Alone For The Holidays

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Holidays are hard when your a single mom. Ask anyone single for that matter, and it's a tough time of year. There are parties, which require dates. Getting a date, is the easy part it's getting rid of the guy, after the date. I only need a date for the actual party, so I'm not alone. I'm not looking to date, until my daughter goes to college. So after a date, I have two choices; another date with the guy, or I have to have the talk, and explain why I don't date, which turns into that awkward question, from the guy, then why are we on a date? Basically, dating is complicated.

Then there is the family get togethers. This year all of my family is gone on Thanksgiving, so that leaves my daughter and I alone. Then for Christmas, we will all be together at my brothers beach house in monarch bay. I'm not sure if I'm more lonely being alone on a holiday, or if I'm more lonely being with all of my family, who have spouses.  I always wonder about opening presents, and I'm the only one there that doesn't get the nice gift, from my significant other. So again I have two choices; do I buy myself a really nice gift that I can't really afford, and have Brianna give it to me, to avoid the awkwardness, or do I just sit there awkwardly, and comment, "how nice!"

There is something about this time of year, and all of the gifts, parties and getting together that makes me feel incredibly alone. Last week when I found out that my daughter, and I would be alone for Thanksgiving, I was really feeling sorry for myself. I started trying to figure out something that we could do to make the week fun, but anything I looked into was more than we could afford. It's a funny thing my daughter and I spend a lot of time together, and we pretty much do everything together. Yet, when it's actually a holiday, I feel incredibly alone, and it feels different from another normal day, of just me and my daughter.

A few days into my pity party I woke up early and saw a post from a friend of mine that was collecting things for 500 homeless people, that live at the Civic Center in Santa Ana. All this excitement came over me, because I love to help and serve. It has been one of the things, that has blessed me, and sustained me in my life. Whenever I start focusing on myself to much, I try and find someone that I can help. I become a big emotional mess, when I start going down the path of over analyzing and comparing myself to everyone else out there, in that great big world. Which was exactly what I was doing, with the holidays approaching fast.

I quickly took action, and posted on social media, and started texting in my groups and reaching out to all my people. I was amazed at all the response I got. I had people drop stuff off, and ask me to pick stuff up. I even had people Venmo me money, to buy some things. I'm always pleasantly surprised, by the amount of people that are willing to help. Over the last few weeks, I have been able to collect so much stuff, that I won't be able to take it all in my car. So here is a thank you shout out, to all my peeps that so generously gave. You have helped me, to keep a lot of homeless people warm, when the cold weather sets in. If you have stuff, and want to contribute, you have until November 21st.

As for me I'm feeling a lot better. Nothing has changed in my being alone for the holidays, but my focus changed and that has made all the difference. I was able to forget about myself and realize that all the things that make me feel different I can not really change at this point in my life. Yet, there are many things we can all do, that will change someone else's life. That something is helping, serving, and giving to someone else. So, if you find yourself focusing to much on all the stuff, that is not right in your life this holiday season, try reaching out to someone else, and offer some holiday spirit to them. My guess is holidays are hard for a lot of people. not just single moms, but if you know a single mom make her day this holiday season. I'm sure it wouldn't take much.

Kindness Begins With Me

I was recently reading a famous study about marriage by John Gottman a psychologist that has studied marriage since the 1970s.  He set up what is known as "The Love Lab" with his colleague Robert Levenson. They brought newlyweds into the lab and watched them interact with each other. With a team of researchers, they hooked the couples up to electrodes and asked the couples to speak about their relationship, like how they met, a major conflict they were facing together, and a positive memory they had. As they spoke, the electrodes measured the subjects' blood flow, heart rates, and how much sweat they produced. Then the researchers sent the couples home and followed up with them six years later to see if they were still together.

Gottman can predict with up to 94 percent certainty whether couples will be broken up, together and unhappy, or together and happy several years later. Much of it comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility?

From the data they gathered, Gottman separated the couples into two major groups: the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years. The disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy in their marriages.

“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for their partners’ mistakes.”

Contempt, they have found, is the number one factor that tears couples apart. People who are focused on criticizing their partners miss 50 percent of the positive things their partners are doing and they see negativity when it’s not there.

Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together. Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved. “My bounty is as boundless as the sea,” says Shakespeare’s Juliet. “My love as deep; the more I give to thee, / The more I have, for both are infinite.” That’s how kindness works too: there’s a great deal of  evidence showing the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to upward spirals of love and generosity in a relationship.

This afternoon, my mom came over to chat. I was tired and grumpy, from a long day and I was really unkind.  After she left, my daughter told me I had been rude, and that it felt a little uncomfortable. My first thought was to get defensive, but I listened and was silent. My daughter was right. I felt bad, and quickly walked over to my moms to apologize. She was gracious and kind. She said she came home, and told her husband I was so rude she didn't bother to invite us to dinner.

When I was a little girl I learned this little song in church.

I want to be kind to ev'ryone,

For that is right, you see.

So I say to myself, "Remember this:

Kindness begins with me."

So let us all begin this week with kindness. It has the power to heal broken marriages, broken hearts, and change the world.

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