I have a lot of feelings around the end of the Radvent series each year–relief, some nostalgia, some pressure, hope that people enjoyed it, gratitude to have finished another year. As November passes each year I never think I’m going to do Radvent again. I think I partly do it to please readers who tell me they look forward to it, but I know I couldn’t even begin without the gift of inspiration that seems to come just in time for the first post. Some days the urge to write is stronger than others, the ideas are better than others, but the challenge to write each day is always on my mind and it makes me live with more purpose and intention.
Reading back through the Radvents of past years, it’s unmistakeable that the themes and posts from each day reflect the values I had at the time. The things I was thinking about, the problems I cared about, the motivations behind my business and life. My goal this year was to inspire readers to open up to accepting their own worthiness, brilliance, and potential. To either get back on a path to self-acceptance, or celebrate the huge accomplishment of a positive self-image–wherever you are on the continuum we go up and down on through our whole lives. Indeed, women are pressured to look beautiful but never feel beautiful, “be strong” but never stand up for themselves verbally or physically, be mothers, be married, work, stay home, ANYTHING. A woman never feels like she is enough. And in the constant struggle within ourselves, we turn it outward toward each other and forget the sisterhood and camaraderie of the feminine experience. Quieting the din of messages about how to act, what to say, how to look, what to like, is a SKILL to be developed. I look at Alice and think about how I was born like her–carefree and unknowing that anything I loved or wished for deep in my heart could be wrong. Unaware of anything artificial, constructed, and untrue that would come to be expected of me. Of us. If that’s the disease, the antidote is self-reflection, self-awareness, self-love. And I think that takes work.
So this is the work I do. It’s for me, but it’s also for you in that I hope that sharing my own process of working on my sense of self inspires someone else to do the work they need to do. And perhaps to share some ideas about where to begin.
Tonight I’m writing this post amidst calm. I’m awake, alone, surrounded by reminders of the generous and laughter-filled Christmas Eve celebration my family just enjoyed. A can of diet coke, a few candy wrappers, on the couch observing the joyous and wonderful toys and gifts arranged, awaiting Alice’s awakening in the morning. A wooden kitchen, a cardboard fort system, Duplo building blocks set up to create a zoo scene, puppets, clay, and books. To me, it’s things purchased to begin the tradition of Alice’s first Christmas with Santa Claus. I hope it makes her feel loved and special, but I think about how this is probably the last year that she won’t be expecting this. This is calm, the excitement and elation hasn’t happened yet, everything waiting here for Alice’s Perfect Christmas isn’t even known by her to be here.
What is inside you that you don’t have awareness of yet? There’s no way to know, is there? How can you know what potential lies within you until you rise to meet a challenge? Finishing a writing project. Daring to share a passion. Giving a speech, starting a business. Childbirth. Overcoming illness and grief. Calm, conflict, reaction, and growth is a cycle that repeats on macro- and micro-levels in our lives forever. I’ve accepted that, and it gives me comfort, confidence, and a level of inner calm that helps me have perspective because I address my old issues that always cycle through as the person I am now, not as the person I was before. I love this place. I expect to step back, but I expect to leap forward with grace even farther than before.
What cycles are ending for you right now? What is beginning now? What is coming next?
Enjoy what is important to you. Just be in the middle of it.
During the holidays, and today in particular if you celebrate Christmas, we’re often surrounded by people and in places and thinking about ideas that are important to us. Put aside your thoughts of tomorrow, your wishes, and become calm among the chaos. My mom says “The days are long and the years are short.” Figure out how to use them to honor what is important to you.
Create your own comfort ritual.
What makes you feel calm and comforted? Figure out what you need to do to re-center yourself when you are stressed or facing conflict. Feel proud to know that you can comfort yourself.
“Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I’m happy with this December, with this year. I’m happy with what I contributed to the world and how I grew my understanding of myself and used that to live more intentionally and consciously. I’m happy with the example I set as a mother, I’m happy about what I built with my partner Sarah who I love like a sister, an irreplaceable part of my life, I’m proud of the honesty and openness my husband Dave and I fostered between us as a team. I love the respect I gained for other people, especially other women, and the perspective I found about the importance of supporting each other. From that genesis, the belief in the value and beauty and the choice to recognize it in others, that the most happiness I’ve ever felt has emerged.