Embrace the Journey with Carin Camen

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Success is a choice. When we focus on the outcome of success, rather than the fear of failure, we choose to succeed by our actions.

A Perfectly Imperfect Christmas - Join Me

Winter Wonderland perfectly imperfect Christmas tree.Christmas time brings out a wide array of emotions as it closes out the year. Depending on what life experiences we've been handed, we may be feeling sadness or relief that the year is coming to an end. For me, Christmas is a time of reflection.

My family knows not to even think about putting on Christmas music until December 1st. I like to enjoy every holiday season. Let me please enjoy being thankful at Thanksgiving before we head into the rush of Christmas.

As with other families, the decorating of the Christmas tree is a tradition we enjoy. Ours takes a twist every year. We like to spice things up around our house. We've done a Marvel Character, Pacman, Candyland, Nutcracker, Old English and Winter Wonderland Christmas. Each tree takes on the theme for the year. Future plans for our Christmas tree is a Nightmare before Christmas and Futuristic Christmas. We rotate who gets to choose what type of Christmas we have as a family. My sons decided to spoil me and allow me a second year with my Winter Wonderland Christmas tree.

Of course... it could be that they just didn't feel like going through the effort of putting up their Christmas tree. But... I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt and going with the former. 

As I put up the Christmas tree this year, my thoughts are flooded with gratitude. I'm grateful for those challenging Christmas memories of years past. The pain of those memories makes the beauty and joy that I feel even stronger. My gratitude is greater because of those experiences. As I've learned to embrace life's journey I have found there is sweetness even in the bitterness of life, because the bitterness of life makes the sweet time even sweeter.

A single day that brings out so much emotion. The quest to have the "perfect" Christmas in all it's glory. Social Media will be filled with pictures of "perfect" Christmases. Neighbors will fight over their right to claim having the "perfect" Christmas decorations and light display.

Stores are crowded with shoppers in an effort to have the "perfect" Christmas. Store workers go home exhausted, helping others to create that "perfect" Christmas. Credit cards are pulled out not thinking of the consequences of their actions that will come in January. People scrambling for that last sale item, forgetting that another sale is always around the corner. Stores push those sales items to reduce inventory in preparation for tax season. Stores push the sales clerks to push those store credit card applications.

There will be those who get up early on Christmas and work hard all day so others can enjoy their "perfect" Christmas. Doctors, nurses, police, paramedics all praying that everyone have a "perfect" Christmas and the day remains quiet. Soldiers missing home and praying that no fighting will occur on this one day, as each side is trying to protect the "perfect" Christmas for those they love. 

Christmas brings out the best and worst in us, in an effort to achieve that "perfect" Christmas. May we all strive to be a little kinder and demonstrate a little more patience. May we see the similarities, instead of the differences. Throughout this holiday season, let's remember that this day will pass, just as all the Christmas's of the past. It is but one day on the Calendar. 

Let's not attempt to strive so hard to have the "perfect" Christmas, that we are incapable of enjoying this moment in time. For in this moment in time, when the stress is high we define who we are.

I laugh because two years ago, I was working a holiday minimum wage job at a retail story as I was in between IT Projects and bored. Phenomenal experience! I have such great respect for minimum wage workers.

A new retail store was opening up and I thought it would be interesting to learn how to set up a brand new store. My kids laughed at me as I crawled up the stairs every night after work. Every muscle in my body screaming from setting up the shelving system. Gone were my long fingernails. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much as customers were screaming because they had to stand in a long line. My feet hurt, my back ached... and I smiled and thanked them for being patient.

I've never seen such a coordinated effort. Around 150 new hires brought on and within the first hour, they had this large team in "Performing" stage. In IT we are known to go through four stages. Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing stages. In awe I watched how organized every aspect of this store opening had been laid out in strategic detail. There was not time for the four phases. Everyone knew it was all hands on deck and we had to work as a team to get the story from empty to filled and displayed within the store's standards. 

Everyone was knew. Everyone was inexperienced. Experience didn't matter because of how coordinated these managers were. IT should hang there head in shame for not being able to pull off in months, what I saw this store do in a matter of hours. Team collaboration was at it's finest. 

Working that minimum wage job was one of the best and most memorable jobs I've ever worked in. The managers were the best I've ever worked with, and the team of employees the hardest workers that I have seen. I'd giving any of them a raving recommendation. These incredible individuals had degrees, had come out of retirement, were highly successful in other careers. I laugh at the misconception and assumptions that a minimum wage worker is one who doesn't have the initiative to do better. 

A year ago I was in what I thought would be my retirement job. It's when I purchased the tree decorations that I'm showing. I was stressing over choosing what dress to wear for a Christmas party. The first Christmas party I was attending outside of the cult. I had researched diligently to find the "perfect" dress. Putting my dress on to get the opinion of my children, I walked downstairs to a mix reaction.

My children began arguing whether or not they thought I should go to the party in the dress that I had chosen. The majority saying, "WOW Mom!" The analytical voice of reason shaking his head and saying, "You're not leaving the house dressed like that!"

Pausing to catch himself when I gave him the glaring eye of, "Oh no, you didn't just say that to me!"

He responded, "I'm just saying that I know more about Christmas work parties outside of the cult, than you do and I am strongly advising you to save that one for a date."

The voice of reason caused us all of to start laughing and the debate was on. I ordered another dress... that one still sits in my closet for my "first date." Sigh...

It's been a learning curve for them getting adjusted to mom outside of the strict cult lifestyle, despite them all having left before I did. God help them when I actually start to date. God help the man who comes to the house to pick me up for the date. 

Sipping on a glass of wine, with the music playing and seeing the tree is slightly tilted because apparently I didn't put all the ornaments evenly around the tree so one side is a bit heavier than the other, I've come to one conclusion. This year... I believe I'm going to have an amazing "Imperfect" Christmas.

I invite you to join me. Take a moment to reflect in gratitude for all that life has given you this year. Treasure those new acquaintances that have come into your life. Forgive those who have created challenges for you this year. Reminisce of those who are not with you, but are still dear to your heart. 

I believe that having an imperfect Christmas might cause us to thank the store clerk whose back ache and feet hurt, instead of complaining how long we've had to wait in line. Waving at the traffic officer who is standing in the cold directing traffic, instead of flipping them off. Letting in the car waiting to get in the long line of cars, instead of easing up and cutting them off. Giving the mom whose child is screaming because they are tired of shopping, a kind smile instead of a scowl.

Staring at the tilted Christmas tree that I tucked into the corner because last year I realized at the last minute I hadn't bought enough decorations for the whole tree and this year not wanting to buy more. This tilted, half decorated tree starts to kick in my OCD. I pour a glass of wine, turn on the gas fireplace, snuggle up in a cozy blanket. Christmas music is playing about the miraculous birth of a baby who is the son of God, in our home that is filled with Atheists. I close my eyes smile... it's going to be a perfectly imperfect Christmas.  



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