I should be making cookies. I should be creating a yearlong photo album that documents the 6th year of my son's life. I should go to the mall and pick up some gifts. I should find some time to exercise. I should be handcrafting some sort of Pinterest-inspired pencil holder for our kindergarten teacher. I should finish all my year-end reports. I should organize my finances and get a head start on my taxes. I should organize the junk drawers and donate my clothes to charity. I should.
As we close out the year and run head long into the holidays, many of us experience accomplishment anxiety. Obligations, to-do lists, and living up to some expectation of who we ought to be drive many people to the point of anxiety and illness each year.
I propose that we all stop the shoulds. What if we called a major time out right in the midst of all the holiday bustle and year-end obligations? What if we did what felt great instead of what felt necessary?
As I prepare for the last few days of the year, I am snuggling into my own desires. Instead of concentrating on what I should do, I am exploring how I want to feel, and then doing what I need to do to feel that way. I want to feel connected. I want to feel love. I want to feel joy. This is what this time of year means to me. Time spent with people I love. Hot cups of tea. Snuggly blankets and classic stories. Hand made cards sent to very special people. Listening to Handel's Messiah on repeat for two solid weeks. Cinnamon scented candles. Letting go of obligatory gifting and forced holiday cheer.
By letting go of the shoulds, we can be present in the now. While my personal list of "shoulds" may make another person feel connection, joy, or happiness, the idea is to focus on how we want to feel rather than what we should do to live up to someone else’s expectations. What greater gift can we give to those we love than to let go of panic and anxiety and focus on what makes us feel joy, love and connection? You can feel the ripple effect of this connection well beyond the holidays.
While I have a very wonky Christmas tree, with very few presents underneath it, I feel intense joy knowing that my son and I will be snuggled up close together next to this tree reading stories and talking about the highlights of our year. I know I missed some pretty great sales, and some may be judging me for not making cookies. It's ok, though. You can find me listening to the Messiah, feeling happy and healthy.
My wish for you, dear one, is that you let go of the shoulds and connect with your own desired feelings. Hold on to them throughout the year, and welcome 2014 in with a long, deep breath.