The End of the Year

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Well, Christmas is over, and onward we march into the new year in a few days.  Anybody remember when we partied like it was 1999?  A lot of people shared prophecy that the world would end when the clock struck midnight, and the year 2000 started.  The panic of Y2K.  As it turned out, it was a lot of fuss over nothing.

Every year, it seems like Christmas is coming somewhere up ahead in the future.  Then, all of a sudden it’s here.  Then, just as quickly, gone.  Some folks feel a bit of sadness when Christmas passes, after all the buildup.  My birthday falls between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, so I feel like it’s a celebration all week!

Now that my kids are grown, Christmas reinvents itself every year.  Some traditions stay, and some fade, as others emerge.  When I think of Christmas ten years ago, life has completely changed.  We’ve lost a few people, and gained quite a few new lives.

Now, it’s time to reflect on the dreaded resolutions.  This year, I feel like I have a million and one things that I want to do differently, or be better at, in the new year.   I’m still working on my final picks, since I can’t narrow it down.

I have:

Writing Goals

Health Goals

Family Goals

Career Goals

They are all urgent, so I will have to give them all a place in the resolution arena.  I tend to make big, chunky resolutions that I abandon, usually in January.  You know what they say about good intentions.  I give myself credit for trying again every year.  I need to set attainable goals, and break down the huge goals into little bites.

Do you make resolutions?  Can you stay committed to them?  Do you have any secrets to share about how you reach your year-long goals?

I hope that everyone had a beautiful Christmas.  If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you’re enjoying the end of the year.  Let’s make 2017 the best year ever!

– Cat

Keeping Christmas in My Heart

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I love the quote written by Charles Dickens in his famous book, A Christmas Carol.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.  I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future.  The spirits of all three shall strive within me.  I will not shut out the lessons that they teach”

Most of us are familiar with a movie by the same title.  My husband, Iain, is a big fan of this movie.  I should say “these” movies, because he watches various interpretations during the holiday season.  He likes the older versions, and loves the Disney one, with Jim Carrey in it as Scrooge.

We watch a lot of holiday movies at Christmas time.  The old favorites, Holiday Inn, and White Christmas, are always watched in the run up to the big day.  We like some of the newer ones, too.  Polar Express has become an annual tradition. We’re guilty of tuning into the Hallmark Channel for the smoochy Christmas movies.   A Christmas Story, and my favorite, It’s a Wonderful Life, are usually reserved for Christmas Eve.

We’re not big fans of the “Bob slashes his best friends to bits on Christmas Eve” movies.  Some of the comedies that are Christmas themed are too cynical for us.

But, getting back to A Christmas Carol.  It isn’t really religious, but instead deals with having a kind heart and a good spirit.  This is the part of Christmas that I try to keep in my heart.  It’s about being charitable, empathetic, and connecting with other people.

I feel like this is the part of the holiday that has faded over time.  We all acknowledge that Christmas is over commercialized, but how do we balance that out?  So many things can be distracting this time of year. The calendar fills up fast, and everyone’s busy.  With all the thinking, planning, organizing, spending, partying… how can we keep Christmas in our hearts?

I think that so many people feel emptiness this time of year, when we forget to pause and reflect.  If you are religious, Christmas is a great time to think about your relationship with God.  Allowing yourself to be strengthened by prayer can definitely have a positive effect on your feelings about the season.

If you’re not Christian, you may still be religious or spiritual.  The end of the year is prime time for reflecting on your faith.  A renewal of your dedication to your chosen religion, a reset once a year, can’t hurt… and will most likely help you cope with the holidays.

If you don’t believe in a God, or a higher power, use meditation  to help you clarify your values and beliefs as the year ends.

Consider making these commitments to yourself over the holiday season.  Don’t beat yourself up if you get overwhelmed.  Refer to the quote above.  Scrooge says he will “try” to keep it all the year. He isn’t perfect and neither are you and I.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays!

– Cat

This Year, Give Yourself More Meaning

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I’ve seen some posts from people lately reminding us that not everyone is filled with cheer at the holidays.  Some folks are grieving for loved ones who are not here to celebrate with us.  Sometimes, it’s a long distance separation that puts a damper on the holidays.  Lack of resources may leave some people frustrated and fed up.

We call this the season of miracles.  The Christmas message is one of hope… Glad tidings, if you will.  We tend to romanticize Christmases past.  When you contrast those memories with todays realities, you can feel profound disappointment.  Remind yourself that it’s like comparing Summers as a kid to Summers now.  Like comparing Saturday mornings eating cereal and watching cartoons with grown up Saturday mornings.   I’d like to share some things that I’ve found add deeper enjoyment to this time of year.

Whether you are Christian, or not, you can gain an understanding of Christmas, and its symbolism, by reading the first four chapters of the New Testament in the Bible.  These constitute the “gospel” of Jesus Christ, and tell of his birth and the first part of his life.  This may be Holy to some, and merely interesting to others, but will help you reflect on the point of it all.

Shop within your budget.  Don’t kill yourself with credit card bills the first of the new year.  I’m not telling you this because I’ve never done it.  I used to do it quite a bit, but since I stopped, Christmas is a lot more enjoyable for me.  By all means, buy gifts for those you love, just don’t take out a loan on your 401k to do it.

Do at least one or two “Christmasy” things.  There are a ton of feel-good holiday movies on television this time of year.  If you are lucky enough to have a light display nearby, go have a look.  We try to take at least one trip to our favorite garden center, to see the model Christmas train display.  I know that some of you get annoyed by carols of the season.  I like to sing along.  I do get funny looks at the grocery store, so sometimes I turn it down to a hum.

Don’t let the pressure get to you.  Sometimes, I think it’s easy to feel responsible for everyone having the perfect Christmas.  Like so many other things, just do your best… and don’t stress!  My friend, Amy, would recommend that you pause and take a few yoga breaths when that happens.  It may seem corny, but she never steers me wrong with that.  If you’re so inclined, it’s a great time for prayer and meditation.  Those efforts can also have a calming effect when you’re needing to press pause.

It doesn’t matter if you’re gathering with a big family, or doing Christmas on your own this year.  Remember to be kind… to yourself and others.  Be thankful for Christmas memories.   Be emotionally present for this year’s celebrations.  And look forward to what’s coming up in the New Year. It’s going to be great!

– Cat

 

All I Want for Christmas

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Emotions run strong for a lot of people during the holidays.  A lot of anxiety centers around getting people just the right gift.  Along with that goes the pressure to spend a lot of money.  This will supposedly prove how much the recipient means to gift giver.  Sometimes, this expectation is there, whether you can afford it or not.

I’ve scaled back quite a bit from my younger days.  What I’ve found out is that shopping early with a plan and a budget makes the holidays less stressful.  What I’ve also learned is that it’s the same Christmas.  It doesn’t matter if you spend $50 or $500 per person.  The enjoyment of the holiday is the same.  Except that you don’t have the January hangover after the December spending binge.

I cringe when I see young people at work fretting over buying a $2000 bag, for someone who they’ve been dating a couple of months.  It’s sad when we have to buy someone a gaming system, and a ton of games to prove our love.  A big screen TV always screams I LOVE YOU!

I think what bothers me the most are the car commercials.  Just about all the auto manufacturers that run these this time of year.  I know you’ve seen the Lexus with the red bow on it.   This is so disheartening.  It’s a small percentage of the population that can afford to buy a brand new luxury car for a Christmas gift.  Sure, some people can do it, but should they?  Why do car companies have the nerve to put this kind of pressure on people?  It’s sad, in my opinion.

Where does the Christmas spirit figure in here?  What does this holiday even mean anymore?  I’m sticking to my strategy.  I’m thinking about the person I’m buying for.  I’m considering their interests and their passions, and buying each person on my list a heartfelt gift or two.  I’m not breaking the bank, or going into debt to do it.  I shouldn’t have fall into financial trouble for anyone to know that I love them.

I hope you find something fun to do together, see some cool Christmas lights, and have a nice meal with loved ones.  I have a friend that hands out purses filled with personal items to homeless women on Christmas morning.  That’s her tradition.  I’m not that awesome, but it warms my heart to know she does it.

The holidays are hard for folks that have lost someone.  Don’t feel awkward about giving them a hug and some encouragement.  It’s a rough time of year for lots of people.  You don’t have to buy them a luxury car, just shine a little of your light on them, so it’s not so dark in their life.

– Cat

Is There a Pill Yet … Or is it Still Diet and Exercise?

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Good news!  Over the past 10 years, I’ve lost 150 pounds!  Bad news…  I’ve lost, on average, 15 pounds a year.  I think that I’m the original yo-yo dieter.  Sometimes I feel bad about it, other days it doesn’t cross my mind.  Right now, I’m going through my “not focusing on that” phase, as opposed to my “freaking out about my health” phase.

Tomorrow, I cook with my Mom, and my daughter Catie, as we prepare for Thanksgiving.  No matter how hectic things get, I always cook with my Mom the day before our annual feast.  We are so happy to have Catie join us in the family tradition as we share recipes and laughs.

This time of year, so much of the celebrating involves eating.  Most of what you eat is not salad.  If you are eating light this year, more power to you.  It’s not human nature, though.  I know how to control my diet and eating habits, I just don’t do a great job at it.

Think for a moment about how many people you know in the medical profession that you see out on a smoke break.  I’d be willing to bet that they’ve heard that smoking isn’t healthy.  The point here is that knowing what to do doesn’t necessarily mean that you do it.

With all the medical advancements, why can’t they just develop a pill for this problem?  Why does it have to be the long, tedious process of diet and exercise?  I know that several companies acknowledge the problem.   They offer appetite suppressants, fat blockers, shakes, bars, shots, and other magic tricks.  You can get surgery.  You can buy a fad diet book… and you may even follow it for a while.  You might try a multi level marketing solution for weight loss.  Maybe joining Weight Watchers, or one of the other diet plans, will work for you.  I’m of the opinion that trying anything is better than trying nothing.

I know people with the opposite problem, who are trying to gain weight and can’t.  They know what they have to do.  It’s just hard work to do it.  I can’t imagine the heartbreak involved with having an eating disorder.

I admire you if you have a sensible diet and stay fit and on top of your health at all times.  Are you in the minority, or am I just biased towards the “pretty plus” mindset?  I’m not sure that I’m not viewing it all through the lens of my experience.

So, here’s to a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone.  I hope you feel the love of family and friends.  I hope you have a grateful heart.  I hope you get to taste two kinds of pie… and enjoy it!

-Cat

Let’s Talk Turkey

It’s getting to be that time of year again.  We’ll all be getting out our “fat pants”.  Don’t roll your eyes and pretend that I’m the only one that has two sizes of pants on hand, just for this season.  Now is when we start to ramp up and get ourselves in perfect position for a strong New Year’s resolution.

Here in America, we kick it all off with Thanksgiving.  According to tradition, most of us have a nice turkey, with all the trimmings.  The other day at work, my friend Ryan asked me if I’d ever heard of turducken.  I have heard of it, but it seems like quite an oddity to me.  Ryan said he was thinking about getting one for Thanksgiving this year.

I’m not that adventurous when it comes to food choices.  As it turns out, turducken is not that unusual.  It’s quite common in other parts of the world.  In case you don’t know, turducken is a turkey that’s stuffed with a duck that’s stuffed with a chicken. In some places they call it a “three bird roast”.   When doing a bit of research before writing this post, I came across many variations.  What do you think about a turbaconducken?  Would you like to have turporken this year?

I guess that some people aren’t crazy about plain old turkey.  Okay.  I am in the group that thinks that you shouldn’t fix stuff that’s not broken.  How far do we have to go to make things more interesting?  I saw one example of turducken that has a quail’s egg cooked inside.  I guess that the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

My daughter-in-law, Amy, is a vegetarian, and so are her sons.  They are not having turducken at their Thanksgiving feast.  They are having tofurkey.  I’ve never tried it, but I haven’t had much tofu, the animal that tofurkey comes from, either.  I can’t say that I don’t like it.  It’s in that same unknown territory as turducken.

So, this Thanksgiving, I’m giving thanks for all the simple joys in life. I know each of us has so much to be thankful for.  There’s one thing in particular that I feel blessed with.  My son-in-law, Richard, is passionate about cooking a big turkey for us all!

– Cat