A Handful

Photo credit: Lance Richardson
This will come as no surprise, I'm sure, but the beginning of the season has already been a handful.  The emotional roller coaster of the "first Christmas without..." is always so hard.  The decorating process just about did me in.  Open a box of ornaments, begin crying all over again, put box away.  Repeat.  The finished product was not what it has ever been (I never could get one single ornament on the tree.  Lights, berries, and feathers are pretty though, right?).  There seems to be much more natural greenery everywhere which is very restful to me now.

I was out with a BFF of mine the other night and as we were talking about our losses (my granny, his momma), he said that he had read something recently that said in times of sorrow, to look at your own hands and know that the loved ones that you miss so much are truly inside of you.  They are housed inside your hands, your heart, and the blood that flows through your very veins keeps them alive in you.  It was very soothing when I looked down and could see my Mamaw's hands in mine. She suddenly felt much closer.

It was indeed a handful of comfort.  

I was reminded about what a magical thing hands are.  Steven and my wedding vows were all about hands (no surprise really with who we are).  They were based on a Hindu love poem about hands and it represented so much of what we believe a marriage to be.  The vows were said with our palms face up, receiving the gifts being promised to one another. 

 "May these hands always be held by one another, vibrant with love.  Give them strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the dark of disappointment.  Keep them tender and gentle as they nurture.  Help these hands continue building a relationship founded in grace, rich in caring, and devoted to each other.  May you both see your hands as healer, protector, shelter, and guide."

{A handful of love and promise.}

Photo Credit: Marni Rothschild

One of the big lessons learned this year on my birthday was about taking control of my investment in relationships that are important to me and releasing those that are not able to give back in a way that I need or that are just plain toxic.  Coming from the family that I do, letting go of relationships is not an easy thing.  My natural inclination is to try and make things work, despite the relationship not being what I need ("I'll just love them harder.  That will fix it").  Taking people where they are is one thing.  Being in a "love relationship" when that is the case is something else entirely.  Giving myself permission to be in relationships that are mutually loving and accountable was a really hard thing to do.  It is still a hard thing to do.  Setting boundaries for my own well being even if it may make someone else that I love disappointed/uncomfortable/hurt/angry is taking some practice.  As is really hearing the truth about my own behavior and being accountable for that.  There are days that I am still a big, fat coward in those departments.  But in the end it seems to be a really positive thing for me, as hard as it may be, and that is worth it.

{A handful of freedom.}

With my continued re-commitment to practicing gratitude, I find myself working to replace the feelings of emptiness and loss that this season has brought by being present in myself and knowing that it is all enough so that I am able to give back.  Transition and change are so stinking uncomfortable, unfortunately, and as much as I vow to be better at them, I still stamp my feet and shout "NO FAIR!!".  Walks in the woods with the hound, cutting greenery and arranging mantles/planters/containers have led to an appreciated place of quiet inside of me at the beginning of this Advent season.  Good and sweet memories of the past accompany the rich smells of pine and woods.  As chaotic as it all feels, I know I am precisely where I am supposed to be emotionally, spiritually, and physically in this very moment.  Life doesn't get to happen on my time, much to my dismay (could there be a bigger lesson to learn for a planner?).  Not one thing in the future can be successful until I am able to be fully present in what this moment of transition is gifting to me, I know all of this.  Not any easier, but I know this too.

{A handful of hope and gratitude.}

The coming weeks bring some good things.  Christmas parties with friends, cooking lovely treats to ship away to far away precious friends, and beginning some new traditions as the old ones are no longer able to happen.  I will need you to share some of your best Christmas Treat recipes please.  The master baking list has begun.  We will also be working on giving back in new ways with the bounty that we have found this year.  

{A handful of joy.}  




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