Twas the night after…

The countdown. The holiday lights. The décor. The shopping. The cooking. The baking. The laughter. The fun. The gifts. The family. The children. The end.

I sat there listening to two people talk about it.  They were not related to me nor were they  my friends. They were having an open discussion in my presence. Statements like, “Christmas was boring. It’s for the children. My children weren’t with me. The food at my in-laws tasted awful. What was he thinking when he gave me that? I’m not sentimental.” The list went on.

Those statements were followed by more complaints about gifts and their opinions on what they should have received and why what they received wasn’t good enough. Every year I think I hear the worst until another year comes around.  And it turns me off completely.

Is this what the holidays have become?  Is Christmas about people who hate each other getting together for a holiday party that they don’t even want to attend? Is Christmas about spending the same amount of money on others just because others are spending that on us?

Is it about feeling obligated and carrying an extra gift in our trunks just to show we didn’t forget someone when we actually did? Is that what it’s about?  Is Christmas about saying no to the gift exchange because the gifts we received were always too cheap for us to appreciate and we would rather not be insulted?

Is Christmas about holding grudges over the little things we heard at the dinner table which we misinterpreted and chose to get offended over?

I was standing in line at a store recently with my 17-year old son when he told me that he noticed the madness. People grabbing gifts and standing on line with piles of stuff. All for one day. There’s nothing wrong with buying for our loved ones.  I know that.  But everything about it that day just seemed wrong.  People were rushed. The atmosphere felt cold.

He expressed his heart and what he saw before him.  I wondered if it was an epiphany. Or was it something that was quite obvious. I agreed and told him his heart was in the right place.  It was a proud Mommy moment.

Maybe the “disappointments” are all just signs that we need to grow in love.  Maybe it’s a sign we’re craving for attention.

Maybe that’s why we say and hear that Christmas is about the children.  Maybe it’s because we see something in them that we fail to see about ourselves sometimes. We see a genuine love and appreciation.
A love that is a sincere expression of who they are.  Maybe it’s because they can’t hide their feelings.  Or because their smiles light up every room they enter.

Have you ever seen children at a park? I recently watched my girls play with a girl they didn’t know. It didn’t take much warming up. I saw them laugh and play.  They even held hands as they sat on a swing.  It wasn’t the first time I had seen this happen. Children are humble.  They’re not afraid to express to each other the need they have for one another.

Children are quick to forgive. They don’t judge.  They don’t see color.  Maybe they do, but they definitely don’t treat others different because of it.  And they don’t see age.  They can sit for a while talking to the elderly.

Children don’t see prices either.  Have you ever noticed how a young child responds to a coloring book and a bottle of bubbles?

Children find joy in the little things. They are gentle and kind.  When they hurt, they cry and don’t hold back.  They don’t worry about what people are saying or thinking about them.  They laugh out loud.  They run freely without worries.  If they’re young enough, they’ll run around naked, too.  It’s called innocence.

Children love to give.  They get excited about handmade cards.  They write freely from the heart about what makes them happy. And they make it all about us.

Sometime before Christmas, my 5 year old heard a commercial on the radio about dying children. She was shocked to hear it and asked me about it.  I tried to explain to her that there are starving children, but that’s why we need to send them food. She thought that the Christmas cookies we were baking were for them.
It made me laugh, but it also made me think.  I wondered what it would be like if we started baking for starving children around the world instead of for ourselves.

If Christmas is just for children like people say, then why don’t we all act like children? I’m not talking about running around naked. Please don’t do that. I just think the world would be a better place if we take the time to think the best of each other and love without limits.

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How to Turn Writer’s Block into a Detour

The blog.  We started it.  And we were very excited about it until we hit the wall.

Writer’s block.  That moment where you sit at the computer because you know you haven’t posted a new blog, and you feel like you have nothing to write about.  One draft becomes two drafts.  Two become four.  And now there are eight half written posts sitting in the draft folder.

Why does it happen?  Is it because we’ve run out of words?  Impossible.  Is it fear?  Possibly.  Let’s face it.  We have a blog, and we want it to be interesting.  Any thought about it not being good can stop us from writing. Maybe we’re too focused on aiming to please?

Or maybe it’s because we feel we have nothing to write about.  Think about it.  Can that be true?  No.  It can’t.  All of us have something to write about.

Ask anyone who has written in a diary if they’ve ever experienced writer’s block.  My guess is all would say no.  Why?  Because when one writes in a diary or journal, he/she writes like no one is looking. It reminds me of that expression, “Dance like nobody’s watching.”  There’s freedom in doing things when we know what we’re doing isn’t for anyone else but for ourselves.

I’ve decided that I can’t be intimidated by writer’s block.  Just like I can’t be intimidated by the scale. If I’m exercising and the scale won’t budge, that’s not a time for me to cry and give up on exercising.  Trust me, I’m there right now. It’s a time for me to discover new ways that will help me reach my goal.

It’s the same thing when it comes to writing.  Moving past the block is like hitting a detour. I can sit in front of the sign and not move.  Or I can take another route and keep moving.

Questions that can help get through writer’s block:

What happened today?
If you ask yourself this question, it might help you find the topic of the day.  Maybe it was a phone call. Or maybe it was a personal problem.  How did it make you feel?  Did you learn anything from it? What can you do to encourage others through that same experience?

What inspires you?
Is it sitting in the backyard or is it putting on your cozy robe with a hot cup of coffee or tea at your desk?  If it’s a song, play it.  If it’s looking out the window, pull up the shades.  If it’s a candle, light it.

Who inspires you?
God? Yourself? A teacher? A mentor? A stranger?  Talk!

Just the other day I got a phone call from a little old lady.  When she told me her husband’s age and told me that they were married for 63 years, I asked her to tell me something about those 63 years.  And I could tell she was smiling as she told me about the first day they met. Her story inspired me to write about love and wisdom.

Think Outside the Box
I met someone the other day. She was a teacher and she told me she wanted to write, but she didn’t have the time and desired to do it after she retired.  I encouraged her and asked if she ever thought about recording herself.  With wide open eyes, she thanked me.

A couple of months later, we ran into each other at a store.  She hugged me as if we were old friends. She thought she didn’t have a way of doing what her heart desired, but thinking outside the box was exactly what she needed.

Nothing really is Something
Nothing means “not a thing.” The simple solution to breaking through writer’s block is to write about something even if it’s nothing because if you have nothing to write about, you have something.  You might need to read that again.  Go right ahead.  See.  Right now, I’m writing about something when it’s nothing at all.

And that, my friend, is what gets me through. It’s knowing that the block isn’t the end.  It’s the beginning of a different route to get me where I’m going.