Christmas Shopping

So today marks the official time of year that I start getting anxious.  When I was younger I loved Christmas time and especially loved buying and giving gifts.  I would be thrilled to watch people open the gifts I’d purchased on Christmas morning.  I think back to that time and observe I was either better at picking out presents or was just oblivious to whether or not people actually liked them.  Whichever it was, giving brought me lots of joy.

Somewhere a long the way though I have realized that I don’t really know what to get the people in my life.  The first Christmas Mark and I were dating I had so much fun buying his gifts.  I got several things I just knew he’d love.  Only problem was…he didn’t.  He’s not a very good actor either, so he failed at convincing me and from then on buying gifts for my husband has been nearly impossible.  His only true wish list is made up of items that are way too expensive and specific for me to try to buy (guitars and music equipment).  So I end up getting him gifts like rubics cubes and DVD’s he never watches.

My parents are equally as tough.  For the first 20 years of my life I bought my father golf balls and then one day I figured out as much as he loves golf, he just doesn’t play it that much.  For at least 5 years I have gotten stuck on Home Depot gift certificates.  Giving that gift always leaves me with an empty feeling though.  I wish there was something I could get him that was personal and appreciated.  But I got nothing…  And Mom, well she’s very particular.  Some years I do OK, but those are the years when either she or my sisters tell me specifically what to get.  If I try to come up with something on my own, I miss the mark.  I like to get her something she’ll use, like K-Cups for her Keurig machine, but I’ve sensed her disappointment on receiving something that is practical and not sentimental.  Then there is my mother-in-law who has extremely expensive taste and loves jewelry.  We have had great success in giving gifts to her, but only when we spend way more than my frugal side can handle.  Our last gift to her was a plane ticket here to see the girls.  As FABULOUS of a gift that was I could still tell she longed for an actual present.

My nieces are pretty easy.  I generally give them gift certificates and don’t feel bad about it.  I remember as a kid LOVING to get certificates and money so I could buy whatever I wanted.  I feel sure they have the same reaction.

What I have acknowledged the last few years is that what I love most about Christmas is giving.  Unfortunately I have made this realization because I’ve found myself feeling disappointed when Christmas comes and goes.  I am not disappointed at what I did or didn’t receive, but that I wasn’t able to make others as happy with gift-giving as it seems I once did.  So today, on Black Friday, the pressure is turned on.  WHAT AM I GOING TO GET EVERYONE FOR CHRISTMAS?!?!?

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Two Years on Meds

As of Memorial Day weekend, it has officially been two years since I took my friend, Rob’s Mantra Meditation class.  Since then, I have meditated almost everyday, twice a day for 20 minutes.  Meditation has had an enormous affect on my life.

Physically, I am healthier than I have ever been.  I have lost twenty pounds since I started and have kept it off.  I credit my weight loss to meditation because I was a stress eater.  Obviously my stress level is down so I have no desire to go to the fridge because I am anxious and worried.  And since I’m not running for snacks because I am stressed, I tend not to eat more than I should anymore.  I feel confident I will not have to struggle with this problem again in the future. I plan to be a lifelong meditator and will always have a solution to any stressful habits I may stumble on.

Emotionally, I am in balance.  Like I mentioned in a previous post, I think that memories come to us for a reason.  Over the past two years, I have had a lot of stuff come up during meditation.  I’ve remembered certain things and people from my past that have brought up unresolved emotions.  I’ve been able to let go of guilt and become more accepting of myself.  Meditating also helps me settle down when my “monkey mind” is getting the best of me.

Creatively, I am more receptive to inspiration than I have ever been.  Taking the time to meditate daily keeps the channels open, so that my mind is quiet and calm enough to get ideas for my writing.  Almost every great line I came up with in my two novels came to me during meditation.  And at least half of these blog ideas have sprang forth during my meditation time.

But to me, the most important benefit I have achieved from meditation is becoming spiritually aware.  Through meditation I have opened myself up to the “still small voice” within.  I am learning that the best answers for my own life come from within me.  I call it my connection with God.  It is what Jesus was talking about in Luke 17:21, “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”  When I go within I get answers.  When I go within I get directions.  When I go within I find my way.  I don’t try to make things happen in my life, instead I surrender and wait to be asked.

With the help of meditation I am becoming the person I was meant to be.  It is the best medicine that I have found.