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    Happy Holidays from 9Paths

    ​Wishing all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I have reflected on past Christmas’ where I would gather with my family in Arizona and times where I would spend Christmas’ alone. As I made a difficult decision not to celebrate with family, beautiful memories came up, and I leaned into them for strength for this season.

    Christmas in Arizona looks like roaring fire pits and roasted hot dogs, my dad’s amazing “Walk through Bethlehem” lights, my mom’s beautiful stockings for all the grandchildren, off-roading the Catalina Mountain trains, dirty Santa exchanges, and the best Christmas Eve service.

    This year I lean into those memories. I linger with pictures and ornaments that remind me of my travels around the world. I sit quietly with gratitude. I am reminded of the people that love me and the hope of a Christmas together. I listen to my heart’s joy and sadness. I challenge myself to hold both opposing emotions simultaneously, for both have significant value to my wellbeing.

    Joy offers me instant dopamine and oxytocin shots to my brain and wraps me in a blanket of belonging. The sadness needs to be heard, felt, and seen. The sadness that reminds me of what I have lost is significant to me; it reminds me of the deep love I have for the people around me. Joy and sadness can be felt simultaneously and will provide balance for this lonely season.

    I have made a commitment to myself during this season to think of the big picture.

    First, I remind myself of others who are experiencing more loneliness than ever:

    1. Our healthcare workers. They have been self-isolating since March and continue to do so. Their involvement with friends and family is more limited now than ever.

    2. Our elders have experienced more isolation from family while struggling with aging adjustments; dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc. This year has caused more disorientation and confusion for them.

    3. Our single parents. I am a single parent. I know the years without your kids is extremely difficult. This year they might not be able to travel or be with friends due to covid-19.

    4. Our singles without kids. This year has taken stabilizers for feeling loved and seen from them; dinners with friends, group outings, travel, being at a workplace rather than remote, church services, to name a few. All of these provide our singles with stability for friendships.

    Second, I am intentional with being grateful. I have a morning routine, and each day, I find one thing to be thankful for. My morning routine is set. I hike with my German shepherd while listening to the trees and river, feeling the cold on my face, and finding things I am grateful for. Sometimes my gratefulness is God’s hand on my family’s health, my job, and sometimes my gratitude is simply for the river and sunshine. 

    I encourage you to find some commitments to balance your wellbeing. Be intentional with your emotional, mental, and physical care of your body. The connection may not be available to you with others right now, but you can connect with yourself! Yourself deserves to be seen, heard, and felt by you.

    Happy Holidays,

    Sharon K. Ball, LPC-MHSP

    www.9paths.com