Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Just breathe | TheUnion.com

Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Just breathe

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

Are you remembering to breathe? We are neck deep in the holiday madness and remembering to take a moment to take it all in and breathe is so important.

As expected, I find myself pretty caught up in the activities of the season. Though I recently lamented that I no longer receive invitations to many of the community “standard” gatherings I used to faithfully attend as part of my previous job, my social calendar is far from lacking.

While I have tried to make good choices between work and play, there have been far more evenings spent out than in and the good feelings of the season have found their place within me this year. It is also coming on at an accelerated pace and I am not quite sure how I will finish the shopping, wrapping, baking, cleaning and all the other obligations before it culminates Christmas morning.

One thing we can call count on though, ready or not Christmas happens Dec. 25.

Here comes Christmas

Sometimes life happens without any regard for deadlines. I was reminded of that this week when I left the house with a few hours and an extensive list of tasks to complete. While it started off okay, it turned into a day when nothing went smoothly or happened quickly.

Every line I found myself in moved slower than any other. A five-minute trip to the bank turned into a 20-minute chat in the parking lot. A quick stop into a local business turned into a half hour conversation with several people I hadn’t seen in a while.

Stopping for fuel turned into a succession of mishaps. The day was a series of delays and very little was accomplished. But instead of becoming impatient or angry or frustrated, I got the message.

It was as if someone was whispering in my ear, “Slow Down. Take the time to enjoy the experiences. Relax. Breathe.”

I am a firm believer in listening to the universe while it sends messages in a whisper. Experience has taught me when you ignore the whisper it will merely send the message again just a little louder and louder still, until you hear it. (Think stubbed toe versus broken leg.) It is almost always better to pay attention to the whisper.

I have made a point of carving out time this season to spend quality time with friends and family. There have been shopping dates, movie dates and baking dates, small gatherings with girlfriends and large gatherings with family.

I think I have a firm grasp on what is important. While I pride myself on my ability to juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities, I know without a doubt that sharing experiences together is far more important than completing my list of errands. The physical gifts will likely be long forgotten, while the time shared will be savored and remembered.

Holding on to the magic

Regardless of the season, I am reminded again and again that it is how we choose to spend our days that matters most. I try to hold onto the magical moments, be it a long walk with my closest confidant or a coffee with a new friend.

It would be easy to become overwhelmed and I have had my failures for sure, but I am making every effort to focus on the process rather than the result.

Many years ago, my husband left a sweet message on my cell phone. He was travelling and just decided to call to tell me how much he loved me, how much he appreciated what I did for him and our kids and he wanted me to know it did not go unnoticed.

I saved it (literally for years) and whenever I needed a boost, I would play it from my saved messages. After that, I made a point of saving a few other endearing voicemails — one from my son singing me a brief birthday message, one from my daughter caught in a gleeful laugh when she called me by mistake, one from my Dad just calling to say hello and a particularly poignant one my mother left on Thanksgiving day 2010.

At the time she was in an assisted living facility battling many health issues including dementia. In the message, my brother’s voice is clearly prompting her, and she basically repeats what he suggests.

“Hi. Happy Thanksgiving,” she said and begins to cough, “I’m still breathing,” she finally continues.

Tell her you love her, my brother encourages. “I love you,” she said.

I can hear my brother in the background, “Say goodbye.”

“Bye,” she repeats, and the line goes dead.

I treasure that message as I treasure the memories of the many, many holidays my mother managed to make special. We did not have a lot of stuff, but we had moments.

Given the chance, I would love to call her and tell her I have learned what is most valuable.

“Hi. Merry Christmas. I’m still breathing. I love you. Bye.”

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com.

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