Christmas is upon us. I hope you have your shopping and wrapping done. I hope you have a meal planned, maybe some cookies already baked and ready for Santa. But if you don’t, that’s okay. I’m here to give you permission to opt out (and by you, I mean me). You don’t need another holiday gift guide, what you need is to cut yourself some slack.
I’ve been making great strides with my 2018 habit changes, but I have been struggling to find ways to treat myself. My favorite thing ever is a good ol’ Treat Yo Self day, but generally speaking, mimosas and fine leather goods are not sustainable or attainable healthy treats. On the Happier podcast, Gretchen Rubin often talks about how using food, drink, and shopping as treats undermines the positive habits changes we are trying to make. For example, one of my big goals this year is to stick to a budget and get back to saving monthly. My partner and I even started using the You Need a Budget app to better track our spending. It’s been going great so far, but the last thing I want to do is treat myself with shopping when what I want most is to save.
I think occasional planned indulgences that are food or shopping based are fine, I just want to get away from the notion that they are treats. We are all so busy with our daily lives that we may feel depleted and drained. That’s why treats are effective at staving off burn-out. I’ve pulled together a list of experiences that are very simple, low cost or free, pleasurable treats.
I had grand plans for this holiday season. I was going to post about Designing my Winter. I had a bunch of ideas–go ice skating, watch Love Actually at our art house theater on a date night, make a gingerbread house from scratch. But it’s a week until Christmas and all I’ve managed to do is put up a tree, have a couple peppermint mochas at Starbucks, get some shopping done (and not even all of it), and get my holiday cards out. Phew.
I have talked to a few friends about how stressed out I’m feeling. I’m constantly moving, working on writing, doing housework, parenting, etc. But I feel like I’m just treading water. During the holidays we have to do all our normal things, and then fold in all those extra obligations. And I have been trying, but to no avail, I can’t seem to fold in anything extra.
Every year I love to bake, but this year I just haven’t gotten to it. And when I think about doing it, I spin out into a panic. I had a total meltdown about it this weekend. I cried, I thought I was a terrible friend for flaking out and bringing store bought cookies to a get together. But the store bought cookies were fine. They were actually really tasty, and my friends didn’t care. It cost me seven bucks and just a bit of my pride.
Now that I can be a bit more reflective about how the first 19 days of December have gone, I will say that I think I’ve put my energy in the wrong place. Or maybe it’s not wrong, but next year I might choose differently. I have to accept that where I’m at in life means I don’t have room for everything. I want to do. I don’t want to give up a single thing, but if I don’t pick and choose carefully I’m not going to enjoy the holidays at all.
In the midst of writing this post, I got a call from a friend and we decided we aren’t exchanging gifts with each other or our families. I had been wanting to ask her that for weeks, but I never had the nerve. But I had to face facts: I’m down to the wire and I don’t want to do anymore shopping. I’m calling it. My holiday shopping is done, and sorry I’m not sorry if I crossed you off the list.
If you’re struggling, know that you’re not alone. Be gentle with yourself. Chose to do things that will bring you joy and skip everything else. Honestly, here’s my permission to skip everything if that’s what is going to bring you joy.
I’m back with my fall bucket list! I really love this concept I heard on the Happier podcast (episode 67), and I had success with it this summer so I thought I’d do it again for fall. Having been born and raised in California, I’m not sure I’ve experienced a true autumn, but I love the concept of warm drinks, crunching leaves, and cozy nights.
I’ve been at a loss about what to write lately. There’s a lot going on with me, with friends, with family. It’s hard to process everything, and maybe that’s the problem—I can only process it bit by bit.
I was listening to the new Lana Del Rey album and working on a project when I suddenly realized the song I most wanted to hear was When You Say Nothing At All by Alison Krauss. The music couldn’t be more different, but it’s a good analogy to talk about knowing what you want and knowing how to get it. For me it was as simple as acknowledging my feeling and switching a song on iTunes, but for everyone it will likely be a different process.
I shared previously that I’ve been listening to the podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin. Usually I’m obsess over a blog or a book to get my inspiration or motivation fix, but I love the portability of a self-help podcast. It feels extra efficient! I also really like the sisterly banter between Gretchen and her sister, Hollywood writer/producer Elizabeth Craft. I think it can be very discouraging when you’re trying to work on yourself and the people you’re reading/listening to are preaching and make it seem like they have it all figured out, but Gretchen and Elizabeth don’t do that. In fact, they give themselves demerits and gold stars at the end of each episode, and I find that very relatable.
Here are my five favorite lessons I’ve learned from Happier with Gretchen Rubin:
I’ve been revisiting some of my Pins about parenting and motherhood, and one blog post really struck a nerve. Allison over at Our Small Hours wrote Tips for the Introverted Mom and I found it very useful to help me name the frustration I’ve been feeling lately.
I discovered in the last few years that I am an introvert. Even though I enjoy being social, I become very worn out when I have to interact with people for extended periods of time. In my former job I got to strike a good balance of working independently and working one on one with students and colleagues. It was always those independent blocks of time that I relied on to get me through the day. I don’t get many of those alone hours now that I’m a stay at home parent. Usually I’m able to power through, but sometimes it’s a real challenge. When I feel my patience wearing thin, I say things I don’t truly mean or I speak in an irritated tone.
We all have situations at home or work that can really try an introvert’s patience. If your’e an introvert, here are some tips for finding respite.
I developed this really awesome editorial calendar for myself and I managed to stick to it for two whole weeks. Then yesterday I had a post about DIY foaming hand soap almost ready to go and life just sort of got in the way, as it so often does with me. I forgave myself as my head hit the pillow at 11:24 PM and swore I’d get up in the morning and finish it up and hit publish.
But my mornings this week have been unusual, and I can only partially blame my toddler The electrician, county inspector, and HVAC people have been so prompt (I’m talking 7:30 when they say 8), but it’s definitely made the mornings feel less than normal. We’re still pretty much in the thick of the moving in process. Stuff isn’t where it’s supposed to be. It’s hard to develop routines or get back to business as usual when nothing my house doesn’t feel like my home yet.
The chocolate stash hasn’t made its way to the pantry, and that led Rory to discover a See’s Easter chocolate bunny and bring it to bed to share with us at 7 AM. Up until a few days ago I couldn’t find measuring cups or spoons, which is why I’ve avoided cooking and we’ve eaten mostly sandwiches and breakfast. The curtains that did get hung up are two inches too long so I can’t run the Roomba without them getting chewed up, hence my very dusty floor.
Gone are the days where I could plop Rory in the pack n play for a bit with toys. He’s officially learned how to climb out of the damn thing. So I’ve been relying on Sesame Street and the iPad to entertain him and keep him safely distracted. I always feel like I’m on a slippery slope with media though, because when he gets too much of it he’s crabby, distracted, and can’t seem to stay engaged with anything. And when Sesame Street is on a loop I can’t help but hear the words to all those catchy songs and internalize them. I find myself inwardly singing What Makes U Useful or Are you cool dot cool? And that’s when I realize I AM LOSING MY COOL DOT COOL.
Stay at home parenting is a lonely pursuit. You don’t have coworkers you can bitch to about the (little) people you’re serving. The pay is shit. Literally. It’s not always easy to find or build community. Often, you don’t know if you’re talking to someone who can (or wants to) relate about being in the trenches until you’ve already spilled your guts and they look at you like you’re ungrateful for the privilege of being a stay at home parent or they step up with support and match your war story with one of their own.
I don’t regret the choice I made to move 350 miles, or my choice to leave my job, or my choice to have a family in my thirties. But I do regret that I haven’t found my niche yet, my squad (ugh),
my tribe (feels like appropriation, sorry), my friend circle that I can call or text whenever I need a moment to blow off steam. Sometimes I just need to vent. The DIY soap piece can wait.