Friday, November 12, 2010

Weekly Reflection (week 42): Priorities

I am coming to accept that there is no break between the beginning of the school year and the holidays. I have clung to this notion that there is a bit of a pause before the mania of Thanksgiving/Christmas kicks in, but reality has slapped that delusion out of my head for good. And now I am left with the realization that once again, I have overextended myself. You see, I dream of a November and December where I am mindfully and joyfully preparing for the holidays. Days warmed by the glow of a fire, the smell of treats baking in the oven, and me calmly presiding over a slew of projects that will become a bounty of lovingly crafted, personalized gifts for friends and family.

I can hear you snickering over there!

In the past, I have lumbered through busy days and my delusions, knitting until my hands feel like arthritic claws, finger tips crusty with dried glue from craft projects and in a state of mild shock by the inevitable and panicky purchases made when I realized I could not complete everything on my list in time. Add to all of this my tendency to enroll in challenges and ecourses - forgetful of the fact that not only do I need sleep, I require vast quantities of it just to stay sane - and I give you my recipe for disaster.

This week I have been mindful of how I use my energy and I am determined to set new priorities for myself and my family. The magic of Santa and his elves is very much alive in our house and I want to be present for this time as I know too soon, Cowgirl will be wise to it all.

Essential right now is time together as a family. The days are shorter, the weather has turned cold and we are spending more time indoors. Time together means games, cocoa, reading books and painting. Yesterday I spread out my shower curtain on the dining room floor and Cowgirl and I spent a good hour or so painting. We listened to music, took a break for snacks and just luxuriated in time together. Nothing is sweeter than my daughter pausing after finishing a picture and declaring "I love painting with you." (Yes, she is quite the schmoozer!)

To stay calm and centered, I need to begin each day by setting that intention. I have struggled lately with getting myself out of bed but realistically, I can manage to get up 10 minutes earlier and spend a few minutes either meditating, listening to an affirmation, drawing an oracle card or doing a mini reiki session.

To stay healthy (and believe me, working in a university setting, I am seeing everyone dropping like flies) means rest and good nutrition. We love soups and nothing is easier than throwing tons of veggies into a soup pot and letting it simmering into goodness. Fresh fruit is something I also will allow myself to splurge on. Nothing lifts the dark day doldrums like a juicy piece of fruit. Or fresh juice.

In addition to nourishing my body, I intent to continue to nourish my soul in the coming weeks. Painting keeps me sane, keeps me in touch with the landscape of my inner life and reminds me to look beneath the surface to discover the magic in every moment. My art journals, my painting tribe, my stash of paints - these will be my arsenal for sanity. If a few gifts get made in the process, great, but my priority will be to create for myself. For this is the best way to stay mindful of the beauty of the holiday season. And my very best painting buddy is also my inspiration and muse as she reminds me curiosity is the greatest attribute of an explorer, inventor, artist and lover of life.

cowgirl as a shark floating over a green me

Me: What should Santa bring mommy for Christmas this year?

Cowgirl: More paints!

Yes, she has a handle on my priorities. What is your intention for this holiday season? How do you plan to stay sane and enjoy yourself?


  1. Well, my ORIGINAL priority was to make all my Christmas gifts, decorate like Martha Stewart, and initiate world peace... SOOOOOOO glad I stopped by!! You saved me from a world of trouble, Lis (heehee).

    Seriously, I love this post and plan to set an intention to be good to me - THEN be good to everybody else. I also had to comment on Cowgirl's sweet words to you - in my experience that stuff only gets better. My Meg is going to be 27 (in 4 days!!) and she still loves to paint with Mom.


  2. i'm so glad to hear someone looking towards calm and mindfulness during this time. so much craziness around.
    here where we live, Xmas is a tiny affair, well, the day is special, but consumerism barely plays any's wonderful.

    yes, to sleep and good nutrition and self-nourishing in general. i have to remind myself all the time.

  3. I'm glad you're committing to the things that keep you happy and healthy. :)

    Soups sound good. I need to learn to make some new ones.

    Over the past handful of years, we've revolutionized our holiday experience. Our way wouldn't satisfy everyone, but for us - it is quite wonderful. We skip out on all the stress.

    This is something I want to write more about, if I can figure out how and just get around to it.

    The story in a nutshell is: We do almost nothing for holidays. Does that sound sad? For us, it isn't. Our motto is "experiences, not things," so we exchange very few presents and those only with a couple people. Can we make a special (but not extravagant, exhausting, or perfect) food and spend an evening playing a game while listening to cozy music? Perfect. What more do we need?

  4. It's easy to "see" how it should be from a distance. The hard part is keeping life at bay to make it happen! I usually start thinking about my handmade projects months before Christmas - at least what I want to make for those who are close to me. I feel woefully behind right now because I haven't really started any of them. I have some ideas but haven't put the time aside to work them which will likely mean doing it frantically and being snappish instead of festive. I started my shopping in earnest yesterday but came home with only two little stocking-stuffers. The shopping part is starting to give me anxiety attacks because I don't like being in the stores after December 10. Just writing this is making me freak out!

  5. Such a timely post!! I *did* giggle at your vision of November...only becaus I've got the same one myself...only i gave myself until December to get that warm, festive, glow! LOL.

    This is perfect though...these last few years of the holidays have been hell-on-wheels for me and I found myself hating every second of it -- which is so horrible but the consumerism and stress and aggravation....ack!! So I set the goal of 'shopping done by December 1st' so that December can be spent in that fuzzy glow of the much-whittled-down list of handmade gifts and baking.....

    deep breaths....


  6. i don't even have kids or deal with the back to school stuff, but am still always amazed out how quickly we arrive at the holiday season!!

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  8. Lis, yet again I am nodding as I read your post. I really look forward to this time of year, it is the most creative time for me and creativity is my sanity when the dark months set in. However, this year due to so many things happening at once ie my house falling to pieces and having to be put back together lovingly, I seem to have lost sight of my artwork. I haven't even managed to find a clear surface to attempt painting for nearly three weeks now. Thus your post is a wake up call to my creative goddess, a reminder of what is important to me. I really want to enjoy
    the run up to the Christmas season too, to tap into the magic and cosy afternoons/evenings. I hope that Santa does bring you paints :)