Friday, December 27, 2013

Tis the Season to Tally Up

Regardless of your religious or non-religious beliefs, these last days of December offer all of us an opportunity to tally our debits and credits not only financially, but also emotionally and spiritually. As we literally count down the days until January 1, 2014, it makes sense to tally all the good in your life.
  • List the events that have made you happy.
  • Note the new things you have learned. 
  • Focus on what you have achieved. 
  • Think about the small things that give you great pleasure.
  •  Remember a friend or family member you have lost. 
  • Add that new person you have met to your plus column. 
  • Calculate all of your small achievements.
  • Include any big accomplishments or upgrades.
Write down three things you would like to aspire to accomplish in 2014. Careful, make it simple, do-able, and something that you would enjoy doing.  Think about a small activity you can do in 2014 that can change some one's life.

I hope for now that you are catching my drift. We sometimes spend time and energy focusing on what we can't do or what we don't have in our lives.  We need to stand still and realize the bounty existing in front of us.  To simply say it: practice the art of being present. To quietly and thoughtfully be in the moment without judgment, observing where you are, experiencing the place you are at, and finding the best in each person you are with at that moment.

Thanks for reading my blog, please come back again. Don't forget, you can suggest topics you would like me to tackle. Send me a comment or an email.

Happy New Year!

Pat W Coffey

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Survival Tip - Punt When Plans Go Astray

Twas a bit more than a week before Christmas and all through the house boxes, lists, and ornaments were strewn...
       Now I don't know the condition of your home, but this weekend was disrupted when I torn a ligament in my leg on Friday and have been lying in bed with my leg above my heart.  The doctor's instructions: "If you want to be walking by Christmas you must keep off your leg for four to six days."  I obediently took the shot for pain. (The pain was so great I could hardly speak.) He adjusted a pair of crutches for me so I could hobble about the house. It is maddening to sit in your home, drugged, knowing that there are cookie doughs to make, gifts to wrap, cards to write, and of course a blog to write. The safest task was to write my blog.
      I use to get upset when things were disrupted, when my plans didn't go smoothly.  I learned soon enough that there are things in life you can control and things you can't control. When an out of control event happens, don't blame yourself, take it for what it is: a moment in time to reflect, regroup, or recharge. I've been spending my time in bed reading Dear Life, a series of short stories by Alice Munro. I have been listening to some new Christmas albums on iTunes. I have been restructuring my menus for the eight days my family will be here for the holidays. I have done the last of my shopping online. I had a great talk with a friend and my sisters. So, would all of this happen if I didn't hurt my leg? Probably, but it won't necessarily be as relaxing or enjoyable as it is propped up in my bed.

      Today, is the second full day of my confinement. The pain is subsiding. I am trying to have a profitable day. I did a bit of editing on one of my projects. Napped. Ate lunch, and thought that every Christmas has a snag. Each year you try to plan, organize, make sure you're on schedule with shopping, cleaning, and baking. Then out of the blue, a weird thing comes along and stalls or disrupts your strategy or momentum.  Take it from me. Don't get angry. Don't whine. Find a way to make the best of it. You will be a far better patient and your family will love you more.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Survival Tip - Pamper Thyself

Okay, if you look at the calendar, you have two weekends before Christmas arrives. Now I'm not talking about any pre-parties. I mean Christmas Eve and the big day-Christmas.

If you have young children, you probably have all the gifts wrapped and hidden. If your family is grown and participates in a Secret Santa, then you may still be scurrying for that gift within in the designated price range for your Uncle Max.

But, these matters are not the big worry for me. I am concerned about making it to Christmas Eve. Each year someone takes a picture of me as I am opening gifts on Christmas morning with dark circles under my eyes and my hair not combed. I am sure that my progeny will view years of video and wonder what I was doing to look so unkempt. Well, for the record, that is how women who don't pamper themselves through holiday preparations look at the big moment - tired, listless, and sometimes a little out of it.

So, this is a reminder to all planners of the joys, surprises, meals, and marvels of the Christmas season. Pace yourself for the last leg of the race.

1. Schedule multiple breaks for yourself everyday. This is a must.  Even if it is only a five minute break in the farthest room in the house that has a lock on the door.

2. Start your day with breakfast. Make sure you are fueling your body for the demands of the holiday.  Protein is great for a starter. Remember peanut butter is a protein.

3. Keep yourself hydrated.  Heated rooms not only dry out your skin, but inside your body. Drink water.  Avoid carbonated drinks, high sugar beverages, and imbibe in alcoholic drinks sparingly. Remember water is a woman's friend.

4. Tell your children to have short "quiet time." Turn off the noise. This temporarily calms the level of intensity. Play a game to see who can lay perfectly still for a minute. You can set a timer and have the children be quiet for 5 minutes.  If they talk, the timer is reset.

5. Allow yourself to take an item or two off you list. Each year we plan to bake cookies for the entire neighborhood, write a family Christmas letter, mail all packages out on time, and make a hostess gift for every holiday party we are attending. Look at the items on your list.  Decide if these are things that are necessities or "nice to do." Place the necessities first, if you have time add a few "nice to dos."  Want to pamper yourself?  Take one "to do" off.  Want really to treat yourself? Take two items off your list this year.

What do you really consider makes your Christmas special?  What represent the tradition and beauty of the season for your family? Focus on that concept the next two weeks. Learn to take 'quiet time outs' and allow yourself the luxury of taking things off your list. Be good to yourself, so you can be a
good elf to everyone else.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

2014 Holiday Survival Tip - "Google" It

December 1 is the first day that Christmas becomes a topic in our home. Now readers, I realize some of you may have already hung your Christmas lights on the outside your homes. You may have your Christmas tree up and decorated. You may even have your Christmas shopping done, wrapped, and hidden.

Don't think us late starters are nonchalant about this entire Christmas event. Personally, I have learned organization is my friend during these 24 frantic days preceding the Christmas day.

My husband and I have planning meetings about Christmas. After years of juggling the holiday demands of three children, we still plan holidays.We take out the folder from last year and write a plan.

Originally I was going to share my Christmas checklists with you.  Until I started researching for this blog.  You see I found this website  You may want to take a look at some of the great ideas on it. I thought that I was an original with my planning ideas, but It seems someone else has managed to design multiple articles and printable downloads to help you through this busy season. It also includes ideas for organizing for next year.

There are several downloads I thought were great. I am going to  replace my old list with Cynthis Ewer's premade lists in my Christmas organization folder this year. Check out the links below and see if any of them suit your style of organization:

The Christmas Countdown Binder You have all the elements to begin to create an annual Christmas binder or file to help make Christmas easier.

The 'Beta Testing Site of Download Sheets"  This link provides actual sheets you can download and print.  If you are lucky enough to own Adobe, you can type directly on the sheet and print.

I looked through several of the sheets. The cleaning checklist is blank leaving room for details. I particularly like this feature. Deep cleaning for the holidays should be done early (one cleaning checklist) and a second checklist for "pick up and maintaining the cleaning." The blank documents for cleaning helps you personalize your cleaning plan.

The best download of all and the most important one is this preseason planner sheet:
This sheet is great. Print it for yourself. Fill it out for yourself. Remember you may think you can plan a fail safe Holiday Seaso, but it is still about the interactions and feelings of family and friends. These are based on individual emotions. No matter how great  of a planner you may be, you can't control this aspect of the holiday.

Also, you must make a checklist to take care of yourself.
Next week's blog addresses "Pampering for Sanity."