December Disasters and Other Gifts

tapeThis year was going to be the one when I finally did the holidays right. I was going to be both pragmatic and intuitive, jolly and serene, organized and free-flowing, and full of holiday joy.

Two words: face plant.

If you happen to be in a counseling profession (life coaching, social work, parenthood, cocaine sales) you know that December is not so much a month as a recursive disease, like malaria. It makes humans jumpy, gloomy, and fussy. This year, just when I thought I was immune, I had a grand mal attack of the Decembers.

To those who talked me down from various neurotic ledges: I thank you. To those who taught me to play calming cellphone games: I owe you. To those who received a roll of tape from the post office as your gift from me: Please know that somewhere in my house is a beautiful, thoughtful gift I bought for you in October, then carefully hid. From myself.

At this writing, I’m skidding into 2014 with my face still firmly planted where my feet should be. And that’s okay. It reminds me that every time I try to meet exorbitant expectations and become a fantasy version of myself that has never actually existed, I experience wipeouts of epic proportions.

I’m left with little choice but to watch the devastation from my heart, which has no idea what December means to my mind. Dropping language and coming home to the moment, I see immediately what I hide from myself every December (and it’s not just your present). I see that every day is a holy day. I see that celebrating, generosity, and gratitude are simple states of being, not unattainable ideals. Every out-breath recalls miracles, the presence of the divine in stables and candle flames. Every in-breath is a delicious feast, an offering, a gift.

I guess it’s worth losing some face to remember that.

14 replies
  1. Renee Lennon
    Renee Lennon says:

    I have felt the same’ thank you dear Martha for making me feel ok about failing sometimes, love you .

  2. Sheila Bergquist
    Sheila Bergquist says:

    This is a good reminder to all of us to not try to be who we aren’t. December is a bad month for most of us, I think…too much pressure. I am finally at a point in my life where I have stopped trying to be perfect and it is a relief. Love this article! Yes, we should see every day as a holy day.

  3. Bernie
    Bernie says:

    Ahh!! So that’s what it was all about! I think I lent into it a lot more and kept checking in on myself but it def slipped by the 2nd and I head planted from then til the 8th!! Thankyou Martha you words are like a balm!! 🙂

  4. Rachel Henke
    Rachel Henke says:

    Encouraging to read that everyone goes through these weird feelings although you’d think it would be more encouraging to know there’ll come a day when you don’t lol! I find new year can be quite stressful with all the pressure of goal setting etc. I enjoyed it more this year when I realised that I work on my goals all year so don’t need to completely reinvent myself just because the calendar changes its digits.

    Thanks for sharing – I loved your new book and really resonate with the ‘team’ thing. 🙂

  5. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    I second that. This year, I tried to do everything. One of the things that happened instead of perfection is that I sent my brother and sister-in-law’s present (Oregon) to my 99 year-old aunt in a nursing home in a tiny town in Minnesota, and vice versa. What I learned (again): perfection is not an achievable state. But. Exhaustion and overwhelm are achievable.

  6. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    Wow! I just love this because I felt the same way this year. All the planning and preparation went out the window and I found myself a stress ball at the most unopportunistic times. Ah, such is life. It’s time to re-calibrate and celebrate surviving the holidays–there’s always next year. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Jeanne
    Jeanne says:

    Thank you, Martha, for being willing to look honestly at yourself and share that with us, so we (I) don’t feel so much less than the ideal I set up for myself after starting to read your incredible book Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. It is so very good to know that I am not alone. It’s also good to remember, (over and over and over again)especially at the beginning of a new year when our hopes are high, that we (I) are perfectly acceptable as we are, and that is the basis of becoming our best and then doing our best in the world. Thank you!

  8. Sarah Caracciolo
    Sarah Caracciolo says:

    I love you! Almost every blog post you write speaks directly to my heart and almost always corresponds with where I am at in my life. What I love about your writing is the authenticity you bring to every single piece! And of course, the funny one liners. Although I may be in a chaotic mind state when reading your posts (help Martha, I need some insight) you can always bring me to a laugh! It’s the fact that you can write about meaningful subjects, yet give it a comical spin at the same time. I love it, as it helps to remind me that life isn’t as serious as we make it out to be and even Martha Beck thinks so! So thank you for your on going insight. It has helped me and continues to inspire and guide me. I hope to one day call myself a certified Martha Beck life coach! 🙂

  9. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    Your honesty, authenticity and wit give me wings to if not soar perhaps fly with the adolescent birds! I found this year that instead of making resolutions I would experience my life a continuing process with goals, but not pushing the “date” less the exploration be cut short!

    You ring true to my psyche and heart as one line from my song lyric, “Snow White(Promised Land,” was in your North Star book, pg 21….”and it will fight you like a trapped tiger…”

    Thanks so very much Martha. Best wishes for a healed heart

  10. Katy
    Katy says:

    I feel this way right now. I just did 3 pages of morning pages to vent my frustration. That always help. I am an early retiree and find I don’t have time to do all that I want to do. The fatigue from post polio syndrome doesn’t help. So,I end up,not doing anything well. I am trying to prioritize but it is hard because I love it all. Trying to just be right now and hopefully receive some guidance.

  11. Coco
    Coco says:

    Allow… Allow… Allow… I could hear Yoda whisper in my ears. I finally summoned the courage to listen to her. “Face plant” and all the embarrassing behaviors that manifested last holiday season; forgetting my heels, walking into a party with my fuzzy slippers & armpits full of fuzzy hair. All were just the right medicine I needed to stay in the present moment. ~ Coco

  12. Mary
    Mary says:

    I love you Martha!! I have been told all my life that I was “too much!”, too loud, too bold etc etc. I learned to be quiet. I learned to stop wearing colors that draw attention to me. I learned to be a good girl in all relationships and never, never rock the boat. I recently went through a painful divorce and I am standing here wondering “Who the hell am I?” I followed the rules and got hurt anyway. I absolutely love your humor and insight. You make a difference. Thank You.

  13. Bev Landry
    Bev Landry says:

    Hello Martha!
    I recently attended one of Dr. Diane MacKinnon’s workshops at the Rodger’s memorial Library in Hudson, N.H. and heard about you. Diane shared highlights from your book, Find Your North Star and I’ve read the notes over and over.
    Are you related to Glenn Beck? I’ve read some of his books and watched him on T.V.
    Thank you for taking comments.
    Bev Landry, Rodgers Library Patron

Comments are closed.