Happy Holidays Mamas!

Ashley and I are enjoying taking a break this week to be with our families.  We have interviews scheduled and will be working behind the scenes to prepare many great shows for you to come in 2017.  Our next podcast episode comes out January 3rd.

We hope you enjoy some stillness and presence during this season.  For inspiration, listen to Episode 8 with Karen Maezen Miller where her beautiful words will inspire you to find stillness and practice presence as a way to connect with your family.  You will also feel inspired as you listen to Episode 12 where Katrina Kenison shares your reflections on choosing love over fear, how you can embrace being out of step from our fast-paced culture and celebrate the simple, ordinary moments with your children.

Today, we have mindful mama and our friend, Nichelle Artin, as our guest writer, where she’s sharing her reflection on what’s helping her stay more present and intentional this holiday season.

Stop by our Mindful Mama Movement group on Facebook to join in the discussion and to get inspired to set your own holiday intentions.  Click HERE to join us. 

The Holiday Mantra that is Relieving My Stress

by Nichelle Artin

If you are anything like me the holidays bring out the more colorful sides of your personality.  

The demands on your time and the images in your head of how things “should be” dance in your mind like sugarplums.  Beautiful, but always out of reach.  

I struggle with this at each holiday throughout the year, but especially from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

In 2015 I got swept into a trifecta of last minute changes in plans, the desire to be a present and kind hostess, and my vision of the beautifully bowed gifts that I wanted to present kept me up for most of the night on Christmas Eve.  By the time we had made it through to the end of the Christmas Day festivities I had slept less than 10 hours in almost 3 days.  Add that to the regular business of the season, and I was exhausted.  My body let me know with a nasty stomach bug that showed up less than 30 hours later.  My recovery took half of my vacation and I started the new year much less refreshed and relaxed than I had hoped.  

In 2014, when my youngest was just 3 months old I chose to spend an entire weekend removing the lights from my second tree (it was prelit and the lights were not working).  This tree, which is my holiday joy with its assortment of blue and silver ornaments, is completely unnecessary for the enjoyment of the season.  No tree is necessary, but we already had a colorful and cheerful tree for the gifts to go under on Christmas morning.  But I had a vision of what a “beautiful Christmas” looks like, and it included that lovely tree.  It also cost me a lovely day of quiet play and snuggles with my two precious boys.  Plus I was short tempered and annoyed at the added frustration.  Not my finest hour, for sure.

These are just examples of my usual holiday or hosting behavior.  Are you seeing the theme?  

The need to live up to those sugarplums dancing through my imagination is not adding to the experience: it is stealing my opportunities to experience the joy that is already there.  

After last year, I knew I had to stop.  I had to stop trying to create the “perfect holiday” and start enjoying the less than perfect, but imperfectly lovely, experience that was happening while I was chasing this vision in my head.

Enter my holiday mantra: the thing I repeat to myself everytime I feel the frustrated yelling mom come out.  

The phrase I focus on when my messy house and scattering of unplaced decorations starts to raise my shoulders and my frantic need to clean.  My anchor in the sea of glitter and tinsel and boxes…

Peace over Perfection

I say it to myself at least 10 times a day.  Sometimes, like the day my two boys and I tried to bake together and we weathered several tantrums and arguments, I say it more like 10 times in an hour. I have lessened my vision of what “perfection” looks like.  My house currently has a mixture of Autumnal and Christmas decor (there may even be a stay Halloween decoration or two still up).  I have been impatient, lost my temper, and felt my usual stress.  But, I have also taken a Saturday afternoon nap in the middle of “tree day” (nothing short of a minor miracle!).  So progress has been made.

Please, my friend,  when you feel your stress levels rise as you strive for the delicious cookies, the gorgeously decked out home, or even just an ontime arrival: PAUSE.  

Take a deep breath and ask yourself: Would I rather see perfection or feel peace? Which one will bring more joy to the hearts of myself and my family? And then give yourself a little grace (and maybe pass some over to a little person or two) and allow your actions to follow your choice.  

Remember, no one cares about how clean your house is or the arrangement of the ornaments on the tree as much as you.  But I am willing to bet that every person in your house would choose peace for themselves and for you.  

Let’s all make a conscious choice to choose peace over presence this holiday season!

With love,

Shannon, Ashley & Mama Guest Writer Nichelle