This weekend I had a chance to participate in a socially conscious Christmas market. Every booth offered goods going directly to support local and global organizations that help people in need. I bought things in support of local women’s care and refugee assistance as well as women and children who have been rescued from sex trafficking in India.

Breathe key

One of my favorite things was a gift to myself, a new key necklace. The company, The Giving Keys, employs men and women transitioning out of homelessness. The employees hand-engrave the necklaces for sale. The keys each carry a word of encouragement like Strength, Hope, or Dream. You choose the word that most represents your needs at the moment and wear it to remind and inspire you. Then, eventually, when that season has passed and you meet someone else who needs it more than you, you pass the key and its word on to that person.

I chose the word BREATHE. It speaks to what my life looks like at the moment. In fact, I told the woman at the booth, that I might not ever be ready to hand my key off to another. She laughed and said most people felt that way but there is always an “Ah-ha” moment when they pass the encouragement forward.

It occurs to me that almost any mom facing today’s world need this reminder on a daily basis. Especially around this time of year, events and expectations come flying at us from every direction. It’s hard enough to just stay on your feet, let alone manage everyone else’s requests. So, while I can’t reach out and pass on my key to you, I pass forward the encouragement anyway.

Don’t forget to Breathe.

When the kids get out of school early and your to do list stretches past your arm …

Breathe.

When work, family, school, and life all want pieces of you until you feel like a slice of Swiss cheese …

Breathe.

When you feel the weight of guilt and shame at the thought of what you “should” do…

Breathe.

In the small space, as you breathe, remember

… that your care and concern mean more and last longer than any present you could wrap.

… that a messy, undecorated house is still a home that can shelter and gather.

… that your kids love you, as you are.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, or Festivus, remember to be kind to yourself. Breathe and pass the reminder to others around you.