Simple ideas for a complicated time of year

For many people, this is a difficult time of year. Expectations around the holidays are often unrealistic – everyone should be happy and merry and bright and stuff.  Regardless of how the holiday season is for you, perhaps the best approach is to keep everything simple.

In that spirit, here is a short list of simple things to try this year.

1. Give it awayGive it away

In a season that can feel way focused on buying and getting more of everything, a great strategy is to give things away. The ‘things’ can include the obvious, actual stuff – like gifts. It can include giving away the things you don’t need, use or want to charitable organizations. Giving food to food banks, money to the kettle ringers and to people in the streets and shelters. Less tangible and more valuable (and rare) are your time and attention. What might you giveaway this year and to whom?

2. Say no, thx

The items on this brief list are all things to which I would encourage you to say Yes. Leaving plenty of room for No Thank You. Anything that feels like a should rather than a Yes! or Yay! or  W a h o o!  might best be met with a polite No Thank You. More parties, cookies, drinks and stuff that you don’t need use or want (See 1 above) might all find themselves on this list. What will you say yes to and what will you decline?

3. Go outside (and play)

outside treesYup, in some parts it’s cold out there, darned cold. It’s also sparkly, bright, quiet and beautiful. Walk in the forest. Check out the lights in town. Make a snowman or snow angel. Walk around the block. Go skating under the stars. Or backcountry skiing in the moonlight with your best friend. Slide down a toboggan hill.  Most of the great outdoors is still free of charge, the good bits anyway. Ten minutes outside can lift your spirits and remind you that it’s a beautiful world.

4. Look up

catch snowflakes on your tongue

catch snowflakes on your tongue

While you’re out there, look up. Awaiting you up there are starry skies, brilliant sunshine, snowflakes you can catch on your tongue, the winter moon and everything in between. Looking up can bring perspective, a sweet reminder that we are small specks hurtling through space and our problems and worries pretty insignificant and will soon be gone. Does it really matter that the shortbread hasn’t baked itself yet? That you haven’t sent cards this year? That everything isn’t all perfect and such? Look up. Look waaaaay up, as the large, kind man used to say.

5. Breathe

wolf breatheIn moments of overwhelm or sadness or anxiety or plain old holiday blues, a few moments to stop and breathe deeply can be restorative.  Our breath is always with us, until it isn’t. Best to enjoy it while we can. As the wise man says – when we are breathing, there is more right with us than wrong with us. Breathe. Just breathe.


gratitude heart6. Say thank you

No matter what’s happening for you at this time of year, there are reasons for gratitude. They might be very small, but they’re there. Gratitude connects all of us with what’s good about this time of year  — with the best in ourselves and others. This is a great time of year to start a practice of writing down three things for which we are grateful each day and why they made a difference. What are you grateful for?

Time to take my own advice. Six items on this list feel like just enough. Any more would be a result of thinking that I should be able to come up with ten. So six it is. And, because I want to keep it simple again this year, this is (mostly) a re-post from last year. And also, I kinda liked this one.


Go outside, look up, breathe and say thank you.