Photo by Raj
In the past few months, I have been guilty of not doing something I had every intention of doing, and then uttering to someone that “life gets in the way.” I’ve been stressed out. In fact, last month I was so stressed out that I could feel the stress buzzing through my body, I broke out in fever blisters, and I picked up my stress vice – soda. I felt like crying at thet time. I wasn’t juggling everything very well and would have been greatful to take a nap and wake up to find all of my obligations taken care of (minus my family, of course). I’ve had to slow down, cut things out, take things one at a time, and work on dwindling my list. I had to tell people “no” when asked for a favor, help, or whatever it was that I normally find myself wanting to help people with.
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself contemplating what it is I really want to accomplish, what I want to do with my life, what I want out of life, and how my stress and obligations fit into that. I remembered uttering the phrase, “Life gets in the way.” Sure, things come up; it’s a part of life. What exactly is life getting in the way of, though? Isn’t our ultimate purpose right now life and how we live it? How could life get in the way of….life?
That was the point when it finally felt like I was making a dent in my list. I had lost focus somehow, allowed other things to get in the way of life, and stressed myself out in the process. Certainly, I had no control over some of those things, but I do have control over how I deal with them and I have a lot of control over what I choose to allow into my life. Remembering that little fact seemed to take a large weight off of my shoulders, and I am working toward getting back to living my life the way I want – not running around ragged trying to do everything for everyone. Life doesn’t get in the way of other things; we allow other things to get in the way of life.
I’ve always known about orange pomanders. They were once used as air fresheners during the winter, a time when bathing was limited. I’m certain I even heard about my mother making them as a little girl. However, until recently I had never made an orange pomander.
I bought a bunch of oranges and bulk cloves for our recent Solstice Party. I had no idea how fun they would be to make. My children and I made more after our guests left. Poking an orange with a toothpick and then inserting cloves into a design is surprisingly peaceful and something that all ages can do. I believe we may have found a new tradition.
Photo by Michael Rhys
Society tends to view life as a succession of high points. We look forward to the next big thing, whether it’s an event, a holiday, a vacation, or a job promotion. Those high points make an outline for our lives and we look forward to those exciting high points. However, this roller coaster view of life discounts those in between times.
Life is about more than just the peaks. Those ordinary, seemingly mundane, times are just as much a part of life as the exciting peaks. Living with mindfulness allows us to live daily and enjoy life. We no longer find ourselves living in fast forward, anxiously awaiting the next peak of the roller coaster. We begin to enjoy the quiet moments and find an inner peace that resonates with our souls.
As we gather nearer to the Winter Solstice, the darkness presses in closer, leaving us with an ever decreasing amount of daylight as we go about our lives. This period of darkness is when our family celebrates Halcyon.
The word halcyon is used to depict a time of peace and quiet reflection, stemming from the mythical halcyon bird which was thought to bring calming winds to turbulent seas. It was used to describe times of peace between warring peoples.
- Photo by Lel4nd
Beginning on Thanksgiving and culminating with the Winter Solstice, our family embraces and celebrates Halcyon. We light a Halcyon candle each night to remind us that the light will once again return, just as it always has. The flame serves to focus our reflection of where we are in our lives and where we want to be, of how we want to improve upon our selves, and how we resolve to live our lives more peacefully and fully. We use this time of quiet darkness to focus ourselves and prepare for the things to come in the new year, after the return of the light.