Grace & the Spirit of Christmas - guest blog by Christine Awram

There is something special about the spirit of Christmas. People give generously! I watch my niece laugh in excitement when lighting up her Christmas Tree.  Unfortunately, Christmas can also be a sad time. Memories of loved ones who have past or loved ones who are sick make it "hard" to find grace - especially at Christmas time. 

I spoke on this exact topic at our Christmas Party and the next day I received this email (below) in my inbox (speaking of grace). I have asked Christine if I can share this (I've copied word for word) and she agree'd. Her story resonated with me - how can you find GRACE in tough times. My favourite part is when Christine talks about cleansing your mind just like you would cleanse your body every morning. Christine is not the only one facing tough times right now. A coworker of mine has a mother who is struggling with her battle against cancer. I encourage all of you who know others suffering - offer them your positivity. Offer them your support. Show them some kindness and know that when you give to others that can never give back to you - it is the greatest gift of all. 

Dear Caroline,

My dad went into palliative care last week.  My mom and I sat with him,
waiting for the ambulance to transport us to hospice.  I don't think I'll
ever be able to describe the sad resignation I saw in his eyes, while he
tried to be positive and brave for us.  There was more than one moment
where I wanted to smash something, while feeling my heart break.

You might be wondering why I'm sharing this with you.

For one, if you've sent an email recently and I haven't replied, my
response time is delayed and now you know why.

For another, I believe in authenticity.  I also believe that life isn't
done to me ... it's UP to me.  This is a mindset that becomes a practice,
which had me wondering if I could find grace during one of life's more
painful moments.  And if there were some useful insights I might share with
you as part of my community.

The opening words from the book A Road Less Travelled have repeatedly come
back to haunt me:  "Who said life was supposed to be fair?"  There is
nothing fair about what has happened to my dad's health, mind and body.

But the book also focuses on finding grace in everything, and this concept
had a significant impact years ago on creating a more peaceful and powerful
life for myself.

In Marianne Williamson's book Everyday Grace she says, "Most of us wouldn't
think of beginning our day without washing the accumulated dirt from the
day before off our bodies. Yet far too often we go out into the day without
similarly cleansing our minds."

One of the simple ways I create everyday grace for myself is to start my
day with just a few moments of quiet time and focus on what I'm grateful
for.  I'll often take something challenging and turn it around.

On the one hand, I've felt deep grief and even anger that my dad is
suffering ... and now has to leave his wife and home.  Finding grace in
grief is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

But ... during his physical decline our family has pulled together in ways
I haven't experienced before.  It was miraculous there was an opening at
the hospice on the very day it was needed, and it's only blocks away from
my mom.  The building is new and bright, and he has a private room.
Volunteers offer healing touch, massage and even pet therapy!  The staff
are devoted to his comfort.  My mom can begin to relax, knowing he's being
well cared for by experts who are kind and compassionate.  He's safe.

Everyday grace.

Does that mean the upset is all gone?  No.  But do I experience less of it,
and feel more peace when I choose to focus on what I'm grateful for?  Yes.

One of the stanzas from the Woman Of Worth Credo reads:

"At times I despair and I weep, when I feel the pain of a world that has
momentarily gone mad.  Yet even when I tremble through a dark night of the
soul, I renew my faith and my courage in a single heartbeat because my
spirit is indomitable."

Everyday grace, even when I tremble.

One of my dearest and wisest friends wrote last week, "If I could take away
your sadness and grief, I would.  The good news is, I can't.  This process,
as you are aware, is part of the experience of life.  That we create such
magnificent love and support around us is a reflection of how well we have
done here.  How wonderful to know how loved we are when we leave.  You have
an amazing heart and soul, and I know it is tender right now."

I wept like a baby.

When I look in my dad's eyes, there is infinite love and grace that will
stay in my heart always.

Choosing to find grace isn't always easy, but it's one of the more
meaningful gifts I've given to myself that also ripples out into every area
of my life and impacts those around me.  As I go into each new day, I
choose it again.

Thanks for listening.

With grace,
Christine Awram, Founder
Woman Of Worth WOW Worldwide
Celebrating the empowered leadership of women
Because every woman ... is a Woman Of Worth

What an incredible woman!  Check out her website above.

Thanks for sharing Christine -  you've inspired me and many others to see the beauty in the worst of times. Merry Christmas to you and your family. 
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