As I sat to write this blog, I struggled to find inspiration. This somewhat shocked me as I imagined that coming off of a very busy holiday weekend, I would have some astounding words of wisdom or at least a controversial issue to share. Instead, I find that I am feeling full. Full from cookies, fudge and candy canes; full from family and friends; full from laughter and full from time with children. And as I sit here feeling very full and content, I am recognizing that this has not always been the case. I remember holidays when pressure or upheavals with family or friends left me feeling unhappy, disappointed or anxious. But not this year!
So what made this year different? What contributed to the ease and contentment that I feel? One key factor is that I am truly blessed with lots of friends and a very close immediate and extended family. Another factor is that I am fortunate to be able to be generous to those I care about. And I think the last key factor is that I recognize what I can control and choose not to give much energy to that which is out of my control – this has been something I have truly learned over time! And I think it’s this last factor that probably has made the greatest impact on my holiday success.
In previous years, I think my efforts had been to try to make a “perfect” holiday. I would focus on the right gifts, the right wrapping, the right food and the right people at the party. I probably spent so much time “thinking forward” that I missed out on the moments happening around me. I would be so worn out and tired that by the time the holiday hit I was too exhausted to really take part. But somehow this year, it was different. Oh, I still shopped and baked and decorated, I just allowed myself to stay more present in the moment. I controlled what was happening at that moment versus fretting over what might or might not get done.
To be present in the moment, I had to be in touch with what was happening around me and how I was feeling. I also needed to maintain a level of flexibility. If I was running behind schedule, I changed my expectations. If I planned to bake, but didn’t feel like it, I gave myself permission to do something else on my list. I continued my workout routine to make sure I felt good and tried to make sure I remained well-rested. And I must say, somehow it worked. By the time the holidays hit, what was important on my list had gotten done. I was ready – well wrapped, well rested and at ease.
Last night I was with a group of working moms who were talking about how hard it is to “get it all done.” Clearly the holidays add even more items to what seems to be an ever-growing list of things that have to be done. And though I think they would argue with me, I would dare say that they would feel more at ease and successful if they stayed in the moment and focused their efforts on what is in their control. Would everything always get done? No. Would everything get taken are of that was important at that moment? Yes.
Staying present in the moment and putting energy into only what you can control, is a skill. It takes practice and time to master. This doesn’t mean you don’t set goals or expectations, it just means you adjust that way in which you achieve what in the end is most important.