Every year as Christmas draws near, it seems like I am constantly bombarded with messages about what is important. Anywhere I turn, someone seems to be spouting information about the "true meaning of Christmas," whatever that means to them.

I'm not here to do that.
I know that to some people, Christmas is all about buying gifts for people (or themselves, let's be honest here). For others, they'll look for any possible opportunity to tell everyone around them that "Jesus is the reason for the season," or that we "should help the less fortunate and show the Christmas spirit," or a myriad of other ideas. 

But you know what I found out the past two years? What you choose to focus on around Christmas doesn't matter. 

Don't get me wrong. I don't think you should just waste the entire month of December doing nothing and "boycotting" Christmas entirely. It's my favourite holiday. I'd have to be crazy to suggest ignoring it!

My point, though, is that Christmas is based on tradition--whatever that may mean for you. Last year I was with my guy, and it was wonderful, but it was my first year away from my family. So we had a great time, but it was different and felt off. Ultimately, in a lot of ways it didn't feel like Christmas.

Conversely, I was able to fly back to Virginia to spend Christmas (and New Years, but we're not there yet) with my family and friends this year. Christmas morning is a few hours away. I can confidently tell you that being here with them and following all the traditions I grew up with, made the difference. It feels like Christmas, and it feels perfect.

(Note: I'm not saying traditions can't change. They can, and in most cases they eventually have to. Not the point. The point is, they're what make the holiday as warm and wonderful as it is)




"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in ones little corner of Earth all ones lifetime."
-Mark Twain
I think the key to fulfillment is simple. And yet, so many people are constantly dissatisfied with the lives they lead.
Usually the source of the problem, at least in their eyes, is seen to be external. If only they could get that new job they've applied for, then they'll be happy. If only the girl or boy they're pursuing will return the interest and finally say "yes." Whatever the case may be. But maybe getting everything you think you want still will not be good enough. What happens then?

I had a talk with myself tonight. Maybe you have them from time to time as well. Not the out-loud kind of talk, but the inner pep-talk variety. You see, I tend to measure the fullness of life not through material possessions, but through experiences.

I found something quite interesting this morning while browsing writing resources and sipping my coffee. At least two of the pages I came across suggested meditation as an inspiration for writing. 

Now, I've meditated before. It's not something I can seem to remember to do each day, but I do meditate on a fairly regular basis. My brain tends to have a thousand different things going on all the time, so occasionally it helps to just sit back and have a little bit of freedom. 

I have never tried it with the intention of getting creative inspiration back, though. What about you guys? Have any of you tried it--and more importantly, did it work?
I can pull my creative ideas from nearly any source, but the really spectacular ones are nearly always the result of one of two things:

My post today is less an exposition, and more a research project. I'm curious to know to what extent extreme solitude would have on your life:

Are you comfortable alone with your thoughts, a little uneasy, or severely distressed?

Do you consider yourself to be a highly social person? If so, would it be a minor inconvenience if that were no longer possible, or would it be distressing enough to cause a crisis of personal identity?

Do you believe there to be any longterm physical problems from limited social interaction? If so, what are they?

Same as above, but psychological. If you believe it causes problems, what are they?

Physical location around the globe can be overlooked in a strong friendship. Steady connections are not reliant on standing next to each other. The best relationships (friendly or romantic) are built on a solid base of trust and understanding. Neither of those is acquired simply by being down the street for a hug.

Separation is the most difficult test, however. Waiting to find out if your best friends will forget you once you’re living somewhere else… hearing stories, but never taking part… feeling as though a piece of you is interacting with the world on its own in another town…

The hardest test. Forgotten and replaced, or remembered and cherished?

The first, and most important key to writing is this:
Know how to read yourself.
What you need will likely vary. Some days I need silence and paper, and to block everything out. Some days I need a certain genre of music or even a single band. Many days I need my computer.

Sometimes I need to be out in nature to capture the beauty around me.

And some days I need to not actually write anything at all, but instead to just sit and think
This is one that I posted last autumn. This is a repost from my blogspot page, but it seemed fitting today.