(Photo Credit: Demian Gibbs/ Sign Credit: My talented aunt Linda Iamele/ Amazing wedding credit Michael Iamele & Garrett Lech)
It is December 23rd and my computer just popped up with the notification that tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Wow! These holidays seem to come quicker every year. This morning I am giving myself a little Christmas present. My intention word for December was presence---as I feel more and more called to conscious living, I think giving my presence has been the greatest gift of all. I have been trying to be truly present in all of the festive activities this season. I have been conscious about the cultural and historical context of this time of year. I have shared the excitement and the light with my daughter as well. But of course, like anyone else, I am human, and there have been times when I find myself caught up in the hustle and bustle and overwhelm of the season. So this morning my gift to myself, while my in laws are so graciously babysitting and my hardworking husband is at work, I am gifting myself my own presence. I have been only been doing things that bring me joy--therefore, I have read a little of my new book--a sweet gift from a client and friend--Emily Ley’s Grace Not Perfection; I have done a prenatal yoga video, walked my dog, spent some time chatting with inspiring soul sisters, took a long shower, and now I am writing. I thought about checking email and cleaning the bathroom, de-clutting my closet, running a few errands--but none of those things sparked my joy, and therefore, I decided to stick with the theme of my own presence and ultimately joy.
I have been participating in Deana Welch’s 3 day morning routine challenge, and that has been a wonderful step toward intentionality. Until I did this challenge I hadn’t realized that I was waking up in an apprehensive state. I have never been a morning person, but it occured to me through this challenge that for the past few weeks, probably since it started being extra dark when I woke up, the first thoughts that came to my head were “oh shit”. I then would proceed to hit the snooze button and then even after it went off, I would spend a few extra minutes checking email or social media mindlessly--from my bed. Deana’s challenge helped me realize that this was the energy with which I was starting my day and setting the tone for what was to come. Our first assignment was to make a reset word or phrase to recite for a minimum of 30 seconds upon waking up. I decided to choose Unexpected Miracles/ Blessings, and that subtle change has yielded powerful results.
Yesterday was my first day of school break. There is such magic energy at the start of a break or vacation--the idea that you have the whole experience ahead of you and there is no way of predicting exactly how it will unfold. That reminds me of my pregnancy as well and feels particularly poignant as on Christmas night, surrounded by our baby’s grandparents, we will do a gender reveal. So much mystery and magic is about to unfold.
But back to yesterday--as I dropped Mikayla off for her half day, I thought about Deana’s words and the way that we were welcoming the day. I also thought about how if we don’t stop and take intentional time to make something feel special or to appreciate just how special it is, it loses its value, at least to us. And so I decided to interrupt my own pattern. I took a ride through the quiet and calm early morning streets of downtown Charleston. I watched as people were riding their bikes, jogging, or going to work. I took in all the beautiful, festive decor. I passed Marion Square where the weekend before M and I got to experience the wonderful Hanukkah in the Square party, one of my favorite annual events in Charleston. I took time to really appreciate this great city and the magic that enticed me to move here--5 years ago.
And then I made my way to Charleston Battery. The Battery has always been one of my favorite reflective spots in Charleston. First of all, it is so picturesque being right on the water and so historical being a site of many pivotal moments in our nation’s history. It is a staple in Charleston and a wonderful place to just see-- and be, especially with its free parking, a rarity in any city. But The Battery also holds special meaning for me. When I moved downtown almost 2 years ago now and Mikayla was in a period of nap regression, I would drive around aimlessly, hoping and praying that she would fall asleep so that I could get some peace and quiet to myself. Motherhood, as any mama knows, is such an all consuming time that the thought of a toddler skipping a nap is almost too much too bare--not to mention how that will affect their nighttime routine and rob you of even more peace. So I would drive around, and one particular seemingly desperate afternoon, I found myself at The Battery. With Mikayla snoring in back and no to do list to complete as I was not physically home, I was able to just sit--and be--and reflect. I listened to an inspiring podcast. I wrote in my journal (or perhaps typed on my phone as I don’t think I was prepared enough to have a journal with me) and that’s when I realized that this could be a very good thing. Thus was born my reflective time at The Battery. I would look forward to my weekly rides with Mikayla which would culminate with a snoozing toddler and a refreshed mama who would take in the sights of Charleston and take some time to herself.
So yesterday it was only fitting that I ended up there, thinking about the past 5 years since I moved here. Thinking about 2017 and the close of the year. Thinking about the changes to come in 2018, especially with the new life that is growing inside of me.
Then I finally made my way home, feeling positive and reflective and chatted with a few soul sisters. Something about this time of year reminds me to reach out and say hi to those I have been thinking about for some time. I got the mail that afternoon full of so much love---beautiful cards and pictures of families--near and far. And a few unexpected blessings---a gift package from my friend Mary that included inside jokes, thoughtful words, and a beautiful ornament that had a picture of Mike, Mikayla, and me--one last keepsake of our family of 3 before we become a family of 4. I received the aforementioned Grace Not Perfection from my amazing client and friend Cassie--so thoughtful as we had just been discussing the concept of simplicity on a recent call. The book Smart Kids, Smart Money from my childhood best friend Jen who I can always count on to be committed to CAN-I (constant and never ending improvement) with me. Then I got a text from my brother that his professional wedding pictures available for viewing, such a sweet trip down memory lane of a once in a lifetime trip for our family and opportunity to celebrate his and his husband’s love.
In this moment, I am just rambling and musing on, but the theme I am feeling is so much love, gratitude, and unexpected blessings. This morning as I was talking with my friend Maria we chatted about love being all around us and sometimes it’s important that we step back and remember to remember that love.
As I wrap this up and think about closing out 2017, I am left with the thought of entering 2018 is this newly found consciousness and presence. Last year’s slogan was “Transform Ideas Into Impact”--and it certainly was an action packed year. This coming year, however, I am feeling the need to embrace the slowness and stillness. To be the opposite of action packed. To savor the simplicity. So I will declare 2018’s slogan this year as “Appreciate Simplicity, and Live Consciously”, and if this weekend is any indication, I am already off to a sweet start.