“Wildly imperfect” are the two words that came to mind when I assessed our newly decorated Christmas tree. It had a few worn out ornaments from my childhood trees, a dozen splashy ones from a designer friend and other home made treasures from children and friends, along with some gold and red balls I bought at CVS.
The tree was like me, like our world, like my friends and family—wildly imperfect! This holiday season I am all about embracing this attitude that can reduce stress and lift the spirit—two important assets to the health of mind and body.
It has been quite a year. My father, aka ‘Frank on Fire,’ as known to his grandkids, got sick last year at this exact time after no previous illness. He died 2 months later. He was 95. My longtime readers know how I looked up to him as an awesome example of health and wellness for older people. A couple of years ago, my son George videotaped him on the beach doing his morning constitutional with 8-pound weights. George filmed him in front of the ocean waves so viewers would not think he sped up the film as Frank did his set of 100 sharp kung fu punches.
Of course I realize my father had a good long and productive life. I was devastated at the sudden loss. I walked through his funeral in a daze and was grateful to go back to work.
A few months after my father’s death, my son told me that he and his wife were expecting their first child. The grief from missing my father was suddenly infused with the joy and expectation of the arrival of a new family member. Luckily, life is indeed, wildly imperfect. In August I took the month off, having informed my patients well in advance. In addition to rest, it was the perfect time to think about my priorities and reassess.
I decided to take an extended leave of absence in my private acupuncture practice.
“If you have too much on your plate, see what you can let go of and keep what will nourish your body and spirit,” I often suggest to my patients. This plan will support whatever work we were doing because it is healthy to get ones life in order.
It was time for me to do the same, to ‘walk the talk’.
I decided to take a break from private practice so I would have the time to finish the book I have been working on for years. It is time to complete the ‘story’ of my circuitous journey to practicing Eastern Medicine along with sharing some of the practices I learned along the way that have helped me stay true to my calling. Instead of treating patients my days are now filled with a writing routine along with seeing friends, tai chi class, and a few other things that are important to me.
While I feel intermittent pangs of grief at the thought of spending my first Christmas ever without my father, I am filled with excitement about the birth of this new family member.
On this note, I would like to leave you with three suggestions to inspire you during this holiday season and into the New Year:
1. Embrace your wildly imperfect selves this season. Try to avoid judging, not only yourself, but the others in your life as well. They are just as imperfect as you are!
2. Instead of the typical list of New Years Resolutions (quit smoking, lose weight, be a better person, etc.) try focusing on and naming what you will create this year…perhaps a new house, a child, a series of paintings, a scrapbook? Go ahead, write five things that spring from your imagination, where all great things have their beginning.
3. Create some clean space for yourself however that looks. Drop some toxic relationships. Unclutter your house. Clean your body and mind by letting go of gossip, too much alcohol, sugar, etc.
Go easy on yourself. Perhaps the ‘clean space’ you create for yourself is not to judge the clutter around you. As a friend reminds me occasionally, “Perfection is highly overrated!”
Last of all, I want to send each one of you a wish for an enormous sense of holiday cheer. May you enjoy a peaceful and joy filled holiday season that unwinds and extends into a surprisingly creative New Year.