Holiday Survival Guide For The Intentional

*Note- If you are living an accidental life, allowing the world to whisk you along wherever it fancies unaided, then you probably want to go back to the beginning of my blog. If you are not comfortable making choices that benefit you, and are in line with your beliefs and goals, you may want to avoid the rest of this post. Because the only way I know to survive the holidays is by being true to yourself. And the only way I know to do that is to live an intentional life.

Living intentionally can be hard on the best day, it can be difficult on the worst day, and it can feel darn right impossible on a holiday. I have found that being true to myself often means being at odds with others. Those others, be they family or friends, can make personal change or being honest the hardest thing you will ever have to do because often it means losing them in your life or making them upset and uncomfortable with your decisions.

I don’t think I know a single person who gets excited to spend time with family during the holidays. Everyone seems to have some complaint or another about one person or another that they wish wasn’t going to be there or who brings them strife. I get it, trust me I get it. But that being said, it made me start to wonder why? Why do we all have so many problems or become stressed out during the holidays just because it means more time with our families? Shouldn’t it be the opposite? Shouldn’t we be excited or relish the time to relax with family instead of seeing it as an obligation or something we will have to “get through”?

The only core reason I can come up with is people’s inability to accept that we are all  individuals full of successes and failures, people who are continually striving to be better and find more peace. I don’t care what your problem is, “My mother doesn’t think I cook well” “my father was never around” “my friend didn’t return my calls/texts/emails” at the core of it all is your insecurity and their inability to accept you (which guess what? is fueled by their insecurities).

Voila! I just solved the biggest problem people have with friends, family, and the holidays. You’re welcome.

So there it is in a nutshell my friends. You hate the holidays and visiting family because you are insecure and not confident in your intentional identity. And everyone else you know, who you dread seeing during the holidays, is insecure in themselves and terrified that anyone living an intentional identity is clearly trying to be better and if the other person is better than they by default they are not, so they should knock down the intentional liver with cruel/sarcastic, biting comments and digs until everyone is reduced to tears, shouting, or silent gross misunderstandings happen that take until New Years to sort out.

If you are one of the lucky few who enjoys the holiday season, never feels stress and thinks all your friends and family are the cat’s pajamas then congratulations, you have arrived at nirvana, or probably the closest you are going to get this time of year. If you are not one of those people, then this time of year can drive you to emotional eating/drinking, reverting to old habits you have been trying to shake, most definitely not living intentionally, and scurrying around trying to make everyone else happy while you fall apart. hint hint… if we all spent a little time making ourselves happy, then we would be happy. But I digress…

Please, stop. Just stop. For one holiday season try something brand new and see how it feels. It can’t be worse than previous years. You cannot change the way other people act. You cannot change their choices or their words. But you can change yourself and how you react. You can help maneuver others into feeling better so they act better.

The first step is to acknowledge how awesome you are. You aren’t perfect, but you are pretty great and if you have been following me on this path of trying to live intentionally then you have also accomplished a lot and hopefully changed some in the last 6 months. With any luck you feel better, look better, and have more inner peace that allows you to think before you speak or lose your temper. You’ve come a long way, and there is no shame in that. At all. Anyone who tries to make you feel differently, you can politely ignore.

Here are the rest of your survival tips in an easy to use list format:

  1. review your awesomeness
  2. limit your to do list so you don’t feel stressed. Seriously, it does NOT all need to get done.
  3. delegate responsibilities to others and be relaxed and flexible if they don’t get done, and some of them won’t
  4. do not make any decisions based on what other people expect of you (who hasn’t picked out a specific outfit because you know it is what others expect you to wear? but you hate it)
  5. do make decisions that make you happy and are true to your intentional life (If you always feel terrible after going to celebrate with a relative then politely decline and say your sticking close to home this year)
  6. when your relative gets angry, say you are sorry once and then move on (you probably are sorry, you do wish they were nicer and you could spend the holidays together). If they can’t move on it isn’t your problem, it is theirs. Remember that one of your expectations in life is to be treated fairly and respectfully by people who claim to love you. If they don’t offer that, then you owe them nothing.
  7. stop feeling like you need to live up to another’s expectation of you. You are your only judge and trust me you are already too hard on yourself, you don’t need anyone else telling you your job isn’t good enough, your husband drinks too much, or a second piece of pie will go straight to your thighs.
  8. offer peace and love to everyone you care about, even those who have trouble returning it in kind. This is about your choices in life and how you choose to live, live with love and kindness. Eventually, it will be returned to you.
  9. take care of yourself so you are in top shape to cope with unexpected barbs and daggers. Get lots of sleep, drink lots of water, do not overindulged in alcohol or food, take your vitamins, and above all keep a smile on your face.
  10. Fill your holidays with the things that will bring joy to you and those around you. Do not allow negativity to seep in, it has a tendency to grow and fester like a bad flesh-eating bacteria. If your decorations go array just laugh it off, I bet its funny if you look at it just so. If your relative is cruel, remember your awesomeness, people are cruel and withholding for only one reason, they are insecure. Do not let them draw you in. If you gain 5 pounds, just remember a little insulation is okay sometimes.

I used to love the holidays as a kid, probably because I was too young to see what the adults had to go through to pull it all off. As an adult I tried to capture the magic and eventually gave up because of the stress and negative feelings that always seemed to result in my trying. But ever since I started living intentionally, making decisions that benefit my family and myself, cutting the fat of my life, recognizing who my real family and friends are, the holidays have been something I breeze thru with nary a scratch. I suspect this year will be the best season for me in many years. I am surrounded by those who love me. I’ve learned how to cope with negativity. I’m working on my patience. I have finally found a balance for taking care of myself. Plus, I have two little people who are already wrapped up in the excitement and wonder the season provides. Two little people who will not be disappointed by my sub par turkey, my unbrushed hair, my 10-year-old sweater, my muffin top, my empty bank account, my blue carpet, or my fake tree.

I am lucky. I am fortunate. But I am also strong and brave. I made this happen. It wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t a fluke. I wanted it. I worked for it. Now its time to have my pie and eat it too!

What I am reading: Divergent by Veronica Roth. Super quick read, I can’t put it down. I love dystopia!

What I am listening to: Best Day of my Life by American Authors

Now moment of the week: Snuggling with my four-legged children. No wonder people who share their lives with dogs are healthier.

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Inspirations from the ether: 14 habits of highly miserable people thank you Jessica for bringing this to my attention. Everyone should just double check it real quick to make sure they aren’t doing these.

How to be Happy in 19 Fairly Painless Steps

 

I may not have found the holy grail of happiness just yet, but I have managed to eek out a little bliss every now and then in these stressful shark filled waters I call my life. So I have decided to take a look back at the things I have done or tried in my journey thus far. It seemed like a good time to sum up the specific steps I’ve taken so I can take stock, move forward, readdress those things that didn’t take the first time, or reassess why things didn’t work at all.

  1. Identify what is great about you. You might be surprised at how awesome you already are. Make a list to see the awesomeness on paper.
  2. Really make those traits of your life a priority or use them more often to shine. If you take what you do well or the traits about you that rock and you do them more often, of course you are going to find more reasons to smile.
  3. Make a conscious choice about who you are. A choice not driven from history or others labels, but one that is truly you, or the you you would like to become. Make the choice of happiness when you do this. Stop blaming others for your position in life and take charge. Blaming others gives them the power, taking charges puts you in the driver’s seat. I prefer power every day of the week.
  4. Formulate your personal identifiers. These are the attributes you want to live by or be known for. This is your chance to chose who you are going to be. This list doesn’t have to be true at this moment, it is a work in progress. Include your current attributes as well as those you are working towards. Many people find happiness in reaching toward goals. Easier to reach for them if you know what you are reaching for.
  5. Review the people in your life and decide if they help or hinder your progress in either happiness or your intentional identifier goals. They may be friends or family and you may love them dearly, but if they don’t get your new life then they may hold you back from truly succeeding. I’m not saying let them go, I’m saying put them in perspective.
  6. Clean up your financial mess, or at least put it all out on the table and in the open so you can start looking at it. Knowledge is half the battle, the truth really can set you free. This is the path to fixing it.
  7. Take action to implement or move toward an intentional identifier. It isn’t enough to make a list, you have to take action. You have to remind yourself everyday of who you want to be and you have to do something to work toward that goal as often as you can.
  8. Let go of all the negative things that draw you down or hold you back. Whether it is people, things, habitual thoughts, or ruminations on your past, let it all go and start new.
  9. Stop patterns of behavior that do not work for you or bring you closer to your goals and happiness. Stop doing everything that negates who you want to be or what you want to have in life. Just stop it.
  10. Adjust your beliefs to allow your goals to be reached. If a belief is preventing you from reaching a positive lace or a remarkable goal it is time to rethink why you are chosing to believe something tat is clearly holding you back.
  11. Live on the edge and do things that scare you; you might be surprised at what you find or discover about yourself. Often living in the safety zone prevents growth and opportunity to make your life the way you really want it to be. You must be bold to move forward and out of your comfort zone and onto the edge. Those who make history or are fabulously happy are out there on the edge, trust me.
  12. Learn to live in and experience the Now- I I know it sounds new agey. Let go of the past and stop worrying about your future. If you live in the now the past is nothing but a memory and the future will only be brighter if you really truly just live in this moment.
  13. Be better to your partner. Give them what you want and they are likely to reciprocate. If not then have them read this. Remember they have value and possibly are right.
  14. Write your best about me. Avoid titles and roles you play in life and instead focus on the true things about you, See mine for inspiration.
  15. Choose to be healthy. Make one small healthy change every week and be surprised at how it catches on and how good you feel.
  16. Be productive. Do things that create peace or simplicity in your life. Do things that need to be done and can shrink your to do list. Do things that instill a great sense of accomplishment. Do the trivial things that get in the way of your greatness.
  17. Get creative! Do something new and creative everyday. This is to get your brain working and firing neurons it usually doesn’t use. Brush your teeth with your opposite hand, paint a mural, bake cookies, make an obstacle course… just do something new and interesting that is totally for fun or nonsensical. There is a lt of brain up there just going to waste.
  18. Exercise, but use your limited time wisely. Moving everyday can make a huge mood shift. If you don’t have time for a big workout just squeeze in something, anything. It will make your mind feel  happy and your body relaxed. This morning I did 20 min of yoga with a two year old on my back. It wasn’t proper, it wasn’t “correct” but I did feel better and he sure laughed a lot. :)
  19. Stop taking on responsibility for others feelings. You cannot control what they choose to feel or what they choose to believe. If you have not been hurtful or intentionally cruel then their emotions are not your responsibility. You will waste a considerable amount of time in life trying to solve the problems of other people. Usually those people have made the decision to be miserable and their beliefs have less to do with you than their own choices to feel unhappy. It will hurt, it will be hard, but you have to realize at some point in your life, you are only responsible for your own reactions and feelings. Not those of others.
  20. Fake it. Fake everything you want to do or be until you reach your goals. You can get where you are going, it just takes a little bit of creativity and embellishment sometimes.

I have now been on this quest to find a better way of life since July of this year. And the really cool, if surprising bit, is that I really do feel better. I really am seeing a difference in my mood, my outlook, and my life. Just imagine if you had been following the journey and doing it to. What might your life look like now? What changes would you have made? How far could you have come?

For those keeping score, or are simply curious. I have accomplished the following by taking the steps above:

  • I’ve lost 5 pounds without dieting
  • I now fit in my pre pregnancy pants, I’m talking the ones before our first child
  • I’ve cleaned up our finances and we can now pay all our bills with a little left over to fix an ailing truck and toddler
  • I can find things in my organized house
  • I’ve sold or given away much of my clutter
  • I’m nicer to my children and we have a lot more silly times together
  • I’m sleeping better
  • My to do list is remarkably shorter
  • I am reading like a fiend
  • I am halfway through a new fiction book I hope will be the winner winner to getting published and being a true writer
  • I have eaten gluten free with only two breaks ( this was for my son’s Celiac Disease, but I won’t lie and say I don’t think I am healthier or that it didn’t improve my mood)
  • I feel more at peace
  • I feel like I have found part of me I thought was forever gone
  • I can cope with the unknown with less anxiety
  • I no longer have ruminating thoughts about things I can’t control

What I am Reading: Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hall a man buys a ghost off the internet… enough said, if that doesn’t make you curious, nothing will.

What I am listening to: Life is Beautiful by Keb Mo.  Thank you Carri, for giving me his voice.

What I am watching: Before you poo poo me… I am a HUGE Star Wars fan (see first edition original movie poster in my house or my son being practically named after Darth Vader), but I am also a huge believer in raising amazing little men. I hope when asked who they liked best they will choose wisely. Food for thought. Honestly though, at 8 years old I chose Chewbacca.

Inspirations from the ether: I clearly didn’t utilize my baby’s sleep time well enough. Must see photos. Seriously,  no really, click it!

Now moment of the week: A potty trained two year old who did it all by himself one day and  hasn’t looked back. Bonus moment, finding out from his special doctor that he only has 6 more months of leg braces! 1 regular doctor visit down! Three more to go!

 

Confessions of a Habitual Overthinker

I’m going to make a confession today. I’m not perfect. Whew! That felt good. Apparently, some people are under the misconception that I am, or that I should be, or that this blog professes to be the solution for finding perfection. I’m happy to report these are all false rumors generated by individuals who are either insecure and intimidated by my goal of being happy (what the hell, who are you people?) or it is a misconception driven by the belief that I think there is a perfection or only one right way to live. On the contrary, what this entire blog is really about, at it’s core, is that there are MANY ways to live and that as long as you are living intentionally, as opposed to unthinking being shoved along on a path by culture and society, then you are doing the right thing and living the best life for you. I am not sitting in judgment of others, I am merely trying to start a movement or a dialog about finding happiness.

By its very nature intentional living allows for and accepts just about any path or preference of life short of harming others. So I am stymied that anyone who has read my words might feel judged or overwhelmed at them. How hard is it to just live your life, your way? And why does it make people feel insecure or judged when others attempt to do this or suggest they might try it? Why is overall life satisfaction and happiness such a negative thing or a bad word in our day to day lives? Is it really that hard to live your life without worrying what others think and feel? Apparently, yes.

I do not believe there is a perfect life, or one path that we are all destined to go down or that will provide all people with the happiness they crave or the life they deserve. Many people would not be happy in my life or with my choices, and I would be equally unhappy in theirs. However, this does not mean that one of us is right and the other is wrong. Even those folks who follow the status quo blindly are not necessarily wrong; if they are happy and content with the results that the status quo has provided, then it was the right path for them. If they are unhappy and unfulfilled with the result, then I would argue it is time for intentional living.

My desire and project to find happiness by embarking on a new goal each week is not one I take lightly, it is not just a whim, a random quest, or just thoughts in a blog. I am determined to create the life I want by using the best tool I have at my disposal, my brain. I am convinced that if I make the effort, do the research, and apply myself that I can reach a Zen like place where I am happy and content. I’m not talking about a mythical fairy land with Unicorns and leprechauns- I get that life is hard and there will always be moments of craptastic events outside my control- but I also know that if the rest of my life is in balance those moments will be easier to overcome and their impact less devastating.

This week it has been difficult for me to find the energy to write to the blog. Knowing that my determination to find happiness has inadvertently resulted in the loss of friendships is a hard pill to swallow. It has left me rethinking my goals and my method for getting there. It has left me to wonder if the power of words was just not the right venue for expressing my journey or the bumpy road ahead. Was it possible that words could unintentionally  hurt those I care about? The realization I have come to is that while my journey and my words might hurt others, it is only because they are not ready for this kind of path in their own lives not because I intended to hurt them or cause harm. They are not prepared to look at why they are unfulfilled. they are not ready to search and work for their own happiness. Instead they feel insecure, trapped, and overwhelmed and reading my words feels like a slap in the face and a confirmation that everything they thought was lacking in their life really is. For this I am sorry. I am sorry I have made anyone feel like less, when the goal was to inspire everyone to feel like more, that they deserve more.

The important thing I was reminded of, as I contemplated all of this this week, was that I can’t make all of the people happy, all of the time. And more importantly, to find my own happiness I have to learn to be okay with that instead of feeling responsible for their unhappiness. So this weeks goal has been to identify when I should feel responsible and when I shouldn’t, because apparently I struggle with that and I think it leads to a lot of unhappiness that is easily avoidable.

Are there thing you feel badly about that aren’t really your fault? Do you take responsibility for others feelings and reactions? Have you found any solutions to stopping this behavior? I would love to hear from you and I would love for you to share this blog with others. Thanks.

What I’m reading: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion If you like Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory, then you will love this book.

What I’m listening to: Wake Me Up by Avicii

What I’m watching: Shake

SHAKE from Variable on Vimeo.

Now moment of the week: Picking Pumpkins with little boys who say they are “cute”. In love.

Inspirations from the ether:

Wow, I have never felt less productive or more motivated to live the moments I do get very very intentionally. Must watch.