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How I Gave Up Stress for Christmas

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Christmas comes upon us so quickly. There's so much to do, and it doesn't matter how many hours of work and effort go into the preparartion, the actual celebration goes by in the snap of a finger. The weeks prior to Chrismas day are busy and frought with anticipation. We all look forward to a plesant time off, spent peacefully with our friends and family. It is the season of hope. It is a time of promise.

The Christmas season was much different for me this year. My year was taken up with lots of personal work and self-improvement. I also had another operation in mid-November, which was necessary and related to my reconstruction, but a blessing at the same time. It gave me the time leading up to the holidays to recover, de-stress and relax. It slowed down time for me, and enabled me to focus within. To really savour living in the moment.

In this day and age, there is very little that allows us to do that. We are packing so much into our day, that we hardly have time to breathe, never mind taking the time to smell the roses. My usual routine at Christmas is to work my crazy long workweek until December 21, if I'm lucky, followed by an agonizing couple of days frantically looking for gifts for my family and loved ones. Then I have another several hours of wrapping. Not exactly what the doctor called for at the start of the busy season.

But this year gave me a break. Or perhaps I have instead broken the cycle. I am a big fan of practicing what I preach. Regardless of this outlook, I have, at times, probably seemed like somewhat of a hypocrite. I have been the victim of fitting too much into my days, and I have always been the victim of anticipating a happy, stress-free and peaceful Christmas with my family. Until now.

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This year I put what I have learned through many of the people I look up to, and many of the inspirational bloggers out there into practice. My biggest gesture was to forgive someone from my extended family who had caused me much grief over the past couple of decades.

It was something I never thought I would do in this lifetime, and it was not easy. But I suddenly understood that this act was not for her, but for me. It showed me how far I have come from the start of my journey through cancer to my new and improved life now. More importantly, it demonstrates that through the changes I have made in my life......the running, the healthy eating and the spiritual journey......I have also grown to respect and love myself, first and foremost!

And there was much rejoicing!

I also took the opportunity of my pre-Christmas recovery time to enjoy where I was and what I was doing. Instead of stressing out about the famiy getting together, the cooking and preparation for the big day and the hope that everyone would have a good time, and that peace would reign in my house, I lived in the moment.

I didn't set myself up for disappointment with thought of hypothetical happenings in the future. I decided that I would enjoy the holidays and the people that would sit around my table, when the time came. I organized myself. I made the menu ahead of time, and knew how many people would be coming to my house. I had my shopping done earlier, and took the time everyday to savour the holiday moment. I actually loved listening to the Christmas carols on the radio! Who would have thought?

Much of all this personal growth stems from gratitude. The number of times I stop and give thanks in the day has increased with the passage of time. And this is the key. So at the risk of sounding cheesy in this time of peace and good will towards man, I can be an example of how there really is truth to this.

For it is not a secret that the more things you find to be grateful for in a day the less time there is for those negative self depreciating thoughts to come into your head. So as I sit here looking at the heavy snow from a nor'easter blow around my house, I am again thankful, for I can stay in my pajamas and write this blog!