Friday, November 14, 2014

How to Not Be a B*&#% during the Holidays

I figured after last week's laundry horror story, I needed to shift gears, focus on the spirit of the season, and write something a bit more helpful. You gotta forgive the randomness of the topics lately, people. I am a dirty, zombie-eyed woman who is swiping prompts directly from life....and sometimes that life seems to consist only of laundry...ass-kickin' laundry.

But not this week. This week my blog prompt was practically hand-delivered to me in a neat little package by a shirtless man with huge pecs and a bottle of wine hanging off his belt loop like a hammer from heaven. Ok maybe not that perfect. But pretty close.

So I go to these meetings every 2-3 weeks. No, they're not AA meetings...although seeing as how my fantasy delivery man literally has a wine bottle hanging off his belt....

But no, no, these are MOPS meetings. MOPS = Mothers of PreSchoolers. They apparently have chapters all over the world. The hook for me? Free breakfast.

*In all seriousness, my MOPS group provides childcare for 2.5 hours every 2-3 weeks so I can sit and eat, listen to awesome guest speakers (professional organizers, yoga instructors, and female badasses). We make things (necklaces, holiday plates, blankets for the homeless) and I get to talk with other women who are just as under-dressed and tired, all while drinking orange juice without having someone yank on my hand and demand a sip that will inevitably result in backwash. There is a yearly fee that comes out to $7 a month - they do offer financial assistance. If you're a mom (your kid does NOT, as the acronym suggests, need to be in preschool) and you're looking for people to talk to, find a MOPS chapter near you.

The theme for the group this year is to "be you, bravely." At our last meeting, the group leader queued up a video and told us it was all about being generous and giving - of course to correspond to the Thanksgiving holiday, which is supposed to, apparently, be all about giving. 

Here's a little secret about me, in case you didn't already know... I am not naturally all that generous. I mean, I give to charities, and I donate everything I don't keep, but when it comes to my time, my food, and my heart, I am a greedy old Scrooge. I cling to them all with a fierceness unmatched.

Thanksgiving was once my favorite holiday. I love food. I love eating. I love the excuse to sit around. As I've gotten older, had kids, and gotten married, Thanksgiving has kinda lost it's jazz. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing my family and I still love eating, but the joy has kinda been muffled by the intense pressure to be everywhere, do everything, help with as much as possible, and make everything Pinterest-perfect, all while maintaining my older, slightly-less-than-girlish figure. Growing up sucks sometimes, man.

So I, like many American women, end up acting like a total B*&#%. I stress myself out to the point of treating the people I love like garbage.

Real-Life Example from Chronicles of Jen, Circa 2006: 
I wanted to bring dessert to Thanksgiving dinner. I was dead-set on impressing my husband's family, particularly his grandmother, and had concocted this plan to bake a pie. Not just one pie, actually, two pies. Pumpkin. So I went out and blew all this money I didn't have on ingredients I'd never used before. Naturally, I messed up the recipe (who knew confectioner's sugar wasn't called that because it was perfect for baking??) The pies were absolutely awful. And the worst part? The entire time I was baking these pies, I was ignoring the baby, screaming at her to stay out of the kitchen, crying and yelling at my husband, telling him I was doomed, doomed. Life was over. That's it.

Total B*&#%. For what? For PIES. Pies, people. I yelled at my baby and husband because of pies. How is it possible that an intelligent, young, relatively happy young woman could be reduced to tears the day before her favorite holiday because of pies? I'll tell you how. Because I allowed the disgusting, comparison-centric culture of my surroundings to infiltrate my ability to see things clearly. I wanted to impress. I wanted to be like the ladies in the magazines. I wanted to be accepted.

Now, 8 years later, I am worn and weathered by the various problems that pop up during the holidays. I anticipate the pressure to do more, be more, and it's made me bitter....mean, even. A real B*&#%.

So when the MOPS leader told me we'd be watching a movie on how to be more generous, I almost got up and left. I don't need anyone telling me to do more or be more - I tell myself enough of that throughout the day. I'd just gotten my boundaries all laid out for the season and now I was going to be guilt-tripped into more obligations? Obligations that will make me "generous," yet crazy as hell? No thanks.

But then the lady on the video started talking...and I found myself wanting to listen. If you're a sensitive person like I am, you'll want to read this next part....

You see, instead of enacting various quotes and images designed to make me realize how much I have to be grateful for and how crappy I am if I can't be happy in the lovely life I have, the video centered around one, non-offensive idea:

Operate out of abundance, not scarcity.

See? Totally doesn't send my hackles up, that sentence. It doesn't make me feel bad about myself for not being a giddy, happy person. It doesn't make me feel like I need to do a hundred different things to prove I am grateful for everyone and everything I have. It simply tells me to live a life of abundance, not scarcity.

Well that's great, Jen. Abundance, right. Awesome. Thanks....but what exactly does that mean? 

For me, it means I need to stop looking at my time as scarce. I have just as many hours in my day as Gandhi had in his. Or Martin Luther King. Or Jesus. Yet, here I sit, feeling the need to protect my time with everything I have. I don't want to do anything, plan anything, or be anywhere, because I see my time as scarce. I'm terrified of my own anxiety - and controlling time is my way of self-soothing.

When I change that mindset and think of my time as abundant, magic happens. I have 24 hours in each day! Can you imagine? What would you do with 24 hours? That's a TON of time I can use however I want. I can knock out some push-ups. I can clean some dishes. I can write a book. I can dance with my kids. I have all the time in the world - I am abundantly blessed with time. 

When I operate out of scarcity I always have an excuse....but when I operate out of abundance, with the mindframe that I've got all the time in the world, doors open. Not every door, obviously - it's still important to have boundaries and plans. But some doors. One or two more doors than usual. I give myself permission to sit and read for as long as I want. I give myself permission to randomly stop by a friend's house to say hello. I give myself permission to take as much time as I want to sleep or write or design holiday cards if I want because I am not on death row or suffering in a third-world country - no, I am blessed with an abundant amount of time. 

Another area of generosity the lady in the video touched on was money. Thinking of income as abundant can be hard, especially when we all think we need to buy, buy, buy and be perfect, perfect, perfect this time of year. Luckily, as much as Pinterest can push you into comparison hell, it can also shoot you into handmade heaven. We're short on funds this year, but have rekindled our love for Goodwill. I learned how to make cookies plates with ModPodge and fabric scraps. I've designed a choose-your-own adventure gift - the recipient chooses from three "we-will-come-do-this-for-you" options...and they ain't no joke, these tasks. These are serious a grown-up coupon book of awesomeness. 

Think about where your fear of scarcity exists the most. Are you afraid to share your passions? Are you afraid to share your favorite objects, like grandma's china or baby items your kids have outgrown? Do you really want to keep objects in your home that you're deathly afraid of losing? Are you afraid to spend money? Maybe you can't buy a new scarf, but can you afford yarn? Grab a pair of knitting needles? Checkout a book on knitting for beginners? That isn't scarcity, people. That is abundance. We have dollar stores and knowledge at our fingertips - what a beautiful thing. 

So my plan on how to not be a B*&#% during the holidays? Instead of focusing on clean baseboards that nobody even looks at, or screaming at the kids because I don't have enough time to peel the potatoes, I'm going to try real, real hard to soak up the abundance in my life, moment by moment. 

And you? What do you find yourself stressing about as the holiday season swings into gear? Can the principle of abundance work in your scenario? I'd love to hear about it in the comments down below and as always, thank you for reading :)


  1. That is a great outlook - focusing on abundance. It's kinda like the "glass is half full" concept.. :) I'm the same way about time; I never have enough time! It's exhausting.. I have a friend who lives 20 minutes away and I haven't seen her in months because "I don't have enough time" - When will I? I'm also tired all the time so that sucks. I also have a hobby I've been neglecting due to my own fears but I digress. Hope you have a great Holiday season not being a B*tch :) Take Care Jennifer! -Iva

    1. Thank you Iva!!! That's my problem - I hate feeling pressure and stress all the time about visiting people and doing more/being more active socially. I am, I've come to realize, more of a homebody right now. I think it'll change, maybe when the kids are grown and I'm not so sleepy (like you) all the time, but until then, I'm going to try not to worry about it so much. I have an abundant amount of time, so I'm going to use it as best I can and call it a day.

  2. Not being the best version of ourselves can happen to all of us. It's all about recognizing and working to do better. At least that's what I do.

    1. That makes me feel awesome - I am totally down with recognizing it - that's what this blog is all about! I am a good's the change that is difficult. I do the best I can :) At the very least it affords me the opportunity to meet lovely people like you :) Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Love this post! Focusing on abundance is a great idea. I admit, I do get pissy when I'm in the kitchen and I don't want to be shouting at people. I need to relax. Focus on abundance. I just want to enjoy the holidays.

    And thank you so much for your comment on my blog! I replied to it, but I keep getting error message via my e-mail so I'm never sure if people know I've replied to their comments or not.

    1. I know, me too! I want to enjoy them, not feel like they went by in the blink of an eye with me screaming and running around like my hair is on fire!

      And you are more than welcome for the comment - I thought it was a very fair comparison and just had to tell ya all about it! :)

  4. So I do look at the baseboards, but I'm a bitch like that. GREAT post...and yes we all need to focus on abundance. Easier said than done - but a necessity this year fo sho!

    1. AAAAAAAAHHHHH NNNNNNOOOOOOOO!!! The baseboard B! Hahahaha dang - well, in all honesty, now that my 8 year old is, well, 8, I trust her with the duster and have her run over them before big gatherings at my place. So you'd be welcome at my table :)

  5. I am British living here in the USA and loving it. I love Thanksgiving as it is a time to get together and just BE. That said for years we would have my husbands 5 brothers and his mother over along with their spouses and kids for dinner. We would cook it all and I would clean it up. One day I cracked and guess what my husband stood by me. No more would everyone be invited over if the could not bring a dish and help clean. Now we have his mom over and you know what that is OK. I enjoy the holiday again with people that I like.

    1. See - that is how I feel, too! If you're going to head over to a family member's house, and not some restaurant, don't expect to be served like a king or queen! I am glad your husband stood by you and now you can enjoy the holiday surrounded by an abundance of love, not resentment!

  6. Such an EXCELLENT post. Was feeling VERY overwhelmed a little while ago with the week I have coming up, but the truth as you said so well here is that I have plenty of time. I just need to allocate it properly. I definitely needed this today.-Ashley

    1. Thank you Ashley :) :) :) You can get it done - and if you don't, maybe it wasn't that important to begin with, ya know? Best wishes to you my dear and thank you so so much for stopping by!!