Friday, December 30, 2011

out with the old

A couple of days before Christmas I decided it was time for another cupboard purge.  I asked each child to take a good look in their room and bring out 10 things they no longer wanted (either outgrown, broken, whatever).  The dancing queen came out a few minutes later with a plastic bag full of half used colouring books and a pile of felt tip pens.  I followed behind and filled a few more bags....The little engineer proceeded to remove every single thing from his bedroom and put it in the middle of the lounge floor, announcing that he didn't want any of it, and anyway he would be getting plenty of new things for Christmas.

It took most of the afternoon, but we sorted through it all.  Now I'm a less is more kind of person, and was amazed that there was really anything to be thrown out, but we managed to put together 6 banana boxes of stuff - for rubbish, recycling, donating and storing.  Extraordinary!

It also threw into the sharp relief, the childrens expectations that there was ''plenty more where that came from''.  Come Christmas day, there was actually little that came in - gifts had been carefully thought out and  included a minimal amount of ''stuff'' - and the children were more than happy with that.

What amazes me most though, is how I consider myself clutter free, junk free and as consumable light as I can be, and still we managed to find a carful of stuff no longer wanted.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

building traditions from the traditional

Christmas turned out to be a simple and relatively low key affair in my house.  Quite a bit of the day was spent alone (ie just the children and I) with people coming and going.  Dinner was a ''bring your leftovers'' affair, with 4 families sharing - and this was possibly the highlight of the day.  the kids played and danced to their new CD's. the parents got to enjoy each others company, sitting in fading light on the deck.

I love that we went ""mnmlst"" this year.  The food was delicious but simple and I resisted the temptation of having laden plates of calorific snacks out all day long.  The company was awesome - people who really mattered were here.  The gifts were also thoughtful.  I asked the children to pack up everything they had been given and they filled only one paper carry bag each.  And all were things I know they will use and love and treasure including books and games (oh and chocolate...).

We've followed this way of doing things for years, but this year it somehow felt more meaningful and purposeful.  The season has been about people and experiences.  Carol singing, supper with neighbours, light trails. Small but meaningful gifts.  Church. Lights.  Evening barbeques.   A nod to the past and also bedding in some new habits.    I have a resolve. Sharing the meaning of christmas in ways that are Yep, meaningful, purposeful - and deliberate.   I want this to be our family tradition.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

what if...

Have a look at your diary.  Are there many (any!) days in December that aren't filled already?
School events, work and club Christmas parties,  shopping, family functions, a bit more Christmas shopping, possibly a trip to the hairdresser, the car needs a service, need to sort the mortgage, get a school pool key, start stocking the pantry for christmas day, organise the summer holiday....I'm getting tired just thinking about it all!
My editorial from the latest issue of the Village Voice....

It's a been a busy year - busier that most I am sure - with irregular school terms, national tragedies and celebrations punctuating our seasons, and a higher than normal incidence of bugs and germs ''doing the rounds''.

So as you read through this Village Voice - and marvel at just how busy our town is - I would like you to consider a challenge.  what if, just for a a few hours (or longer if you dare), you cancelled all those urgent, and important, and also the urgent and important  engagements, and just stopped.   Stayed home.  Kept the television, computer and telephone turned off.  Or went for a walk, leaving the mobile phone at home.  Or chose to turn down yet another party invitation? Or made just one less trip to the shop for an √©mergency'' ?  It's possible no-one else would even notice, or if they did, they could well be wistfully imagining it was them who had not raced to get to the party on time.

Imagine what you could do with the three extra hours that a Christmas party comes in.  Or the hour circling the car park at the shopping mall.  Or the 45 minutes in the queue at the supermarket checkout.

Consider what you might do to make life just a little simpler, a little easier this christmas.  It might be as simple as saying ''no''.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

living deliberately

The buzzwords these days, especially in Christian circles, are purposeful, and intentional.

Me, I like deliberate.

Deliberate says...I've weighed up the options.  Deliberate says I've thought this through.  Deliberate says I'm going to do this deliberately.  Without wavering.  With purpose.  With an expected outcome.  Carefully.  Mindfully.  

The other buzzword doing the rounds is authentic.

Now this one I like.  If I am authentic I'm being true to myself.  I'm not compromising. I'm being honest, even if it's not in a widely accepted form.  I'm real.

When I reflect on what I have achieved this year, I can, hand on heart, say it has been done authentically and deliberately.   I've stayed true to myself.  As a result  I've made a couple of spectacular errors of judgement, and a few more awesomely effective decisions.   I've ticked off all the 'to do's'' on my list of resolutions.  I've looked after myself, deliberately, spiritually, physically.  Emotionally it's been a bit touch and go but I'm working on it;)

So my question for you is this:  Whether it be in your business, work or personal life, have you been deliberate in your actions this year?  Why or why not?  Does this resonate with you?  If you've been floundering a bit, could it be a new way forward for 2012? 

Monday, December 12, 2011

All I want for Christmas for my family to be able to be in the same room for more than two hours and get on - or at least pretend to for the children to get through til New Year without being stuffed full of sugar and artificial colourings (given to them by others, not me) a good nights sleep to be able to get a pile of cherries from the tree on Christmas morning to get through the next ten days of madness and stay sane (or pretend to be...) to avoid hearing Snoopy's Christmas, which I'm sure contributes to the spike in crime, alcohol consumption and bad tempers the world over because it's just so darned annoying to resist the shops for just a few more days and be satisfied with the shopping I've done
... is the company of wonderful friends and family, some good food, an engaging book, and maybe a nice glass of champagne a few fine days, maybe a couple of hot ones, and not too many rainy ones lots of kisses and cuddles from the people who matter most

Saturday, December 03, 2011

acts of kindness

It would seem that the cynics might be conservative Christian friends believe that the world is an inherently bad place...that people are are born ...evil...or flawed...or whatever term you want to use to describe the humanness of us all.

Today I am feeling sceptical...disillusioned even.

I want to believe that the world is full of good people.  I want to believe that people are basically good.  But time after time, I put my faith in another person (perhaps that is flawed in itself) and find myself being let down.  I understand that we are not perfect  - and I certainly take no issue with the idea that as humans we are  capable, even gifted, at falling short.   But what I'm talking about here is the ability to simply be kind.  

Whether it be in word or deed, surely the world would be a better place - and we would get on a whole lot better in it - if we tempered our actions and thoughts with kindness.   When we are kind to our bodies, our environment, the people around us,  surely the knock on effect can only be positive.  And conversely, when someone is unkind to us, it is all to easy to respond the same way, creating a butterfly effect of discontent.

Words can be harsh...and needlessly so in my opinion.  I accept that many things are said from raw emotion, that often we don't think through the consequences of our words and actions before ''getting them out there'' but surely this is another good reminder of the need to think twice, act once?

I have heard way too many stories this week of real unkindness.  Meanness.  Selfishness.  Narcissism.  Misogynistic behaviour.  It grieves me deeply.

Kind words make people feel valued.  Harsh words don''t.  It's that simple.  If we live by the maxim of loving each other as we would love ourselves then I would have to ask this question:  what value do we put on ourselves when we speak unkindly to others?

Honesty is essential.  Integrity too.  And to cloak these qualities in kindness must surely be one the greatest challenges of all.