Ep. 92 – December, the Woman’s Marathon

December is easily the Woman’s “Other” Marathon.  We didn’t sign up for it got our cute bib and tracker at the race pickup…but we are in it.

The holidays are so much fun…and so much extra work.

December, the Woman's Marathon
December, the Woman’s Marathon

This time is so precious. You can easily run out of energy, zest, and enthusiasm if you’re not careful.

Enjoy your marathon, and set yourself up to WIN.

Holiday Extras Become Your Responsibility.

Lots of people want the extras.  You know, the beautifully wrapped gift, the home-baked goods, the handcrafted, personalized gift for people on their list.

That’s good.  That is not your responsibility to do it all.

Take care of yourself, girl, there are too many other depending on you.

Solution:  Get a team.  Involve others.  Ask for help.  Make a signup sheet for work. Let the older kids wrap presents with you… or don’t wrap at all!

Too Much Good Stuff.  Everywhere.

In the month when almonds…aren’t healthy almonds, that rich, decadent food can make you miserable.

Too much of anything is just too much.  So enjoy the goodies.  Just be wise.

Solution:  Drink your water. Decide your limits. Get a water tracking app.

Late Nights and Too Many Early Mornings.

Think of all the extra activities.  Choir concerts, piano recitals, and performances are found everywhere.  And the parties?  You’ve got work parties, ugly sweater parties, family parties, church group parties, kid’s parties, and the list goes on.

Oh yeah.  And real life needs to keep going on.  If you’re not watching it, sleep doesn’t seem to happen in December.

Solution: While it’s easy to say you’re going to bed on time.  Set yourself an alarm. Really.

Say no.  Even in December.

As a time management strategy, work to say no in December.  This is not the time to make a small project into something so BIG.  Simple is good.  Saying no can be even better sometimes.

Solution:  It’s time to focus on what really matters for your holiday.

Plan the Next Thing.

Your mind can trick you.  You may think that multi-tasking is helpful.  It’s not.  If you are at one activity, but completely disengaged with what is happening, you really aren’t there.

Try the 12-Minute List.  When you have those tiny pockets of time, write down all of those things you have coming up.  The shopping list, the one holiday errand to pick that gift up, the extra phone calls, write all of it down.  Then go to the party, the concert, the next thing and be all in.  You can completely give of yourself because the worries and stresses are recorded.  You’ll get to it.

As we get closer to the actual day, it’s not about writing it down, this exercise becomes my 12-Minute Tiny Tasks.  Use those same twelve minutes to do a couple of tiny tasks.  In that time, you can write a thank you card, wrap one gift, or start the next load of laundry.  This is how you make multitasking work.  You focus on the task for a quick couple of minutes then move to the next thing.

Solution: The power of the 12-minute timer can work wonders.

Make Time to Laugh.

With so much going on, the stress can quickly become too much.

Allow yourself time to laugh.  Send a gif. Really people watch while you are rushing through the store. (It’s fascinating.)

The power of laughter can dissolve frustration away.

Solution: Let yourself be in the moment.

Run your race and enjoy it.

Holiday Budget Crunch Time

Looking at the calendar, there are only 6 weeks until the holidays are here!  That means (for most of the us) you have 3 paychecks to get ready.  Here’s a suggestion on how to prioritize, shop, and get ready so you can enjoy the holiday cheer!

  •  Make your 2 lists.  (The first list will be split down the middle):
    • Column A:  Names of those you absolutely MUST buy a gift for
    • Column B:  Those who it would be really nice to give to.
    • List 2:  Realistically, write the amount of money from each separate paycheck between now & the holidays you can spend on gifts.
  • Understand the consequences:
    • You can buy it all on credit cards, but you’ll have to pay interest.  This could really set you back for your 2016 goals.
    • Shopping & delivery:  How valuable is your time?
    • Handmade goods, baked goodies are fun to make:  How much time do you really have?
    • Shopping online:  Consider paying a couple bucks to pay for wrapping, instead of spending days wrapping all the gifts.
    • Delivery time:  Are the gifts going to the neighbor’s house or across town?

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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BLAB Session: November 18, 7pm, Pacific

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2014, Finish Strong

It’s the end of the year.

Finish 2014 Strong
Finish 2014 Strong

Did it just fly by for you?  Me too.

I have two words for you, my friend.

Finish Strong.

Finish strong.

Instead of a resolution for 2014, I chose a word to help me grow.  Strong was my word of the year.  I didn’t realize how powerful one word can make in my life.

Strong is more than just physical strength.

Strong is beauty.

Strong is grace.

Strong is true.

This year strong was taking action to create this blog and share with the world.

Sometimes being strong was simply listening.  Even though I was frustrated inside just wanted to walk away from tough conversations.

Strong this year was developing serious self-control to not spend money.  Even though I would see something that would be “Perrrrrfect for so & so…”  or would look “Absolutely gorgeous right next to the…”

Strong helped us create and carry out our Plan to Beat Debt.

Strong is that inner determination and total commitment to stick with it.

This Christmas season, finish the year strong.  Have you made the calendar of the family activities you will and will not attend?  It’s so important.  Don’t let yourself get frazzled with too many good things.  Make your choices early and stick with the plan.

I blew it last year.  I knew my little girl would only be little and the time would pass so quickly…I was completely focused on making the Christmas just about perfect.  I packed our days with activities, baking, extra crafts and activities to make it….perfect. (You know where this is headed, don’tcha?)

They played along for a while, but one particularly full day, after work, holiday activities my husband just stopped, looked at me and said,”Why do we have to make Christmas trees out of egg cartons?”  Translation:  he was fried.  My little girl was done.  We were exhausted and ready to go to bed.

My answer, “Because I found it on Pinterest and this is CHRISTMAS!!”

And, between us, I will never forget how foolish it sounded coming from my mouth…and the look of complete disbelief from him when I said that.

What did that ridiculous Christmas craft have to do with making the holiday season merry?

What kind of Christmas spirit was that bringing in?

Know what my family needed?

Not Crazy Mommy.

They needed Happy Mom.  “Laugh at the silliness Mom.”

“Let’s enjoy this moment Mom.”

I tried that for this Thanksgiving.  Things didn’t go exactly as planned.  The appetizers were cold.  We had to re-heat the artichoke dip.  I didn’t have time to finish the pumpking pie mousse that mounds the regular pumpkin pie.  There were no mashed potatoes with our meal.

Guess what?  I didn’t even worry about it. And we made memories to last a lifetime.  I’ve never had Karaoke at Thanksgiving.  Who does that?  Apparently, our friends.

And it was great!  It just might become a tradition.

So this holiday season, put your Christmas plans in order, and don’t over commit to too many things.

Because, just like I realized on Thanksgiving night as I was falling to sleep for the day, “Mashed potatoes come and go.  Memories last a lifetime.”

Or better said, don’t let the little things, the details, the minutia that we put too much emphasis on during the holidays, ruin what it’s really all about.

Finish Strong. 

Tell me in the comments below, how do you plan to avoid the holiday stress this Christmas?


7 Holiday Survival Tips Every Military Spouse Should Know

Today kicks off the year’s end holiday season. And as a military spouse, there are a few things you’ve just gotta know.

When your loved one is out serving our country, there are so many emotions that can get ya.  Once you realize what you’re feeling, you can make better decisions.

This is the list of things I wish someone would have told me before we had holidays and deployments on the same part of the calendar.

1. Holidays are hard.

7 Holiday Survival Tips Every Military Spouse Should Know
7 Holiday Survival Tips Every Military Spouse Should Know

Pretending that it’s easy just doesn’t work.  And you know what?  It shouldn’t.  Your sweetheart, your better half, your other brain hemisphere is not there.  So there’s no need to get all Rosie Riveter on everyone and tell them, “We can do it!”

Because, Rosie, girl, no one wants to be all alone for the holidays.

Let your friends invite you over to their house for the afternoon.  And GO.  Even with dogs barking, kids running around screaming and playing, you are going to have some great memories. The rest of your life you can remember that one holiday… and smile at the chaos.

Then when you recount the saga to your sweetheart, it will help him have peace of mind and not be too concerned about ya.

2. Family will not understand.

Perhaps your family members don’t understand what it means to be a military spouse.  Maybe you can take your kids home for the holidays.  And maybe you can’t.

Maybe you can buy gifts for every member of your family back home, wrap them and ship them to arrive in a timely manner.  And…realistically, maybe you can’t.  You are on a military budget, right?

Sometimes family guilt just seems to be passed around like the gravy on the taters.  Just smile, decide you don’t need it, thankyouverymuch, and pass it along.

Parents might not understand why their child who is out serving our country can’t call home for the holidays.  They mean well, but they may not understand why.  That’s okay.  Your primary responsibility is to your sweetheart.  Follow your heart (and OPSEC) and do what is best for you.

3. You may be alone. And it’s not easy.

This is where we are going to get real.  Your sweetheart is at work, with people that they (usually) enjoy.  They are surrounded by buddies they can talk to, tell hilarious family stories of Christmases past and build each other up.

But you may have just moved to your new duty station.  You can count the number of people you know by name on one hand.  My friend, I’m sorry, but you might be alone.  And that sounds miserable.  But it doesn’t have to be!  Spend the day doing EXACTLY what you’d like to do.  Movie marathon?  Absolutely.  Polish your nails in your jammies?  Rock solid.  Call friends and family?  All. Day.  Long.  We would expect nothing less.

Make it the most fun mini- staycation just for you.

4. Tradition Transition

Traditions don’t always mean, “We were looking at the Christmas lights with the snow falling like feathers on my eyelashes when he kissed me.”  Insert swoon here.

NO!  Start a new tradition!  Maybe this is the year you join that roller derby.  You might meet some friends that make you laugh and bruise you up like you never knew was possible.

What if you start a tradition to show up and work in a soup kitchen?  That might help put things in perspective pretty quickly.

This holiday season, especially if you’re alone write down exactly what it means to LIVE. Think of three new traditions to try this year in this new place…then go crazy making memories!  Skydive on Christmas eve?  Ummm… that might be fun for you.  But, I’m probably going to be busy that day.

5. You will find confidence you never knew you had.

Once you have been through a holiday season alone- you know.  You just know who you are and what really matters to you.  You know the people you want to spend time with, the things you want to do with your life and the direction.

Notice, easy was never part of that.  Easy is never part of the equation of military life holidays.  But it doesn’t make it bad.  And when you realize that you will be able to have holidays in one part of the country this year, on a tropical island in a couple more, and maybe a European holiday season.  Oooh-la-la.  (uh, that’s French for totally FAB.)

6. You will never take another holiday season for granted.

Not only will you have new confidence in yourself, you will never take another holiday for granted.  You hear of a giant Christmas tree made completely of used green beer bottles?  Oh, you’ll be there.  And you’ll be so happy you went to see it live because it plays music, too.  (Not a random example.  It’s in Hawaii.  Seriously.)

Heard there’s a boat parade around Seattle for Christmas?  Put that on the list.  Want to cut down your own Christmas tree without the entire Griswold family experience?  That must happen before we leave the neighborhood.  Lots of new memories to make at each duty station.

So much for the exact same holiday traditions every year.  There is too much to experience.

7. You will have empathy for others.

Finally, this may be the most important of all.  You understand loneliness. You have been to that low point and want to help others stay away from that.

You, my dear, have an incredible gift of empathy.  That means you don’t just say, “I’m so sorry that happened…” you say, “Oh, I get it.  I know what you are going through…”

What you do with that gift is entirely up to you.  How can you help others who are going through their first deployment without their sweetheart?

Try a new tradition.