The little things are the big things!

The holidays are just around the corner and whether you celebrate them or not–it can be a very stressful time of the year. Now more than ever, especially with social media, that stress is compounded. A personal rule of mine is to limit my social media time to 20 minutes a day max until after the new year. For me it is pretty simple to do as there are other things online that take up my time–like blogging, my YouTube channel, and eBay. Even without those things, I scroll IG to check out feeds of friends and organizations that I support and that takes roughly 20 minutes a day.

I’ve noticed in my conversations lately with friends how pressured they all seem to be to buy, travel, invest etc. Everyone around them, so they say, seems to be causing them a sense of urgency to buy, consume, and invest. I remind them that everywhere we go from now until mid-January the theme of the day is going to be buy, buy, buy in every store we enter. Believe it or not several years back hubby and I were the couple trying to keep up with everybody else. It didn’t matter that we didn’t have the income at the time, that a lot of our friends had, because we still tried to keep up. It doesn’t work my friends and it will not make you any happier. All you find is that you’ve bought a lot of things you don’t really want, you’ve possibly racked up a bit of debt, and, of course, more worries in the bargain.

Personally, I’ve found that the only way to get through the stress of the holidays is to take the time to stop and look around at all of the things in my little home and life that I do have. Appreciate them for what they are and enjoy what I have and not compare myself to others.

Another great stress reliever is to invite family and friends together on a Zoom or FaceTime call and make holiday plans for two years in a row. This way no one feels left out and everyone can see that if not this year, it will be next year. It works for us like a charm–and no hard feelings from anyone doing things this way.

In 2020 we didn’t entertain or have any holiday obligations because everyone we know is in the age bracket to stay close to home and in their own little bubble. Almost all of my friends/co-workers are working from home at this time. Here we are in 2021 and we’ve lost a couple of very close and dear friends and those left continue to want to stay close to home–at least until winter 2021-22 is over. We definitely respect that and I plan on doing what I did last year and that’s bake some goodies and drop plates off to four of our friends who live close by. We’ve already been promised a homemade pie, bread, and cranberry sauce (can’t wait). We’ll make do for another year and look forward to next Christmas and hopefully (fingers crossed) get-togethers. Until then we will make the best of this year’s and I’ll still cook and bake a lot, we’ll watch all of the James Bond films (just like every other year), play board games, read, rest and get ready for another year.

One thing that has always worked for me to do during the holidays is to find a bit of time at the end of each day to reflect on my life, work, home, hubby, marriage, and all the other things I am thankful for. Some nights I tuck myself into a corner in our home and go through album after album of Christmas photos from years gone by and my heart is so full by the time I get through it’s nearly bursting.

You know, every day we are always looking for the next big thing. Be it new furniture, clothing, likes, comments, the fountain of youth, 15 minutes of fame, viral videos, trips, stuff–you name it. But you know as well as I do when you are sick, or have spent time with someone sick or dying, or you yourself have a close call with death all you want is simple, easy, and all the little things. Just recently I was going through a rough patch of car issues, cat health issues, and hubby health issues and besides the praying I did for all to get better and stop hurting, I also sat back and prayed for myself. I prayed for long, boring, mundane days where the problems were easy to solve, no drama, or the unexpected.

What I’ve discovered in my life is that it really is the little things in life that add up to be the big things. We’re all waiting for the really big moments, but you know life is a lot of little moments woven together day to day, month to month, and year to year. So go ahead this year and enjoy each moment of the holiday season.  Whether it is just you, or yourself and your partner, or you have a whole family full of people to please. Enjoy the simple things, relax and find peace in the moments you share with each other, whether you’re just sitting around and sharing fun memories or spending time doing fun things together.

Take a deep breath wherever you are and give yourself permission to go easy on yourself and others this year and enjoy!

Until next time, be well and be safe.

Intentional, Meaningful Holidays

intentional adj. done on purpose

meaningful adj. having meaning

When 2020 began, I did everything I could, through setting goals, to end the year knowing full well my time spent had been meaningful, that the times I set aside for my husband and I would be intentionally set aside for fun, adventure, heart to hearts, past-times, as well as focused projects we both wanted to complete. Nothing haphazard or chaotic, but rather planned out time that held purpose.

I wrote a blog post all about reset on one of my other blogs. Little did I know that once March arrived we were all in for the great reset–on so many levels.

I had several goals outlined for 2020–did I reach them? Let’s see.

Less social media- this one overall has been the one goal that I’ve been most successful at completing. Here’s my secret:: I’ve always felt that social media is like the teams picked in grade school. The captain picks his/her team based on two things–popularity and how you will reward him/her for picking you and believing, possibly based on past performance, that he/she can pick a winning team. So, popularity and perception. Social media -both Facebook and IG are based on members sending requests and other members, based on several criteria, adding or not adding you. Facebook has you sending requests to add a friend. Who, by and large, you have not developed a relationship/friendship with prior to FB, and likely never will, but now are front and center of your life as your FB friend. You have an audience whether FB, IG, Twitter or? Believe it or not, that audience has some sway (control), so choose wisely. In school I was picked last and very rarely ever got up to bat. When I did there was laughter, bullying, and insults. When I graduated high school, I assumed I was uncoordinated and that my classmates had discerned I was not good in sports. I was wrong. In fact, I could hit a ball out of the park when given the right tools and practice, despite flat feet I was a fast runner, and as a member of a team, I was fully capable of assisting my teammates to a win. I didn’t get there based on popularity or past performance, but rather practicing, patience, and being challenged by people wanting only the best for me and others vs. people not knowing me and choosing to judge me and count me out based purely on their own flawed perception.

I’m too old for popularity contests. When I take a picture, I am doing so for very important purposes–reflection, remembrance, and personal documentation. This year, mid-year, I decided to stop posting hashtags on any of my social media. In essence, sending my work for others to pass judgment on by liking it or not. Whether it’s a good picture or not–my reason for taking it has never included for “likes.” My profiles aren’t business profiles, I’m not earning a living on social media. If I was then this conversation would be mute.

My creativity was waning because at times a small part of me still considered others when I was creating content. What do they think or feel or have to say about what I’ve created, and then worry it’s genuine, or too much, too little —what’s popular, trendy, hip, today? Even just a little bit of any of this was weighing down my creative self. I wanted all of my content to reflect what was inside of me and how I wanted it sent out into the world– however selfish any of that seems or sounds. I’m not living for other people–strangers even. Again, if I was selling something–a product or myself this conversation would be entirely different.

Little by little, I’ve reset my activities/behavior concerning all social media.

You may ask –why are you still on them? Well, that’s easy. I enjoy looking at pretty pictures, reading poignant stories, connecting with friends (yes, I have made friends/some lifelong), and supporting people’s online businesses.

My second goal was to give up sugar. Month 8 I gave up soda again–other times of recent last 3-5 years. This time I think for good. Being afraid of even being borderline diabetic due to sugar intake/co-morbidities/Covid-19 scared me once and for all. Month 12 – I’m almost no sugar after a two-month-long cleanse. I’ve been a sugar addict since I was 9 years old. I recognize the miracle that is me not having diabetes, surviving an illness this past 18 months, and having the kind of health I do despite at times throughout my life not taking care of myself.

My third goal was to stop the materialization/scheduling/crazy expectations of our Christmas holiday because it was killing my Christmas spirit. Christmas in our house, historically, always began after Thanksgiving. We almost always had our Christmas tree set up by Sinterklaas eve December 5th. We celebrate fall, Halloween, everything that is autumn, including the harvest and a turkey dinner, before anything and everything that is Christmas. No amount of outside pressure–like social media having their trees up on October 20th this year? will cause us to change our schedule. Once our tree and holiday decor are up, I don’t grow tired of it. It isn’t cluttering up anything as each and every piece is something I look forward to seeing each year. Just about everything we have has a story behind it and it’s tasteful, it’s us, and we love it. Sometime after January 5th our tree comes down and is put away for another year. Since I plan out the new year in the summer prior to it–there’s no new me, new life, new journal once 1.1 hits, but rather everything is in place for my new goals to commence.

All that to say –there is still the inevitable materialism that creeps into every holiday. Better ornaments, tree skirts, pj’s for photos, cozier throws, electronics, and so on… This year, being the year that it is, has allowed us to focus on the not so much material but the more meaningful. If something needs to be bought then we buy it with quality in mind. To last, not to throw away after the season or store away in some box. We’re supporting small businesses more this year than any other year before. We decided that we weren’t going to buy anything from Amazon, Walmart, or Target for each other less maybe our stocking stuffer’s–i.e. candy. I asked for books from a local bookstore and hubby asked for knitted items (mitten, beanie), books, and money to use for new music, movies, and games. Instead of lining everything up–things to do, places to go etc., I’ve prioritized because there isn’t a lot to do this year, but what we can do doesn’t need to be overwhelming. We’ll do what we can and not pressure each other on what Christmas is supposed to look or feel like. This year unlike any recent year I can recall–I feel genuine Christmas spirit.

To wrap things up, I’ve given up sugar (yes, even at Christmas), and instead of making ten different cookies and bars for hubby to try and get through/or pawn off on our neighbors (we really don’t do this–wink, wink), I’m making two batches of different cookies that are both hubbies favorites. No fudge, no bars, and no pies. Our timelines are ours–so no pressures or expectations from outside influences. Last but not least gifts and time spent that is intentional, purposeful, toward one another and with one another creating lasting memories for ourselves that are genuine and authentic reflections of who we really are.

I hope you like this post and pray you are all well and making the most of all things as we all continue to navigate through the perils of 2020 and gather together what we can of peace and love along the way.