If you’re feeling vulnerable or blue for any reason, do not miss Elizabeth Lesser’s thoughtful article about coping with the intensity, competitiveness, and grief of the year-end season. Lesser is author of “Broken Open” and one of the founders of the influential New Age conference center The Omega Institute. Her sweetness as a person and the wisdom she’s gleaned from many spiritual teachers shows in this piece. She writes:

“I once saw a bumper sticker that read, ‘Normal is someone you don’t know very well.’ This is always a good thing to keep in mind, especially now, when we assume that the normal people are all having happier, healthier, and more harmonious holidays than we are. We imagine their mailboxes stuffed with Christmas cards and party invitations, their homes decorated in Martha Stewart splendor, their intact and idyllic families primed for weeks of good cheer.

“…most of us hold ourselves up to an unattainable standard of human perfection. The 12th-century Sufi poet Rumi called this phenomenon the ‘Open Secret.’ He said each one of us is trying to hide the same secret from each other—not some racy or evil secret, but the mere fact of our flawed humanness. We expend so much energy trying to conceal our ordinary bewilderment at being human, or our loneliness in the crowd, or that nagging sense that everyone else has it more together than we do, that we miss out on the chance to really connect, which is what we ultimately long for. Especially during the holidays. Even those people who may seem to be living out our idealized vision of the season have an Open Secret.

The article has as a sidebar ten tips for enduring the holiday season. Create your own traditions. Forgive. Enjoy all you can, even when holiday life feels hard.

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