Finding Happiness in a Tropical Christmas

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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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Finding Happiness in a Tropical Christmas - Christmas spent on a beach

This is the fourth year in a row that I have enjoyed a “tropical Christmas” with family, here on the Southern Gulf Coast of Florida. This is the time of year when I am all about finding happiness through time at the beach, pool and other outdoor adventures.

It has been seventy-five degrees and sunny just about every day that we’ve been here. It’s a palm-tree Christmas, and I am loving it!

Yes, my family gets a traditional Christmas tree, but it’s also a joy to see the tall palm trees that line the entranceway to my parents’ gated condo complex wrapped in Christmas lights. For someone who has lived the majority of her life so far in the Northeast, palm trees always make a place feel quintessentially tropical to me.

The weather has been perfect here so far, and we are taking advantage of it with mini daily adventures.

Finding Happiness in a Tropical Christmas: Christmas Palm trees

Enjoying the Sunshine State!

Since this is my fourth Florida Christmas in a row, I am by now used to having a different kind of “White Christmas.” I have taken some self-portraits in a Santa dress with a backdrop of snow-white sand.

I don’t miss the cold one bit! While I love snow and find it beautiful, I am totally fine with having a warm, tropical Christmas.

It doesn’t feel like “winter” at all down here. Seventy five degrees and sunny just doesn’t equate to “winter” to this girl, who was born in Chicago, grew up in Massachusetts, and now lives in New York. As always, we’re having fun exploring the area, and having outdoor adventures. It’s an easy walk from my parents’ condo to the community pool and hot tub, and we frequent those daily.

Sanibel Island is about 1/2 hour away, and features a wildlife preserve. Over the weekend, we drove out there, and my brother and sister and I rode bikes through the nature preserve.

There was a flock of pelicans and rose-breasted grosbeaks, which are bright pink and which look a lot like flamingos from a distance. My brother is the family’s amateur nature photographer, and he stopped to take a bunch of shots of the birds.

While here for another ten days, there will be kayaking. There will be hiking.

There will be more time spent at Fort Myers Beach, and maybe some rounds of frisbee-golf, which is one of my brother’s favorite sports from his college days.

If I have my way, there will be dancing. I’ll figure out some way to get my dancing on!

Finding Happiness in a Tropical Christmas -- Lisa playing Santa

The Wearing of the Santa Hat in the Tropics

My contribution to this tropical Christmas is to ramp up everyone’s levels of festive spirit by being sure to dress the part. I have basically been wearing a Santa hat since the month of December started, and I don’t plan to take it off until January 1.

For our family Christmas pictures, I convinced my siblings to wear tabletop decorations of shiny green foil Christmas trees as “hats.” The pictures were a smashing success, among our best family Christmas pictures yet. I’d probably walk around wearing strings of flashing lights all the time if I could. I love dressing up, and I love being in the Christmas spirit.

My family was kind enough to humor me and play along!

I pretty much where the Santa hat everywhere I go at this point, including on top of my bike helmet on bike rides; at the gym while working out; in the hot tub; while out to dinner and at the movies. It does tend to do the job of spreading joy.

I generally get several, “Hey Mrs. Santa!” comments and lots of smiles. I am always happy to spread a little more joy everywhere I go. It seems clear to me at least that a Santa hat looks fabulous with a green bikini, and the two were meant to go together during this season of love, light, cheer and joy.

Celebrating the Winter Solstice

We also go to spend the winter solstice here in this “tropical Paradise.” Since it’s the shortest day of the year, and the moment at which the light begins increasing day by day, it’s the perfect time to declare what we are leaving behind, and to launch new beginnings.

I decided that I am done with causing myself unnecessary suffering through the stories I tell about my life. If the stories I am telling about my life are making me suffer, it may be because there are changes I need to make in my life, and it may be because I am just telling bad stories about my life.

More than half the time, we suffer not because of our circumstances, but because of the stories we are telling ourselves about our lives. If you aren’t happy with something in your life, you can do something about it to change it or accept it.

Sometimes however rather than change it or accept it, we live in suffering with circumstances that we’re not willing to accept. Certain things you just cannot change – the past, for example.

Most of the circumstances of our lives can be shifted, but often it takes us coming into acceptance of “what is” in order to make those shifts. So I am practicing telling happy and kind stories to myself about my life, and questioning any negative thoughts or stories that make me suffer.

Life is hard enough at times without causing ourselves additional suffering! I am all for making life as peaceful, joyful and happy as it can possibly be.

I opted to give up wanting my past to be different than it was as well. There are moments in my past there were not such happy moments, and at times I have wished and wished and wished and prayed that I could change that.

The reality however is that my past can never harm me. It’s 100% over. So it’s up to me to create a happy future, and to enjoy the now. That’s all I can do, and that is what I choose to do. It honestly isn’t such a stretch to enjoy a beautiful tropical Florida Christmas with family whose company I enjoy tremendously.

I released the past and the need to suffer for the solstice. I am embracing joy, love, peace and living my highest and best. I choose to live as if I am creating my highest and best reality always, and to trust in this. I know that the rest of my life will be the best years of

my life.

Finding Happiness in a Tropical Christmas  - My family of Christmas Coneheads

There are many fun possibilities in my life right now – wonderful prospects both in terms of work and romance. I’m excited to see what the new year brings.

In the meantime here in Florida, it’s a very happy tropical holiday, especially so knowing that the best is yet to come.

With love and a Merry Tropical Christmas –

Lisa Powell Graham
Make this the year you get happy!

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