Here and Now: December

Despite my best intentions the days this month have felt rather hectic. I have decided I am not a fan of the no-plan plan. I am thinking a “soft” plan would suit me better. I will put things on the calendar and when the day comes if I really don’t feel like doing whatever it is then I can re-plan it. Or if the mood strikes I can do it sooner. But especially for the holidays I need to see all I need to do posted on a calendar.

I am continuing with my yoga and meditation. I was worried I would quit the yoga now that I am getting up in the dark but found I love doing the yoga by the light of the 12″ tree in my office. It is peaceful and festive and the stretches feel really good.

Meditation continues. I am hoping my focus improves for the morning session (so much to do these days!) but I am loving the evening session and actually look forward to that period of peace and quiet before bed. Once again I am in the office with the only light coming from my tiny tree.

Something I forgot to mention last month is my gratitude logging. I write down at least three things each night that I am grateful for or brought me joy. I do believe this is having a positive affect on my attitude. Helps me look for the good in the day. (No line at the post office! A good coupon for Petco! Getting my second shingles shot out of the way, even if it did make me feel like crap for two days.)

My absolute favorite thing to do this month? Story time with my son. At bedtime we take turns reading a story to each other. We have a whole shelf of Christmas books, many of which he has technically “outgrown”, except I believe you can never out grow books. So we are visiting our favorites, “Oliver the Other Reindeer”, “Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake”, “If You Take a Mouse to the Movies”, “Mickey and Minnie’s Gift of the Magi”, just to name a few. That reading time together makes my heart happy.

Last year I colored the dogs, this year cats.

All the holiday pieces are coming together. One thing that I am doing differently is saving a few items to do between Christmas and New Years’. Not all the cookies need to be baked ahead of time, not all the movies watched before Christmas Day. For my family Christmas is celebrated through Epiphany, January 6th. I always feel a little sorry for those families that start the day after Thanksgiving and are sick of Christmas by the 26th. Just makes the winter that much longer.

I like taking my time preparing for the whole 12 days of Christmas (which start Christmas day). This year may not be quite as detailed in the planning but there will be activities and fun family time.

I hope you get to enjoy the whole holiday season, both the preparations and the festivities!

Here and Now

A few months ago I read something to the effect that looking back makes you depressed and looking forward makes you anxious. To be content you have to be in the here and now. This concept really hit home for me. I have put my focus on staying in the present and I have to say I feel so much happier! Now some of this may be due to the settling of the ol’ hormones but really I feel like keeping my attention on today, right now, has been a big difference maker.

I am finding contentment in getting up and seeing what I need and want to do. And then I do it. I don’t worry about tomorrow’s grocery shopping or the school event at the end of the week. Sometimes I make a list for the next day or two to get things out of my head (so I don’t forget about them but it doesn’t mean I have to do them), but overall I have become pretty good at happily being mindfully in the moment.

Gratitude heart I drew. Making the orange part I went into a kind of meditative state and then for each purple heart I thought of someone or something to be grateful for.

I would say the most important thing I learned from my “Magical Mindfulness” 21 day on-line retreat (from Kim Strobel) was that we have control of 40% of our happiness. Fifty percent is genetic and only ten percent is external/environment. I can do a few simple things and be forty percent happier! I say that is worth staying in the moment for.

While Kim gave us six things to think about doing I am sticking with three daily items: gratitude, meditation and exercise. And I’ll do a fourth, random acts of kindness, as often as possible.

My ombre gratitude leaf.

I have to confess that I was really surprised to learn that I have complete control over forty percent of my happiness. Am I the only one who had no idea about this?

December Delights

The last two months I have been battling the three-headed monster of seasonal allergies, thyroid and menopause. I have been doing my best to stay healthy and enjoy life but some days are darker than others.  Lately I feel like I am either on the verge of tears or totally irritated and/or exhausted. Knowing it is out of control hormones doesn’t really help.

With the holidays approaching I am carefully planning out my time, trying to keep things in balance.  I want to make sure I focus on doing tasks and errands for the right reasons. I need to remember that I am doing these things to make others happy and because I love them.  But I also need to love myself.

So far my calendar looks balanced, quiet days intersperced with social events.  I revamped my cookie baking strategy to include more kinds that can be frozen and thus made ahead of time.  I have a shopping plan laid out, with all the buying done in the next 2 weeks.

And here is where you and this Blog come into play.  Everyday in December I am going to pause and find the joy in the task or project or errand that I am doing.  The goal is to focus on Gratitude as a way to fight the surging all over the place hormones.  And I am going to share as a way to keep myself focused and accountable.

Here is to a hopefully Delightful December!