Tis the season to be busy…fa la la la…la la…crap!
The older I get, the more the joy of the holiday season seems to dissipate. Weekends are filled to the brim with holiday obligations, dinners, and panicked Christmas shopping. Everyone has somewhere to be, and something to be doing. Netflix is taken over by Hallmark movies and holiday tunes blare on repeat in department stores. Everywhere seems to contain this forced sense of merriment. Call me a grinch, but I’ve debated wearing earplugs out in public. Decorating becomes a frantic chore, more than a tradition as you make sure your home is spotless for the relatives’ arrival. Every day seems to fast forward in a red and green blur, until Christmas is right around the corner.
I was quickly becoming a grinch, switching off the Christmas music as soon as it began to play and purposely avoiding doing any sort of activity that involved “peopling”. I had not made a single Christmas cookie, or sang any carols. Despite decorating both my family Christmas tree and my boyfriend and I’s tree, I felt no inclination to bask in it’s glory. I despised the thought of snow, thinking only of the poor drivers. I was far too concerned with keeping a tight schedule and making my rounds, instead of enjoying the company I was in. Gone was the little lady who loves Christmas and worked in her family’s tree lot. It was a wonder I hadn’t grown green fur.
What happened to the days of holiday cheer and excitement? How do I make this stop?!
PAUSE: There comes a point in your life where you feel that in order for things to get better, you must stop what you’re doing. These past couple of weeks, I did just that. I needed to hit the pause button.
I like things to happen in an orderly fashion, as denoted by my impeccably (and obsessively) detailed schedule. However, my “pause” button derailed things a bit.
This was incredibly difficult for me for many reasons:
- Because I suck at saying “no”. Despite my well-intentioned RSVP’s, I started saying “no” to some of my holiday commitments. It was not that I didn’t want to see my friends/family, it was that I needed a few moments to myself. I needed a reset in the worst ways and it all starts with taking things off of the schedule. Saying no is like pulling teeth for me. Be frank with people. If you can’t make something or don’t have time to take care of a task, let people know. People have a tendency to understand this time of year, especially because everyone is so busy.
- Not being busy drives me insane. I have a tendency to work hard and often, while meticulously planning out my “free time”. For the past few weeks, I decided to take a break from blogging. Not because I had “nothing to say“, but because I needed the “extra” time, leaving that nagging voice in the back of my head to do just that, nag. However, if/when something falls off my schedule, I cannot help but obsessively search for what I’m forgetting or “missing”. In turn, this occupies my time and my thoughts, keeping me “busy”. Despite my best efforts, I did not use that “extra” time the way I intended. There were no mental vacations or well-deserved breaks. I still worked, made some holiday rounds and wound up sick.
- I have to check off my list. I am an achiever, tasking and organizing is in my nature. As list maker, when things aren’t crossed off they begin to feel like pop ups, clouding my vision of priorities. This feeing increases exponentially when things come up and mess up my order of prioritization, sometimes causing a “skip” in my list to simply “get it done” and “out of my way”. Weekly tasks were difficult to halt, and I felt like I was slacking. Most writers will tell you that it’s difficult not to write. In one form or another, it calls to you, keeps you up at night, and slowly drives you insane. Pausing my blog posts without notice was difficult, and in many ways it felt like a hot potato sitting atop my desk.
- I’m a people-pleaser. I like people and I love making them happy. This goes hand-in-hand with my inability to say no and is most often the nail in my self-created coffin. I detest the thought of disappointing others. That being said, I always try to make time for everyone (except myself). Putting myself first is not in my nature, and this was truly a struggle. To me, it feels selfish to take time to myself (however, this is not actually the case). I had to actively remind myself that it’s okay to take a step back and take care of myself first. In short, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
So what did you actually accomplish, Brittany?
- I bought erasable pens. The future isn’t set in stone and neither is your schedule. I am a creature of habit and I do my best to fit my schedule together like a puzzle. Despite my best efforts, things change constantly (which is neither good nor bad). Change can suck, but it’s a lot better when you can erase the pen you wrote in.
- I used my ABC’s. To combat my loss of sanity, I started making A and B lists. My “A” list consists of things that must be done immediate-ishly, while my “B” list houses the less important/urgent tasks. This tool forced me to reassess my priorities and determine if things were urgent, important, or both. Say farewell to hot potatoes and reprioritize!
- Stop, collaborate and (breathe). Two heads are better than one sometimes. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, find someone to talk to. Chances are, others are willing to help you out if you just ask them and have a conversation. If you’re like me, you have the tendency to run 100 mph with your hair on fire regardless of what you’re doing. That being said, don’t forget to stop and breathe. Recently, I downloaded a new app that reminds me to stop multiple times a day and just breathe. Incidentally, my heart rate slows and my thoughts become clearer which makes all of my tasks far more manageable (Imagine that!).
- Disappointing someone does not make you a disappointment. “Disappointed” is one of the worst words in the dictionary. I would honestly rather hear someone say they hate me than say they are disappointed with/in me. Despite my best intentions, it is inevitable that I will disappoint someone, somewhere, at some point. It happens to everyone, and you have to learn to be okay with it. Saying “no” does not make you a bad person (even if you disappoint someone). I said “no” a lot these past couple of weeks, and so far all of my friends and family members are still talking to me. Say “no” sometimes, I promise it will be okay.
UN-PAUSE! Fast forward to now. I’m still standing and still have yet to grow green fur and shout “Bah humbug” at small children. These past couple of weeks have been a challenge. Going against my nature isn’t easy but it was absolutely worth it. I sang some Christmas songs over the weekend (without cringing), had our holiday pictures taken, and took some time to bask in the glory of our beloved Christmas tree. For those of you waiting on a cookie update, wait no more! Mom’s famous Christmas cookies will be coming out of a piping hot oven somewhere near you! I’m still going 100 mph and working a lot of overtime, but I’m a lot happier. Most importantly, I began to notice (and take part in) the holiday spirit around me. All it took was a little re-prioritization, a few “no’s” and some erasable pens.
Happy Holidays, my friends! I hope your season is full of friends, family, food, and warmth.