'Tis the season of giving and celebrating with the people we love. We focus on what we will bestow upon those who we cherish, be it an object of our affection, a kind gesture, or good will to them in the coming year.
What happens though, when we don't make an offering to ourselves? How much can we give? How can we give our best? I am not talking about pampering ourselves, or buying a 'Me' gift. I am talking about the very important reflection of what we have accomplished, what we have already offered, the difference we have made and the lessons we have learned. It is an act of emotional assessment that fills us so that we can in fact, continue to give.
This contemplation of self isn't always a simple task. In fact it is one that is easily and eagerly swept aside to make way for more altruistic ventures. What is at stake if we don't acknowledge and celebrate what we have achieved? Burnout, exhaustion, bitterness, or worse, resentment. By not taking the time to assess past achievements, we limit our ability to plan future achievements that will really feed our soul and contribute to the world around us. The fall out from avoiding this assessment can turn a well intentioned holiday of giving darkening into a frantic fray of half hearted generosity and gifts lined with a sour note of scarcity or desperation.
We cannot give what we do not have. And so, if we wish to give we must acknowledge what we have done, what we are capable of and what we will offer to those around us. Perhaps instead of writing a list of resolutions (which is code for 'stuff I didn't do last year, feel disappointed about and really should do next year'), we could write a list of things we are proud of - big ones and little ones. Perhaps we can acknowledge ourselves and, should we be so bold, ask to be acknowledge by people who love us.
Today, I wrapped gifts for six teachers, I prepared cheese and cracker plates and managed to make a rush batch of cookies for a last minute 8-year old Christmas party requirement ('Mommy, you are on the list of parents who are bringing treats for our class') between my morning coffee and school departure. I acknowledge myself for that today.
What did you do this year that made the world a better place?
What did you today to make this world a better place?
That seems to me to be a list worth writing.