This time of year is impossible to get through without thinking about Mark. Winter just seems like it is supposed to be a time to be together with loved ones. And if you have lost a loved one it may feel hard. Cold weather is made for cuddling after all.

But this year, the fourth winter without Mark, feels different. He isn’t here with us in the physical plane, but the boys and I know he will always be with us spiritually and in our hearts. And during these holidays I am choosing to follow my children’s lead and bask in their resilience and joy.

The boys are excited because of all of the decorations, they loved picking out their tree and trimming it. Their eyes twinkle whenever we talk about Grandma and Grandpa coming to visit. There is an excitement in the air that is unlike any other time of year.

After I dropped the boys off at school this morning, I contemplated what the real meaning of the holiday season. And as usual, the answer was presented to me in the form of my life.

Traffic was worse than normal. People seemed rushed and urgent in their driving. But instead of joining in the rush, I just noticed it, and wondered about it. The magical thing was that traffic seemed to instantly open up. It was as if the thoughts in my mind being ok with the congestion, allowed it to be freed.

Then as I walked into the gym, I saw a friend. She was by herself so I went over to her to talk. She asked how my life was, I told her about all of the “stuff” I’d been doing. Then I asked how she was. She said, “Good, just same old, same old with work.”

I sensed a hesitation and felt like there was a small window of opportunity to go deeper. I asked what else was going on. She smiled and told me she had started dating after being divorced for seven years. And I saw a glimmer in her eye. She shared about the men she’d met and her thoughts and feelings. We connected.

Later as I was exercising, a man stopped running on the machine in front of me and walked past me. I smiled at him. He didn’t really acknowledge the smile. I watched him walk a few more steps. He looked at me again, as if to say, “Were you really smiling at me?” And so I smiled again. And so did he.

The holidays are a beautiful time, if you are able to slow down within the rush. They are a time when we can remember to connect with each and every person who graces our lives. And they are a time to let your energy of love flow out around you.

Take a moment within the hustle and bustle and smile at yourself. You are a shining light, just like the decorations in the trees. You are exactly what another person needs today.

Love and light,

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Jennifer Hawkins

Jennifer’s diverse background includes swimming for the University of California at Santa Barbara, competing in the Olympic Trials in 1988, owning a residential real estate company for fifteen years and authoring five books. She has spoken in front of audiences up to 700 people, traveled to over forty different locations, and is raising two boys who are five and seven years old. She currently lives in Texas and is an active real estate investor, mom and author working on her sixth book.

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