The buzz of the holiday season is HERE. We feel it swirling around us everywhere we go. It sure can be a beautiful, magical time. And it sure can be a harried, stressful time. Every year I wonder how to enter this celebratory season savoring every second of wonder and joy as I long to. Not just for myself and the inner child that truly still believes in magic, but also for my boys whose eyes twinkle at the lights in the trees and gingerbread houses and imagining Santa sneaking into our house to bring them THE colorfully wrapped gift they’ve been dreaming of and hot chocolate with marshmallows and warm, freshly baked cookies and singing carols with re-written lyrics and opening the next box on the advent calendar that has a chocolate heart in it and ALL the other things that make Christmas so bright and wonder-filled. There is so much joy here to be savored.
The flip side of all of that wonder, as we live in a modern Western society that packs a powerful commercial punch to all things Christmas and celebration, can feel very overwhelming and RUSHED. With all the activity and parties and school events and shopping and decorating and buzzing about, it’s easy to get swept up in the speed of doing, doing, doing. Just BEING gets lost in the hullabaloo.
And for some, there can be sorrow surrounding the holidays, whether it's the loss of a loved one, conflict in relationships, loneliness, care of a sick loved one, difficult memories and all the other things that can make Christmas a harder season to enjoy.
I get it. I experience the full gamut of all these things during Christmas.
This year, I made myself a little list that I put on a sticky note that’s currently on my bathroom mirror. This list is a simple compilation of reminders to help me stay physically and soulfully healthy, so I can be as fully present as possible. I’m sharing my list with you and they come with some personal confessions. Feel free to take 1 or all 5 with you as you walk into this season.
#1 GET OUTSIDE
Get some sunshine on your face. Go for a walk around the block. Sit on a blanket in your yard. Go swing on a swing set at a park. Even if it’s cloudy, rainy and cold, get outside. We are created to live in the elements and FEEL the elements on our skin. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good, warm, fire-side lazy morning with my babies and kitties in my bed where we do nothing other than drink hot chocolate and watch movies. BUT, to balance that out, it’s important to GO OUTSIDE. Nature is everywhere. Not just in the remote mountains and far away beaches. It’s in our back yard, the parking lot at our grocery store, in between concrete cracks where stubborn plants grow despite all odds, on the green belt, in our parks, in the sky! LOOK UP. Look at the sky through a tree. Close your eyes and listen to the leaves moving in the wind. Despite our modern concrete jungles, nature is all around. Go outside and soak it in. Our soul needs it, wants it and longs to be rejuvenated by it’s freshness. You will feel yourself expand. GET OUTSIDE.
#2 DRINK MORE WATER
Seems too simple to be on THIS list. Trust me, we probably ALL could use at least 50-100 ounces MORE than what we currently drink. Come to find out, I’ve been living dehydrated for a looooooong time. And given my activity level, the clarity of mind I want to live with and how I want to perform in the gym, I should be drinking upwards of an ounce per pound of body weight. That’s 150 oz a day. I’ve been drinking about 50. The other 100 comes from coffee. Confessions of a gym owner and strength coach. #humblepie
Here’s the deal. We need LOTS of water to keep our cells functioning properly, to keep our skin fresh, to maintain mental acuity, to detoxify all the crrrrap we ingest, to help flush the bad fats and feed the lean muscles….and really, the list could go on and on for why we need to drink more water. I bought a water bottle that has the number of ounces on it to keep the math super simple for this #mathlete. If that works for you, do it.
Point is, DRINK MORE WATER. I’m working on making it a habit. It starts with a lot of intention now that will transfer to an unintentional habit. Get yourself a BIG water bottle and start doing it. You WILL feel better on all fronts. I promise. I have.
#3 EAT YOUR GREENS…AND PROTEINS
Another seemingly too simple thing to be on my list. Especially cuz I love vegetables. Here’s something about me you probably didn’t know. When it gets cold, all I want to eat is stew and drink beer. True story. I also find that my schedule is so packed with activity, that I don’t make the time to eat. Another confession of a gym owner and strength coach. Seriously, you guys. I’m just as human as you. Turns out, I don’t eat enough protein. Again, the rule applies: given my activity level, I should be eating upwards of a gram per pound of bodyweight…yep, another 150. Which I very rarely do. And top of that, it’s the holiday season which means that carbs and sugar RULE the plate. It sure tastes good while it’s in my mouth, but doesn’t make me FEEL very good after.
So, I have this one on my list to remind me to eat a fresh, green salad of some sort everyday and EAT MORE PROTEIN. This will feed the lean muscle I have and that roughage keeps my guts happy. If you take this one on, keep it simple. Just eat some fresh, crunchy greens and some good, lean protein everyday. This will help balance out all those delicious Christmas decorated sugar cookies that *have* to be eaten to properly celebrate the season.
#4 KEEP MOVING
Yep. Another confession. I’m a hot-weather-sweat-loving person. When it’s cold outside, I want to hibernate. With my stew and my beer. Obviously what I do for a living forces me out of that cozy scenario. Because of all the buzzing about with holiday activity, I find that I need to be even more intentional about scheduling time to train and move, so that I stay grounded and balanced. You understand the need to move or you wouldn’t be reading this. AND, it’s really easy to push our training to the bottom of the list when we’re so busy. I do it too.
Here’s the deal though: the more we move, whether it’s a game of tag with our kids, a walk around the block, a yoga class, a trail run or a heavy lifting session, the more we cleanse our lymphatic system, the more balanced our hormones, the better we sleep, the more energy we have, the happier we are. The happier we are, the more we take care of ourselves, the more we will have to give to the people we love, the more present we’ll be in this crazy, amazing season.
POINT? Don’t push exercising to the bottom of the list because you’re busy. Make this a priority, whatever time of the day it is. This will create greater capacity to feel clean and fresh and expansive amidst all the activity. KEEP MOVING!
#5 LOOK UP
Meaning, put your phone down. Put your computer down. Put your work down. Put your to-do list down. Put your DOING down. Put your “what-you-think-you-SHOULD-be-doing” down. And look up. Look up and see…truly SEE. Look up and really listen. Look up and deeply feel. Look up to what and who is around you. Look up and deeply listen to your child’s story, truly see what’s in your partner’s eyes, feel your friend’s pain or joy, see your mother’s vulnerability, CARE about your lonely grandfather’s visit to see another doctor about another ailment, take the time to look into your cat or dog’s eyes and tell them you love them, when you look in the mirror, truly see your SELF…and FEEL what it is you’re feeling.
Our life is FULL of distractions. Everywhere. In every form. And we have the choice to allow ourselves to BE distracted or to remain present to what really matters.
I need the reminder on my sticky note to continue to live a “hands-free” life. It’s very easy for me to get distracted by the next thing that I “need” to do. It’s so easy for me to reach for my phone to check my email or look at social media or look something up on the Googles to find out something I don’t know. So, for this holiday season, I choose to put all of that down on a regular basis so that I can eat dinner with my boys at our kitchen table for an hour..or two…and tell stories and listen to their 8 and 10 year old lives and laugh…and sometimes cry. I choose to look into the eyes of the cashier at HEB or Target or Hobby Lobby and genuinely ask them how they’re doing. I choose to go over to my parent’s house instead of calling them on the phone and drinking coffee and talking.
Because at the end of my life, all that “DOING” will fade as the moments of “BEING” fill the memory of my life.
Try it. Put all that stuff down. Power it off. Put it away. It doesn’t really matter in the big picture. And LOOK UP.
That’s it. Simple. Just breathe. Deep breaths. The kind where you breathe in as much as you can possible hold and breathe all the way out where you breathe out the dregs of your lungs. I forget so easily that my life is made of breathing and that breathing keeps me alive. It’s on my list because I want to truly be ALIVE in my life and breathing deeply will help me do that. The more I breathe like this, the more calm I feel, the clearer in my head I feel, the more grounded I feel, the more present I feel. And I certainly desire all of those during this season. (And really, ALL the time. But for now, we’re talking about the next 3 weeks of December.) Try it. Take 3 really, really deep breaths. Notice how you feel. BREATHING IS GOOD. And free. And easy. And you can access it any time, all the time. It’s a beautiful gift.
So, there you have it. My simple, little reminder list from the pink sticky note on my bathroom mirror. My hope is to integrate these a lot this month…and continuing on into the new year. I apply them with grace, remembering it’s not about performance, but about adding value to the 4-dimensional, technicolor life that I long to live.
May YOUR holiday season be filled with moments where you truly feel joy. Where you truly feel alive. Where you truly feel present to the ones you love. And not just in the big, flashy moments. But all the quiet, seemingly unimportant moments that fill up your days.
Breathe. You got this.
BIG, WARM holiday hugs from me to you.
PS. I’m attaching one of my most favorite holiday songs ever by Judy Garland…just because. It always makes my heart swell. Enjoy…