Four Simple Ways to Make the Most of this November
November - a month of gratitude, family, and traditions. Like me, November seems to be a middle child; stuck between Halloween and Christmas. Once the trick-or-treaters have settled in to enjoy their loot, Christmas season begins.
I happen to be one of those people who has no issue with stores displaying Christmas items or playing Christmas music in September. I love it all. I know there are shoppers out there who plan ahead and are actually finished Christmas shopping before Halloween (I still haven't figured out how you do it!). And I know there are plenty of crafters who are busy gathering their supplies and working on projects well before the Christmas season officially begins. Christmas music can play all year as far as I am concerned - it is so beautiful and always puts me in my "happy" place.
Of course, I get it. If we celebrated Christmas year round, the music, the decorations, and the holiday spirit might not be so special. The anticipation and excitement of the day/observance would be diminished. Similar to how many consider Thanksgiving. For some, Thanksgiving is just a day to get through to move on to bigger and better things - like Christmas!
Thanksgiving is a holiday I truly enjoy. I love to cook and don't mind an excuse to spend a few hours in the kitchen. A glass or two of wine adds to the fun! What I most enjoy though is the time. The time to spend with family, the time to reflect, and the time to actually sit down and enjoy a meal together. The day unfolds slowly (unless you are cooking for a crowd!) and we leisurely enjoy football games, share and create memories, and fill our bellies with a delicious meal that is often followed by a much-needed nap.
With Halloween behind us and our focus on Christmas, it's easy to forget to live Today! Shopping, preparing, and scheduling the many parties and gatherings consumes all of our time and, before we know it, the holidays are over and a New Year has begun. We may have gained a few pounds, some more debt, and a few new things but we missed out on some of the joy and much of the true meaning of the season.
Avoid falling back into old patterns and habits the next few weeks and let yourself move forward toward a more enjoyable, energized, and fulfilling November.
Practice gratitudeI am sure you have seen many daily gratitude posts that are popular on Facebook or other social media. You know, each day you post something you are thankful for. Maybe you are even posting. But posting and/or talking about what you are grateful for is much different than practicing gratitude.
Practicing gratitude takes a bit more thought and energy. It is more than just a quick moment of acknowledging something; it includes some action. Consider practicing a sport - athletes perform the same skill over and over until they get it right. They focus, they act, and they improve. Practicing gratitude is similar - you focus on all that you have, act on those things/feelings, and improve your ability be thankful for life's abundance.
I do this nearly every day. My sons and granddaughter live about 800 miles away from me and this truly makes my heart ache. I couldn't be with my granddaughter on her first Halloween, I can't meet my sons for breakfast on Sundays or randomly get together for a cocktail. But, each day I find happiness knowing they are healthy, they are where they need to be, and they are doing what they need to do to reach their goals. I focus on our relationships, stay in touch, and let those positive feelings stay with me throughout the day.
Indulge a Little
But live within your means. Who hasn't begun a New Year with a few added pounds and a bit more debt? Ugghh! So, we all start the new year vowing to lose the weight, tighten up our budget, and get back on track. But if we keep things under control for the next few weeks, we can begin the new year moving forward; closer to our goals, our dreams, and our "somedays".
You might have a goal of getting rid of your debt, finally losing the nagging 20 pounds that you have kept on too long, or taking that once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Whatever it might be, don't let the next few weeks throw you off track.
Sure, who can resist the pies & cookies and who wants to miss out on the best buys of the season? Do you really need it all, or would you be happy with a little? Can you have a smaller piece of pie, one less dinner roll, or a smaller scoop of mashed potatoes and still enjoy the day? Do you really need to buy multiple gifts for multiple people or could you find that one perfect gift for those closest to you and maybe make something special, send a nice card, or plan a simple get together for the others on your list?
Certainly the holidays are a time to indulge. Who doesn't love the cookies, the delicious meals, and the "lowest prices of the year"? So go ahead and indulge a little, but maintain a healthy balance in your checkbook, on your credit card statement and on your scale. Believe me, you will still have a great holiday season and will go into the New Year moving forward rather than starting over.
Make Today CountToday is happening, right here and right now. Who knows if tomorrow will happen? Make today count; in fact, make Today great! What we do today matters; what we do tomorrow may or may not matter. You want to enjoy the holidays? Enjoy today. Want to avoid gaining weight? Eat well today. Want to control your spending? Control it today! Need some time to relax and rejuvenate? Do it today.
What is keeping you from making the most of today? I know - jobs, stress, family obligations, etc. We all have the same obstacles and probably many more. Most likely, these same obstacles will still be around tomorrow and the next day, and the day after that.
Take back your Today! Need a little time to relax? Turn off the TV, turn on some soft music, put your feet up and take 20 minutes to relax. Want to eat better? Give up the morning doughnut and have some oatmeal instead. Want to avoid racking up your credit card debt? Tune out all of the ads and "sales" and buy just what you need. Start simply - but start today!
KindnessTo yourself and to others. Sure, we talk about the holiday spirit and spreading peace and cheer wherever we go, but if you have been to Walmart (or any other store) on Black Friday you are certain to have witnessed anything but the holiday spirit. Rude shoppers and overwhelming greed overtake the holiday spirit as people rush to get the best deal or hottest toy.
Don't let yourself become part of the acrimonious crowds and add to the unpleasant situation. Either avoid it (as I do!) or find the strength within yourself to retain the holiday spirit. Thank the cashier who rang up your items, let the mom with screaming children go ahead of you in line (believe me, she wants to get out of there as quickly as you want her out), smile and offer a "Merry Christmas" or "Season's Greetings" to everyone. Sure, they might be rude and frustrated, but you don't have to be. And maybe you will be the bright spot of their day.
Sometimes it is easier to be kind to strangers than it is to be kind to ourselves. We beat ourselves up as we try to make everything perfect; the perfect gift, the perfect meal, and the perfect decorations. Give yourself a break and learn to treat yourself with the compassion and understanding you offer to a best friend or close family member.
Take some time this month to be your own best friend. Enjoy a break with your favorite cup of coffee, laugh at your own mistakes, and congratulate yourself for all you have accomplished. If you burn the pie, get over it. Remind yourself that it isn't the end of the world and move on. A packed schedule might mean you have to say no to a party, a special event, or another gathering and that's OK. It will go on without you and those who attend will still have fun.
Take a break if you need it without berating yourself for not completing a task. Take a few breaths and enjoy the moment, it won't happen again. Let yourself enjoy the blessings of the day without judgement.