I’m beginning my year by finishing some of my projects from the end of the last one. Right before Thanksgiving, I made my final list for the things that needed to get done for the next three holidays and the end of the year: Gifts to buy, gifts to wrap, teachers’ gifts, mail carrier, hairdresser, my priest, baking, Thanksgiving dinner, Chanukah, latkes, Christmas dinner, Christmas Masses, school responsibilities, holiday cards, clean the house, grocery shopping, and oh yeah, I’ve got that retreat at the Dominican Center exactly between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Too many things to do. Something had to give. I needed this retreat. It was not only spiritual, it was a writing retreat. It was the very things I needed at this time of year, my everything, but did I really have the time for it?
Baking. I decided quite dramatically to skip baking this year. How would the holiday season go on without home baked goods for the teachers and Fr. J and F and the kids?
And then something happened.
It wasn’t that I didn’t care anymore, but…
I. Didn’t. Care. Anymore.
In a good way.
I tried it on for size a couple of times, and made sure that my family knew my intentions. I would not be baking. Except…except for Santa; no cookies, no breads, no nuts, and no caramel. And believe it or not, I was okay with it. I really was.
Not only was this writing retreat exactly what I needed and wanted and longed for, I got more out of it than I expected or could have hoped for.
The quiet inspiration of the poem that prompted us. The prayers. The new friend(s). The peace. There was not a moment all weekend that did not speak to me and reward me for making this choice.
Over the weekend, I was introduced to an inspirational speaker, Rob Bell. His videos are very inspirational and thought-provoking and thoughtful. So much to think about and meditate on. One of those videos was Shells. Please follow the link – it is well worth your ten minutes.
Spoilers to follow: Listening to him talk about the shells and his son’s frustration at not being able to grasp the starfish because his hands were full of shells – well, that moment was like a hammer to my head. My eyes welled up with tears with the pronouncement, no the admission to myself that you can’t do everything. Even if you want to do it or it’s the good thing that you’ve been waiting to do, you can’t do it all.
Choices must be made, and the realization that my no baking mantra of the previous two weeks was more than selfish, it was more than for me, it was important. The revelation that I had made the right choice, and that I could do it again was overwhelming and freeing.