I’m sitting in a hotel room with my family sound asleep around me, it’s about 10 degrees outside and we couldn’t be further away from the warmth of our Southern California home.

It’s a funny thing to do the holiday this way, without our decorations, our tree, our home-based friends, ways & rituals. We made the decision to leave those things behind for a bit in exchange for more extended family access. What a luxury.

I’ve spent many years as a single mama (almost 1/2 of the 23 years I’ve been parenting), and I find my thoughts drifting to those who might be carrying a heavy heart and a whole lot of extra responsibility today, tonight, tomorrow (and maybe always).

A late night of wrapping gifts alone knowing you’ll be up and at it in what will seem like minutes,  with bleary eyes and often “did I do enough” thoughts, can make for one of the loneliest nights of the year.

I find my thoughts drifting to those who might be struggling with the heaviness and pain of loss. Loss of a parent, of a child, a friend, or even of their own childhood.

I find my thoughts drifting to those who might be navigating trauma and anxiety disorders, minds that do their best to help us survive but who unfortunately can do great harm with their outdated and ineffective ways.

I find my thoughts drifting to those who might feel displaced during this time of year, who haven’t quite figured out a way to not participate in Christmas without feeling like they’re depriving themselves or their children of a great collective tradition.

I find my thoughts wanting to visit the places within myself that can question everything, and tear down my own joy in seconds flat. The cunning thoughts that with incredible precision can tell me that I got it wrong, what I overdid, how I didn’t do enough, the ways I missed the boat, the ways I just didn’t make it magical or meaningful enough this year.

{that was a lot, this is a good time to exhale, drop your shoulders maybe, reach up to the sun, breathe and expand}

Listen, I don’t say these things to be a bummer. I promise.

I say them because this is a season of light, of bringing light to the darkness, and that means not shoving our pain, our shame, our struggle into the shadows. That might even mean setting a spot at your beautifully decorated Christmas table and inviting your most tricky parts to sit down for dinner.

I say them because maybe you needed to know you’re not the only one who goes through these things, maybe one single mama, or grief-stricken human, or anxiety suffering person will read this and feel less alone.

If you find comfort, peace, and joy elusive, if you’re struggling with moments of great sorrow, anxiety, doubt, or suffering of any kind, please know you are not alone. Please know you are human, you are worthy, and you are in need of even greater self-love, compassion, and care – so don’t you dare go down the self-punishing path of deprivation or neglect.

And in case it helps you stay connected to yourself, here’s a list of basics :::

  • Drink water – find a glass or jar you like and just keep filling it back up. Imagine each time you fill it that you too are being filled with light, with love, with nourishment.
  • Breathe and stretch – set an alarm on your phone if you need to but every hour or two sneak away for a minute and take a nice big deep couple of breaths. Raise your hands to the sky as you inhale and float them down to your heart as you exhale (the mini-est sun salutation ever)
  • See yourself in the mirror a couple of times a day. Really see and love who is there. Tell her, and breathe that love into all the places that need it.
  • Be in front of the camera, don’t shy away. Make this act a declaration of self-love and worth. No shrinking. This is medicine for you and as a bonus, your future self will be thrilled.
  • Indulge in sustaining available pleasures, if you love gift giving – go for it! If you love singing holiday tunes at the top of your lungs or spontaneous (or planned) kitchen and living room dance parties, get to it! Free yourself up and give yourself permission to have all the joy you want. You’re not betraying anyone with your happiness.
  • Find someone who will be witness to your pain, your dark, and your hard. Ask them to just hear you, without judgment, without fixes, and with total confidence.
  • Make your own list – if it feels good, jot down the specific things that help you feel safe and whole. We tend to forget when we’re “in it” lists like these are great acts of self-care.

My hope for us all is that today and the days that follow are filled with joy, with gifts, with laughter, love, folks that lift you and love you up. With meaning-making, harmony, growth, comfort, compassion, health, and all good things. I wish these things (or something even better) for all of us whether you celebrate Christmas or not.

Sending you so much love,

Danielle
PS.

If you need a witness, my email box is open to you. I’m the only one who checks them and I promise to read whatever you send with grace, and love, and total confidence.

PPS.

If you need a song to make you smile (and maybe dance and sing), this or this may just do the trick!

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Danielle

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