How To Make The Holidays Work For You

It may be cliche at this point, but it’s that time of year when it’s common to take time to be grateful. I know I’m not alone in having a dedicated gratitude practice, and if you haven’t yet tried it, whether for November or any time of year, I definitely recommend it.

A lot of people are struggling with the holidays and how to celebrate this year. Although many people have already been celebrating holidays during COVID virtually (Jewish people in particular have had several holidays come and go at this point), Thanksgiving is such an “American” holiday in a lot of ways that it affects the majority of us in some way, rather than certain religions or parts of the country.

As a coach, I’m noting two simultaneous threads or thoughts popping up:
a) An extra awareness of gratitude – if I’m healthy, if I don’t have COVID-19, if my family is safe, if I’m employed etc. I know I have a LOT to be grateful for right now
b) It’s so frustrating/I’m so angry/I’m so sad because I want to be spending the holidays with my family/without masks and social distancing but I’ve gone virtual and/or made major modifications and changes due to COVID-19

It’s okay to have mixed feelings.

It’s okay to have moments when you feel wrapped up in the love of your family/friends, whether it’s a partner or child or parent in your bubble or a virtual meal full of love and conversation and good memories.

It’s okay to in the next moment feel anxiety that your parents are going to do x, or feel resentment that you can’t do your usual holiday celebration, or feel jealous of y, who lives with their family while you are living and celebrating alone.

I hope that during this challenging time, you will give yourself forgiveness. We are all carrying so much right now.

If someone else’s life looks glamorous on social media, remember that that is just the tip of the iceberg that you’re seeing. The glamorous surface life may be only a passing moment in a chaotic day or week or month.

Here are a few things I recommend making time for this week, whatever your plans are. (Perhaps you’ll have some extra time since you won’t have your usual holiday commute to the in-laws?)

  1. Make a gratitude list. This can take many forms, and all are valid. Start or end each day by acknowledging five things you’re grateful for. Start a gratitude journal, whether it’s a big beautiful book or a note on your phone. Begin your Thanksgiving meal/Zoom call/family walk by having everyone share something they are thankful for this year.
  2. Make time for exercise. Personally, I think stuffing myself is kind of part of the fun of Thanksgiving – even if I don’t leave the main meal feeling overstuffed, I love indulging in rich fall foods in the meals and days that follow. Most of us, at least in the corporate sector or education, are also lucky enough to get time off this week. It can be tempting to use that time to relax on the couch, but making time to take a walk or stretch or lift some weights will give you more energy for the festivities and encourage you to enjoy your indulgences more, without guilt.
  3. Carve out time for yourself. I love my family, but as an introvert who isn’t always her best self at large family gatherings, I’ve worked hard over the years to set boundaries for myself. For me, part of a successful holiday season is making time for my morning routine and making sure I have time to relax on my own. If you’re having trouble seeing blank space on your calendar, even if it’s virtual gatherings, take a moment to block out a morning or an hour for you each week. It will help you to be at your best when you are with your family too.

Whatever your plans are this year, I hope you’ll take this advice to heart. No one has your best interests at heart in the same way you do, so go create the holiday schedule that will light you up and invigorate you.

Take care, and Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. Thank you so much for your support of this blog throughout the year! If you appreciate it, we’d love for you to share it with a friend or support us with one of the methods below. Thanks, and have a great day!

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Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Capital One 360 is one everyone can take advantage of to save money! Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Listen to, subscribe and review our theater comedy podcast, Finishing The Season!
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com. 

Returning to Quiet

“True happiness is found in seemingly unremarkable things. But to be aware of little, quiet things, you need to be quiet inside. A high degree of alertness is required. Be still. Look. Listen. Be present.”

Eckhart Tolle

I’ve been returning to quiet lately.

About a month back, after several weeks of feeling anxious and unsettled, I decided my morning routine was due for an upgrade. The timing coincided perfectly with Sarah Jenks’ announcement of her #sacredstart program, so I went for it.

I’d built up a morning routine I loved over a few years, and it looked something like this:

Journaling; educational reading; taking a walk for at least a half hour outside, usually with an educational or inspirational podcast; having a healthy breakfast

With Sarah Jenks’ inspiration, my new morning routine looks something like this:

Journaling; educational reading, taking a walk for at least a half hour outside, usually with an educational or inspirational podcast; setting up a beautiful altar with elements from nature; aromatherapy (roll-ons due to cat and a small RV); pulling an inspirational card from my Sacred Garden deck; meditation; a cup of tea with oat milk; sacred reading

The extra elements only add 15-20 minutes to my morning (and yes, some days I wish I had that extra time back, at least a little bit), but they have TRULY made a world of difference in my mood. Anxiety is practically gone. I’m feeling so much more grounded and empowered.

What we experience is our desperate search for happiness where it cannot be found…[the key] was not lost outside ourselves. It was lost inside ourselves. This is where we need to look for it.

Father Thomas Keating

We live in such a busy and demanding world. When we add into it extra stresses, whether it’s facing racism or sexism or homophobia or ableism, whether it’s COVID-19 or bullying co-workers or toxic family or food insecurity, it can feel impossible, or nearly so, to stay grounded or find happiness.

I love this quote, because it reminds me that we can run around the world chasing happiness and still never find it. You won’t find lasting happiness in a bottle of wine or a pint of ice cream. You won’t find it in a night at the movies or a night with a lover. You won’t find it playing with your kid or visiting your parents.

You find it in yourself.

We have to set aside time each day and each week for quiet, for stillness, for going inside and listening to what there is to hear. That’s where you’ll find the inner knowing that tells you the next step in your business, the next step for your family, and the next step for you. If we never get quiet, we’ll never hear it.

Growing up, my favorite book was The Secret Garden. My parents started reading it to me when I was only six, and I connected so much with the young orphan child, feeling out of her element, transported from being the center of attention (at least from servants) to being abandoned and out of her element, to exploring outside and discovering a world of nature and life she’d never known.

I certainly didn’t grow up as a rich, neglected kid in India, but there was something about the journey Mary makes, from selfish and self-centered to an integrated, full and beautiful life with nature and friends and her new and chosen family, that I felt so comforting.

Mary discovers a secret garden that’s been neglected, and it’s not until she does a lot of inner work that she’s able to find the key to it. It’s in doing further work on herself that she eventually finds the door and is able to enter into it.

We all have a secret garden waiting for us. To find the happiness in that garden, we need to make time for quiet and reflection. Grab a journal, spend five minutes in solitude, do a walking meditation. Get quiet, and see what the whispers offer you.

______________________________

Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Capital One 360 is one everyone can take advantage of to save money! Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Listen to, subscribe and review our theater comedy podcast, Finishing The Season!
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com. 

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

It’s been coming up for me a lot this week: the eagerness to move forward, to take a few more steps on the journey toward a better and more fulfilling life. Oh, but what’s that right behind us? The fear, of course! Right behind the desire to take another step or two is the fear sweeping in, to say wait, what if you lose all of your work, what if it doesn’t turn out the way you’re planning, what if there’s an emergency and won’t be available for your loved ones?

Hello again, fear. You’re always there, waiting in the wings, when we take a step forward in our business or elsewhere in our life. I’m sure you can relate. For me in my life, here are some of the times it’s made sure to pay a visit:

  • When we decided to buy a used RV and travel the US
  • When we decided to start a theater company
  • When we decided to stop workcamping and focus 100% on building our own businesses
  • When we decided to spend the summer touring the Pacific Northwest
  • When I decided to be a tour manager for a trip to Slovenia, even though I’d never flown internationally
  • When we decided to return to NH and do a fully staged musical (even though we hadn’t done so in 4 or so years)
  • When we decided to slow down our travel and focus on next steps

Every time we choose something awesome and bold to do, surprise! In comes the fear.

  • Sometimes it’s a voice in our head telling us “can you really do this? What if ____”
  • Sometimes it’s a well-meaning family member or friend concerned about our security or our safety
  • Sometimes it’s a well-meaning person reminding us of how four or five years ago, x didn’t work

Our lives have been a series of calculated risks. We can never know if a particularly project or life choice will work out for us in the long run. Instead, we can carefully weigh our options, consider the level of risk vs. level of reward, and consider if the worst-case scenario is something we’re willing to handle and capable of handling. (And that worst-case scenario? It’s always useful to think about all the things we’ve been able to handle before, that we wouldn’t have predicted we could handle. We can get through almost anything, honestly. )

So if you’re considering a new step, whether it’s a career break, a new job, a kid, a hobby, going back to school or a big move, I’m here to tell you: feel the fear and do it anyway! If you’ve done your own version of a risk analysis, whether it’s a pros and cons list, a heart to heart with your loved ones or a gut check, and you’ve got whatever runway you need, it’s time to go for it.

After all life isn’t guaranteed, and we aren’t getting younger. What’s one step you can take toward your dream today?

______________________________

Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Capital One 360 is one everyone can take advantage of to save money! Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Listen to, subscribe and review our theater comedy podcast, Finishing The Season!
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com. 

Ross and Jamie Featured On Podcast – NH Unscripted

“We never wanted to take on something that we knew we wouldn’t be able to do, that was just a complete pipe dream, but we always wanted to challenge ourselves as well.” – Ross & Jamie on NH Unscripted

Last week Ross and I got to meet Ray Dudley, host of podcast NH Unscripted, over Zoom. We shared so many fun stories with him, including the origin story, about Not Your Mom’s Musical Theater, the company we founded in 2010 in New Hampshire.

If you enjoy theater and musical theater, it’s a must-listen, but if you’re not, it’s also got lots of inspiration and takeaways for people who are motivated to do their thing and craft the life of their dreams.

Give it a listen where podcasts are found, including here, or give it a watch below.

And if you do, please let us know what you think! Lots of humor, lessons, and inspiration.

“So we just found a piano and just went for it. And there was a restaurant across the street – they were our captive audience…..we’d finish a song, and they’d start cheering!” – Ross and Jamie on NH Unscripted

Have a wonderful week, and take care of yourselves and those around you – if you’re an American especially, they probably need it this week.

______________________________

Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Capital One 360 is one everyone can take advantage of to save money! Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Listen to, subscribe and review our theater comedy podcast, Finishing The Season!
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com.