Category Archives: holidays

Holiday Madness Treasures in the Random Overheard

Recommended Reading Soundtrack:  Make it Home by Juliana Hatfield (classic from holiday episode of My So Called Life!)

When I read this week’s writing challenge topic, I found myself in a whirlwind listening to my little world’s background noise of random people, radio show hosts, television, films and even my own tragic mind that never seems to stop talking. I thought to myself, “What might I overhear that could hold the potential of “interesting,” “hilarious,” “witty” or even “thought provoking?”” I was on the hunt, and- I wasn’t having much luck in any of those departments. I ended up resorting to something completely different!

One of my favorite columns in local city papers is the “Overheard” column. In this little paragraph blurb there is always something amusing and maybe not provocative, but just plain bewildering. So, I ended up turning to the internet which we all know is chock-full of random little diddles! When what to my wondering eyes did appear, but an awesome website that catalogs random “overheard” tidbits to make us all laugh (and maybe cry depending on your mood). One of my favorites stood out like a sore thumb in the spirit of the upcoming holiday season kick off, so I thought I would ponder it a little- with you of course!

Guy on cell: My mom’s husband is my dad’s wife’s ex-husband. Now you know why I live in Seattle–as far away as I can get on the continental US.

Bank of America
Seattle, Washington
Overheard by: Thinking holidays must be rough
Posted November 7, 2014 on

Much like a scene in a film depicting the one thing everyone loves about holidays, family drama, this overheard statement provokes many of my own favorite scenes that have been burned into my brain through incessant movie watching. I love these types of scenes because they give me the opportunity to laugh at my own personal drama like a coping mechanism. It’s not always easy to remember when that anxiety needle is moving higher and higher to meltdown level in the middle of a situation, but our experiences are linked to our own emotional past.

Stepping back and taking a look at what might be upsetting us from the vantage point of a random passer-by overhearing our conversation might make things a little easier, and in the end, even make us laugh. A lot of people feel technology has made us as human beings more isolated. There are moments when I want to pull my hair out- like when your boss that is in an office right next to your cube refuses to just speak to you and prefers an on-going 1 hour conversation/argument via email.

But there are also moments like standing in a bank and overhearing someone talk about the complexities of their life on a cell phone in a way that helps you cope with your own personal stress. As Thanksgiving in the US slowly creeps around the corner (1 week away, ALERT!), my heart has begun its annual craving for the film Home for the Holidays with classic Anne Bancroft, Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr and directed by Jodie Foster.

turkey_home_holidaysThere is a scene in this film where Downey’s character is cutting 1 of the 2 family turkeys at Thanksgiving dinner, and he accidentally flings it across the table at his angry, intolerant sister. His sister literally blows her top/loses her mind and hurls bigoted expletives at her gay brother like Will Ferrell in Elf’s legendary snowball fight. At first you can’t believe the verbal diarrhea that’s landing in everyone’s food is real. But minutes later everyone recovers through their own sense of humor by sharing their also “not so great” life moments. Owning our “uncool” can be a challenging process, but when we share it with others it brings us closer to one another. It breaks down the invisible fence that we create between one another due to perception and allows us to see that everyone has some life hurdle playing on repeat in their mind and heart. Can you say, “Expectations?”

Maybe now I will keep my antenna up and be a little more cognizant of what people are talking about around me. You never know what door a complete stranger will open for my own mind’s perceptual barriers! Treasures are lurking everywhere, even in the most unexpected places. Perhaps these treasures are the real gifts of our holiday season?

Credit:  Featured picture of tree & lights by Beverly LeFevre, sold on Etsy.


Peace Doves

“Then, in the nightmare of Monday and Tuesday, there was the struggle to keep normal when planes zoomed overhead and guns cracked out at an unseen enemy. There was blackout and suspicion riding the back of wild rumors: Parachutists in the hills! Poison in your food! Starvation and death were all that was left in a tourist bureau paradise.”

Betty McIntosh, Hono­lulu after Pearl Harbor: A report published for the first time, 71 years later, Washington Post 12/7/12

This morning, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, I opened up my Washington Post to an amazing experience.  An article written by a now 97 year old woman named Betty McIntosh who was a journalist in Hawaii the day Pearl Harbor took place.  The Washington Post published her article today after 71 years has passed, as the paper she wrote for in Hawaii deemed it too graphic and traumatic for its readers at the time.  The article was written 7 days after Pearl Harbor took place, a piece about the woman’s perspective of a war that began with great uncertainty and fear, during a time that many people view from their heart and safe place in the US- the holidays.

In reading the article, I felt emotional and wanted to relate her experiences to something deep inside of me that continues on its human course to heal.  This journey that we are all on ebbs and flows with our fear and our light’s inner knowing.  We oscillate between feelings of love and safety to feelings of uncertainty and sadness.  The pendulum between the ego-driven mind and our connection to the divine, our inherent truth.

“For seven ghastly, confused days, we have been at war. To the women of Hawaii, it has meant a total disruption of home life, a sudden acclimation to blackout nights, terrifying rumors, fear of the unknown as planes drone overhead and lorries shriek through the streets.”

Betty McIntosh points out how on the morning of Pearl Harbor it was a lazy Sunday with people coming out of church still in their reality that a war could not possibly be taking place on their island.  Her narrative takes us on a journey of coming to terms with the reality.  Yes, a war was taking place, and as she walked deeper and deeper into that reality she saw things that shattered the safe place that most knew to be home.  The forest of destruction became thicker with every movement.  There are people still experiencing this in our world, every day, coming to terms with the expansiveness of the human existence and how our reality can so easily be shaken because it is so tightly bound with our expectations and what we are “used” to.

In our experience as fragile human beings, I find it important to remember that each day we could still possibly experience this same thing including our own death.  We don’t know what plane will be ready to take off in our reality and we can’t count on our expectations because they are rooted in our desires rather than possibility.  The only thing we can count on is our ability to choose our reactions and how we will treat people, what we will do that affects other people.  If we can remember the humanness of our bodies that we experience this reality in every day, we can create a motivation to love.  This is our gift.  It is the greatest gift that we can experience within ourselves and in turn, our experiences with others.  Our oneness will not evaporate like emotion or the quenching of an ego-driven desire.  Our oneness will always be here to reflect on.

During this holiday season, I would like to extend my own kindness to all of you out there in the only way I can- in these words.  I want to say thank you with all of my heart for every moment that you choose to reflect and to love.  Every one of those moments is affecting me right now and my potential to also do good things.  You are my olive branch, you are my peace- and I honor you for all that you have experienced as a human.  Whether those experiences are rooted in trauma or joy, I have experienced the same, and I can relate.

As those during any war come to terms with the darkness in the human existence, I can only honor their experiences of suffering in my own and pray peace.  I pray peace during this holiday season and hope that all may experience it in their interaction with others, so we may all remember that we are simply one.  Pearl Harbor, along with all war, has a purpose now to teach us that life is a pendulum of swinging possibility and to embrace it with a motivation to live in our highest potential.  Let us choose our light and shine, illuminating the path for all to experiences of peace.

Navigating Our Expectations

Navigating Our Expectations
By Jessica Burnham

In light of the holiday season, I was thinking about the technique of navigating our lives through such a busy time, when expectations are at their highest all around. Each year, as Halloween concludes trick-or-treat fun in the US of A, everything begins in the retail world. You start to see the holiday schedules of your local communities publicized. A buzz begins to fill the air as we approach Thanksgiving. Once Santa goes by on the float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade- “Christmas” officially begins- so they say. And with that holiday, a whole slew of other magically spiritual holidays as well. My favorite addition was St. Nicholas Day- being Polish, this always reminded me of the humility of old gift giving. As we put out our shoes the evening before, we knew we would awaken with shoes overflowing with oranges and nuts.

In an age where Christmas always represented huge gift giving, this particular tradition always gave me a remembrance of a time when plastic didn’t exist, and people gave sweet goodies grown from the natural world as a gift. An orange! Or try the great gift of limes in Little Women. Exotic!! As our society has moved on into the 21st Century, the expectations of what the holidays will provide have grown in such dramatic ways. There is the expectation of family gatherings, perhaps family dysfunction- whatever your life’s flavor has grown or evolved into- there is always something to expect. I really notice this with my soon to be step-daughter. No matter how overwhelmed I am, I notice that there is an expectation being communicated- what we need to do next, or how she can’t wait for the next traditional happening to take place.

So how does it play in our life, and what does it mean? Tradition is fun. It is also safe. There is a great scene in the movie Memphis Belle, where one of the World War II pilots is getting ready to fly on his last mission on a team for the plane, Memphis Belle. His dream is to open up a chain of hamburger restaurants, so if you travel to another city- you can still have the comfort of the same, reliable food you have back home. I loved this character’s dream. It always made me laugh, because it touches on our desire for ‘no surprises’ in our daily life.

Apparently, this trait seems to become stronger as we grow up. My Father never wants to try a new restaurant, because he is so afraid of how far he may be stretched into trying something new- which comes with the risk of it not tasting so good, or being exactly what he wants. How does this relate to the depth of the human spirit? And, can we remember to have compassion not only for ourselves, but for others, when life seems to be taking an unexpected turn? When we have an expectation, we have the challenge of seeing how our attachment to the outcome of a situation can really take us backwards.

Without the attachment to how an event will turn out- let alone an entire season- we can be free to experience new, beautiful aspects of our being. This usually begins within our own self perception. How often do we have great expectations of ourselves and how our life will turn out? How do these expectations imprison us with feelings of disappointment, hurtfulness, and entrapment? A lot of the time, when you really look at your expectations, they either come from a place of wanting to please someone else, or please your ego. But if we can go into a situation with the attitude that the present moment and all its gifts is much more powerful than what is going to happen in the future, we don’t waste so much energy on trying to control the world around us, including other people.

Can we really love ourselves even in the midst of our expectations of what we are “supposed” to be like? Can we really love others, when we imprison them with all our expectations of what a mother, father, sibling, husband or friend is supposed to be like? There are times in our life, where we will be challenged by our expectations. They come and they go in waves, depending on our openness and state of mind. I guess a big question we could ask ourselves- what kind of structure could we put into place for ourselves that would assist us in seeing when our ‘great expectations’ are holding us back, rather than propelling us forward into the deepest, spiritual beings we are capable of being- our selves. To be our self, to remember who we really are, comes from letting go of what we believe we are supposed to be, and just being present with what we are at all times.

In the greatest existential circles, we can view our selves as everyone around us. But when we are struggling, and really can’t see our oneness, conflict will certainly be there. If we can utilize our compassion for others around us and within us, we can begin to transform that struggle into something much more magical, without attachment and without expectations. Happy Holidays, and in the spirit of the season- Namaste!