Tis’ the season to cram everything into our already jam packed schedules, right? I was looking at my calendar and started feeling like December is already over as there is no more room to fit anything else in. On the other hand, there has been a lot of talk about being present this season. The season has been a lot about presence instead of presents. But at the end of it all, I feel like I am not nailing any of it.
A friend of mine recently shared something that she uses to refocus herself to what’s going on right here and now. Maybe it is time that I heed this advice and give it a try myself. She says she asks herself, What time is it? NOW. Where am I? Here. Such simple wisdom and yet this week for me it has been more like, What time is it? Shoot! How am I going to get everything done in time? Where am I? … … Hello? Where am I? …Oh! Me? Where am I? Good question!
As a young child, the time before the holidays was filled with one focus: presents. I was focused on being extra nice and that was about all that I worried about throughout the month of December. Time seemed to go soooo slow and the hours and days would drag on until finally, it was December 24th. It was the last time I had to go to sleep, if I even could sleep, before the prize was finally mine. I didn’t have the patience to wait for my sisters and brother in the morning but knew we were not allowed near the tree until the go ahead from Mom. I found my way around that though. Santa never wrapped our presents, I guess he ran out of time, so I quietly tip toed downstairs to “go to the bathroom” and get a sneak peak of the goodies that awaited. Sorry Mom, I just was never good with surprises or patience or any of that stuff!
As an adult, the anticipation of Christmas is an entirely different ballgame. Excitement and anticipation are traded for anxiety and exhaustion. Instead of living each day in anticipation of that special time we get to spend with family and loved ones, we are bombarded by tasks and lists and shopping and baking and…you get the point. We worry about the special day that is coming because we are certain that there is no way we will be prepared. Is that what this season really calls for us to do?
Fifteen years ago, as my mom battled breast cancer, my family realized what was the most important to us especially during the holiday season. I will tell you it was not presents and that it was surely presence. We valued being together and having time to give to one another. We made a decision that changed the Christmas season for us all and has made the holidays so much less stressful. Instead of buying gifts for each other, we decided to donate the money we would’ve spent on gifts to give Christmas to someone in need. From that year on, we put our money together and gave it to a local charity to put it to good use for families in the area. I cannot tell you how much that changed everything for us. The stress of dealing with the mall and finding something better than the last year was gone. We could just be with each other. As grandchildren slowly came into the picture, the joy of gift giving was seen again from the eyes of a child as we began watching them open presents by the tree. This was the beauty of the season.
Now, this is by no means my way of telling you that you should do what we do and go out and donate your Christmas. I don’t feel that what we do makes us better in any way. What I AM saying is that I don’t even have the stress of all the Christmas shopping and yet, here I am, completely disconnected from right now. I am stressing myself out over all the things I have to get done and I am losing sight of what I know this season is about.
So here is what I am going to do, and maybe you will do so as well. I am going to tap into my bag of yoga tricks this month for an ultimately easy fix. There is an amazing restorative yoga pose that requires just you and a wall. It is called Viparita Karani, but is mostly know as Legs Up the Wall Pose.
This pose has so many benefits including:
- Eases anxiety and stress
- Therapeutic for arthritis, headaches, high blood pressure, low blood pressure and insomnia
- Eases symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, menstrual cramps and menopause
- Relieves tired or cramped feet and legs
- Gently stretches the hamstrings, legs and lower back
- Relieves lower back pain
- Calms the mind
While it does so much for us, I am mostly interested in the first and last points on the list. In order to get myself to answer “Now” when I ask myself where I am, I am going to try to find 5 minutes a day to hold this pose. It’s a great pose for the end of the day but at any sign of stress or anxiety it can work wonders. You may be wondering how putting your feet up against the wall can actually do you any good. Any time you flip the order of things in your body like so, you give the heart a break. It doesn’t have to do so much work to get blood and oxygen to the brain and therefore, the body relaxes. Everything else eventually follows suit. The benefits of this pose are really a form of “You have to see it to believe it.”
So I challenge you to see if during this hectic season you can pause and breathe in this pose for just 5 minutes a day. See if it has any impact on your connection to here. Find just a few minutes before bed or maybe when you get home from work. Don’t make it anything more than it needs to be. Let it be 5 minutes of relaxation all for you, but with greater benefits than just laying on the couch for a few minutes. See if anything changes. See if you feel more present or less anxious. Take note as to whether your answer to What time is it? actually changes to “Now.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I have so much to do with so little time. I believe I promised to have this recipe up by Tuesday and it is now 5 days later. What time is it? NOW. Where is this recipe? HERE. Ha!
Chunky Italian Vegetable Soup
- 3 large carrots
- 3 celery stalks
- 1 onion
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 T basil I sometimes sub Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp parsley
- 6 cup vegetable broth or stock
- 2 cans/4 cups kidney beans
- 1 can diced tomatoes BPA free
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/3 - 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 3 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup whole grain or gluten free pasta uncooked
- 1 zucchini
- 1 cup chopped cabbage
Chop carrots, celery and onion. Saute the veggies in large soup pot until onions are translucent in a tsp of olive oil or oil of choice.
Add in minced garlic, vegetable broth, beans, tomatoes, basil, parsley, bay leaf, and tomato paste. If you like a thick broth, add 1/2 cup tomato paste. For a thinner broth, add 1/3 cup or less. Cook on medium for about 30 minutes or until carrots and celery are tender. Stir occasionally. The soup should be at a very soft boil so make adjustments to your stove's needs.
Add in spinach and uncooked pasta. Continue to heat at a soft boil for another 15 minutes or until pasta is completely cooked. Add more seasonings to taste and simmer until ready to serve.
If you decide to add zucchini, chop and add in number 2. If adding cabbage, add with spinach and pasta in number 3.
This makes a LOT of soup. I have it for leftovers for about a week and freeze some as well to take for lunch at work. I always feel like soup is better the second day and this is true for this as well. It's still perfectly delicious on day one as well!