When I was young, I took ballet and was not very good. Ballet, tap and jazz never felt natural to me and after struggling for several years, I finally gave up. I couldn’t even do a proper pirouette because I never seemed to be able to find my spot each time I turned my head. For those who are unfamiliar with how to do a proper pirouette, as you rise onto your toes, you find a spot on the wall or in the room on which to focus. You keep your head as still as possible as your body turns, and when your head must turn, you turn as quickly as possible and refocus on your spot. If you cannot pirouette properly, you cannot become a great dancer. I couldn’t and didn’t. It turned out to be a good thing because I never had the figure to become that type of dancer anyway. Instead, I learned to love dancing with my friends, and that was good enough for me.
For those who celebrate something this month, we are in full on holiday mode. This month can be exciting, overwhelming, fun filled, discouraging, tender and enraging, sometimes within a few days, hours or even minutes. As a “go with the flow” kind of woman, I used to find this season to be the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows as I let the events of the day determine how I lived and felt. As the big days got closer, I would feel like I was on a stormy sea of emotions, and the tiniest slight would feel like the biggest snub. A suggestion to change something I had planned could feel like a soul crushing criticism, and some days it felt like I couldn’t do anything right. Then I learned something profound. I learned that we do not see the world as it is. We see the world as we are. If we are angry and scared, we will see the world as an angry and scary place. If we are kind and loving, we’ll see the world as kind and loving. I also learned that we have more choice in that matter than we care to acknowledge in most cases, and that was a game changer for me. That meant that I could have the type of holiday I wanted rather than the one that was dished out to me, and I wanted a peaceful, joyful and loving holiday more than anything. The question was how to get it. Actually, the first question was what would help me have that peaceful, joyful and loving holiday I longed for. Turns out, it started in my own home.
I love having a clean and organized home, especially during the holidays. I spent over a decade learning how to get my home in order; now I spend less than an hour per day maintaining it. Fatigue has often gotten in the way of a joyful holiday season, especially when I was the queen of late nights and early mornings. I found I could be productive on Monday and Tuesday, but as the week wore on, I would spend more and more time on the couch and more and more time thinking I was an absolute failure as a mom, wife and human being. It was amazing how an extra half hour of sleep per night helped cure that. When I wasn’t sleeping enough, I couldn’t understand why my daily todo list seemed insurmountable or the sofa seemed irresistible. A mere thirty minutes of extra sleep per night made all the difference. How did I manage to get to bed thirty minutes earlier? I turned my TV off at 9pm. It sounds so simple, but it was more difficult than I thought in the beginning. I was amazed at the amount of mindless TV I watched. Years ago we figured out that having TV on in the morning was disastrous to our morning routine. It amazes me that it took two more decades to realize the same thing about our evening routine. The computer is another issue. I love social media. I have contacts all over the world because of it, but the allure of catching up often got in the way of being productive, so I’ve made a deal with myself. The computer/iPad/smart phone are put on hold until most if not all of the morning home blessings, meditation and writing are complete, and they get one final check in the evening after the TV is off, then it’s off to finish the evening routine and head to bed. I also make sure that a load of laundry is done per day and the results are miraculous . Life began to fall into place. Life gets easier. I get happier, and I find the inclination to write and live better in every way. I know how trite that sounds, but those habits changed everything for this previously undisciplined woman.
You know, I used to hate the word discipline, probably because I didn’t have any and it always seems like a horrible way to live, but I learned something about discipline. When I was a young parent, I heard that punishment is something you do to your child. Discipline is something you do for them. When I learned to discipline myself to do the few things I just mentioned, I completely understood that concept for the first time. I realized the gift that discipline can be, and how, without discipline, we constantly punish ourselves for not being able to be who we want to be. It can either be a vicious or victorious cycle, and I shoot for victory every time. Do I miss the mark now and then? Yes. Do I lose the spot as I pirouette through life and the holidays? Occasionally, but the daily habits of taking care of me, my family and my life are what constitute my spot on the wall, and every time I refocus there, the rest takes care of itself and that will always be good enough for me.
Do you have a holiday challenge you would like help with? Please comment on this post or send me a message on our Where Karen Goes Facebook page, and we’ll see what we can do to help. Need holiday help with everything? There’s still time to get your printed or Kindle copy of Happiest Holidays, Your guide to a budget friendly, peaceful and fun holiday season. It includes several tips and recipes to make your holiday season the best it can be. And that, I hope, is good enough for you. Thanks for being you and have a great day.