Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What Matters MOST

Is it just me or is this time of year just a whirlwind of things to do, promises to keep, lists to check off, memories we think we MUST make but aren't really making because we are worried about so many things that don't really matter?

If I let myself get carried away in all of the things I think I NEED TO DO like Christmas cards and letters, decorating, buying a tree, watching what I eat even though all the gingerbread candy is sitting on my counter and my husband is gone (stress eating), I surely end up missing out on some of the joy of what this season is supposed to be all about.  That's different for everyone but for me I want this time of year to be focused on faith, family, childhood wonder and excitement, giving, and being more aware of the world as a whole.  I DO NOT want the focus to be making long lists of things we want, getting caught up in the rush of all the sales and ideas of new "stuff" we need to start accumulating when half of our nation is in an economic crisis.  Even sending Christmas cards can get out of hand if we let it.  These things by themselves are all fine, great even, but they can certainly become stressors in our life and we end up missing the whole point of this time of year.  It is only as stressful as we let it.

This post is certainly more for me than you but I'd bet that I'm not the only one who gets overwhelmed and caught up in the craziness that the holiday season brings.  As with most things in life, I like to reflect and then make a plan of action for how I'm going to change the things I don't like.  So, here's some of the things I'm going to try to do MORE and LESS OF this holiday season:

  • Tone down the commercial aspect of Christmas.  Yes, it is fun for the kids to make a wish list but I don't want that to be the main focus of this holiday for us.  It never really has been but I can see it getting to that point.  I'm not one of those people that thinks the entire living room needs to be filled with "stuff" in order to have a magical holiday.  It usually ends up that way though but sheesh.  We try to make Christmas and birthdays the main times of year that our kids get some special new toys and things they have been hoping for.  This makes getting new things very special and appreciated.  
  • Keep things Simple. I'm not so good at this.  In fact, I usually complicate things.  I create work for myself.  Christmas lists, decorations, a cocktail party (this one is a new thing I've just added to my list), etc.   When it comes to Christmas cards, I like getting them and I usually send them.  This is fun for me.  So is writing a letter.  However, just logging on to those sites to make a Christmas photo card can be overwhelming for me this year.  So many choices and easy to get sucked into getting the more expensive ones when really, it doesn't matter. They are nice but nobody really stops and says "Wow, they got their card printed on nice card stock instead of glossy photo paper.  I want to be just like them." Ha! Really.  If it is getting stressful then, it is okay to not send one this year. 
  • Look at the World as a WHOLE more and count my blessings.  I think I always do this to some extent but again, so easy for me to lose track of what is important and forget how many people out there are just struggling to make ends meet.  I want my children to grow up with an awareness of others and the needs of so many.  I don't know how well I'm doing at helping them be sensitive, generous and aware of those less fortunate but the seeds have been planted and I'd like to think that they will grow up giving back greatly to the world.  For now, we do this by participating in the food drives at school and church, buying gifts for foster kids, and donating to different funds.  I don't mean to say these things to make us sound like we are saints and "oh, look at us and how good we are"...if anything, we are just the opposite..we should be doing more of this stuff all year and we don't.  But habits start small so even the small things count.  
  • Find little things to make memories.  There are so many fun things to do this time of year that don't cost a lot of money or have to be complicated.  A few of them are: Watching Christmas movies next to the tree with all the lights out, decorating a gingerbread house (the easy kind from Costco or the craft store), baking cookies (yes, more calories), having the kids write Christmas letters, dressing up and having the kids perform plays for the family, thinking of a neighbor who might be lonely this holiday season and taking them cookies or something we made.   

These goals above don't mean that we won't have a Christmas morning with lots of toys under the tree, send out Christmas cards, and get wrapped up in the holiday rush.  However, writing them down, does help take some of the pressure off and remind me of what is most important.  We all have different ways of living our lives and there isn't one right or wrong way.  These are just things that I personally want to make a priority.

Running Running Running

  • Again, last week was 65 miles.  Felt great.  
  • This week and maybe next is a drop in mileage.  Maybe even as low as 30-40.  Then I will start building again.  Thinking that 70-75 will be a good peak for me.  My body seems to respond well to the mileage but I will adjust as my body tells me to.  
  • I was going to start my official Boston plan this week but changing plans a bit and that will be next week or the week following.  I'll explain more later.  
  • Today I did a speed workout not related to marathon training but more to let me know where my legs are at..  2 mile warm-up;  1 mile @6:22 (felt strong); 6x 400's @ 6:15/6:18 pace.  Last one was 6:22 so I could get a feel for that pace.  2 mile cool down.  Felt strong and comfortable.  This is a confidence boost.  
  • Loving the extra time I have now that I am not running as many miles this week but miss the higher mileage.  Surprisingly, I think the higher miles makes me feel more energetic and productive.

Six Year Old Theatrics
In light of what matters most, I thought I'd leave you with a little 6 year old theatrics.  I don't like to include my kids or their names on this blog too much but that is probably just me being silly.  This video made me laugh and it was fun taking.  Just sitting down with my kids last night and putting the to-do lists to the side, felt so great.

  • At about 1:14ish you'll hear all about Thugs in the forest.
  • Who picks berries before a wedding?  Apparently, it is the thing to do.  
  • The best part is towards the end when my two year old Bumble Bee gets in the action.
  • Don't forget to notice the lovely recorder/flute playing in the background.  This is my four year old.  
  • Kids are so funny!  

Happy Wednesday! Sorry I've been such a bad blogger lately.  Things have been crazy busy and I've had to limit my blog time.  Again, trying to focus on what matters most.  Not that you don't matter.  :)  You do.



  1. That video is AWESOME! I love seeing kids using their imaginations. E is just starting to really focus on that sort of thing and it's so fun to watch.

    This month coming up I will totally be focusing on keeping things simple. We agreed this year to try and let it be more about the spirit.

  2. this time of year is so stressful! even when the things that we are stressed about are so wonderful...they seem to get all piled up on top of each other and create an overwhelming sense of urgency and chaos.

    sometimes, just taking the time to name the stress and prioritize helps to regain more solid footing. i hope that you feel more at peace after reflecting on your goals for this season.

    nice work on the high mileage! 65. i die!

  3. I agree about keeping things simple!! If it's a hassle or a stressor, then you should first be asking yourself is this necessary? Why? Growing up, my mom always stressed over holiday dinners, never ate the holiday meal (she was too exhausted) and spent weeks planning. I've adopted the opposite approach and have got to say, it makes the holiday much more enjoyable when you focus on family and friends, and not what's for dinner!

    As for finding little things to make memories, for us, I make cut-out cookies with the kids and then we all decorate (icing and sprinkles -- the works!) together. Even hubby. It's messy and at times a pain to roll out warm cookie dough with 3 kids wanting to help, and the clean-up (bowls AND kids!) is a bear, but it is such joy to watch my little ones fashion their cookie creations and later proudly tell our guests which cookies are theirs. :-)

  4. The movie is so sweet. The appearance of the Bumble Bee is the BEST. Haha!!

    There are so so many ways to get caught up in the details and miss the bigger picture of Christmas. Somehow I manage to do this EVERY year, then get my head pulled out (so to speak) and remember that the cards, the presents and all that stuff won't matter much on December 26th. But how I get along with my family and my attitude and reverence WILL.

    love that you are already thinking about all this.

    Great running! Enjoy the cut back!!
    Strength / growth happens in spurts.

  5. NICE POST! And thanks for your comment. I'm glad you "got it." It is so hard to slow down...and not go overboard...and not get too busy. A nice thing I did this year was having my "treats for neighbors, coworkers" done by Thanksgiving. I usually try and make fancy cookie plates. This year I'm giving jars of jelly. And they're all done.

    After reading your post, I told the hubby we should watch a Christmas movie. He turned on the tv and got the kids involved in Mythbusters instead, the bomb in the toilet episode. But it was a family activity and the christmas lights were on. Oh well, perhaps tomorrow :-)

    Nice work on the mileage.

  6. Love the video! So glad she found her prince! :)

    Keep it simple-every year I try. Remembering the truly important things helps a lot!

  7. Ive missed you!!! Love the video, so incredible :) Its gonna be a busy month but you got this!! :)

  8. The thing I find most stressful about Christmas is the shopping. Trying to get inspiration for gifts can be so hard. But I've reduced stress by only writing cards to people I spend time with or talk to regularly - I'm not into cards for the sake of duty. And I don't do a lot of decorating. I did when the kids were little and I'll do it again when I get grandkids. But for the moment it's not a high priority.

  9. Well said. I am already feeling the panic of rushing and mile long to do lists, broken promises to my kids and feelings of always letting someone down no matter how fast I go and how hard I try. Thanks for this post, now is a great time to think about how I envision my day going and choosing what I will do with my time. Jess

  10. Yep. We all need to slow down. Both literally (in my pregnant state) and metaphorically. It's amazing how all of a sudden it will be Jan 1st and we'll be wondering where Dec went.

    Slow down and enjoy!

  11. Love that video!

    We really try to downplay Christmas. The only gift that the girls get on Christmas morning is from Santa. We travel instead of giving presents. Experiences are worth more to us.

    I don't cook Christmas dinner (we order Chinese takeout every year) and we don't attend or throw parties. I want to emphasize the importance of being with the people you love.

    And every year at Christmas, we all go through our things and find things to donate. The girls even wrap the items. It's so cute.

    On a completely different note. I want to run 70 miles in a week. Such a rockstar.

  12. Thanks for the reminder: keeping it simple is exactly what I'm trying to do this year. I can get kind of carried away. I don't want to get so consumed I forget to stop and enjoy every moment.

  13. Great post and the greatest video!!! Love the imagination :)

  14. Love the video! My 4yr old daughter has an imagination like that and loves to sing and dance too. And if I caught your daughter's name right at the beginning, she and my almost 8yr old have the same name! Not a very common name for sure. I only know of a handful with that name :)

    I am working on keeping Christmas simple in my head---that's where my problem lies! It's too easy for me to get caught up in the hype and consumerism--but I want to focus on Advent and helping my kids understand what Christmas truly is about.

  15. Sooo cute! Your daughter is going to be an incredible actress. And your son a handful - haha :).

    I have been a horrible blogger, I just can't find the time - nor the energy - to get more than a couple read each day.

    Your running is amazing. I hope one day I can get back up to the 60s.

    Sorry for the short reply, my brain is fried. Thinking of you though.


  16. i can tell she's the oldest -- she acts just like my older sister did in our home videos :)

    christmas cards can get out of hand i guess, but i love sending them (and getting them). it helps that i got some freebies from shutterfly... otherwise i'd be sending cheap-o ones from the dollar store! haha.

    i try to not-shop in general. i don't NEED anything - in fact i still need to purge more crap from my house! it amazes me how much we can accumulate... and josh and i are just 2 people.