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  • Writer's picturePat Birnie

'Tis The Season for Compassion

Hello friends! Well this is a few days late, and it's going to be a quick one...Whoa what a month, year, even weekend. I am waaaayyyy too busy for someone who is supposed to be mostly retired. I continue to be so grateful for my good health and good energy, and although I can do pretty much everything I used to do, I am hella' more tired at the end of the day at age 68 versus 50! Forgetting your age is a hazard that causes one not to scale back. Thank goodness I'm no longer training to run marathons; I believe that would put me over the edge. After hosting back to back Christmas parties the past two weekends, volunteering at a Christmas Charity and sandwiching in repainting a rental property, it's clear that we definitely aren't as young as we used to be.

That brings me to gratitude (hang in, we will get to compassion in a moment). I have so much gratitude for our lovely, spacious home and the resources to host both a friends and a family party. Gratitude that we have so many good friends to invite (and that want to attend our party)! Gratitude for my big wonderful family with absolutely zero drama. I mean zero - who has that? (Now if only they weren't so freaking loud). Gratitude that we actually own rental properties that need painting. Is this really my life? I will never forget where my situation 28 years ago. My problems were so different and seemed insurmountable. Most of you know my story: ten days before Christmas I was suddenly on my own with 4 young children and an empty bank account. We had love and were surrounded by friends and family that did everything possible to make our Christmas happy, but it was a sad year.

This brings me to the compassion piece. It has been on my mind since a friend suggesed that I may have "compassion fatigue". Reading the description, I don't think it's accurate in describing where I'm at, but I do know that I have cried more in the last couple of weeks than in years. This has been a year of sadness and loss for so many close to me, and it seems to just keep coming. Of course I am feeling sad; being an empathetic person and a good listener is wearing on one's own emotional health, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Just talking about my own feelings to others helps, and having self-compassion has relieved the sadness somewhat.

It's so important to be sensitive to the different situations around us. We all know this but a reminder never hurts. When you have a small budget and live paycheque to paycheque, it's easy to feel inadequate when everyone else is spending thousands of dollars on gifts and decorations. Gifts and decorations mean nothing when you've lost a spouse, a parent or a child. I will never forget a colleague telling me some 20+ years ago how busy she was putting up and decorating 5 trees in her home. Really? I'm pretty sure I just stared at her blankly as it was so distant from my reality. It also has never left me and reminds me of when to keep my mouth shut.

I absolutely loved and identified with this article on surviving the holidays with compassion. The line "Oftentimes, however, the holidays create stress, loneliness, grief, and regret." really hit home. I have known every single one of those emotion over the holidays; over time, those experiences are a gift, as they allow one to be sensitive and empathetic to others.

I don't want to be a downer! Please, be happy, love your people, eat, laugh and overindulge, but perhaps take an extra moment to think about what the person next to you may be going through.

Happy Everything to you! xo Pat

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Dec 28, 2023

Pat, I understand the fatigue that comes from loving, caring and being so empathetic. It's a lot. We (you and I) are so fortunate, but we do feel for so many.

I don't think I knew about your situation 28 years ago...I can NOT imagine. You are such a strong woman; a true survivor.

Our family also gets along. A 'newer' person was with all of us on Christmas Eve and was astounded that we all get along so well, even exes in the middle of it all. We are an evolved species, right?

I do hope you had a nice Christmas and were able to take some time to relax and recoup. XO

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