It's almost a New Year, and like many people, I'm dreaming and scheming for my next chapter. I’m a big dreamer and schemer year round, but this season, it all feels so shiny and full of potential.
In the past couple of years, I've been realizing that while I like to dive into new stuff, it really helps to look back before I move forward. Hence the annual review. I can come up with hare brained schemes all day, but it's worth figuring out what’s worked well in the past, and what hasn't if I ever want them to become a reality.
So, that's what I'm doing. Reflecting. Looking forward. And trying to find a healthy place that doesn't cross into over analyzing the whole thing.
Some years, I look back with a sense of nostalgia. Not so much with 2013.
Not to make it sound like it was an awful year. It actually had all kinds of good stuff, fun and love, but it also had all kinds of big friggen hard stuff.
2013 gave me some major opportunities for huge growth. In fact, I'd say that it's been my biggest year of personal growth ever. And growth, by it's very nature can be painful, especially the personal kind.
Especially when you're trying to learn to be a nicer person, to avoid scalding people with your words, or frightening them with your evil glare and to generally avoid the fate of becoming brittle.
As I've mentioned before, this is hard stuff.
There are a bazillion tools to help and lots of ways to go about the process of New Year planning, but I like to look first at what people who get things done are doing, and incorporate some of their approaches in my process.
Chris Guillebeau just asks two questions. What went well this year, and what did not go well?
So, what went well is that I had lots of fun adventures with my kids, camping, beaches, mountains, lakes, zip lining and river rafting, concerts and fun on wheels. I met some fabulous people, had lots of fun and felt very loved. Oh, and I started showing my self some love too.
We painted our house "luscious mango" (all by ourselves) and did a whole lotta work to improve our living space (with a bunch of help from awesome people.) I balanced several jobs fairly well and managed to keep a stable funschooling lifestyle for my kids. I helped a number of people, volunteered, had some successful writing gigs and made a good deal of art.
What didn't work so well? Well.....I still have a good deal to learn about juggling and time management and business type skills. I sometimes lost sight of priorities, got sidetracked and distracted along the way, felt overwhelmed at times, and sort of flipped out on occasion. Those are all things I'm working on, and I'd say that I'm a bit better in most of them than I used to be. I'm calling that progress, and hope.
Danielle LaPorte simply asks you to think about how you want to feel. Not what you want to get or do, but how you want to feel about it.
What I want to feel is abundant. I'm done with lack and scarcity thinking and the fear based mindset they breed. I have plenty of everything, and if I unclench my claws, I'll probably enjoy all that I have even more and maybe even attract further abundance. Life seems to work that way.
As for planning for 2014, I'm using Leonie Dawson's "2014 Create Your Amazing Year" book because I'm a big fan of trying to make life more colorful and fun, and that woman combines rainbows and fairy wings with some mad business and productivity skills.
My goal is to have my workbook filled out by January 5th, and I'll be sharing some of my goals after that.
All in all, 2013 gave me some awesome adventures and huge blessings. I have lots and lots of stuff to be grateful for. I hope it gave you many blessings as well, and that you'll take a minute to count them before looking ahead.
I know I'm glad for the lessons I learned, and all the fun I had, but I'm ready to bring on 2014! Happy New Year!
Ahhh, the madness of Christmas has passed, and it’s time to exhale. Oh, and celebrate if you made it through the season without punching anyone!
For me, the week between Christmas and New Years Eve typically features a couple of traditions. And by traditions, I mean variations on a similar theme~ I’ve never actually managed to do the same thing twice exactly.
The first thing I like to get going is a big old clean out in the form of Boxing Day. I once looked up the actual meaning of the holiday, but unfortunately, I have since sort of forgotten.
Back when I wasn’t working as many jobs and could focus more efforts on being a homeschooling mamacita extraordinaire, I would have looked up the history of the day again, maybe even had a nice little family lesson about it.
These days, I'm just acknowledging that I'll likely forget again by next year anyway, so what really matters for me personally is my own version of the day that has evolved. That’s kind of my stance on holidays in general. Everyone does it a little differently, and that’s OK.
In theory, Boxing Day happens the day after Christmas. In reality, for me at least, it happens over the course of a few days~ like Boxing Week.
The deal for us is that my family and I go on a crazy rampage through the house, gutting cabinets and drawers and finding all sorts of stuff that we no longer want or need, and box (or bag) it up to go away. The main thing is that lots of "stuff" leaves our lives, and that makes us feel lighter and more free. And that’s a good thing. A really good thing.
The process isn't always easy (OK, it probably never is easy because it involves actual work in addition to letting go, and is mixed in with house cleaning~ this is hard stuff, but it's worth it, I swear.)
As I head into Boxing Weekend here in the Zesty household, I'm doing what I can in an attempt to make it through without tears. Here's my Game Plan.
1) I'm Trying to be Prepared.
That means plenty of caffeine for me and plenty of snacks for everyone.
It also helps to have supplies like separate bags or boxes because not all the stuff we're getting rid of goes in the same category, and I don't want to re-sort. Some stuff we give away, some we throw away, and some we recycle. Sometimes I'm amazed at the perfectly good things people throw away. On the other hand, no matter how much I hate contributing to the landfill, I'm aware that nobody wants stuff like ratty old socks and undies. I still occasionally have to remind my Boy Child that these items go in the trash, not the donation box.
2) I'm Trying to Set Limits
Sometimes I set a mental time limit~ like a 20 minute boogie in my room, or sometimes I aim for a particular space~ like one kitchen cabinet. Other times, I get all crazy and want to keep going until the trash and recycling cans are packed to the rim and my car is full of donations.
Speaking of crazy, sometimes (OK, maybe many times) I turn into a highly caffeinated she-banshee with some sort of attention deficit / anger management disorder when tackling large projects. I'm hoping that this new self awareness of the fact that I lean towards craziness when in the midst of such things will help keep my scary parts at bay.
I'm also thinking of pulling out my Sacred Space Clearing Kit to get me in the right frame of mind.
That brings me to #3.
3) I'm Trying to be Understanding
Some years my kids are more on board with the process than others, and one kid is a bit of a pack rat. I have to work around and respect that. It’s a delicate balance sometimes, and can require strategic timing and phrasing.
It can also require some serious attempts at understanding, especially with things like “collectible” cereal box or gum wrapper collections that might be accidentally mistaken as garbage or recycling.
In any case, my own stuff and the general accumulation of bits and pieces in communal areas usually give me plenty to work on and get rid of. When the kids see clarity happening elsewhere, they often jump in.
Oh, it's also important to remind myself that during this process, things often look much worse before they look better. I have to have faith.
Hopefully, my home will feel a little more like a Haven when I'm done with this madness. I'm sure it will at least feel a little less cluttered going into the New Year. Now if only I knew how to accomplish that with my mind.
In any case, wish me luck~ I'm going in!!!!
I know that it's the most wonderful time of the year and all, but somehow, this holiday season has been a bit of weird one. And I know I'm not the only one feeling that way.
Friends who always have family professional looking photo cards made or do holiday letters just didn't get it together. Those that did seemed to squeak in last minute.
Family members who normally finish their gift shopping by October 31st are calling me three days before Christmas to ask what my kids would like.
And I really knew something was up when even kids (who are most likely about to be bombarded with more gifts than a third world village will see in 3 years, and are probably well aware of this fact) are lamenting throughFacebook about their inability to find the Christmas Spirit. It's a sad, sad situation.
I don't know exactly what's up with the world at large this holiday season, but I know that for me, it's a different one. It's the first time I'll juggle post divorce logistics with kids. It's the first Christmas without my sweet Grandma, who really was the glue that held together a whole section of my family. And just to keep me on my toes, there's a massive pile of BIG LIFE STUFF that all needs to be negotiated and dealt with right friggen now.
These things are cumulatively not very conducive to a Happy Holiday Spirit. My tendencies first lean towards the urge to punch someone in the throat, but when the extreme fatigue sets in, I'd rather curl up in a ball and cry. Notice that I said urge. I know, I know...Actually punching people is wrong. And since it's Christmas Eve tonight, there's just too much to be done and no time for crying about it.
So, what on earth is one to do in order to make sure they don't become that woman who flipped out at the mall and started throwing things and screaming at everyone? (For most of us, I'm guessing that this is probably not the bit of fame we are seeking.)
Here's what helps me stay semi sane during the holiday season (and keeps me from any punching of throats or other body parts)
It only takes a minute, and in all honesty, many of us spend more time frantically complaining about how hectic life is than it would take to just calm ourselves down and make a game plan. So stop. For just a minute. And breathe. Shut your pie hole, close your eyes and breathe. (I tell myself this all the time. I'm not just being rude to you all..)
Seriously, a wee bit of time invested in getting centered pays off in huge dividends with the prevention of angry eyebrow wrinkles.
I can't even tell you how much the gift of laughter means to me. Seriously, there are a lotta times when you have to either laugh or cry, and if you followed step 1 above and took a minute to breathe, you might just realize that some situations are pretty darn funny.
For example, many people are stressing right about now over the upcoming holiday gatherings, and they do it every year~ not about the food or decorations or gifts~ but because they know they will have to deal with relatives that they feel are crazy, weird or just plain unpleasant.
I could tell you that your relatives really aren't that really bad, or I could tell you the alternative truth. We all have crazy relatives. There is no perfect family.
Whenever possible, I just try to laugh about it. I mean, think about the Griswold's or the Costanza's. If your holiday festivities don't include a metal pole, an official airing of grievances or wrestling feats of strength, well, then...your laughter may evolve into gratitude, which is really kind of deep stuff, don't you think?
3) Let Go
It's not gonna be perfect. That's just the way it is. But, it probably can be pretty darn nice. If you let go that is.
I'm super guilty of NOT following my own advice on this one, and doing a mental freak out about all the things that aren't the way they used to be, should be, or could be. *** But when I'm giving myself (and other people) all sorts of grief about what isn't perfect, I'm missing out on all of the ways things are awesome.
It's ridiculous really, and it never ever helps. What does help is figuring out what really matters and putting the energy I have into making those things happen in the best way I can.
My kids probably won't remember if every gift wasn't right or we forgot rolls, or have to skip crafts because I have to work. But they will remember if we were happy or not.
So, what matters to me this year is loving up the people around me, including myself. I'm still going to hustle and do what I can to pull off some holiday magic, because that's just what I do. But, I'm also going to give myself and everyone else a break, and know that whatever it is, is good enough, imperfections and all.
In the words of the ever wise Dr. Suess:
"And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
'Maybe Christmas,' he thought, 'doesn't come from a store.
'Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!
Wishing you all the happiest of holidays!!!!!! Breathe, Laugh, Let Go and Enjoy!!!
I recently did a little flipping out. OK, maybe this isn't news because I kind of have little flip out episodes on a semi regular basis, BUT they are usually internal and aimed at myself (although the people in close proximity may witness them and wonder, but anyway....)
External flipping out is usually reserved for people who are in some way or another causing me a large amount of grief, but the flip out episode I'm referring to here revolved around a friend that I normally find very enjoyable, and have no desire whatsoever to flip on. That's what was so weird about it.
It started off as girlfriendly chit chat, and somehow rolled into a conversation with deep and penetrating questions about all sorts of future stuff. The kind of stuff that I really have no idea about, and very little control over. The kind of stuff that I get heart palpitations if I think about too intensely. Big Stuff.
And that flipped me out.
I'm not sure exactly why, but somehow the whole conversation had me feeling (and possibly sort of acting) like a wild caged animal. I know that Dear Friend didn't mean to make me feel trapped with her inquiries. She just has a mind that wants to be prepared for any potentially problematic outcomes, to have a master big picture plan with fine details on the far off horizon.
But, the reality seems to be that there are some things you just can't be prepared for. The far off horizon has so many things that are not in the least bit in my control that it's quite honestly terrifying.
I probably freaked out because I'm just starting to get used to this idea that a whole heck of a lotta things are not in my realm of control by any means. Like, not at all.
I can only (and barely) control my own actions, and life is complicated and full of all sorts of other people and problems. No matter how much I want to wrangle them into my way of being, there's only so much I can do.
If there's one thing I've learned in the last couple of roller coaster years, it's that I really don't have any idea of exactly how the details of the future will unfold. But even so, things usually turn out pretty freaking well.
Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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