‘TIS THE SEASON

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by Robin MunsonRed Christmas Tree Ornament in Snow

It’s Crunch Time. We are only three weeks from Christmas and Chanukah. Once again, we must gather whatever remaining strength we have at the tail end of a challenging year and summon up the holiday spirit. We have shopping, cleaning, cooking, family gatherings. Some of us might have holiday gigs, musical or non. You might be tempted to drown your sorrows in Haagen-Dazs. (I might be!) So how do we take care of ourselves at a time like this?

The first step is to realize that we *do* have an obligation to take care of ourselves. Whatever challenges we may be facing, we will do nobody and nothing any good if we are lying face down in a bowl of Rocky Road. So self-care is the first task, whatever else may be further down the list. Eat well, sleep well, get some exercise – you know the drill.

The next step is to carve out some time – say an hour or so – from a busy schedule. If you have to get up early so that you have time for quiet reflection, then do that. You may need to adjust your bedtime to make up for the extra sleep. Well, can you live with one less hour of “Frasier” reruns? Really? (Not sure I can!)

Now, what will you do with that extra hour? Careful. . . The temptation will be to use it for someone else. But stay strong. You need time – preferably in the morning – to gather your wits about you. Of course, if mornings just don’t work for you, find another time that does. But money people always say, “Pay yourself first”. And since time is another important limited resource, it’s always good to take time for yourself *before* you begin shelling out metaphorical nickels, dimes, and quarters to others in your life.

How do you do this? There are many options, only one of which is sitting in meditation. Other choices might include working a crossword puzzle or Sudoku, writing in a journal, doing some gentle stretching, riding a bike, walking, reading poetry, listening to classical music, knitting or painting, or even baking bread. The idea is to have a special time in your day that allows you to quiet your mind and take a deep breath (or several deep breaths).

Once you have built up your own spiritual reserves, you may find that you have leftover energy to give to others, and that giving to others when it comes out of a genuine sense of compassion and generosity, rather than a sense of obligation, actually feels great! You may then find yourself singing along with Andy Williams (without irony): “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”!

Wishing you joy and peace.

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