All the Subtle Ways I’ve Ruined Celebrations
Isn’t it funny how you don’t even realize how much something sucks the life and the joy (or maybe just the potential) out of the something until you stop doing it?
When Michelle and Jessica asked me to share about Celebrations I kinda cringed a little. I have a long track record of unconsciously screwing up some great moments.
But true to form, Life spoke through my BS and told me I am only here to share my own story. And since my left-brain side likes to count things out, what better way to speak then to list all the ways I’ve ruined celebrations, and how I’m learning through them.
1. Insisting they weren’t necessary
I did this for a very long time. “Oh, I don’t want anything for Mother’s Day.” “No, it’s just a birthday; not a big deal.” This was something I stared right in the face a few years ago when Life began to show me how I held my heart back, how I didn’t trust joy, and a cleverly masked fear that good things lead to bad things. I had created myself a comfort zone in which I thought I could be safe from the tragedies of life by simply ignore life itself.
Moving through this one was a series of baby steps and deep breaths and a lot of real honest conversations with myself, mixed in with some Aha moments and one giant breakthrough. And then many more steps. What I’m saying is that to trust it is indeed safe to enjoy Life is a process of self-awareness, allowing yourself to experience those moments,and not create attachments between them and the messy parts of life that also sometimes happen. Emphasis on the word process.
2. Noticing the imperfections
This only feels subtle to the person doing it. To everyone around you, they can probably see it loud and clear. That because those of us who have at any point not been able to look past the little things and just enjoy what the moment is actually offering often tend to drag everyone down. It sounds a lot like complaining to anyone else. To the me as the complainer it felt more altruistic: “But I really want this to be perfect.”
Cuz perfection exists. [insert sarcastic face] Let’s face it. There are times when the food is cold. The bottoms will forever be falling off the plastic champagne glasses. And someone will inevitably drink too much. We can dwell on those little things, or we can realize A) we won’t even remember them in 5 years, or B) we will and they will be funny. Like how I got married in a Korean church and you can’t understand the writing in the background of my wedding photos. (My photographer sucked, by the way. Also a good story.)
3. Having expectations
This one kinda goes along with the last one. We expect things to be perfect – or hell, we expect them to be terrible – and our expectations create resentment inside us. My Mother’s Day experience a couple years ago was a good example of this. I expected (after years of blowing off the holiday altogether, mind you) for everyone to rise to the occasion. I created suffering when it didn’t happen according to what was in my head. I spent time with my inner dialogue and realized my lesson was in celebrating myself.
That one day radically changed my perspective of whose job it is to make me happy: mine. If I’d love to celebrate Mother’s Day, I can own my power and make magic happen. We can all have fun because I can embrace my ability to say “Let’s have fun!” Regardless of what goes down that I “didn’t plan”. (*waving to my fellow control freaks*)
(This one challenges a lot of us, I know. I used to tell myself “they should…” or it “doesn’t count if I have to…” And then I realized how silly that was. They are humans, not mind readers, and the pressure we create by expecting them to be the kind of person we are doesn’t create what we really want: a joyful celebration.)
(And yes, this totally applies to celebrating your new book, your new website, your new haircut, and your expectations around it.)
4. Not knowing when to stop
This one I can honestly say came easily real fast. There were moments when I played the organizer to a day, an event, a celebration, a project, and then couldn’t put down the Organizer Hat long enough to enjoy the entire process. But I got over it quickly. Well, in most cases.
It’s really about presence. Our role may be to pull out all the stops to bring it all together, but when it’s all coming together our role is to stop giving a rat’s ass about the details and just enjoy the party. Stop thinking we must do the dishes while people are in the other room laughing. Stop cleaning up behind your guests.
Let go. Get into the moment. Laugh. Ignore the mess. Have fun.
5. Making them about agendas
Oh this one though? This one I’m guilty of left, right, and upside down. Here’s what I mean: I used to show up places not to truly BE with the people there. Not to enjoy the moment. Not to kick off my shoes and let down my hair and really dance.
I used to show up with a bag full of agendas to carry out: I need to introduce everyone to how they should do XYZ by bringing my conversational ammunition. I would show up with “healthier” food, “healthier” habits, “better” political buttons, and put on a smile and pretend I wasn’t here to teach someone when I really was anticipating the opportunity.
Every single time I had in my mind who didn’t agree with me, work with me, team up with me (and that they’d be happier if they did), I wasn’t allowing myself to see them, hear them, and enjoy them. I excitedly or begrudgingly saw myself as the Advocator of All That Was Right, and it was my joy or my burden to bring light to the room. (Hello Ego! Holy shit!)
Radical Acceptance and some humbling trips to the other side of the fence stripped me of this pretty quickly. Now I don’t care what you do. I care Who You Are (and actually understand what this means now) and whether you want to join me in setting aside the rest in order to just come together.
6. Trying to capture them
Again, guilty! I carried my camera everywhere. I was the one who could guarantee we wouldn’t forget the celebration. But I learned awhile back that the girl behind the camera can easily step out of the moment, into the lens, and in a mad attempt to capture something, miss it altogether.
I never could see this at the time, as I find most others can’t either. The idea of putting down the camera feels sacrilegious to those of us behind it. But then my camera broke and my experiences changed because of it.
This is a big, big topic for me. Because of that, I’ve actually taken it a lot further right here: Capturing (and thus Losing) the Moment).