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.

The Cell Phone Solution

Cell phones are everywhere.  The 90% about them is we can keep track of our kids, coordinate our busy schedules and catch up with friends whenever we have a moment. The 10% is that some people never put them down.

Cell Basket
I met a beautiful woman named Janice in my presentation last week who shared a great idea she got from Pinterest (www.pinterest.com) about how to ask people to put away their phones in a very positive way.  It was the picture of a basket with a note attached that said, “BE with the friends that are HERE.”

Janice used the idea to encourage her friends to leave their cell phones in the basket at the door so they could be fully present at her party.

I love this idea! I am not someone who is tied to technology and it is wonderful to get back to basics and have real meals and real visits with people who are “here”.

Just do it!

I travel every week (spring and fall) so I need to be very organized in my office.  I’m often asked how I find time to write, work on my presentations and do all the things that have to happen in a business — how I stay focused on what is important without getting lost in the 10%. Speaking at a home based business conference, I shared with my audience that I treat my days in the office like the day before you go on holidays. You know those great days? Friday before you go away? You have this renewed energy. You are ruthless with which emails are priority and you dump any that are not of value. You switch on your voice mail and dig right in. You don’t worry about the one complaint. You find a way to make the customer happy and you move on.

That is how I work. I try to treat my work days as the day before holiday days. I don’t go for long coffee breaks and extended lunches. I just work. I don’t read an email twice. When I have attachments to send I attach them before I draft the email then I don’t forget and have to go back. I never touch a piece of mail twice. I don’t make a note to email someone. I email them the second I think of it.

So ask yourself, If this truly was the day before your vacation, what would you do first, differently etc”. Oh and quit telling people how busy you are. No one cares! And the time you spent telling them, you could have been working!

I have. I can. I will

Before I speak I like to interview a portion of my audience. I ask them questions related to my upcoming presentation…tell me about the 90%s and 10%’s of your job, with the people you work with and with your clients. Then I ask them a personal question that they can decide if they want to answer.   I ask if they are working on anything in their own personal development journey because I believe that  most of us are “works in progress”! It is so interesting learning about people and what they are doing to improve their lives.

I asked one of my audience members if I could share with you what she wrote.  Her response on my questionaire was, “ I have. I can. I will.” She went on to explain to me that she has in the past sought ways to be happier. She can always find ways to improve herself. She will always be committed to do that.

Great advice.

Changed?

A man approached me after I spoke one day and asked me, “Do you think people will leave here changed?”

It is amazing to me that people think that one presentation, one book, one PBS special will change them. Changing requires lots of work. Trust me, I know this first hand. It is about going to many seminars, reading many books, eating food that nourishes you and makes you feel happy, it is about taking care of your body so you have energy to face whatever life hands you, it is about hanging out with people that add value to your life, and it’s about putting your family first so you don’t live with regrets.

So no, I don’t think they leave changed. But my hope is…they leave inspired enough to say, “I do want to be happier. Now what do I need to do to make that happen?”

Rude vs. Nice

I am always so surprised how some people think it is okay to be rude. I am not talking of someone “giving their opinion” or “stating their views”; I mean…rude. I remember how shocked I was when a groom would come into my tuxedo store and be rude. It was his wedding and he was with his future bride! Yikes… I wanted to tell her to “run”.

People grow up with crazy belief systems around how to treat retail staff, health care workers, government employees, waiters and anyone else who’s job it is to “serve” them. I grew up believing we were all the same and everyone deserved respect.  I have 10 half and step brothers and sisters and I have reminded them over the years that how your date treats the waitress will be the future of how you are treated. I have been preaching this for years.

Last night I was in Urban Barn and low and behold they have a poster that reads “A person who is nice to you and not nice to the waiter is not a nice person”.

I could not agree more! And… I think every restaurant should own a poster like that.

The Daffodil Principle

I got this in my email and I couldn’t resist sharing it with everyone.

The Daffodil Principle

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, ‘Mother, you must come to see the daffodils before they are over.’ I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. ‘I will come next Tuesday’, I promised a little reluctantly on her third call.

Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and reluctantly I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn’s house, I was welcomed by the joyful sounds of happy children. I delightedly hugged and greeted my grandchildren.

‘Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in these clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see badly enough to drive another inch!’

My daughter smiled calmly and said, ‘We drive in this all the time, Mother.’

‘Well, you won’t get me back on the road until it clears, and then I’m heading for home!’ I assured her.

‘But first we’re going to see the daffodils. It’s just a few blocks,’ Carolyn said. ‘I’ll drive. I’m used to this.’

‘Carolyn,’ I said sternly, ‘Please turn around.’

‘It’s all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.’

After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand lettered sign with an arrow that read, ‘Daffodil Garden.’ We got out of the car, each took a child’s hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight.

Field of yellow daffodils.

It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak and its surrounding slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swathes of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, and saffron and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted in large groups so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.

‘Who did this?’ I asked Carolyn.

‘Just one woman,’ Carolyn answered. ‘She lives on the property. That’s her home.’ Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house, small and modestly sitting in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house.

On the patio, we saw a poster. ‘Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking’, was the headline. The first answer was a simple one.’ 50,000 bulbs,’ it read. The second answer was, ‘One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain.’ The third answer was, ‘Began in 1958.’

For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. One day at a time, she had created something of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration.

That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time–often just one baby-step at a time–and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world .

‘It makes me sad in a way,’ I admitted to Carolyn. ‘What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it ‘one bulb at a time’ through all those years? Just think what I might have been able to achieve!’

My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. ‘Start tomorrow,’ she said.

She was right. It’s so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, ‘How can I put this to use today?’

Use the Daffodil Principle. Stop waiting…
Until your car or home is paid off
Until you get a new car or home
Until your kids leave the house
Until you go back to school
Until you finish school
Until you clean the house
Until you organize the garage
Until you clean off your desk
Until you lose 10 lbs.
Until you gain 10 lbs.
Until you get married
Until you get a divorce
Until you have kids
Until the kids go to school
Until you retire
Until summer
Until spring
Until winter
Until fall
Until you die…

There is no better time than right now to be happy.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

So work like you don’t need money.

Love like you’ve never been hurt.

Dance like no one’s watching.

If you want to brighten someone’s day, pass this on to someone special. I just did!

Wishing you a beautiful, daffodil day! Happy SPRING!

Finding change

I sat next to a very tired man last week on the airplane. He spent most of our two hour flight in and out of sleep. We struck up a conversation, exchanging the usual pleasantries as he told me how tired he was from his work. He works away for weeks at a time and returns home for short visits to see his children. I listen empathetically; imagining how difficult it was for him to be away so much. I said to him, “It will be great to get home, kids need their Dad”. He looked at me and said, “My kids stopped needing me a long time ago”.

We spent the rest of the flight talking about how he could change that. I pray he did.