THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How To Shift Your State Of Mind This Holiday Season

There is a statement that is a personal ugh for my husband and me, which goes "so-and-so went missing." What can I say? The grammar 'bugs' us. Well, my friend, my article just 'went missing,' the nanosecond I pressed 'submit,' to the Huffington Post. No doubt it's joined the missing socks from the dryer, and they are having a conference at some unknown venue. On some days, when the unexpected happens, you just have to grab whatever is in the vicinity to shift your state of mind, especially during the final lap of Christmas week. Which brings us to good 'ole' Calvin. Said he:

"Christmas is not a time or a season, it is a state of mind."
Calvin Coolidge

In the final push toward the 25th, it is easy to get so caught up in the hub-bub, that we forget the source of the treasure. It is so tempting to linger in remorse, self-recrimination, and complaints about what did not come into fruition, and miss what is in right under our nose. Lest this happen for us, today, let us reset our focus to 'where it's at.'

The Gift of the Small. Regardless whether you take the Christmas story literally or not, symbolically it has something for everyone. Especially this year, this has been a hum-dinger in the challenge department. Joblessness, the economy, and the endless debate over healthcare reform, endless requirements to recalibrate our adjustment muscles, plus non-stop tawdry stories of who-did-what-with-whom, can divert our focus away from what not only matters, but what has the power to return us to that state of mind to which President Coolidge was refering.

Take Mary and Joseph, for example.

Imagine them trekking along the dark, cold, December road. ( Just taking a gander at my daughter, whose baby's due date is tomorrow, it's easy to realize that an arduous donkey ride to the manger could not have been a cake-walk for Mary.) Now, imagine that the young couple finally reach a town, Mary's 'water' has broken, and she needs a place to birth her baby 'el-quicko.' Yet, despite Joe's best efforts, all hotels are closed, all inns full to capacity, and nary a flight is available. We can only guess the inner dialogue, if not the outer. Mary might be wishing the Divine had 'knocked' on somebody else's door for the privilege.

Joseph might be wishing that either that angel had stayed quiet, or, feel himself lacking in his capacity to provide for his wife in this state of distress. And then we have the Wise men, the three kings -- no doubt more than busy with affairs of state, as are the shepherds on the hills tending their flocks. Perhaps, each yearned for simple comforts in the midst of wintry conditions. And, yet, in the midst of all this, a child, that was to change the course of history, is born in a humble stable, a place of donkey and cow dung, accompanied by animal white noise. There is no Target or Babies-R-Us registry to help the new mama and papa with equipment and supplies. There is only a manger filled with straw, and the garments on their back in which to swaddle the newborn. And, yes, there is that Star, so bright, so compelling that three kings, and peasants, alike, journeyed in the dead of night to locate the Source of new life, new hope, new celebration.

What Celebration Has to Do With Our Story. This is the season of celebration. Generally, we think parties, we think gifts, we think over-eating, and we think 'hooplah.' Actually, the roots of celebration go back to two simple words: 'to honor.' The symbolic meaning of the Christmas Story has to do, then, with honoring new life. The really interesting little detail that seems to go against the grain of the western world is this: the honoring takes place in the most humble conditions. In a world where only big, bigger, biggest seems to catch the limelight, it is the Gift of the Small, the pedestrian, that changes the course of human history.

Now, if there were ever a time for change, this would be that time. Conditions might just be perfect. As one of my clients put it: "2009: The Year of the Great Humbling." Think about it. People around the world, people you and I know, and maybe even the guy staring back in the mirror, have been humbled, one way or another, if they are paying attention. But, my friend, it is right here, right now, in December's darkness, no matter what the challenge, or the stench, or the amount of sweat and tears going into the labor and delivery, that the hope for new life lives most poignantly. I say we celebrate. I say, let's get busy with the honoring. Let's remember to celebrate new life in our lives, new Light in the darkness that shows itself in self-doubt, despair, mistrust. I say, let's give everything else a rest. You've earned it. That's for certain.

The Four Infallible Steps to Shifting Your State of Mind:

1. Get out a magnifying glass or 'readers.' Take time to notice the beauty that's working, despite the appearance of things. Celebrate what you find. For example, the letters are worn off some of my keys, but the keyboard still works. My dog Rosie is dying, but she's given us amazingly unconditional years of loving. My first blog vanished just as I was ready to press 'submit,' but here we are with another 'go at it.'

2. Release whatever you expected to happen today, and embrace what's here.
It is 'what it is.'

3. Honor yourself with 'well-dones' as you go, even if it means congratulations
for breathing. Breathing counts. Without it, everything comes to a stand-still.

4. Remember, the biggest gift is not what you buy, but it is your Presence.
Never underestimate that it is the essence of you that makes all the difference.
So, relax about whatever you are giving, or feel you can't 'afford.' Give you.
Let people know what you appreciate. It makes a difference.

Your readership this year, your generosity, and your 'passing it along' to those you know makes a huge difference to me. May your holiday spill over with every joy. Meanwhile, let us know what helps you shift your state of mind. I'm listening.

I will rejoin you after New Year's, to celebrate together, to honor you. By my birthday the end of January, my new personal interactive blog, and website will be up and running. Join me in wishing this soon-to-be newborn all good things! For personal contact, you can email me at cara.barker@verizon.net. I'd love to hear from you! Thanks for passing the above along to your contacts! Love, Cara