December 2015

Holiday Newsletter 2015

The Holidays are Here!

What are your Illusions? What is the Reality?

Are you in a frantic state of Holiday busyness, feeling more stressed than cheerful, too exhausted to enjoy the true meaning of the season?

The expectation that everybody be cheerful, and merry, creates an unrealistic goal.

So where does the pressure to have an over the top Holiday Season originate?

Madison Avenue starts flashing perfect holiday scenes into living rooms by Halloween, nudging us to prepare earlier and earlier every year.  The illusion is that if you start sooner, do more, consume more, project images of perfection onto our real families, we will have a 'Currier and Ives' experience. 

Are you imagining your holidays as a cocoon of love, warmth, acceptance, and safety?  It will be only to the extent that your family is like this throughout the year. Yearning for warmth as well as intimacy, do you believe that going the extra mile, preparing delicious meals, going without sleep, shopping for the perfect gift, will make this year different.

Our culture promotes the belief that if you try harder, you will achieve a snapshot of beauty frozen in time, and somehow your family will magically evolve into a finer representation of themselves, without the usual family dysfunctions.

Let’s look at the reality of how dysfunctions play out. Dysfunctional family members, under the pressure of the season's expectations become more of who they really are. Issues in families that are tamped during the year frequently rise to the surface becoming turbulent or weird at holiday gatherings...

  • Aunt Sue will drink more to medicate her empty feelings, becoming obnoxiously loud.
  • Dick the control freak becomes a micromanaging intrusion into everybody's business.   His behavior is more obvious and because he cannot control the holiday hustle and bustle, which makes more anxious.
  • Fred the angry one sends family members tip toeing around, in order to avoid out and out volatility. 
  • Agatha, the sister is more critical and demeaning in an attempt to lessen her envy of your success.
  • Uncle Mike who is fundamentally distrustful of the Christmas experience is more cynical and fully into his Bah! Humbug! Role.
  • What about you in this mix?
  • Do you have fantasies of pleasing this tribe?

If the examples above do not fit, fill in the blanks before you decide to over-function, become overwhelmed and disappointed in yourself and them, again...  What part do you play in this drama?

In Less Messy Families:

In less messy families, there may still be a tendency to over-do even while discussing ways to simplify celebrating the Holidays.  It is important to grasp that simplifying does not mean getting more organized. Getting more organized or trying to do the same things in less time is not the answer.

To simplify does not require the abandoning of gift giving, or replacing holiday feasts with Spartan fare. However it does require mindfulness and reflection on our usual ways of celebrating.

Compatible families ebb and flow all year, with love, support, flexibility, and warmth.  In such families, everybody shares in the doing; the adjusting to changes, and simplifying as is necessary. 

Of course there are problems, there are always problems, however the dysfunctions are not front and center.

It is a time to focus on decorating our "inner tree", with true generosity, love and compassion.  It is a time to encourage children to give in ways that only children can. .  Give them an opportunity to participate in joyful giving, where no gift wrap is required.

Forget the forced frivolity, the‘shoulds’ and all of its attendant madness.  Dare to shake up how you want to handle the season. 

Dare to shake up how you want to handle the season. Clarify what you really want; it is a good idea to make a Holiday job list.  Ask yourself:

  • Do I like doing it?
  • Would the Holiday season be the same without it?
  • Can it be shared?
  • Do you do it out of habit, tradition, freedom, choice or obligation?
  • What do you want to do differently?

Eliminate what you can, sticking to simplicity and sharing, as you select favorites.

Finding more modest ways to celebrate leaves us less vulnerable to overeating and overdrinking, and overspending.

May you experience Christmas with love, wonder and the sacredness inherent in all twelve days. May Hanukkah be a profound spiritual experience.  Stop to reflect and take in the true meaning of the Season.

More of Life’s Issues are addressed, as well as Free Audio and Transcript on

Loneliness: This Time of the Year


…Allow your loneliness time

To dissolve the shell of dross

That had closed around you;

Choose in this severe silence

To hear the one true voice

Your rushed life fears,

Cradle yourself like a child

Learning to trust what emerges,

So that gradually

You may come to know …  The glimmer of springtime

(John O’ Donohue)


If Loneliness is the obstacle that is keeping you unhappy, it can be more of a thorn to manage during the Holiday Season. Whether the loneliness that you experience is caused due to losses, not fitting in, or social shyness, it can become overwhelming during the Holidays amid the pressure to be cheerful and the illusion that everybody else is “happy” or “paired up.”


Happy: Not so many.

Paired up:  Many are paired-up, but that does not necessarily mean they are happy. A client told me her most intense times of loneliness is when her husband is around pushing a cheerfulness that she cannot feel within or with him.

Reality is very different than the illusion, or the false beliefs we live by.

When you are lonely, you are more vulnerable to allow the ‘Currier and Ives’ images of the Season to seep in, as if they were real.  These kinds of images and memories have the power to stop us in our tracks.

My first Christmas after being divorced I remember being at the mall and hearing Elvis Presley singing “Blue Christmas.”  I became unglued, and ran out of the mall. I was already one of the ‘walking-wounded’ trying to do the expected things to provide a Christmas for my daughters.  I’m here to tell you, both personally and professionally, you will be able to see more clearly how to make a course correction after the holidays. So if you haven’t tackled loneliness yet, don’t give up.

Some years back, I did ‘Single thru the Holidays' groups which included men and women. We started the Sunday before Thanksgiving and ended the Sunday after New Year.  All of our stories were different and also similar.  Some had recently experienced a relationship loss or divorce and just wanted some space to feel what they felt without forced frivolity.  While some wanted support to experience the holidays differently than the traditional way, others just wanted to connect with kindred spirits. All benefitted from connecting with others. My group was, in essence, a holding space to be ‘all right’ with whatever was causing the loneliness.

My wish is that you hold space for yourself, no matter what you are feeling or how you got to this place, with compassion and without judgment.

Take time to reflect on the patterns that have you stuck and the best strategy for you to face your loneliness, the sooner the better. The only way out of loneliness or any other obstacle that is holding us back is to release the fear, and muster the courage, to go through it, not around it, if you are going to become free.

When I say through, I do not mean by pushing and shoving, or being harsh with yourself. Such action which will build up more resistance to any possibility of change.

Reflect and know that the obstacle of loneliness in your life has meaning. We all have obstacles that have to honored and worked through in order to accept our worthiness to have a full and abundant life. Mine may be different than yours, but I have them until I process the meaning and release the power that they have over me.

Discover how to be free of loneliness with tools, exercises and strategies go to