"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God."
My husband and I just returned from The Global Peace Convention in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We spent five days talking about "Unity In Diversity: Building Social Cohesion for Sustainable Peace through Universal Aspirations, Principles, and Values." We talked with government and non-government world leaders, religious leaders, and average global citizens about respecting and celebrating differences in culture and religion fostering peace, tolerance, and respect for people who don't necessarily think or believe the same way we do.
I gain so much from these peace conferences but I always come home thinking about how global unity must first start with national unity and national unity needs to begin with regional unity, and regional unity has to begin with local unity, and local unity is hard to attain without domestic (home) unity and finally unity in the home must start with unity in ones' own heart, soul, and mind. One person and then one family at a time.
Christmas is less than two weeks away and I can feel and see the stress in the air. I just returned from the grocery store and I couldn't believe how crowded the parking lot was. As I witnessed the erratic driving of some, it reminded me that all is not "calm and bright". How do we manage to get ourselves so worked-up during what's supposed to be one of the happiest and most peaceful seasons of all? I believe turmoil and lack of peace often comes when we hyper-focus on the small stuff. Things that have very little impact on the over-all essence of who we are yet things that can take control of our life if we let them.
What size Christmas tree should we buy this year and how should we decorate it? How much money should we spend on Christmas gifts and who should we buy for? How can we possibly get our Christmas cards out in time and what design would be best? What are we cooking for Christmas dinner and who's coming? Should we bake and pass out Christmas cookies this year or should we forgo and do something else? How can I possibly find the time to do everything that is expected of me in order to have a meaningful Christmas?
The proceeding is a brief example of some of the lists, and tasks that may have to be accomplished in the next twelve days. I am not exempt from these feelings of responsibility yet I will say that as I get older I am learning to let-go of some of the frivolous details and opt for a more stress-free holiday. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed-out consider prioritizing what needs to get done. Once you do that start eliminating a few things that aren't crucial. You'll be surprised how great you'll feel. I just spoke to a friend who sheepishly told me that she wasn't sending Christmas cards this year. I think she was relieved when I smiled and told her that I didn't send them out last year.
Putting family first is always the best first move. Spending time with loved-ones is the best gift you can give to yourself and to them. Your family members usually won't remember what kind of a Christmas gift you gave them, they will remember how much love they felt from you. Next, if you have time and energy you can reach-out to friends and other people in your sphere of influence. Here are a few things to consider this holiday searson:
-Volunteering in a shelter is a wonderful and rewarding experience but keep in mind that these places are inundated with help during Christmas and as soon as the holidays are over they come up short-handed once again. Consider signing-up to help after December.
- Doing even the simplest thing for someone will help you spread the love and kindness and help you re-focus. This week while you see someone struggling or in a hurry consider giving them your place in the grocery or department store check-out line. If you are in a race to see who can get to the only parking spot first, consider letting it go or giving it up.
-Take a deep breath and be happy that you are more peaceful and relaxed than others.
-Enjoy all of the beautiful Christmas decorations. Bundle-up and take a walk around your neighborhood just to see the lights. You may even consider getting a few friends to join you as you Christmas Carole together.
-Remember to take care of your physical body by getting enough sleep, eating right, and keeping up with your exercise program.
-Pray and meditate daily. Thank God for all you have.
-Live with a grateful heart and pass-along things that build people up in body, mind, and soul. Instead of disseminating divisive information, be a peacemaker.
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