by Jodi Koslow Martin
A couple of weeks ago, the bloggers of this site got together on GoToMeeting to do what we do – discuss a book we’ve chosen related to feminist leadership. We had chosen Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington. The participant with the newborn was too tired to be on the call. Completely understandable as all of us have been in her shoes. Another was talking to us from the car after fitting in a haircut before picking up her son. She was about 100 pages into the book. I had also read about 100 pages, too. I had borrowed it through interlibrary loan but didn’t finish it before the due date. It traveled with me in my purse for a few weeks before I shoved it through the book repository of the library. Then, I ordered it on Amazon.com. Instead of trying to be a good steward of my resources, my packed schedule left me with a library fine and a credit card charge. Then, the PhD student of our group was listening to the book on audio while out on her runs. To make sure she finished in time for our meeting, she made the reader talk so fast she could barely understand what was being read to her. Lastly, our pregnant participant held up her book to show us that the binding was pristine. She hadn’t opened it yet.
The five of us couldn’t get done what we actually find pleasure in doing. Let me just say that it’s perfectly okay…and let me also talk about the elusive “getting things done.”
Do you hear people say, “I have so much to get done?” Of course you do. The words may even come out of your own mouth. You may have even said it this morning. In December, the most wonderful time of the year mind you, I hear it incredibly often. In my experience, it’s often said by women leading me to believe that gift receipts were invented for men who shop on December 24th or the day before a candle is lit on a menorah.
This blog entry is not to say what I’ve been reading a lot on other blogs…which is to say that you need to put down the cookie cutter and enjoy the spirit of the season. I’m not going to suggest that you don’t work hard finding the Ghostbusters Lego Set on sale for your nephew or spend the last pennies in your bank account on a present for your in-laws. We are going to do these things no matter what someone writes. But I suggest this. What about doing these things with the spirit in which we are really trying to do them? Rather than giving off a stress vibe, what if our search for Lululemon work-out pants for your pain-in-butt relative who will show off her perfect butt in the see-thru work-out pants was done with JOY? And, the joy can’t be faked… so you’ve really got to find this relative’s good qualities and think about her thoughtfully for a bit. You’ve got to authentically feel joy to give off that aura. Otherwise, you are giving off the feeling associated with the high-pitched, fake voice my husband says I use when I talk to people I don’t know well on the phone.
I’ve written before I’m pretty religious. I’m the opposite of those who say they are spiritual but not religious…I try to be both. And, I’m more than just Catholic-y. I drink the wine during communion every week. The month of December gives me the chance to think about the holiday season and the birth of Christ, yes. It also gives me a chance to reflect on my favorite story in the Bible – Mary visiting Elizabeth. In Mark’s gospel, he notes that Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months before heading home. Here are two pregnant women, one older than the other, hanging out together…to just get stuff done. I’m sure of it. Okay, so I’m not sure enough about it as if I was there, but I’m sure their togetherness was indicative of supporting each other as they grew lives within them. I suspect they experienced joy just being with each other.
As you get things checked off your list, think about how it is that you are doing these things. Out of spite? Then you are giving off spite. If you are too tired of putting the damn elf on a new shelf every night, leave him in the middle of the hallway. But, if you want your little loved ones to understand that gift giving really is about a giving joy, then we have to be able to let others see joy within us. Hard, yes. But essential. Otherwise our daughters and sons will just know us as wigged out parents. So, find your female friends this season and talk to them often to put the wigging out at bay. I believe that’s what Elizabeth and Mary did. And their kids came out pretty good.