more for me. That did not happen enough.

I do not like New Year’s resolutions. They are a predicate to failure. But I need to change my focus on the energy allotted I have, which is restricted because of my energy zapping Psoriatic Arthritis. But there are things I do like to do that recharge the batteries and so I am going to be more mindful of them.

People will not remember that my house was not perfectly decorated for the holidays not even two years from now. But they will remember me if I am cheerful and loving. I can only be that way if I am recharged and feeling good. Things I can do to help are to take my vacation days I have coming, spend time outdoors, go for road trips with my hubby who loves them and the change in scenery is good for me, write and read more. My oil list will continue.

I wish everyone who reads my blog a Merry Christmas, a Blessed Yule and a wonderful holiday season whatever is your preference to celebrate. Also wish for you the mindset that you matter and should take the time to fill your lamp.

 

 

The Sunset years

sunset

Although the alternative is not what I want, getting older is a bitch. I don’t feel myself aging, but I know I am. I am not sure anyone feels it like they do with a growth spurt at 11. I see the physical changes reflecting in the mirror. However, I think back to my grandmothers when they were my age, and I certainly do not think I look as old as they did. I know I was looking at them with a child’s eyes, but even in photos they looked and dressed so much older. I love the fact that my age is now considered the new forty.

All this thinking is being brought about because of my poor mother-in-law. (MIL)  She is in a nursing home with a broken pelvis and severe dementia. My sister-in-law has finally had her admitted as a hospice patient. She is 91. She has not eaten now in almost 2 weeks but they are giving her a supplemental nutritional beverage. I am not sure if she is consuming that either. She lies in bed and mumbles most of the time. Some days she is a bit more coherent. Other days, like last Wednesday, are terrible. They found her on the floor and no one is confessing as to what happened. She is alone as her three children harbor ill feelings about her, especially her sons. She was not always a nice woman and I will let it go at that.  But still, it is a horrible ending of her life.

In my in-laws situation, they retired at 55. My FIL worked for the post office and they were very frugal. They traveled and lived in Florida until eight years ago when my MIL had breast cancer. They moved up here to be closer to the family, especially their daughter. My FIL was not sick for very long before he passed. My MIL’s dementia progressed rapidly in the last  years and she should have been placed in a memory care facility years ago. My FIL probably would have lived longer, if not happier.

Now, because she is private pay and has money, her options of care are extremely expensive and limited. Believe it or not, she would have better care if she was living with one of her children. But no one would do that. My brother-in-law did take my father -in-law in for his last healthy months this summer. She cannot go to certain hospice facilities because her needs are covered at the nursing home and because of her private money, she does not qualify for a comfort care facility.

My husband is partially retired. I work my ass of at my job and I am not ready to retire but I am also coming to the realization that time runs short. It is true that as you get older, time seems to speed up. We have spent our entire lives saving and creating nest eggs for our old age. WE have pensions and SSI and savings and annuities and stocks. Why? So that when we get old, it will be there for us. That is what THEY told us to do. And if we die tomorrow, all of that will be for naught. It will go to some folks but we will not have enjoyed the fruits of our labor. The thought of it going to pay for ridiculous nursing home costs so I can lay in bed and rot is incomprehensible.

This morning as I was thinking about creating this post I realized that I have been very depressed. The change in the season coupled with having a tough time with my Psoriatic Arthritis symptoms has exacerbated this condition. Seeing my poor MIL deteriorating helplessly and the splintering of my in-laws has not been conducive to making this a pleasant time.

But, the holiday season is upon us and I am the original “Christmas cheese”.  I am not as obnoxious as some, but I do love the season for it lights and decorations and the whole deal. The past years have been marred with forced in-law functions that ceased to be fun many years ago. When I first met my husband, his large Italian family would get together for these big fancy dinners and party. Once my MIL became so ill and nasty, we would all pile into their tiny apartment at the senior living facility. It was miserable. One year, my husband and I spent Christmas Eve with my MIL in the rehab center she was in after she fell for the first time. No one else came.

It is time for me to snap out of it. I want to enjoy this season for a change. This year, we do not have to attend any family functions. We are having a quiet Thanksgiving with just my hubby and my step-daughter. We seemed to have moved to a place on quite contentment now when we are together. We are talking about our holidays together this year with pleasant anticipation.

I am really thinking about my remaining years. It is actually a very stressful stage of life. When do you decide to stop working for retirement and old age? When do you live it? I know I do not want my retirement to be in a hospital in hospice. I think the answer will come but for now, I want to live in celebration of life. I want to hold on to some good times and create pleasant memories because those will be the things that will sustain me in my old age.

 

Holiday images 2014

I woke up this morning having a panic attack. This happens to me quite often. Someone once said to me to just stop doing it. Like I have a choice. I just wake up, feel like there is a mountain of doom sitting on my chest and feel this pervasive malaise. I think the trigger is from a movie we watched last night where the main female character is a famous artist who goes to teach at a very high end private school. Her issue is she has rheumatoid arthritis, is on crutches and in pain. They did a nice job portraying what it feels like to have a flare. But she has this line where the hero is about to kiss her and she says she is going for it because she never knows what life is going to take from her next. It hit home.

So instead of fueling it, I decided to post pictures from the past week. We drove around one night. This is our Main street and some homes in the neighborhood.

Our Village     Christmas vacation house

Holiday Flamingos   Nothing says Christmas like flamingos.

This is my house and my little doggies in the windows.A green Christmas

Waiting for Santa Paws         Christmas 2014 1

I like pink.   This is the family crèche.       creche

But now that the celebrations are over, I am looking forward to getting on to Spring. So are my animals. Spring is somewhere in there         Magoo in the sun

And these fellows were warm in their outfits.  Winter walkies

And the final word on winter comes from my boy. yellow snow

Missing the point

Missed the whole point of it…that is what I think. I think a lot of people miss the point of the season. This short little post is in reply to a feathered friend’s poem. See http://risinghawk.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/voyage-of-the-nicholas/

I work with mostly women; all different ages with different family commitments. For the last weeks, it has been pretty unbearable to be around many of my coworkers. Since Thanksgiving, the illness toll has been steadily increasing. And it is not the flu. It is exhaustion. Everyone is tired.

I work for an organization that supplies home care in various degrees of therapy. Part of the issue is that health care in general is a crazy business that changes daily. But this is also a time of year that for some reason our census increases. But our workforce decreases with time off. Many of our staff have a lot of vacation time in their banks and personal time MUST be used before the middle of December or lose it. Sometimes we are our own enemies.

Being short staffed increases the pressure already existing in a very tense environment. There is a lot of finger pointing and blaming that goes on. Our culture is basically terrible and I have been working for over three years to help improve it. That is another post with a whole litany of why I am in the wrong place.

Here are a few of the conversations I overheard today: “I have to rush out of here after work (8.5 to 10 hours) and shop for (10 or more) people who I have not gotten anything for. Boy I do not feel like it.” …nothing says loving like thinking your loved ones are a pain. “I am stopping by because I never got around to doing cards this year, so Merry Christmas.” “I am so tired I just want to sleep for the next three days, but I have to go home, clean and pick up my kid at the airport.” They had a bring-a-dish to pass brunch and people grabbed a plate and went back to their offices. Many of us skipped it as it was just not merry. And my favorite comment is from a friend who usually is very pleasant and calm…as she passed my office and poked her head in she stated,“I hate this f*&%ing job!” She rarely swears, so I know her panties were really in a bundle. One friend’s father is home in hospice. Another dear friend is home with a fractured shoulder and a husband with a TBI. Another friend is home because her MS is flaring to the point she cannot move. Today I listened to two women out spend each other on their gifts to their children. It was really disgusting. Our resident Santa made a visit on the floor this afternoon. He was suited up because he just shot a promo for a car dealership which is make a donation….. bah humbug!

I was not going to take time off, but I decided I am. I would rather not be in that environment. How really sad it is that we have made our holiday world about the wrong things. It is missing the point completely.

I may not be Christian, but I am spiritual. This is not what this time of reflection is about. It is a time to be grateful for the biggest gift any of us every received. Life!

Merry Yule

little tree

Today is the Winter Solstice and we celebrate it with Yule. In my part of the world, it is very dark as the light does not arrive until way after seven am and it is dark by 4PM. Yule is often misrepresented as a counter to Christmas. It is the other way around.    Update info…. according to the below website: The solstice is traditionally celebrated at the sunrise closest to the time when the sun is stationary before beginning its transit to the north or south. This year this occurs late on 21 December, hence the winter solstice celebrations take place at sunrise on 22 December.      http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=2146414227

 

By the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 2. The actual words of the Second Council of Tours were: “There are feasts on each day between the Nativity of the Lord and Epiphany, except the three-day period on which our Fathers established for the beginning of January private Litanies in order to tread down the custom of the pagans. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas

Yule is a celebration of hope and prayers and blessings. It is also a solar event marked by celebrations that have continued for eons such as in the circle of Stonehenge. If I could, I would love to witness the light beam of the sun striking precisely at the same location for centuries marking the swing of the earth on its axis. In the northern hemisphere, it is the growing of the light and the beginning or the rebirth of the earth.

This time of year affects me deeply. I got married eight years ago on the 22nd. It was not a romantic reason, but a survival one. I had been facing the possibility of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I did not want to get sick and die and leave my partner stranding with no home or provisions. We were both dirt poor, in school, working crappy jobs and his daughter was living with us in my house. I wanted to make sure he would have the house. I also did not want to be unmarried, plain and simple. So we got married in a very simple ceremony at the Town Hall. I did end up with a tumor but it was not malignant. The marriage has survived although it has been difficult at times. But that is part of being married.

This “season” has been turned into something I feel is very ugly. I hate the greed and the focus on commercialism and money. I cannot control it, and I do feed into the system by shopping for presents. I used to make a lot of my gifts but I do not have time anymore because I work. I used to make a ton of cookies and candy, but I have cut that way down because everyone including me does not need the extra calories. Nothing says loving like spending hours making homemade truffles and peanut butter balls to have people turn their noses up at them and look at you like the enemy.

My biggest indulgence is in the decorating of my house and environment. I bring in greens but I have to be careful with things like Mistletoe and Holly and Poinsettias because they are all poisonous to little dogs and cats. I do put up a crèche on the mantle but that is in honor of my mother. The house is covered with lights. I have them in the windows, on my plants, on my tree, and out in the garden. The sparkle and glow fills me with joy and wonder. We love to drive around the village and look at the decorations and lights. They string white lights in the trees going down Main Street and all the little shop windows are filled with more lights. Our little town looks like it could be in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. There are rumors that it was where the movie was based on; our town and/or Seneca Falls, which is very close.

On the days I work, it is very possible for me not to see daylight at all. I counter this by making sure I have an abundance of electric lights with real incandescent bulbs on in my work space. I even have a string of lights with tinsel and bulbs handing off of it. You can see my office reflecting on the low ceiling when you enter the area on the second floor. People are always amazed when they walk into my office as it is a completely different feeling then the rest of the building. But I also have sprayed it with sage and have other “things” that change the atmosphere in there. It is my oasis of safety.

I still sit out in my chair in the cold, covered in blankets and coats. I am not out there long. But the sky at this time of year is spectacular. It is so crisp and the stars sparkle brightly. Tonight I will light candles and wish for a bright future and good health for myself, my family and friends. I will give thanks to all the wondrous things that have happened this year. I will remember my ancestors, especially my mother. This time of year was particularly special for her. She was the one who instilled my love of nature and gardens. I think if it had been another time, she would have been more into herbs and medicinal plants.

I honor the Christmas traditions for my husband and his family. So in the next weeks there will be a lot of get-togethers and feasting. Actually, that is the Pagan tradition. Their celebrations lasted for twelve days, reminiscent of the song. His daughter is back from California after nine years. Although she will not be staying with us, it will be good for father and daughter to reunite. She is staying with her mother’s family. I have to work so I will not go with him for their visit which I think is actually best. We have already visited with my family yesterday, which is always short, but sweet. We will spend Christmas with his massive family.

My favorite time is when my husband and I curl up in our chairs with blankets and little doggies in our laps, and watch old movies from our collection of classics under the glow of the tree and lights and candles. “All is calm, all is bright.” Blessed Yule everyone.