Archive for the 'Time' Category

Let *stuff* go. The last of a series.

Jen Louden started a conversation over at her Comfort Cafe about simplifying the holidays. When I began reflecting on how I’ve done that, it turned out to be more than a quick forum reply. Plus, I think it’s a great question. So, this week on the blog, it’s all about…

How I restored magic to the holiday season. [part 6 of 6]

If you’re just joining us…
Magic-Restoration Step #1: Don’t pay attention to the count-down.
Magic-Restoration Step #2: It’s a season, not a day.
Magic-Restoration Step #3: Know your symbols and traditions.
Magic-Restoration Step #4: Just make stuff up.
Magic-Restoration Step #5: Let stuff go.

Let stuff go.

This brings us back to Magic-Restoration Step #1. In deciding how I wanted to honor the holiday and the season, in choosing which symbols and traditions had most meaning for me, I realized even more than I had before how little the material elements of the holiday mattered to me. I like presents – giving and receiving them. I like feast days – good company and good food belong together. But it doesn’t take an endless amount of either to satisfy me. Enough is enough.

I’ve long been a fan of exchanging experiences rather than goods. It’s the thing I like most about the Advent Conspiracy, which emphasizes relational giving – then doing something generous with the money you would have spent on stuff.

Magic-Restoration Step #6

In recent years, our Day has gotten smaller and smaller. Less travel. Fewer people. Fewer gifts. Less food. More quiet. Almost as though we’re distilling it down to its essence, its essentials. So, we don’t do and have much, but it is strong and saturated and therefore satisfying in its simplicity.

And because we haven’t crammed the season full of stuff and stuff, there is a spaciousness to the holiday,  there are openings for meaning and magic to enter.

I don’t really miss anything I’ve let go of. Which doesn’t mean I don’t have nostalgic memories of the days of more, the happy overwhelm of my childhood. But more stuff isn’t going to bring the magic of those days back.

I have to keep inventing and seeking and opening to new magic. And so do you.

In summary (the Twitter version):
There’s no rush. You’ve got a whole season. There are lots of ways to do this. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do. Enough is enough.

Happy Holidays.

Let stuff go. Part 5 in a series.

Jen Louden started a conversation over at her Comfort Cafe about simplifying the holidays. When I began reflecting on how I’ve done that, it turned out to be more than a quick forum reply. Plus, I think it’s a great question. So, this week on the blog, it’s all about…

How I restored magic to the holiday season. [part 5 of 6]

If you’re just joining us…
Magic-Restoration Step #1: Don’t pay attention to the count-down.
Magic-Restoration Step #2: It’s a season, not a day.
Magic-Restoration Step #3: Know your symbols and traditions.
Magic-Restoration Step #4: Just make stuff up.

Let stuff go.

For me, the flip side of educating myself about symbols and realizing many so-called traditions are very young and not so profound is a greater willingness to let them go when they don’t fit.

Which sometimes means letting them go forever. But sometimes it just means not this year. For instance, I don’t always decorate. Some years I need the house to be a place where I can get away from it being unavoidably everywhere else.

The hardest time to let something go is when it involves letting a person go. Families change and grow, but they also shrink. Sometimes keeping a tradition can be a way to honor the past, but sometimes that’s all pain and no meaning. In that case, it can be better to let it go and introduce something new.

Magic-Restoration Step #5

Like building up to one day, hanging your happiness on certain things happening a precise way practically ensures disappointment. Not every year has to be the same, nor can it be. I find as long as a few key elements remain unchanged (stockings and a particular bread, for example), the rest can be flexible and reflect what I need and want right now – which usually leads to a more meaningful experience.

So, again, don’t just go through the motions. Be choosy. Try not doing those things that don’t excite you this year. See what happens. One thing’s for sure, the world will not stop turning if you skip a tradition or two. It may feel like a high-risk experiment, but it’s not really if you think about it. If you miss something, just bring it back next year.

• • • • •

Don’t create new year’s resolutions just because… Join me and Laura Burkey to learn a kinder, more intentional alternative that actually works. > fun and engaging tele-workshop December 3

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Just make stuff up. Part 4 in a series.

Jen Louden started a conversation over at her Comfort Cafe about simplifying the holidays. When I began reflecting on how I’ve done that, it turned out to be more than a quick forum reply. Plus, I think it’s a great question. So, this week on the blog, it’s all about…

How I restored magic to the holiday season. [part 4 of 6]

If you’re just joining us…
Magic-Restoration Step #1: Don’t pay attention to the count-down.
Magic-Restoration Step #2: It’s a season, not a day.
Magic-Restoration Step #3: Know your symbols and traditions.

Just make stuff up.

One thing I’ve learned in recent years is it takes a surprisingly short period of time for something to become a “tradition.” Do it more than twice and you’ve got one. The time-worn traditions of my childhood? Not even as old as I am.

Much of the wonder and delight created by my mom and my aunt was stuff they just made up. And not for hifalutin religious reasons either. One of our most beloved and staying traditions is getting new pajamas on Christmas Eve. Which all began when we were toddlers so we’d look cute in the next morning’s pictures. No joke.

Magic-Restoration Step #4

If those two women can invent such magical traditions, so can you. As with Time and Systems and everything else, you are the only one who can best choose and create the circumstances that are right for you. You don’t have to follow anyone else’s script.

• • • • •

You can replace the tradition of new year’s resolutions with anything you want. Join me and Laura Burkey to learn one alternative that actually works. > fun and engaging tele-workshop December 3

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Know your symbols & traditions. Part 3 in a series.

Jen Louden started a conversation over at her Comfort Cafe about simplifying the holidays. When I began reflecting on how I’ve done that, it turned out to be more than a quick forum reply. Plus, I think it’s a great question. So, this week on the blog, it’s all about…

How I restored magic to the holiday season. [part 3 of 6]

If you’re just joining us…
Magic-Restoration Step #1: Don’t pay attention to the count-down.
Magic-Restoration Step #2: It’s a season, not a day.

Know your symbols and traditions.

Somehow, deciding to celebrate a season of holidays allowed me to better pick and choose from all the symbols and traditions out there. By which I don’t mean I became a fundamentalist. In choosing a less secular celebration, I wasn’t inclined to give up decorating a Christmas tree because of its pagan origins, for example. It was just that in choosing what I wanted to honor, it was then much easier to select only those symbols and traditions that fit. More unexpectedly led to less.

In my research I discovered both a wider range of ways to mark the season than I was familiar with and background information that brought some of the magic back to traditions that had lost their meaning. (Again, hat-tip to Waverly.)

Magic-Restoration Step #3

Don’t just go through the motions. Educate yourself about the origins of the symbols and traditions you are using. Learn how other cultures celebrate this holiday. Get curious. Get anthropological. Decide which symbols and traditions have genuine meaning for you, which enhance your experience and which don’t. Then choose the best and leave the rest.

• • • • •

Not so keen on the tradition of new year’s resolutions? Me neither. Join me and Laura Burkey to learn the better alternative that actually works. > fun and engaging tele-workshop December 3

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It’s a season, not a day. Part 2 in a series.

Jen Louden started a conversation over at her Comfort Cafe about simplifying the holidays. When I began reflecting on how I’ve done that, it turned out to be more than a quick forum reply. Plus, I think it’s a great question. So, this week on the blog, it’s all about…

How I restored magic to the holiday season. [part 2 of 6]

Today’s Magic-Restoration Step builds on yesterday’s: Don’t pay attention to the count-down.

It’s a season, not a day.

A few years back, the local paper printed a guide to winter holidays: Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanza and, of course, Christmas – except they made a distinction between secular Christmas and Christian Christmas. And there was just something so spot-on about the way it was written, about the accuracy of its humor (this wasn’t exactly a scholarly essay of comparative religion) that made me realize my celebration of Christmas was largely secular. That which I disdained in the popular culture’s celebration of the holiday was, for the most part, what I was doing too. No wonder it felt like something was off.

Now, I am not a church-going Christian (growing up in a house-church kind of spoiled me for that the way attending an alternative high school kind of spoiled me for mainstream educational institutions), but that particular belief system was the one I was raised with – and I’m loyal to it. But loyalty and familiarity with a faith are two different things…

In my moment of choosing to be in greater integrity with my heritage and beliefs, I realized I didn’t know very much about Christian Christmas. So I read up on it. (This being the internet age, it was not hard to do.) And the best thing I learned about Christmas was context. It is a holiday in a sequence of holidays (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany – some of you will recognize this as the liturgical calendar, but it was new to me).  The connections between them have as much importance and meaning as the holidays themselves.

Magic-Restoration Step #2

One of the best things I’ve done to regain a sense of purpose and meaning during the holidays has been to de-emphasize the day and honor the season – the whole season from Advent to Epiphany – instead of trying to smash everything into 24 hours. And then equally honor all the other seasons, all the other holidays in the liturgical calendar and other traditions that have meaning for me throughout the year. (Waverly Fitzgerald’s work has played a crucial role in helping me figure this out.)

Treating this one day as the main event is a sure path to disappointment. You know this if you’ve woken on the 26th feeling empty or relieved it’s all over. No one day can fulfill a year’s worth of meaning. It’s not a realistic thing to ask of yourself, your religion, your family and friends – or your bank account.

• • • • •

There’s nothing any more special about January 1 than December 25. Join me and Laura Burkey to learn the better alternative to new year’s resolutions – one that actually works. > fun and engaging tele-workshop December 3

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How I restored magic to the holiday season. Part 1.

Jen Louden started a conversation over at her Comfort Cafe about simplifying the holidays. When I began reflecting on how I’ve done that, it turned out to be more than a quick forum reply. Plus, I think it’s a great question. So, this week on the blog, it’s all about…

How I restored magic to the holiday season. [part 1 of 6]

We are almost in the midst of the holiday season (already are, if you listen to the voices of retail) – which can bring on a lot of overwhelm. Overwhelm of stuff, of tasks, of people, of food – of emotions.

This did not happen when I was a kid. The overwhelm of Christmas was a welcome thing. Bring it on! was what I would have said. It wasn’t so much the presents, but everything about it. All the traditions. The magic my mom and my aunt created every year.

I’ve always been grateful I wasn’t taught that Santa was “real” (not disputing the historic figure of St. Nicholas here, just the mainstream idea of Santa). I don’t think I would have bought it anyway. That guy? in the mall? dressed up in a costume? uh huh. yeah, right. Obviously not the real deal and there was no way I was sitting on his or any other stranger’s lap for a picture. (I remember being very stubborn on this point. I expect I was also quite smug about it.)

So I never experienced that sort of disillusionment with the holiday. But in recent years I have experienced other forms of disappointment, confusion, exhaustion, emptiness and resentment of the season. I wanted the magic back.

Here’s how I got it.

This is not mission control.

My goodness, the build-up to December 25 in this country! Advent calendars are used not for the purpose of spiritual preparation, but to assuage impatient children and grown-ups alike. And the countdown! Hurry! Just 39 shopping days ’til Christmas! (That’s an accurate number, by the way.) You’d think we were launching rockets or something. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1! And we have lift-off of spaceship BabyJesus!

No other holiday dominates popular culture during its season the way this one does. It even holds a special place in our economy. It’s crazy. And crazy-making.

Because there is no way there is enough time between now and then to create the kind of perfection that is advertised, to do all our culture demands we do to get ready for this one big day. Decorations. Food. Parties. Cards. Gifts. I can’t think of anything that compares to this weird combination of scarcity in the midst of total excess. Crazy. Making.

Magic-Restoration Step #1

Stop listening to the count-down. Which means tuning out the advertising. (Which means you’re also conveniently not getting the message that buying more will make your holiday more meaningful – more on that later.) Turn off the TV, stop the newspaper, put down the magazines. Have the groceries delivered so you don’t have to listen to awful awful carols while you shop if you need to.

Do whatever it takes to protect yourself from the message that there is so much you need to do and so little time in which to do it. Because neither is true.

• • • • •

Already feeling the pressure to make new year’s resolutions? You don’t have to pay attention to them either. Join me and Laura Burkey to learn the better alternative that actually works. > fun and engaging tele-workshop December 3

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The Cost of Overtime

It occurred to me at some point last week that if an employer had asked me to work several weekends in a row, I would have insisted on some sort of compensation or acknowledgment.

Time and a half. Comp time. Kudos when annual reviews/raises/promotions came around. Something.

And whatever we were working on, it better have been something truly important and urgent.

So as my own boss, I’m wondering…

Was it important and urgent? Yes.

Will I be financially compensated for my extra effort? Short term/directly, no. Long term/indirectly, yes. I believe it will prove to be a good investment.

How can my inner boss acknowledge the extra efforts of my inner worker bee?

Comp time is appealing right now, but neither my inner boss nor my inner worker bee is comfortable just… leaving things be while we take a breather for a day or two. There would be consequences we are not so excited about. Or, to avoid those consequences, we’d have to do more organizing and managing than we’re up for.

But we can agree on a paring down to basics. No extras, just the essentials for the next week or two.

And a commitment to not running another marathon again any time soon.

At least not without asking these important questions beforehand.

In the frenzy of the moment, I don’t usually ask myself if the extra effort will be worth it – if what I’m pushing through is truly important and urgent, if what I will earn from it will be proportionate to the energy expended (not to mention if there will be space to replenish afterwards).

And I should.

As big a fan as I am of pacing myself and honoring my capacity, I know there will still be occasions when more than the usual effort will be required. But it’s still my responsibility to be choosy about when and how that takes place.

And it’s not just an energy question. It’s a money question. “Overtime” costs my business something one way or another. And even though it’s just me, myself and I here, I still need to make sure I’m spending it wisely.

• • • • •

How do you approach those “extra hours” you put into your business? Unavoidable? A worthwhile long-term investment? A jackpot of immediate returns? How do you view the cost of overtime?

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