The Simply Decided Life (Round 2)

Photo courtesy of Joy D. Green

Last week on the blog I was all kinds of excited about Thanksgiving. Between hosting the gathering at my place, trying a new recipe that got rave reviews, and taking in all that I was thankful for and communicating my thankfulness for others to them, I didn’t really have time to focus on let alone share some of the challenges in my life when it comes to the holidays. Challenges that remind me of how important choice and decision making really is. 

Two close family members struggle with the holidays. Both are pretty miserable; one more than the other. Thanksgiving  last week was no different. In fact the one who seems to make pinky promises with misery around this time of year sulked through dinner, skipped dessert, left, and shared later that night via text that if some of the people who attended Thanksgiving dinner were to attend Christmas dinner then they would not attend Christmas dinner at my place. I texted back and thanked them for attending dinner and wished them a good evening.

Photo courtesy of Annie Leibovitz for Vogue

I was not at all shocked by the person’s behavior or commentary. For as long as I could remember November through January were challenging times, brought on with depression, anger, occasional fits of rage, sarcasm, cynicism, absenteeism, lateness, and  misery for this person. There was no need for me to be surprised. Instead I found myself somewhere between sadness and gratefulness. 

I was truly sad for this person because I just could not imagine what it was like to LIVE such a powerless life, allowing the very presence of certain people to determine how I would feel or if I would celebrate and gather with people I say that I love and care about. I could not fathom projecting a month into my future that if certain people attended a holiday dinner I would undoubtedly be miserable so I’d rather skip the function altogether.  By the way, these people this person was not fond of,  wasn’t fond of them mostly because they tend to talk a lot. I think it’s just cultural differences. Granted they do talk a great deal and loudly, but seriously, you’re going to let a few loud long winded people make an entire night unbearable?! I don’t think so.

Photo courtesy of Miles Aldridge 

Sadness soon gave way to gratefulness. I was grateful because I already chose to enjoy my Thanksgiving. Were there a few challenges? Yes. Guests arrived two hours late, there was some family tension between my family and the family of my nephew, and the two usually miserable holiday family members were present and one didn’t even chose to play fake it to make.  But I already decided that I was going to experience joy despite those challenges.  I already planned to see more of the positives than  the negatives. Would I acknowledge the negatives? Yes. I wasn’t going to be in denial. But I decided I was not going to dwell there. I was going to dwell on the fact that everyone made it to my place safely, the food was plentiful and delicious, my nephew was just as silly as a two year old should be, the red velvet wine went perfectly with the red velvet cake that I should not have had as it was not gluten free, I got to chat with someone who has been an unexpected but absolute joy to get to know, I laughed a few times to the point of tears, I managed to get laundry done, and the list goes on and on. I was grateful because I was so aware of the power I had to decide to be joyful…and I was. 

Photo courtesy of Mark Seliger for Vogue Germany

Holidays can be difficult. I understand. I honestly do. My holiday memories as a child are memories twisted with pockets of bliss and giddiness, stretches of pain, and puddles of tears. I have lost loved ones near the holidays. I have been there for friends who have lost loved ones near the holidays. When I say I get it. I mean that. I get it.

I also get that I, you, we don’t get to control quite a few aspects of life. We don’t get to decide if a parent will leave on Christmas eve and not return, if we will witness the sexual abuse of a cousin or be sexually abused or assaulted as the ball drops in times square, if the sixth day of Hanukkah will be when our house and youngest child goes up in flames, if the fifth day of Kwanzaa is when  our spouse is in a car accident that leaves them in a vegetative state.

However, we do get to decide how those events will shape our lives. As I sit here by the window  in Starbucks on a sunny cold Sunday morning, holding back my own tears, in part due to painful memories and in part due to the victory that I have because of the decisions I have made despite those painful experiences, I am reminded of how powerful LIVE-ing a decided life is. I have decided the actions of others will not define who I am or shake the foundation of a healthy life that I have spent many of my adult years building. 

Photo courtesy of Ero

This week my prayer for you is to find the will and the courage to decide that your life will not be surrendered to the hurtful negative tainted words, actions, or opinions of others. That you will decide your today and tomrrows don’t have to be drenched in your yesterdays. That you will decide your Hanukkah Christmas, New years, Kwanzaa, or whatever special day you celebrate (yup, Fridays included. High five for for the  weekend) will be joy filled regardless of who shows up or how much they talk. My prayer is that you will decide to invoke your right to LIVE.

If you need a little help with the whole decision making process take a look at what I shared a few months ago here or send me an email. Here’s to a great week, a week where you’ve already decided it’s going to be amazing!!!! xxoo

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