28 Dec 2012

New Beginnings

On New Year's Eve we get this solemn feeling of approaching a new beginning. We think of New Year's resolutions and we really believe we'll keep them. I like that solemn feeling. There's something about putting your efforts into a Resolution with complete determination... like "tomorrow I will be a new and better person".
Unfortunately, some days or weeks into the new year we often find ourselves living on exactly like we did in the old year, having forgotten everything about the resolution, our determination and the New Beginning. That's so sad. We might even loose faith in the possibility of ever changing ourselves or our lives.
The good news is: we can change! At any given day, like 17 March, I can decide to leave what happened yesterday behind, draw the lessons from what went wrong and make a leap not only into a new day but also into a New Life. I can decide to leave one of my bad habits behind,  like making "witty" comments to everything people say.
It only needs three things: Determination, Concentration, and Stopping.
If I have taught myself to stop and take three conscious breaths every now and then during my day, I can use that as a help to catch myself when I'm falling back into unwanted behavior. And the more often I catch myself in the act, the more often I will learn to stop before it has happened - and do nothing. I take a deep breath, instead of making that comment (for example). It makes me feel incredibly good about myself when I succeed, and I promise you: the more often it happens, the more often it will happen again. The famous snowball effect!
So the 1 January feels like an extra serious New Beginning. I have decided on an somewhat more weighty improvement action - and when I wake up after the New Year's Eve party I will ... (The Resolution)... with Determination and Concentration, and with the help of Stopping.
A New Beginning fit for a New Year :-)

22 Dec 2012

The Feast of Light

Soon it's Christmas, and not only children are looking forward to the most important feast in this part of the world. We all have our reasons for loving it: for some it's the gifts and sweets, for many it's sharing time with your beloved ones, and for others it's just some days off from work to relax at home.
In the secularized societies here in western Europe, few persons really celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, it's more a nice family tradition, but I want to think about why I'm celebrating. Why do I decorate my home, why do I prepare special food, why do I get extra nice chocolate and presents for my dear ones?
Having turned my back to Christianity I celebrate Christmas as the Feast of Light and Generosity.
We light lots of candles to symbolize the return of the light after this darkest month of the year. I do it with a strong reminder to shed light inside myself, on how I live and what I think, say and do. The important thing is to really live by my values.
Generosity is symbolized by the gifts and the abundance of food. Luckily it's not only about little Me... We are many who feel an increased need to help others, be it by inviting a lonely neighbor for dinner or donating an extra amount of money to charity.
For me real "Christmas Spirit" comes when I celebrate with less and enjoy it more, and when my heart is full of gratitude and completely open for others, without any exceptions.

Merry Christmas to you, and enjoy the Feast of Light!

15 Dec 2012

Magic December

Kate Bush is so right: there's something magic about December...
It's the snow, covering our dark and cold world up in white, making it shine again. It's all the candles, making any room feel warm and homey. It's the smells: of special Christmas cookies or mulled wine, of spices and incense. It's the sound of favorite Christmas songs or, if I'm very lucky, of crunching snow, and it's so much more in connection with the most important feast of the year in this part of the world.
Having grown up with both German and Swedish Christmas traditions (both countries being almost Christmas-addicted) I am very much into decorating, preparing special foods, beverages and sweets, but most of all: I adore just cuddling up inside among candles, with something nice and warm to drink and a good book to read, while it's dark and cold outside.
The magic of December is enchanting me every year, and I enjoy it all the way into January :-)
And what about the reason for this feast, the birth of Jesus Christ? My reason might be a bit different, but the core is still the same...

Snow in a warm light

9 Dec 2012

The Art of Stopping

This time of the year is often very hectic. Loads of things to arrange, Christmas preparations and events, and I'm not even talking about presents... At work meetings and deadlines are piling up - everybody wants to round of important tasks before the festive days start.
It's easy to be dragged along in this speedy tempo, and start running around at an ever increasing speed with your shoulders under your ears.
That's when it helps a lot to just STOP. Proper Stopping is an art, and it has to be practiced frequently in order to really enter your system.
Whenever I feel I'm just racing and my mind starts to get blurry I force myself to STOP: I stand still and breathe deeply twice. I empty my mind and let go of the tensions in my body.
When I pick up the tasks at hand afterwards I have slowed down enough to be able to - smile :-)

2 Dec 2012

Grandma's Message

Everybody that enters my life is here to teach me something.
This became very evident at the funeral of grandmother Anna. I felt the need to say a few words, to express my gratitude for having been a small part of her life, and I wanted to thank her for her positive influence on me.  What was essential in her life and has become essential in mine, too.
It's the message of love and care: one of our most important missions here on earth is to take care of each other. We are not only here to live our own little lives - there is a much bigger picture and we can only manage the important tasks in life if we help and support each other.
Thank you Anna for being such a good example. Thank you for leaving such a beautiful message.