Time to Take Down the Tree...Maybe...Not Yet!

It is important to make note and celebrate the little victories along the journey of life. All those little victories add up to big changes down the road. Today I had one of those little victories. I realized it when I got the boxes out of the attic to put the Christmas decorations away and take down the tree. But first, let me backtrack a little...

Last Christmas

When I was younger, I LOVED Christmas!! I could not wait for it every year and was always a little sad when it was over. But somewhere along the way, the holiday season had become a stressful time for me. So stressful that in recent years, I could not wait to take down the tree ASAP! Last year, Christmas was on Sunday and my husband didn't have anymore vacation days left for the year so he had to go back to work the next day. I remember telling him Christmas night that I was going to take down the tree the next day. He asked me not to, to consider the kids and wait a little longer. But I had gotten myself so worked up that I just wanted Christmas to be over. I told him I would think about leaving it up a couple more days and I did, but only for the kids. He told me sometime later that he wasn't sure if the tree would still be up when he got back home from work on Dec. 26 or not.

This Christmas

That brings me to this year. Christmas with all the extended family was really good this year but I still ended up feeling a bit overwhelmed and "spent" after it was over. The difference this year was that for the first time in several years, I did not go into the holidays dreading it. But then when I still felt overwhelmed this year, I began to feel discouraged because I couldn't figure out why I felt this way. After all, I went into the holidays with a good attitude this year. So why did I still feel bad? I came to realize that I think that is how my mind and body reacts to the situation. My family is filled with lots of strong personalities and while all these personalities meshed well together this year, it still is a lot of energy in a contained space. And because I went into the holidays with a good attitude this year, I was able to see that perhaps some of the cause for all my angst in years past had to do with me reacting to all that energy. After realizing that, I resolved to plan more time to relax next year around the holidays to offset the high energy of all my wonderful family members. I'm excited to see how that helps next year.

The Tree

Back to this year and the Christmas tree. I got the boxes out of the attic today to put away the decorations because today is New Years Day and I thought it was probably time to take it down. When my husband saw me with the boxes, he asked if I could wait until tomorrow and we could enjoy it for one more night. When he asked me that, I was more than happy to agree to it. My heart wasn't into taking down the tree yet. I am actually NOT happy and excited about taking down the tree this year. What a change from last year! Last year I couldn't wait to take it down and this year I'm not ready for it to end. That is a victory in my book! The hard work that I have been putting into therapy and working on myself this year is paying off and I am beginning to see the reward of my efforts in more and more places in my life. And that is a very wonderful thing indeed!

My Gifts to Myself for 2013

Tomorrow is the start of a new year and after spending some time looking back over the past year, I know what I want for myself for this coming year. You could call them New Year's Resolutions or goals, but I'm calling them gifts that I am giving myself. I am calling them gifts because they are things that I want to do for myself to strengthen my overall well-being: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It is my hope to end 2013 stronger than I began it. Time Management

The biggest key for the next year is to work on my time management skills. Time seems to dissipate some days and I know that there are many things that I do that waste time or don't make the best use of my time, like...ahem...Twitter, Facebook. I probably don't need to check them a million times a day. ;) In the interest of making better use of my time, I created a schedule for me and my family. I created one last year and it helped some, but I was too detailed with it and filled every time slot in the day. Mind you, they were all important tasks, but I learned from that experience that I do not like to have my weekends scheduled. So for this new schedule, I scheduled my days M-F and kept Saturday and Sunday open, except for my morning routine (I'll get into that shortly). There are a few time slots during the week that are empty and I chose to leave them so because I know that other things will arise during the day and schedules can run over too. These empty slots give me a cushion in my day.

Another key component to the schedule is making the most of the time that the kids are awake and home from school. The time after school and before bed goes so fast that it seems like we hardly ever get the things done with the kids that we want to. The kids have a few chores that they are supposed to do, but we have been lacking in the follow-through because we simply forget about them. But we believe that it is important for them to contribute to the household and learn life skills, so I have created a space in the schedule for their chores in addition to the family time. Life can't be all playtime, even for children. They should be taught about balance in life too. No one, old or young, needs all work or all fun. A balance of the two is healthy for us all.

AM Routine

The other key to accomplishing what I hope to this year is my morning routine that I have created for myself. Morning is the best time to get certain things accomplished. I've tried getting up earlier to get things done in the past but I used that time to get a jumpstart on the day. And I didn't stick to it, because who really wants to get up early just to do laundry or other housework? Now I have realized that a better use of the early morning quiet time is to use that time to exercise, mediate, pray, read, write, and study. The activities and work of the day I can do when the whole house is wake, but these quiet and creative activities are best done first thing in the morning when I am alone and undistracted. Because mornings are a more productive time of day, I have pushed the housework duties that require less thought to the afternoon when my brain is more prone to wandering.

My morning routine now starts at 5:00 AM and since it is vitally important to good health and happiness to be well rested, I have to go to bed far earlier than I had gotten into the habit of doing. At first, the thought of going to bed so early seemed kind of awful (as did the 5 AM wake-up time), but I looked at how I was spending my evenings and realized that I wasn't actually accomplishing anything productive in the evenings. I like to spend some of the evening relaxing with my husband but after a certain time, it becomes more about just vegging on the couch than relaxing together. So I decided to make better use of my time and spend the early part of the evening with my husband then go to bed and read around 9:00 PM. I have been creating this new routine on paper for a few days but only started it in practice yesterday. After hearing me talk about what I wanted out of my days, my husband decided to join me in going to bed early and waking up early too. He is not getting up quite as early as me, but he is getting up early enough for him to have time to ease into his day with some exercise and quiet activities too.

365-Day Project

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I was interested in Marelisa's idea, from Daring to Live Fully.com. Her idea was to decide what you want to accomplish in 2013, then decide what you can do every day to work toward accomplishing that goal. This is her 365-Day Project. I had already formulated my goals for this next year when I read her article. Reading her article gave me the final push that I needed to commit to giving my best to my goals for this year and to commit to my own 365-Day Projects to achieve my goals.

My Intentions for 2013

  • Manage my time well, utilizing my schedule to do so.
  • Strive for balance in my life. Balancing my roles as a wife, mother, student, home manager, self, and dreamer as much as possible. Following my morning routine will help me stay balanced.
  • Grow my creativity by writing and taking photos more.

My 365-Day Projects for 2013

  • Follow my morning routine every day.
  • Write every day.
  • Take a photo every day.

I am really excited for this coming year! I can't wait to see what it has in store for me and to see how I grow and change throughout the year. 2013 is going to be a good year.

Happy New Year!

Words of Affirmation

Words of affirmation are so often not said. I know that for myself, I tend to assume that my family and friends know that I love them and that I support them. And I do tell them these things from time to time. But I don't think that I've been doing it enough. I was reminded today during two separate conversations with two important people in my life that they need to hear these things from me. Of course we show how much we care through our actions every day, but that does not negate the fact that we need to speak these words too. When I used words to express my love and support for these individuals, their responses showed me how much that meant to them and how I need to make an effort to say these important things out loud more often. We all just want to know that we are loved, accepted, and supported. So why don't we say these things more often? Most of the time we probably assume that the people in our lives know how we feel. But aren't words of love and affirmation too important to not say out loud? I think that it is time that I stop assuming that my friends and family know how I feel about them and start making sure that they hear from me how much I love them, how much they mean to me, and that I support them.

Dear Family and Friends

I have not spoken up or made my feelings known for a long time. I have not done so because I don't want to hurt the feelings of my family and friends. Instead I have just remained quiet, not letting them know my true feelings. I did this out of a true desire to not hurt them but I have found that by not being honest with them, I began to resent them. I found myself avoiding them because of the frustration on my part of needing to speak up or stand up for myself and not doing so. I do not want to resent or distance myself from my family and friends. I want to be honest with them, to speak up. I have remained quiet, not because I am a timid person, but because I know that they do not respond well to a change in the status quo. I have tried in the past to be open and honest with them and each time that ended badly. Each time, I approached the conversation calmly and sincerely and yet the end result was me feeling bad that I hurt their feelings. However, the time has come to change how I deal with them. I have learned that I am not responsible for how they choose to take what I have to say. It is my responsibility to approach them with kindness and respect and however they choose to respond is their choice. I know this now but I have not put it into practice yet. Fear is holding me back. I am still afraid of hurting their feelings and I am afraid that some of my relationships may not be the same after I take an equal footing in the relationship. I know that when I begin to speak up it will disrupted the equilibrium of the relationship. My hope is that we will be able to ride it out and settle into a new place of equality and respect. This is an open letter that I would like to send to my family and friends, maybe someday...

Dear Family and Friends,

You may have noticed some distance from me. That is because I have not been completely honest with you. I have been afraid of hurting your feelings and making you feel bad if I say what I really feel. It has become frustrating for me to not be able to be open and honest with those that I am close to, so I have pulled away. I love you all and I do not want to be responsible for making you feel bad. But the thing is, I have realized that it is not my responsibility if you feel bad or not; that is your own choice. It is my responsibility how I speak with you and how I treat you but I am not responsible for your happiness. I promise to always endeavour to treat you with the respect that you deserve; however, the time has come for me to respect myself as well by speaking up for myself. I know that when I start to do this, it may create some ripples in our relationship, but it is my hope that we will end up with a stronger relationship, in a place of mutual respect and honesty.

Love,

Your daughter, sister and friend