By Tiffany A. Potter
I am happy to state the obvious in reporting that we have made it through another year, collectively and as individuals. We had been given another year to grow, to atone, to love, to create, to release, to feel joy, to be grateful and to heal—all of which are quite a gift for sure.
I admit that while I am grateful for so many things that have happened in the past 11 months, the thing that I most cherish, truly, is our time together right here every month. This time last year I was gearing up for this new adventure. I didn’t know what this column would look like, and I was less than confident that the things I had to say would a) come easily every month and b) would matter to anyone. And while there have in fact been months when I had no clue what I would write about until I sat down at my computer (on deadline day, typically), it has been an ultimate lesson in showing up authentically and trusting that what I have to say is what some of you may have needed to hear in that very moment.
Though I don’t know you personally, please understand that you have given me a place in this world, a platform, to speak of what’s on my heart in my present moment and for that I am eternally grateful. You, my dear readers, have been gracious and kind, and if you had something less than nice to say I am thankful that you heeded that old advice and kept it to yourself. Being vulnerable is scary but you have made it much easier on my little, sensitive soul. Thank you.
Now, for my take on this last month of 2015.
We’re at another holiday season. Another year of hustle and bustle, of eggnog, parties, obligations and lists of what gifts those in our life may want. Also, we’re knee deep in another year of massive consumerism and every company peddling their wares convincing us that we need this or should aspire to have that. So much so that most of us find the season more meaningful (and successful) if it’s marked by good buys and Cyber Monday deals with a little Yuletide cheer thrown in here and there for good measure.
Please know that I don’t wish to be another person who rants about the season and how our priorities are so off course that we can’t remember what it feels like to live from the center (of your soul, of your consciousness, of your religious beliefs should you have any). But I’m saying it, our consumerism society, our first world expectations, are so out of whack that we barely remember what it feels like to live from our center between Oct. 31 to Dec. 25.
News footage of the awful Black Friday behavior makes me sick to my stomach every single year. Black Friday didn’t even exist when I was a child, and now it makes the news because it’s sensational. I don’t want to preach, lord knows I love gifts like the next person; and I don’t judge you if buying, buying, buying is your gig and you have the means to do it. All I ask is this: please, please, please don’t lose perspective because of the external pressure you may feel from every television commercial you may see.
When did giving a car for Christmas become a “thing”? When the car manufacturers saw an opportunity to capitalize on your emotions this time of year. And the “Diamonds Are Forever” slogan was coined by DeBeers just so you’ll buy their diamonds. It was created by a group of suits getting paid big bucks to come up with a marketing slogan that creates a sense of value in the inflated prices of their product only.
Due to the nature of my business, my husband and I have had really lucrative years that have allowed us more money to spend on each other for gifts, and then we have had extremely slim years when we just struggled to get through December and to the next payday. Gifts were a luxury that some years weren’t afforded. But through it all we kept perspective. We had a roof over our heads, food on our table, clothes to keep us warm and were surrounded by our animals.
In the big scheme of things, if we removed the societal pressures and expectations that we felt, we had so much to be thankful for. And isn’t that the whole point of this holiday season? To slow down enough to count our blessings and enjoy the time we have together?
Winter by its very nature is a time in our ecosystem that things die, some animals hibernate and the world (at least in our hemisphere) rejuvenates itself with the life force of water and cooler temperatures so that we are renewed and ready for spring and summer when it arrives. Mother Nature has balance down perfectly. So the feelings of being frazzled, the stresses of running from this obligation or retail store to the next, is your center telling you that you’re dangerously out of balance. Listen closely and pay attention.
In my personal world, my husband and I began a tradition of sorts our first year together. We care less about the “stuff” and more about the time we spend together. Meaning, we make it a point for every holiday, every anniversary, every birthday, to gift time to each other to spend together. We pick something to do, somewhere to go. Most often it’s concerts around the state, days in the City, or the Nutcracker Ballet at the San Francisco Opera House. Whatever it is that we choose to do we do it with our best friend; what better gift could there possibly be?
When I was single in Southern California and by myself I would spend important days with friends and their families. I always had some place to go where I would be welcomed and loved just for being myself. And that, above any tangible things that I could be given, meant more than I could ever say. My tribe loved me. I was the richest girl in the world even if I didn’t have a Christmas tree.
So my loves, however you choose to celebrate this time of year, if you choose to at all, I wish you enough sense to remember that bad manners in a checkout line or cooking to the point of exhaustion because you feel it is expected of you is not in the best interest of your sanity or our society in general. We’re all better than that. I just know we are. And if you are nowhere you hoped you would be at this moment, have faith that this time next year will look and feel entirely different.
And with that, I wish you a safe, joy filled and relaxing December.
Let’s make a date to meet back here on Jan. 1, and we’ll tackle 2016 together.
Tiffany A. Potter is a disability consultant, entrepreneur, inspirational speaker and change agent. Find her at www.TiffanysTake.com or Instagram: Tiffanys_Take.