I better get cracking. My starting point: I have nothing planned for Christmas and I am mentally and emotionally spent.
In my de-cluttering mode I sold our
fake artificial Christmas tree. I had no place put it anyway and I figured we would get by with less. Everything else for the holidays is in here.
Just an fyi, if anyone is seeking a nice Christmas tree, Costco has beautiful real trees, cut, for 29.99. They even tempted me. They have short needles and are a good height and shape. I think the tree is a good value plus you get that fresh pine scent in your house.
This year’s challenge is to make Christmas memorable, fun and easy with low stress levels – without spending a ton of cash.
Unfortunately, it’s a super busy month even without the holidays. First I have a business trip to Monterrey. It will be beautiful, maybe stressful but maybe not. Next I’ll be driving to NYC to chauffeur two of my children home. I’m not complaining at all, I love both places, it’s just time consuming.
In New York I’d be happy to walk around with a coffee. I like the sparkling silver star that hangs high above 5th Ave near Tiffany’s. ( if you go to Tiffany’s jewelry repair, 6th floor as I recall, you an get an awesome view of the silver star) I also love looking at Bergdorf Goodman’s windows, they never disappoint.
We’ll play it by ear. It’s not like my kids are teens and I can tell them what we are doing. It’s more like they are mini-grown-ups, you know, with big ideas of their own. I remember when I was their age, I went out partying all winter break, without my parents.
You know what? I am going to buy that Costco Christmas tree and put it up. Why not? Dress it with lights, garland and ornaments, and put some presents underneath. Bake some cookies for everyone to decorate and make hot chocolate. Wow, a somewhat normal and simple Christmas. So what if it’s in a basement?
That’s all it ever has to be….simple and real. In my heart, I knew this all along.
Post Script: We lost the second house we bid on. It was a multiple bidding situation once again. Heavy sigh. I feel like the world is telling me something, something like “stop what you’re doing- it’s not working.”
Tip: Concentrate on shared experiences instead of things.
Inspiration: ” Discovery is the ability to be puzzled by simple things.” ~ Noam Chomsky
One-day one-thing: If you’re giving gifts, wrap them as you get them – it’s the only way.
Don’t get me wrong , it’s about money to some extent but not the way you’d think.
It’s about assholes, and the people who raise them. Doesn’t matter whether we are rich or if we are down on our luck the treatment we receive is no different. And be aware that it’s not just me, and my family, who is on the receiving end of the non-compassionate, lack of caring mocking bullshit. Anyone they see as beneath them or who challenges them is fair game. I won’t even repeat what they think of poor people in the inner city, or even worse liberals.
(I am very liberal, therefore I am basically unintelligent scum of the earth.)
One of them put up a news clipping on my mother’s refrigerator that was photo-copied from an ancient article. It explains “Smart.” It’s important for these people to see themselves as smart. It also lists the percentages of people who are “retarded.” Retarded! That word hasn’t been used for decades. And this is what they think is important enough to put on their refrigerator.
It’s been there for a couple years and it’s right next to our family photo. Nice.
I’d like to believe that they are all sociopaths, because then it would provide a concrete explanation as to why these people show zero empathy and zero compassion for anyone but themselves. When dealing with outsiders they make everything look wonderful, like Dexter (on SHO),exactly like Dexter (without the killing).
I don’t interact with them any longer. Bare minimum of conversations, if any. Not every ridiculous comment they make warrants a response. At first when I stopped responding, it got a little worse, now there’s just underlying seething. Which isn’t pleasant, but it’s temporary.
There is something so deeply wrong that I can not begin to understand it. But I did what every child does, I went overboard in kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness to try to win love.
This year I stopped. Mind you I am a grown up with children of my own, yet it took me this long to catch on.
This is my last post on this, (even though may prove difficult for me but I am going to try.) I know they are never going to change.
I really have to let it go-0r I will go completely mad.
Tip: Let it go.
Inspiration: ” Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once.” ~ Lillian Dickson
One-day one-thing: Let it go
Linus: “Life is difficult, isn’t it, Charlie Brown?”
Charlie Brown: “Yes, it is. But I’ve developed a new philosophy. I only dread one day at a time.”
I admit, I am a little late to the Charlie Brown party. When I was young I never paid him any attention. But now I love him.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I basically hate the holidays. Last year my friend died on or about Christmas day, I knew she wasn’t a picture of health, but I had no reason to think she would die. I didn’t get to say good-bye. Rather I had to call the police to do a “welfare check.” The next car to arrive was the coroner’s. My gift to her was returned to me by her brother and it sits in my office hallway still wrapped.
We moved out of that neighborhood. Her house was sold. One day I drove through the old hood, and her house was leveled. In an instant her house was gone, just like she was. Also last year, a high school senior who played soccer with my son committed suicide early Christmas morning. When I was in college my friend hung himself the night before Christmas. The Christmas before my Dad died, I was too sick to make it to the celebration. It was his last Christmas.
I’ll stop, because it’s too sad.
The holidays are brutal for many people. We have been lead to believe that Thanksgiving through New Year’s is some sort of never ending party; full of good cheer, and laughter and love. Everyone is in love, presents flowing and good times rolling , smiles abound, no worries, no real problems. We are bombarded with images and ideas that are unachievable for nearly everyone. Yet we still ooh and ah at these images.
When we don’t experience that euphoric holiday scene, we feel sad and we think somehow we are lesser people, we feel a sense of hopelessness. I don’t like it, I don’t think it’s right.
I don’t believe fighting over cheap sh*t from China has anything to do with the Christmas spirit. Nor does spending more money than you have because you are “expected” to be somewhere far away, or you’re “expected” to get everyone in your family a gift.
(btw : One of my New Year’s resolution this year is to stop swearing….)
My hope for this year’s holiday season is to get through it without becoming emotionally battered. The other night at Thanksgiving dinner, I was told (to my face) that a 3000 square foot house isn’t really too big for a single person, two people at the table agreed. Hence the can of emotional whoop-ass was opened and directed straight towards me.
Anyway, I know and I realize, I have to make it the best I can. I am grateful for so many things, and many more people. I have to be grateful that I am even allowed to live in my Mother’s house until we find a place. I’ll make it through, but I will be wounded and scarred. I know it, because it’s already started. It’s no wonder I dislike the whole season so much.
I have decided I will be donating chickens to needy families and put the donation the family names as a gift. Step one accomplished, make something good out of a crappy situation.
“………… I only dread one day at a time.” That’s pure gold Charles Schulz. Thank you.
Tip: Find a way to balance your mind and wear a Kevlar vest.
Inspiration:” Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.” ~Benjamin Disraeli
One-day one-thing: Smile and know this isn’t forever.
Hopefully you are in a place where an abundance of joy and love are thriving. Maybe you are visiting your new grandchild for the first time. Maybe you are sleeping in or making an early morning trip to buy bagels for everyone, before a day of cooking commences. Maybe you are hosting and cooking a turkey for the first time ever.
I am having dinner at a restaurant with three siblings who have shown me nothing for as long as I can remember. But the part that really hurts is that during my last very rough year and a half, not a word. Not one single communication. Not a single mention of empathy or kindness. Not one offer of help. Zero compassion. Zero anything.
I don’t expect anything from them and I never will. So for me to write about me being thankful for them, is like person lying about being married. It’s untruthful and I don’t care to live like that. I am am thankless for them.
(sounds harsh to even me, but it’s true)
Obviously, I have a different definition of what “family” means than they do. I carry my idea of family to my family, my husband and my three children and our pets. I even extend that level of caring to my friends and co-workers, even most strangers; ( believe it or not ) that is without breaking normal boundaries.
I’m going to this dinner solely for my 84 year old mother. She asked us to join them and I first said,” No thank you.” She said ,”Well they’re coming over here anyway, whether you come or not.” (we are temporarily living in my mother’s house until we buy our own) I said, “Okay we’ll go.”
What I learn from this is that I am not alone. Many people have families full of dysfunction. This holiday, there will be families who dis-own their own children and grand children solely because of sexual preference. There will be racists remarks made to bi-racial couples who are nothing but deeply in love. Political differences will spark arguments. And I know this is morbid, but there will be Thanksgiving killings today. Some families should just stay away from each other no matter what man-made holiday tells them they need to be together.
So to those of you out there who will suffer through this holiday, acknowledge you don’t have to be thankful for the toxic people in your life, even if you are breaking bread with them or if you are related by blood. Remember you are not alone. Family wounds run deep and never truly go away, this I know. At the table, I will say a silent prayer of support for you and your struggle.
Take this day and be thankful that you can create your own life to be the way you want it to be. Be thankful that holidays only occupy a small segment in the timeline of your life. Be thankful for the lessons learned of how not to be. Be thankful for the people, or person, in your life who is kind. Be thankful for your dog or cat, or whatever little soul you consider part of your family. Be thankful that you have the power to spread kindness to others. Be thankful to know compassion. Be thankful you can express gratitude. Be thankful just to be.
Cheers to you!
Tip: Concentrate on these tips to get through the day.
Inspiration: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
One-day one-thing: Keep your sense of humor today, as this too shall pass. :)
Less is more. More what? Mo’ better?
Seriously though; Less is easier, more peaceful, more relaxing, more real and it provides more freedom, more or less.
When I look at our storage unit or the garage I can hardly breathe. Instantaneously stress builds inside my body, this also happens when I only just think about it. Imagine having all that stress and stuff in your home. God, it’s no wonder I couldn’t think straight. Always thinking about the mess, the stuff I needed to sort, or the stuff I would store safely to sort later.
Always later, but always in my mind somewhere. “I’ll do a box a day.” or maybe this weekend “I’ll work on the basement.” Blah, blah, blah. It never got done, and obviously I am still working on it. I imagine there are deep seeded reasons for accumulating. I can tell you I have a million reasons I could rattle off, but those aren’t true reasons, those are my “rationalizations.”
The bright side; just realizing that you are rationalizing your situation is huge. No matter what the problem, we are experts at convincing ourselves why it is, and why it can’t be changed. Certified experts.
Where we fall down is when it comes to telling that expert ,”Hey expert, you don’t know sh*t.” Take any issue right now, and ask yourself, am I clinging to this because it makes me feel better, or and I clinging to this because it’s easier than letting it go?
We all know there are things we can’t change, and things we can change. That’s just life. What you ALWAYS can change is the way you choose to think, or how you choose to react to your individual predicament. In other words, make your mind work for you instead of against you.
I will be testing my theory this Thanksgiving. I know I am not alone. Many people have family issues that tend to erupt during holidays. It’s going to be a challenge. But this time around I feel like I can handle it. I almost feel invincible. Like the old saying:” I’m rubber, you’re glue. Everything you say bounces off me and sticks on you.” ( such a mature saying, but I love it )
It will only be a few awkward hours of my life. Bring it on. Cheers.
Tip: You don’t have to own other people words.
Inspiration: ” People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do. ” ~Lewis Cass
One-day one-thing: Take winter clothes box to donation center.
Far far away, take me please. That’s what I need. A break.
I don’t even care about my stuff. Sometimes I wish it would all burn in a fire.
( I am pretty sour as I write this)
In the past when I felt like this, I used to fantasize about packing a light bag, taking a wad of cash and my American Express to the airport and just picking some random flight to someplace else. I never did that. ( am I repeating myself ? )
Now, my life has responsibilities. And I’m okay with that, but man, sometimes, I [you] just need a break.
Anyway, I have no choice I have to keep plugging along. We all do.
(By the way, the house I saw today wasn’t the “one.”)
Next week, two of my three children are coming home for a short visit, so that will be nice. Thanksgiving day itself will be challenging. After that I will be looking forward to a road trip to New York and a weekend in the city. So this is all good stuff. Then the holidays and closing the business books on yet another year.
It’s all going to fly by so so fast. Which is all the more reason to be grounded and prepared. There are no do overs.
My mission is to make the best of these times. Forget the challenges and enjoy. Express gratitude. Live in the moment. These all require mindful actions. In other words, I will have to work at this.
Here are 5 good tips to make it through the holidays without a meltdown:
1.) Watch what you drink: During winter we tend to get dehydrated, so carry a water bottle with you even if it is snowing. Moderation is key on alcohol intake, you’ll thank me in the morning.
2.) Become a duck but don’t quack: Let any little irritating comments roll off your back, don’t say a word or acknowledge the comment in anyway.
3.) Try something new. Celebrate some part of the holidays in a new way. This is fun for everyone, because it’s new and it brings people together.
4.) Reaching out to someone is a great way be in the spirit of the holidays and it helps lift any holiday depression. Be inclusive.
5.) Expect nothing. This one warrants repeating; expect nothing.
There are so many other things you can do rather than be a sour puss. Google it if you find you need more advice.
Right now I’m drinking a Yuengling,wow since 1829, and it’s helping my sour disposition disappear. Simple pleasures are the best. Cheers!
Tip: Do your exercise, especially when you feel down. That’s when it is most important!
Inspiration: “My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the hell she is.”~ Ellen DeGeneres
One-day one-thing: Figure out something new to do for this holiday season.
Well, a few weeks ago, we placed a bid on a house. And that stopped me dead in my tracks on my journey to living better with less. I thought I better not get rid of anything until we find out if we got the house. Well we didn’t get the house. I wont go into how perfect is was for us, because then I start to cry. I am not depressed, I swear. But I get really sad when I think about that house, because I knew we should have offered more. I didn’t follow my instinct.
Trust your gut feelings always; no exceptions
So like a wounded wild animal I am ready to lash out at all this crap in my life. Look at the mess inside this garage. It’s embarrassing. I didn’t even take photo of all my lawn furniture that’s in the driveway and patio. Winter’s coming. Snow flakes fell today. I am going to be ruthless. I swear. Watch out sh*t, you are going to hit the fan.
Bird feed, I am giving you all to the birds on the same day, today. Eat like kings little birdies. A bunch of old liquor, I think I will dump it down the drain. Garden hand tools: keep the best sell the rest. I have to sort my framed photos one more time and move the “keepers” inside, because they will just get ruined in this damp garage.
I am never going to get over losing the house.
It’s funny what a “house” does to you. It changes everything. I am not sure that is a good thing. Because I stopped. I stopped doing what I really wanted to do. I stop dreaming of new places. I put my goals on hold. I think I even stopped breathing. I was holding my breath waiting to hear. I fell back into old habits of placing importance on “things.”
I am so torn between what I know, what I’ve learned and an unknown future. I really thought we were close to a solution which in turn would become our decision. Now we’ve returned to the unknown.
To top off my disaster-week, I had to tell my husband I agreed to go out to Thanksgiving dinner with my mother and my three brothers who don’t even acknowledge our family exists. Why would I would I agree to such a dumb-ass thing? Well because until we find/buy a house, we are living in my 84 year old mother’s house. (I like to think of it as my Dad’s house, but he’s no longer living. ) She asked and she let me know that the “boys” were coming over here for cocktails before dinner regardless of whether we joined them or not. How lovely. So I said yes.
Post Script: I will make sure Thanksgiving a nice day for my husband and my children and our dogs. That will be easy. I like the idea of no dishes, and no cooking, so this will be okay. And two or three hours of dysfunctional-family-torture won’t kill us. We will be counting our blessings, that’s for sure! Because no matter what,through thick and thin, I have my Husband, my children and our animals. That’s all I need.
Tip: Never search for “tummy” or “gut” on Google.
Inspiration: “What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” ~ Oscar Wilde
One-day one-thing: Make plans for Thanksgiving weekend, it’s a fun weekend don’t let it slip away.
I, like many other people find themselves always seeing a digital clock that says 11:11. It’s uncanny for me. It can happen when a clock isn’t even set to the proper time. Sh*t happens in my life and then I look at the clock and say, “Guess what time it is? 11:11 again.” This doesn’t happen to anyone else in my immediate family, just me.
Today is the grand day 11:11:11, and I was told to go buy 11 lottery tickets or something to that effect. I don’t know, the way my luck has gone recently I am not sure I even want to do that.
This is what I know for sure. My greatest luck steams from my greatest love, my Husband. When we got married, we didn’t know if we would ever be able to have children. I vividly remember stopping for a margarita, and tears welling up in my eyes telling my husband, “I’m never going to get pregnant.” I shouldn’t have been drinking because I was already pregnant. We had no idea that the next two would arrive on their own. Which was pretty much immediately after our first was born. They are called Irish triplets, three babies born in less that three years.
When I was twelve or thirteen I was in a huge car accident. Last thing I remember as the orange Chevy Nova with black stripes rolled over was the interior dome light, it was white with a flower pattern, I can still see it clearly. I have been in
five six car accidents total, three fender benders and three very major. When I was about twenty I completely totaled a car. The cop that drove me 15 miles to the hospital stayed in the waiting room. He asked if I was sure I was okay, and then asked me out. I was too stupid and self absorbed to even consider how incredibly caring and kind he was. I was young and naive, I thought everyone in the world was thoughtful, nice and kind. He said it was a miracle I was still alive. I had no clue until days later when I actually saw the car.
I’ve got a million of these stories. They all live in my past. Some aren’t so happy and some hurt a lot. I struggle with my past like everyone else, yet I also know how blessed I am. How do I balance this? I have hurts that I can recognize for what they are. I know that I can’t change them, but the hurt lingers deep down in at my core. I don’t dwell on these hurts anymore, thank God I am past that stage. But to be quite honest I thought that if I didn’t think about them, or dwell on them, they would vanish. That’s not how it works, folks.
They are part of me. All the scars, physical and emotional, all the lines in my face and everything else you can’t see is what make me; me. The same goes for you. You are a total of your thoughts and all your experiences, the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful up until this very point in time.
The cynical side of me says, I guess this just means; that which doesn’t kill you make you “not-dead.” The better side of me says, I am so fortunate and so grateful and everything that has happened brought me to who I am now.
Moving forward should be a cake walk. It seems obvious to me that we should concentrate on making every experience as positive as humanly possible. This would build more of the beautiful and good inside and less of the bad and ugly. Makes perfect sense. Right? Right.
BUT – I got hurt yesterday emotionally. Words were said that hurt me at my core. I let those words in. I couldn’t brush it off. Even when I was angry inside, I was aware. I told myself , this isn’t good for me let it go. I rattled off unkind words (f-bombs uncut) when driving alone in my car, and kept telling myself to stop. I felt out of control. I was so hurt, in tears, in shock and really angry.
Truth is I am not powerless and either are you. I handled the situation incorrectly. I should know by now, that this person will take any opportunity to hurt me rather than help me. I should be alerted by a warning signal when this person opens their mouth. ( Is there an app for that? )
What I should have done was laugh out loud and say something like, ” Now, you’re just talking crazy talk” or “You’ve got to be joking” and left it at that. Or better yet, I should have ignore it all together and walked away. I really should have walked away without speaking.
But I couldn’t leave it alone, I asked “What did you say?! what did you say?! I’d like you to say that to my children!” I slammed the door as I left. I was train wreck.
I hope this time is the last time I have to learn this same old lesson. Big heavy sigh.
Anyway that was yesterday. Today is Friday. The best Friday ever 11-11-11 and I am about to win 11 million dollars. Cheers!
Tip: When someone kicks you when you are down do not respond, just walk away.
Inspiration: “You are what you think … geez, that’s frightening.” ~ Lily Tomlin
One-day one-thing: Splurge. Do something for yourself.
It’s October, and the pressure is already mounting. We all know what’s around the corner. The holidays. The days we smile and laugh and share good times with those we love or those we are related to. Some people are lucky and everyone they know fits into the “I can’t wait to see you this Thanksgiving” category.
Me, not so much. So without going into the gory details, my task here is to learn how to simplify these awkward family celebrations. I am tired of stressful holidays. They must end and end this year. This is a huge challenge and it weighs heavily on me. I could say I hate it but I don’t want to be a hater.
(I’ll save the financial stresses of holidays for another post.)
I have gathered a list of what I am going to do to handle this holiday season. I hope it works. And maybe this list will help someone else out there in a similar situation.
(Warning:This list is for those who have issues, if you don’t have these issues ignore #1,#2 & #3.)
1.) Give up hope: Give up the hope that our families will act perfectly, or even remotely close to reasonably well. We know what to expect, and we need to acknowledge it isn’t going to be perfect or even close. Eliminate all your expectations.
2.) Give up control: If you have been deeply wounded by your family stop trying to control them. You will never control someone’s actions or words. Accept full responsibility for your healing. Only you can control your thoughts.
3.) Go late, leave early: If you must go into an uncomfortable situation arrive late, have an early exit plan, and leave early.
4.) Say “no.” Having extra responsibilities during the holidays is normal, but don’t let yourself be the go-to person for everything that no one else wants to do. Be prepared to say, “no.”
5.) Be rested and well fed: This is key. So many times we become so busy we don’t even realize that we haven’t eaten or that we are getting too little sleep. This makes you emotional and weak which in turn leads to intense sadness and poor decisions.
6.) Be selfish: Schedule some interrupted time every day to do something just for yourself, this is also critical to improve your mood and it makes you stronger in handling uncomfortable situations.
7.) Go for a walk: No matter what – go for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a long walk, but get up and get out of the house. Clear your head and get a break from all the pressure at home or at a gathering.
8.) Above all practice gratitude: This will help you during the holidays and every day of the year!
I would love to hear your suggestions and or tricks…..add them in the comment section. Cheers – I am enjoying this season this year no matter what!!!
Tip: Don’t drink too much. I speak form experience it’s not good thing, even though it felt good at the time.
Inspiration: “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ” ~Epictetus
One-day one-thing: Sort your holiday stuff, throw away anything broken, donate items you will no longer use. Do not hoard anything for someone else or for another season.