Anticipation. Excitement. Avoidance. Ambivalence. Dread. You may have some of these and many other mixed feelings about the busy months of October, November, and December. The particular joys of the autumn/fall season, the holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and more – all in three months. It sometimes just feels like too much. If you feel this way, I invite you to reclaim the direction/control of your holidays. Reclaim Your Holidays!
Expectations – our own and those of others – can be overwhelming and create stress. How many of the expectations are rooted in traditions? Or habits? Are they based on your desire to be the super-person who pulls off all the observances for everyone? Are the connected to your self-esteem?
I encourage you to step back right now, before we get farther into this 3-month blitz of activity, and do some visioning, priority setting and planning.
Set aside some time, create a space where you won’t be interrupted. Consider lighting a candle or two and grab a beverage you enjoy in the fall. Have pen and paper ready. OR grab this printable “Reclaim Your Holiday Season” in my Etsy Shop to make it easier. Reclaim Your Holiday Season
Take some deep breaths and disconnect from what’s going on in your life right now and the activities of the day. Begin with thinking of 3 words that describe what you desire in this holiday season. Here are some examples to stimulate your thoughts: peace, celebration, quiet, festive, tradition, faith, connection, abundance, family, travel, gathering, love, gifts.
Clear Out Those Blocks That Stop You
Perhaps your busy mind will immediately start thinking of why those 3 things you most desire aren’t practical or possible. So take these steps to get those blocks out of the way – or at least weakened – and then it will be easier to figure out how to create what you want.
Make a “Dread” List. What is difficult during the holidays? Look at each month and its holidays and events. They may be expectations of your own, or expectations of others. They may be stressors of many kinds. Write down what comes to mind and dig down. This could take some thought. You may find some ideas in this post: http://carolbrusegar.com/take-steps-reduce-holiday-stress/
Then tackle that list. How can specific things be modified or eliminated? Maybe it’s a simple decision on your part, or maybe it requires discussion and negotiation with others. Please consider that you may not be the only one who finds each thing difficult or frustrating or stressful. It may not be as difficult as you suppose to make modifications!
Create the Vision for Your Holiday Season
Now that you have some ideas of how to remove some of the blocks to actually having and feeling your 3 desires for this holiday season, it’s time to be more specific.
Describe in writing what experiences will provide your 3 main desires. What are the places, people, smells, tastes, sights, events. etc.? After you have a list, go back and read through it slowly and imagine how it can be. What will it be like to actually reclaim your holidays?
Words on a page are helpful; images are even more powerful. Take the next step and make a vision board which includes images from magazines or printed from the internet. Get a poster board and attach them, along with key words – big, bold versions of your 3 desires and other phrases. Post it somewhere where you will see it every day. You could also do an electronic version that will be on your computer and/or phone.
Setting Priorities That Actualize the Vision
Now that you have that vision and a vision board, it’s time to set some priorities tied to a timeframe. If you’d like a tool, I have a set of Mandala Priority Sheets for October through January in my Etsy Shop. They allow you to list priorities, give a date for each and check off when they are accomplished – and enjoy the relaxation of coloring the mandalas! Mandala Priority Sheets
Who are the people involved in your holidays? It’s important to engage them. Whether your vision includes them in different ways or distances you from typical plans, get them on board as much as possible. Share what you are doing to reclaim your holiday season. Suggest they do something similar. Offer alternatives to replace what they might expect of you. It can be a bit of a negotiation.
As I suggested earlier, you may learn that you are not the only one who would welcome some changes. It may not be as difficult as you suppose. On the other hand, it may be challenging and you may be upsetting the apple cart. Here is where you get even more creative and figure out how to balance your desires and the expectations of others – but from the clarity you have created about what you really want.
Be sure you are not just caving to pressure. Maybe you will decide to take steps toward your vision this year and plan more for next year. You could decide to modify one part of the season and leave others as they have been for now. Others may come along over time.
As you reclaim your holidays, reflect on the impact the changes made on your own sense of peace and joy. Observe the impact on others. Share your experiences with others. May these busy months reflect the true messages and values of the events we observe. And may we be fulfilled and satisfied.
I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be. Find these and other of my books here: Amazon.com/author/carolbrusegar