Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

“Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.” – Winston Churchill

There is something reverent about Christmas and the end of the year. It’s a sacred time for me, where memories of the past year come flooding back and I get to really think about the year’s events. Needless to say the end of 2015 gave me plenty to mull over. I approached this with a sense of gratitude and acknowledgment of just how lucky I’d been to catch my bowel cancer early.

While I’ve been better at looking after my health at different times in my life than others, I can say that I probably wasn’t doing all I could to remain healthy. For starters I let other people’s problems and shortcomings weigh on me. As an empath it’s hard not to – I sense the undercurrents and they worry me, whereas a ‘normal’ person would not give someone’s mood another thought. They certainly wouldn’t feel responsible for it, which is how I have been in the past. Let me give you an example: if someone is angry, worried or sad I know it when they enter a room, without them saying anything, and I try and fix it. You can’t ‘fix’ other people, nor take responsibility for their path, but I used to try. Now I acknowledge that it is their path to walk and that I have enough of my own worries to try and ‘fix’. I’m much more willing to see that I (like everyone else) am a precious human soul that needs nurturing, loving and looking after.

So I’ve hit that particular problem out of the ball park, thank God.

Next, I have a hedonistic bent to my nature – I love wine and food but too much of a good thing is never a good thing and I’ve let my over indulgences interfere with my good health. Now I’m less inclined to give into weaknesses.  A life of ‘limitation’ is only as limiting as you make it. Now, I replace vice with victory and have a fruit smoothie instead of a chocolate and a mineral water and ice instead of a wine. That’s not to say that I don’t allow myself the occasional treat – I do – and, guess what – it tastes and feels twice as good.

So, yeah, I’ve knocked that particular problem on the head – well mitigated it, at least…hopefully.

And then there is exercise, or lack of it. Now I walk daily and one of my best Christmas presents was a Vivofit which is getting a workout. I am now walking at least three to four kilometers a day – this activity from a couch potato who upon remembering the competitive sports of youth, hit the gym or pool hard…for all of a couple of months of the year. I now understand that exercise is a daily requirement.

However, one of the biggest reflections for me this Christmas was in gratitude. I experienced and felt everything more keenly, all the while with a heart filled with gratitude for life. I may have had to pop the dreaded chemo pills over Christmas but that didn’t stop me trying to give as much as I could to my family. I did this because I knew that had my diagnosis been different, I may have been absent this Christmas or struggling to survive.

I cooked the most beautiful turkey, stuffed with a ham, onion, herb and garlic mixture and I basted a huge ham with the best glaze that I’ve used year after year because it is so divine. My husband and I shopped up a storm, buying treats like individual Christmas puddings which were absolutely beautiful, and the Christmas staples like Panettone, a wonderful European invention.

I allowed myself a couple of glasses of sauvignon blanc which I sipped slowly through dinner and the hilarious card games which followed. I had a good Christmas despite the chemo.

But behind the positive there was also a sense of the magnitude of what I experienced in 2015. I tried not to look too hard, or think too long, about this. There was the awful radiation and chemo, the huge six hour operation and the mop up chemo when your body has, simply, had enough but asked to stay in the ring and ‘go a few more rounds’. As always, I returned to that feeling of gratitude; that cancer is commonplace and I had faced it and survived to this point…and my prognosis was good. I thought instead of how much I’d grown spiritually as a result of cancer; that I’d felt invisibly supported by something greater than what we can realise here on earth. Of all the signs and omens that had been placed in my path to testify that ‘yes, you are going to be ok; you are going to survive this’.

That’s what I thought over Christmas and as the New Year rang in. I thought about something higher than myself and yet of myself. I am very lucky to be able to use my cancer experiences to grow spiritually, and as a human being. Cancer has not silenced me; on the contrary it has given me my voice.

As 2015 ticked over to 2016, I wondered what purpose I had yet to fulfill. I don’t have that answer yet, but I do know that the right things happen at the right time.

I’m looking forward in 2016, not backwards. I’ll be continuing some tertiary study – because the uni that I kept asking for deferrals said ‘study this semester or lose your place’. That’s a good thing. I’m looking forward to it and I will be one step closer to earning my Bachelor of Social Sciences (Social Welfare).

I’ll also be working hard at my current workplace, on work that really does matter and that does good rather than causes harm to people. And I’ll be finishing my treatment. Chemo ends on 12 January, wherein I will purchase a nice bottle of champagne to share with family.

There will be a few milestones in the early part of the year before treatment finishes and then I will have time to think about how I am fully going to use my experiences to help others. There is purpose left for me to find and act upon yet.



This year really feels like it is winding to a close. Loose ends are being tidied away and, metaphorically at least, I’ll be glad to see that calender tick over to 2015. I’ve learned a lot in 2014, some tough lessons at times, but I think I’ve come out of it a stronger, and perhaps a more authentic person. My goal going forward is to be ‘true’ to myself.

Most days now, I know what I want. I also know what I will or won’t tolerate and, most of all, I know that self-care is perhaps the greatest gift you can give…to yourself.

Part of caring for self means setting boundaries. As the title of this blog suggests, I’m a ‘sensitive’ person…whatever that means. I guess for want of a good definition, I’ll have a go at defining it for myself:

  • Well, firstly, I try and please everyone as much as I can. (I know that’s silly…)
  • Secondly, I am intensely aware of other people’s emotions and moods. I can get sucked into the vortex of their anger or despair, insecurity and even jealousy. Once I’m aware, I feel almost responsible for making them feel better and I get anxious that things aren’t ‘right’.
  • I’m also aware, sometimes inadvertently, of what other’s are thinking. I have an antenna that goes up and sure enough I’ll get a call or a visit and that person will raise the thing I know they’ve called to speak about. Sometimes, the antenna is just a connection and I’ll hear from the person that has come to mind.
  • For better or worse I’m psychologically perceptive (this runs in my family). I know what bothers a person and where and why they are feeling a little vulnerable. Most of the time I say to myself it’s none of my business and manage to stand aside from it. Not everybody wants or needs to be helped and sometimes it really is ‘their business’ not mine.
  • Occasionally, I can get flashes or insight into probable outcomes. I try and keep that to myself unless I’m asked because I’ve found people want to hear what they want to hear and the future is unknowable to them, and perhaps to me, anyway.
  • Sometimes, I will have a prophetic dream and this gives me an insight that may or may not be worrying.

On the flip side of this ‘sensitivity’ is the ability to understand the good stuff, the joy, the humour, the compassion and to really empathise when someone is feeling down or needs help. Being a ‘feeling’ person allows me to experience the full range of emotions myself. At times life is sublime. At other times…well, I’ve learned to cope better in recent years with the other side of the ‘sublime’ coin. Emotions can be a rollercoaster and I’ve had my share of the rides.

Until now, and I’ve hit middle age, I really didn’t know what to do with this ‘sensitivity’ but I’ve been learning a lot this year. Here are some of the lessons I’ve received in 2014:

  • Set boundaries and say ‘no’ if rest is needed or the price is too high. It’s liberating to please yourself, especially when it means you can take care of yourself.
  • Other people’s anger or resentment or vulnerability is their ‘stuff’ not mine.
  • I don’t have to be responsible for everyone, just my kids and partner, family and friends.
  • If people are behaving badly, that’s their lesson not mine. Life is short and I owe it to myself to be surrounded in positivity.
  • There is always going to be tension between people. That’s the way life is; we don’t all get along. I don’t have to solve that or get involved in other people’s dysfunction. I just have to mind my own dysfunction and watch it doesn’t impact on anyone else.
  • It’s ok for me to live my life the way I want to live it, not the way other’s might want me too.
  •  And finally, this is a biggie, I have opinions and a voice and I’ll speak up when it’s important to me. (There’s an old saying that you should choose your fights and I do believe that as much as I believe that we should ‘live and let live’.)

Most of all, I hope 2015 is a positive, happy and trusting year for everyone. One where we all have a little more faith in each other. One where we can ‘live and let live’ and be tolerant of others and what is important to them, and make life good for ourselves and that will, in turn, flow onto others.

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you get in lots of ‘self-care’ over the holiday break.

Well, here I am at the end of a huge year of writing, working and living. With just over a week left to say goodbye to 2014, the John Lennon song keeps playing in my head, ‘Happy Christmas’, as it always does each year:

“So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun…”

What have I done indeed. I know I have worked extremely hard at my day job, and at my fledgling career as an author. I’ve driven myself in 2013, all the while pondering the big questions: what’s my purpose, what should I really be doing, am I doing enough, am I enough… And so it goes on.

But it was towards the end of the year that I really got a burr in my saddle. I began to think about mortality. I began to think that as I was into middle age, I could no longer afford to muck about with the same stuff, doing it the same way, in the same patterns any longer. Something had to change; something was going to change in 2014 and that something would be me.

The only advantage of growing older is the getting of wisdom. After a while the same old dysfunctional patterns lose their meaning and become a little absurd in light of the reality that time is running out.

If I had intentions for 2014 it would be to live each day as well as I can. To say no more often; to cultivate my ‘spark’ of creativity instead of feeling it extinguished under the weight of the daily grind and other people’s demands that so often get put before my own needs, and to surround myself with positive, life affirming people more often.

I also need to spend more time at home, drinking the tranquillity and restoring the soul . Soon my children will go their own ways. Time is precious, it really is. I also need to spend time with myself, reflecting, making choices, deciding on ways to live, and living them.

This is called being true to yourself, and I need to focus on that too.

My creativity and writing deserve also to be nurtured because I’ve discovered that while I do that, life is richer and more rewarding. There is a deep satisfaction when I fulfil that particular contract with myself.

So, yes, John Lennon is going through the reel setting of my thoughts, over and over, and particularly the ‘Another year over, and what have you done…’ I should be satisfied with writing two novels in 2013, while raising three boys, keeping a home warm and welcoming and holding down a busy day job, while managing to put whatever energy I have into my special friendships with the women in my life.

When I look at it like that I’ve accomplished quite a lot really, and I’m more than thankful to myself for such a stupendous effort in 2013.

I’m determined though, that 2014 will be done with a little more time for ‘me’ because I deserve it and I’ve earned it. And because I simply want to stop for a while and reflect.

For those that celebrate Christmas have a wonderful one. And to all, a happy and healthy New Year where, when you find yourself in amongst the muddle that is sometimes life, you remain above everything else, true to yourself.