Falling through the Looking Glass

{December 18, 2012}   Saving your Sanity in the Holidays!

Gah. This is a stressful time of year isn’t it? All you’re supposed to do is give love and be thankful (while preparing special foods/hosting/intercepting family/giving gifts), blah blah blah.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to give presents. Really. I love to give gifts because it makes me happy to make people smile. Remember in my Awesome Gifts post I mentioned how I am known for giving great gifts? People anticipate my stuff. Makes me feel special. And if my friends and family are happy and feeling good, then it just makes a big rolly-polly-joy ball of happiness that keeps building.

But there are some things that can smack that ball of fun right out of the park and make you want to just strangle the first bad sweater, antler headband wearing carol singer that has been on your doorstep one too many times. So here are my tips in helping curb the conflict and get your happy place to stay happy:

Identify your priorities and don’t waver for anyone!

Do you want to give awesome gifts? Do you want to travel to see family? Do you want to just spend a quiet evening to yourself?  That’s okay. Whatever it is you want, that’s okay and you shouldn’t feel guilty if you have to cut on other areas to get what you want.

I refuse to leave my home for Christmas until after lunch time. Christmas morning, my son will open his presents in his home under his tree in his pajamas. Then we can go see whomever we need to. This is especially complicated as my family is big and this will be the first Christmas without my father anyway. So the obligation to see different family members isn’t as strong as it could be. So I am going to send cool presents to compensate for my lack of attendance to certain family functions.

Don’t let someone bully you into travelling farther than you have time for or buying a gift you can’t afford. You deserve to be respected. Your views deserve to be respected. And this is a big source of stress when you’re trying to smile through gritted teeth. It’s not worth it. If you stand up for yourself the first Christmas, it’s sets a better tradition of not being railroaded next holiday/special event.

Don’t eat yourself stupid.

Not only will it make you gain weight you probably don’t want, or if you are trying to gain weight it’s not going to be good weight most likely, but it won’t make you feel better. Take small helpings of everything. Little thank you bites, just enough to taste what you like and you can always have seconds if you’re still hungry. But leave space on your plate. Don’t feel obligated to eat portions that are going to hurt your stomach. Take your time in eating.

If you’re nervous there won’t be a second helping, fix two plates. Eat the first one calmly, then stick the second away. If you want, the second plate is there after an hour or so. But if you don’t eat it, no big deal! You have automatic left overs!

On a related note, be careful with the drinks, even the nonalcoholic ones. It’s easy to fill up on drinks and over stuff yourself on that fifth glass of iced tea, never mind the added sugar, calories, and other nutrients you could be saturated with already. If you’re drinking alcohol  this goes double. Your body can only process so much. Don’t overload yourself in the drink department. Drink a glass of water after you finish that eggnog before pouring yourself another. It’ll help you digest your food, stay full on a healthy level, and just keep you from stressing too much.

Don’t let the other people rain on your parade!

You have a relative totally bomb your present or your dish? Ignore them. They don’t get a present or they don’t get to try your next dish. Don’t let it bother you, but don’t let them take advantage of you again.

I have a grandfather who is a complete troll. He never has anything nice to say to me. He’s just a cranky old man. I know he’s always going to have something ugly or snarky to say about me or my son. I know this. He is not going to change. Magically, he never gets a present for me and I do not go out of my way to visit him for the holidays. It was a big deal at first, but as I stuck to my guns and now, after a few years, the family has backed off.

If you know your aunt is going to pinch your face or your brother is going to give you the same lame gag gift, don’t sweat it. Just before your aunt reaches for you, grab her hands, squeeze them gently and tell her how happy you are to see her. If your brother is giving you the same poor gift, give him a lame gift back. Don’t dwell on the little stuff. Yes it’s annoying. Yes it’s tedious if your family is plagued with little stuff like this. But that’s why you can stay home or just let it go. Is it going to ruin the excitement of giving your niece something she’s always wanted or make your mother’s favorite dessert taste any less delightful? No. And if it does, than that is a problem with you. Not with them. You can’t control other people completely but you can choose your attitude. It’s not worth it.

Don’t be afraid to schedule your holidays on your time.

You’re not going to help anyone staying too long and wearing yourself out or keeping your time schedules too jammed. It’s only going to keep you distracted from the event you are at because you’re trying to slam into the next event. Relax and pick something, nothing, or a little of everything.

This was something I learned as a child. My mother’s parents were divorced. So for Christmas Eve, we went to one grandparent. Christmas Day we went to another grandparent after spending time at our house. And either the weekend before or after Christmas, depending on what all was going on, we would go see the other grandparent we didn’t catch on the holiday days. We always rotated who got what days so that no one was left out. This also compensated if one of the grandparents was going to be travelling on that holiday. Time was allotted on a stress free term with no rushing. It doesn’t have to be December 25th to be Christmas. Christmas is a feeling, not a day.

If you want to plan time, and you’re not sure you’re going to have it the day of, plan a make up day before or after. If the party you’re trying to spend time with is offended or upset, just explain you rather have all day with them the weekend before than just a few hours the day of or whatever. Most of the time, the party will recognize your intent of quality and quantity, and get over it. (Especially if you make it clear you just can’t please everyone this year.)

But if you need to get somewhere, then duck out. If you need to cut out early because the kids are getting restless or you’re driving them to see the next event, or you just need to take a nap. It’s better to be firm for your health and stress level than stay in a situation where you are exhausted and just faking it.

I hope that this helps! Feel free to leave your suggestions on keeping the Jolly in the Holiday! I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season!

Shared with Titus Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Far Above Rubies, The Alabaster Jar


{December 11, 2012}   Kickin’ the Soda Bug!

I love Diet Pepsi. I can’t help it. I can’t stand non-diet drinks. I can’t handle the sugar. People laugh and tease me, “Gabrael, that stuff is just as bad for you! It’s just a different kind a syrup!”

Yes my loves, I know it’s just a different kinda bad. That’s why I am trying to quit. But Diet Pepsi, oh you vemon of the saccrine gods! Especially with my father passing as he did, I needed something of a crutch. But now it’s time to hack it out.

So, here is what I am trying to do to kick the habit:

1) Always have a water bottle on hand.

My boyfriend does this and it’s turned into a very healthy influence. His training has him drinking his own body weight equalivant in fluid ounces a day. I am not so strict. But it is a good model. I have several large (20+ ounce) water bottles I keep in my fridge. I just rotate between what I carry.

2) Flavor your life!

I found some really delightful teas that I drink without sugar. Kroger has some really great blends in their private selections brand. I love anything with pomegranate in it from them. They have good flavoring. Celestial Seasonings is another brand that has some good blends, no addititives needed.

Even simple fruit slices or actual fruit juices like lemon juice added in small doses can improve tastes and prevent boredom.

3) Is it a habit or a taste issue?

I like the taste of Diet Pepsi, but in some ways, it’s also a habit for me. So I can replace it with something different. If it’s a taste thing then that just narrows how you need to replace your exchanges.

4) Keep track of your victories!

Mark on your phone, drop marbles in a jar, keep track of how many glasses you drink or how many times you empty your water bottle. Give yourself a reward, so long as the reward is not the actually thing you’re trying to resist.

I am dropping coins in my kid’s piggy bank.

5) Admit your humanity.

I falter and buy a 20 oz. Every once and again. I don’t feel bad about it per se, I keep the bottles and will use them in other DIY projects. If anything, keeping the bottles also is my own little accountability measure to which I am evaluating if I need to try something different or not.

And that is how I am trying to ditch the Diet Pepsi. If you have any suggestions on where I can improve or other steps to try, feel free to leave your comments below! I’ll greatly appreciate it! Good luck!

{December 8, 2012}   I received my folded flag…

It’s something that any family member of an emergency personnel fears. That phone call, that car in the driveway, that fellow brother or sister in uniform standing before you, handing you a folded flag, and on behalf of their service thanking you because they cannot thank the one who was resting under that flag anymore. The flag is both a symbol of pride and of dread for every one who’s loved one serves on behalf of that flag.

I remember as a child memorizing the sound of my father’s keys in our deadbolt. Daddy soon picked up that I was listening for him and would even tell me goodnight. I got used to the two beepers on the charger in the bathroom counter. One was his patrol beeper; the other was his SWAT beeper. My father was a patrolman for 27 years, on SWAT for 12 years. He joined at 18 years and stayed in until his failing health forced him to retire at age 57.

The men and women on the force are people I grew up with. I never feared for my father because I knew his team, I knew his partners, I knew they would take care of each other in ways completely beyond most civilian comprehension. And they did. And they have. And they will continue for both myself and my son.

I was more afraid of what it would do to have these people whom I love hand me that flag, then to receive it for myself. But it’s not about us. It’s about my father. It’s about giving him the honor and thank you that he deserves. He earned it.

As the child of a police officer, probably much like the child of a solider, you eventually reach an age of awareness. Mine was when my father came home and had to put that black band on his badge for someone I knew. I was only 6 years old. But no matter how many times he didn’t come through the door, eventually he would. No matter how many runs with a drug bust or a standoff, even my dad’s chase,  he came home. Though I always carried the weight that he couldn’t come home.  But he  did. I was lucky.

It was cancer that took my father. But it was my Blue Family that helped me carry him home.

Thank you to the men and women of my father’s force. Words can never express. Words will never be enough. But the Blue Family knows this already. *hugs*

Shared with A Delightful Home, Frugally Sustainable, Cornerstone Confessions, Six Sisters’ Stuff, The Alabaster Jar, Far Above Rubies, We Are That Family, Growing Home

et cetera