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Freedom Friday: Elf Your Self!

You’re probably all familiar with the holiday ecard service that lets you turn yourself (and your family and friends) into Elves that dance around crazily, spreading giggles and chortles wherever they’re put on blast, right?  But what if we actually did that for the holiday season? No, I don’t mean get dressed up as an Elf and gyrate maniacally (although if that floats your boat and you can do it without getting arrested, go for it!). I mean, what would happen if we all developed an Elf Attitude for the holiday season?

Let’s start by figuring out what Elf Attitude actually is. In the dictionary, Elf  is defined as a small, mischievous creature that is lively, and usually has pointed ears and magical powers.  Okay, then: so what’s mischief, and what’s magicMischief is behavior or activity that is annoying, but is not meant to cause any harm or damage, or a playful desire to cause trouble (upset the status quo).  Magic is the exchange of energy:  you put your energy out there, and the Universe reciprocates! So, an Elf Attitude would be one of playful desire to upset the status quo by putting happy energy out there, even when people might find that profoundly annoying!  Sound like fun?

Ring in the holidays!  Have you ever noticed how many holiday songs talk about the jingle of bells?  There’s a reason for that: in many Pagan traditions, the ringing of a bell signals the arrival of The All (Deity) into the sacred circle. That’s also why churches ring bells as a call to worship.  There is something profoundly and undeniably happy about the sound of a ringing bell, no matter how big or small that bell might be.  So grab yourself a bell (or bells) this holiday season, and let no one jangle your jingle!  Dollar stores (like Dollar Tree) have entire bags of bells for a buck a pop! Get out there, and grab some; string them up, and wear them on your wrist or around your neck.  Every time you’re confronted with someone bent on pooping all over your holiday, jingle at them and jangle their vibe!

Commit random acts of gifting.  Make a second (or third, or fourth) “jingly-bob” (be that a bracelet or a necklace) from your Dollar Tree stash of bells, and randomly give it to somebody who could really use their jangle jingled! Or look for other small trinkets that you can randomly hand out to people you maybe don’t even know (Dollar Tree has a host of packs of party favors and things of that sort, like holiday-themed erasers, pencils, and piñata-fillings).  Make little paper crafts (maybe now would be a good time to take up origami, unless you’re afraid of coming across like that one creepy dude from Blade Runner), or get involved in the adult coloring craze, and shower the world (and total strangers) with your art!  Or you can go the simple route, and go back to Elf Yourself and create something to share on Facebook and brighten the day of your whole friends list all at once.

Take advice from Will Farrel in Elf, and sing loudly for all to hear!  Who cares if you don’t have the best singing voice in the world? In the immortal words of my beloved’s mother: “Raise your squeak to the Lord!” (Or in this case, The All!)  Buddy the Elf is right: one of the best ways to spread Christmas cheer really is singing loudly for all to hear! Sure, some folks may find that annoying, but generally, they’re the ones who need their jangle jingled anyhow!

Take further advice from Buddy the Elf, and enjoy the four holiday food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup. Don’t let guilt get to you or anybody else this holiday season, especially when it comes to watching your waistline!  Food isn’t the only area where you need to give guilt the boot, though.  Don’t let yourself (or anyone else you love) get caught up in all the mundane crap of debt, grief, or oh-my-god/dess-I-gotta-get-shit-done, either!  Put all of that stuff in the chuck-it-bucket, and walk on with your holiday!

Be the artist you never knew you were.  You practically can’t spit in a store right now without hitting a holiday coloring book.  There’s a reason why that’s one of the cheapest gifts you can possibly get for a kid, and still make them happy: coloring relaxes us, because it sets free the artist within, without needing to make excuses for our supposed inability to make things pretty.  We all have an innate ability to beautify the world, just most of us have had that crushed by criticism over the years, promoting a healthy heaping of really yucky self-doubt.  Start with the coloring page below (just right click, save, and print this puppy out); it even has a nifty blank space for you to doodle something that would make your holiday particularly merry and bright!

Be thankful for everything and everyone all the time.  Gush gratitude constantly!  When somebody does the teeniest tiniest thing for you, say thank you with the same level of excitement as if they’d just given you a million dollars or signed you up as an extra for the next Star Wars movie.  (We live in a world where we often talk about “shock and awe” as the world’s greatest secret weapon; it isn’t a secret anymore! Shock them and awe them with your exuberant gratitude, and see if that doesn’t put smiles on the faces of even the most jangled people you know!)

Put your Elf Attitude out there and see what happens to your holiday spirit, as well as to the spirits of everyone you meet.  Spread some light through laughter this holiday season!

Seventh Day Yule Coloring Page

 

 

 

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I’m a Gifted Pig, and You Can Be, Too!

This is going to sound incredibly lala, but your life really can be as light or as dark as you choose to make it.  I used to absolutely abhor people who fed me the line of “just stay positive; it’s the law of attraction: if you stay positive, you’ll only attract the positive into your life.” I thought they were lala idiots who needed the world to always be puppies and sunshine and roses in order to cope.  I would literally roll my eyes at them–not a terribly positive reaction.  But over time–and through a lot of life that has decidedly not been full of puppies and sunshine and roses–I have slowly come to realize that these people are not lala after all (okay, maybe some of them are, but that’s not the point): they’re onto something!

Imagine a pig, wallowing in mud.  No, seriously: visualize it completely in your mind’s eye.  There’s a whole lotta mud, and there’s a whole lotta pig, and that little joker is wiggling and wallowing all around in it. The more he wallows and wiggles, the more covered in mud he is, until you can barely see anymore pink pigginess; now he’s a brown pig.  That’s what happens to us when we wallow in our own misery; when we wiggle around in dark, depressing thoughts. Eventually, all of our “pink pigginess” is gone, and we’re just brown all over, inside and out.  The big difference between most of us when we do that and the pig? The pig actually enjoys the mud!  Truth is, so do some people.  Some people actually enjoy being miserable. They bask in misery the way a pig basks in mud, and when they don’t have enough of it in their life, they’ll actively work to engineer it.  Many of us can instantly recognize these people for what they are: drama llamas.  Most of them don’t recognize it in themselves, however, even when the rest of us, so desperately trying to escape their mud, try to tell them about it.

So how do we reclaim our “pink pigginess”, avoid becoming a drama llama, and not turn this new puppies/sunshine/roses perspective into a façade that’s just another coping mechanism as well?  This is the point where a lot of writers would turn to that old saying about the glass that’s either half empty or half full, depending on your point of view, but I’m going to go one step further: the point of that old allegory isn’t the level of the water, it’s that there is a glass in the first place!

Every single human being on the face of this planet is a glass: a glass that can either be filled, or emptied.  But the bottom line is: you are a glass. You’re here; you’re up, walking (or rolling, if you’re in a wheelchair) and talking and breathing and making and doing and washing dishes and doing laundry and eating and pooping.  You exist.  Take a moment to ponder that: you are.  You could just as easily not.  At any moment, there could come that tragic point where you shatter, and you aren’t anymore.  Well, not exactly, but we’ll get to that later (maybe not in this particular post, but in some future post or writing)….my point is, as namby pamby as it may sound, being alive is a blessing. It’s an opportunity, every single second, to be filled or to be emptied, and we are the ones with the power to constantly make that choice. So it’s very important that we make the right choices.

Let’s say you’re working on something creative, and suddenly someone bursts in and engages you in conversation. They might have just burst into the quiet little creative oasis you’ve created for yourself and started talking to you, or maybe they buzzed you unknowingly on Facebook, which you have running in the background while you work. Either way, your little creative bubble has just been shattered, and you’re now off-track and spinning.  You have the choice before you now of how you’re going to react: are you going to bluster at this person, informing them that they have just shattered your creative bubble, or are you going to listen to what they have to say and perhaps let that statement birth a brand new bubble for you?  There was a time not too long ago (okay, to be honest, it was five minutes ago), when my kneejerk reaction was to bluster.  Someone–my kid, my friend, my spouse, my neighbor, my cat, my dog, my fill-in-the-blank–would come bursting into my creative oasis and just “start with me”, and I would lose my shit. I would spin in my chair like I was Dr. Evil from Austin Powers, and I would immediately respond with an icy glare before I even knew what it was they were about to do or say, or I would very curtly excuse people on Facebook (which I almost always have running in the background while I work).  What did I learn from this? Isolating yourself in a creative oasis is still just that: isolation.  So, don’t go wondering why your kids, your friends, your spouse, your neighbor, your cat, your dog, or your fill-in-the-blank suddenly stops seeking to interact with you when you repeatedly respond to them in this fashion!  Instead, pause, breathe, and just be thankful that whoever has interrupted you wants to talk to you in the first place! These interactions are a gift; every moment is a gift, and if we’d just recognize the giftiness of it all, we wouldn’t go through life constantly so pissed off!

We don’t just live in a constantly giving universe, we live in a constantly gifting universe.  Take a minute and let that sink in fully.  Something that merely gives can mean something that collapses; that implodes.  But a thing that gifts is actually growing; filling, and even more importantly, fulfilling.  Now, I’m not requiring you to believe in God or a god or goddess to buy this concept (although, if you do, good for you!), I’m instead asking you to take a look around you in the seemingly very mundane world, and watch this concept in action.  Every morning, the sun rises. That is a simple scientific fact of the world we live upon.  And what happens when the sun rises? There is warmth, right? Trees can actually digest their food because there is sunlight (it’s called photosynthesis; look it up).  Birds rise in a morning chorus because the sun is their alarm clock; it lets them know that it’s time to wake up and see who gets the first worm this morning.  Photosynthesis happens in the oceans, so that the tiny fish can eat the algae, and a bigger fish can eat them, and an even bigger fish can eat that one, all the way up to the food chain to sharks and whales and us.  Every single one of those things is growth–nothing is collapsing or imploding; things are growing, filling and fulfilling.  Therefore, the universe is gifting, not just giving. A Higher Power doesn’t have to enter that spectrum unless you want or need it to; these are just the facts of existence on our planet.

The moment we actually come to accept those facts of existence, we learn to recognize the gifts in every moment, instead of the give in every moment; we live in growth, not entropy.  For those unfamiliar with that term–entropy–it comes from the field of thermodynamics, and it is the theory that everything in the universe eventually moves from order to disorder. Entropy is the measurement of that change. In short, things fall apart; the center cannot hold (thank you, W. B. Yeats).  In order to maintain our “pink piginess” we’ve got to move from an entropy perspective on life, to a gifting perspective on life.    We’ve got to move from the viewpoints we’ve been fed by the media, the politicians, and maybe the religious structure or even our own family and friends, towards a perspective that embraces the simple facts of existence: that we live in a gifting universe. And then we’ve got to start accepting those gifts!

Life really can be as light or as dark as you choose to make it, based on whether or not you choose to accept the facts of existence, and, therefore, accept the Gift. There is absolutely nothing lala about that.   Every single moment of your life is an opportunity.  How you choose to react to those opportunities is ultimately up to you and only you!  A couple of years ago, I spent most of my life wallowing in the mud. Honestly, I was happy there–happy as a pig.  The mud that covered me kept the world from seeing the real me, and I was perfectly happy with that, because the less the world saw of the real me, the less I had to worry about the people out in that world judging me, bullying me, and/or otherwise maligning me.  Because of my disabling psoriasis, I also have extreme depression. Even though I’ve never been formally diagnosed, I know it’s there, and so does everyone else who has known me for more than half a second–the two conditions go hand in hand.  I retreated further and further and further into that world–into that mud and into my shell–until one day I met someone who completely changed my life.  She saw my “pink pigginess” underneath all of that mud, and she actually rather liked my “pink pigginess”.  This woman, without realizing she did so, lived every single moment of every single day and every single interaction with the good people in her life according to the aforementioned principles of the simple facts of existence: in short, she was gifty, and she made me realize, whether I wanted to or not, that the universe is gifty, too. Now, that’s not to say there weren’t other people in my life who also saw my “pink pigginess” and actually liked it, because there were other people like that in my life.  The difference with this woman was that she tenaciously gifted my “inner pig” until I couldn’t wallow in the mud anymore. Instead, I had to wallow in the gifts!

You may not be so lucky as to have a woman like her in your life, so this is me, volunteering to wake you up, the way she woke me up.  Life is a gift.  The fact that you are up and around and eating and sleeping and breathing and pooping is a giftAccept it!  The sun rose this morning, and it will more than likely rise again tomorrow, and the day after that. Bask in that. Yes, it’s a very simple thing, but when you compare that to the rain that might be falling in your own life right now, suddenly, that rain seems very small by comparison, doesn’t it?  Sometimes the wind is going to blow through your life and turn everything as topsy turvy as if you were made of umbrellas, and sometimes the thunder is going to roll, but storms never last; the sun always comes back.  And in the wake of such storms, the grass is always a little greener, and so are the leaves.  That thing that seemed like a curse is suddenly just another blessing in disguise, right?  So let yourself be a gifted pig, like me.  Count your blessings, not your struggles!  I promise you: there will be more of them than you think there will be!

Dragon Rain