I have found out the secret to having the best, most memorable, Martha Stewart level Christmas in the world. This secret applies to other high stress holidays, too.
Are you ready?
I’ve gotten rid of all expectations!
This doesn’t mean that I’ve grumpily announced that no matter what I do, everything will be crappy. That attitude is just not cute and guarantees that you and those around you will have an awful time.
I’m learning to just let things be good enough. When we get too wrapped up in perfection, we get nothing done. So this Christmas, I’m doing the best I can to make it the way I want it to be.
I baked chocolate mint chip cookies and the bottoms were a little burned. They’re still delicious and my neighbors were happy to receive them.
I’ve set up my planner for 2014 and it’s not the perfect system but it’s good enough.
This Saturday is my morning of quiet contemplation. I’m going to spend the time thinking about what themeI want to set for the coming year. I know that next year, like previous years, will be messy, full of mistakes, fabulous times and moments of wondering just where the heck am I headed? And that’s fine! That’s part of the adventure of life.
Do you need help embracing less-than-perfect? Let me know and we’ll map out a game plan together.
On Saturday, my local church offered a day of rest and silent meditation. It was billed as a day of quiet contemplation of Advent and as a way to relax in preparation for the chaos that is (sometimes) Christmas. And as an extra bit of care, hot soup was served.
Unfortunately, despite writing it down, I totally forgot to go.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t do that on my own!
I am going to declare that Saturday, December 21, 2013 from 10am central to 12pm central will be spent in quiet contemplation. And it doesn’t have to be about Advent or anything religious–Christian or otherwise! You don’t have to spend the whole time with me either. Just make a commitment to spend some time (even 10 minutes!) to recharge, and regroup.
Why that Saturday? Well, it’s the one before the Christmas Eve/Christmas Day hoopla. Television commercials are going to be doing their best to whip people into a last minute shopping frenzy and you’ll probably be feeling the crunch to finish up on metaphorical cookie parties.
Join me for a break! Sign up for this campaign below. The week before you’ll get an email of materials around the house to gather. Then the Friday before, I will send you an email filled with ways to meditate, points to ponder and some of my favorite sources.
So sign up and make a commitment to take a break, even if it’s just for a half hour.
This week marks my first Minnesota snow storm. It’s caught us here at the Dojo by surprise and I’m sending up a message of thanks to Amazon’s next day shipping. I spent most of my morning slowly shoveling my snow before things get too crazy.
It was hard work and required more energy than I imagined. Three years ago, I was slowly inching towards the half way point of chemo and it was a very snowy winter in NJ. I could barely hold my head up most days, let alone a shovel.
I had to take many, many, many breaks from hauling and shoveling to catch my breath, steady my heart beats and gather my will. I wanted to quit and I’ve been cursing Jack Frost. I remembered my rock climbing trip and how there were times I wanted to quit. How near to tears I was because I just couldn’t quite find a way to get up the rock wall. But I kept going.
And I’m still going…probably still shoveling as well.
Happy December! I am so very proud to announce that on November 29th, I won National Novel Writing Month! I gave up earlier in the week thinking that I just wouldn’t be able to write any more but I pulled through! I don’t think I would have been able to do it with out my collection of notebooks.
Before, during and after chemotherapy I wrote in my journals about what was going on, how I was feeling both physically and emotionally and what I was looking forward to. The neuropathy in my finger tips made writing (and knitting, holding chop sticks, and picking up things) difficult but I did it any way.
I am so glad I did.
My NaNo book is about my cancer experience. It’s been three years since I was last admitted into the hospital, those memories have either been blocked out or have faded away. I had forgotten certain moments or my time line, as I recall it, was mixed up.
I was able to turn to my notebooks full of those painful memories to get me back on track. My rereading and writing in those moments to my narrative, I was able to trigger other memories.
Reading through my scrawled notes, I was able to see when I went from feeling so angry about having cancer and having to spend so much time in a hospital to feeling more resigned at my fate and determined to see it through.
I don’t think I could have pressed on with NaNo if I didn’t think about finding my diary from that year. Present Vanessa is very happy that Past Vanessa kept up her writing habits.
Art journaling in the Gunks
Do you keep a diary or a journal? What ways has your writing habit helped you out?
To go along with the pointers I gave in my Holiday Sanity interview, I made up a handy dandy printable to give out to those well meaning but stupid people in our lives. Here’s “What Not to Say to Someone with Cancer”
Right click and hit “save as…” and print out a whole bunch. Keep ‘em in your purse or wallet. When someone says one of the above, you won’t need to come up with a pithy retort! They’ll be in violation of the social rules of not being a jerk.
If you’re still in need of figuring out what else to say to the chronically rude and/or stupid, call me and together we’ll come up with a plan of emotional defense.
I am very excited to present my newest (virtual) product: Unlock Your Inner Sensei.
What is it?
It’s a one hour phone (or video!) call with me. We’ll discuss what’s been bugging you and ways to fix it. You and I will brain storm ideas that work for you in your specific (and confidential) situation.
Okay, so what’s a sensei?
Sensei, in Japanese means “teacher”. It’s used after a person’s name to denote that they are a professional (usually with professors, teachers and lawyers). We all wish that we had a wise teacher or mentor to guide us, a Splinter to our inner Ninja Turtle.
But I say, you can be your own guru, you just need to tap into it.
So come along with me and let’s kick butt together.
I’ve teamed up with Tara Swiger for a super cool interview. Her Holiday Sanity, which I’m working on, covers how to get through this hectic time of the year with some sanity in tact. It’s full of great tips, spaces to write out lists and ways to make that list seem less like a mountain of DOOM. Plus, when you pick up a copy, you’re also invited into a private (as in it won’t show up in your feed) Facebook group!
That sounds all well and good, but how do you get through the holidays when you’re Sick and Tired. It’s only mid-November but I’m already hearing from people that their Holly Jolly gauge is broken and all they want to do is sleep their way through the next few months.
It doesn’t have to be that way!
Watch the video to find out:
- How to make the most of the season, even if you’re not feeling it.
- 3 ways to make the holidays more enjoyable.
- How to talk to someone who is having a tough time this season.
You can pick up your copy of Holiday Sanity today and $5 of every kit sold goes to My Very Own Blanket.
I wrote up a list of things to say to a cancer patient last year. I’ve been going through my archives to see what could do with an update. I think these six things apply to any friend who is sick, whether it’s cancer or exhaustion.
I’ve gone through and I’ve turned that list into a handy table for you to print out and give to your friends. You can even pin it on Pinterest!
I love reading Abby Glassenberg’s blog, While She Naps. Not only have I learned quite a bit about softie construction (and the legal side of soft toy making too!), I’ve also had a chance to think more about my business and myself.
She wrote a terrific post about some of the rules she has in place both personally and for her family. For example, no cartoons before homework is done. (When I was little, I wasn’t allowed to watch the Simpsons until my homework was done. Bill Nye the Science Guy was on right after school, so that was ok to watch before because it was educational.)
I’ve been thinking about my own rules and the rules my friends have when it comes to their health. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” is a popular one. As is, “I can’t be sick. I have too much to do.”
Does that sound familiar?
While it’s a common pattern of thinking, that rule is awfully dangerous. It opens the door for infections to get worse and by not resting when we need it, our immune system stays suppressed. Which means it’s easier to get sick again!
What would, in all seriousness, happen if you were selfish enough to take care of yourself? Would your family, friends and work suffer if you broke the rules and let yourself really and honestly rest? What if you did delegate and just let the dishes pile up and the floor remain dusty while you felt run down?
It’s difficult to imagine, but I don’t think it would be too impossible. Give yourself permission to let go and feel better.
October still has one day left but I’ve got quite a bit on my plate for November. First, it’s NaNoWriMo time! November is National Novel Writing Month and this year I’m really committed to participating and finishing. That means writing 50,000 words in 30 days or 2,000 words a day. I’m keeping the subject of my writing a secret for now but I’ll be posting my daily word counts over here (and on Facebook and Twitter) if anyone would like to cheer me on.
The second big project is making up testicles for Movember. Not many people realize that testicular cancer strikes men between the ages of 20 and 39. While the diagnosis rates aren’t as high as prostate cancer (1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer after the age of 50) it is a young man’s disease and one that isn’t talked about as much.
So I’m doing my part to get people talking by sticking a ‘stache on my balls.
I mustache you a question but I’ll shave it for later.
I’ll be finishing up my first batch of balls and adding them to the shop on Friday November 1st.
What are your plans for November?