This is what I call a “blah blah blah” post – lots of words and me thinking things through as I type. Feel free to skip this post if you’re just here for the pretty pictures.
Can you believe we only have 12 weeks left in 2012? Doesn’t time seem to just fly by? I can hardly believe that it is 2012, let alone the end of 2012!
I always find the last weeks of the year fly by even faster than the rest of the year. I think it’s because I spend a lot of time doing the same things each day and each week, I spend too much time indoors (being fall-winter) and also because we become very focused on the next holiday. In July it’s back to school even though summer just started, in September (when the kids actually go back to school) it’s fall and Halloween stuff comes out, and by October every store is all about Halloween and starting to put out Christmas things. The moment Halloween is done Thanksgiving is ready to go (although the harvest/fall theme has been going strong for 2 months) and even now, in October, Christmas is at the back of many minds. Next you know it’s New Year’s, and then the year is over, and finally time slows down again for a few months.
Anyway, this year I decided to do something about it. Turning off the TV and cutting down on the internet would probably help, but I’m not quite there yet! I should go on some walks too. But the main thing I did was sign up for an online class called “Project Real Life.” It’s related to the scrapbooking Project Life by Becky Higgins, and taught by her, but it’s not a scrapbooking class, although there are Project Life tie-ins that some people are using to create pages based on the weekly class prompts. Like this (my instagram in the middle, PRL digital elements on either side)
We’ve only had one week so far – new material is released each Thursday for the 12 weeks until Boxing Day. This week’s theme was to “begin with the end in mind” and to make decisions before you have to decide. That second part is hard to express concisely, but basically means that sometimes it’s better to be guided by decisions that you have made earlier based on your beliefs and intentions – like deciding that you will always dance if someone asks you to, or that you will never eat animal products, or that you will follow your family traditions in planning the holiday season, or that one cookie is always enough. Thinking about what is important to you and how you might handle future challenges based on your priorities and values makes a lot of sense. It was a lot easier for me to eat well when I declared myself to be all-but-vegan – no, I would not be snacking on cheese today because I don’t do that. Now that I do (I’ve been backsliding lately), it’s harder for me to know whether to snack on cheese or not – most of them time I just go with what I want to do in the moment, which mean I’m not eating very well…
In terms of the rest of the year, starting with the end in mind and deciding now how I want it to be makes a lot of sense. How will I handle the questions about what I want for Christmas this year? How will I make sure that I stay “in the moment” as much as possible? How can I avoid some of the stress that I tend to feel in December? How can I make sure I can have a lot of fun in each of the holiday seasons coming?
Yeah, I’m an analytical introspective kind of person! But I think if you set out to have fun and avoid stress you can make good choices – getting out to the corn maze even though the weather is a bit sad (soon), going for a walk around the neighborhood to see the fall leaves, the Halloween decorations, the Christmas lights, even if hubby isn’t all that keen – he doesn’t have to come if he doesn’t want to. Going to a Christmas carol service with a friend, even though I’ve never been to church, because I loved singing in choir at school and Christmas carols are so fundamental to the season.
For us, one of the challenges of the holiday season is that we don’t have kids, so we don’t feel like we have to create and maintain traditions for them. And isn’t so much of what we do at the holidays for kids? Another challenge is that we don’t have strong traditions based on family or religion. I guess we don’t value the holidays in the same ways that some other people do, so beginning this season with an end in mind – based on our values and priorities – is important. Acknowledging that we celebrate the season in our own way is OK. In fact this is probably even more important for us so that we don’t get caught up living someone else’s values. Creating our own vision for the fall and winter season is definitely beginning with the end in mind and deciding before we have to decide.
With this in mind I think I will create an advent calendar of fun things we can do leading up to Christmas – our/my kind of fun. Leading up to Halloween, I will think about what kind of decorating and dressing up I want to do and why. Thanksgiving will be a special holiday for us – we’re taking a trip to visit family in Hawaii, so having fun with them and especially enjoying our nephew (the only child in our family) will be the focus (plus sightseeing on a new island). We’ll also have a late Thanksgiving dinner with my MIL, which is always a good time for practicing intentionality ;) Oh, and there’s an election coming up pretty soon – deciding how much politics to consume will have a big effect on my stress levels.
So anyway, I’m looking forward to the next 11 weeks of Project real Life. I partly signed up for the class as a way to anchor the weeks until the end of the year – 12 emailed reminders to take some time to think about happiness and the weeks coming up. Some will be more practical, some will be philosophical. I’ll probably share some elements of each week here. Hopefully with more pictures and less blah blah blah!
Another way I’m holding onto the days and weeks lately is with my facebook photo projects. Our next theme is fall and Halloween. Right now the weather is still delightful (sunny, 60-70 degrees) but in 2-3 days fall in the Pacific Northwest is going to start for real – rain, showers, and clouds alternating for as long as the forecasters can see. ugh! The land needs the rain so badly though. My poor garden is crispy crunchy dry. For my photo it would be easy to go out and take some pictures of rain, maple leaves, or pumpkins, but I’m going to try and find something more expressive of what fall means to me, or at least not so obvious. I’m not sure yet what that’s going to look like yet.
Happy fall! (unless you’re down in the southern hemisphere – happy spring, home folks!)