Peace on Earth (Starts with Peace at Home)

Do you feel it? The slowing of days.

Last year was a wonderful December. The year before that was pretty relaxed also, having determined early on that I would let go of perfection - in handmades, in decorating, in pulling "it all" off.

But this year takes the cake. If my December's keep going like this I just may reach holiday Valhalla, Nirvana, Zen (pick your peace zenith) here on earth.

Peace on earth.

I maybe can't make peace on earth. Ok, I know I can't. But I can make peace at home. And that's a start.

I set my intention early, the end of November, that this year was going to be simple, it had to be.

But who knew that this month would be full of both joy and peace? Perhaps they do go hand in hand, just like the holiday greeting card messages. Maybe that's part of the key to joy - making peace.

I came into this season open armed and open hearted. Receiving these blessings is the Christmas gift. No need for anything wrapped under the tree for me. I've been savoring the simple, unwrapping the gift of peace every day all month long.

It seems this theme of truly slowing down the frenzy of the holiday season is gaining momentum. Perhaps an ironic use of words. Slowing down... gaining momemtum.

In my internet world I've come across a few such posts. My regular side bar block Inspiring Internet is down right now (working on our server in preparation for a very exciting project to be released in the new year!) so I'm linking to them below. You've probably seen some of them but they are worth a peek.

  • Finding Joy in letting go of expectations at Abide With Me.
  • Simple & Special, even big time crafters don't always finish their to-do lists (smile).
  • Peace over Productivity, from last month at Steady Mom. And this follow up post for clarity that peace doesn't necessarily mean staying in your jammies all day (says who? wink).
  • Heather's got big things going on her life, yet her new groove of daily journaling at Beauty That Moves feel like a peaceful reprieve.
  • Waiting for the light is a lot about choosing peace and letting go as we wind our way into the darkest day of the year.
  • Feeling yourself rushed with trying to mother "just so" (knowing that "just so" looks different for each of us)? Heather's post Finding Time is a must read. This was one of my favorite posts this fall from all the blogs I read. It speaks the truth about what our children really need from us - our time.

I know there's probably more where these came from but part of my peace is that I don't spend a lot of time reading blogs.

This is where I'm at right now. Savoring time with my family (lots of skiing, packages being sent for New Years instead of Christmas Eve). Experiencing peace in my home. Taking the slow path into the darkest night of the year.

Where are you at with this season? If you've written your own peaceful season post, leave a link in the comments.

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  • kyndale

    kyndale on Dec. 16, 2011, 3:10 p.m.

    And the snow just keeps on coming down! It's so pretty.

    I do believe that peace starts in each of our homes. That's what I think about and try and show my kids every day. With lots of lessons daily.

    How on earth do you get to the store or anywhere in town? Skies?

    Sending love,Kyndale

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    • renee

      renee on Dec. 17, 2011, 8:58 p.m.

      I have considered skiing to the post office some afternoon (smile) and I probably could but I'd have to climb up the driveway first. Getting out and about isn't that hard. Our driveway gets cleared by a tractor, part of the rent (smile). And once you're on the main roads it's fine. We're only 10 minutes from the center of town where we shop etc... We're not really in the boonies it's just that it's a fairly rural area so once you're out of the town you're in the country, if you get what I mean.   We are used to small city living, in Maine and loved all the amenities of that but we love it here also. Skiing out our door is amazing.  Anyway, we're getting around just fine and if one morning I can't go to the grocery store because the driveway isn't cleared, no problem. I'll just go the next day.  

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  • Tonya M.

    Tonya M. on Dec. 16, 2011, 3:22 p.m.

    Renee, I just wanted to thank you for the time and effort that you put into your blog everyday. I have been reading it for over a year now. I feel like we are best friends even though you have no clue who I am. I love looking at your pictures. I too have found the joy in the season this year. I threw out my hurry and get everything done before Thanksgiving routine. I decided to do only the necessary things when the time was right for me. I have still accomplished everything and even some extras. I have even spent more time reading about Christ. Peace and Joy have crept into my life this year in a very wonderful way by, Simplifying! Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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  • Michelle

    Michelle on Dec. 16, 2011, 4:02 p.m.

    Well aren't you lucky (she says with sarcastic jealousy). Look at all that snow!!!! Our grass is still, well, brown grass. I think I'll save your snowy pictures as my screensaver so i can live vicariously through yours.

    On a serious note, peace does begin at home and it is so nice to see someone appreciate and enjoy their blessings as you do. Very lovely. Your home seems to be just what you needed, just where you needed and just when you needed it.

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  • Kyce

    Kyce on Dec. 16, 2011, 8:28 p.m.

    Peace and simplicity do go hand in hand (as I was reminded on a recent disaster of a morning that involved the post office, over-dressed babies, and a need to focus on things other than the simple essentials of our day). It occurs to me that while I know you always cultivate simplicity, your life has been so full and busy during the last year with preparing mentally and then physically for such a big life change, being in flux, and now finally settling in to a very cozy nest. Happy that you have arrived! Love your list. I agree that Heather's post on finding time is awesome, so brave and honest and true. Thanks for including me, too. Happy skiing!

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    • renee

      renee on Dec. 16, 2011, 9:17 p.m.

      Kyce, you know I think you are so right. This has been an incredible year for our family. A lot of mental, physical and emotional stress through the months. All necessary to get to our goal but taxing on us nonetheless. Now this month feels like one long, slow exhale. I haven't felt this kind of peace for a long time and it's such a gift. I am so happy this month. So contented and at peace with life.  Happy to include you. I love your perspective.

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  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on Dec. 17, 2011, 12:40 a.m.

    Dear Renee, I am super happy to read that things are simple and joyful for you! I LOVED the post Finding time that you linked to. I so recognize myself in her. It feels so good to be over the hand-made everything and into the simple celebration/just being together part!

    This morning, I was thinking about you and what you wrote this week when I allowed myself to have a good cry that I did not allow myself to have since we arrived here 3 weeks ago, since I felt we were so lucky to be here. How did I dare cry and complain? But the truth is, as beautiful as this place is, I find it hard and unsettling and anxiety-producing. I feel isolated, alone and a bit insecure. I am having a hard time with how dirty our house is and all the mold and the humidity...

    So just to let you know that your words were with me and they supported me through this. THANK YOU.

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  • Sandra L.

    Sandra L. on Dec. 17, 2011, 3:28 a.m.

    Funny, Your words today seem to echo the same part of Ann Voskamps' book that I just read. (Reading it for the third time. Maybe I'll get it all in this time). I like how you take notes when you read, you mentioned this yesterday. I tried that this morning and it makes a huge difference. Thank You for sharing that. From today's post, I think you are right. "The key to JOY is making peace" (with your "everything" in life). Thanks for that lesson too! And we are very envious of that snow. Us, rain-soaked, flooded South Western Ontario people.

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    • renee

      renee on Dec. 17, 2011, 1:22 p.m.

      Sandra, with regards to taking notes while reading... I've noticed it slows down my reading. I don't know if this is good or bad. I can't get through books like I once did but now I can look back and at least remember what I read! I've always been a "note taker" and just recently applied this technique to my reading. I'm liking it. Especially since I keep so few books. Those I own and intend to keep I highlight and write notes in the margin but I don't keep very many so this is the next best thing. 

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  • Erika

    Erika on Dec. 17, 2011, 6:59 p.m.

    You are such an inspiration. I love what you wrote about joy and I have been thinking so much lately about just the exact same thing that you wrote: that peace in the world begins with peace in our home.

    So great to catch up on your blog again and see all of your wonderful adventures.

    Warmly, Erika

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  • Mom Tougas

    Mom Tougas on Dec. 18, 2011, 5:09 a.m.

    Dear Renee,

    I am not surprised to hear that you have found PEACE in country living...or should I say PEACE HAS FOUND YOU! Time slows down when you live in the country. You have time to 'smell the daisies', or should I say 'watch the snowflakes fall'. Living in the city has a way of speeding up everything. Fast moving traffic, schedules, timetable, crowds of people pushing and bumping, so much stimulus in posters, ads, noise! In the country it is a joy to go to the store or check the mail. You might meet a neighbour or two along the way and have a visit along the way, and if you don't, you probably will meet some neighbours that you know in the store. Wildlife are visible and a joy to watch. You become one with nature and appreciate being a part of it. The words 'MAY YOU HAVE PEACE ON EARTH AND JOY OF THE SEASON' have new meaning in your new country lifestyle.

    MOM Tougas

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  • Pamela

    Pamela on Dec. 19, 2011, 7:14 p.m.

    Renee,

    Can you specifically comment on how you simplified more this Christmas season? I have had one of my worst seasons thus far, and want to make sure that I don't repeat this next year. Unfortunately, I'm not exactly sure what, and how, to change. (Well, I had one glaring mistake - committing to a sewing project for someone else when I should have said "no".) Any advice you can give on what you decided to let go of would be very helpful.

    Thanks, Pamela

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    • renee

      renee on Dec. 19, 2011, 8:20 p.m.

      You know Pamela, I can't really comment or speak to someone else's situation but I do know my own struggles with this season and they are overcommitment and unrealistic expectations.  There are so many good and wonderful things this time of year to do, see and participate in. And we say no to many of them so we can do the things my family most loves - outdoors and crafting (and a few special other things - like baking one thing together and going caroling). Each family will be different in what they love to do.  And then expectations. I almost always have unrealistic expectations about how much I can accomplish and every year have to take a reality check after the first week of December as to what is realistic to accomplish that year. This year's reality check was to accept that our family (siblings and parents) will be getting New Year's greetings and body care gifts not Christmas gifts. Selling my soap this month totally threw off my plans for making, packaging and mailing gifts to family. I just didn't account for everything that needed to be done and how much time that would take. Instead of trying to do it all I choose one and delayed the other. The gifts are all made (lotion bars and lip balm) and the cards have been printed (one of Laurent's prints of course!) but I'm not stressing out in this last week of Advent to mail them since they will be late now anyway. I don't know if that helps any Pamela. I'm sorry to hear you've had a bad season but sometimes we have those and they help us learn.  I remember three ago Damien and I committed to an Advent giving project. We were so excited! We both gave our time, our hearts and resources and got very close the edge of over doing it. Frightfully close for my liking. I vowed to not have that happen again.  Another thing I do is ask my family the beginning of each season, "what is really important to you about Christmas". You'd be amazed, or maybe not, how simple their wishes are. The kids wanted to decorate the tree, listen to Christmas music, go caroling (still hoping to make that happen this week), craft, make some goodies with me, play in the snow. And they like presents on Christmas Eve and stockings Christmas morning. This, I can do.  I learned a lesson last Christmas when we spent the holiday away from home and traveled to visit our siblings in Toronto area. The month leading up to Christmas was wonderful. And then when we packed up to leave I basically set aside all my personal expectations to just go with the flow while traveling. Theoretically, this is good. But not for young children who have certain rituals and traditions they love about the season. I wrote about that also. And like I say in that post there are certain traditions, routines and Christmas festivities do matter to us. Unfortunately, I didn't figure this out till hindsight. But we're always living and learning (smile). So this year I made sure to plan for stockings on Christmas morning (little things, but they matter the kids) and the other little holiday rituals my family likes. The truth is there is a lot of things I just don't do this time of year - Christmas cards and letters to everyone (used to do that), baking (only one or two special treats this month, that's it), handmade gifts for everyone, hosting parties other than the Christmas celebration itself. Just a few examples.   Wow, that was a long response. Hope that helps some what. Be gracious on yourself. Let go of anything you possibly can this week to focus on what matters to you and your family.  Peace. 

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      • renee

        renee on Dec. 19, 2011, 8:37 p.m.

        Forgot to add... I don't do homeschool during December. The kids do math individually but I let all my mom-directed stuff go. Making Christmas happen - the decorating, the fun outdoors, the making - takes the time I normally give to school related stuff. 

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        • Pamela

          Pamela on Dec. 21, 2011, 4:30 p.m.

          Thank you for such a thoughtful reply, Renee. It really provided me with some food for thought. One thing that especially resonated with me was which traditions are important to our family. I had to keep putting off decorating our tree due to overcommitments elsewhere. Once we found a tiny window of time to do it, I was rushed and grumpy. It's one of my children's favorite traditions and I want to make it a priority next year. You are so right that their wishes are probably simple. I think we will have that conversation going into the next Christmas season. Sometimes I let other people's expectations (or my perception of them) cloud my thinking about what Christmas should be. Hmmm . . . maybe that applies to just more than Christmas. (wink) [By the way -- love today's post! I can't wait for more posts of the chalet!]

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