_Because I'm busy doing freelance editing for Booktrope and working on a guest blog post for the gracious and talented Tess Hardwick, for today's Monday Minute, I'm inviting you to head over to Tess' blog, Inspiration for Ordinary Life, and peruse the installments in her guest series titled "20 Thursday."
Tess is a gifted writer and the author of Riversong. In recent weeks, she has invited a variety of writers and bloggers (myself included) to contribute their reflections on life as though advising their 20-year-old self. It's been an amazing series so far, and I think you'll find it moving and inspiring. My post will appear there later this week. Please visit ... and have a wonderful week.
_We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses. ~Abraham Lincoln
I was drawn to the beauty of this rose in the gardens at Jackson Square during my recent Christmas vacation in New Orleans. The rose serves as a reminder of the realities of life — that along with happiness and success we must sometimes endure hardship and loss. But in spite of the hardships, life is filled with little gardens that serve as stepping stones from one oasis to the next.
The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to reflect on the successes and mistakes of the past while casting an eye toward the future and the dreams we hope to achieve. Here's to a new year in which we all take time to smell the roses. May it be 12 months filled with more beautiful moments than unpleasant ones, and may we each find the strength to bravely meet the challenges we are sure to face.
Happy New Year to all of you, my dear readers, and a huge thank you for your support of this blog in 2011.
What are your goals and hopes for the new year? What challenges do you anticipate, and how do you plan to meet those challenges? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.
Dear Santa ...
I hope the season finds you well and that you're feeling the excitement build as we approach the big day. While I have a minute in my hectic holiday schedule, I wanted to dash off my wish list for this year.
This year, could you please bring me the perfect Norman Rockwell Christmas? (Or I guess Martha Stewart will do.) I would like to have a flawlessly decorated tree with perfectly wrapped packages underneath. I want to set a stunning holiday table with a gorgeous handmade centerpiece. I'd like to find the perfect gifts, mail Christmas cards to everyone on my list and concoct yummy treats to share with my co-workers. Oh ... and elaborate decorations that will be the envy of my friends and neighbors would be nice, too. And could you sprinkle a little magic dust to help me write some perfect holiday blog posts in the next couple of weeks?
Santa, I realize this is a pretty tall order. Perhaps I should prepare for your inability to deliver. Maybe I should realign my expectations. The more I think about it, that Norman Rockwell image of Christmas does seem a bit unrealistic. It really is an illusion, isn't it? I mean, after all, life isn't perfect. I'm not perfect. And I guess the people in my life who really matter won't care if the pie I serve is store-bought instead of homemade. They'll still love me, right?
You know, Santa. I think I've just rewritten my Christmas list. Could you just send me an early gift of wisdom, patience and clarity? And throw in a dose of calm, if that's not too much to ask. Maybe then I'll be able to relax and enjoy the season. I guess I need to slow down, embrace the holiday and just take each moment as it comes. If I don't plan on what to expect, then I won't be disappointed!
Santa, I've decided to make a new list and check it twice. I will set aside time to do what I can, check off my completed items and just forget the rest. Wow, Santa. Writing to you has really helped me get my head on straight. What I really want for Christmas is to stop fretting and share the joy of the season with those around me. And, I guess the only person who can deliver that is me. Thank you, Santa. I think you've already sent that gift of clarity my way.
P.S. I hope you won't mind if I don't have time to put out milk and cookies. I may be so busy enjoying Christmas with my family that I forget all about it!
I hope that we all take the time to enjoy the holiday season and embrace it — with all its imperfections. Do you struggle with trying to do it all during the holidays? Do you have suggestions for experiencing a stress-free, pressure-free holiday season? Please share your insights in the comments below.
P.S. to readers:
If you find yourself overwhelmed during the holiday season, this article from Mayo Clinic offers excellent tips for coping with stress and depression:
Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping
Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
A couple of weeks ago, I grew tired of looking at the fading ferns and flowers in my outdoor pots and baskets. It was past time for the seasonal ritual of divesting my outdoor garden of its dead vegetation and bringing in some new life and color. In recent days, the fruits of my labor have brought me great joy.
Winter can sometimes be dreary, its cloudy days and lifeless landscape causing us to feel a little dead inside. I don't know about you, but I find the perkiness of a pansy is like a ray of sunshine on a drab winter day.
Just like flowers can bring us cheer, so, too, can we bring cheer to others. A brief smile or an offer to help someone carrying heavy bags is sometimes all it takes to lighten the load of another.
So ... today's post issues a challenge to begin the week by spreading some cheer. Don't just look out for yourself today and focus on what you'll get out of it; plant seeds today that will yield good in the days to come — both for you and those around you. When you sow seeds of kindness, not only will you feel the warm reward of your actions in the moment, but you will also reap their harvest a thousand times over in the days ahead.
Do you struggle with the winter doldrums? Do you find joy in winter gardening? Has someone recently brightened your day with a small act of kindness? Please share your thoughts and comments below.
I write, edit, photograph and muse about life.
Need help to improve your writing? Visit my writing & grammar blog:
The Write Stuff