Too much happening

The holidays bring about different sides of people. For some it is a happy time, where Christmas music, lights, parties, and family all fill their free time. For others the holidays can be a time of obligations, shopping, crowds, and absolute craziness a.ka. stress. On top of all that there could be added stress from work, expectations from family, and even the reality of making sure those in your life have a memorable holiday. I wonder though, is it all worth it?

What expectations have we put on ourselves that are unrealistic? Is it fun to feel so stressed for a holiday? Between finding the right gifts, to wrapping and mailing them, to Christmas cards, parties, food, and keeping up with traditions it is a lot of pressure to do it all and make it all happen. Why do we do it? Is it wanting to give and ensure your family has an amazing holiday? Would they care if you dropped off a few responsibilities?

My stress level has definitely risen these last few weeks. There is a lot going on at work, and our home to-do list seems to be never-ending. Whether it is something for the holidays, or the yard, or something needs to be fixed, or we are trying to get all our year-end eye and dentist appointments complete before December 31. I am ready to get off the 2014 roller coaster and breathe.

In between all the stress and to-do’s on your list, be sure to take time for yourself. Get a massage (I mean it)! Take a bath, put your feet up. I am going to do all those things over the holiday. While it is an important time to be with family, indulge in amazing holiday treats, and give, give, give, make sure you give to yourself. Rest, recharge, and be ready for 2015. I have a hunch it will start with a bang and you will be ready if you have taken some time to refuel.

My right relationship

Yesterday I was talking to a friend about relationships. The ebb and flow of the romantic relationships in our life. Men and women are so different. We often really are from different planets. Recently Chris and I have disagreed about different topics and the key component of our disagreements have been around listening.

Listening. Such an interesting aspect of relationships. In the end all we really want is to be heard. We want others to listen to us and most of all we want to be understood. The rare occasions that Chris and I fight and bicker usually results to being heard, trusted, and listening. Kind of a no-brainer really. Who does not want to feel like they matter and the person they love and care about most is there for them?

I recently found this article: 15 Signs You’re In The Right Relationship – my favorites:

  • You are all in.
  • You stop hiding your flaws.
  • Sometimes, you don’t communicate at all.
  • You maintain your identities.
  • No conversation topic is taboo.

There are ten other great signs, but those are the ones that stand out to me most. Chris will tell you, when I am all in, I am all in. Step aside because when I get something in my mind and decide to do it, there is no stopping me. I am not a quitter. It is a strength and a weakness, but hey, we all have flaws. We all fart and burp, puke and stink. We are gloriously flawed. And since I am an open book, he always knows what I am thinking unless I am deep in process/thought mode, but even then I am usually discussing my thoughts with him. Nothing is off-limits. However, it does not mean we talk about every single thing. There are things that happen in the quiet and stillness of being together and doing our own thing.

In the end, and what matters most is that we stay true to who we are. I am an all in, flawed, say-what-is-on-my-mind, badass woman. He has the unique and special opportunity of waking up next to me everyday.

#myrightrelationship

Wounded Warriors: Hallelujah

Hallelujah. Most renditions of this song give me the chills. I have always loved the Leonard Cohen song done by Jeff Buckley (at any time of year) but there is something around Christmas time that makes the music get under my skin, crawl through my emotions, and often bring tears to my eyes. Last year I came across this version from: Cloverton and this past week I found this one from “Wounded Warriors.”

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There is something even more gut wrenching about watching those that have fought for our freedom, have been wounded, and singing such a beautiful song of praise. It makes me think about all the good I have in my life. So much goodness. Now, savor all the good you have with those you love, those that you fear, and those that you dislike. Take this holiday time to slow down, be more present, laugh, eat, play, and think Hallelujah. (Mental note: take my own advice).

Keep the Christmas Spirit

At times, days and weeks go by before my dad ever comes to my thought. Lately I have had strong remembrances of family, my mom, dad, and grandma. Usually it comes stronger at the holidays, especially thoughts about my dad. For some reason he loved Christmas. The funny part is I am not sure he did much to make Christmas happen in my house. My mom bought or more likely made our gifts, staying up many all nighters to get them done in time, wrapped them, and put them under the tree often at the wee hours of Christmas morning. She made the cookies, desserts, and homemade gifts for friends and teachers. To top it all off, she also made a meal for Christmas eve, our Christmas morning breakfast, and a big meal on Christmas day. I think my dad was into the decorations. The Santas, elves, sleighs, and nativity scenes.

In January, my dad will have been gone for 15 years. We put up our Christmas tree on Sunday, and somehow I have convinced Chris to keep white lights in a tree outside our living room window year-round. My dad would probably smile knowing that I am trying to keep that Christmas spirit. I think about him as I watch my niece grow up and wonder what it would be like for him to have his first grandchild coo and crawl all over him. Next weekend he would have been 73. I see him (when I notice) as I walk down our hallway of family photos. I am pictured at my niece’s age, head full of curls and he, covered with a beard in the late 1970’s. I think about him when I find a favorite childhood book and remember my reading to him. Those were those moments when I remember he was most calm and patient.

I wonder at times what it will be like when I have kids of my own, and how many times I will wish there was a contact in my phone that said: Mom and another that said Dad. Would they text with me? Would they meet up with old friends on Facebook? It is so hard to know, they have been gone for so long that I no longer know who they would have grown to become. Yet, I will do what I can each year to continue the Christmas spirit in my own way, however it may feel right each year. Whether that means to dote on my niece who does not have my mom and dad to dote on her, or whether that means to donate toys to kids in my community.

What I think my dad wanted was to feel apart of something bigger than himself. We can all do that in so many differing ways, all keeping with the Christmas spirit of giving.

Is he a lumbersexual?

I love learning new things. Last week we were having dinner with friends from out-of-town and as our waiter walked away one of our friends said: “Our waiter is a lumbersexual.” I had not heard the term and my eyes widened with interest. My mind wandered with thinking of all the hipster Portland men with proper fitting jeans (sometimes rolled), nice shoes and shirt, hair well taken care of and of course either a mustache or beard. Usually I have thought of those that fall into that realm as “hipster.” However, lumbersexual is such a better descriptor.

Of course I came home and spent some time reviewing the Internet of recent articles pertaining to those deemed lumbersexual. I am not completely out of the loop. The term is fairly new of the last few months. Beards, beer, jeans, tattoos, flannel, loves the outdoors, and shops for beard oil. What? Beard oil. Yes, it is all the rage in Portland. A few articles heightened my interest. Of course I love when one mentions my backyard of the Willamette National Forest and even a comment on moisturizer:

“It goes without saying that virtually no man ever called himself a metrosexual, which really just referred to men who shopped for their own pants, went to the gym, and used moisturizer. (That was a big leap. It really was.) So don’t expect the term Lumbersexual to blow up, no matter how ubiquitous Lumbersexuals become.”

I have never been able to get Chris to use moisturizer. Why is that so hard for us women to get our men to see the benefits? If you live in Kansas, or Tokyo, or London and you have no idea what I am talking about, take a trip to Portland. Lumbersexual men abound. They are all things Portland. You will find them in coffee shops, wine bars, brew pubs, you name it.