The Secret to Holiday Magic is Self-Care

christmas-2910468_640I read an unsettling article on The Huffington Post entitled Holiday Magic Is Made By Women. And, It’s Killing Us.

The writer is honest about all of the ways in which the holidays, more importantly, preparing for the holiday magic, tug at her, until she is left feeling depleted, empty, with nothing left to give.

I felt so sad and helpless as I read about her experience. I also felt anger.

Most of us have been her at one point in time as we try to make everything perfect for the people we love. We do it so they can enjoy this festive season and have memories to cherish as they grow up and grow old. There’s so much magic to the holidays and we want those we love to experience all of it. We do this out of love. It’s a beautiful thing.

What’s not so beautiful is the cost. When was this unspoken expectation that it’s mom’s job to make the holiday magic born?

I asked my husband if he would do half the things the writer listed in her article for the holidays. He responded with a resounding “No fn way.” “Why not?” “Why?”

Why? indeed. It seems men understand the magic of the holidays, but aren’t prepared to burden themselves with it. Because my husband also doesn’t expect me to do it, when I prompted him further. So, why do I feel the need to do it?

December is upon us, and while some are completely ready for the holiday magic, others (like me) are still in the midst of preparing. This article served as a reminder that unless I take care of me, slow down and enjoy the holidays myself, no one around me will either.

So here’s to all the moms that make things happen. The extra touches are always nice, but are they truly necessary? Perhaps, if you’re feeling stretched during your holiday preparation time, take a moment to ask yourself, is this truly necessary?

The holidays are a time for magic, however they are also a time for family and friends. Hopefully this will help when we are in the midst of wrapping, baking, checking off the to-do list. And, in that moment of self-care, when we fill ourselves up so we can fill up the others who need us, we will feel the holiday magic.

How do you plan on making time for yourself during December? Tell me in the comments!

Wishing you a great, restful and magical few weeks before Christmas!

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Breathe…You Can Do This!

inhale exhaleWhen the alarm goes off and you think you have at least 10 minutes to shower before the kids get up, but surprise! They’re both awake and telling you they’re hungry…breathe…

When your husband asks what’s for lunch on a Saturday afternoon, and instead of committing murder because you’ve been juggling the three year old, the house, the coming home from the soccer game, and are desperately hoping to squeeze in a yoga class…breathe…

When deadlines sneak up on you at work and you’re staring at the calendar wondering how that happened…breathe…

When a co-worker flags a student which you should’ve flagged a few weeks prior and now that kid is probably struggling more than he should be…breathe…

When the teacher calls because your angel of a child has not behaved like an angel and now this mothering business is gettin’ serious…breathe…

When you watch all of the precious writing time be eaten up by practices, games, rehearsals, meetings, appointments, cooking, playing, homeworking…breathe…

When you look at the coming month and automatically close the calendar because it’s not possible…breathe…

When you wonder how you get the energy to do it all…breathe…

When you stop to thank your lucky stars for your health, happiness and pretty awesome life…breathe…

When you realize how freakin’ amazing you are…breathe…

Perfect in our imperfections and our imperfect lives. It’s a beautiful thing.

Hope your week’s a good one!

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Journey Into Vulnerability: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

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A very inspiring woman (lookin’ at you Jackie), eagerly/enthusiastically/totally/robustly recommended Brene Brown’s TED talk. And, now I’d love to share each one with those of you who like me, until very recently, had no idea who Brene Brown is.

I went home and immediately watched both of her TED talks on Vulnerability and Listening to Shame.

The next day I found myself at Indigo as part of my kids’ P.A.Day/Fun Day (we went to watch Coco afterwards, which ended up being awesome). We all left with a haul of books. My haul was Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection and Rising Strong.

I’m into the third chapter of The Gifts of Imperfection and will review it when I’m done…but I think you can already tell that I’m absolutely loving it. I’m feeling the fierce pull between gobble it up and go slow…take it in…a friend (who is a life coach, you can find her at Joanna Durkin) out in Alberta said she makes it a yearly read. And, I can see why.

Why Vulnerability?

I didn’t realize how damn frightening this word is for me until I started reading about it and began to feel so squirmy. The more I read and think and look at my life, it has become clear that I’ve been keeping vulnerability at bay because it means exposure.

The invitation to take a trip into my own vulnerability has been extended. And, I accept. Stay tuned for more on that topic.

Please use the links above to watch each of Brene Brown’s TED talks (about 20 minutes each). There are beautiful insights which I think we can all bring into practice with ourselves, our spouses, our children, our families, our students (for my teacher friends).

Who knows…it may spark your own vulnerability revolution.

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Top Ten Books I’d Like My Children to Read

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Please go to The Broke and the Bookish for more details about their weekly meme. This week they’ve challenged us to list the books we’d like our children to read. I can’t pin down specific titles for my entire list so you’ll see a mix of titles and authors from whose writings I’m sure my children will learn and be inspired both now and when they are older.

5 Books to read in childhood/adolescence

  1. I Love You Forever by Robert Munsch – captures a mother’s love so beautifully
  2. Rowling’s iconic Harry Potter books – ’nuff said
  3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – a mansion full of secrets in Yorkshire? Sign me up!
  4. Judy Blume of course!
  5. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis – fantasy, adventure and fun

5 Books to read in adulthood

  1. Anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez for some Colombian heritage reading
  2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – because Offred’s insights and observations eerily resound
  3. Eckhart Tolle – at some point each of my children will need some tools to manage the hardships of life which I was unable to impart (or, gulp, deal with issues I may have unknowingly created…sweat beads…)
  4. The Awakening by Kate Chopin – ooooh, this book. Especially my daughter. When (if) she’s a mother.
  5. The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison – a beautiful, provoking read about identity, forging it, finding it in a harsh world

Which books would your list include?

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Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

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I’ve read quite a bit about self-help, self-improvement, finding your true self, healing yourself etc. In fact, I didn’t realize how much until reading this book.

Chapters 1-4 had me smiling. The simplicity of the writing combined with the stark, honest tone offers a refreshing take on a theme so many people claim to be experts on. At no point does Manson claim expertise in any of the areas he highlights which is a nice way of interacting with his reader because the decision is always left in the reader’s hands.

The honesty is a no-holds barred delivery of the mistakes he has made in his own life – and this continues throughout the book. I had two reactions to this approach.

I felt that it worked well because he intermingles all of the stories of his own pitfalls with the stories of other rather well-known personalities, plenty of solid research and a really sound basis for his views on modern living and how it should be approached in order to live a balanced lifestyle.

By the end of the book, however, I felt like I had just read Manson’s personal journey of self-discovery rather than be allowed to use his advice to have one of my own. This isn’t necessarily a knock on the book. It was just how I reacted.

The not give a f*ck attitude of the book is really strong in the opening chapters. The swearing is abundant; however, it does taper off. The edge of his attitude isn’t quite so sharp in the second half of the book. And, it begins to read a little like a traditional self-improvement book, with a few f*cks thrown in so one doesn’t forget the spicy title.

Overall, I found Manson’s book entertaining and an easy read. His anecdotes and stories were very interesting and painted a great picture for the points he wished to drive home.

I do feel he has much to offer people in terms of finding a less stressful way to live life. He is an advocate for gratitude, for making conscious choices, for learning to fail and learning to say no. His writing style is fun, lively and he really is a great storyteller, using that skill to reel us in for the real purpose of his chapters: to show a better way to approach modern living.

If you’re looking for a book to inspire a little change in your life, to spark you to live your life a little differently, this just might be the book to do that.

Have you read Manson’s book? Would love to hear your reactions!

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