It’s nearly Thanksgiving Day in the United States. This begins the race of the holiday season. Lights are being put up. People are posting Facebook messages about decorating their homes. Retail merchants are playing Christmas music. Folks who rarely drive are in their cars so they get their shopping done. There are traffic jams, congestion…chaos. Whew! Many moons ago I was right there in the thick of it.
Twelve years ago, after our daughter Brittany Hope Bishop, was killed in an automobile accident my mind was numb and my heart was broken. I knew somewhere inside of me there was much to be thankful for, but I just couldn’t summon the feeling of gratitude or get into the “spirit” of the season. The thought of being in throngs of gleeful people or celebration was unbearable, so we ran away from the holidays. We went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina the first year. The next year we went to Hawaii. I consciously avoided old traditions and menus because I didn’t have the strength to pretend I felt any of the joy that should accompany them. I closed my eyes and prayed it would all pass by quickly.
In the Fall of the third year AB (after Brittany), my company had a motivational speaker, by the name of Les Brown, at our National Meeting. When I heard him speak I was able to put my behavior into a new perspective. As Les shared his own lowest points and most difficult days, he said that there are times on the road of life that we just have to pull off and park on the shoulder. Then, when we are ready, we can merge back into the flow. As I listened to him I realized that was what I had done. I was out of fuel, broken down and without tools to fix my grief, so I pulled onto the shoulder. Most importantly, I recognized that it was “okay” and that everyone does that when they just can’t cope with what’s happening during turbulent or traumatic times.
If you feel you can’t keep up the pace or don’t want to be in the race this holiday season, please give yourself permission to pull on to the shoulder. The world goes on without you~for awhile~but you still have a place. I thought back to when my father was teaching me to drive and I had to merge onto a highway, he said “Don’t take your place, make your place, Kid!” I’ve done that. So will you. When you are ready and fueled up enough to get back into the traffic (social life, holiday celebrations, Thanksgiving), you’ll make your way. When you do, set your speed at a pace that is comfortable for you. This is your journey. It may be a new and unfamiliar road, but it’s taking you where you’re supposed to go.
I HOPE you will take care of YOU this holiday season.
P.S. I owe my family a tremendous amount of gratitude for their ongoing love and patience while I was idling! I HOPE you have the same support, but please know that there is much love being sent your way, even if you don’t feel it right now.