The Spirit of Holiday Giving (Part 2)

Let us continue to give more of ourselves this Holiday season by putting in the time an effort to spend time with the people we love.  Check in on friends and family. Check in on them frequently. We never know who is feeling depressed or lonely, particularly during this pandemic. Make sure everyone is doing ok. Remind them that they are loved. Offer to have lunch or dinner with them; during this COVID pandemic it’s easy enough to do this online (just prepare our own food). Listen, be attentive, and offer support in any way we can. A short visit and a few kind words can go a long way toward lifting someone’s spirits.

The Spirit of Holiday Giving (Part 1)

There is no better time or opportunity to cultivate strong relationships than the Holiday Season. So rather than going into our default mode of “What on Earth am I gonna buy all these people for presents?”, let us instead ask ourselves “How can I give more of myself ? How can I make people smile?”

Granted, we live in COVID times, and we may not have the option of giving ourselves LIVE …… in person. But there are still other ways.

So over the next three Sundays (including this one), I will be offering ways we can give more of ourselves, cultivate relationships, and spread joy this holiday season.

For starters, lets consider taking this opportunity to mend lose ties. Consider our relationships that went sour, faded away, or just require a little extra maintenance (the ones worth keeping/salvaging that its). Make the effort and initiate contact. Start off with just idle innocent conversation. Unless absolutely necessary, there is no need to even mention the cause of the pain; sometimes just reconnecting heals all. Once you’ve had some quality bonding time, if the cause of the pain/tension must be brought up, apologize. Even if it is not our fault. If an apology lessens their pain, then attitudes with change and that will lessen our pain. Everybody wins. Fault is of very little importance, as long as there is mutual love and respect. We move on.

Adapting during the Pandemic

Me, like many Minimalists, choose a small living space because we are outdoorsy social people. Other than to eat, sleep, and maybe study, we won’t be found at home much of the time. It is for this reason that so many of us are having a particularly difficult time during this pandemic.  Especially NOW in the winter season; when we have even less sunshine and fewer outdoor activities and events. We are social creatures now being forced be pretty much secluded to our homes. Our homes …… which are tailored to accommodate only the purpose for which we intended it (eat, sleep, internet research, write). Boooooooring

With that being said, let’s face it, this pandemic isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It is unrealistic to keep our lives in a “holding pattern” until it passes. We must adapt, and figure out a way to grow through it.  It’s simply not realistic to put our lives on hold until this passes. A couple months sure. six months possibly, but it has been 8 months and we have no horizon in site. To “wait this out” puts us in a state of anxiety, depression, and eventually insanity.

So, we must find new and creative ways to adapt. That is, we must find ways to alter the details our lifestyles and pursuit of our goals to accommodate these limitations that the pandemic has placed on us . This way we can continue to grow as people, (albeit possibly in a different direction).

Here are some measures I have come up with to implement so we can do just that:

  1. Bring the outdoors, indoors. If possible, we should find a way to take our recreational activities that are normally take place outside, and bring them inside. Personal example: Since it is too cold to ride bicycle outside, and they insist we wear masks while we ride stationery bikes at the gyms, I have acquired a bicycle “trainer”. That is, a device that turns my bicycle into a stationery bicycle. Now I ride in my living room while I watch spin instruction via YouTube.
  2. Make our social lives more digital. We have to become more comfortable with using online platforms for social interactions. There is no reason why we can’t use online platforms such as Zoom or Skype to meet with a friend for lunch. It’s a little different than the usual coffee shop where we usually meet (as the coffee sucks and there are no cookies), but there is no reason why we can’t make this a regular online date just the same. It may be awkward at first, but it won’t be long until this is a regular part of our rhythm. The awkwardness will pass after a few times and the value of good connection will come organically.
  3. Find other safe areas.  Hopefully there are places other than our own home we can consider “COVID safe”.  A relative or friends home who we are confident is not infected and has been isolating the same as us; and they are confident that WE are not infected. Often simply “being someplace other than home” is enough to say we “went out.”
  4. Change our lifestyles and goals. I hate to say it, but there is the possibility that neither measures 1-3 nor any other measures we can think of will work for  our present lifestyle and/or goals. In this case we need to seriously consider completely changing these things. We’ve got some hard decisions to make, and the transition won’t be easy. It’s basically starting over. But as painful as this may be, it’s far better and more rewarding than “Lets wait this out.”

At this point in the game, It is actually toxic to maintain the mentality “we don’t have to change because this will soon pass”. After 8 months of this pandemic and no horizon in site, this mentality is stubborn and weak. And while this pandemic will eventually pass, we cannot sit idle until it does, because our life is passing us by. The true strength of ones character lies in their ability to adapt. Exercising our ability to adapt is in itself adding to our growth as people. As much as I hate this phrase, the question we all should be asking ourselves is: What opportunities are available for me in this new reality, this new normal?