Holiday Affirmations: Day 8

It’s tempting to go, “On x date, I will do all my baking/holiday shopping/etc.” This is particularly troublesome for me, because I was hardwired from my school days to go, “I can wait until the last minute and pass. No problem.” But life isn’t reading “Lord of the Flies” the night before a test. There’s more to it. Break down your tasks into small bite-sized pieces and work a little each day. That way, if x date rolls around and you can’t do ALL THE THINGS, you’re not left in the lurch. Your brain also builds up a momentum, and you can actually get more done rather than doing nothing and then trying to cram it all together. Don’t get overwhelmed. You got this.

Holiday Affirmations: Days 6 and 7

Yesterday, our power went out very unexpectedly. And it wasn’t just the ‘oh 5 minutes weh’ kind of outage. It was hours of darkness. However, this made things all the more inspiring because it made me realize that you can’t plan for everything this time of year. All you can do is pick back up once the dust settles. Fight back against discouragement. It’s going to be okay. The light will return.


December is interesting because not only do we have the holidays but there’s the double-whammy of ‘this is the end of the year.’ There’s a feeling of finality. And that’s not always good, because it’s easy to go, “God, I didn’t get done x, y or z.” We come across that list of resolutions and realize that maybe we’re the same weight or we still don’t do our laundry before we run out of clean clothes. Don’t get lost in the past. Be present in this moment. Make it count.

Holiday Affirmations: Day 2

Not every day is going to be packed with good will or even productivity. There will be bad days, even during the season where it seems like everything should be red and green and silver and gold 24/7. Try to be present. When bad things happen, acknowledge them for what they are – seconds, minutes, hours – and then, move on and make the decision to feel the way you want to feel.

Holiday Affirmations: Day 1

During December, I’m going to share 30 small affirmations/mantras/whatever you want to call them to help people feel good during this time of year. I love the holidays, but I also know it can be fraught with stress and anxiety and not-so-great tidings. I hope these help you. You deserve it.

It’s okay to not be “in the spirit” as soon as December rolls around. You don’t have to immediately be in the ‘deck the halls’ mode, nor do you have to compete against anyone else for how important the holiday season is. You do you, at your pace. You get to decide what this all means, ultimately.

Aftermath!

Phew, guys. That’s all I can say. Phew.

These past two months have been absolutely crazy-go-nuts. In November, I did NaNoWriMo (and won!). In the middle of that was Thanksgiving, which is a big cooking holiday for us, and then everything from Black Friday until, like, this past Saturday was…Christmas.

Christmas, with the making of gifts for friends and family.

Christmas, with the enjoyment of music and movies.

Christmas, with the traveling and visiting (we live in Pittsburgh and our families live in Maryland and Southern Virginia).

Christmas, with the scheduling of all of the above.

And now New Years is in spitting distance, and I’m holding my head like…what just happened and why is 2015 ending I can’t even.

I’m not sure why, but the combination fried rice of making, doing, seeing, being and working has made my brain feel like it’s pretty much just that: scrambled egg in soft grain. With peas and carrots. I can tell that I’ve reached my limit because all my anxiety which is normally just sort of simmering beneath the surface is erupting all Old-Faithful style. This comparison works because Old Faithful is more like Anything But, because it’s not easy to predict when it’s going to happen.

My anxiety manifests itself in obsessive thinking patterns, over-analyzing, and Way Too Big Picture questioning. I get in bed, and I ask my husband, “Do you think I’m where I’m supposed to be? I’m so old. What am I doing? I’m pretty sure the world is ending.” These are not things that one should be thinking about before they sleep. In fact, my anxiety created this bizarre dream in which a Jason Momoa lookalike berated me at length – about my appearance, my life choices, what I was doing with myself.

It is safe to say I woke up confused, perturbed and hurt.

The post-holiday letdown is something I know that other people deal with too. We get so, so wrapped up in the season that when it’s all over, you end up looking around like, “Okay! What’s next?” And the answer is a big slap in the face by baby new year.

So, y’all, if you’re anything like me…be good to yourself right now. Take everything a little bit at a time. Create a to do list and commit to taking care of just one thing every day. Get sleep. Eat well, even when the anxiety demons are all, “Dip the chocolate bar IN the Speculos spread!”

You’ll feel a hell of a lot better in a week. I know it.

Chill

If there is one thing I always feel like imparting to people, that I try to tell people that they can do, that I wish I could have told myself some number of years back, it’s this: chill.

It’s December, and I live near a very popular mall in the Pittsburgh area. As I was driving home from getting my car inspected, I watched a long line of cars get progressively longer on the way down the highway, heading toward the exit. I could read in the way people were driving – with stiff jerks, quick breaks, and wiggly swerves – that tensions were growing between two groups: the people trying to get to the mall and the people trying to get away from it.

If you let people get under your skin, you’ll never survive. Not right now and not in the future.

If you allow the persnickety voices in your head to snipe at you, you’ll lose your mind.

If you refuse to take a breath and remember that none of this will kill you and all of this shall pass, you’re going to die.

Okay, that last one is a bit dramatic. But have you seen the studies about getting stressed to death? Scary stuff!

And don’t think me a paragon of virtue (or do — and tell me all about it, in flowery detail!). This topic came to me because while I sat in the Ford waiting room – one of my favorite waiting rooms; does that sound crazy? – I took out a notebook to try to diagram out what was making me feel so overwhelmed recently. I had been feeling aimless. Stuck. I didn’t know why. So of course I was expecting needing some great amount of time to dissect all my inner turmoil and problematic scramble of ideas, mismanaged priorities and opportunities that had fallen to the wayside.

I was done in about…twenty minutes. And I was left, laughing to myself as I loaded up Hulu, going, “Uh. I was really built up over nothing.”

None of it is a big deal.

So there we go, folks. Which are you going to be? The serene Ford Focus that passed its inspection and is taking its time heading home while listening to Pinkerton, even if it make take an extra ten minutes? Or the honk-happy Buick who almost slammed into an elderly couple because if it had to wait through the light one more time, it was going to have a hernia?

Your choice.

Happy Holidays! (5 Things Happening Right Now Because Geez)

Hi, guys. Did Thanksgiving zip by you, too? Because it did for me. All of a sudden I looked up and it was Monday. Now, I’m out of leftovers and losing my mind. Also, doing these things:

1. Christmas. Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. I love this time of the year. Everything about it makes me a warm buttery ball of happy. I am working on gifts and donations and foodieness and decorations and, and, and, and!! So much Christmas, so little time.

2. Rats. I am adopting three rats. I’ve settled on the names Moby, Oreo (shut up, Brett*) and Chu. They are adorable and I am so very excited to have them joining my family. And I found this short essay which explains why you need rat people in your life, too.

3. I’m going to a talk about positivity tonight with one of my best friends. It’s all about creating a more vibrant life and feeling powerful and alive. I’m looking forward to going.

4. Tomorrow starts a special holiday series of How to Have a Day Job. It’s not too late to join the fun and figure out how to:

  • Enjoy the holidays without getting burned out.
  • Juggle festivities with responsibilities.
  • Take stock of what is important about this festive time of the year without losing sight of it behind a massive pile of work.

So click here and sign up already!

5. Christmas! Did I mention that already?! It’s enough to count for two!

*Brett is a dear friend of mine who has been around through a few pets, one of the first being a guinea pig named Cheeto. He does not approve of these food-based names. And to that I say ‘nyah.’

Full of Cheer!

Cat in the Hat

A study revealed that 80% of Americans do not like Christmas. They find it a stressful, difficult time of the year in which they feel pressured to buy gifts, fall into debt and spend time with people they don’t like.

I am the 20%.

I love Christmas. There are rarely days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day that I am not doing some small thing to stay in the holiday spirit. I love watching Christmas movies. I love baking. I love looking at cards. I love driving around to see lights. I love seeing the decorations in the city. I love good Christmas music.

But this isn’t a post that’s just me gushing about how much I adore the holiday season (though I do – have I established that well enough?). It’s also for you, dear reader. And that is why I offer to you Five Ways to Stay Creatively Sane During the Holidays.

1. Make sure to schedule in time for yourself. I fall prey every year to my own inability to schedule time appropriately. Looking up, I realize suddenly, “I leave for Virginia in three weeks and my weekends are booked – oh god!” And there are gifts to wrap, confections to sugar up, people to see and… Don’t be like me. Give yourself the gift of even twenty minutes a day to recharge and work on something.

2. Forgive yourself. I already know that I’m not going to be terribly productive this month. And you know what? I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I know that come January I will be back at the bag, and I know that I’ll at least tinker with a few things here and there. I’m not setting myself up for failure. Not for the next few weeks anyway.

3. Journal. I don’t jump on the journal wagon nearly as much as I should. This is a super stressful time of the year, and it’s easy to feel like you’re one of those cartoon characters that’s just gotten buried under a comically huge snow drift. When that’s happening, go into a small room with a notebook, close the door and write for five minutes. Get it out. Figure out what’s bothering you. You might find it actually doesn’t have anything to do with Aunt Marge or that guy your mom keeps asking you about over Christmas turkey.

4. Do good for others. Give back to your community during the holidays. Whether monetarily or through the gift of time, do something that benefits the human race. It feels great. You’ll feel like a super hero, and they will appreciate it. Even if you never see their face, someone out there is benefiting from your small donation, your willingness to do what’s in your power to make the world a better place. This always leaves me feeling inspired. Karma creativity – who knew?

5. Avoid negativity traps. I’ve been working on this ever since Thanksgiving, and the Internet makes it really, really hard. The horror stories of Black Friday, the griping about consumerism, the bickering about which new holiday gaming system is best…I’m trying not to take part in it. It’s a waste of time and energy you could be using on Ninjabread cookies. As I find myself having my time drained, I’ve started to stop and ask myself, “Does this contribute to who I want to be during this time of the year? Is this making me happy?” If the answers are ‘no,’ I find something else to do.

Happy Holidays!