I used to dread going to my Agency Christmas party. Back in the 90’s, It was always jam-packed with people, fervently looking over each other’s shoulders to see who else was there, armed with a selection of ready responses to the question, “so what are you doing?”. I remember desperately trying to find someone who hated working a room as much as I did to commiserate with in a corner. “Oh gawd,” we’d say as we rolled our eyes in perfect unison, “this is a lot.”
I just went to the same party last week - and, decades later, I must say, not much has changed. Except my mind! Psych! Over the years, I’ve come to harbor a growing affection for the event, and this year, I really decided to lean into it (which you should never do, by the way, on swinging kitchen doors; or, generally speaking, any doors that say “In”).
You see, the party, like most gatherings (festive or otherwise), fed my social anxiety. Being a bit on the empathic side made me prey to everybody’s supercharged energies all at once - which made me finally, truly understand why Temple Grandin felt cows needed automated hugs in stressful situations (a cattle-hugging machine really should legally be mandated at any social event of over fifty people PLS SIGN MY PETITION).
I felt back then, strangely, that the heightened energies of all those people in that room were sucking the ever-lovin’ life out of me. I say “strangely”, because energy is usually considered energizing. I have a feeling, though, you may know just what I’m talking about. But what I’ve realized is, it was really my endless stream of judgements about the affair that were exhausting me - mentally, emotionally and psychic-ly (not to mention financially, factoring in the oh-so-soothing-liquor tab). I judged the networking (both me who was hopeless at it, and the others who had it down to a beautiful science); I judged those who asked me what I was up to and those who didn’t (depending on the year); and mostly, I believe, I judged the carefully-crafted persona that I felt was crucial for me to project, and how it was likely as transparent as my mother’s freshly-Windexed kitchen windows on a spring afternoon (too home-spun?).
What I discovered was, the only one squandering my energies was ME, dammit! Can’t someone else be to blame, for a change?? (‘fraid not)
I found when I chose to approach the shindig with love, instead of a plethora of past judgements, I was energized...dare I say, downright exhilarated. All I had to do was listen, love, and repeat. Akin to the time-honoured art of shampooing. In fact, the more I offered love, instead of withholding it (via my judgements and opinions and complaints), the more love I got in return. And, ipso facto, more love means more energy. Which means more energy to put into more lovin’! Which is why no-one else can ever “steal your gold”. You have an endless supply, if you can just remember where in the heck you buried it! It’s underneath all them judgements, along with an old hairbrush and that remote you’ve been looking for for six years!
A few more Christmas thoughts…
Right now, I’m cat-sitting for some beautiful friends on a Yuletide getaway. This cat is notoriously grouchy. I’m just crazy about her. I dig her honesty. When I creep up to her slowly and put a little treat in front of her, she looks at me innocently and then gives me a long hiss. And sometimes, if I’m lucky, a swipe. “And Merry Hiss-mas to you, my dear!”, i exclaim in return. I’ve sat for her before, but this time her glorious bad-temperedness has been an opportunity to love her exactly as she is. And what a divine lesson that is, no? As her human-in-waiting, I prepare her food, and dispose of her waste, and she generally responds with a “HOW DARE YOU GET SO CLOSE?? Don’t take liberties!! I let you feed me, isn’t that enough??” I realized it is enough. I can give to her without any thought of getting anything in return. And that is one of the great secrets of happiness, my friends. The giving IS what you get in return. It’s the gift to yourself. And it’s deliciously obvious at Christmastime. I used to send out Christmas cards - and invariably, several days later, I’d get a scattering of hurriedly-scribbled replies on cards with generic Yuletide birds on them that we all keep at hand for such an occasion. We sometimes actually resent receiving something, if it means we have to go to the trouble of responding in kind. “Thanks for nothing!”, we gripe. Just give without expectation of getting something. It’s the sweetest way to give. And a beautiful lesson taught to me by a really crabby kitty.
A few weeks ago, I was leaving a subway station, when I spotted a little old fella headed for the exit. And I knew that exit door was particularly heavy, so I sprinted over and opened it for him. As he passed by, he look up at me with so much gratitude in his eyes, and a huge smile that consisted of about four teeth that remained in his mouth. And it was the most radiant smile I’d ever seen. I’ll never forget it. I got far more from that exchange than he could have ever gotten, in my opinion. I realized, as well, that as I opened that door, that the sweet old fella was me. And I was him. I was doing it for both of us. And, in that moment, as one being, I was the arm of our shared body, the arm that opens doors - and he was the smile that gave the arm its reward for its labours. I was so grateful!!!
I’m also SO grateful for EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU!!! This time of year is always a bit sweeter, because we’re all a little more willing to lean into love. Maybe we’ll all get a little more taste for it this Christmas, and carry it forward just a bit more into the coming year. I hope so, cause you’re all MAGNIFICENT DREAMS, and you’re all WORTH IT. I’m not even exaggerating a little tiny bit. I wish you all the peace and joy and abundance you can handle this Christmas and always! I love you!!! And no, I’m not drunk! Not yet. *WINK*