Me and Mom - 2005

It’s Saturday afternoon, and I’m sitting here at my desk reflecting on why I feel so much more happier this holiday season than in the past couple of years.

See, in February 2009, I lost my mother to breast cancer.  It was devastating enough to watch her take her last breath.  I realize now, looking back, that for many months following, I hadn’t given myself permission to go through the natural stages of grief, because I was still very much in shock. The official term is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but for me, it was mostly a period of huge memory gaps, brain fog, and emotional detachment. I can recall having entire conversations with other fellow students at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in New York City, where I eventually graduated as a certified Holistic Health Coach. I would talk with a fellow student after a lecture, and then a few hours later, I would totally forget having met that person. I remember once I paid an $800+ electric bill, only to forget that I had already paid it, and paid it again…in the same week. I’m so grateful that my husband understood what I was going through, and showed a helluva lotta patience and love with me during this time!

In the aftermath, holidays were difficult, bittersweet, and a blue cloud hung over me, as I resigned to “get through the holidays” and decided to just put on a smile. In doing so, that smile I wore became my mask. The mask served me well, and soon after, I began to put on the mask everyday, using it as a way to hide from the world.

But the truth is, I really didn’t enjoy the holidays, because I wasn’t fully present. I masked my pain, my sorrows, my grieving, and in doing so, delayed my healing process.

It wasn’t until last year that I finally came to reckon with this, and truly allowed myself to “hit rock bottom.”  I allowed myself to break down, slowly, bit by bit, to shed and release all the hurt, pain, heartbreak, sorrow, anger, and bitterness around losing my biggest fan, my best friend, my sweet angel, my mother.  In 2012, I allowed myself to sit in solitude and finally hear my thoughts, something I had been avoiding since my birthday, September 25, 2008, when I got the call at work that the cancer was not only back for a third time, but that it had also spread to over 90% of her body.  She was gone in 6 months.   In 2012, I went through yoga teacher training, twice, with the primary focus of allowing my grieving to finally happen. I meditated, I learned about asanas (yoga body movement and positions), and pranas (breathing exercises), chakras (energy channels), and female power from a body energy perspective.  While I didn’t graduate  and become certified in yoga due to physical limitations (more on this in a future post), I achieved what I desired: assistance with grieving and healing for myself, so I could finally release my mom’s passing, and move forward in life without a heavy heart. During this time, I also took a year or so off from my holistic practice, so I could give 100% focus on my own personal development.

And taking that time to do my emotional work paid off.  When I woke up January 1, 2013, I felt like a brand new woman, the blue cloud had been lifted and I felt lighter, STRONGER, more than ever before.  So, this holiday season has me feeling much, much happier, healthier, and WHOLE again, and I feel I have come full circle again.  I found myself watching old Christmas movies I used to watch with my mom as a little girl, and I noticed instead of feeling pain, I experienced full head on JOY that is just unexplainable.  In fact, it was watching Elf that inspired this post. Here’s other ways I get into the holiday spirit:

  1. Release all guilt and “I should” for shopping and gift giving. If it happens, great. If not, run a quick check of your priorities from now and January 2, 2014: what really matters?
  2. Create some space and time for YOU. For me, that means EVERY DAY I take at least an hour to do something that really relaxes me: a hot candle lit bath, baking gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free cookies, calling a friend, watching old Christmas movies with organic sea salted popcorn, or snuggling with my husband by the fire.
  3. Set reminders during work hours to BREATH and take a stretch break. I learned in yoga teacher training that managing our breath is a large part of stress management and self control. I tend to stop breathing when I get stressed over something as little as my computer moving slow. So I set reminders for myself to BREATH, even take a quick 3-2 minute short stress-busting walk every hour, to hit the Stress RESET button and relax.
  4. Allow myself some fun food, within reason, as long as I stay within the 80/20 rule: eat 80% healthy, and have fun (within reason – my body cannot tolerate gluten, beef, or pork animal protein) with the 20%.  This ratio shifts back to 90% healthy and 10% fun after New Year’s.
  5. Be flexible – people will do what people do, and I can’t control them. But I can control me, and my reactions. In fact, I can also choose to NOT react, but rather, to observe other’s behavior and ask with curiosity and compassion, what is the underlying reason? I also ask, “How can I look at this from a different perspective?
  6. Gratitude:  I approach the Holiday season, or any other for that matter, with gratitude, because this is the most powerful way to activate abundance and manifest your desires. The Universe (God) begins to return to you whatever you direct your energy towards. So, for example, if you direct your energy towards complaining about traffic, you will only receive more frustration with being stuck in traffic. If you, on the other hand, approach traffic with an attitude of gratitude, like, “I am grateful to have a vehicle, to have normal function in my brain, my hands, my legs, to be able to drive,” or “I’m grateful that my vehicle is working properly and that I am safe” would invite more of the same, and most likely you would not feel frustration, but feel much more positive in spirit.

I hope that you find some benefit in my story, as well as my tips to get in to the holiday spirit, so that you may release what might be blocking you from feeling the holiday spirit as well. I don’t know your story, but I would love to hear from you. How do you get into the holiday spirit?

In Other News

I am glad to say that I happy to have returned to coaching, having relaunched my business on my 41st birthday this year, and I have very exciting programs coming up for 2014!

I’m also ecstatic about finally launching my brand new website: www.venusavivwellness.com!  I still have the old website at www.venusaviv.com, and will keep this website up until I have all existing content transferred to this site.  Please be patient, as you may see changes on the fly during the remainder of December 2013 until the transition is complete.

Till next time, Happy Holidays to You and Yours!

Venus Aviv