Just One Thing

This is an excerpt from Darci’s Focus on the 90% book.

I over heard two women talking in line at the grocery store and one woman asked the other if she had made any News Years Resolutions? She replied “Oh why bother, I have so many things I want to improve and I never stick to them anyway.”

Could I relate to that! I found in the past that I did not stick to my resolutions either. Just like the woman in line at the grocery store, I felt there were just too many things, too many “10%s” I wanted to improve. At the start of a year I would buy a lovely flowered journal and “lay out” what I wanted to resolve to do better in the upcoming year. I wanted to be healthier, build a stronger marriage with Darren, more quality time with Jayda and John, more time with family and friends, internal healing work, etc, etc…

So here is what I did a few years ago. I decided I would only work on one thing a year. I would spend the entire year working on just that one thing. People ask me, “Where do I start?” Sit by yourself for a few minutes and think about your biggest stress — your burning issue — your greatest “10%”. What is it? Your self-esteem? Health? Money? A relationship that needs mending? Something from your past? (you might be saying – all of the above!). I have often asked people when they stopped loving themselves and many can tell me exactly when. I would start there.

Pick just one 10% and “lay that sucker out”. With the full lives we lead, how can we possibly fit in ten improvements?

Spend this year working on that one thing. Don’t try and deal with the weight, the smoking, the ex, and the aging parents all in one year. That is why we do not stick to improving our 10%s, there are too many to think about. I respect that other “issues” of life are still around, but your main focus should be that one thing. Spend that year doing what you need to do to make it happen — gyms, books, websites, counseling, naturopaths, healers, etc.

I create pockets of time (i.e. turn the TV off!) and make the commitment. I post my resolution everywhere; it becomes my theme for that year. I tell everyone what I am working on so they can keep me accountable. Most importantly, I promise myself, at the end of the year, this one thing will have greatly improved. I will not talk about improving the same thing over and over. I will just do it. It will change your life to improve this way. I know it is hard. But what are we waiting for? The hardest person to change is the one that stares back at you in the mirror.

So now, the next time someone in a grocery store line asks  you if you have made any New Year’s Resolutions you can say. “Yes, I made ONE and I am really going to stick to it.”

Making the Christmas season more peaceful – Tip #5

#5. It needs to be more meaningful.

Darci at Christmas


Make it more meaningful. Traditions do that. Create more traditions. Here are some of ours. We celebrate LangMas on the first snow fall (order supper and a Christmas movie). The Christmas tree goes up on November 1st. We buy a new ornament each year that reflects our year. Celebrate your religious traditions. These will be what our children remember.

Growing up, my favourite tradition was the search for the perfect Charlie Brown Christmas tree with my dad. He and I would bring it home in his Volkswagen beetle with the top down and set it up in our tiny little house. Funny I don’t remember a single present I ever received but I sure remember these special times with my dad.

Making the Christmas season more peaceful – Tip #4

#4. Family dynamics come into play.
Don’t let them. Put your hand on the door knob of the house you are about to enter this season and choose to see the 90%s of the people on the other side. Before you enter breath deeply and choose love first. Change your family dynamics by changing you. Don’t drag the past to every family gathering.

I grew up and around five different families and all the excitement that comes with that. It was very interesting for me to watch how people would park their differences around the holidays. Husbands could pick up children from ex-wives and still come and have a drink with their children’s new family.

There is a new sitcom called “The Neighbours” about a regular family living amongst a neighbourhood of aliens who have taken human form. What I love is how they mock how humans behave. In one episode, the “human” mother-in-law visits her daughter-in-law and is very hard on her and makes the visit very difficult. The alien son asks her why she treats her daughter-in-law that way. When the woman explains that the generations of her family have always treated the daughter-in-law unfairly, it’s just what they do. The alien boy told her to go back in the house and be nice to her instead. The boy challenged her to “change the game”. Maybe its time for you to “change the game” with your families.

Making the Christmas season more peaceful – Tip #3

#3. It costs too much.
Stop spending so much. We only buy for the children in our immediate family. Set spending caps with your families and stick to them. My friends and I do not buy for each others’ children.  At the beginning of the year, start a Christmas budget, start saving a small amount each month.  Teacher’s gifts are small donations to charities. We like to teach our children to be grateful for what they have by being grateful for what we have.

Our daughter Jayda is very concerned about the environment and is always challenging us to recycle and reuse. So we reuse as many Christmas bags as possible and wrap in recycled paper. Or we wrap in the comic section of the newspaper. Rather than use gift tags, John had the idea to simply write on each package with a felt pen. So now once they are done (not me!) wrapping the presents for their cousins, they draw wonderful greetings on them with their felt markers! You should see how our presents look next to the family members who do love wrapping the perfect gift!

I buy that paper on clearance at the end of the season and throw it in the Christmas decoration box.

I stopped sending Christmas cards and Christmas letters.

What can you do to cut down on the costs?

Making the Christmas season more peaceful – Tip #2

#2. There is too much to do.
Stop doing so much.  Take a good look at your list of things to do and ask what you can eliminate or delegate. Consider buying your baking, giving gift cards and letting your children wrap the presents. 

I love to observe shoppers close to Christmas. Didn’t they know Christmas was coming?  Early in November, I carve out a day. I grab a big green tea and I head to the store with my children’s wish lists and I am done by the end of the day.

I remember the Christmas my grandmother ordered Christmas dinner. Yup, ordered it. And my grandmother was one of those women who really loved making the meal. She would cook all day then actually stand in the kitchen and watch us all eat first. It was her way of enjoying the fruits of her labours. But this Christmas her health was not great and she did not want to deplete by the “doing”. A local caterer showed up with a complete turkey meal with all the fixings! I remember putting those large foil take out containers into the garbage and thinking, this is awesome, no dishes to do after.

So our special friends are coming for supper tomorrow. We have ordered a Ukrainian feast from a local restaurant. We will simply reheat it all and throw out (and recycle!) the containers. I can’t wait. Rather than cooking and cleaning, we will be visiting and playing games.

Making the Christmas season more peaceful – Tip #1

Let’s talk about making the Christmas season more peaceful.

I just wrote a booster about  5 ways to keep Christmas peaceful. Let’s look at a different one every few days until we get to Christmas

#1. The season never seems long enough.

Start it earlier. Because of my colourful childhood, I have many families to celebrate with. We decided that trying to cram in all in a weekend was too stressful. So now we start in November and spread the family visits over many weekends. Trust me that makes it feel longer! By mid-December the only Christmas left is Christmas morning when Santa arrives.

Or what if you made it last after Christmas? We have scheduled some of our Christmas visits for AFTER Christmas. Rather than trying to quickly see everyone before, we say, why not get together in the New Year and celebrate that instead? The gatherings are always really fun meals, centered on our resolutions, what the New Year brings etc. rather than sitting around a table before Christmas talking about how busy we are and how much we have to do before Christmas arrives.

Think before you speak – remains true today.

As indicated in my September newsletter (read it here), considering if things are true, necessary or kind in my mind are essential before opening your mouth. If more people were that considerate the world would be a much better place. I would like to add to that for you.

I have always subscribed to the THINK before you speak method.

T – Is it True?

H – Is it Honest?

I – Is it Intelligent?

N – Is it Nice?

K – Is it Kind?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then perhaps you should consider not expressing it. A friend shared this with me many years ago and I have always considered it one of the best gifts anyone has every given me.