The Journey to Publication, Writing

Sending You Peace and Calm … Just When You Need It

It seems like come the end of November, the craziness factor starts to spin out of control, and by the time you hit December, you kind of feel like running away into the snow screaming and never, ever coming back. Or, you know, that could just be me. 😉

I love Christmas. I love making presents with the anticipation of the reaction of the recipient. I actually woke the kidlet up last year because I couldn’t wait for her to experience Christmas morning (and yes, I still find it hard to sleep on Christmas Eve). And for me, a big part of Christmas is the annual party I hold every year, which has almost become like I get two “Christmas days” since I work to have everything ready before my party (when the conditions are ideal). And, seeing as the party comes before Christmas, it leaves me the rest of December to anticipate Christmas without stressing out.

taoofpoohProblem is, this year it was the party itself that was stressing me out. It was this past Saturday, and frankly, by Friday night I was about ready to call everyone and tell them not to come. Now, it’s not even a super formal party, it’s not big, and we’ve done it so long everyone kind of knows the routine with what we’ll have to eat, what they’ll bring, what we’ll do. But with the arrival of kids, things have shifted a bit. And then there were issues. And then …

Well, remember that image of wanting to running away into the snow and never coming back?
Then I picked up “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff. And as I was given a simple introduction to Taoism, I found calm seep over me. While I strongly recommend you pick up this book (totally worth it!), I wanted to share some of what I got from it, and what helps calm me as I read and consider it each night.

It is as it is. This statement is something I’ve said before, a simple chant to remember that we can rail against how unfair things are, things we dislike, things we wish to change, etc, etc, but it changes nothing. Instead, simply accepting the situation and moving forward offers a more peaceful answer. I’ve been working to accept this after some incidents at the part, and in general. But no matter what happened, or what I might have wanted to happen, or maybe what should have happened – all those suppositions change nothing. What happened, what is, IS.

Be Present. Are you too busy being busy to live? December tends to push things out of the norm, making us more stressed and feel the demands of expectation, family, etc. But there are times throughout the year when we feel like we’re running as fast as we can getting everything done, and can’t possibly catch up. We find ourselves so busy being, well, busy at something that we don’t accomplish anything – and worse, we miss out on some of the really important things, like spending time with family, appreciating who and what we have, expressing gratitude, and simply enjoying the world and being alive. The recommended solution? Be present in the moment instead of living for whatever comes next. Live today, breathing in this moment’s air, the sights, sounds, and feeling, savouring life.

Savour the time you have. Are all those time-saving devices you have stealing all your time? Fact is, time just is (see first statement). There is no saving it, because it continues to march on and doesn’t much care what we think. And the more we stare at a clock or worry about getting to the store on time, the faster that clock seems to go. But have you ever just spent the afternoon away from any of that? Away from a clock or any form of time keeping device and instead just existed? You did what needed or what you wanted to get done, and sure, time passed, but it didn’t seem to race past as quickly, did it? So take the time to breathe, to ignore the clock, and enjoy the moment rather than worry about it’s passing and miss out.

Enjoy the Journey. Christmas is an easy example for this one where we rush and make ourselves crazy to get to just that one day … then in just a few short moments, the gifts are torn open and it’s all done, all the excitement and magic we built up just sort of drained away. In the same way, we can live our whole lives also reaching for the next promotion, the next step in our career path, determined that the next book, the next project will give us all the rainbows and ponies we can want, and THEN we can be happy, even if after that step, there’s always another and another. What about today? What about now? Why now enjoy the whole trip there, paying careful attention to those moments when we know we’re content and stretching them out? Why not remember what the real purpose is behind our actions – why we do what we do. For Christmas, it isn’t just about that one day and giving a gift because you’re supposed to, is it? You don’t just write the book to make millions of dollars, do you? What about the pleasure of giving and creating?

Okay, so hope that helps make your December a little bit easier, and that there are a few less people racing off into the snow. 😉

What do you think?

Thanks for reading, have a great week, and take a bit of time to breathe and be happy yourself, hmm? Take care.







The Journey to Publication

How to Celebrate the Joy and Success of Others

I’ve recently realized something: I’m better at dealing with people when they’re down than when they’re happy.

It’s a strange thing to think about. But I’m quite good at offering sound advice, helping loved ones plan a way out of the hole they feel trapped in. That I’m great at. But when things are really great? When something wonderful has happened to them? The words sound hollow and chunky to my ears. “Congratulations” just doesn’t convey what I want to say. It’s the same when I meet someone – say another author at a book signing who I really admire. What do you say without gushing they’re the best author  you’ve ever read – which probably isn’t true anyway (the more wonderful the author I read, I’m likely to pick up someone just as good or better the next time – that’s why it’s so hard to have just one favorite!).

So … how do you congratulate and compliment someone and be sincere about it? Okay, here’s what I have so far …

  1. Be Specific. Instead of just “congratulations” or “that looks great on you,” explain a little, make it matter and try to convey your sincerity with the “why.” It also backs up the compliment and makes it matter more. Why was this the best book you ever wrote? Why do they look nice today?
  2. Don’t be phony. If the person’s speech was terrible, complimenting them on it will probably sound insincere because it is. Instead, is there something you can compliment them on? Coming out? Volunteering? Other achievements?
  3. Make it about the person and their success, not you. It can be hard to offer congratulations to someone who’s just achieved what you haven’t been able to yet, or when you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps. BUT, celebrating your loved ones success can make their achievement that much sweeter. Later, they’ll listen to your problems. But first, celebrate the good times, and who knows? Maybe it will help you forget the bad.
  4. Don’t have a hidden agenda. Don’t just be kind to get something (ie: an author to promote your book, or your husband to buy you something, etc). Be kind for it’s own sake: it will make someone else feel good, and it will make you feel good, too.
  5. Give kindness to someday receive it. Okay, that sounds really, horribly selfish, doesn’t it? Here’s the thing: I sincerely believe we receive back what we put into the world … you know, cosmic balance and stuff. And if something great happens to you, you’d want to celebrate, right? So give and allow that same joy to whoever you’re congratulating.
  6. Don’t cloud the joy. If you’re a bit of a cynic, like me, it can be easy to see that a small success isn’t the end of the road, and there will always be hard times ahead. BUT, unless you remember to enjoy the good bits, how do you think you’ll manage to get through the bad? Let the other details go, and savor the pleasure of joy. It can be far too fleeting.

Okay. That’s all I have. And I’m still not sure if it’s enough. Any advice? How do you help celebrate success and achievements? How do you spread joy and kindness during the good times?

Thanks for reading. Have a great week!