Cancelling the Holidays During a Pandemic

Dear Vicki: I live in a state experiencing high Covid-19 numbers and we’ve all been told we should cancel Thanksgiving, and maybe even Christmas. I’m devastated! No family gatherings? No grandchildren? No best friends? Not even any neighbors? Just me and my husband? Why bother with a turkey or baking pies? I’m so depressed; we probably won’t have anything at like the normal holiday season I look forward to every year. Even my husband, who often complains about all he has to accomplish as part of “doing the holidays” seems a bit frustrated by the changes. Do you have any suggestions on how to cope with all this? Signed: Feeling Empty

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Dear Feeling Empty: During these difficult times, we find ourselves moving into uncharted territory: How does one “do the holidays” during a once-in-a-century pandemic? The short answer is that one does the holidays differently. And what that looks like will depend on the situations we find ourselves in. Do we have children living at home? Local family or friends with whom we’ve created a “pandemic bubble?” Weather that allows for outdoor events? How we approach these holidays also depends on our elemental personality, so let’s start there.

Given how upset you seem about not having “normal” holidays, I suspect that you are a primary Earth personality. Family and food, people gathered together, special traditions, etc. are of paramount importance to Earth people. This gives life meaning for them. But the holidays are not just for Earth people. Each of the other elemental personalities will have aspects of the holidays that matter to them, too. And remember that we all have all of the elemental personalities in our energetic wiring, so even though you are a primary Earth personality, you may find that some of what matters to, say, a Water personality might matter to you, as well. So, let’s look at what’s important to each of the elemental personalities during the holiday season and see how you might be able to incorporate aspects of each during a pandemic. I think you might be surprised.

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Managing a Tendency to Worry

Dear Readers: Welcome to a new feature of the Ask Vicki blog! Over the years, in addition to questions regarding relationships, as a naturopathic physician I’ve been asked about a variety of other issues. Questions regarding physical concerns, certainly, but also emotional, mental, and even spiritual issues, as well. And in truth, they are all relationships questions because they address how we relate to ourselves and our environment.

The answers to these questions are usually short and sweet, but also rational and logical. And of course, they are grounded in the Five Elements model! The information seems more important now than ever before, so I’d like to share some of these with you here. 

Question: 

Lately, I’ve found myself worrying more than usual. Of course, these aren’t normal times, yet I think I’ve done pretty well during the pandemic. But as winter approaches, I’ve started worrying more. Will we be able to have the traditional holiday celebrations? How will we connect with people if socializing outside isn’t an option? Will the people I care about stay well? And will this ever end? Is there anything that can help me stop worrying so much? 

Answer: When you catch yourself worrying, try the following: Take a deep breath, then on a slow and steady exhale, make the sound “ommmm” very softly. You may need to do this a few times in a row, but it will help. 

Why: This is a difficult time for everyone. In so many ways, “normal” life just isn’t normal anymore. Being asked to manage this level of change will absolutely throw our energies out of balanced. 

Within the Five Elements model, the tendency to worry sits in the Earth element. Earth energy embraces family, close friends, home, food, and special traditions, among other things. We all have Earth energy in our personality mix, and the changes the pandemic has created to life as we know it have certainly affected the balance of these energies.

When Earth energy is out of balance, it is easier to than usual to question everything. This often includes issues over which we have very little control. When there are no easy answers to our questions, out of balance Earth energy will tend to keep asking anyway, and this can lead to to what we call worrying. This is especially true when the stakes are high and the answers remain vague. 

Staying safe and holiday gatherings are both extremely important to Earth energy. At the present time, there doesn’t appear to be an absolutely safe way to approach the holidays in a “normal” fashion, but because both of these are really important, our Earth energy will keep thinking about it. Prolonged thinking about anything important without a suitable course of action can upset the balance of our Earth energy and rather easily become worry.

So, whether we are worried about the pandemic, the holidays, or something else entirely, balancing our Earth energy will help mitigate the worry. And to do that, try the simple exercise mentioned above.

Stay safe and well,

Vicki

Family and Friends Push Her Around

Dear Vicki: Family is very, very important to me, but I am having trouble with two cousins who appear to have an overwhelming need to control my life. They strongly suggest (almost demand) that I do things the way they do, according to what they think is right. I have friends that seem to act this way toward me, too. All I want is for everyone to get alone, especially in these difficult times, but they just keep suggesting and pushing for what they think I should do next. When I haven’t done what they suggest, it has caused family rifts and the breakup of friendships. The pushy people in my life also dont seem to feel the need to apologize for their actions, either, so it’s often up to me to make the first move, which doesn’t feel right. What can I do? Signed: Worried About My Relationships

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Dear Worried About Relationships: There will always be people who, coming from an honest desire to help, strongly suggest that they know what is right for another person. And at an elemental personality level, these people are usually primary Wood personalities. Wood people focus on the future, are great at assessing what might not be going well in the present, and are even better at coming up with plans to address the issue going forward.

You, on the other hand, just want people to get along to the degree that you are willing to make the first move even when you aren’t the problem. That strongly suggests that you are a primary Earth personality. Earth people value family and friendships, and they are often the ones willing to go the extra mile to keep the peace.

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Help for Her Holiday Overwhelm

Dear Vicki: It’s been a tough year for me in many ways and the whole idea of creating the holidays my family has come to expect overwhelms me. But the minute I decide to cut back on decorating and buying gifts, I feel guilty. On top of that, even though my children have families of their own, when I mentioned not baking Christmas cookies this year, they were shocked and now I’m worried they’ll be too disappointed if I don’t bake. I’m taking care of my own mother and working full time, and I just don’t have the energy or joy in me to do the whole holiday thing. Is there an easy way to tell my family that I want to skip the holidays this year? Signed: Tired in Tennessee

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Dear Tired: I can promise that you’re not alone in your desire to skip the holidays. I hear from many people – mostly women – who express similar sentiments. And it’s very understandable. Here in the U.S. the holidays have become a behemoth commercial event perpetuated by a retail industry brilliant at pushing all of our “make it perfect” buttons. Somehow, we seem to have bought into the idea that bigger and better matter. But deep inside, I suspect we know that isn’t true. So why does the commercialization of the season still exert such a hold on us?

I think most of us go crazy around the holidays in the name of love. For centuries, gift giving has been a primary expression of love and esteem. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually part of our Five Elements make-up. Sharing with others is an expression of the Earth element. Earth is also where home, family, food, and deep relationships sit. Sounds like the holidays, doesn’t it? And those clever advertising people figured out decades ago that if they tie all of these things together during the holiday season, they create a very powerful message. Nothing tugs at our heartstrings more than the idea of sharing gifts and meals with those we love during this special time.

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Family Feud over Fourth of July

Dear Readers: This is a timely “oldie but goodie” from our files. Enjoy! 

Dear Vicki: The Fourth of July is coming up and it’s turning into a real challenge for our family. My sixteen-year-old daughter, Joni, wants to have a huge picnic, invite all of her friends, and shoot off fireworks after dark (we live where they are legal). Stella, my twelve-year-old, hates noise and crowds so wants a quiet family gathering or maybe even a night at the movies. Of course, Joni claims that would be boring. To make matters worse, Jake, my husband, thinks taking the whole family camping in the wilderness – along with a few close friends – would solve the problem. But I’m the one everyone looks to for organizing and cooking on a camping trip, and it doesn’t sound like fun to me. So, we are a family divided. Any suggestions? Signed, Fractured Family

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Dear Fractured Family: Holidays are never easy because everyone has expectations, and those expectations will always be colored by our elemental personalities. Different personalities will want to celebrate holidays in different ways, as you are clearly finding out. So, let’s take a look at how to resolve the issues and create the possibility of a happy July 4thcelebration for everyone.

Joni, who wants a big party with lots of people, excitement, and activity sounds like a primary Fire personality. Excitement and activity are the epitome of fun for Fire people. And fireworks? The name says it all. Plus, the Independence Day holiday occurs during summer, which is Fire’s season. This means Joni’s Fire personality is likely revved up even more by summer and she’s really ready to party.

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