Warning: The Holidays Are Fast Approaching

The holidays are coming.

At times, these four words fill me with dread, and yet this is supposed to be a happy time. All the cards and commercials say so.

And yet, it’s not. For so many reasons, the holidays are filled with angst and heartache. More often they are filled with the need to do more and have more, be everywhere.

As this is often the case, one of the struggles we tend to have is that we are a blended family and trying to keep everyone happy is a juggling act that defies reason.

I wrote about this last year in my post, Slow Down and Breathe. The steps I wrote then are absolutely still valid, so I am giving them to you again. I hope you find them helpful this year.

Life is about creating balance, and the following thoughts may help you find balance and achieve holiday peace.

Thoughts to Holiday Peace

1. Plan Ahead: Keep your calendar updated so you can see what is coming. Know what needs to happen and is expected at each event to reduce the surprises. For example, if you must make a dish-to-pass for every party, you will need to find the recipes (or several, as is my case) then you can plan and pick up all the ingredients for the recipe ahead of time.

2. Reduce the “Events”: Not every holiday party or even is a “must” attend. Decide which ones are the most important and go only to these. Not everyone will understand, but you must take care of you. Attempting to attend every event is a recipe for exhaustion.

3. Reduce Gifting: Although there seems to be a competition for the biggest, better than last year, gift-giving season, this can create pressure, stress, and, of course, debt. For the most part, we have what we need – for some, we have too much. Do we really need that next gadget? Do my kids really need that “must have” toy?

4. Take Time for Yourself: Do things for yourself like long baths, nights out with your partner, or alone time. Have fun. It’s so difficult to give and give, without taking the time to recharge yourself. The exhaustion and burnout can make for an unpleasant holiday season.

5. Breathe: Just 5 minutes each morning of deep breathing can set the tone for the entire day. Breathing can detoxify your system, lower your stress and help you sleep better at night.

Other Thoughts

I will be talking about creating balance in your life in the following weeks. Balance isn’t something you achieve all at once; some say one can never find balance. In a sense that may be true, however, being aware of when and where your life gets thrown out of balance is powerful. Once you can see where that imbalance is in your life, you can make choices to improve.

Choice is important when seeking balance. Without it, each of us is subject to the whims of life. Not that things still won’t come up, by actively seeking a balance and making the best choices for that present moment will help you move through whatever bump in the road you may encounter.

I hope you have the Holiday season you are seeking. In whatever form that takes.

Angela

www.achoekwater.com

A Perfectly, Imperfect Wedding and The Return to Writing

It’s been a while. The summer flew by so quickly it is difficult to believe that we are officially into fall. Yet, here we are.

A Perfectly, Imperfect Wedding

Much of the past few months have been focused on my daughter’s wedding. I’d forgotten how much work planning a wedding can be. Even when you attempt to plan for every contingency, something always happens. Like, wardrobe malfunctions and insane weather.

Wardrobe Malfunctions

Turns out I forgot one of the main items to have on hand for weddings: Safety pins.

Really?

Yes, one of the zippers broke on one of the bridesmaids’ dresses and she had to be sewn into it.

Safety pins would have saved the day.

Insane Weather

Now, if you live in Michigan, September generally means some seriously beautiful weather. The days tend to be warm, but not too warm and the nights cool enough for sweatshirts. September and October days tend to be the gift just before winter hits and reminds us that we should all move south.

But, not this year.

No, this year we have had insane weather and not just in Michigan. At the time of this writing, a hurricane is barreling toward North Carolina. Marie is her name and she is the 4th or 5th one to hit the US and it’s territories.

Hurricanes tend to change the weather in other parts of the country and when there are so many in a row, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we, here in Michigan would be affected too.

I must confess I didn’t really look at the weather forecast much in the week before the wedding. I worried mostly about rain as our contingency plan would have to be implemented.

A couple of days before the wedding, temps began to climb. By Thursday before the big day, we were seeing highs in the 80’s. On Friday, the thermometer reached 90 degrees.

A fun fact: on Friday, September 22, the 2nd hottest place in the United States was Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, about an hour away from where the wedding would be held.

Needless to say, on the day of the wedding, temps hovered around 94 or 95 degrees, with humidity.

We didn’t plan for the heat and it affected so much.

The show must go on and so it did.

In spite of the heat, the wedding was beautiful. Everyone seemed to have a good time.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not happy that it is over. I’m just so ready to get back to real life.

A Return to Writing

I’ve been absent from my writing for some time. I’m not even sure when I posted the last time. Apparently, it’s difficult to stay focused on goals when planning a wedding.

But I am back and slowly building my writing habits again, which includes publishing blog posts regularly.

Slow is a relative term.

As we have reached the fall season, I am not surprised that NaNoWriMo is coming. That means I have deadlines to meet and a novel to plan.

I need to spend October planning or something close to it. All I have is a character in mind. Not much else. This should be fun.

So, there you have it. My life in less than 600 words. I am grateful for all of my readers and the chance to share these words with you.

As I close, I leave you with this cuteness:

Abel refused to take his hat off.



The Simplest Form of Radical Self-Care

The term Radical Self-Care has been rattling around in my brain for a couple of weeks. I listened to a TED talk given by Anne Lamont called 12 truths I learned from life and writing and since then I can’t get the words out of my head. Even though I often think about how to incorporate self-care into my life, attaching the word radical has taken on new meaning.

Self-care is one of those buzz words that gets thrown around a lot. We receive so many messages every day including: eat better, sleep better, daily exercise, and learn to meditate. The amount of information can be overwhelming but there is a simple way to radical self-care.

Consider the following:

When we take a flight, one of the first of the safety instructions is that if the oxygen masks come down, be sure to put your own on first before helping any others, including your own children.

The reason to put your own mask on first is that if you wait and help everyone else, you may not survive.
I think this is the very definition of radical self-care: You must take care of yourself first or you won’t survive.

Not surviving comes in many forms. Exhaustion, depression and anxiety, medicating either through established avenues such as your doctor or through self-medicating, and whole host of other things that numb us to our true feelings.

Who loses when you don’t take care of yourself?

Just like in the airplane example: you, your children, anyone around you that could have been helped if only you would have taken the time to make sure you were okay first.

Your health and sanity are just a couple of things that you jeopardize by not taking care of yourself.

And, why don’t we take better care of ourselves?

I’m quite certain there are many reasons but the ones that resonate with me are the following:

Societal expectations – this is the one that simply says that everyone else must come first.

Guilt – because we’ve learned that everyone else comes first we feel guilty for even wanting to take care of ourselves and that is a powerful deterrent.

Time – though is an excuse, life gets busy and because you’ve put yourself last, you’ve become convinced that there is no time to take care of yourself.

Expectations – as a perfectionist, I struggle with doing everything the “right” way.

Hint: there is no right way.

What can we do?

Here comes the simplest way to radical self-care. Are you ready for it?

The simplest and, yet, most radical form of self-care is to say NO.

Saying yes to everything that presents itself to you saying no to you. I often tell friends and clients that no is a complete sentence. No explanations necessary. By saying yes to taking care of yourself and no to others, you are one step closer to that life you want.

Really!?!?

I said it was simple, I didn’t say it was easy. Saying no is one of the most difficult things to do but one of the most empowering.

I dare you to try it. Especially with those requests that you’ve said yes to and immediately wished you could have said no.

I dare you to take care of yourself first and see how much better you are for your family, friends, work and life.

I dare you!