Sunday, November 30, 2014

Love Yourself First: The beauty of choosing… Prioritizing the chaos this December.

We are at the beginning of December, within the eight weeks of holidays and all the chaos that goes during this time.  For me this week brings up all the parts of planning that took me years to address and learn to master.  AND, it is also this week every year that brings up the lists that can eventually tip me over. 

We all have routines in place for work, school (if we still have kids in school), house, food and all the day-to-day management issues.  Once the winter sets in, especially for us in the northern states, we have the addition of snow and ice, putting on snow tires, shoveling, added to what we normally manage.   When we add the holidays and all the additional perceived requirements, we have double stacked stress load on top of a busy schedule.

I was looking at what these additional holiday stressors can be for many of us. Whether we are celebrating Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, or Christmas, or all, there are gifts, shipping, meals, decorations, parties, school events, and kids out for vacation, all taking place in the first 25 days of the month… whew!

How can we step back from all these activities and expectations and learn how to take on only what we want or need during the holidays?  I have been scaling down for the last 15 years and discovered this really great tool that helps to identify what really needs to be done, what are the stressors, and how to prioritize what you really want to do.  It is in creating the options of choice into this busy time of the year that you can truly free yourself and begin to enjoy this time of year.   When you can step back and take a breath and take a look at what is in front of you, you can make decisions based on what role you want to play this December, and then choose this role with growing mastery.

This great tool is called a Brain Dump.  Here it is… Create a 15–30 minute space of uninterrupted time.  Get yourself a pile of clean blank paper and a pen or pencil you like, and a nice cup of tea, because you want to relax into this.  If you are concerned about time, set a timer for 30 minutes so you know there is an end in sight.

Next, take a few deep breaths and ask you brain to allow you to capture all the details that it is holding for you…. All the details.  Tell your brain you are going to dump all the minutia of to do’s, schedules, ideas, and concerns all on these pieces of papers.  This is really important: partner with your brain and let it know it can open the hatch and let it all go, and you will capture it. 

Now, start writing down all the details for the month of December you hold in your head.  It is key to let go of trying to categorize or sort anything, just write it all down as it comes up.  Let your mind wander and capture everything.  My list always jumps around between ideas for gifts, grocery lists, phone calls, RSVP’s, reservations and confirmations, pet food…. It sort of freaked me out the first couple of times, and then I started having a sense of humor and seeing just what I was actually holding onto.

Do this till you cannot find another thing to write down.  Till you feel completely empty and satisfied that you have captured absolutely everything.   Then put the pen down and put the piles of paper together.  Put the papers in a safe place and leave them alone for an hour or up to a day.  Take a moment to thank your brain and your body for letting go of all this valuable information.  When you do this, you can actually feel your body relaxing and your heart opening.  

Later, come back to the brain dump item at a time and put the information into categories, like a grocery list, or a list of phone calls to make, or what needs to be done by what date.  Once you have all the information captured into one place, now you get to take another deep breath and using the tool of the snapshot from last week, take a look at the balance of time at home, time out with friends, costs, calendar conflicts, and all of it, and with the clarity and freedom from carrying all this in your head, you now get to look at it objectively and decide what YOU really want to do.  Prioritize what really works for you, for you and your partner, you and your kids, and you and your finances.  Period.

With this space and objectivity you get to decide what role you want to play this year, what kind of person you want to be.  You get to decide on what level of frenzy you actually want to participate in, and what you can let go.

It is in our freedom to make choices that we get to create something different, something more heart centered and in line with what opens us up, with what allows space for something new to happen.  It is in our choices that we create opportunities.   So get out there and create, and have fun with it!

Next week we're going to address the ways to focus on wants, needs, and giving over the holidays. Look for this on Sunday evening, December 7th.


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