I’m standing in line at the store, and the salespeople rush around, trying to relieve the long lines waiting at each check-out station. Every intercom announcement sounds off the code red. People are waiting! Lots of people are waiting! Hurry, hurry!
A traffic jam of shopping carts blocks everyone’s path as people maneuver for the best possible position. When a new line opens up, ladies fight for that precious spot at a free register. Somebody is going to get hurt.
What’s happened to our manners?
I’m yawning in my line and feeling awfully cozy in my winter coat. I’m still sick and in no mood to rush around.
The shopper in front of me decides to sign up for some special program. The cashier turns to me, nearly in tears, and says, “I’m just so sorry. You can find another cashier if you need to. This is going to take time, and I’m just so sorry.”
“That’s OK,” I say. “I really have nowhere to be. I’m not in any hurry.” I shove my hands in my pockets, look up to the ceiling, and wonder what I might blog about today.
Silence. People glance over at me like I’ve just said a bad word out loud. Someone frowns at me. How dare I hinder this holiday rush? How dare I support the one slow-poke in everyone’s way?
“Take all the time you need,” I insist to the slow-poke. Those six words wrap the two of us in a warm holiday embrace. The cashier smiles and looks as if she might actually hug me.
Living with flair means–especially in December–we let people take all the time they need. What’s so important in my shopping cart anyway? What makes my day more important than another person’s?
Are you the rushing one or the slow-poke? I’m both!
When you carefully manage your mental health like I do, a change of routine can get everything out of balance. An older, wiser mother I know offered her best advice for enjoying the holidays–despite any stress or change of routine.
She said, “Keep your wits about you.”
In other words, do whatever it takes to keep yourself in balance. Even in the most rushed of days, I want to take time to exercise, sleep enough, eat healthy foods, and spend time in reflection and prayer. My doctor says that these activities recalibrate the brain to keep me from being “reactive.”
Imagine a snake that whips her head around and attacks with speed and ferocious power. When I’m reactive, I snap at family members and let the venom of a bad mood dominate my speech and actions.
Instead of reactive living, I want responsive living. I want to be at peace in my heart and gentle in my speech. I want to respond, not react. I want to be like a butterfly, carrying sweet nectar–not venom–within me.
So when I excuse myself from the holiday rush for a brisk walk, an early bedtime, or a moment to reflect and write a blog, I’m investing in my own balance.
I want to enter a room full of friends and family and be a blessing–alighting as a butterfly upon each dear soul. Let me offer beauty, let me delight you. But first, let me take a moment to keep my wits about me.
(Photos, “Indian Cobra,” courtesy of Kamalmv, Wikipedia, and “Monarch in May,” courtesy of Creative Commons)
Right now I’m launching into my official Thanksgiving preparations. Imagine all the family driving in. Imagine the rooms to arrange, the week of activities to plan, the house to clean, the meals to prepare.
There’s a way to go about this with flair.
Lately, I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about how to handle Thanksgiving stress. At the same time, I’m reading article after article about how to “Have a Thanksgiving to Impress!”
Does Thanksgiving stress come from what I stress? If I emphasize wanting to impress my guests, my Thanksgiving becomes a performance to evaluate rather than a holiday to enjoy.
I don’t want family members to remember how impressive I was; I want them to remember how loved they felt.
So I’m cleaning my home to make others feel comfortable, not impressed. We’re planning a menu to nourish and celebrate, not impress.
Living with flair means I make preparations in order to love–not impress–those around my table. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter about this old rented house, this tight budget, this simple meal. We’ll hold hands around a thrift-store table and thank God for all we have. You will feel loved, not impressed.
And that will impress you.