“What?” you ask. “What is the best gift of all?” Well, you know I can’t share that without the backstory…how I came to discover it.
It started when my neighbor recently shared that her family decided they would give each other experiences for the holidays this year. You know, outings…together as a family or separately, based on each person’s interest. Since I had just reviewed one of my children’s three page, double-sided list of holiday wants (y’all, the list was categorized!), I was instantly intrigued by this idea.
Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely LOVE giving gifts…just right gifts. I love thinking about the person, their likes and dislikes, the season of life they are in, their challenges, etc. and coming up with the perfect something that will bless them. Yet that loooong list got me thinking about what is most important…
We live in a world with many voices clamoring for our attention and claiming significance. The messages are similar: Buy this, be cool. Buy that, be accepted. The truth is the more “stuff” we accumulate, the more open to depression and anxiety we become, studies reveal.
And this frenzy has even seeped into experiences…live here, vacation there…lunch here, party there.
ENOUGH, I heard my soul pleading with me. I asked, “What if this year, I gave…something else…something liberating…what if I gave…freedom?”
Track with me…
Freedom is defined as the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. How often do we censor ourselves (and others) from acting, speaking, and thinking our/their truth? Just hang with me for a sec…
I am a pretty self-aware person. I consider the bigger picture and the context of my ideas. I pursue the greater good in me and seek to share that girl with the world. That does not mean I don’t struggle with the lure of conformity. You know…that don’t-rock-the-boat-stay-in-line-keep-up-with-the-jones message many of us girls (and guys) have imbibed somewhere along the journey. Inherent in this idea is a be-perfect-then-be-accepted undercurrent. Before you know it, you're stifling parts of yourself.
And it intensifies around the holidays. Every gift, décor, and appearance must be perfectly curated…at least that's how it feels.
It was like a lightbulb suddenly illuminated it all. I realized, then decided, as the cacophony of the season plays about me, to choose to give to those around me…and to MYSELF, the gift of freedom…to be…perfectly imperfect. No more feeling enslaved in the cycle of doing what I am supposed to, in line with my role, struggling to remain focused on my true north (the actual reason for the season).
I am giving myself the best gift of all, FREEDOM. The freedom to be me, pursuing my best self while accepting my shortcomings. I resist the temptation to judge myself (and others) harshly and to chase flawlessness. Sometimes I will miss a deadline. Sometimes I will procrastinate and then become stressed about completing a project. Sometimes I will hurt the people I love, even if I don’t mean to. Sometimes I will need to stop and reset my thinking when I’m not aligned with my best self. I am human. And that's ok. I choose to treat myself with compassion and forgiveness. I choose to hold my expectations loosely and to allow myself to be flexible.
This holiday season, join me. Be good to you! It is the best gift you can give yourself!
Until next time…