Holiday Grounding 2.0: Advent of the Soul
When you get to where you’re going, where will you be?
I ask myself this question often as I easily confuse productivity with busyness. I imagine you fall into a similar trap as well. Consider this, how many times a week do you ask someone how they’re doing and they respond with a slight sigh, eye roll, and an arsenal of reasons there’s just not enough time in the day. “Life is just so busy these days!” they respond. I’m definitely guilty of it too. I tend to wear exhaustion proudly like a badge of honor just so you don’t have any qualms or confusion about my level of productivity, or worth I suppose.
It’s a curious thing because I do wear that badge around like it jumped right off the Stella McCartney 2017 Spring runway, yet get so offended when someone actually notices it and asks, “Katie, you look tired, everything okay?” The nerve! Don’t they know I’m bulletproof? (Ha!) There are then two options at this point: I’ll either abruptly excuse myself, go slap some extra concealer under my eyes, snort some strong peppermint essential oil, and blame it on allergies. Or, the flimsy Plan B is always , “Who, me? Are you kidding? I feel great!” with a fake toothy grin and high pitched laugh.
I’m pretty sure there’s shame at the root of this. I recently read Shauna Niequist’s book, Present Over Perfect, and was rocked to the core by her level of honestly regarding her own addiction to productivity and responsibility. She shares, “We all have these complicated tangles of belief and identity and narrative, and one of the early stories I told about myself is that my ability to get it done is what kept me around. I wasn’t beautiful, I didn’t have a special or delicate skill. But I could get stuff done, and it seemed to me that ability was my entrance into the rooms into which I wanted to be invited.” In my case, I find myself hustling for acceptance by constantly going, achieving, producing. It feels really good, until the payoff isn’t enough anymore.
We all do this to some degree. There is a lack or perceived deficiency as well as a need for acceptance, so we buy into narratives of belief about ourselves that were validated by someone important to us along the way. Eventually, these beliefs build out a blueprint of identity, a roadmap for the future. I believe discovering and aligning with our truest self, our unique identity, is absolutely crucial in order to thrive. It facilitates a high road forward and thankfully, we can ditch that low one. One of the greatest gifts of my life is to journey alongside others in support of this process.
We must make time and space to ask ourselves this vital question: where am I going? Put your narrative of holiday busyness aside and stop addressing those Christmas cards just for a moment. Consider this, if they’re getting a card, chances are they also care about your overall well-being. Stop and give ear to the still small voice inside that longs to be heard.
According to the Western liturgical church calendar, the season of Advent is upon us. I’m not bothered by whether or not you consider yourself a religious person or a church-goer. What I am interested in is your desire to stay grounded and committed to a vision for your life that’s evolving, flourishing. What better time to do this than smack dab in the middle of all the season’s light, celebration, and chaos!? This begs the question: how do we maintain this inward reflection and presence and also give ourselves fully to the thrill of the season? I’ve been pondering this a lot lately.
Advent simply means ‘coming’. It’s an anticipatory time of preparation for hopeful things yet seen. In church tradition, this thing is the birth of Christ, a savior. It includes all these beautiful, sacred practices enrolling candles, wreaths, songs, smells, and colors. I attend an Episcopal church that’s super liturgical and relic-heavy. They do ritual really well and I absolutely love it largely because I need all the reminders I can get. Ritual creates infrastructure and order within which to practice these life-giving reminders.
This is highly applicable for you and I as we have the opportunity to apply these same seasonal rituals to the interior spaces of our lives and daily experience. I call it an Advent of the Soul. That’s a really woo woo way of describing our own sacred processional of time and space leading up to the birth of unique dreams and desires for the coming year. The community we want to build, the business we want to start, the relationships we want to attract, the songs we want to write, the cities we want to explore, the joy we long to cultivate, and on and on.
We unlock so much power as we tap into it and access its truth. Other bonuses include: you don’t have to dress up, fight the cold of Sunday morning, or traffic for that matter, and the doors are always flung wide open, ready to welcome you in. This advent takes place in the most exquisite cathedral of your heart, and it’s offered all day and every day wherever you are. Disclaimer: this largely depends on our decision to stay present and awake to the moment instead of checked out in Netflix land with a vat of Chex Mix and a tumbler of Chardonnay.
Rituals are meant to ground us and that’s exactly what I need this time of year: a strong tethering to hope and a steady guide into truth. This ritual of advent locks into my favorite daily practice: writing. Don’t worry, I’m not heaving more homework on your already crazy schedules. This will only take ten minutes, (of course more if you’ve got it!)
Answer these three questions:
- What have you gained in 2016? I know it’s been a rough year for many, however, find the silver lining and tease that out a bit. Obstacles are always our best teachers.
- What is your word? Pick one word that is meaningful and representative of this new season and write it down. Take a minute to unpack the story behind that word. For example, I spoke with a man the other day who described this heaviness he’d carried the past several months due to lots of family drama. He desperately wanted to put that unnecessary extra baggage down and decided“Levity” was his word for 2017.
- What narrative of belief are you willing to let go of that’s holding you back? Write that sucker down and see what comes up. Try not to judge it, just notice what’s there.
Now commit—over and over and over again. This is the stuff of that magical, sacred journey of rebirth; the Advent of our soul. You will forget, stumble, and fall down into those dusty dark corners of old familiar voices time and time again. That’s not the point. The point is you keep daring, keep reaching, keep walking, one foot in front of the other, into what will come. It’s a courageous path to forge and most settle for a lesser resistance. You, my friend, are not most.
You’re also never alone on this journey… I’d love to hear your answers to these three questions this Advent season!
Love & Gratitude,