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TBT:  Found this in my files.  It was published in 2011, in Prominence magazine. I was writing for as a featured author.  I wanted to share it because it gave me a new perspective today in 2016. Please Enjoy….

Recently I took a mini-me vacation, yes, all by myself.  The purpose was to take time to center so I could clearly hear Spirit’s whispers.  It is not Spirit that is screaming in our heads, it is EGO.  The time was rich with amazing insight and blessings.

labI took a journey through a Labyrinth that I highly recommend to everyone who wants balance, clarity, healing and self discovery.  As I entered, I asked to be given a message to speak on, to be provided tools for a living winter and connected holiday season. Walking through the Labyrinth, I was focused on the personal walk I’ve been on.  I noticed that the twists and turns looked the same.  When I thought for sure that I had figured out the pattern, I was surprised several times with a new direction that I had missed because I was too focused on what I thought was right.

In a Labyrinth, there is only one way in and the same way out.  When you reach the center you have not reached the end, but some think that the center is the goal.  The goal is to reach the core of YOU and connect to the soul.

Once you do this, the journey has just begun. The biggest struggle that most people have in their journeys is remaining on the new path; it is unfamiliar, which can be very uncomfortable.  We also think that if we take a short cut that we are saving time.  The truth is both steal your opportunity to reap the blessing waiting for you.  Doing what’s hard and painful build you up and prepare you for the discomfort that will be coming.  When you are unwilling to sacrifice and always look for what’s easy, you will fall to your knees and be blown away when the storm blows through.

While I was walking, though, the paths look the same.  I can see how the mistake could be made in life over and over: “I have been here and done that before,” or, “I don’t need to do this again,” or, “they’re all the same, so here we go again.”  We believe there is no lesson here — or maybe we are just not open to learning it.  Now here we are again entering into the winter season, where we gladly spend time with family, giving thanks.

The question that you must ask yourself:  Are you open to a fresh, stress-free winter, or are you going to continue to relive the drama that started way before you were even born by behaving the same way? Wanting a perfect family celebration, but all the while thinking if it’s gotta be it’s up to them! Oh I see the problem! I want someone else to walk the walk, and I want to still reap the benefits, while really I have just been sitting on my……

But that is the classic, easy way.  It is time to grow up and become an adult.  As I left the core of the Labyrinth, I heard “you are becoming who you already are.”  This was repeated over and over.  Then I realized I HAVE always been who I am, just like you have always been here.  I was just hiding from myself and never knew it.  So now it is, if it gonna be, it is all on and about me.  I choose to hold on to the power Spirit raises in me.

How does this relate to the holidays?   We are conditioned to do things the way we remember, even if it is not accurate.  Sometimes it not even the way things were for us, it’s those before us that set the stage from their own experiences.  We grow up as kids loving the holiday. We get to play with cousins and friends with less supervision than usual. And then all the food and desserts!  There may be lots of gifts, and those envelopes with money in the cards, we pretend to read, because it would be rude to open it to just see how much we got.  All the while, the adults are either having a ball or so stressed about everything they look like they will explode.

Then as we grow we are trained to make the holidays a great big to-do about everything except connecting with each other & celebrating Spirit.  Spending money is now the holiday spirit.  But what do we really gain from all the money spent?  More importantly, why do we feel so compelled to overdo it?

I believe it is time for some new tradition.  When we make our free time about what we are grateful for, we open the door to real Joy. I can still remember all the stress that has come with the holiday throughout the years.  It was one of the most peaceful moments in my life when I realized did not want to pass it on or continue with it. So I did — I changed how we looked at the holidays, along with why and how we celebrate them.

In 2008 I woke up with a plan.  My son’s 6th birthday was a week before Christmas.  This always led to the “GIVE ME MORE MONSTER.” So this year I took him to the store and told him to pick out the most important toy he wanted for Christmas.  It was a Star Wars light saber!  Oh, the joy on his face as he put it in the basket.  I explained to him how blessed he was and he agreed.  I then told him that we were not doing gifts this year: “There are countless little boys that have nothing and don’t get even the hugs and kisses you do.  This year we are going find a little boy just like you who doesn’t have any toys, and we are going to give this toy to him.”  He was shocked at first, but started thinking about some kids he knew that really did not have what he had.  Understand we live on a budget and love shopping sales, but even with our little we can do big things.  He started getting excited about giving to this unknown child. He would say proudly when asked, what do you want for Christmas? “Oh I don’t get presents this year — I am going to be giving them instead”.  We made our birthdays about ourselves, and the holidays about connecting with and giving to other. In this instance, he realized that he had the power to do good for someone else.  He rose to the occasion, and took ownership of becoming a Giver.

In the same year, after taking my parents to the airport at 6 am on Christmas, my son and I were amazed at the emptiness of our city.   We were quickly saddened by those who were out on the streets on Christmas Day, the unseen homeless.  My son saw a disheveled man who was walking with his possessions, and wanted to give him something.  All I had a few snacks in the car, so we got them together, pulled the car over and rolled down the window.  What happened next changed me forever.  My six-year-old, in a strong, clear voice calls out, “Excuse me sir, we don’t have a lot but we want you to have it, so you won’t be hungry.  Merry Christmas, sir.” The gentleman comes to the car, looks my son in the eyes, and with a most amazing smile, says, “thank you and GOD bless.”  He starts to sing and dance like we had given him a million dollars.  I already knew the power of gratefulness and giving: it is truly the best.  It was my 6-year-old’s reaction that brought it home; from the back of the car I hear little happy sounds erupting.

“MOM, MOM!” he starts to squeal, “Something is happening to me!”

I answer, “What love, what is it?”

“MOM — my whole body feels really warm and tingly — I think I am going to explode with excitement and happiness!”

“Oh, Love,” I said, “you are experiencing the love and joy of giving, that is what Christmas is really about.”

He squealed happily, “I like it a lot!”

It was then we decided to make Christmas about others and giving.  Now every year since, we fill bags with food, then at sunrise drive around looking for those who are need. That gentleman received the best gift, better than a million dollars.  He was seen, and given what we all hunger for the most, Love. But so did we, the gift of compassion and Love that filled us was priceless.

We miss the point if we think the looks on our children’s faces are real when they open that gift they had to have. If we feel by getting them the most expensive item, we did it this year. These moments will be forgotten with time and the next big gift. We forget that it is about touching the heart, that’s what matters.

When we got home to celebrate our Giving Christmas, there was a surprise under the tree with a note from Santa. It explained the joy that was felt that he would choose to give up what he wanted to bring joy to another.  That there was no greater gift to get, than the one he had given himself:  “Please enjoy this present as you continue to grow in to a powerful young man”.  The look on my son’s face was priceless — he picked up the gift and ripped it open —  TWO Star Wars light sabers!  Now he always would have one to share.   He got the WII that year as well, as we have family members that believe he must-have a big-ticket item.  But if you ask him which Christmas was your favorite, he will share this story of the time he learned to Give with you.

Let’s end the year doing it differently.  That way we can start the new year the same way.  The food will get cooked: do a potluck.  Have your kids do something — peanut butter graham crackers, yummy.  Breathe!  Everyone sharing the load, no one person(hopefully unless they are choosing to) having to do it all.  If you do find yourself having to do it all; make it yours and take out the stresses.  Breathe!  This year play with the kids, laugh when the drama pops their head in, and choose to love it all.  Get out the house if you can and visit some friends too. Make paper finger Labyrinths and meditate. It is always our choice to spend our time our way, and an hour passes so quickly.  This year, make it yours, and open the present!  Sending LOVE!

If you are interested in knowing more about my journey with Divine Vision Center for Healing and Self Discovery check out http://www.divinevisioncenter.com