The first time I saw The Santa Clause, I was 14 and should have been more interested in fashion and boys. But I was still completely taken by Santa and the magic of Christmas. I went to see it with my then best friend CC. We watched it on a Sunday afternoon. The good and bad about being the intense dreamer that I am is that I can get so swept away by the fantasy of it all. I was fourteen going on eight when it came to Christmas. I felt I had ten years of making up for the years spent in India.
Secretly, I still read the American Girl books and watched Home Alone regularly. I was obsessed, since my first Christmas here, with snow and American traditions like real trees, holly, mistletoe. I was sure that I would find my first and last love under a mistletoe. Absorbed by all of it–every commercial, movie, sitcom, and house decked out with the holiday spirit–I tried to recreate Christmas mornings like the Kristin from the American girl series. I bought trees myself and decorated them. I played Christmas carols on repeat. I bought everyone a present no matter how little I knew them. I organized secret Santa among friends.
The idea that Santa could be just a random guy like Tim Allen mesmerized me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it that night. I remember cursing my parents for not purchasing a house with a fireplace. If ever there was a person like Will Ferrell in Elf who spread holiday cheer it was me. So the other night when The Santa Clause was playing on ABC Family, you better believe I turned on the lights on my tree and my fire-place to watch it snuggled in my red fleece blanket. It was at the scene when an elf tells Tim Allen, “seeing isn’t believing; believing is seeing” right before he goes to bed in his new Santa Clause room.
Instantly, the English teacher in me wrote it down and began to apply it to my life. [That’s the thing about great works of fiction–they give you lessons for life!] I looked at the quote and started thinking about my year. When I decided to take a year off teaching, I was certain I would accomplish something life changing. [Imagine Cheryl Strayed from Wild–this was my vision.] I would lose all the weight I’d gained, learn a disciplined life style, write or self publish a book. I had many desires; I could see them, but man was I filled with doubt and fear.
Just two months ago, a friend remarked that a mutual friend had published recently and he didn’t have to take a year off to do it. My gates opened and authorized that same self-doubt that stops me from getting up off my ass and taking action. The single cause of my fears has to do with spending way too much of my time placing value in other people’s opinion of me and my decisions. While I would love for everyone to love me and see me as the best everything, the reality is it is human nature to judge to feel better about ourselves. So, with this information in mind, how could I spend this year believing so that I could really see myself?
Cheryl Strayed wrote, “Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig. You need to do the same…Not like a girl. Not like a boy. Write like a motherfucker.” – See more at: https://www.creativenonfiction.org/online-reading/writing-like-a-mofo#sthash.8w9UH4ku.dpuf
I didn’t choose to take this year off to do any of the above actually. I did it because I was so burnt out that I was no longer bringing cheer to my job. I was resentful and angry and most of all exhausted. My body fatigued and mind jaded. When I read Cheryl’s advice on writing, it instantly got me believing. I didn’t have to become incredibly successful as…anything. It is okay for me to wake each morning and simply dig. I don’t mean to declare that this means inaction. It’s the opposite–every day I take action to live my life for myself, instead of with false expectations.
Step one: Dig. Take each day to work on what I want to work on. Some days this means writing. Some it means dishes, laundry, errands. Some it means exercise. Everyday it means I see that even the little work that I do is valuable.
Step two: Believe. This one’s a little harder. I want to believe in this year without freaking out at every corner out of guilt or fear. To do this, I have to spend some quiet time with me– meditating, breathing, walking, listening. When I get quiet, I can see that my life is good. I can see that at the end of this I will find the next step and I don’t have to spend this time trying to see it all. No. I just have to believe it.