Getting dirty for the holidays

Are you ready for that awkward conversation with Aunt Cecilia?

The intensity of the holidays is here. You are busy rushing about, preparing for family gatherings, work parties, cleaning house and Secret Santa shopping. And yes, explaining to Aunt Cecilia yet again why you don’t have kids… or you do… why you aren’t married… or you are… why you took that job… or you didn’t.

aunt cecilia gets dirtyAnd then listening to her judgments as she burdens you with her opinions of your life and runs through the comparisons with her own (and why hers is better). And you love her, you’re connected to her, but these moments, these conversations, are enough to drive you straight to Ben & Jerry’s. The ice cream, not your neighbors.

We all have an “Aunt Cecilia”. She could be an aunt… a mother… a girlfriend… a cousin… she is the woman in your life that makes you question your own ability to be a semi-sane, functioning adult.

But Aunt C plays a significant role during the holidays. It is exactly her questions that have the potential to take us to the deepest, darkest part of ourselves. And the holidays are exactly the time, in-between baking snickerdoodles and feeling gratitude for Amazon Prime, when we’re surrounded by constant Christmas hymnals of love and peace on earth, when we’re arguing with our sister over ham or turkey at the family dinner, and when we’re feeling the pressure of presenting that “perfect” Christmas card family image to the world, that we dwell on the decisions we’ve made, the ‘where’ we are in our life, and the ‘why’… why are we where we are?

Aunt Cecilia is your holiday-season life coach.

This season, take Aunt Cecilia’s questions for the gift that they are.

  • Why are you where you are?
  • What was the series of choices you made that drove you to this moment?
  • And now that you’re here, where are you taking it?

Life is messy. That’s been the premise of Dirty Girls since we started over five years ago. Life is messy and it is by sifting through the dirt – not sweeping it into the dustbin – that we get to the heart of who we are, what we understand what motivates us, and that we learn to appreciate our unique selves.

But the dirt is wet, grimy, it’s ugly, and there’s a whole bunch of lint and dead hair and unidentifiable dander-ish gunk in it. Who wants to poke through that stuff? And yet, that’s where many of the answers to our questions hide.

Often, we answer with a big, fat, “I don’t know.”

Oh, but darling, you do. And I challenge you, this holiday season, to go deeper.

  • Because you do know where you are.
  • You do know the series of choices you made that brought you to this moment. Your life didn’t just happen to you. You chose it. Own that.
  • And you are living in the present moment, so right now you are making choices that are creating your path. It’s your moment and your path. Own it.

The dirt can be dark and sticky. It’s not pleasant to go deeper, but it’s enlightening.

As you push through the muddy mess, consider the stories you have told yourself – about yourself and about the people around you. Are those stories true? What did you believe because you wanted to, rather than because it was real? If your relationships with others are not what you want, not aligned with who you are, is it because you are not aligned with yourself, or because you created a story about the other and he/she is the one not aligned with you?

As you wipe off the dirty smudges and dig out the dirt from under your fingernails, consider your why. Why did you choose what you did to get to this moment? The moment can be awful or brilliant, it still merits examination. What motivated you to make the choices you made, and did they take you where you thought they would, where you wanted to go? We often mistrust ourselves – we believe our intuition is paranoia and we invalidate what we believe or want in order to stay safe. Because acknowledging that you aren’t getting what you want, what you need, necessitates change.  And change scares us. It means we could lose people as we walk into the unknown. So we deny ourselves. We stay where we are – pushing back the intuition and invalidating our desires. And thus, we sink further into the mud. But when you understand why you do that, you understand that you can choose differently.

lotus in dirty mudAs watch the struggle of the lotus, pushing its beautiful bloom through the mud and using its mucky nutrients as food, consider how you are here. Now. Appreciate what you have brought with you to be here. Appreciate that life is messy, but also gorgeous. And now, you are owning it.

This holiday season, spend a few moments with yourself so your answers to Aunt Cecilia aren’t defensive, irritated curt words. They’re honest, true and powerful. Powerful because you are being true to you, and there is no more powerful position we can hold.

And instead of reacting to Aunt C by shutting down and rolling your eyes, perhaps, in your new sense of self, you can engage with Aunt C by asking her a few questions of your own. After all, as you well know, no one is as shiny and smooth as their Christmas cards suggest. We all have a story. And perhaps once you own yours, you can sit with Aunt C as she owns hers.

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