Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: With the swirl of family, celebrations, and expectations, how do you stay centered over the holidays?
Deborah Lee Luskin: First of all, I try to stay centered – I don’t always succeed! Next, the two things that help me go with the flow of family chaos are 1) morning pages and 2) exercise, preferably outdoors. In addition to the benefits of these activities themselves, they also often allow me some time by myself, though sometimes I’ll invite a companion for a walk. Mostly, these two activities allow me to hear and honor the voices in my head. Once they’ve been attended to, I’m able to be more attentive to the moment of many people, many meals, many voices outside my head. Finally, I give myself permission to put my book aside. I’d rather not, but I’ve learned that setting unrealistic goals about what I can actually get done only makes things worse. Instead, I think of tasks that I can do without my full attention and that nevertheless need to be done: file the year’s receipts, make any last-minute charitable contributions, clean up some perennial mess (a closet, a desk, a cupboard). Exerting control on external, inanimate objects helps quell the chaos within when I’m not able to spend enough hours alone at my desk. Holidays are wonderful – and hard.
Diane MacKinnon: I try to stay centered (as Deborah said, “try” is the operative word in that sentence!) by staying present and building in down time. Anything I do can be either a celebration of life or a chore to get through–and I’ve done just about everything both ways. I’ve wrapped presents like someone was holding a gun to my head and I’ve wrapped presents like I was making holy art–the difference is in the way I think about what I’m doing–whatever I’m doing. In the past few years, I’ve noticed when I’m with my extended family I’m all in, AND when it’s time to go home (or when everyone else goes home) I’m all in there, too. I truly enjoy the holidays, especially after letting go of all the “shoulds” that used to come with them. Now it’s all about spending time with my loved ones, from my husband, son, and stepson, to my whole entire clan. Looking forward to it!
Julie Hennrikus: I find the holidays to be a really overwhelming time. Joyous, for sure. But also a reminder of people who aren’t here to celebrate. And a very hard time for a lot of friends. The way I try to stay centered (though I suspect this year is already a lost cause) is to really enjoy my family time, especially with the kids in my life. And to try (very hard) to keep it as simple as possible. Because simple is complicated.
Lisa J. Jackson: I keep my sanity (stay centered) by avoiding the crowds if at all humanly possible. And I stay away, or walk away, from negative people. The holidays work-wise tend to be quiet; I have a lot of work, but longer deadlines, which is quite nice. I also do my best to get outside for fresh air. I don’t actually do much differently during the holidays than any other time of the year, except there are more get-togethers, which are a lot of fun.
I also take time out to finish a few TBR books and watch movies or TV. It’s nice to step away from the Internet for a while.