I am having to work double-time at hope this year. Fall was busy for my business, so I hopefully embarked on building an online store (with the help of at least two other people). I promoted holiday gift ideas for weeks, and then: There were no sales during my Small Business Saturday through Cyber Monday promotion. None. Nada. Zilch. I didn’t exactly expect to get rich during that promotion, but at the same time I didn’t expect to have a lot of views of the store that led to absolutely no sales. I understand that these things take time when they are new, but I still felt deflated and disappointed. I even allowed a few of those, “Maybe I should give this whole thing up,” kind of thoughts.

After that disappointment, I bounced between dropping into total despair and being tempted to numb the discomfort with the season’s twinkly lights, eggnog and holiday cookies. Instead, I’m telling myself this week, after what seems like a big failure, that this is a perfect opportunity to practice hope in this Advent season. Advent includes the four Sundays in the Christian calendar leading up to and preparing us for the birth of Jesus at Christmas. The lighting of the four Advent candles is a meditation on peace, hope, joy and love. We lift up these practices in our hearts through candles, prayers and meditations, just when peace, hope, joy and love seem shortest in supply.

I may not be feeling particularly hopeful right now, but I can still choose hope. I can choose to learn from failure, pick myself up, try again in a new way. Or maybe, just maybe, this moment of failure is an opportunity to envision what I do in an entirely new way.

I don’t recognize that new way yet, but I have to keep working to recognize it. In Jesus’ time, no one expected a king to be born to young, poor Jewish parents in a stable in a tiny, forgotten town in Roman-occupied lands. In the Gospel of Matthew, word gets out that a child, prophesied to become king, was being born soon. This information threatened the Roman powers, and Herod, the Roman client king of Judea, ordered all the firstborn boys to be slaughtered. Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus flee and escape. That doesn’t sound like a very hopeful beginning, does it?

I bet there was hope along the way, though. Hope in the kindness of an innkeeper who gives a young couple his last space in a stable to have their baby.Wise men from the east coming to pay homage to this new little miracle in swaddling clothes. Angels warning the family to escape before the baby is killed. 

Hope and discomfort always go hand in hand. For me, I may not have gotten any sales during that holiday promotion, but I did set a record for visits to my website.

What are you despairing about this season? Take a moment to feel it. Then also feel into the aspects of the situation that are hopeful. That hope is the real deal – not the sparkly lights, cookies and eggnog.

Rest, renewal and ritual will help you practice hope this holiday season. You are always welcome to join me for my weekly restorative yoga and meditation class Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m. ET. Try your first class for free!

I’m also offering some additional opportunities to spark hope with restorative yoga and meditation in this holiday season: 

  • Sundays, Nov. 28-Dec. 19, 7:30-8:30 p.m. EST – Sparking Hope: Mindful Advent Yoga Series (Donation class. Proceeds go to Community  Refugee and Immigration Services of Ohio.)
  • Dec. 31, 1-3 p.m. EST – Starting with Hope: New Years Eve Restorative Yoga/Meditation.

These practices are designed to help you choose hope in what may seem like entirely bleak times. Register for all these practices on my events page.