Posts made in December, 2009

Activate Your Christmas Muscle

Posted by on December 12, 2009 in Musings, Readings | 0 comments

Last night, while I was brushing my teeth, a few thoughts that had been spinning around independently in my head bumped into each other, and I had a point of clarity. Let me elaborate …

Thought 1: I’ve recently been reading The Secret Language of Money and Your Money & Your Brain. Each book references research, which found the anticipation of a reward can be more satisfying than receipt of the reward itself. The reason is because once the reward is attained, the chemical process of anticipation is extinguished.

Thought 2: Since my husband, Robbie, has been out of work since February, and I’ve been building up a new private practice while preparing to launch a second company next year, this year’s Christmas budget has been paired back. So that we can continue to give to others, we decided to pass on exchanging gifts ourselves. Robbie asked for reassurance that I would not be disappointed. I assured him that I would not be disappointed but admitted that I may miss having a surprise to enjoy. Inwardly, I was saddened by the thought that I could possibly be disappointed at not receiving something material (which I could definitely live without) to mark the celebration of the day mankind received the one gift it cannot live without – a Savior.

Thought 3: Yesterday I met with a personal trainer to mix up a lower body resistance training regimen, which had become boring. For grins and giggles, he took me through a new core workout first, and then we went through a lower body routine. It included only two new exercises, but these would target a wider range of muscles. During the first new exercise, I was a bit wobbly, so Forrest pulled me aside for an exercise that would activate a specific glute muscle. Sure enough, after that, my form was better. It was amazing.

So last night as I was brushing my teeth, I was experiencing a precursor to the pain I knew I’d feel today, from targeting muscles my previous routine had let rest. As I pondered what insight this lesson in the physical realm could shed on the intangible spiritual realm of life, the above three thoughts collided.

If I want my experience of Christmas to reflect the joy of the gift of Jesus and the joy of giving to others – without being diminished by the distraction of materialism – I need to keep my “Christmas muscle” activated.

How can I (we!) do that? To start, I can let my daily quiet time keep directing me back to the true meaning of Christmas. I can stop adding busyness to my schedule, so that there’s more time to relax, reflect, and enjoy. I can beef up my attitude of gratitude through active reflection on the blessings constantly poured down upon me, and by telling and showing others that they are a blessing to me. I can continue to seek ways to simplify my daily life so that its maintenance is less of a distraction. I can sit and gaze at the Christmas tree, cuddle up to Robbie, and enjoy the soothing purr of kitties on our laps. I can finish setting up our nativity collection – beautiful, visual reminders, of the true gift of Christmas, which never fades or fails – Jesus Christ.

Indeed, each time I sit or stand today, I know that something is different. The simple changes made to my exercise routine have already begun to create a new experience among my muscles.  And I’m encouraged that with a little intentional tweaking – to continually activate my Christmas muscle – this year and this Christmas will continue to be one of the best yet.

What will you do to activate your Christmas muscle?

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Questioning Normal on a Silent Night

Posted by on December 6, 2009 in Musings | 1 comment

My husband and I recently started a media fast. No radio or MP3… No TV or movies… No internet surfing… No newspaper or magazines… You get the picture.

Since music is one of my favorite means of mood-alteration, I knew this part would be challenging. At first, my body seemed to revolt against the quiet in my car. Reflexively, time after time, my hand would rise to turn on some tunes. Even for an introvert like me, it was strange how foreign quietness had become.

TV, newspaper, and web media have not been hard to avoid. I’m not a big fan of TV. We don’t even have cable. And I regularly abstain from the (bad) news in order to promote my mental health.

Today I got a “freebie” at church – worship music – awesome! Then we ran into Starbucks. When we got back into the car, the silence was almost deafening. When did noise and clatter become the norm?

We also went to Costco, and my eyes were drawn to the mesmerizing flicker of the TV screens as we walked in. (Product placement – yes.) At the grocery store, as I awaited check out, I was bombarded by magazines hyping the trials and tribulations of the rich and famous. When did it become normal to be accosted by so much (needless) information?

As I write this, our cat Rutledge is sleeping on my lap; it’s a priceless moment. I hear the gentle breeze of the heat blowing through the house. And I hear my husband thoughtfully laying down pieces to the puzzle we cracked open a few days into the fast.

While giving up Christmas tunes has been a sacrifice, I wouldn’t trade this experience of a media fast for a dozen renditions of O Holy Night. The gift of quiet has been returned to us, and this silent night has caused me to wonder what our new normal will be.

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