In this shoulder season of rest, we’re right on the precipice of the decidedly *less* restful stretch of holidays. Staying centered usually comes down to three things for me: accessing the headspace and tools needed to remain grounded, a little advanced planning, investing in my creative process, and a commitment to movement and exercise.
I'm a creative person with a business, a family, and a strong desire to give back to my community; remaining grounded is so essential for me in the midst of a busy life. As someone who already functions on an anxious level—with ADHD tendencies, as well—the holidays create a hefty demand on my time and emotional energy. Both sides of our families live nearby, too—we’re managing expectations from them, as well as the many plans my very social husband makes and agrees to. Even though I lean slightly introverted, I still find myself struggling with FOMO—this applies to time with friends and time with myself. My therapist and I work on grounding regularly together, and it’s helpful that she often ends a session asking me where my feet are planted right now, or where I’m feeling grounded.
I'm not a planner by nature, but I’m learning to be; planning allows me to get more out of life. What I want out of November and the holidays is the time to enjoy the changing weather. To offer attention to small pleasures like my daily coffee and tea. To bake, decorate—actually touch and feel and smell evergreen until my hands are sappy and sticky. I want to make crafts with my daughters, and enjoy time with friends. I want to rest and reflect and tend to my spirituality. Aren't these the things most people really want from these months? But so often, getting the food made for the holiday party or potluck, or our extended shop holiday hours, or illness, or packing up the car with the correct gifts—and of course, family bickering—take away from that experience. We’ve been sitting down as a family more lately to draft up a "family gap plan" (a concept by Brene Brown) and look at our upcoming calendars so we’re able to carefully consider what each person in our family needs to be healthy and happy, and pencil in a plan that can help us make space for each other and ourselves. I'm learning to ask for what I need alongside them. Being realistic about our schedule, and adjusting as needed, is a priority. For example, one obvious reduction I found this week is to go to the grocery store less—only once a week. My husband and I keep a shared grocery list on our phones, but we weren't really thinking through all our meals and activities we needed to bring food to, and as a result, had to go 2-4 times last week. Planning more thoroughly reduces those trips and gives us more time for things that feel more meaningful to us.
The Artist's Way
This year, I began a 12-week course called The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It's already been life changing. The two main practices are journaling by hand every morning, and a once-a-week artist date. The "morning pages," as she calls them, are three whole pages worth of thoughts, feelings, frustrations, things that happened, and sometimes just the shopping list. Whatever it is, no editing. I've found it to be clarifying, detoxing, hopeful, calming. The second practice—the artist date—is taken alone, once a week. In just a few weeks, my creativity exploded. I've almost completed a sewing project for a clothing item for myself, started on a "freakebana" arrangement for a design competition with the Beet and Yarrow staff, and gone to a "collage club" at the RedLine Contemporary Art Center.
Tending to an exercise routine is another activity that helps me so much. It's nothing heroic or even that ambitious; it’s just necessary. Doing barre, pilates, or yoga gives me mental stability and endorphins that support the rest of my week. When my brain tells me something is feeling hard, I recenter and focus on how incredible my muscles feel, and it really works! Listening to audiobooks while exercising has made the time pass more quickly and feel more enjoyable.
There’s beauty in learning that when I commit to these fundamental acts, it has an overall grounding effect on my whole life. I have so much more breathing room to fold in other fun and creative things that I want to do, the things that make me feel more in touch with myself, the seasons, and my family.