Advent – What Do You Anticipate?

It seems that this holiday has been going on since October, and if you’ve been in some stores, you have, indeed, seen holiday decorations up quite early.  Hallmark traditionally celebrates Christmas in July and most stores begin to mingle the holiday goods with Halloween. Selfridges, a major London department store, opened its celebration on July 29th!  That’s 149 days before Christmas.  Wikipedia has a name for this – it is called the Christmas Creep. 

We can easily get lost when we start to ‘anticipate’ 149 days in advance.  Many people start the rush the day after Thanksgiving with Black Friday (so named as it is one of the few times a year that most stores run in the black instead of the red!). The worrying aspect of this is that we can spend weeks or months in great anticipation for a particular day but forget to live in the moment. We can lose sight of that which is important and needs our attention, namely family, loved ones, and our own health and well-being. If we live through a few months every year just anticipating the arrival of Christmas I’m afraid we run the risk of spending up to ¼ of every year focused on ONE day instead of focusing on every day.  

Each day is a gift, and it is unwrapped every morning when we open our eyes. We wake and rise, and instead of running through the day in anticipation of what is to come several days, weeks, or months down the road – how much MORE could we get out of life if we focused on the NOW, the CURRENT, the day that has been gifted to us as TODAY?

John the Baptist begins the Christmas story with his declaration to “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord!” (Mark 1:3)  He was not telling us to grab the lights and put them up and to start stuffing our shopping bags. His message to us is to take every day and focus on what is important – faith, family, and service to others.  He was reminding us that, although preparation is critical, what is important is the PROCESS of preparing and that process starts TODAY.

May this Advent season be one where you spend every day unwrapping the gift called TODAY, and that your eyes are opened to the wonders and joys around you.  Reach those who need reaching, teach those who need teaching, give to those who are needy, and love everyone. Wake up every day discovering your Awesomeness!! 

‘Tis The Season for Stress-Filled Laughter

‘Tis The Season For Stress-Filled Laughter

Did you know that this year Santa’s sleigh will fly with one less reindeer?  Comet has to stay home to clean the sink.

Did you at least smile with that joke?  I hope so and if you did, congratulations because you just released a LOT of stress with one little smile or laugh.

Stress affects everyone. For many people, this time of year means spending time in complex social interactions such as family and relative gatherings and often uncomfortable work-related parties.    For many around the world it is a time of trying to at leastmatch expectations, the pressure to create a ‘wonderful Christmas’ with presents and one of the most important meals of the year.  To some it feels like the holy-days-of-obligation to be someone we are not and be somewhere we prefer to avoid.  The stress of the holidays also includes those on-going stresses of the rest of the year from relationship issues, health situations, money, diet, employment, and bills and, honestly, if I keep listing them I might start feeling the stress as well!

Dealing with the stress is the key to overcoming the adverse effects of it but HOW we deal with it is critical.  Who has time right now to learn a new skill, right?  Our natural response is to put off learning a new skill, such as a new relaxation method, for another day. We feel we could manage it better if we put it off and wait for the next crisis to happen.  The truth is – time is of the essence – and putting it off only compounds our stress.

The key is to balance your stress and your periods of relaxation and wellness.  You KNOW you are going to have stressful moments but we don’t typically see them coming until we are in the midst of the moment. We must plan our wellness periods so that we have ammunition to combat the stressful moments.  It’s about optimizing experiences to gain the best potential from each one.  We need to listen to our bodies and our minds because they will tell us, often yelling it loudly, that we need to calm down.

Laugh.  It’s a quick moment in time that can have some amazing stress-releasing benefits.  According to the Mayo Clinic, a quick moment of laughter stimulates many of your internal organs by increasing oxygen intake which in turn increased endorphins that are released by the brain.  It also increased your heart rate and blood pressure momentarily which can induce a good, relaxed feeling.  Finally, it soothes tension because it stimulates circulation and aids in muscle relaxation, both of which reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.


Take a few moments today to laugh – crack a smile – and take a proactive stance in favor of your own well-being.

Did you know that according to the song, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, Santa has twelve reindeer? Sure, in the introduction it goes “There’s Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen…” That makes eight reindeer.

Then there’s Rudolph, of course, so that makes nine.

Then there’s Olive. “Olive the other reindeer used to laugh…” That makes ten.

The eleventh is Howe. “Then Howe the reindeer loved him…”

The 12thone is Andy! “Andy shouted out with glee.” The proof is in the song!

May you intentionally seek out moments to laugh and smile, taking part in your own wellness plan.  Stress will happen this time of year – how we react to that stress is critical to our success.  Be kind to yourself and don’t allow the stressful factors to win.