Tag Archives: stress

The Grateful Ornament

This is the time of year when everyone is running madly around trying to get things done in preparation for the holidays. In other words, it’s a stressful time. Right? To be honest, this year has actually been more stressful than most for me, whether it be good stress or bad stress, but through it all, I’ve been reminded how important it is to just stop for a few minutes to reflect on how fortunate I am.

No matter how good things are, they can always be better. No matter how bad things are, they can always be worse. But, I think the key to surviving it all comes from deciding what things are worth dealing with and what are not and to pay special attention to those things that edify one’s life over those that do not. Life is too short to waste on negativity. As a result of all this thinking, I decided to make a virtual, all-important ornament for my Christmas tree this year. It started out as a clear ball and developed from there. I named it, the “grateful ornament.”

To me, the “grateful ornament” has many layers. In its core is LOVE; that I picture as molten, ready to flow and seep into any space no matter how small or large. Surrounding this center are smaller layers that contain things like PATIENCE, FORGIVENESS and UNDERSTANDING. The outside of this ornament consists of a rich, glossy covering of KINDNESS that glows and pulses and is mixed with a multicolored, bumpy HAPPINESS, whose appearance reflects the favorite color of whomever is beholding it. But the wonderful thing about this ornament is that it has a magical quality that makes those who gaze upon it―full of HOPE and ASSURANCE that every year can be experienced with these wondrous qualities.

So my dear readers, this year I encourage you all to join me as I place the “grateful ornament” on my Christmas tree, front and center and you place your “grateful ornament,” on your tree, as well. As we race against time to get all things accomplished before year’s end, may we have the grace of gratefulness and so much more to carry us through. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a very ornamental new year!

 

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.

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Before The Internet and Cell Phones

Many of you may not remember the time before The Internet and cell phones were a regular part of our lives, but I do. Because of these wonderful inventions, life seems to have sped up and allowed us to accomplish more than we used to. That’s a good thing, right? I’m not so sure.

This holiday season, I found myself so swamped with things I needed and wanted to do, there wasn’t time to fit them all in, and since I‘m between writing projects and a retired person, I decided to go off-line for a number of days and actually enjoy the activities associated with Christmas and preparing for the new year. Friends and I exchanged cookies, I took more time writing my Christmas cards, I spent extra effort decorating and making flower arrangements and playing cherished Christmas music. I phoned some friends I hadn’t corresponded with for a while, to catch up with the happenings in their lives. A friend and I went out to lunch and to an art museum, another friend and I walked the neighborhood admiring the colorful lights. I even watched some sentimental Hallmark movies. These are things I used to do years ago when life traveled at a slower pace, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it all. I had more of the spirit of the season this year than in previous ones when I was mostly out of breath.

Several times, while waiting at the doctor’s office, I actually had conversations with fellow patients about the weather up north and how families were doing and where we were from, instead of sitting there surrounded by silent souls who were glued to their cell phone screens. I discovered I was more relaxed, more peaceful. I had kindness and love in my heart.

I found in some people, frazzled nerves, grumpy attitudes and downright nastiness, and I had the notion they were usually normal and nice, but during his time, just rushed and stressed. Why? They were trying to cram too much into too little time, were not successful and therefore miserable themselves and they unintentionally spread that attitude to others.

That revelation made me happy I had chosen to slow down this year and savor the season. While this approach isn’t necessarily possible for everyone, I encourage us all to remember life is fleeting. It’s over too soon and the quality of it is more important than the quantity if you aren’t happy and fulfilled.

So, my new year’s resolution this 2014 is to create more days like my holiday days by better prioritizing and remembering the things that are truly important. We’ve all heard the cliché “slow down and smell the roses.” How many of us have actually taken it to heart? This year, I have. Will you?

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How to Ease Your Holiday Anxiety

A while back, I wrote a blog entitled, The Hurrier I Go, the Behinder I Get. Does that sound like you? Especially during this holiday season? There are so many things that must be done in such a short amount of time. Cleaning and decorating alone, can be very time consuming. Writing and sending cards, planning parties, meals, preparing for visitors, gift buying/making, wrapping, sending/giving, the list goes on. And it seems there is always something that will put us behind schedule, an illness or accident, for instance. Unexpected “somethings” abound. Eeeeeeek!

I’m going to play “mommy” for a minute and remind you of something you already know. Obstacles are going to bar your way. It’s how you handle them that helps you keep your sanity. That’s a short sentence, but it’s packed with importance.  And worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles; it takes away today’s peace. Here are a few pointers I’d like to share that just might ease your emotional load.

First of all, this is a season that reminds us to be peaceful and to love others and enjoy this time. With that in mind, I find it helpful to have holiday music playing while I attempt some of the chores ahead. Making a short list of three or four items and checking them off as I progress, and then making another short list on another piece of paper underneath the first one keeps me from being overwhelmed and checking off items makes me feel like I’m getting somewhere. It helps being determined not to let frustrations enter my mind by making an adventure out of some tasks that would ordinarily be mundane or even aggravating. Treating myself  to a cup of hot chocolate, apple cider or special tea, boosts my spirit and reminds me why I am toiling away, to make this holiday special for someone else, and has the benefit of making the holiday special for me, as well.

If you have family members to whom you can delegate, let them help you. Note: They may not do things exactly as you would, but if they are willing to help, let them do things their way and be grateful for that help. Perfection should NOT be insisted upon. Praise them for their efforts. (I’ve seen arguments develop over this tip.)

If you are still having anxiety, put everything in perspective. In your mind ask these questions. A year from now, will I, or anyone else, remember how stressed out I was during this season? Is that a good thing? In five years, will I, or anyone else remember how stressed out I was during this season? In ten years, will I, or anyone else remember? In thirty years, will I even be here? Will anyone even remember ME? If so, how will they remember me? If you are a young person, you can extend this perspective example.

If all else fails and everything threatens to be too much, simplify. Take a deep breath. Try to relax. Remember the reason for the season, and with love in your heart, have a Merry Christmas and a very happy and prosperous New Year!

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Three Weeks Until Christmas?

Am I the only person who was shocked to realize this week that Christmas is only three weeks away? How does this happen?

What is so interesting is that Christmas falls on the same day every year. It’s not one of those willy-nilly holidays that changes depending on some outside factor. Every year, Christmas is December 25. How is it that on December 1st every year, I lose it just a little bit? With little more than three weeks to go, I begin to jot down all the presents I still need to buy, the supplies I need to wrap said presents, and the food items I will need to purchase for our Christmas dinner.

Then, of course, there are the activities my children and I want to take part in. There is the Festival of Lights to see, the ABC Family 25 days of Christmas, the lighting of the Rockefeller center Christmas tree, and a hole host of parties to make appearances at.

It seems as though each year, I try to cram in more and more activities into this month. It’s gotten so stressful that I’ve resorted to eliminating anything from my plate that I can. Last year, I simply posted a “Merry Christmas” message on Facebook in lieu of sending out Christmas cards. (Yes, I really did that.) Of course, immediately after posting my “Christmas card” to Facebook, I received one of those Christmas letters in the mail. You know…THOSE letters. The ones detailing each member of the family’s accomplishments throughout the year. The letter that I never seem to have time to complete. Not that I could remember the entire year anyways.

Seriously, I just can’t keep up with all of it. So this year, I’m vowing to be stress free. I will not fall victim to the Christmas card and all that’s involved with dressing up my children so they look like little angels. I will not battle the crowds at the mall; this year, I vow to make most of my purchases on-line. I vow to not go into debt to give my children every single item on their list only to have it wind up in the goodwill pile in three months. I vow that this year will be the best year, filled with laughter and the things that really matter.

Quality time together.

Donna Small is the author of two novels; Just Between Friends and A Ripple in the Water. She lives in Clemmons where she is at work on her next novel.

http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=62&osCsid=1a86c254d67fadbd2a62111aaf323367

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