Hey friends, October and November were so chaotic that I feel like I pretty much blinked and woke up in December. In case anyone noticed…you know, all five of you that read this blog…there was no November 5 on 5- oops. I’m not sure what happened, but I distinctly remember feeling like i.can’t.even.with.one.more.thing, and so I didn’t.
I have been regularly practicing yoga for a year now (disclaimer: I am not a yoga teacher, and I don’t know much about yoga except that I enjoy it…but if you’re local, I know where you can find a really fabulous yoga teacher). Anyhow, I’ve worked with various intentions over this year, and really, none of them have been that meaningful for me until I set the one I’m currently working with, ‘do you’. It is a happenstance sort of intention in that I gave it exactly zero thought, like it chose me, instead of the other way around. I didn’t expect much from it, because I felt like being authentic and ‘me’ was something that I was already doing well, and it is, except that something cool happens when you intentionally, repeatedly, and with full awareness bring certain words to mind.
I’m sharing this now because I feel like it’s relevant to the holiday season most of us find ourselves in from November to January every year. It’s a season of goodness, and family, and gratefulness, and celebration…except when it isn’t. Maybe you have lost something or someone this year, and now you’re sorting through the newness of different. Maybe it’s less complicated than that, and it’s more about how the overwhelm of doing all.the.things has taken the joy away from this season. That’s sort of where I was at. November hit, and I could see the list of things I had to do and all of the places I would have to be, and before it all began I was wishing for January. But I didn’t really want it to be January, I just wanted some peace. And that’s where ‘do you’ comes in.
For me there is a whole lot of freedom in ‘do you’. Freedom from perfection, and freedom to say no, freedom to do it different, and freedom to simply not care. And that not caring, it doesn’t come from a place of apathy, but from a place of contentment. A place of being so okay with who I am that I am freed of the need to care about those things that don’t truly matter.
Let’s talk about perfection. The Christmas season is a fine time to get trapped on that roller coaster. We want to create these Dickens’ Village-esque traditions that our kids will cherish forever, and we want to select the most perfect present for someone, and we want all the magic and tinsel and twinkly lights. And none of these things are bad, except that sometimes if we take a break from that Pinterest fruit cake that no one is going to eat, and look at our hearts, we find that what started out as joy has now become obligation. With all of the various social media outlets that we plug ourselves into, it becomes even easier to think that we have to do and be more (I’m looking at you, Elf on a Shelf). So ask yourself why you are doing the things you do. Do you want to? Does it bring you joy? Or do you feel like you have to? Or because ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’? It’s okay if you need to take a step back and create some space in your heart and mind to ‘do you’.
No one can deny that there is a satisfaction in perfection- but it’s a short-lived high, because as soon as we achieve it we seek it out again. And that can get really exhausting. There is an opportunity to be filled with openness and strength when you can truly rest in your imperfections. My space of ‘do you’ is imperfect, and I really love it. It’s a place where I don’t have to make apologies for not measuring up to someone else’s standard. It’s a place that sometimes gets ugly and messy (like my laundry room). It’s a place of authenticity and humility. It’s a place of connection where like-minded people can spend time together without assuming. And on the days I forget this, I am thankful for my imperfect friends that help bring me back to the place of ‘do you’.
So merry Christmas! Celebrate how you will, and while I hope that I write a January 5 on 5, I make no promises. Before you go, please take a minute to check out the other December 5 on 5 awesomeness. Go give some love to Jennifer Krafchik, Chestertown, Maryland family documentary photographer.