Healing Arts
Kara's Column > An Experiment in Holidaze

By Kara L.C. Jones
KotaPress Editor

"Death will always re-write your address book for you."

So this year, when family or friends can't seem to acknowledge your FULL self -- that is, the you who is a parent whose child has died, maybe also a parent to other living children, an artist, or student, a wife or partner, a cook or baker, a bellydancer or yoga devotee -- when they seek to exclude the parts of you that make them uncomfortable, I say turn around and go home!!

Instead of trying to convince everyone around you that it is NORMAL to both feel moments of joy AND moments of grief during the holidays no matter how long ago it was that your child died -- instead of doing that, go home and take care of YOU!

We spend our lives trying to make peace, make nice, make up the difference, make people understand. These are all things that might be okay when compared to other options like violence and war. But for these holidaze, just for this year, you have my full permission to not be the peace maker for a few days! GO HOME AND TAKE CARE OF YOU INSTEAD!

You can make peace, make up, and educate people after the new year! I promise they will still be there -- the tough nuts to crack never leave! So let it go for now and go home to take care of you!

Here are a few ideas for what you can do with your SELF CARE HOLIDAY:

-Do nothing. No, I'm serious. Nothing. Don't laugh. It isn't as easy as it sounds. I mean NOTHING. Ignore the phone, computer, tv, food, radio, people who normally need/demand your time. Sit alone and in silence. You may fall asleep. You may start to think. That's okay. Just let the thoughts come and go. Just sit. When I manage to do it, I'm amazed at the results.

-Write, undisturbed, in a journal. Again, not as easy as it sounds. I really mean UNDISTURBED! Nothing and no one but you, pen, and paper. Start writing. Keep writing. Write anything. Just don't stop. Don't edit. Don't re-read or re-word. Don't let the pen come off the paper. Just keep going. Run out of things to write? Then make a list. I don't care what kind of list, just a list of words, any words. Just keep writing. Again, when I manage to do it, I'm usually stunned a few days later when I read over it and see all the things that came to the surface.

-Write letters to all the deceased loved ones you are missing this season. Say everything you've ever wanted to say. Don't hold back. When done, if appropriate, add them to the family tree memory album. Or go out under your favorite tree and bury them. Or burn them in your next wood stove fire.

-Gather all those holiday catalogues that have come to your mailbox since Halloween! Ugh, there are a LOT of them. Gather them all. Get a pair of scissors. Start cutting out photos of all the things you want for you or for others. This isn't based in reality at all. This isn't cutting out the things that are "affordable" nor "reasonable" -- this is a FREE FOR ALL. Cut out every luxurious thing you see. Whatever "luxury" means to you. Then get a glue stick, a big piece of paper, and some markers and start to collage. When your collage is done, hang it up and really look at it. What in it makes you happy? What gives you comfort? What is it that you would just sink into and relax with? Now realize that all those FEELINGS just came up INSIDE you. You were just LOOKING at photos of those things -- you weren't actually using them or buying things outside yourself. You were just thinking and those feelings came to the surface. Now put your credit cards away, but hang up that collage somewhere you'll see it often. Use it as a touchstone to feel a sense of relaxation and comfort as you move back into everyday life.

-Get some cheesecloth, tight knit or some old fabric cut into a big square. Experiment with putting things like tea leaves, milk beads, lavender, sea salt, etc -- in different mixes and quantities -- into hot water and smell the scents. Find one you love. Wrap the mix into the cheesecloth, tie it closed tightly so ingredients don't slip out, pour a hot bath, let your "tea bag" seep, get in and enjoy!!

Okay, you get the idea. There is no reason in this crazy season that you should neglect yourself! Take care of you! If you are feeling solid and well cared for, then you will be on good footing for giving to others. But if you are compromised and feeling icky, then there's not much to give out anyway, so why try?! Turn around, go home, and take care of you first!! Fill your cup so it is overflowing with plenty to share!! Don't try passing around an empty cup! That's silly and won't really help anyone!!

Author Biography

Kara L.C. Jones is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University where she honed her poetic craft under the mentorship of Jim Daniels. Her poetic and non-fiction works have been included in publications such as New Works Review, PoetsWest, Real Henna, Shared Heart Foundation's "Meant To Be", LightHearts Publication's "Soul Trek", MISSing Angels Newsletter, American Tanka, Mother Tongue Ink's We'Moon, Honored Babies, Cup of Comfort series, and more. Because she refused to give her grief writing over to the control of outside editors and publishers after the death of her son, she and her husband Hawk founded KotaPress in 1999 as a creative outlet for their expressive artworks. She has been facilitating online and in-person workshops for over 10 year, including sessions offered at the International MISS Conferences, WA State Poets Association Burning Word festivals, and Course Bridge.

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