It’s Christmas Eve in Malta
It is officially Christmas Eve here in Malta and around the world, but the rest of my family back in the states are still sleeping since it’s like 4:00 am something there right now as I write this. It’s almost 11:00 am here. In my 46 years on this planet, I have spent only one other Christmas in my life away from my mother. I was in my early thirties and I had moved to Lenox Massachusetts to work at Canyon Ranch. I worked on Christmas Eve and Christmas day and sort of skipped the holiday altogether. That was the year that my inner dialogue had become the most dangerous self talk I have ever engaged in. It would culminate the most unsettled and depressing time of my life. It was so lonely there and being alone during the holidays compounded it all. That was such a dark point in my life. For me, that is when everything came tumbling down and I moved back home shortly after and stayed isolated and into the deep down space for a very long time. I became basically agoraphobic in that time and stayed there for quite longer than I would like to admit. It’s also exactly the time when I began to write. I had no place left to go but deep inside and I chose to write my way out of it. I had already done a ton of therapies before that time so it was at this pivotal time of my life when writing became my answer, my solace and my center. To this day, it still is. As Anthony Marteen wrote: “There may come a time when you believe you have reached the end of the road in the darkest night. That will be the moment when a dazzling new day dawns on your horizon.”
Below is a practice I offer from last week by the water and it seems aptly appropriate to what I’ve just said above in this post. It’s 5 minutes and I hope you enjoy it.
For anyone who is sitting in the dark of night without any idea what comes next, hang on tight. Sit through it. You will begin to see a sliver of light shining from somewhere. When you see it, follow that direction into the light that can bring you to new avenues of your life. Do not be afraid or resistant to the changes that might be looming, they will take you to places you can not yet imagine. I am here to tell you from experience, that those changes can be absolutely and profoundly glorious. Give yourself the chance to go find it. Or sit still and open your arms and your heart and be willing to receive and accept the newness that is on its way to you. I wish someone would have said that to me back then when I felt I had no place left to go but down inside and create a new way of approaching life. My journal and my books became my way out. And this May, the final (maybe final?!) healing book will release into the world complete with audio meditations that I take you through and journal entries included in each chapter to help you navigate your way. This next book is more simple than my last two and comes from exactly this time of my life when I had to become my own change. I hope with all my heart that my new book Healing Ourselves Whole can be that for others. It is my deepest and most heartfelt offering into personal healing that I have done to date. It is the work I had to learn starting from that fateful Christmas and New Years when I was alone and breaking.
The light has come upon us and the daybreak is occurring.
This Christmas however, is completely different. Now, I am the mom and my children and husband and animals are all here with me. I do not feel lonely, though I still miss family back home of course. The streets here in Malta are all decorated and lit up and music plays all over the place. We plan to have just a few people that live in our regular daily bubble join us for Christmas dinner tomorrow. I am really excited about that and happy to see our family expand and bring in new people into our circle of friends. Being in a new place opens up the mind and expands our horizons and the holidays bring people closer as we find ways to stick together and form new versions of family.
The weather is warm and sunny and yesterday we ate lunch right next to the water. It’s certainly not warm enough to swim, it’s currently holding at the 15-18 degree celsius mark which translates around low 60’s. We keep our jackets in the trunk. On windy days we add the scarf. Today the sun has come out and is blessing us with her presence. The skies are blue and the music playing throughout the house helps us get into the mood of the day. Our elf on the shelf made it to Malta and the girls have loved having her watch over them. This is her last day here until next year so she leaves the girls with a note that she will see them again next year and that she loves them and that they are very good girls.
We brought our actual Christmas tree with us from home, but no ornaments and no stockings. Luckily, we have new team members moving to Malta from the states (currently in quarantine so they will have to miss the festivities tomorrow but will be up and at ’em for New Years) my mom sent over our stockings to them and they brought them over to Malta so we now have our stockings. All the ornaments on the tree are from Malta. We will continue to collect ornaments each year here.
The other night we met up with a family who’s child is in Hannah’s class. Hannah has talked about this child since day one. It was actually Hannah’s first playdate here in Malta and we had such a great time getting to know their beautiful family. They are also new to the country and will be joining us tomorrow for dinner which the girls are absolutely thrilled about. It was just a few days ago that I prayed that Hannah make her own very special friend here. Ava has a friend she made and we’ve met up a few times with them, but this is Hannah’s time now and I am so very thankful that it is happening. There is nothing more special than seeing your children happy and adjusted. I can’t say enough great things about our fantastic school. Without a doubt in my mind, it is exactly where my children are meant to be. In this respect, we are truly living the dream here. It is the best thing that has happened to both children and I could not ask for more. It is challenging and we are doing four days a week of extra after school tutoring to catch up, but it will be worth it soon enough. This school is a dream come true and I thank God every day that we get to be there.
This year for Christmas, there is nothing on my list of wants. This year my Christmas list and every list is a list of thanks and praise. What we have been given with this move, with this new life, with this extremely welcoming country and the joys of watching our children thrive, it is everything. It is prayers answered and a life that I am not trying to get away from. I always knew it was possible to be someplace where I wake up and think “I can’t believe I get to live here!” and now that is happening. Even during such a time of world wide stress, I feel such happiness in every day here. Maybe not all day everyday, but in each day I feel such a sense of peace and contentment come to me. This was the greatest gift of our lives and I do not plan to take it for granted. I also know that being near water does make me a happier person. Just getting to see the sea every day lights me up from a place down deep.
Living in such a small island doesn’t feel small though I am learning that it pretty much circles around and is in fact small. From north to south it takes about 40 minutes. I’m finally getting the hang of driving here and branching out in terms of where I’m willing to drive. I am fully embracing the holiday time off from school and rushing from place to place and just being here. European people know how to take a holiday. They are not to be bothered when it’s holiday time. I feel like we come from a place where we blur those lines and work anyway. This is not the case here and I am fully here for it. It feels so nice to turn off all my daily alarms and just go with wherever the day takes us. Today is a day of baking and preparing for our Christmas meal. Scott is smoking lamb, blood sausage and chicken. I am making a dijon mustard potato dish, fresh spinach salad with herbed feta and dried cranberries, a brussel sprout dish also with cranberries and a caprese salad because…we are in the Mediterranean and caprese salads just make the whole meal taste better. Scott might add a garlic and onion soup that is so simple, healthy and delicious. For desert we are making a chocolate chip bourbon pie and cream de menthe brownies. There will be a cheese and meat tray of course and several bottles of wine. I will plan to post again after tomorrow and show the table spread of foods. When in the Mediterranean, do as they do and eat drink and be merry.
I wish each and every one of you a safe, healthy and blessed holiday.
Sending you big love from beautiful Malta,