5 Ways to Find Your Holiday Spirit

5 Ways to Find Your Holiday Spirit

I love the holiday season, but as an adult with a full-time job and responsibilities, I feel unable to naturally unleash my Christmas cheer like I did as a child. I have to try harder to be aware of and fully experience this time of year.

In order words, I have to be intentional about feeling festive, which is unlike Christmastime during childhood. This is probably due to the stress and busyness that can come at this time of year. And so, I think now is one of the best times to practice being present in activities that can bring joy.

Children are experts at being in the moment and exuding merriment. Here are 5 suggestions I have to seize and embrace the holiday spirit with the gusto of a child:

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Decorate like Buddy the Elf

It is impossible not to feel a touch of glee when you come home and plug in strands of string lights. If you’re feeling particularly grinchy this year, don’t be afraid to go over the top. I live in a studio apartment and have 7 strands of lights lining the walls, 3 mini Christmas trees, plus lights and a tree on my balcony. When I come home from work, I don’t need any lights on except my Christmas lights. The vibes are warm and cozy. Next step: paper snowflakes.

Watch Your Favorite Holiday Flick

If you haven’t watched any holiday movies yet, it’s time. Turn one on, and turn your phone off. Dedicate your night to the viewing and focus on the film. Suggestions: Elf, Christmas Vacation, Holiday Inn, Meet Me in St. Louis, White Christmas, Love Actually, Christmas in Connecticut, Charlie Brown Christmas. I would say It’s a Wonderful Life, but I save that one for Christmas Eve. Preferably watch your choice with a cup of hot cocoa or cider in hand.

Indulge in a Christmas Activity

If you’re in Nashville, go to Cheekwood Holiday Lights where you can stay warm with a festive cocktail and stroll through their gorgeous display. Or perhaps their Holiday Afternoon Tea suits you, in which you can sip wintertime teas and munch on tasty treats provided by Crumb de la Crumb Bakery.

Go to a Festive Show

My three top picks are the It’s a Wonderful Life viewings at the BelcourtHome Alone in concert at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, and Nashville’s Nutcracker at TPAC’s Jackson Hall. Get your tickets for these shows now because they are all likely to sell out! Each one is sure to get you in the Christmas mood.

Take a Drive

When I was little, my dad used to drive me around to look at Christmas lights. These days, I forget to do this – I never just “go for a drive,” but am always driving from point A to point B. Go out one night with the simple goal of viewing holiday decorations. It’s an experience that’s sure to stir up some childhood memories and Christmas nostalgia.

 

How’s your holiday spirit? Hopefully these tips get you feeling a little more like post-Clarence George Bailey. And if you didn’t catch that reference, go watch It’s a Wonderful Life right now.

Love, Bee

 

For the Joy Guest Post

For the Joy Guest Post

I’m so excited to have written a guest post on For the Joy! If you’re a teacher, mama, or full-time employee with a side hustle, you’ll love her blog. I wrote about balancing teaching with a creative pursuit. But honestly, it’s for anyone who works full-time and also pursues something on the side, or just who wants a better work/life balance.

Read all about it now on For the Joy. I’d love to know if you find it helpful in the comments!

Love, Bee

During the Holidays, Disconnect

During the Holidays, Disconnect

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and Christmas is not far behind. During the holidays, there’s a lot to take pictures of – pretty decor, food, loved ones. By all means, take the pictures, but that’s it. Then put the phone down; disconnect.

Our instinct at this time of year is to share, to be more interconnected, but then we cannot be fully present. Now – tonight – is the time to start disengaging and grounding ourselves, or the holidays will just go by.

On Thanksgiving as well as Christmas Day, I always try to have my phone away for most of the day. Especially when family is over, during lunch/dinner, and when opening gifts, I ensure my phone is in another room.

Honestly, there are few moments in the year when I feel fully disconnected. I like to treat holidays and celebrations as special and sacred, not to be tarnished with the distraction of technology, which can make them feel as ordinary as any other day.

By detaching from our phones, we engage with reality and with our loved ones – and that’s what this time of year is really about anyway.

Love, Bee

5 Ways to Take Advantage of the Time Change

5 Ways to Take Advantage of the Time Change

Last week, I wrote about 4 spots to get cozy post-time change. Now, we’re here. DST is over, and last night, we experienced our first longer evening. I found myself yawning before dinnertime, sleepily disoriented in the darkness of my apartment at 5 p.m.

I’ve come up with suggestions to make the most of this extra hour of nighttime. Instead of succumbing to feelings of laziness and gloom, here are 5 productive ways to take advantage of the switch:

1. Do a puzzle

Puzzles are good for your brain! They keep you alert, improve memory, and exercise the mathematical, analytical parts of your mind. Section off an area of living space and keep the puzzle going continuously. It’s a perfect nighttime activity to do solo or when guests are over – people are often attracted to puzzles!

2. Plan a trip

There’s nothing like planning a vacation to brighten your mood – no matter how far in advance the trip may be! I have weekend guides for Nashville, New York City, Chicago, and D.C. so there’s no need to look far if you’re craving a fall/winter city escape.

3. Practice mindfulness

It can be easy to get in a funk when the days change. If you need some centering, try my easy tips for living mindfully. Something as simple as establishing a home yoga practice can completely change your mood and outlook.

4. Accomplish a goal

Set aside this extra hour of darkness and dedicate it to accomplish something. Perhaps you write, read, or exercise. Maybe there’s a home project you’ve been procrastinating. You might even wake up an hour earlier in the morning (when it’s lighter) and take a morning jog. If you pretend that you actually do have an extra hour in the day, you’ll be amazed at what you can get done, because you’ll believe that you have the time and feel more focused.

5. Decorate for the season

There are few things that cheer me up more than buying flowers for the house or decorating for the holidays. This November, put some energy into giving your home a warm, cozy, autumn, Thanksgiving vibe with orange accents and natural elements. Once December hits, go all-out with your holiday decorations. Decorating always brightens my mood and makes me feel both productive and festive!

I hope these ideas help! Please let me know some of your favorite ways to spend these longer evenings!

Love, Bee

The Beauty of Impermanence

The Beauty of Impermanence

The current state of my balcony

Each season, we seek and purchase the impermanent: tulips in spring, hydrangeas in summer, mums in fall, pansies in winter. We relish blooming trees, falling leaves, pumpkins on porches, holly draping windows. We know these things will vanish, that we will have to toss them aside. But we want them anyway.

Every December of my childhood, I watched my dad bring the Christmas tree into the living room through wide eyes, full of joy and wonder. I decorated the tree with such care, fully immersed in the experience, as though nothing else mattered and the holiday would never end.

It always did. My eyes would fill with tears as I watched my dad carry the tree, dry and starting to brown, to the curb, where it would lay, still and cold and somber.

But this process would repeat year after year, and I was a willing participant. I knew what would inevitably happen after the New Year. I celebrated with gusto even so, because it was transient, and I didn’t want to miss a thing.

To have something that lives and breathes in your home can feel refreshing and sweet – perhaps flowers from a loved one. It can be emotional and melancholy – a consolation arrangement. Or joyful and nostalgic, like a Christmas tree.

The potted plant, the tree, the bouquet – these bring real feelings into our homes. They never last, but they are welcome and enjoyable for a time.

The things in life that seem sweetest are often fleeting. And they are beautiful because of their impermanence.

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What beautiful, impermanent things have you welcomed into your home lately? Tell me about it in the comments.

Love, Bee

Meditative Monday

Meditative Monday

It’s Monday, and the start of another week is here. For me, this Monday marks the end of a week-long fall break in which I launched this blog (hooray!) and focused on what I love to do (outside of my full-time teaching job) and what makes me tick. For me, writing makes me tick. The act of writing, of sharing writing, and of reading others’ writing.

If you work full-time, you know it can be hard to find the time to exercise your muscles in other things you’re passionate about (and sometimes to literally exercise your muscles). But if your life is all work, you know that’s no good for your health. As I am discovering how to balance my job with my other loves (and writing is something I just can’t not do), I’m sharing my thoughts with you for how you can find more of a balance, no matter how incredibly busy you are.

These are my steps to begin doing what you love again:

First, name it: What do you love?

The first step to making time for what you love is to literally name what you love. Make a list. Are there things you used to love doing that you don’t make time for anymore? What makes you happy? What makes you feel fulfilled? Is it running, reading, traveling? What are you not getting that you need? What can you not live without?

When I did this, I identified it right away: Writing.

Next, think about it.

Time yourself for 5 minutes daily to just stop. Don’t look at anything – not your phone, not the TV. Think about these things that you love. When did you do them before? How were you able to do them? Did you have more time? What’s been keeping you from doing them? You might write down some of your thoughts – think about what’s been holding you back.

When I thought through this, I knew the answer: I was putting all my time and energy into my job, and all of my free thought space after work was used to think more about work. I was not achieving a balance in my life, and I was no longer writing.

Then, make a plan.

You know what you love, and you know what’s holding you back. The next step is to very carefully plan and calculate how you will do what you love and work full-time. This might look like creating a structured schedule, with certain times of day dedicated to doing what you love. Maybe you pick a few evenings a week to do this thing that you love. Scheduling ahead and sticking to your schedule will help you follow through.

For me, I decided to take the leap over my fall break. The weeks before fall break, I dedicated evenings to thinking about my blog. I would take walks in the park and meditate over what I wanted my blog to be. What would it look like? Who would it be for? Finally, when fall break arrived, I just did it. I knew I had the time, and I made it happen. I also took advantage of the time to plan ahead and schedule for the future when I’ll be busier.

Finally, follow through.

What often happens is that we get on a roll with doing what we love – maybe we want to exercise regularly, and we’ve been going consistently for months. But then, something happens. Work gets incredibly stressful, or we get sick. Maybe we just lose momentum. Life happens. Life will always happen. The key is to be determined and focused, to create a structure and a routine, and to not give yourself a choice but to follow through.

This isn’t to say that we should take the joy out of what we love. I love writing on this blog, but I have to dedicate time to make it happen. You can plan it and make it super specific and still love it. In fact, I think you’ll love it more because you’re actually doing it.

Centennial Park

How have you achieved a balance between work and your other passions? Tell me what works for you in the comments!

Love, Bee