The crisp air of fall and the autumnal glare of the sun’s rays brings about a certain hope of celebration and perhaps pumpkin everything as a harbinger to the holidays. However, for some of us, particularly those with less-than-healthy families, the eve of celebratory months brings about a sense of dread. Others of us look to the weeks ahead with determination to pretend everything is business as usual while ignoring the joy of the people around us because we’re carrying mentally draining weights that won’t let up just because of the calendar. We may look fine on the outside with smiles and well wishes while desperately wishing life could be different.
The beauty of life is that nothing is all or nothing. As the early chill of the season carries with it surprise warmth of the sun, the potentially-mournful months ahead can also carry moments of joy – if we’re willing to create them where we can for ourselves.
We have the power in every situation to build our own highlight reel of happiness, suited to who we are, what’s best for us and what makes us smile. The key to that lies in our own emotions. If we’re feeling uncomfortable revisiting a toxic family environment, maybe we don’t have to go. If we have to be there and feel threatened, what joke can we make to amuse ourselves while Uncle Joe stews in his own skewed outlook of the world? If we’re depressed and the feelings are intensified as Thanksgiving approaches, what TV marathon can we enjoy for a little bit of life we wouldn’t otherwise have? Can we go for a run? Engage in a Sudoku puzzle? Do we need to build in time for extra sleep? Have we eaten? Can we reach out to a loved one who beyond a shadow of a doubt has our best interest in mind and who leaves us feeling good when we’re around them? Can we share a smile with a stranger?
In approaching the gifting season, we would do well to gift ourselves first with the freedom to feel what we do and then the power to do something different for our own wellness and peace.