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Okay here we go, into the holidays a time when people buy gifts for people because they are supposed to, or because they really want to, or because it’s tradition. Many people do this knowing that they really can’t afford to spend their cash, or worse their credit, and they do it anyway.

I used to love the holidays. Loved them. One year I even dragged my DH to the mall on Black Friday just because I wanted to be part of the chaos. Another year I flew to NYC and back the same day, just to be there on Black Friday for the fun of it.

I use to buy things for people I barely knew, just because it was fun. Fun to shop, fun to buy, fun to wrap and fun to give. Also I bought gift for people in case I ran into them somewhere. Many of those gifts are in my box of “new” things in our storage unit. ( somewhere )

When the children were little I spent every Christmas Eve wrapping while watching “The Christmas Story” marathon, I never went to bed. I would finish about six a.m. and they would be wide awake shortly there after. Those were the good years, even if I was sure to end up exhausted and full of champagne by noon. It was fun and exciting. They were always so surprised and honestly very cute. It was unpredictable and all brand new to them..

After many years of playing Santa Claus I started to find myself a little burned out, but it was still fun.

This year is drastically different. Here are the factors: My children are young adults. They either don’t want anything or what they do want is way too expensive. As for us, we are trying to declutter, so we don’t want anything. Nothing please. Additionally we are in a savings mode, because in the back of our minds we think we’ll be looking for a house again soon.

There will be no decorating, because we aren’t living in our own home. We won’t have our own tree, our own music or anything. And seeing as we were never church goers, we don’t have that tradition to fall back on.

I guess we’ll do the usual, the annual Christmas exchange of cash inside cards for the cousins. (that’s what everyone in the entire family does – every year) We never know if they will be there or not? But I always have the cards with cash ready.

It will be cold. It’s always cold.

This past many years have taught me so much, but right now I am tired of learning these life lessons. Enough already.

( which normally means I am about to get slammed with another one )

So this year I’ll be asking Santa for a big red velvet bag full of love, joy and peace, life lessons NOT included. That’s all I want.

“Pssst Santa, can you hear me? “

Tip: Remind yourself it’s only one day and read Gandhi before company arrives.

Inspiration: ” Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi

One-day one-thing: Send someone who has crossed your mind a seasonal card even if you haven’t stay in touch.

Put Your Mind to Work.

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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.

Everyone struggles.

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I woke early, did yoga, froze at the dog park and then made my way to the office.  The picture below is what I did when I first got to the office today.   I am sending it to my son in Boston, who won’t be home on Turkey day.  I hope think it will make him laugh happy.

Note to my son.

Then I ate lunch.  Well not really, because I graze.  I eat a little for a while then stop.  Today it was the veggie burrito bowl, without the slimy vegetables.  A meatless dip of sorts;  black beans, guacamole, rice, lettuce, a little white cheese, hot salsa  and chips.  Yum.

It’s good (most of the time) to be your own boss.   I get my work done when I know it has to be completed.  Sometimes I work really long hours, other times I have the luxury to do as I please.  Today is one of those days.

Earlier while at the dog park this chilly morning I had the pleasure of speaking to a woman whose husband is an investment banker.  She explained to me how tough the economy has been on his investment firm and how that they personally have had to cut back on their vacations.  She let me know they lived in the most expensive neighborhood in my town.  It was nice to hear this point of view.

I toyed with the idea of telling her that actually we lost our home and were living in my mother’s house, but I think that may have made her feel like a total jerk.  So I just listened.  She went on to tell me that she hoped that her children would learn something from their hardship.  Their “hardship” being that they weren’t going on as many vacation this year as in past years.  Her kids are 8, 10, and 13.

Bora Bora

On Wednesday morning at the dog park, I spoke to a young man who just left the Marines.  For some reason, I was very nosy.  I kept asking him questions.  I wanted to know what it was like, what he did there, how it effected him, and how he was adjusting back in the states.  I apologized and told him, “I’m so sorry. I don’t mean to interrogate you, like this is any of my business.”  He responded, ” No, really it’s okay, talking to people like this really helps.”

He was a sharp shooter.  He told me that every single day he would see suicide bombings, mostly children blowing themselves up, because, he said, “they believe in Allah.”   He told me that news never reaches the states, and there’s so much more.  He also told me about getting shot from friendly fire.  It was a bullet  from a  .50 Browning machine gun.  He went on to explain all about the BrowningMG and its bullet size.  Then promptly he dropped the topic of his injury.

Far left .50 Browning machine gun bullet

So I met two new friends.  I was open to both of them.  Their stories enriched my life in some manner.  I can feel judgement is trying to find it’s way into my head, but I am not going to let it in.  I am not going to try to figure out anything I heard, anymore than my either of my dogs would try to figure it out.

I played at the park with people who were there.  And those moments are gone.  Only now exists.

And right now, I am thankful, very very thankful.

Happy Friday.

Tip: Listen and learn, try to leave judgement out of the equation.

Inspiration: “The biggest mental roadblocks that you will ever have to overcome are those represented by your self-limiting beliefs.”~ Brian Tracy

One-day one-thing: Sort your linens, some towels are ready to become rags.

Take Me Away….I’m not going anywhere.

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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.

Source: “The Ruins of Detroit” by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre published by Steidl,

(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.

Breaking Holiday Dread.

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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.