As I blink in twinkling holiday lights,
Have I made friends with Guilt?
Have I welcomed her as the old friend she is?
Have I invited her to make herself cozy, have I poured her a cup of tea while she and I together notice how disappointing I am to others? Have we observed, with stark clarity, that I have not been, will never be, doing enough for my children, my parents, my in-laws, my spouse, my job, my friends, my self?
Have I thanked Guilt for her near-constant companionship?
As I stand in the kitchen, cookies in the oven, pots on the stove,
Have I been crying enough?
Have I let my tears salt the gingerbread? Spill into the pasta water until it’s as bracing and biting as the ocean, like my friend Maddy says pasta water should always be?
As I sip a drink here at a friend’s party,
Have I embraced my loneliness with the same gusto as I hug my friends?
Or is my loneliness lonely, another victim of unearned neglect? How can I make my loneliness feel loved?
As I wrap these presents, have I enfolded into the packages the sorrows of the year? The souls I miss so dearly? The disappointments I’ve caused, or been steamrolled under? The injustices I’ve borne witness to? The keenings of my heart?
As I tear sticky-tape off the roll, am I noticing all the ways my intentions are stuck on my fingers — entangled, gluey, as dangerous as the web of the garden spider outside my window — do I feel the viscosity of all my intentions stuck to my fingers, building up, obscuring fingerprints and whorls, never manifested on the page, or in the world?
As I set the table for fewer people than I’d hoped, or more than I can bear,
Am I asking myself if I’m getting enough rest? If I’ve seen the moon recently? If I’ve left space for joy?
As I turn off the lights, the only soul awake in the house, possibly the world,
will I remember
that I am a Child of the Universe,
A friend asked me to repost in a more findable place. I'm honored that it seems to have resonated with folks. Please feel free to share. Here goes --
Some thoughts on marriage, and cookies:
So I made cookies. (By which of course I mean that I baked the portion of dough that was not in my tummy.) And some of them came apart from cooking sheet to cooling rack, because they were so yummy/gooey. So I said to my hubs, "If you eat any, eat the broken ones."
And then I was like, Wait a second. This is my partner. This is the person who puts up with my ridiculousness every day, and makes me laugh more than anyone else on the planet, and is generous to me when I am a total shit. I literally trust this person with my life, and with my child's life. Why am I telling him to eat the broken cookies?
So I paused Netflix and told him, "You know what? You are my favorite person in the world. Eat the very best ones."
And I guess my Christmas (New Year's) Eve marriage/cookie message is this: We're all ridiculous people. We're only here a very, very short time. If you're lucky enough to find someone who wants to spend every day (and night) with you, and that person still manages to love you? Pause Netflix, tell them what a good egg they are, and by all means, let them have the very best cookies.
To everyone feeling overwhelmed by cookie making, card sending, secret-Santa-ing, and/or open house having. And to anyone feeling vaguely guilty about not feeling guilty about not doing things. I hath created a handy Holiday Tradobligation (Tradition + Obligation) Flowchart. The more you share, the better our world. You're welcome.
Optional Bonus Handy Note:
----------------------cut on dotted line------------------------------
Dear (circle one) friend / family member / colleague / other (please specify):
I am intentionally, but not maliciously, declining to participate in the following holiday tradobligation: ____________________________________________________
for reasons of my own sanity, and to make the world a less reciprocal-obligation-filled place. I invite you to join me in opting out of any and all tradobligations. Experience the freedom!
I do love me the resolutions of the new year variety. And this year, having spent NYE on the sofa with the flu, I've had time to consider my resolutions. (Too much time.)
First, the J.J. Johnson Criteria for Acceptable New Year's Resolutions:
(A) A resolution must be desirable. And by that I mean something *I* desire. Sure, I could resolve to run a half marathon--and believe me, I admire those who do--but the sad truth is that I do NOT enjoy running. In fact, it's torture. I've tried, people, I've tried. Me, I'll keep fit through other means. Moving on.
(B) A resolution must be measurable. "To feel better about the fact that I am not a runner" is not truly measurable, and thus, kind of a buzzkill to achieve, because there's this nagging voice that's all "Are you SURE you REALLY achieved this?" Whatever, nagging voice. Go to hell.
(C) Proposed resolutions must be achievable. Difficult is fine, but completely out of the realm of possibility is just a sucky plan. (Section C-1) This also means the resolution must be, barring illness or other "acts of God," wholly within my own locus of control. Thus "Get third novel published," while both desirable and measurable, depends on other people (not to mention a crazy industry), and therefore does not qualify as acceptable under the J.J. Johnson Resolution Statutes.
And so, without further ado, I give you my 2012 New Year's Resolutions. (Careful readers will note these skew more "goal" than "resolution". But whatevs.)
1. Go somewhere new. This has been on the list several years now, and it's always a good one. It can be near, it can be far, but it must be a place on Earth as yet un-walked-upon by me.
Desirable? Yes. I love to travel and explore. Measurable? Yes. Achievable? Yes.
2. Finish writing a new novel. Along with editing and releasing my second novel, I want to write at least one more this year. Either finishing a work-in-progress, or completing a whole new project, doesn't matter.
Desirable? Hell yes. Measurable? Yes. Doesn't matter if it sucks (although hopefully it will be RAD!). No value judgments, just need to get to "THE END." Achievable? Evidently so!
3. Investigate going solar. Read at least two more books AND contact a local solar company for their advice and free estimate on transitioning our household to solar. (The decision itself--whether to install panels--is not the resolution.)
Desirable? Yes. Not sure whether it makes sense for us to make the transition, and it would have to be a decision made with my hubs, but I do desire to greenify my energy choices, and I want to know what solar panels would cost/conserve, ballpark. Measurable? Yep. Either I read the books and make the call, or I don't. If the company flakes out, that's not on me. Achievable? You betcha.
Well ... I think that's it. Sure, there's "be healthy and happy, invest in important relationships, keep marriage strong, work hard, save for retirement, keep fit and eat well." But here I refer you back to item B under "J.J. Johnson Criteria for Acceptable New Year's Resolutions". They're all too gelatinous. Except Save for Retirement. Duly Added.
4. Save for retirement. I have specific numbers in mind, but that's personal, yo.
So there they are. What are your thoughts? Have you made resolutions? Discuss.
_T-MINUS three days before Christmas. Once again, Charlie Brown has kicked us in the gut with his wimpy-sad tree, reminding us that the season isn't supposed to be about consumerism. And yet. And yet the hubs and I are counting the rechargeable batteries we need to stockpile, since Santa's official policy is "batteries not included." (Oy. Santa. That's a whole 'nother post.)
Got me thinking, as it always does, about consumerism. I wrote this article for Friends Journal, "On Potty Training and Consumerism," and thought I'd share some of it here.
My article (apparently from a time in my life when I was much wiser) concludes thusly:
"... Ultimately, consumption doesn’t only mean buying things; it connotes an illness of taking in more than we put out. Consumption, to me, includes watching too much TV, eating non-nutritive foods, being too lazy to hang the clothes outside to dry, reading celebrity magazines, gossiping, driving a gas-guzzler. Consumption is that which distracts me from the real work—and joy—of life: connection, creation.
The opposite of consumption is creation: giving, generating, being generous. Connecting to myself and others. Examples? Hiking, yoga, writing, sharing wholesome dinners, playing with my family, spending time with friends, making gifts, attending Meeting for Worship, gardening, voting, camping, being intimate, caring for the Earth, reading good books, praying.
My goal has become to put out a bit more than I take in, on a daily basis. It’s the days when I give Sam my full attention, when I eat well, when I garden, when I really listen to my husband, when I walk in the woods, when I write a new chapter of my novel—when I then fall into bed exhausted, with a content heart. That, to me, is the opposite of consumerism. That is valuing creation more than consumption. And that’s what I want to teach [my son]."
What do you think? Leave a comment; I'd love to hear from you.
CLICK THE 'READ MORE' LINK TO READ MY "ON POTTY TRAINING AND CONSUMERISM" ARTICLE --->
j.j. johnson, author