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December 2022 – A Holiday Wishbone

Hi everyone!

Happy Holidays! This may be “the most wonderful time of the year,” but the holidays are often as loaded as our mashed potatoes, aren’t they? We long for the Currier and Ives vibes and often end up feeling more like the ghostly specter of Edward Munch’s “The Scream.” We feel ourselves getting pulled here and there like a wishbone, wondering just when and where we’re going to finally snap; and who’s going to get the better end of the deal? Our kids or our parents? Our own immediate families or the in-laws? The pumpkin pie or the pecan?

What about ourselves?

Not long ago, Christine held her Beauty in Boundaries event. She shared with us how important it is to explore and get in touch with our boundaries and how we can maneuver the often-difficult management of them with others. If you ask me, this really is the foundation of setting yourself up for some truly Happy Holidays. It all starts with you.

What if we saw ourselves as that wishbone; plucked and cleaned and whole, put gingerly aside out of grasping hands that try to pull us into pieces. What would you wish for? How could you become that wish?

If you remember, in my intro post I talked about the tarot and how those little handy-dandy cards can be such a helpful inspiration to us in so many ways. When I think about boundaries, I immediately think about The Queen of Swords.

This is what’s known as a court card, a special set of the tarot deck in which the cards represent personality archetypes. In a reading, the Page, Knight, Queen, or King can represent a person in or on the periphery of your life, or an aspect of yourself.

Just look at the Queen of Swords. This woman isn’t messing around.

Different decks can portray each card uniquely, but typically this queen has one hand grasping a serious-looking sword that is pointing straight to the sky. Her other is held out in front of her, open with her palm up. She looks to the future and how she wants things to be versus dwelling on the past.

A sword is firm and unyielding. It literally gets to the point. Unless someone is a big Lord of the Rings geek like me and they love a good sword for décor, a sword is a weapon; to engage a challenger or to defend yourself.

This Queen is about truth, and like her sword, she will not bend. She is willing to do what it takes to defend her truth. With her open hand, however, she softens that blow by also being willing to receive. She can eloquently speak up for what she needs and also be open to doing so with grace and love.

I believe the Queen of Swords can inspire us to remember that we can keep our boundaries and yet still give of ourselves in the ways that we feel called to. As most women or women-identifying people, it’s a wonderful innate quality that we have. We enjoy giving and nurturing; it’s only when we don’t save enough energy and time to do that for ourselves that it becomes a problem.

Rituals and traditions are important, but it's helpful to remember why they exist and why we are so drawn to them.

They make us feel warm and connected, like what we do has profound meaning. When we are so busy, worried about perfection, and being pulled in so many directions, are we feeling warm? No, more like hot under the collar and annoyed. Connected? No! We’re in the kitchen, cleaning frantically or running to the store for the umpteenth time when everyone else is chatting or playing games. Does all of this ‘show’ and expectation give us a feeling of profound meaning? Not really. I don’t tend to bond with my kitchen counters, toilets, or local grocery store. 

Boundaries can be tough to create and uphold at any time, especially around the holidays.

Picture yourself holding that wishbone. Close your eyes and see it in your hand, and ask yourself: What am I really wishing for this holiday season?

If you’re anything like me, that wish probably includes quality time with people I love. For time to slow down a bit so I can truly be in the moment. To experience reverence for what I have and how I can always see opportunities to give. Because in doing so, I always receive WAY more than I put out. And I know if I can set some boundaries for myself, I have more of a chance of making these wishes come true.

And one last-but-certainly not-least thing.

Maybe the holidays don’t feel happy for you at all. Maybe that fact doesn’t have anything to do with boundaries, stress, or expectations—maybe it’s a time of sadness and mourning. Perhaps you lost someone dear to you around this time, and it’s hard to feel like celebrating. Maybe the holidays bring up sad memories of the past or a feeling of loneliness here in the present.

I see you. And just in case you need to hear it, you are allowed to feel all those feelings, even at the most wonderful time of the year. You are permitted to stay home when you need to or cry when the tears want to flow. You don’t have to festoon your house with the trimmings and the trappings if all they do is make you feel unhappy or you are simply overwhelmed.

The Queen of Swords is still here for you. She reminds you to use your discernment and your boundaries to be exactly where you’re at. But please remember that her other hand is open. Please keep yourself open to receiving love and support, not to close yourself off completely. Often that can only make things worse. Reach out to friends, loved ones, or a professional if you are truly in a dark place. Let the feelings flow through your open hand and throughout your body, then steel yourself with your sword to meet the new day with hope. There are always opportunities that could be available to you with a new day!

Writing time!

As I also mentioned before, I am a big proponent of working things out through writing. Grab a notebook—or treat yourself to one of our beautiful April Cornell journals! —and write down what you wish for this holiday season. If you could choose, how would you experience them?

Sometimes changing plans that have been in place for years can be hard to switch within a couple of weeks, but how about one small thing that you can start that is just for you? Start to set the smallest of boundaries; put up a couple of stakes and a section of fence that you can build upon in time.

And when it’s feeling difficult to stand up for yourself, for what you want and need, look at that Queen of Swords. See her steely gaze, her upright position, sitting relaxed and tall with her sword and open hand, perfectly balanced and Badass. You’ve got this!