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Making Sacred Space - Giving & Receiving - and Oatmeal-Chocolate-Craisin Cookies!

Preparing for the Holidays and Making Space
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“When we clear
the physical clutter from our lives,
we literally make way
for inspiration and
'good, orderly direction'
to enter.”

― Julia Cameron

If you've been a subscriber for long, I'm sure it won't surprise you to hear that as part of my preparation for Christmas and the New Year, I've been clearing and cleaning this week. Though I despise the excuse that I've been "busy", Blue, this year has been full...and some of the ways I tend and care for our home - and frankly my own peace of mind - has fallen to the big list of "Tasks to Tackle when I Have More Time".

The whole process of living means that even if we are the tidiest of folks, our environment sometimes get dusty, messy, disorganized, or just overly full. And, there are also those odd cleaning tasks that only need to be done a couple of times a year that easily slip into the "When is the last time I...."

On Tuesday, I took JB to the airport and it began snowing on my drive home. Not just little flakes, but that big, wet, fluffy snow that steadily comes down for hours - snowing from about 10 AM to 5 PM. Though I had dinner plans with my book club, I saw all that snow as a sign that it was the perfect kind of day to declutter.

So, I went into our bathroom and pulled everything out from the drawers. And then pulled everything out from under the sinks. I dragged my big trash can in there and got to work. Checking for expiration dates, combining like items, using almost empty cleaners to toss the containers, and relocating items to a more logical place.

Like, for some odd reason, there were two Allen Wrenches in one of my drawers. Why?

Before I reorganized what was left, I thoroughly cleaned the drawers inside and out, sprayed the cabinet drawers, and finished with a nod to one of my favorite tasks from the "Clutter Busting" course I offered for five years: I left one of my drawers EMPTY.

Ah, the empty drawer. To have the knowledge that throughout our home are little pockets of space. This is the first time I've accomplished it in the bathroom, but I have empty drawers in our dresser and chest of drawers, an empty shelf in my closet, and a tiny empty shelf in our downstairs bar area.

It's tempting to fill that empty space, of course, yet once I make it, I try to allow it to stay empty. I've found that the open physical space serves as little reminders that I need empty space in other places in my life - my schedule, my mind, my days - the space to just BE. And a secret space to temporarily fill when life gets crazy - to hide a Christmas present or a stock of my favorite notebooks should they go on sale.

Thanks to temperatures in the single digits on Thursday, it was another good day to do some of those long-put-off tasks. So, if you were to peek into my windows late that  night, you would have spied me standing atop the kitchen counters. There was a light bulb that needed replacing and I couldn't remember when I had last dusted the top of the cabinets. While I was standing on the counters, I cleaned out the inside of the cabinets, too.

Now, I do have a wonderful cleaning lady that comes in every three weeks to do the floors and heavier cleaning, but there isn't enough time for her to do everything. And she sure can't sort and declutter. Besides. I enjoy doing these tasks because I choose to see this not just as a physical cleaning, but a spiritual one as well.

I like this sounds like the last thing you'd want to do during the holiday season, but when you clear clutter and deep clean the odd spaces in your home, you are literally making space for good things to come into your life. 

Cleaning sends a sign God (the Universe, the Goddess, Whoever You Worship) that you are READY and you are PREPARING for the next level of your evolution. Making space in your environment reminds you that you deserve to have the space to breathe and grow.
It's a sacred act.

So, tell me, darling: what about you? Where might you create and empty shelf or drawer? When's the last time you tossed all the out-dated lotions and potions? How might cleaning help open up space in your life for possibility? Can you find a way to see deep cleaning and decluttering as a way to prepare for 2017?

In what ways can you prepare for the holidays - and the new year - by tending your home in a loving and sacred way?  How might you continue to - or begin to - pursue a dream this month...and allow it to be born in 2017?

I won't be visiting with you again until New Year's Eve, so know that I am wishing you a blessed and relaxing and loving Christmas.

Though I'm not visiting your in-box each week  know that I'm just an email away. I love hearing your stories and helping you find the resources you need to create a life you love.

With so much love...........

PS - And speaking of 2017, I hope you are pondering your Word for 2017 with the help of the gift I sent you:  Create the Year of Your Dreams in 2017: The In-depth Guide to Discovering Your Word of the Year.

From the blog:Allow Yourself to Give and Receive This Season  Oh, the joys of the holidays: the decorations, the food, and the desire to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. It’s a lofty goal: to be that person, the one who always selects the one thing that will make your loved ones swoon with joy and realize how much you must love and adore them. Ah, but lest we forget that deep within your own heart, you want to receive a perfect gift, too.

Just this one time, let your (spouse/partner/mom/sister/daughter/friend) give you something that cements that feeling that you, too, feel loved and adored.

And let me guess: so many times, you feel a little, shall we say, let down? You perceive that the folks who populate your world don’t put as much thought or consideration into choosing something for you.

Oh, darling: trust me. I get it. And please let me tell you that your feelings are always valid. I bet you’ve experienced this feeling throughout your lifetime, not just at Christmas, but on birthdays and anniversaries and Valentine’s Day.

When you’re feeling blue or disappointed or unloved, the old adage of “it’s the thought that counts” doesn’t quite cut it, does it?

The fact is, though, that a less-than-stellar gift doesn’t mean you are loved less, even though it feels crappy. Did you know that  lazy or lousy gift giving is a common relationship challenge during the holidays?  (So, no, you aren’t alone.)

I’m not going to advise you to complain or try to shame your (partner/mother/sister/etc)  into choosing a more thoughtful gift. That’s because I know for a fact that some of the most loving and generous people I know are lousy gift givers. Often, it’s because their  love language isn’t receiving gifts, but physical touch or quality time.

There’s a mirror image of gift-giving, though. Let me be brutally honest with you: there’s such a thing as a lousy gift receiver, and an equally good chance that you, my dear, are one of them.

Oh, I’m not saying that you aren’t grateful for the gifts you open on Christmas or birthdays. I’m talking about that flip-side of gratitude and generosity so many of us struggle with: allowing ourselves to actually experience and receive the many gifts that populate our lives.

So many women – and men – feel challenged by the idea of allowing themselves to receive.

They look at the good things in their lives, and that little voice in their head says “you don’t deserve this,” or “you are so selfish,” or “you are so egotistical.” They tell themselves that life is pretty good and they shouldn’t desire more.

Darling, you are worthy of feeling both loved and accepted. You deserve to have good things in your life – whether they are material or spiritual. You deserve to have your desires become reality. Receiving and appreciating is not selfish. Having something good in your world isn’t stealing it from another. Expressing your gratitude for your blessings and achievements is not egotistical.

Here are a few ways you can begin to allow yourself to receive:

If your love language is receiving gifts, then when is the last time you purchased something you’ve been longing for? Not just a Starbucks Holiday Flat White, but that new pair of running shoes you want or a new purse to replace the cheapie you got on the clearance table at Target. Some of the best gift-givers are more like Scrooge when it comes to buying for yourself.

If your love language is the gift of quality time, dare I ask how much quality alone time you allow yourself to receive? Even if it’s five minutes in the morning, you need time to just BE. You need a few moments of quiet time, thinking time, just relaxing time.

And, when it comes to loved ones: are you allowing yourself to receive quality time with them? Or is that perpetual to do list, need to keep busy, keeping you from receiving the gift of side-by-side companionship with your partner (or child, or friends)?

When you take a shower, do you rush through as fast as possible to get to your to do list? When is the last time you took a luxurious shower and lovingly smoothed lotion over every inch of your body afterwards? Gift yourself with the gift of quality time to care for yourself. Allow yourself to receive your own nurturing and care.

Examine the ways that you are neglecting yourself because you just don’t “have time”. Maybe one of the best gifts you can give yourself this season is to allow yourself to have enough time to be YOU. (That probably means you need to say no to some things, okay?)

And since we brought it up, let’s discuss physical touch. Of all the little ways we can receive our own nurturing and attention, think how many of those involve touching ourselves. Smoothing lotion over parched arms and gently massaging it into your hands. Washing your face, washing your hair, washing your body: all little ways to receive your own care by focusing on being of service to that glorious body that houses your soul.

Don’t forget physical touch with others, too. Get a massage or go for a pedicure. Hug the folks you love. Reach out and hold your partner’s hand. Initiate love making. Especially initiate love making if you feel “unattractive” and have gotten into the habit of saying “NO!“.  Allow yourself to receive the loving touch of others.

I don’t want to leave out acts of service as a love language. When have you allowed someone that loves you to actually do something for you? Sure, it’s easier if you do the (dishes/laundry/grocery shopping/cleaning), but can’t you just allow yourself to receive that act of service from your (spouse/child/partner/friend) even if they don’t do it the exact way you do?

The next time you go shopping and someone asks if they can help you: let them! Let the Bag Boy take your groceries to the car and let the waiter bring you another glass of wine or water.

And ask yourself, darling, how can you be of better service to yourself? How can you honor your own gifts? Please, my dear, allow yourself to receive acts of service.

Maybe one of your love languages is words of affirmation. So, dare I ask when you: when was the last time you allowed yourself to accept a compliment? To believe what another person has said to you – from you look beautiful, to you are such a great cook, to you are so wise, to I love you. To take it at face value without adding a bunch of qualifiers or denials.

And, my darling: how do you speak to yourself in your own head? Does your Inner Critic run a non-stop dialogue telling you that you are (dumb/fat/selfish/weird/lazy/undisciplined) and other such mean things? Oh, honey, I so understand. Our inner voices can be so hateful. So, maybe it’s time to soften up a bit on yourself. Maybe it’s time to accept that fact that perfection is impossible.

Sometimes the greatest gift is to acknowledge your own achievements, your personal successes, your skills. If you’re feeling parched when it comes to your own gifts, make a list of all the things you have accomplished in the last week, the last month, the last year. You do so many things you don’t give yourself credit for accomplishing.

“Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business.”
–The Ghost of Marley – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

As we go forward into the season and approach a new year, maybe you need to be reminded that the “business” Marley talks about – charity, mercy, benevolence – includes you. Please be generous and kind to all those you meet. Don’t change your approach to choosing that perfect gift for those you love.

Just remember that maybe – just maybe – the best gift you can give everyone this season – especially those people that you love – is to work on the art of receiving the goodness in your life.

On my list this week: Holiday Baking!! I usually gift the neighbors with cookies. It allows me to enjoy baking a variety of holiday goodies without being tempted to eat them all!  I love this twist on a classic: Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies.

Though I'm not a big fan of white chocolate, it's a fabulous combination with the dried cranberries.  And, note: though I normally recommend unsalted butter, this recipe just sings with the slightly salty touch.

Heat oven to 350°F.

In large bowl, cream together 2 sticks of (softened) salted butter with ¾ cup of firmly packed brown sugar and ½ cup granulated sugar.  Add 2 Eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift together 1-1/2 Cups all-purpose flour (or ¾ cup whole wheat flour and ¾ cup all-purpose flour) with  1 Teaspoon Baking Soda, 1 Teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 Teaspoon salt.  Combine in with butter and sugar mixture.  Don’t over-mix. 

Add  3 Cups Old fashioned (or rolled oats) and 2/3 cup of dried cranberries and 2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips and stir until incorporated

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets (or a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper). Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely.

Volume 6 -Issue 26

December 17, 2016

Love Notes Published Every-Other-Saturday
Thank you, darling for the precious in-box space! 

See something you'd love to share?  I'd be honored if you forwarded this along to a friend.

About Debra

Debra Smouse is a writer, life coach, and Tarnished Southern Belle who is on a mission to help people fall in love with their lives.

A native Texan, she resides in Ohio with the Man of her Dreams. Get social with Debra on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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