It hasn’t really gotten too cold here in Wisconsin and there are no signs of winter storms, at least for this week. Still, there is always kind of a storm brewing inside and around me this time of year. There’s so much to do—from family and school gifts, to hosting and work obligations. It’s easy to get swept up by it all, and to feel incredibly overwhelmed and drained by the holiday storm. Usually I get sick right on the day that my official “break” starts, which seems to be my body’s way of letting me know that I have been doing way too much.
In these busy times I like to think about my favorite plant: bamboo. Bamboo is my role model. Bamboo is incredibly firm, and can be used as a foundation for floors and walls. Bamboo can withstand storms and hurricanes, and it can grow in different climates. The strength of bamboo is only paralleled by its flexibility, however. It gives, accommodates, and bends, gracefully adapting to pressures without losing shape or form. This remarkable plant is both strong and flexible, pretty much exactly how I want to be as a mother.
As you swim through the holiday storm this year, with all of the expectations and events and responsibilities that it brings, consider how you might practice being like bamboo. How will you be flexible, and emotionally “sway” in the wind of change, rather than resisting it? When an obstacle appears (which will always happen), how will you stay firm without losing sight of all the work you have done?
I know for me I will have to try to focus on the strengths and people around me that can ground me in these storms, and I will need to remind myself about what is most important. Taking perspective always gives me a jolt of reality. It is not easy, but I also need to find a moment to sit quietly, and to nourish myself with some calming breaths. By using our internal and external supports to take care of ourselves, we can actually strengthen our roots and core so we can stand tall in the face of the storm.
Below are some strategies for practicing to be like bamboo:
1. Identify the winds and storms that most take you off-course. They could be changes in a routine, lack of sleep, conflict with your children or partner, or illness. Spend some time thinking about why they are such powerful forces and what it would be like if you could bend and sway when you experience them.
2. Think about the strengths you possess that you are most proud of and that can keep you grounded. Also think about the people in your life who give you the most support. Together these strengths and people form the core of your life--don't forget to use them when you feel yourself getting swept away!
3. Spend a second visualizing a storm coming from one of the stressors that you identified. Think of the emotions and thoughts it will stir, and how you will feel physically. Then visualize yourself as the stalk/piece of bamboo, standing tall from the earth. Imagine yourself swaying in different directions but not breaking. As you sway to one side, imagine a strength or support from inside yourself pulling you back to your standing position. You are strong and grounded, yet flexible. You can change, yet you always have your core of strength.
Happy holidays and see you in the new year!