For those of you that have read Random Olio over the last couple of years, you may remember that I am not big on holidays. Most likely a product of my childhood, they have never really been my thing. My dad was overzealous about Christmas, and so there are things that make me nostalgic, as there are memories I have where he seemed happy and completely into the moment. Yet most of those moments were things I witnessed not really things he taught me or I learned from his example.
He was all about Santa, in the decorate-your-house kind of way. Not as much as a kid but when I was in high school and college and no longer lived with him I would usually see him for part of Christmas day. His house, with haphazard furnishings throughout the year, would transform into a showcase for Santa and Father Christmas decorations. Some of them actually creeped me out in a wizard-like or scary old man way. Somehow as he got older, he would wait until after Christmas to purchase a Santa or two on clearance. Only to pack them away and bring them out for a few weeks the next year.
In any case, I am all for change and a new look on things. So when I heard about Fashion Santa I thought “why not!” He hails not from the North Pole, but from a shopping mall in Toronto, Canada. He is styled in clothes from stores in the mall in a lumber jack meets metrosexual St. Nick way. Along the way he is raising money for a charity that helps sick kids. So all in all the 2015 looking Santa is doing good.
Next I would be curious how the stylist would upgrade Mrs. Claus. Anyone up for the task?
This week, Chris and I were pondering the last 12+ years and how we know when we feel settled with decisions. Sometimes we know right away and other times it takes a bit longer for the decision to feel right. Sometimes he knows so clearly, and sometimes it is me. It really depends on what the decision is, how big it is, how costly and its impact on our lives.
A plane ticket: I will not purchase it until it feels right to me. I have had quite a few occasions when the trip changed drastically, and I saved a lot of change fees because I had waited to purchase the ticket.
Furniture or large house items: Usually I am not as picky as Chris is – I know when I like something and I know when I do not like it, but we have a rule that we both need to like, want, and appreciate it before we make a large purchase. Sometimes I can push the envelope a bit and continue to show him different options because I am not set on his choice. Other times all the other options still lead us back to our original choice.
Large financial decisions: These always get me to slow down to a snail’s pace. I hate spending money, and even though not all financial decisions are spending money — they could be about investing money. I still want to look at it front and back and all angles to make sure we are making the smartest choice. Nothing wrong with that.
Food: If I know I do not want something I voice it, but generally, I just want Chris to decide on food. If something sounds amazing, I will state that, and whatever sounds nasty I will state that too, but I have way to many other decisions to make in my day, the last one I care about is food!
What I find interesting — on most things at work I know fairly quickly what feels right to me, but at home I tend to hem and haw about decisions. Maybe because it might be a large purchase, or a decision that is extremely permanent. Maybe it is also because Chris and I always make our decisions together. Regardless of whether the decision is at home or work, it is always important to feel settled, happy, and content with your decision. You have to live with it and the consequences.
Yesterday was Father’s Day, and it was not until a friend ask to switch our brunch plans to later in the day that I remembered what day it was. Often Mother’s Day and Father’s Day tend to fly by without much thought. My dad has been gone for 15 years as of this year, and it gets harder and harder to think about what my life would be life if he were here.
Recently we were talking about fishing at work. A few co-workers are fishing fans, and I was remembering a time when we stayed at a lake near our house in Indiana. I believe the cottage was owned by a friend of my grandma’s and every once in a while we got to go and stay with her, which meant playing in the lake and fishing. Something tells me what felt like a big lake at the time would probably look a lot like a pond to me now, but it always felt special and kind of a big deal to me.
I remember one weekend we visited, on the Saturday morning for some reason I slept really late, when I went outside to see what everyone was up to, I found my sister and brother were out fishing with my dad (this photo shows me standing on the pier, my brother is next to me, then my sister, then my dad). For as long as they had been out fishing, no one had caught a single fish. I asked my dad if I could use the bamboo fishing rod, that for some reason I thought was so special. My sister and brother were using real fishing rods. I did not like putting the bait on the end, so I left that up to my dad, and I doubt I even put the line in, but what I did do (which is completely against my nature) was sit and hold that bamboo rod, and eventually I caught a fish, and then another and another. My brother and sister eventually got bored, and most likely annoyed that I was having such luck. They went inside or off somewhere else to play.
It was just me and my dad and my happy success. I do not remember if we kept the fish and had them for dinner or if we put them back. What I remember was that I thought there was something special with that bamboo fishing rod, and that I got to spend some time fishing with my dad.
You can see all the fish I caught in this photo. I wish the photographer had not cut me out of the photo. I would love to see the look on my face showing my bounty. I know I have been fishing a few more times since then, probably while camping, maybe even with my dad, but that Saturday morning was the one I will never forget. He was happy, relaxed, and content to just sit on the side of the dock with his feet in the water, and watch us have fun with the process. Life was not usually that good to him (or so he thought) and so this year, Dad, I hope whatever you are doing, you are happy, relaxed and content. Wish we could go fishing again.
Do you crave pleasing others? Do you care what others think? Or are you out for your own success? It all depends on what drives you. Sometimes I think we get a bit conflicted as to who we make our decisions for, many times bending over backwards to make someone happy. Do we do it for them? Do we do it to impress someone else? Or, do we do it for ourselves?
I am someone who craves excellence. I have extremely high expectations and think there is always room for improvement. Do I do it for others? Not really. I want it to be the best because I see the vision of where it can go. So often I think individuals get lazy, quit, or just decide that something is not important. Not me. I want to evolve things so life can be better for me and everyone else. Many call me relentless and it is true. I am relentless. I recently came across this quote:
“When you work to please others you can’t succeed, but the things you do to satisfy yourself stand a chance of catching someone’s interest.”
-Marcel Proust, Pastiches Et Melanges
I thought this quote was interesting. How often do we try to please others? How often do we realize that we are never going to make others happy? I love thinking of the idea that if I am satisfying myself, then that is actually when I am interesting. It is true. We are most fascinating and most interesting when we are living for ourselves and no one else. It is a hard dilemma. How often we make decisions because we are making someone else happy, than doing something because it makes ourselves happy.
Goodness. Somedays it is hard to see it. Somedays are a struggle and it is harder to see the goodness in our lives. I ebb and flow with reminding myself that I need to focus on the good that is all around me. Usually when I have a moment of struggle and frustration I go down on my knees and am reminded of all that I have, all the goodness that surrounds me each and every day. Those moments of gratitude helps me to see what I am forgetting. Those moments remind us of the bigger picture.
Recently, I came across this excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)’s Facebook page:
“The other day, the great author and sociologist Brené Brown (my sweet friend!) was asked, “What do you know for sure?”
She replied: “Fear is dangerous. But people are good.”
The evidence that people are good can be found all around us.
The evidence that fear is dangerous can also be found all around us — particularly because of the terrible things that fear makes people do (both to themselves and to each other.)
We all live amidst fear and goodness — and their consequences.
We are all composed of both fear and goodness.
You have a choice. Every moment of the day, you have choices.
You can follow your goodness, not your fear.
You can feed your goodness, not your fear.
You can support and encourage the goodness of others, rather than preying upon their fears or adding to their fears.
To choose goodness over fear is the single most life-affirming path a human being can ever possibly take.”
It was a good reminder for me. There is goodness in watching my niece do things for the first time. There is goodness in my day-to-day world. My marriage, my job, my family, friends, and home. Lots of good is happening around me. We all have a choice to decide to see the goodness or not. I choose to see the goodness. I choose to be happy. I choose goodness, not fear. That does not mean that I do not have fear. I do fear, but if I can focus on the good, it means I am seeing the light, not the darkness.