Tag Archives: holiday gifts

The Gift Everyone Wants This Holiday

present

During the holidays It’s easy to get swept up in the pursuit of getting and giving stuff but with the end of 2014 looming just around the corner it’s also a time to take stock of where you are in life and where you want to go next. Whether you are a dancer or not, all of us secretly want the same thing: to be the best version of ourselves we can be. Even though you may ask for that new, perfect leotard in the hopes that you’ll stand out in a crowd or a pair of jeans that make your butt look good in those rare moments when you’re completely honest with yourself, you’ll see that this is true. Since the beginning of my less is more holiday approach I’ve had more time to consider what’s important and how I can be the best version of myself. One thought that really stood out was to look at the ways I am already blessed. So often we forget. Here are a few of those blessings:

A roof over my head. California has been hit with so much rain that every time I go for a walk I see water flowing down hillsides and trickling down stairways, hear it gushing through sewers. I’m seeing waterfalls in places where I’ve never seen waterfalls before. In the midst of these recent rainy weeks a homeless man took up residence in a tunnel. Initially it seemed like a strange choice–tons of people walk, bike and jog through the tunnel every day, not to mention the constant traffic booming through every few seconds. I wondered how the poor guy got any sleep. But then I realized it was dry–one of the few dry places for someone who had no home.

Good health. One of my oldest and dearest friends died this year. She was only in her 50s and she passed away only a few months after she was diagnosed with advanced liver disease. Losing a close friend was hard in ways I’d never imagined; it felt like she was by my side one moment and ripped away the next. I think of all the things we used to do together that we won’t share again, all the days I have before me without her in my life and I miss her terribly. But it’s reminded me of how precious and fleeting this life is, how lucky I am to be healthy and able to do the things I want to do.

Friends, family and community. I’m constantly amazed by the love and generosity from the people in my life. Enough said.

The freedom to choose. It may not always feel like we have the freedom of choice but we do. We can choose a career, the person we marry (or whether we marry at all), where to live, the way we dress, even which thoughts we cultivate into beliefs.

Somewhere in the midst of the holiday rush I hope you find the time to remember how you are blessed…and I hope the list is long.

 

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My Holiday Motto: Less is More

The past few months have reached new heights of hectic-ness, just in time for the end-of-year push of the holiday season. Every year I tell myself I want to do things differently; to slow down, do less, enjoy more, but my good intentions get swallowed up and buried in the middle of too many activities (setting up a tree, shopping, decorating, baking and parties, parties, parties). This year is going to be different–not only because I’ve been super sick for the past six weeks and don’t have the energy to do everything I usually do–but because I don’t want to do all of those things. Instead, I want to simplify. Here is the new holiday motto that’s echoing through my mind:

© 2014 Grier Cooper

© 2014 Grier Cooper

This definitely means less shopping. I honestly don’t like to shop, even on a good day. Is it just me or does it seem kinda crazy to try to give cool gifts to every meaningful person in your life all on the same day? The other day I was forced to visit a shopping mall (in the middle of holiday craziness) to find my daughter something to wear for a school event. The parking lot was a giant knot of frantic, agro drivers caught in traffic. I’m so glad I walked.

Why do we do this to ourselves, people?

Instead, I’m giving the gift of reading–magazines. Not only does this gift keep giving all year round, I don’t have to wait in line at the post office to mail it. The list of magazines I’ve found cover an amazing array of topics: classical music, German language, bicycling, Paleo living, and yoga. Younger readers are getting Discovery Girls and Cricket. Who wouldn’t appreciate a magazine dedicated to their passion?

We’re also choosing to do less socializing. I want to celebrate just like anyone else but I don’t want to end up burned out and sick, which is exactly what would happen if I said yes to everything. There are invitations from friends, community events, school events, and the annual party we always throw…it all adds up to too much running around.

It’s supposed to be the season to be jolly, not the season to be stressed out, right?

Instead of trying to do it all we’ve focused on doing a few of our favorite things: baking cookies with friends, decorating our house, a holiday meal with close friends. We aren’t throwing a party this year, either, and it’s a huge relief.

First ever batch of linzer cookies

First ever batch of linzer cookies

Choosing to adopt the less is more motto has paid off in some unexpected ways. Slowing down and remembering to breathe feels really good (especially after getting over a nasty bout of bronchitis). I find I notice and appreciate more of what’s going on around me, like the other morning when I was able to watch one of the most magnificent sunrises I’ve ever seen. It was a real-life Maxfield Parrish painting, the azure blue sky filled with fluffy pink and peach clouds streaked with stripes of glowing gold. The sky blazed a brilliant orange against the dark silhouette of the hills as the sun came up and bathed the entire San Francisco Bay in a swath of golden light. Words can’t really describe, so let’s just say it was stunning.

It was during those moments when I remembered how incredible this life can be. Slow down or you’ll miss it.

 

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