Monthly archives "December 2015"

Sending Love

Sending Love (1)I’ve been thinking about what I could include in this penultimate blog post of the year when it’s not quite Christmas Day, but it’s tantalisingly close. I was also looking through some pictures and quotes for inspiration. Nothing seemed quite right. I decided to take a break and make myself a tea, and as I was waiting for the kettle to boil, I read through the Christmas cards I’ve received and smiled as I thought of the people who had sent them.

And then I realised something. Do you know which word is included in each and every one of those cards? It’s not ‘Happy’ or ‘Merry’ or even ‘Christmas’. It’s ‘Love’.

‘With love’, ‘lots of love’, ‘love from’…it’s all about love.

And I think that’s part of the magic of Christmas. It’s the one time of the year when we are all, collectively and consciously, thinking of others and sending love. It might be a little extra patience with a work colleague who hasn’t delivered, but you can’t be mad ‘because it’s Christmas’. It might be spending an extra hour at the shops when you’re already exhausted, so you can get something that’s just perfect for a friend ‘because it’s Christmas’. Or it might be waking up at an unspeakably early hour so you can make sure you have everything ready for your family ‘because it’s Christmas’.

How wonderful to spend a whole month focussed on thinking about everyone who means something to us. Whether it’s a card, a phone-call, a text, a present or meeting them for a hug and a chat and a catch-up, underneath it all, what we are doing is sending love.

Even when we are thinking of those who aren’t here to enjoy Christmas with us, there may be sadness, but there will undoubtedly also be funny stories and happy memories, and love.

“I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas: It brings people together while time stands still. – Rachel Cohn”

I think that this collective thinking of our loved ones and sending out loving wishes is a rare and special magic. For me, that’s part of the magic of Christmas.

So as you read this, please know that I am thinking of you, and I am wishing you a wonderful Christmas, and I am sending you love.

“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.”

Heena. x.

May The Force Be With You

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOUIt’s impossible to avoid it, so I’m not even going to try. This week we will see one of the world’s biggest and most extravagant and most eagerly anticipated movie premieres of all time – Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And although there are a whole host of memorable characters in the franchise, the one that I love the most is the teeny tiny green Grand Jedi Master and all around most awesome creature in the known (and possibly unknown) universe – Yoda.

 

Did you know that Yoda was involved to some extent in the training of almost every Jedi? It’s true – Wikipedia says so! It would be rude to ignore such a galactic level of wisdom, so today, I thought we could remind ourselves of three of Yoda’s most famous quotes.  Here they are, in reverse order….

 

#3 – “Named must your fear be before banish it you can.” – Yoda

A pretty meaty one to kick-off with, isn’t it? It’s something we all find hard to do – we learn to hide our fears from our colleagues, our friends and family and especially from ourselves. We’re taught to ‘show no fear’. But I’ve learned that hiding away from my fears just makes them bigger and more fearsome. Facing them, even if it’s initially painful, is really the only way to start to banish them. Rock on Yoda!

 

#2 – “Luke: I can’t believe it. Yoda: That is why you fail.” – Yoda

Another cracking quote with some power-packed truth behind it. For a very long time, I didn’t believe I could be a writer. When people asked me what I was doing or wanted to do, I would always say I was an accountant and working towards becoming a writer. I don’t say that anymore. I tell people I’m a writer, with an accountancy background. I work as a finance contractor to pay the bills whilst I develop my writing. I also believe there’s a shiny sparkly day not too far away when I will be a full-time writer, living comfortably from my writerly (yes, it’s a word, honest!) earnings. The more I believe I’m a writer, the more the Universe is conspiring to make that true. What do you need to start believing for it to materialise?

 

#1 – “Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

I’ve saved the best for last. This is an absolute doozy. I spent at least ten years wishing I was a writer, telling everyone I wanted to be a writer and dreaming of becoming a writer. Do you want to know what my total literary efforts were in that entire decade? Three poems, one short story, and one very short children’s book (the first draft of which actually took me less than a week to pull together). Ten years, and not even 100,000 words.  So clearly, although I said I wanted it, I wasn’t actually doing anything about it. And what happened when I decided to ‘do’?  I decided in May 2014 to write Coping with the Horroffice. By February 2015 it was written, edited and up on Amazon. I’m almost at the end of the planning stage for my second book, fiction this time. I have notes on at least five other ideas for books (fiction and non-fiction) that I want to work on. Yoda was right – if you want something, there’s no space for half-hearted half-assed efforts. Go all in, and, as Yoda says…Do.

 

So there you go. Three monumental quotes and three mighty rules to live by. Let’s agree to put all three into place, awaken the force inside ourselves and see what a magnificent 2016 awaits us.

 

May the Force be with you.

Christmas Dazzle

ChrstmAs we head into the middle of December, all around me my friends, colleagues and family are getting into the Christmas spirit. It makes me think of two quotes that seem particularly relevant, and I want to see what you think.

“Remember, This December, That love weighs more than gold!” – Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon

A great quote, don’t you think (And a great name too!)?  It’s a touching sentiment and strong idea but I think it can sometimes get lost as we let the marketing men dazzle us with golden promises. Love might be more important, but sometimes it can feel light as air.

Here’s the second quote, one that made me smile a little ruefully, because I have to fight the urge to do this myself, and especially at Christmas when I want to shower the people I love with fabulous treats.

“Christmas is the season when you buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money.”  – Author Unknown

You know how it goes. We start off with the best of intentions. We have ‘that’ talk, with our friends, with our family, with our work colleagues.  It goes something like this

“I can’t believe it’s December already.  I haven’t even started thinking about presents.  I’ve got so many to get, it’s just silly.  Really, Christmas has become too commercial, it’s all about spending money. I’m going to stick to a budget this time, and only get things people might really want” 

But then you hit the shops, and you start looking around, and you start putting things in your basket because you want to make Christmas feel really special. When the people you love open their presents, you want the present to shout out how much you love them. And so the budget moves a bit, and then a bit more, and then it goes out of the window.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we?  Of course we have.  So why do we do it?  Do we really think our friends and our family will love us less because we’ve spent a little less money on their presents?  Or think about it from a different angle – would you really love your husband, wife, children, parents, siblings, or friends less if they spent on your present only what they could actually afford, rather than what they felt they should be able to give you.  If they gave you a huge box of your favourite chocolates and an ‘I Owe You’ for a whole evening, a whole day or even a whole week of their time and attention, wouldn’t that be even better than an expensive perfume to add to the ten you already may have, and a hurried half hour for a coffee and pressie exchange?

Think about why we love presents so much.  It’s very rarely the thing itself that we love.  It’s the feeling that someone you love has spent time thinking about you, and has made the effort to get you something they think you’ll enjoy.  And when you think about some of the best Christmases’ you’ve had, what do you remember?  A cosy couple of days with your family, or finally catching up with that friend you haven’t seen all year, and really being able to relax and catch-up, to talk, to share, and to laugh.  None of those memories are about things, they’re all about people.  Spending real time (not just a rushed coffee catch up, or quick call or text) with the people you love is the ultimate luxury, the most extravagant present you can lavish on someone.

If you choose it, and without spending any money you can have a very very luxurious Christmas with the people you love.

Wishing you a luxurious loving and festive season!

Heena. x.

Day by Day

I have a Facebook page, and every day I post up little memes or quotes that catch my eye. On Monday I posted the quote below. It seemed to hit a nerve.

Day by Day

I posted it because we’re just starting to hit the Christmas craziness. We’re bombarded by ads that paint a picture of the perfect Christmas dinner, the perfect Christmas tree, the perfect Christmas family…you get the idea. We take in all these messages, subtle and not-so-subtle, telling us what we should be aiming for and we start to run around trying to make that happen. We contort ourselves into all manner of uncomfortableness in an effort to have the ‘perfect’ Christmas. More often than not though, we don’t end up with the perfect Christmas. Mostly because our Christmas isn’t aided by soft-focus, soft-glow lighting, or set-dressers. It doesn’t have an immaculately dressed fake family sharing smiles and crackers over fake food painted to look deliciously deletable. 

No.

What our Christmas seems to include is frazzled nerves from the strain of shopping for a sackful of thoughtful, personal and unique presents for our loved ones. It includes headaches and worry as we try to be everywhere and do everything. And it includes disappointment when we finally stop to look around and we realise our Christmas looks nothing like the one we’ve been aiming for, the one promised to us if we just buy ‘X’ and invest in ‘Y’ and spend money on ‘Z’. What we actually end up with is a REAL Christmas.

And that’s ok. It’s more than ok.

We don’t have to feel the disappointment. We don’t have to believe the hype. Just ’cause they’re selling ‘perfect’ doesn’t mean we have to buy it. I’m not saying don’t bother making any effort. I’m just saying there is only so much you can control. Your time and resources are limited. So work out what is most important to you and your family. Then just focus on that. Forget the rest.

Here’s something my family changed a couple of years ago (I’m sure they won’t mind me sharing this little tradition). We don’t have any young children in the family. We’re all adults and whenever we need something we go out and buy it. Which is as it should be. It used to make things a bit difficult at Christmas though, because we always ended up getting each other things we didn’t need, and didn’t even necessarily want. Two years ago we decided not to do that. Instead, we all agreed on an amount that we were comfortable spending, and we used it to buy an experience. We bought something we could all enjoy, something we wouldn’t normally take the time to arrange, and it became our Christmas gift to each other. And it’s proved to be a present that keeps on giving. We relished the initial pleasure of choosing the experience, we loved the anticipation of the day out, we truly enjoyed spending time with each other having tea at the Ritz, or whatever we chose, and we now have some very happy memories to cherish. We didn’t have to hit the shops once. There’s no extra ‘stuff’ cluttering up anyone’s cupboards. The downside is there are no physical presents to open on Christmas morning. But that feels like a very small price to pay in comparison to the joy we get from our days out.

That’s just an example though. You don’t have to give up on presents if that’s what makes Christmas feel more Christmassy for you. Maybe you settle for a table haphazardly laid by little hands, so you have one less thing to do. Maybe you just say no to an invitation you don’t really want to accept, and spend the time doing something you enjoy. Maybe, just maybe, you go for it and day by day you do what you can, with what you have and you let go of the things you can’t control. But I mean really let go. Let go of the stress and the disappointment and the regret. You look at your lopsided tree and accept that it’s ok, just as it is. You look at the badly wrapped presents and accept that they’re ok, just as they are. You look at your messy, argumentative wonderful family and you realise that they’re imperfectly perfect, as is your imperfectly perfect, REAL Christmas.