For the Holidays: Change can be Empowering!

Christmas SasquatchEditor’s Note: This article was contributed by Kate Maleski, LCSW-R and EWN psychotherapist.

For some finding and creating emotional safety may not come easily or naturally. You may not have grown up with a loving supportive family or learned how to stay connected to your own heart. It may take some time and effort to find that safe emotional place during this holiday season.

Holiday time can stir up memories of loss, turmoil, regret and you find yourself faced with emotional chaos. It is very important to nurture your own emotional strength.

One way to help with this is to make your own memories. This year is the year to do something different. Whether it is bringing a new dish to the table or something small you can do to change things up.

Follow your heart and start some new traditions. Introduce some new activities, try a new recipe, or go someplace you’ve never been before! You can choose to embrace the change of traditions, especially if some of them weren’t all that meaningful for you in the first place.

You can hold onto the past that is important to you but also create your own new memories for your present and future. This may allow you to find a sense of strength and safety when faced with any holiday stress.

You can be responsible for your own safety and happiness by following your heart and making changes.

Below is one of my favorite poems showing that change can be empowering.

“There Is a Hole in My Sidewalk”

An Autobiography in Five Short Chapters, By Portia Nelson

Chapter One

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in.

I am lost…I am helpless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend that I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in this same place. But, it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep whole in the sidewalk. I see it is there.

I still fall in…it’s a habit…but,

My eyes are open

I know where I am

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

Chapter Four

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

Chapter Five

I walk down another street.

Photo courtesy of Photo Dean via Flickr


  • Thank you so much for reminding me of this profoundly important ‘hole in the street’ lesson! And also for the wise advice to “do something different” this year. Reminds me of an experience observed during my years working in hospice/palliative care.

    Our bereavement counsellors hosted an annual pre-Christmas talk about getting through that first holiday season after a death in the family. Two widows struck up a conversation over coffee after the event, each one exhausted and dreading their traditional upcoming role as the chef of the huge Family Feast. One said to the other: “You know, what I’ve always dreamed about was flying off to Hawaii for Christmas…”

    Next thing you know, these two strangers were all over this idea – and they ended up in Waikiki for Christmas week instead of slaving over their respective turkeys with their (astonished!) families.

    They had a blast together! On the following Christmas, they were back to cooking the turkey at home, but for that one special holiday, they did something they’d never done before – and it worked.


  • Kate, This is such a helpful post. Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to do something differently, especially when people around us might balk! I love, love, LOVE Portia Nelson’s poem! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

  • Kate Maleski

    Thank you for your comments. Carolyn, I really appreciate you sharing your story.

  • […] Check out For the Holidays: Change can be Empowering! […]

  • This is a great article about the holidays! I really like Portia Nelson’s poem. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kate Maleski

    Steve, thank you.

  • […] For the Holidays: Change can be Empowering! […]


Leave a comment


Email(will not be published)*


Your comment*

Submit Comment

© Copyright Explore Whats Next - Designed by Pexeto