Saturday, December 29, 2012

Some holiday rules for me

I always enjoy a pink poinsettia at the holidays and after.
I like the red and cream also.
I'm on the tail end of my holiday vacation. This year I scheduled time off for a run of twelve consecutive days out of the office.

My twelve days of Christmas. How appropriate!

The end of my work year was quite busy and I know I'm going back to a packed 2013 right from the start, so I was really looking forward to this time off.

I always say we work twice as hard to be out of the office on vacation and three times as hard when we get back. Not complaining, for sure. So grateful to have a wonderful, stable job.

But it's apparent by my own sense of duty and obligation to do the best I can at whatever task is in front of me, that I'm still accomplishing the same amount of work I would if I never took vacation. I'm merely putting in the same effort in a condensed amount of time, working extra before and after.

The fact is I work hard to play hard. I like to share with you more the fun, the adventure, the living part of my life, though. With my blog titled "Working to Live," I surely don't want to talk about work here. I am working to live the life I want to live, not living to work.

Yet both the working and the living part of my life recently have been so intense that I know I haven't posted on my blog in way too long. I miss my blog. Chatting with someone about web technology and social networking at a dinner party the other night, I shared that I write a blog, one that I haven't set aside enough time to enjoy lately.
My personalized "Working to live"blog mug.
How could I forget the name of my blog?
It's been way too long, Blog. I miss you.

The dinner guest asked me what the name of my blog is. I drew a blank. I was dumbfounded. How could I forget something that was such a part of me? One of my daughters even had a custom "Therese" mug made for me last Christmas with my blog name and its tagline.

This wasn't good. I could see the mug I use all the time in my mind's eye, but I couldn't read the blog name. In that moment, I surely felt silly as I had to turn to hubby and ask what the name of my own blog is. I knew I was tired, but didn't realize how much. That was a sign to me.

Working to live. In true spirit, I've been playing hard this holiday season. Maybe too hard. Yes, I'm at home, but it's all still work, work, work, making a wonderful holiday for myself and my family. Staying up too late and always on the go. Really no different from most moms who are happy to do the same.

Not remembering the name of my own blog, though, this tired soul recognized that I need to do a little more living than working, whether at my job or in my home. I'm always there for everyone else. Maybe I need to do a little more living... just for me.

Every year as the holidays wind to a close, I think about what I've done well and what I can do better next year. It's my introspective nature to analyze what's just happened and consider what I can do better, yes, to make others happier, but also to make my own life easier next time, adding more joy and relaxation for me wherever possible.

So while it's all fresh in my mind, I've jotted down some holiday rules I'll try to live by, some reminders of what I'm glad I did and things to work on for myself next time, since that's the area I seem to be most lacking.

Enjoy my Christmas music collection and the noise of family. This I always do pretty well. Over the years I've acquired quite an eclectic assortment of holiday music. I know I could always turn on the cable channel to listen, but there's something very comforting about owning my own tunes and knowing what song is on next. There's a feeling of order that all is right in the world when I listen to my favorite music. The repetition from year to year is soothing and signifies the holiday for me.

And I certainly enjoy when everyone takes over the house and comes home to visit. There's excitement in the air as all family members pitch in to prepare for and celebrate the holiday. I truly love the happy noise of a bustling family.

Funny though, now that all are gone and the house is silent, I am just as content and happy. For as much fun as it was to listen to non-stop holiday music and a rowdy family, it's just as wonderful to hear the sound of silence now. The quiet house back to just hubby and me and our two long-haired Chihuahuas chomping on their small-breed kibble. We can do what we want, when we want.... Life is sweet.

Be done early with fuss-free presents. I did better this year, despite how crazy my work schedule was before the holiday. So many years I'm laying out presents after everyone goes to bed on Christmas eve and, with adult children, not because Santa had to visit. I just didn't have time to get it all done.

But this year I had everything under the tree and around the living room in holiday bags stuffed with festive tissues (wrapping eats up too much time) a few nights before. This doesn't happen too frequently for me. It felt good! I could concentrate on making holiday food then.

Make extra food for leftovers. Speaking of food, this really is never a problem for me. I love to make good food and lots of it. And holiday food is the best, so it's a no-brainer rule to keep. It's even easier now that I have grown children who love to help cook our holiday meals. It's so much fun to work with them.

The trick is to not make so much, though, that we get tired of it and it gets wasted. Mission accomplished this year. We've had just enough for a few good rounds of tasty meals to relish. We're especially happy when all the dishes are clean and we know we don't have to cook again for a few nights.

One thing to note about this year's holiday food: No yellow onion next year in the Christmas Eve orange and fennel salad. Too strong and it overpowered the blood orange juice dressing. Maybe a very little sweet onion. Or maybe none at all. I want to taste the orange and fennel more.

Wear jeans most days... or, at least, try them on. With all the good food around, I bargained with myself at the beginning of my time off how many days I'd wear jeans. Why wear jeans? One, because I could, with no office requirements for business casual attire. And two, because jeans are the perfect litmus test to tell you if you're eating too much. Wear sweats or loose pants every day when you're on holiday, and you'll grow into them. I know this from experience.

Hey, don't laugh! It works! It's day 9 and I can still zip up my jeans with ease. Am I in tip-top shape with less exercise and more food? Hell, no! But holiday muffin tops don't count! I'm okay to pay later to work those off in 2013. After all, a girl's gotta enjoy the good stuff and have some fun on vacation!

Eat fruitcake and drink eggnog. These foods may be "don'ts" on some holiday lists, but not with me. I love both of these generally disdained foods. If I don't make homemade fruited bread for the holiday season, I treat myself to a decadent all-natural fruitcake from Whole Foods. And I always have delicious eggnog on hand.

Whole Foods makes some really
 good all-natural fruitcake.
No fake red and green cherries,
 or whatever they are, here.
This year, however, I used all the eggnog in the rich, homemade sprouted wheat cereal I cooked for our Christmas morning brunch, along with the egg casserole, smoked applewood bacon, and fruit. 

Even though I may imbibe in the rich stuff, I don't want to go overboard and feel like I have to finish the whole carton of eggnog all by myself. My son was disappointed, though, when there wasn't some nog left to drink. Then I wished I had some myself.

Note to self: Don't forget to set some eggnog aside next year just for drinking. And don't forget to enjoy the foods I love.

Reserve time for family, friends, and helping others. This is a given. I try to do this regularly, so I have to include it, but maybe the new rule to list and strive for is...

Reserve time for me. This is where I need to do better. Note to self: Next year, don't wait until you're exhausted from all else to make time for yourself. Set aside some time here and there, so you don't get to that "can't easily come back" point when you know you have to stop or you'll get sick and regret that you didn't rest.

Make time to post on my blog. I always set a goal at the beginning of any vacation to take some extra time to write and share with you. I love to write, so why is it so hard to carve out this time for myself?  Tsk-tsk. It took me until day 9 of this 12-day vacation to do so. Need to work on this rule for next year.

Save some time for doing just nothing. This rule correlates back to time for myself. It's so much fun to see everyone and do lots of stuff over the holidays, but I've learned that it's not good to have something scheduled every day.

It's hard to turn down a great invite or a fun excursion, but I need to remember that I won't go back to work refreshed for the new year if I never left myself a moment to breathe and just be.

Read, read, read. Oh, I need to work on this big time. I crave to read every book, every magazine, every website, every blog. There's not enough time for it all. I love when I see friends post that they've just finished reading the latest best seller. I yearn for the day when I can regularly join them. Book club, anyone? Gotta make more time for reading every vacation, every holiday, every day in the new year.

Go to the movies at least once over the holiday. This year the movie I want to see in my time off is Les Misérables. Oh, there are a bunch more I want to see, but I'll be realistic and start with one. Back in our college days, hubby and I'd see a movie every night of the holiday break.  I need to see more movies on the really big screen. I'm sorely missing the experience.

Snowshoe if we can. Well, it's snowing right now and I'm writing instead of snowshoeing. Writing's on my list also and these are two activities that can't be multi-tasked. Gotta get out there. Wash in the washer and dryer. Hubby's still eating some leftovers (see above). We have things to do. We'll try to get out for some 'shoeing in the 'hood before dark....

We did! I just let this post sit and went out for more than an hour. It was glorious and well worth it! Yay, snowshoeing! Now I can eat more leftovers! Haha!

Meditate. Still working on this practice. I know I can do better here. I'm really comfortable with what I believe in spiritually and what I want to strive for, but I acknowledge I have a great and long way to go.

I am happy to be just a tiny speck on this wonderful earth in a greater universe of good. I have so much to learn yet and there's so much more to think about. I can't learn it all, but I'll die trying, and that is all good.

Again, the theme I see is that I need to take more time for me, to be within myself, to work on my goals for peace, spirituality, and serenity. I want to work harder on the softer things. Keep on keeping on, I say, and always strive to do better tomorrow than what you did yesterday and today.

Hmm. As I look back at this fresh list of holiday rules I want to consider for next year, it becomes obvious that these seem to work for my everyday life also. Following these rules can help add up to the peace and serenity I strive for any time of the year.

It seems the business and busyness of life are just magnified at the holidays when everyone's trying to cram so much in before year-end. It's all a whole lot of happy, maybe even too much happy, at times.

Yet taking time to sit still can be just as productive and rewarding. This thought process then really is a head start on my work for the new year. Yes, I think. That works for me.

Have you, dear readers, thought about things you did well this holiday and what you may want to do better or differently next year? Please share. I'd love to hear all about it.

Until next time, yours in learning to take time for yourself...Therese

P.S. At least I remembered how I sign off on this blog, friends! Happy holidays and thanks for reading!

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