Thursday, December 08, 2005
How Do You Stay Encouraged?
At this time of the year, we're supposed to all be happy, merry, joyous, and celebrating the yuletide gay. For the most part, I am... though I have my days and my doubts at times. We all do.
A couple days ago I started thinking about the Katrina survivors and what this time of year must be for many of them, compared to this time last year. In fact, I saw this story about depression among Katrina survivors being a major issue and that the mental impact of the hurricane hasn't been thoroughly addressed. And I wonder... how do they stay encouraged knowing their lives are completely different than a year ago... completely different than they ever imagined?
I talked with a friend yesterday, and we talked about how part of our "ungh" feeling during the holidays is that we feel torn between the materialistic aspects of the holiday season in the U.S. and not fully participating in those aspects. I mean... we can't afford the Oprah's Favorite Things list, or similar goods that supposedly make for a great holiday season. And that brings the guilt factor...
And then I had a couple heart-to-hearts with students, primarily gay and lesbian students, who are NOT looking forward to holiday break and dealing with family dynamics for the next month or so. That even though we have more positive images of LGBT folks in media and magazines, that some family attitudes haven't changed... and they feel like they'll be acting out strange roles (i.e. not being themselves) over the holidays. Some good tips in this story.
Then let's not go there with the angst some feel over the year that was, the relationship that was, the weight loss that was, the life change that was (or was not...) Seems like there's a whole lot of reflection going on at this time of year.
So with all this lies the paradox of the winter holidays. Even though we know there are some highly spiritual reasons many people, including myself, celebrate and honor this time of year, media and popular culture tell us we should be happy, merry, joyous, and celebrating the yuletide gay... spending tons of money. And it causes a lot of dissonance for a lot of people.
How do you stay encouraged? How do make sure those around you are okay... and not just going through the motions?
Some sites I visit at times: Jewel Diamond Taylor, Herndon Davis, Cheryl Richardson, Network For Good. Image from Anne Taintor.