Simplify, Simplify, Simplify: That's my motto from now through the holidays.
Yesterday, we scrapped our plans to visit the children's' museum so we could take a walk as a family. Midway through, I sat on the cold ground and watched the sunlight bounce off my daughter's hair. The way she turned her head into the wind while the salt air blew the seagulls' cries towards us brought me instantly back to childhood days at the beach when I was cuddled under a towel, pondering nothing other than the sound of the seagulls muffled by the wind.
Simple perfection. And yet, we could have been battling crowds at the museum.
On Saturday, instead of rushing around to make an elaborate meal for my husband after his long work week, I threw some chicken in the crock pot so that I could lay on the floor with him and relish the sweet discomfort of our babies stepping on our bellies and faces as we huddled together. Seemingly for the first time, I looked into his eyes and noticed that his pupils dilate when he looks into mine. When our kids got intermittently distracted, I stole kisses from my husband, nibbling his giant bottom lip and appreciating its rubbery texture between my teeth.
Simple perfection. And yet, I could have been cooking.
I get it right sometimes, this "Simplify" thing. Other times: not so much. Like when I write lately. Not so simple.
(Actually - let me ask you facetiously: is starting and then scrapping seven posts on seven different subjects a good example of simplification? Because if so, then my writing process for today's post has been a resounding success. NAILED IT, actually!!)
But no: I've blown 99% of my allocated writing time today to a cornocopia of half-baked ideas, and yet all I have in front of me is a blank screen and what I've claimed to be my mantra: Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.
My handicap when it comes to writing is that I want to be too many things for too many people: kinda like the way many of us approach the holidays.
When I blog, I want to be funny but not crass. Informative but not boring. Inspiring but not "out there." Self-revealling but not self-deprecating. Optimistic but not saccharine. Memorable and not only a little bit memorable.
My blank screen is a classic case of too many good intentions coming together to result in nothing good at all: kind of like mixing all the play dough colors together. So I remind myself: Keep It Simple, S…anta.
Last week, I retweeted Gabrielle Bernstein: "When you think you need to do more, you probably need to do less."
I want to land on the "walkie-walkie" side of the line that delineates the walkers from the talkers. So, with Gabby's wisdom in mind, I am going to publish this post even though my brain is telling me I need to do more with it, say more in it, be funnier in it, move a couple more mountains with it...and to do so in fewer words.
It's not always easy for me to drop into my heart, but when I do, I know that I am enough. This post is enough.
That switch--that decision to act from our hearts instead of our heads--that's what the holidays are all about, isn't it?
That's what life is all about.
So when I say I want to simplify this holiday season, what I actually mean is that I want to act from my heart, not from my head.
I think a lot of us feel pressured to "make the most" of the holiday season by crafting like Martha Stewart, baking like Mrs Claus, gifting like Santa, volunteering like Jesus, all the while caroling like Buddy the Elf even though we feel as frazzled as the guy who says "hanging Christmas lights" in the 12 days of Christmas song.
Frankly, I don't think it matters how MUCH or how LITTLE we do for the holidays. I think that ALL that matters is that we are acting from our hearts and not from our heads.
So if you love craft-wizardry like Martha, then deck those halls, baby. If you love to cook, then don ye now your gay apparel and BAKE, baby--BAKE. If gift-giving is your love language and you have the resources, then oh by gosh, by jingle: knock yourself out, channel Oprah and give EVERYBODY a car.
But if you're giving or decking or baking or crafting because that's what your brain THINKS you "should" do, then please breathe deeply and "think" again. Listen with your heart this time. And you'll know whether you aught to finish baking those cookies or just lay on the floor covered in flour and sugar, eating the batter and pondering where, exactly, Frosty the Snowman GOES when he waves goodbye singing, "don't you cry."
Perhaps an even better holiday mantra than "Simplify, Simplify" might be "From the heart! From the heart!."
On the likely chance that we FORGET that this is our mantra, I propose that we sing "From the heart! From the heart!" to the tune of "HEE-HAW, HEE-HAW," a classic line in the "Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey" song.
That will guarantee that it gets stuck in our heads, at least through New Year's.
Doing less stuff with more light,