Re-defining “normal”: with more not less

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“That best portion of a good man’s life; his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.”

~ William Wordsworth

“All you have shall some day be given; Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors.”

~ Kahil Gibran

This is the season for a bit of magic…and for giving…not that any other time of year isn’t, but to clarify…with all that my kids get throughout the year, I can assure you at no other time is there an actual stack of boxes in the garage with presents waiting to be wrapped. And no, I didn’t go overboard by any means, but still, in my family, we celebrate Christmas, we exchange gifts, and there’s a lot of giving going on…to friends, to strangers…little gifts and bigger ones, gifts of things or simply of words and love expressed. We do the affection and kindness throughout the year…a lot…but let’s just say at this time, the giving seems more intense, more focused. And so does the magic thing…I totally believe it wasn’t really me, but a jolly guy with a red suit who hijacked my credit card and bought gifts online for me and the kids. Seriously…it’s Christmas.

So what better time than to think about magic and giving…not in the context of special occasions, but in every day life, in less spectacular and sparkly circumstances. You know, the kind of magic and giving that involve a few extra kisses, a smile, picking up a treat on the way home, asking a thoughful question, putting a little note in someone’s lunch or briefcase, sending a card for no reason, buying flowers just because, making an extra call, or setting up a little surprise on a Thursday evening. The kind of “maintenance” magic and giving that set up a healthy standard on a daily basis and define what our “normal” everyday experience is.

My point here is very simple. Life involves routines and let’s face it, we are often in a position where we have to do a million and one things we’d rather not do but have to. Paying bills and cleaning out kitty litter boxes come to mind. So, if we are to remain inspired and passionate, expressive and generous, we need to work at giving and creating a little bit of magic as often as possible, in every way we can. It is up to us to define what our “normal” is. If we raise the bar so-to-speak, our “normal” will be enhanced. If we drop it…well, guess what happens.

It seems to me the whole point of living is to make anything and everything we can a little nicer, better, more fun, more exciting, more pleasant…not less!. People survive in the most horrific circumstances…they survive in jail, in camps, in times of war, in exile, in circumstances of profound hardship and poverty. We can all survive with very little ultimately…but is that really what we’re here to prove? That we can do without?

Unfortunately, all too often, people forget and get carried away by routines and worries. And day by day, we grow accustomed to doing less, trying for less. At each stage, every time we give up on doing whatever little bit “extra” for ourselves or someone else, we re-define the standard for “normal” and accept making do with less. Yes, circumstances change in life and we get to give and receive different things at different stages. But we can not forget about that little bit of magic…be it in our relationships with our partners, or with our kids, or our friends and in general, our loved ones.

Maybe it’s my temperament, maybe it’s my professional bias, and it’s certainly my life experience, that make me one of those people who insist on trying to keep a bit of a fairytale happening in everyday life. I remember too well the day I decided I was not going to buy or make random little cards and send love notes because I didn’t think they were appreciated, and they were certainly not reciprocated. And then came the day when it no longer mattered that every night should end with kisses and “I love you’s”, because everyone knew they were loved, so what was the big deal. After that, the day came when it wasn’t important to look my best, to wear a little something special on occasion, to put on a little perfume, to smile even if I didn’t feel like smiling. Yes, the idea was that everyone should accept me for who I was, only I forgot about the fact that who I showed up as was the lowest denominator of me that there is.

And after that, one day it was no longer necessary to have a surprise, or go out on a date, or make a special meal, or think about what someone else might need, how to make them a little happier and brighten their day. And then suddenly one day, there it was…the utterly downgraded definition of “normal” created over years of slow negligence…a “normal” that described how people can survive without, not how they thrive when they invest in their mutual happiness and seek to create more.

People express frustrations and profound dissatisfaction with various relationships in their lives. And so I often ask…”How did you treat your partner and how did your partner treat you when you first became a couple?”…or “How did you feel about your kids when they were first born?”. The answers come too often with regret and sadness. The standards for “normal” back then were different. And people blame circumstances, their partners, their children, being overworked and overtired…all of which are very legitimate excuses, but as all excuses, ultimately useless.

So, to wrap this up…giving more, creating more happiness and adding a bit of magic in everyday life is not all that difficult. It really isn’t. But it is something all too often overlooked. And the consequences are dire, because eventually people wake up and find themselves feeling disconnected, unloved, unappreciated, angry, resentful, and exhausted. I say let’s do ourselves a favor…let’s try and do more, give more, pay attention to details and sprinkle some of that holiday magic in our everyday lives. Let’s send out those emails and write little love notes, let’s pick up our kids even if they’re taller than we are and tickle them and kiss them and tell them we love them as often as possible…let’s buy flowers just because, call 10 times one day and send a million text messages on a Wednesday afternoon just because…let’s think about what those we love might need and not wait until their birthday or a special occasion to give it to them…let’s get crazy and wacky and be spontaneous…let’s believe for a moment that life can be a little bit like a fairy tale…and then make it so.

And don’t anyone dare me tell me that making a routine out of wellness, giving, fun, and excitement makes these things worth less or boring. I have yet to witness an “over-doing” of magic and happiness…yet to meet someone who says “Darn it, I wish I wasn’t so happy and thriving in my personal life and my relationships!”.

~ Finally, to all of you, wishes for much happiness, for an exciting and rewarding year ahead, for wellness in every way and for magic and peace always. In my tradition, I offer a greeting of Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…with love, joy and gratitude. ~

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sheila says:

    Little sister……..
    Nicely said!!!!

    Like

    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

      Like

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