When I was a kid, there was one perfect day each year: December 25th. I remember the adrenaline rush of running into the living room, Andy Williams crooning in the background, all the lights bright and twinkly. What did Santa bring? One by one I’d open my presents in perfect delight. Hurricane Christmas never failed to leave an aftermath of strewn paper, boxes, Styrofoam and toy pieces in its wake. As quickly as it began it was over. Within days I’d start dog-earing the Toys R’ Us catalog with love, planning and dreaming of the next December 25th.
Now I look forward to the entire Christmas season. I love the decorations, the cookie exchanges, the Dunkin’ Donuts salted caramel hot chocolate, the holiday parties, the crisp cool air (when we are lucky in Florida). I love the worldwide softening and the warmth that spills out into every community. When it comes to Christmas I savor every moment instead of fixating on Christmas morning and all the presents.
I wish I was that evolved in every other season and area of my life!
When I am married . . . When I weight 120 lbs . . . when I am promoted . . . when I have another baby . . . when I make six-figures . . .
I hear variations of this refrain from my clients, my friends and myself. We spend our lives delaying joy for another moment just off in the future.
Why so many delays? Whether the goal is feeling happy, or the plan is to take a great vacation, to stop and spend time with family, or simply appreciating where you are now, delaying dreams and joy for some future optimal date is simply delaying life.
I am in the most wonderful, loving relationship and we are happily looking forward to spending our lives together. But M is thoughtful, methodical and in some (read: all) ways much slower than I am. If it were up to me, we would have been married a year ago. However this special time has been teaching me how much there is to savor in the journey. I get to love him now without doing his laundry or picking up after him. I get to love him and still have my perfectly feminine quiet apartment. I can binge watch Scandal and eat pizza in bed. These are all benefits of dating. It doesn't change my excitement at marrying and spending forever with him, but it helps me enjoy this unique and special part of our relationship for what it is.
There are benefits to being exactly where you are at right now. There are joys in planning a wedding. Sooner than later the wedding will be done and photographed and yours; but now you can still daydream about a future big day. There are joys in being in an entry-level position or still in school. There are joys to having small kids running around you all day long. You just have to take the time to discover them and remind yourself of them when you are feeling less-than joyful.
Take out a blank word document or piece of paper. Write across the top "20 Wonderful Things About [Insert Topic Here]. Below it start listing all the wonderful parts of your life, exactly as it is. The first 10 will come easily but keep digging. It is usually the last few that will shift your perspective and help you key into loving your life.
Remember that you choose your perspective and attitude! Choosing your perspective consistently takes practice and training. But I know that using that gift of choice to focus on the wonderful gifts in your present reality only open you up to a more expansive, bright, luminous future.
13 years ago our nation was attacked. It took our collective breath away. I remember the horror of watching the buildings fall, the news coverage jumping from Pennsylvania to the Pentagon and then back again to the Twin Towers. Finally, once we felt the danger was over, everyone pitched in to help. Our country was united in a way that I’d never experienced. Politics aside, we helped, lifted, served and loved one another.
My grandpa is a WWII vet who was stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. His generation served their country and then came home with their hearts set on family. In his 90’s now, he lives in the same house he raised his children in. He works in his garden, crafts homemade wood boxes, is active on social media and loves to be surrounded by his family. He lives simply and happily. He has lived this way for his entire adult life.
After a tragedy, the shiny complications of life fall away and we are left to focus on what is most important: family, love, community, service, and God. Slowly, the lessons learned are tucked away in our memories and we go back to focusing on the newest iPhone, the prettiest cars and all other modern fancies.
September is the last month before the rush of the holidays overtakes us. October brings Halloween with fists full of candy. November ushers in Thanksgiving. Gratitude is always a blessing but somehow we’ve managed to juxtapose it with gorging ourselves and shopping all night. December brings joy, but also a frantic hunt for the perfect gift, mailing of Christmas cards, planning and attending party after party. To top it all off, we stay up all night on New Year’s Eve dancing, singing and laughing. I’m not complaining! I love the holidays as much as the next girl. I’m simply pointing out that September is the last time we have to breathe before we are swept away.
Simply September. This is the perfect time to scale back and to consciously focus on what is most important. This month I’m purging my every nook and cranny. I have three large bins set up in my living room: Trash, Donate and Sell. I’ve cut the fluff out of my budget (do I really need BOTH Birchbox and Ipsy? Netflix and Hulu? iCloud and Dropbox?). I am simplifying my eating, my exercise and sleeping better than I have in a long time. I’m stripping my calendar of its excess and focusing on my loved ones.
In a world that values busyness and that thrives on overcomplication, I’ve dedicated September to Simplicity. I solemnly swear to cherish every true-love handhold, every puppy kiss and snuggle, every long conversation with a best friend. I will cherish every delicious bite, every can’t-put-you-down book and every kneeling prayer.
What can you do to simplify this month? Let’s share our plans with #SimplySeptember!