Tag Archives: Joy

Are You Ready?

23 Dec

It is 3 days before Christmas, preparations are well underway. Houses are decorated, kids are out of school, and traffic around anywhere that shopping happens has become a test of patience. I hear a familiar refrain wherever I go “Are you ready?” There is, as the song goes, “parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, and caroling out in the snow.”

I’ve always (at least in my mind) responded, well, ready or not, Christmas will come and I don’t HAVE to do anything except be present. Growing up Christmas was usually just our family. It was this way in part by design and in part because my extended family lived states away. This was normal for me and it worked. My favorite parts of Christmas was the candlelight service and our Advent ritual. The one year we had Christmas a couple days early because of weather taught me that good results can come from being flexible (after I was quite resistant to the idea.) My mom, being a super mom, did of course manage to get the message to Santa and we got an early delivery.

In my twenties I moved far away from my family and got to make new traditions. All of this to say, when someone asks me if I’m ‘ready’ for Christmas I kinda shrug.

Because to me being ready for Christmas doesn’t have much to do with buying presents, preparing food, traveling places, or the exact right kind of chocolate (I’m looking at you Christmas with the Kranks).

To me Christmas is about preparing my heart to be filled with the Joy of the remembrance of the divinity within myself. Christmas is about witnessing humanity remembering each other and reaching hands across imaginary lines used the rest of the year to divide. Christmas is about lifting my voice and my hands in song to celebrate the rebirth of the light in the darkest time of the year, and remembering that it is within each being. Christmas is about sharing love and memories with our dear ones, and making new memories.

I am not saying that Christmas can’t also be the things that make it special and fun for others. I got my picture with Santa this year and there are presents under my tree. But those things are not required for me to be ‘ready’.

A heart filled with Faith, Peace, Love, and Joy. That is all I will ever really need.

Yes, I am ready.

PS As a minister of a church being ‘ready’ does take on a few more tasks than it has in the past, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

20151222_221103_HDR

2015 Christmas Tree

Adventures in painting

5 Sep

Yesterday Mary Ellen and I went to the home improvement store to get paint for the great teen room makeover. Since our area includes the old kitchen and we are just wrapping up our 12 powers series, the teens and I decided to paint the cabinets to the 12 powers colors.

We picked out the colors and handed our 10- color order over to the paint clerk, Jacquie. (Silver and Gold were available already mixed.) She said it would be a little while, so we wondered off to look at stuff and get paintbrushes. When we came back we saw Labor Day weekend must be a popular time to paint (and the weather is finally not hellish) because she was backed up with orders and all by herself.

I had a thought to head off to the pool party we were on our way to and just come back and pick them up, but it couldn’t be that much longer surely.

Mary Ellen and I wandered off again, if there is something that the Simpson girls are familiar with it’s the home improvement store.

When we came back this time, our 4 quarts were done, but not our 6 little testers. Jacquie had some help by now, but she was stuck on our dark green. The paint tinting is all computerized now and the computer wasn’t cooperating. This was frustrating for Jacquie of course, and I have other places to be than hanging at the paint counter.

We’ve all been there, that moment where we could pitch a fit, get grouchy or otherwise be unpleasant. But really, how was was that gonna help in this situation? So I practiced empathy instead. I brought a cheerful I-know-how-computers-can-be attitude to the picture and my sister and I started holding our breath and crossing our fingers when Jacquie hit the command that was not working. She bypassed the dark green and went on to the other colors which behaved much better, we hung around and cheered each time the computer cooperated. Then we got back to the darn dark green, which still didn’t want to work.  She kept apologizing and then got to commenting on how nice we were being about the whole thing.

That makes me sad looking back at it. My thought is ‘There’s another option?’ I get that lots of people choose other options, I have and you’d be hard pressed to find a regular person who hasn’t uttered at least a ‘bless her heart.’ So Jacquie and I got to chatting about choosing how we react and behave in the world. She even said that the Universe must be not wanting us out on the roads for some reason. Whether we needed to not be on the road, or not yet be at the pool, or that our work was there at the paint counter I don’t need to know. One of my favorite Unity folks to quote is May Rowland, she said:

 ‘After all, it is our attitude toward life that brings us joy in living.’

And maybe that’s all there really is to the story. I choose a life of joy which means I get to create that through my actions and attitudes. In this case, not only did I maintain a world of joy for myself, I got to play with my sis and I’m pretty sure Jacquie was having a better day when we left her than when we showed up.

It was a good experience to have, a reminder for me about being in the flow not fighting it and who knows, maybe one of my dear readers will get something out of my story.

Fast forward to today, I was running late to get to church on time. Something that should have taken 5 minutes was more like 15 and it was going to be tight. I reminded myself that it was all in perfect timing and to let it go, but I was a little worried that the teens that were meeting me might get there before me. And then I got to Noland road which is a curvy country road that is the most direct route to church and for most of it the speed limit is between 45-55, but you can’t pass people so you’re stuck behind the person in front of you for the whole five mile stretch. So who do I get behind for this trip where I am running just on the late side of on time? You guessed it, we ranged from 30-40 the whole way. This road by the way, has been my practice of patience many times. And so I took a step back in my mind, first of all, the people I’m meeting will wait a few minutes or they will call me, it’s really OK. Second, this project has been a practice of waiting and choosing… I can’t claim that I was perfectly patient about the whole thing, but I decided to be more interested on the extremes of how slow we were going instead of being upset that I was late. (and I told myself it was probably a student driver, so I was having compassion)

Of course I got to church first and everything was fine, and I saved myself a whole heck of a lot of stress. Then we got to paint. I love to paint. Here’s our current progress: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s all I got to say, in EVERY situation we get to choose our attitude. What games can we play with ourselves to bring joy to ourselves and the people around us?

With Joy!

Ra

PS In case you were wondering, we did eventually get a dark green (gotta have the power of order right?) but it took us choosing a different shade in a different brand with a different finish.