10 January 2011 ~ 3 Comments

The Shoulds Will Haunt You

I’m back after a long hiatus of holiday merriment. It feels good to get back to my Joy Log. It’s become a good friend of mine.

I hope everyone had a joyous holiday season, even if you had to spend time with Aunt Lilly who you despise and your ex husbands mother Gertrude who picks her nose at the table. I hope somewhere along the way you were able to experience some joy.

It was really nice for me this year to focus on friends and relaxation over the holidays. We skipped most of the traditional Christmas hoop dee doo and left town.

We’re not big into giving and receiving gifts and we decided to skip a tree this year. I didn’t know how I would feel about that because I love having a live tree and decorating it.

Shouldn’t we have a tree, it’s Christmas? We always have a tree.  When I told my mother that we weren’t putting one up this year she said “Oh, but you love to have a tree, won’t you miss it? I know you, you’ll get one at the last minute.”  I said,” nope, no tree this year, we are going away.” ” Oh”, she said. I could hear the sadness in her voice.

“It’s ok mom, really.” She hates change and is somewhat attached to the idea of how things should be.

Shouldn’t we be with family?  Shouldn’t we buy lots of stuff for people?  Shouldn’t I bake?  It’s what I usually do at Christmas.

How is it going to feel if I don’t make a triple batch of my double chocolate espresso biscotti?  I’m sure to have a panic attack if I don’t make those little thumbprint cookies with the jam in the center. I always make those. What about the little snowball cookies rolled in powder sugar? Ahhhhh-I don’t think I can do it! I’ve got to bake! I’ve got all these tins to fill.

Nope, I didn’t bake a one. I made something new to give to friends this year, a cheese ball made with cream cheese, apricots, dates, nuts and some other yummy stuff in it. It was weird I must admit, but fun to break out of the cookie mold for a change.

If we get caught up in the shoulds of life we are going to suffer needlessly.

My plan when we got back from the beach was to spend NYE weekend quietly meditating and reflecting. Well, so much for that idea. At 3:00 on NYE everything changed, just like that. We ended up having a dinner party for six. I fought the idea for about 10 minutes… well this isn’t what I really planned and I don’t really want to cook, and I wasn’t planning on entertaining—-blah, blah, blah,

After the 10 minute head talk, I looked at the situation differently. Wow, I’ve got these very cool friends that want to spend time with me and have some fun on New Years Eve. We can all pitch in and we’ll have a great time.

With that, I changed my attitude, accepted that we are now going to have a party and started pulling out the china and crystal to set the table. I was now excited about the evening that was in store. I made the main dish and salad. Someone else brought a side, everyone brought wine and champagne, someone brought dessert and we had a ball.

At midnite we went outside with my pots and pans and clanged them loudly to ring in the new year. A new experience for everyone.

We took a stroll downtown and watched all of the young crazy people coming out of the Avett brothers concert. 3 am rolled around and Ken and I were still up doing dishes thinking about the wonderful night we had just had with great friends.

If I had gotten stuck in the should of how things were supposed to be….I would have missed out on a heck of a good time. I took New Years Day to reflect and meditate on my wonderfully joyous life. I am truly grateful for the challenges-uh, the growth-uh-uh, the sadness-uhhhhh, and the joy. I am especially grateful for my husband, my family and my friends who make my world a brighter place to live in.

If you didn’t like how the holidays went this year, I encourage you to be brave and take stock on how you might make it better next year by letting go of some of the shoulds. It does take some courage, and you may make some enemies, but you won’t be resentful. Bring joy to the holidays in a whole new way. Create your own traditions. Discuss your ideas with your family and friends for next year and maybe they’ll be open to a new way of thinking.

We chose to go away with friends at Christmas. We laughed together, ate together, drank together and appreciated each other. That was my gift to them and a huge gift to myself.

How will you make the holidays more joyous next year?

Please share some of your creative Christmas ideas with us so we can work on having a more joyous Christmas next year.

I hope your 2011 is full of surprises and joyous moments.

Experience Joy And Pass It On!


3 Responses to “The Shoulds Will Haunt You”

  1. Shauna@BP 11 January 2011 at 3:42 pm Permalink

    Amy, what a wonderful post full of insights. Of all the things in my own holiday traditions, you share many of them…including the thumbprint and rolled powder cookies (with pecans, mmm!), and the banging of pots and pans! Thought it was just my family. 🙂

    As I create and live my own ideas, I find my family has similar reactions. For instance, I don’t eat meat and so don’t need turkey – gasp! – and I find myself focusing more on closeness and appreciation and even how we can HELP others for Christmas, instead of so much consumption for its’ own sake…I must be growing up. I let some things go this year, and suspect – partly because I am inspired by you – I’ll do so even more next year.

    THANK YOU for being a person who embraces change and follows your own path, and for sharing it here with us so we can consider doing more of the same for ourselves.

    May 2011 be a wonderful year for you and yours!

    ~ Shauna

  2. Amy 11 January 2011 at 10:25 pm Permalink

    Hi Shauna,

    So great to hear from you.
    I was a strict vegetarian for 20 years and went through the same situation as you. I think it’s hard for people to be around others that are trying to improve their lives in some way. People take it personally as if it’s a reflection on them and their way of living. I never felt like I was stuffing my holier than thou attitudes upon anyone but I certainly felt like people resented me for it. In the 70’s when Health Food was not very popular, it was much harder to live this way than it is now. There is so much more awareness now on health, gluten free, vegetarianism, herbs, organic, etc. Years ago I found a great recipe for a rice nut loaf. I would bring it to all of the holiday gatherings without saying too much and would substitute this for the meat. I was shocked at how many of the meat eaters actually took a piece and loved it. It helped smooth things out and didn’t annoy them as much as me just saying “I don’t eat meat thank you anyway.”
    I suggest next visit, bring something like that to share with your family. See how it goes.
    I would be glad to share this recipe with you. It’s very easy-one bowl, nutritious and really, really tasty. It is still one of our favorites.
    We choose what works best for us and if others have a hard time with our choices than I suppose it is something they need to work on. We must stay grounded and true to who we are and the way we want to live. Living in Asheville I am surrounded by a community of creative, health conscious people that live and think much like I do so it’s very easy for me to be who I am. I’m sure it’s more of a challenge elsewhere.

    Good for you wanting to help others instead of getting caught in the consumer trap. I”m hoping to get my crew of friends together next year to do just that, find a project that we can work on collectively, have fun together and bring joy to others.

    I really applaud you for taking the time to think about how you want to live. Congratulations on being aware of what is important to you and having the courage to change despite feeling the pressures of society. We need more enlightened people like yourself to help change the world so let your light shine and keep clanging those pots and pans. Happy New Year!

  3. Shauna@BP 12 January 2011 at 10:42 am Permalink

    Thank you for your most thoughtful response, Amy. I’ll pm you an facebook for that recipe! 🙂

    My very best to you, now and always. May we BE part of the change we wish to see in the world.


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