The Grinch That Couldn’t Steal Christmas

Everyone knows the story about the Grinch that stole Christmas. But I have a story about the Grinch that couldn’t steal Christmas, even though he tried. He couldn’t steal it because the faith of a child was so much stronger than he bargained for.

I was four years old, and I was sitting in church with my family. There were parts of the service that I really liked, even as a child. However, I never liked the sermon. Mostly because the priest had cold eyes, never smiled, and had a booming voice that he used to full capacity when he preached to us. And most of the time, the message wasn’t positive. There was a lot of talk about hell, purgatory, and the fate that awaited us terrible sinners.

I guess he believed in the God of vengeance rather than the God of love. When you have the bully pulpit, you can say what you want. But, it scared the crap out of me. I preferred the songs, the bells, the candles, and they way my grandparents would wink and grin at me and my sisters as they came back from communion.

On this particular Sunday morning, during the sermon I drifted off to my own pleasant day dreams to escape the threat of hellfire and damnation in my future. It was so close to Christmas that I could almost hear the bells from Santa’s sleigh. Just a few more days and that jolly old elf would slide his big old butt down the chimney of the stone fireplace that my father had masterfully built when he built the house we lived in.

However, my reverie was rudely interrupted by the booming voice from the front of the church. “There is no Santa Claus!” My head snapped up as I was brutally brought back to the present. I was so confused that I never heard the collective gasp from the adults in the church. The voice continued, “There is no Easter Bunny, or Tooth Fairy, either!” Geez, what a way to use the bully pulpit! But he certainly had my attention.

He continued to bellow that these characters were nothing by fairy tales. He said our parents told us these stories just to make us behave. I snuck a peek at my Mom and Dad, who were staring directly at the priest with looks that could freeze the hellfire that terrified me. I was pretty sure they didn’t need fairy tales to make us behave. And they looked very unhappy at this shocking news that Santa Claus was just a farce. 

Suddenly, out of my confusion came the cold, hard truth. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized why the man with the cold eyes and booming voice never smiled. And I knew why he didn’t believe in Santa Claus–he had no faith. But, I had all the faith in the world, and I knew there was a Santa Claus just as sure I was sitting there watching the myriad of expressions on my mother’s pretty face. Apparently she knew it too.

Then I had another revelation–if he could be so wrong about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, I began to doubt his accuracy about hell, purgatory, and the God of vengeance. Satisfied, I sat back in the pew with my new-found knowledge and returned to my day dreams of Christmas and Santa Claus. But this time I also included the God of love in my musings. What a concept!

After mass ended, my mother bolted from the pew with about a dozen young mothers right behind her. They followed her into the rectory to have a chat with the priest. I guessed they wanted to explain to him that Santa Claus really did exist. Good luck with that. It appeared his mind was made up.

The truth is, I still believe in Santa Claus. And the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. I believe in the magic of childhood. I also believe in the mystery and the reality of things that cannot be explained, but I know in my heart exist. Because I have faith. And nothing can ever change my mind. 

And that’s my story about the original Grinch, and how he couldn’t steal Christmas from me. Because he underestimated the unshakable faith of a child. I will leave you with these parting words….”Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!” 

Who’s got the power? You’ve got the power….

I love going to a variety of power meetings and marketing classes. It’s a great way to meet people and learn interesting new ideas at the same time. Often, these get-togethers are pretty predictable while others are full of surprises. 

I had one of those surprises a few weeks ago at a marketing class for women. It was a great class, full of terrific information. Just when I thought we were going to wrap things up, the facilitator invited us to participate in a little bit of visualization. The practice of visualization is very effective, and something I often use in my Feldenkrais classes. After all, if you can imagine it, you can become it. Or, what we believe is what we become.  

She had us close our eyes and think of a woman we admired and respected–a woman who was strong and powerful. Then she recited a list of very public and high-profile women that we might want to choose from. She lost me right then, because I didn’t respect or admire any of the ones on her list. Besides, I thought she meant women that we knew personally, rather than those who were rich and famous, especially since several woman in my circle of friends fit that description perfectly.    

Next, she instructed us to imagine we were one of those women, and that we had their power. Uh-oh. I didn’t like the sound of that. I didn’t want to pretend to be someone else, even just for a few minutes. And I certainly did not want (or need) somebody else’s power. I have enough of my own, thank you. And so did every woman in that room. But perhaps they didn’t know it yet.  

I opened my eyes and took a sneak peek at the rest of the women in the room. They all had their eyes closed and had dreamy expressions on their faces as imagined they were one of those famous ladies. The speaker had us think about how these women would walk, talk, enter a room, the clothes she would wear, etcetera. She encouraged us to imagine ourselves walking, talking, and moving in the exact same way, so we could imitate them and have their power. Yikes!

It’s important for women to feel empowered. But, they have to find the source of their own power, deep within themselves, rather than trying to find it through somebody else. I thought about my Feldenkrais training and all of the many gifts I received and important lessons I learned from this remarkable method. The most valuable lesson was how to be true to myself as I discovered my own power along the way. It was an incredibly liberating (and powerful) experience.   

All of us have an innate strength and power that most of us don’t even realize. We need find it for ourselves. Trying to find it by imitating someone else, or through hero worship results in sacrificing our own power and handing it over to them.  We each need to be the woman that we admire and respect–our own true self. That’s pretty powerful in itself and a positive message that we can give ourselves. Remember, what we believe is what we become.   

So, find your power, and let your light shine through. Yours is more powerful than anybody else’s, because it will come from your heart. And please don’t be afraid to share it with the world. We can all use a little more light in our lives.

Quick Tips for Stress-Less Holidays

I love the holidays. It’s a magical time of year. However, along with the excitement and eager anticipation comes a significant amount of stress and anxiety. After all, no matter how carefully we plan our holiday festivities, sometimes they don’t always work out quite like we planned. The warm, cozy evenings with friends and family, the carefree winter days spent playing with the kids in the snow, out of town family coming to visit, and the fun-filled weekends at the shopping mall sound wonderful in theory. And then reality hits. 

Let’s face it–the holidays can be an awful lot of work. Also, high expectations can lead to deep disappointments, especially when we invest so much of ourselves and our time making this the perfect holiday season for everyone else. Even worse is when you wake up on January 2nd feeling exhausted and depleted. You may even wonder how the holiday season passed by without even having the opportunity to fully enjoy it. And then you wistfully say to yourself, “Next year will be different.”

Yeah, I know. Been there and done that myself more times than I care to admit. But take heart–the key is to keep your stress levels under control, and here are three simple quick tips to help you make this year your best holiday ever.    

1). Indulge yourself.  

No, really, I’m serious. Put yourself at the top of your gift list and give yourself permission to indulge yourself. I don’t mean go out and buy yourself a Lexus or a fur coat. I mean spend at least 20-30 minutes every day to do something simple but pleasurable. Go for a walk to enjoy the lights in your neighborhood. Turn off the TV and relax with a cup of tea and a good book. Or, just get down on the floor and make yourself comfortable. Close your eyes, listen to the rhythm of your breathing, and let your body sink into the floor. You’ll be amazed how these simple activities will calm your nervous system, rejuvenate your senses, increase your energy, and give you a feeling of well-being.

2). Just say no.

This is the time of year that we get inundated with every type of invitation that is known to mankind. Don’t feel like you have to accept each invitation for every party, dinner, brunch, or countless performances of the Nutcracker. Just say no. If you are really looking forward to an event and want to attend, that sounds like a good investment of your time. If an event feels like an obligation that you have to attend, or if you’re dreading it, that’s a pretty clear sign to just say no and stay home.

Be selective and prioritize how you spend your time just as you as you budget how you spend your money for the holidays. Just like you don’t want to start the new year with credit cards over their limit, you don’t want to start the new year worn out and exhausted. It would be much more satisfying to have warm memories of happy holidays. 

3). Step away from the phone.

Put your phone away, especially when you are shopping or doing errands. Not only does your phone distract you, trying to attend to your phone while you are doing other tasks really ratchets up your nervous system into high gear. That alone will increase your levels of stress and anxiety.

But even more important is that it presents a significant safety hazard. And I don’t mean that you might trip over an escalator or walk into a water fountain at the mall. Unfortunately, there is a dramatic increase in crime during the holiday season because people are overwhelmed, distracted, and often times careless. That is exactly what perpetrators are looking for. A distracted person makes an easy target. So please, please, please put your phone in your purse, pocket or backpack and focus on your surroundings instead of in your hand. You’ll be safer for it.

Here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas, a safe and Happy New Year, Season’s Greetings and multiple blessings for whatever holiday you celebrate. Most of all, be healthy, and remember what really matters is to take care of yourself as well as the people closest to you. After all, your loved ones want you to enjoy the holidays, too.