Choosing Your Christmas

Despite my anxiety of late, I went to bed last night, content. And I lay there counting my blessings, reciting all the people, things and phenomena I was grateful for. In my head I said I was grateful for a warm bed on a cold night, for a full belly, for the people that are close to me, for my car, my cat and so many other things.

I woke up again today with a smile and a stretch, pulling open the curtains on a grey day and greeted the world outside my window.

Slowly I came to, until my cat yelled outside my door that she wanted fuss and breakfast.

I followed her downstairs, feeling the knot of anxiety in my stomach slowly tightening with each step down, as I went to face the day.

It would have been too harsh to my senses to flick on the switches of my workaday lights, so I wandered round and turned on my Christmas lights instead, to feed off their soft glow and to slowly absorb what is next today…

I have some dread about what’s ahead, but I shall tread carefully and take one small step at a time.

I know now I am having some times of calm, times when the tight knot of anxiety unravels within me. I know too that it comes back – flexes and fluxes, trying to take me over. I accept that and yet I ask my fear to teach me, not to diminish me. Humbly, I know there are lessons still to be learnt and choices to be made.

But for now I simply choose to breath… out and in…

I trust implicitly that the rest of what ever needs to happen, as the day unfurls, will just BE…

Right now, I need to keep it simple. Sit with the soft light and listen to my cat purr.

Christmas has crept up on me, softly, and I am quietly embracing it.

And that is me right now. But know that for YOU, what ever the week ahead or the year or minute may or may not have in store for you, that this is YOUR Christmas, to do with what you will or no, in your heart or head.

Maybe you will celebrate, maybe be alone, maybe you don’t or won’t celebrate Christmas – but that’s OK, it’s still YOURS, whatever shape or sense it has. So whatever that is, I wish you well. I wish you inner truth, peace and clarity, but mostly I wish you CHOICE.

When The Solstice is Telling Me to Stop

Dwindling daylight has shrunk to shortest day.
And tomorrow light lengthens again, as the sunshine starts to shine for a little longer – partnering in its’ ever transitioning cycles with the moon.
It’s time to turn towards sunlight and Spring again, as well as to turn over the fallen leaves of autumn, and sweep them away from my dim winter doorstep.
MY Winter though, actually began some months ago…
And whilst I wanted to keep the darkness quiet and work through it, that meant that I was feeling it, but not admitting to it.
One day in the early hours of a May morning, I woke up in panic, breathing hard and feeling terrified. My thoughts were spinning and tumbling, but I rationalised that it was a simple nightmare and the feelings would dissipate with the dawn.
But when I woke again, I felt a knot of anxiety at my core. My body felt flooded with Cortisol. And this stayed with me, over days and weeks – always, always that tight knot of anxiety, the feeling of being in fight or flight mode inside, no matter what I was doing on the outside.
Thinking I was simply stressed and needed a rest, I booked myself a spa break, thinking I either needed to be there or in a padded cell… But to my puzzlement, rest and pampering were not the cure – I still felt that anxiety at my core.
So I sought support. Talked to my GP, and saw a gynaecologist – as I believed menopause might be the cause and he tested me and agreed.
To me you see, it felt like a physical, rather than mental health issue, but still I did what the medicos said and sat with a counsellor, on the phone, talking it out. Whilst it felt good to vent, I found the process unfulfilling… It just wasn’t getting to the heart of what ever the matter was, or revealing anything I didn’t already know about myself and my life.
Yet things improved, time moved on, and the knot unraveled.
Then life started to happen… bereavement, trauma, stress, crisis, pain, surgery, illness…
Then to compound it all, my car broke down, and so did I. Driving home one evening, I stopped at traffic lights and my car stopped too. So I turned on the Hazard lights and started to sob with self pity and roar with indignant anger that this had happened to me. Passers by and police asked me if I was alright as they pushed my car to a side street, then left me to call for help, as the tears eventually subsided.
Well, help came, eventually. I called breakdown assistance, and waited 3 hours for them to cart my car away to a garage. And then my boyfriend turned up with a hat and mince-pies, to warm me up, cheer me up and drive me home.
And whilst all ended well, the knot of anxiety had returned, wound tightly within and this time I just could NOT unravel it.
Still though, I carried on with my life, as it was. I felt anxious and stressed, but this wasn’t ALL I was, I worked, loved, laughed, supported and smiled, too.
I talked to my loved ones, I went back to the doctor. I found a new life coach.
Yet life kept happening, there was more stress, and more to do, in every part of my life, with deadlines looming and decisions to be made.
But then you know, I’m ‘self aware’, a life coach, so I knew what was going on and what to do about it. Only I DIDN’T do it… Instead of facing up to it, I backed away from it, switching from thinking to doing, to block out the feeling. My survival it seemed, depended on hard work and getting things done – despite anxiety, illness and exhaustion. In response my brain shut down it’s consciousness, so I worked like an automaton. But I also stopped exercising, eating well, and writing – and so many of other things that fill me up, nurture me, and engender a sense of contentment. Instead, I continued to toil, as I was wading through mental treacle, feeling indecisive, slow and ineffective…
And Christmas was around the corner, or rather Chris-STRESS, with a 1001 ‘to does’ needing to be ticked off a long list, on top of everything else I was not doing or doing badly…

Until I just HAD to stop.

Because the panic attacks had come back and the anxiety was now a constant screaming pain in my gut.

So I started to confess my dirty, not so little secret – that the ditzy, positive, capable person that so many relied upon, had crashed and burnt.
And whilst I believe in openness and honesty, when people asked me how I was, I lied and said “I’m good”, fearing the consequences of revealing my ‘weaknesses’ and being a failure. It was a way in which I could exert some control over the chaos I found myself in, when in fact, it was actually covering up a LACK of control…
But then my doctor said ‘enough’. I had tried to keep all the plates in my life spinning, but instead they were crashing to the floor. But now someone had validated that I HAD to stop. And I’d known that for some time, but filed it away under ‘want’ rather than necessity, at the back of my brain. Looking back, I realise, that I wouldn’t actually stop, until someone else had given me permission…
So now, a few days later, I’ve slowed right down now, but not stopped as yet… I’m winding down to that and to Christmas. Instead of going cold (Christmas) turkey, I have been easing myself in, making changes, asking for help and having faith that all will work out as it should.
And as for Christmas, it will still happen – even if I only had the energy to put up one tree this year, the presents aren’t perfect and fewer cards have been sent. My health and happiness is far more important than any of these things. My gift to myself is the choice of a sweet and slow Christmas, with those I love, taking care of myself first and foremost, so I can be at my best for all the rest…
And whilst the doctor rubber stamped the stopping, it’s down to me now – to put myself first. To love who I am, instead of hating what I think and do. To give myself permission to do less, so that I get more (out of life). Deciding to let the world take care of ITself, whilst I take care of MYself. And not least, asking those around me for understanding and support.
The irony is that I have preached self care and self love for a long time now, exhorting others to ‘put the oxygen mask’ on themselves first, but still… here I am… So, as the bible says, ‘physician heal thyself.’ Be this physical or mental, unhealed trauma, hormonal or causal, I need to stop doing now and start BEING.
I write this not for sympathy or pity, because I know that I have so much to be thankful for in my life. This life is a gift and I want to make the most of every precious moment of it.
And to do that, I wanted to confess, to stop pretending to everyone and anyone about what is going on for me. And by being beautifully selfish about that, I want anyone going through anything similar at this moment in time, to give them self the permission to stop, too.
Please know that you CAN pause, rest and re-evaluate. What ever is going on for you, or your brain, sense of duty or someone else is trying to tell you.
Know that this is the way of life – Winter Solstice is giving way, slowly, to Spring. Nature is following its course, so that after all the darkness and cold, all is ready to be reborn and grow upwards, towards the sun. And as a creature who lives under that sun, it is now your time to do that too.
And where ever life finds you right now, may sweet solstice blessings be upon you, xx

December is here, but I’m not ‘there’

Well, December is here…

I’ve been compiling lists and making arrangements.

Suddenly, Christmas music is blaring out of my radio.

But I’m not ‘there’ yet – the music flows pass me, hitting some other random target.

It feels like a faux, forced party of excess and expectation is suddenly being shoved at me.

Since like last weeks snow, I’m melted.

Feeling wilted and tired, but still Noel is near…

And then I hear a snug song, that somehow chimes to the rhythm of my hesitant heart.

And I smile, softly inside.

And I feel festive, in my own, weird way.

And then I’m ‘there’…

And ‘December will be magic again’…

Sparked by the unique inspiration of the wonderful ~Kate Bush~

A COVID Christmas Chronicle

As I walk, talk and sleep out here in the conscious world of toil and transaction, I’m getting myself ready for a cosy COVID Christmas…

I’ve planned, shopped, wrapped and written. Then danced around the kitchen, singing along to decades old Christmas hits, slurping snow ball cocktails, as I’ve made mince pies, mulled wine and transformed myself into a veritable Christmas Goddess.

Yet despite my machinations and preparations, most of my Christmas plans have shimmered and evaporated into the misty winter air as the spectre of COVID has slammed down port cullis’s, borders and even, temporarily, small parts of my heart.

But for all that, now it’s Christmas Eve, Christmas has settled into that same cold heart, cossetting me into a cosy blanket of familiarity and I’m feeling it, right to my marrow…

So on the inside all is Christmas sweetness, but on the outside, what a difference a year makes…

You see I have a happy, Ground Hog routine sort of festive season, which has changed little over decades. And as such, I can tell you almost exactly where I would usually be right at this point in the day / proceedings and how it would all play out from here until to the end of Boxing Day. It starts with a family birthday and proceeds through set stages of meals, activities, until another Christmas has passed and is in the past. And I play my part in this, happily sleep walking my way through, sonambulant in the certainty of the fundamental tenets of my life and my kin.

Of course COVID-19 has now put paid to all that. As we have progressed through this year of our lord 2020, the United Kingdom government, headed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has made successive announcements of ‘Guidelines’: a raft of measures and actions, described by a whole new language lexicon, including ‘lock down’, ‘furlough’, ‘self-isolation’, and ‘shielding’, all ending in ‘tiers’. This new dire dictionary defining and describing parameters created to keep people apart.

What ever your take on the pandemic – where it sprang from; if it came about by happenstance or was deliberately set upon our world for a variety of nefarious reasons: the reason why we are being kept apart is that we reduce the risk of passing on this disease from one to another. And whilst most of us would feel its effects like a bout of flu, many more, with other ‘underlying medical issues’ would succumb seriously and fill our hospitals to a capacity they cannot currently cope with.

So my own world has fluxed and flexed as the year has gone on, as I’ve gone from nonchalence, to annoyance, to despair, to resignation and acceptance. And still there are more stages to go through… On Saturday 19 December 2020, the Prime Minister announced the latest set of measures designed to combat the latest increases in infection rate and several highly infectious variants of the virus.

With his words suddenly my carefully constructed Christmas crumbled into the carpet and I cried. The latest measures meant that my Ground Hog Christmas wasn’t going to happen. That I couldn’t be with my family, that I couldn’t celebrate with my friends. That everything was turned on its head.

Plans made had to be changed, and so there were phone calls with differing levels of emotion and action in response, with family, with friends, and various cohorts. And then, after thinking through a panopoly of options, we all settled on what we were going to do in this brave new, COVID altered world.

So right at this minute on Christmas Eve, normally I would be driving, onto my way to a birthday meal in a special restaurant – hungry and happy, ready to settle into the next step of my festive routine. Yet instead, here I am on my solitary sofa, writing for me and for you. This afternoon, instead of loading up my car with food and gifts, I went for a run. That in itself, I reflected as I pounded the paths and rounded the fields around my home, was truly weird. A year to the day, I could never have imagined that I would be RUNNING!

COVID has caused this – sent my out of my Corona cave to work out / run out my kinks and cares, to reinvent my middle aged self as an athlete – a label which I still can’t wear without a smug sort of smirk, in that moment just before I get on and go for it.

And running isn’t the only thing COVID has given to me – I have had time to pause and ponder my life, focus on my writing and reach out to people not spoken to in years, yet still holding a place in my memory and heart.

Yet I can’t deny either that it has taken its toll on so many. Having snatched and ended so many lives, isolated people and been a long mental stretch of successive hurdles to jump and negotiate.

But for me, today, in this altered state of Christmas consciousness, I have to choose. And that was bought home for me when I went on a walk several days ago. Whilst running is most definitely and solitarily for me; walking is a gorgeous group activity, where I will meet and greet those in my orbit and we will walk out or around or along; pacing together, talking, laughing, reflecting – making the most of nature and each other, in our strangely straitened circumstances. Walking has been my balm, my place of coming together. It has expanded my horizons, added to my step count and kept me sane.

On this particular walk it was raining and still we stepped out, my companion and me. Ahead of us I saw sunshine and remarked that this would invariably create a rainbow. And minutes after the words had left my mouth, there it was: a double bowed beauty, a major miraculous spectacle of glory and colour. I stopped. I stared. I felt its’ magnificence. And in doing so, I realised that arching over my head was a powerful metaphor for what I was going through.

The rainbow represented the unity of the rain meeting the sun. It needed both to exist. It was filtered through a grey sky and the rain falling down from it. It manifested because the sun shone through the rain to create an arched kaleidoscope of colour over our heads.

So now this metaphor represents my current choices to me. As a result I stopped crying and set out my Christmas stall. I recalibrated my arrangements and re-arranged my heart. I stopped thinking about what had been taken away from me and focussed on what, in all reality, I have. And when I think of my life in those terms, it turns out that I have a lot. I can be grateful for so much. If I miss my family and friends, well that’s because I have them to miss. I have functioning legs that can take me out to walk and talk with them. Those same legs also turned me into a runner.

As has happened so many times over these last mad months, I’m deciding to control the things I can and accept the things that I can’t. I will play my part and I will change my Christmas this year, so that there are many more Christmases to come when I can be with my family, friends and who knows who else, in those fast forgotten ways I had always taken for granted only a few short months ago. For now, I will stay safe to keep the ones I love and care about the most, safe too.

So here I am, content with my changed Christmas and surrendering to it gracefully. Easing into it now, without expectation. Having prepared for it, I can now let it unfurl as it will, breathing into it and living each moment as occurs, in all its guts and glory.

And that is Christmas for me, today. And I wish you joy of it too. As you transmute into your Christmas, despite this years differences, my wish for you is to see the rainbows too.

A blogger & and a rainbow

Happy Christmas, from a Rainbow Believer xx

Tiers in the Time of Corona

Truthfully… I cried as I listened to the Tier 4 announcement on Saturday…

Basically, here in England, the rules for COVID safety have tightened yet again…

Basically it has buggered up my carefully co-ordinated Christmas plans.

I don’t get to be where I want to be, when I want to be and with who…

Yet after crying, I recalibrated. I pondered, I conferred, I juggled…

And it’s not all sorted yet.

But then today, I went out walking in the rain… And that, as it turned out, wasn’t a pain…

Right now I’m controlling what I’m able to, and choosing to do what I can with what I’ve got.

I can walk, and so can most of the people I cherish in my life. So we meet and talk, and laugh and cry together, one step at a time…

And the rain didn’t stop us either walking or talking today, except for the moment when we stopped and looked at the rainbow which curved over us in the grey, arching sky.

Before the rainbow appeared, I looked for it… When it shone on me, I lived with it in that moment of incandescent beauty and awe.

I’m still, in all honesty, a little ‘at sea’ about all the what’s and how’s over this coming week, but I’m also choosing what I see, and on this day, it was the magic of a rainbow.

Today’s rainbow

My Free Christmas Book for You

peachey xmas

As a coach and the writer of Peachey Letters, I come across many versions of Christmas… There are people who love it and people who loath it.  It can be a time of joy and it can be a time of stress.  It can induce a feeling of nostalgia or indeed one of loss, depending on your point of view.  And like life, how we feel about Christmas is often a combination of many different issues and ingredients…

If you’ve read my book Peachey Letters or this blog before, then you’ll know that I love to celebrate and learn from all aspects of life.  The same is true of Christmas, so I have written a capsule Christmas book to share my celebrations, reflections and conclusions on this festive time of year.  This year, it is my free Christmas gift to you

For most of us December is a busy month, and as a coach my time, alongside all the usual preparations, is so often spent with cherished clients who have booked me in for their Christmas Check-up, where together we plan for the best inside out Christmas, to make the most – internally (emotionally) and externally (practically) out of the end of one year and the start of a new one.  This year too, for everyone I am in touch with, I am sharing the gifts of my writing and learning to entertain you, make you think and to deepen the Christmas experience in my newly finished capsule book.

This latest ebook – A Peachey Christmas is a collection of (previously published) blogs along with new material, gathered into one, gorgeous Christmas capsule…  All you need to do to claim your own free electronic copy is to fill out a few details here and it will wing its’ way back to you (as a .pdf).

This capsule book comes as a electronic book, which you can print off or read on your favourite device to your heart’s content.  Whereas my published book Peachey Letters – comes in paperback and kindle too, so you know it’s an ideal Christmas gift, with all its reflections on life – in all its’ gore and glory.  Just in case you weren’t aware – Peachey Letters has been featured in Psychologies magazine and The Lady, along with numerous other publications and websites; and it has also received reams of positive feedback from across the globe.  And if you don’t have your own copy yet or would like some more copies as gifts, you can get them here on my website, where I can even personalise and sign them for you.

And, as with all good books, you can also order them in bookshops and buy them on Amazon (or any global book site) in both Kindle and in paperback.

So here is my gift and there was my plug, and so it just remains for me to wish you true Christmas Spirit, in all that you do and be.

With warmest mistletoe wishes and kisses,
Sandra Peachey
Coach & Author

LifeWork Consultancy & Coaching

~ Author of Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life and Co-Author of The F-Factor
~ International Book Awards Finalist 2015, Women’s Issues Category
~ Nominated for a Networking Mummies National Recognition Award 2015
~ Shortlisted for Women’s Coach in the APCTC Awards 2014, nominated in 2012 & 2013
~ Winner of a Women Inspiring Women Award 2013

Letter to Christmas Food

My Mince PiesMy own imperfectly delicious mince pies…

Dearest One

It is time now to explore and exonerate you, to devour and venerate you, to eat you up, digest you down, and inwardly ingest and digress on all that you are to me…

Christmas food is feast and I can feast upon these words too, calorie free, yet still savoured deliciously and selfishly, gobbled up again and again, and all this with no widening girth, no indigestion or regret, a word diet eaten and repeated in the best possible way…

Food, when you listen to it, tells stories… and Christmas food harks us back to history, hyperlinked to a past, long ago forgotten, although eaten and excreted by our own ancestors.

Pick over archaeological sites and find remnants of millennia old meals of bones and seeds and cooking pots. And now pick up your fork and eat a Christmas meal today to ingest a more recent history, albeit more quietly and neatly.

In my Westernised world at this time of year I am warmed through by winter spices in pies, puddings and mulled wine. They are the devices that have travelled down time and along trade routes, carried on beasts of burden through deserts and sent in ships across seas to enliven the dull winter diet of my pale historical counterparts here on this island land.

Each pie, each pudding, and each component on my Christmas plate has a history, a fascinating story of currency and enrichment underlying the aroma and flavour which has been tasted by so many, through so much darkened winter time.

Then we marry this history with our own recent traditions, of coming together to celebrate Christ’s birth and the ensuing mercantile madness of gifting and wrapping and eating to excess, so that we fall in to a snoring afternoon sleep after lunch on the 25th of December, full as we are, of thousands of Christmas calories.

And we have our social and cultural traditions and create our own intimate ones too… I make mince pies and snowballs to prepare for the big day, and then eat ham (cooked in cider on Christmas eve) along with my turkey on my Christmas plate. There is then a long pause of several hours before Christmas pudding is eaten. Then what little room is left in my stomach later that same night, is filled with tinned salmon and cheese. It is the comforting ritual of my Groundhog Christmas, to be repeated without erring or swaying from the pre-destined foodie plot of many previous eating years.

Before we get to feasting, we must literally prepare and over many years I have learned to do this slowly, languorously and easily, completing each component in turn, relishing the gorging gratification to come, by setting out my laden larder in advance. Mince pies are made then, stuffing done now, things bought in readiness and stored in order, all components waiting for the blazing heat of an oven for their moment of gourmet glory when they are all bought together to celebrate and complete the ritual on the plate.

So Christmas food to me is a blandishment as well as nourishment; it is a sign of love, and lore, it is history and culture. It is a wanted necessity, as well as a glorious luxury. So there it is, as always with me, that strange dichotomy of love and difficulty. Because my friend, you know that I have a complicated relationship with you, as I do with just about everything in my life.

And there I was a few nights ago, quietly cursing you… You see I was up to my elbows in a foodie fuddle, flinging flour around the kitchen in the name of creating the most perfect mince pies. Blithely tying on my apron and feigning Domestic Goddessery in my Christmas kitchen, it was instead, all mess and stickiness…

But I persevered: I experimented, added, stirred, chopped and kneaded. I rolled, cut, then filled, and finally there was the tenderly triumphal moment of committing my precious labours to the waiting oven.

They weren’t perfect those particular pies, but oh my goodness, they were delicious. Friends had pie-gasms whilst consuming them and went silent for seconds of ingestment and wonder; whilst I on the other hand, experienced the smuggery of creation, of earth mother provisioning and the satisfaction of an empty plate, with a just few forlorn crumbs left as the legacy of pies past.

I love Christmas cooking and have my big day down to a tee, tying together all my provisions and preparations onto one plate of perfection, served with relish and a flourish and on the same old Christmas crockery that we air for one day every single year.

And then I pay the price with indigestion and tightened clothes and extra winter fatted weight. It’s not just about the Big Day, but the Christmas build up, with chocolates never more than 2 feet away from reach and Christmas dinners, lunches and buffets to be feasted on and quietly, farted out…

You would think that after all my time on this planet, with all those Christmases under my gut bending belt, that I would remember; yes, you would think that my stomach would remind my brain that such fullness is disastrous, yet in my stomach also lies my heart, so the stomach says nothing; it just senses survival and suggests I keep eating and savouring and so simply stores all the nourishment as fat for a long winter famine that will probably never arrive.

So as my gastronomic voyage through Christmas Food comes slowly to an end, and as I boast of plenty and excess, I now want to give thanks for all that I have, which is in every way so much, when I appreciate that there are many who have so little. So I give some food away too, so that other humans and animals may also have a feasting festive Christmas, in what ever place they may be in head, land or heart.

For food, be it Christmas or of any other sort, is love to me and love is always meant to be shared.

With love and burps…

Sandra xXx

PS: As a Christmas Gift, I’m sharing the gifts of my writing and learning to entertain you, make you think and to deepen the Christmas experience in my capsule ebook. A Peachey Christmas is a collection of (previously published) blogs along with new material, gathered into one, gorgeous Christmas capsule…  All you need to do to claim your free electronic copy is to fill out a few details here and then it will wing its’ way back to you.

Letter to Christmas Commercialism

Xmas moneyDear CC

It all starts in September, when friends start saying that they have done all their Christmas shopping already…

And then I start spotting mince pies on supermarket shelves…

Next come the TV adverts… between every programme I am haplessly watching – surely and suddenly I am bombarded with images of happy families sitting at tables heaped with festive fare. There are always crowds of them, but even so, how could they possibly eat their way through all that food?

Also in TV land there are the glamorous women sparkly clad in gorgeous gowns and the handsome men in dinner jackets, unwrapping perfect presents or clinking champagne filled glasses in castles, or suburban semis – with snow on the lawn and privet hedges…

In between the adverts it feels like there is an endless Christmas cavalcade of American made for TV Festive movies, with added smoltz and a cachè of mistletoe kisses; all back lit by snow, instead of sunsets, for the happy protagonists to walk off into…

In the outside world, the shops are playing Christmas hits as I wander around the aisles, skirting round the huge Christmas Tree by the door and trying to ignore the vast tins full of biscuits and chocolates calling to me softly from the shelves. Then there are all the gift sets – turning ordinary every day items into the boxed and cellophaned extraordinary…

It isn’t even December yet and still celebrities start flicking on switches that illuminate town centres with wattage and bright bulbs, flashing loud lights at me to heighten my Christmas consciousness.

I visit my favourite restaurants and suddenly turkey is on the menu and the prices have doubled. I try buy to a drink at the bar and Christmas people heave and jostle in order to fill themselves with Christmas spirit/s and get in my way.

It’s CHRISTMAS!!! Except that it isn’t… Not yet any way… Around about early November I always have a comic concern that my Christmas spirit will be worn out by mid December. This means that in my house, the tree will not go up and decorations cannot be hung until the week before the 25th, and then must be religiously un-decked on Twelfth Night.

And as much as I love shopping, love presents (giving and receiving), love parties and feasting and all that a merry mercantile Christmas entails, I’m still not sure how I feel about the constant and cunning commercialisation of it all…

For Christmas is actually a religious declaration that for Christians, our saviour – God’s own son, was born of man, in a stable. A stable with a bright star above, illuminating the camel tracks of the wise men, travelling towards Bethlehem, there to venerate the Messiah.

The Messiah, then a baby, who became the man who preached and created miracles and is known to us through the New Testament and contemporary historical accounts. Jesus who was born a Jew and so from Judaism a separatist group created Christianity, an entity which changed and ended the lives of millions upon millions of people.

Christmas was and is the celebration of Christ’s Mass, replacing a previously pagan rite of passage – a celebration to mark the end of the cold dark nights of winter, and the slow, Spring lengthening of day light hours, with its’ re-awakening of nature’s bounty.  This ritual, during those ancient druid times, was a feast to forget the frozen famine.

The Christmas we westerners experience now, in our corners of the round globe, with its’ trees, presents and mulled wine ambience, started forming its self in relatively recent history – being just a few hundred years old. From Christ Mass it morphed in to ‘Merry Christmas’ after two millennia of worship and reverence. In fact, for so many, Easter was and is, a more important celebration – the resurrection of Christ, rather than his birth.

So now I am experiencing a Commercial Christmas – an experience which I simultaneously relish and reject. And when I think of candle lit Christmases, with a chorus of carolling, accompanied by candy and cake, somehow cold, hard cash seems at odds with the sentiment of peace, love and good will to all men (women and children).

At the root of it all is a deep down, inherent discomfort of buying and so it follows, with selling. As a business woman I choose to sell to live and I have had to learn that selling services is a good thing. I couldn’t pay the bills with my coaching and professional support if I gave it away for free. And because I am a creature of constant contradiction, at times I find this joyful and times I find it difficult.

So it feels like Christmas has the same inherent contradiction – Christian versus commercial… So I admit that to myself and by doing so turn it in to a simple fact, and a choice, rather than a concern.

And you know this is the world that I both live in and have had a hand in creating… For years I have shopped and wrapped and watched and feasted and carolled. And still now I do all these things… to a degree; yet recently I find that I have scaled down and pared back… I don’t put pressure on myself to conform. Rather I confirm and affirm what Christmas is to me and for me.

It is a time to connect – I love how Christmas brings families together from streets or continents apart and means that I catch up with friends near and far, by touch or by Christmas card.

I like feasting and socialising and believe in marking time and occasion, so Christmas is a perfect concentration of love, laughter and celebration for me.

I have had a life time of being a Material Girl, who has loved her stuff and populated her life with things. I love giving and receiving too and find – slowly and naturally, that I am now more about giving my time and energy, rather than a thing – beautifully wrapped and soon forgotten about…

And after all the Merry Christmas madness, for me – it is time to slow down, to rest and relax for a while. Time to contemplate a year in my life and all it has bought me and what I have learnt from it. And then it will be time to welcome in a New Year – to contemplate, to plan, to prioritise and then dream through the pregnant possibilities of the months to come.

So, after all the shopping and socialising, it will be time to be slow, to both step into and sleep through my Christmas; this being partly Christian, partly commercial and all me.

And so, Commercial Christmas, farewell…

Yours (maybe)


PS: This year, as a Christmas Gift, I’m sharing the gifts of my writing and learning to entertain you, make you think and to deepen the Christmas experience in my capsule ebook. A Peachey Christmas is a collection of (previously published) blogs along with new material, gathered into one, gorgeous Christmas capsule…  All you need to do to claim your free electronic copy is to fill out a few details here and then it will wing its’ way back to you.

PPS: And here is the perfect Christmas irony – I am now being unashamedly Commercial – as Christmas comes round and you are thinking of a gorgeous gift, a collection of the ‘Peachey Letters’ from this blog have been gathered together, along with new material, in book form.  It makes the perfect present, for you, family and friends… You can buy Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on my website here or from Amazon (in Paperback and Kindle), and from all good book websites around the world…

Letter to Christmas ‘Let Down’

Xmas broken

Dear Fiend

This I remember:
It was Christmas day. I was seven or so. And I was curled up in a wet self pitying ball, upstairs on the bed, crying my girlish heart out.

My mother was being mean. She was angry because I wouldn’t eat the food she had made for Christmas dinner. I was a fussy eater and didn’t like most of the things on my plate…

So I was shouted at and sent away from the table with the things I actually wanted – the fizzy pop and the Christmas crackers and cake. My presents were taken off me. I was smacked and sent upstairs. Mean… Horrible… Not fair!

I was crying because Mummies are not meant to be mean on Christmas Day. Not that any one had ever told me that, but to my seven year old mind, she had definitely broken a real and sacrosanct rule… The same rule that applies on birthdays and other such high days and holidays. It seems that I have always had a sense of occasion, that I came into this world with my own ready little rule book. And now that book had red ink and tears all over it…

How strange that I can remember nothing else about that day, just me, crying alone – my memory now fixated on the anguished unfairness of it all, rather than the presents or what was on TV, or what I was wearing, or where my father and brother were.

I know that I was sent to my room, but instead went to my father’s bedroom, to cry alone on his bed, covered in his books and newspapers and now with me. Clearly my mother was no respecter of any rule book – for she had moved out of that bed long ago, too. Mean! Instead I had to share a room with her and since I hated her right then, and it was the only small rebellion I could wreak, I snuck into dad’s place instead.

So I had already created, expected and anticipated my Christmas Day… A day of gifts, of playing, of chocolate and of unalloyed seasonal happiness. Yet here I was, alone and sobbing salty tears. All my rules had been broken, stamped on, repudiated…

And my memory funnels in on that scene… Takes the plain pain and rolls it around, spiralling it into a blur of pity, anger and loathing. A memory of Christmas Past, hardly a happy yule tide Christmas card scene of carolling, chocolately warmth and wonder…

My mother never was a great respecter of my unspoken seasonal rules. At times it felt like she was on a mission to destroy and stamp out the seasonal glow, forgetting all about goodwill to all men, women and especially children… And following Christmas, I remember how New Years Eve was always marked by my parents, with a flaming, screaming row; which I listened to, sitting it out on the stairs and which I always blame, blame, blamed my mother for…

Now I see how the ball of expectation and emotion that is created around Christmas can explode like a broken bauble, sending white hot shards outwards like mis-directed fireworks, or indeed implode inwards, passing sharp shards of depression and grief into hearts, fed by the bonfires of what should and could be a special tide marked time. An anticipated seasonal glow, turned inside out to saturnal, pagan darkness.  And my parents, especially my mother, had no other known way of expressing the stress, of coping, of changing…

Suddenly I sit back from this fogged, festive focus and take note of what is going on with me…

Just lately… I have been tired and busy and changing the direction of my life… I have had an imagination of what Christmas is meant to be for me and how it will absolutely fail to add up to that equated expectation. So I dive into the depths of a warm, sludgey, familiar pit of self pity.  Then I swim around in its’ treacly waters, sometimes immersing myself deep down into it and then choking in its’ cloudy depths, and often grabbing hold of any one around me and trying to pull them in.  Or instead, scrabbling desperately back up the smooth sides, all on my own…

But then the light comes to me and I see a ladder – the way out of my woman sized bowl of pity soup, and suddenly I climb upwards, swiftly and smoothly; then once up and over the rim, I start to focus differently…

I see this all the time, with friends who dread this time of year and all the effort it involves. All the choosing, wrapping, cooking, visiting and social compliance. I see it with clients who have associations of loved ones lost, and the feeling multiplied by having to relive the seasonal associations of the original trauma.

And I see me – since the tired, dark part of my brain tells me I lack and I want and there is a dearth of all that is dear to me.

But that doesn’t add up. I have so much. I live a crazily amazing life. I admit that it is not exactly where I want it to be right now, but so what?! My brain had blinded me to the actual brightness of my life and led me back into my habitual pattern of woe.

So I repeat to myself the litany of love that I have learnt – to choose to see the light, even when I can’t feel it. To explore the facets and features of what I have and who I am. To celebrate what I done, every step I have taken, every word I have uttered – good, bad or indifferent. To be grateful for everything that has bought me to this time and place – yes, grateful for everything.

And so too it follows that I can create my own Christmas – to revel in it, and plan for it to Santa suit me. And in suiting me – being happy and fulfilled – I get to share the true glowing spirit of Christmas, and be at my simple best and show the shine to those around me too.

So then I remember who I really am and what I have really got, and then too, I can remember who I was, at another past point in time…

This means that I can turn the direction of fate and recollection and re-spin it into something new for the me of now, since the fussy childhood eater that hated her food and got into trouble with her mother, loves Christmas feasts – loves preparing, sharing and eating them.  So I am in no longer ‘in trouble’ with the mother that isn’t here any more – to shout or to smile…

As I started with a childhood Christmas memory, so shall I end my letter on one too…

I was five years old…  It was the only Christmas Day I can remember, in all my life, where snow lay on the ground…

The family walked to church to celebrate Christmas and enjoy the spectacle of the newly fallen snow… My elder and longer legged brother strode ahead on the urban pavements of our early life, whilst I ran in fast, small steps, trying vainly to catch up with him, and knowing too that my parents were safely in sight behind me.

In the snow I could clearly see tracks and decided that they were made by Santa Claus and his reindeer. I had on my smartest dress and my only coat and crunched through the sparkling morning snow in my wellington boots. Inside the church, with its’ festive flowers and organ music, I sang and prayed along with the Barbie doll that Santa had bought me only that morning. My beautiful, well dressed companion was enjoying all my attention as I held her proudly in front of me. When we sat to listen to the sermon, I folded her limbs neatly onto my lap, in to a right angle of complicity. And later when we got home, the beautiful purple shoes and neat little handbag that adorned her slim, blonde Barbie self, would soon be lost, along with the happy memory of that day.

Lost and now re-found – my newest recalled old memory. And with a happier, lighter heart, I choose that memory, the shining spirit of Christmas past, rather than its’ darker, shadier ghosts…

It is time now to expect and accept my Christmas, so that from ‘Let Down’, I ‘let go’ instead – to a cliché of love, life and of course, Christmas…

With Mistletoe kisses, from


A forgetful, remembering believer… xXx

PS: As Christmas comes round and you are thinking of a gorgeous gift, a collection of the ‘Peachey Letters’ from this blog have been gathered together, along with with new material, in book form.  It makes the perfect present, for you, family and friends… You can buy Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on my website here or from Amazon (in Paperback and Kindle), and from all good book websites around the world…

Letter to Christmas Malady

Xmas Heart Bauble

Dear Christmas Malady

So we here we are and as I write this I have a pounding headache, I’m oh so tired and my muscles ache… Basically I’m suffering from a seasonal condition called C.A.D… Christmas Affective Disorder…

Every where I go, I meet people who are similarly afflicted – sniffing and croaking and bravely battling against Christmas maladies, afflictions, conditions, illnesses, or what ever label you choose to stick on them…

So this is Sickmas and what have we done to deserve this disease?  Why is this when now should be the time to rest and rejoice and yet our bodies rebel and implode instead?

So many Christmases I have spent with a box of tissues by my elbow, with antibiotics, paracetamol and a ready cupboard full of medicines, that I wonder what provokes this, and why it is such a part of the common Christmas experience of so many fellow sufferers..?

Could it be the mystery of the change of season?  Winter comes in, bringing chill and ice and fog… does it permeate the bodies of creatures – even human ones, who should slow down and find a form of hibernation, instead of speeding and shopping and labouring and living too hard for the time of year?

Without realising it, thinking we are modern and hardy and masters of the planet, we are still prone to the time of year… so as the seasons slow, so should we too??  In many ways we do… I have endless conversations with female friends about how the cold and dark inspire us to stay indoors more; to love the cosiness of winter clothes – to retreat to our caves until the spring sunshine beckons us outdoors again.

And it is as if we are attacked with illnesses – the viruses and germs coercing with nature to force us to slow down and lie down, swaddled in blankets – to take seasonal care of ourselves.  It is as if our bodies allow the onslaught so that we store and nurture our energy for the new year to come.

Yet here is the thing… Christmas for so many of us means to speed up, to run around, to work at playing… To travel; to shovel food and drink of Christmas excess into our bodies… To please, to chatter, to try, to cook, to wrap, to run, to share, to please…

And ‘to please’ turns to disease… Otherwise known as dis-ease – an unbalance, a causal effect wreaked on our systems, as we humans ignore nature’s balance.  Yet as earth’s children and creatures we must survive – we cannot stop completely, we must keep the wheels of the world turning and feed the body; and so in our 20th Century brains, we would not reckon on being slaves to the rhythms of season and solstice.

Yet our ancestors knew.  Our pagan parents knew when the solstice turned the tide towards longer and lighter days; and this feasting time began back then – not as the Mass of Christ, but a feast of celebration for the end of the dark winter era; of moving back towards the light, of quickening and growth and the start of a new cycle of seasons…

And our bodies still have this history imprinted in them – we respond to moon and weather – whether consciously or not, and so Sickmas is a reminder of this natural fact.

And could Christmas, itself, make us sick??  Could it be that all this expectation and energy expended into a seasonal and universal mass celebration turns in on itself and attacks us when we are wintered down?

Or is it simply that we know that there is a ‘slow’ (time) coming, that we can be ill and therefore still, and so let the latent stress and illness that has been lurking and kept at bay by busyness, creep out into the open, presenting itself to be healed and cosseted and given its’ due attention?

I believe that it is all of these things and that the knowing or not, probably does not make an iota of difference, quite literally to how we feel.  That is the mystery of malady…

So the Solstice is turning now and as the lengthening day light calls us to a new year, let’s choose comfort and healing and cosiness, choose them over the rat race and speed and effort and electric light.

And in accepting and surrendering to this so called seasonal ‘suffering’, most of all, let’s accept ourselves and not dwell with the devil of disease, but simply be, and to simply let our hearts accept the message that the season and our bodies are telling us… that it is time to slow and to heal and most of all to love… as well as to celebrate.

Yours with sweet surrender


PS: To admit to a Christmas Cliché – the published version of my Peachey Letters will  make you feel better and be a perfect present too, ALL year round… A collection of the Letters from this blog have been gathered together, along with new material, into book form.  It makes the perfect present, for you, family and friends… You can buy Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on my website here or from Amazon (in Paperback and Kindle), and from all good book websites around the world…