Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hot days. Cooler nights. Cicadas chorusing. Fog some mornings.

Flowers wilt in the sun, lawns turn brown.
Doesn’t sound especially attractive, does it? But August was always a welcome month for me. I knew if I could get through its 31 days I’d get to go back to school.
Nowadays, school starts long before the first of September. Some school districts in my area welcomed students August 4th, others on the 6th. Some of my great-grandchildren began their school year on the 18th. And these are not year-round schools.
One of my Eeeek moments comes in August, when I realize I have only four months to be ready for Christmas. (I know, I know—it’s ludicrous to think about the end of the year when we have another month of summer ahead of us. However, we all know how time flies. . . .) Back to holiday prep: making gifts, baking cookies (fewer these days, but still…), choosing and practicing music for whatever services I’ll be playing. Not to mention decorating, which is on the lines of minimalist these days.
And before I get to Christmas, I have other high points: birthdays in September, November, and December. So I send cards and notes and gifts. Thanksgiving dinner in Ohio with several of my family members. I bake the gluten-free bread and take something else, probably a veggie tray. And then there are the special lunches and church programs, and figuring out how to cram in One More Thing when the calendar is already bulging. Any wonder the mind boggles?

It’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed just thinking about what’s on the agenda for the next few months. If I can remember to take time to enjoy each activity, as it arrives, instead of thinking of it as a chore, then life is a lot less stressful.
Here are some of my coping strategies:

·         Make lists. (You know I’m a list-maker, but Thanksgiving and Christmas call for mega-lists.)
·         Don’t sweat the small stuff. (If the house doesn’t get cleaned every week, call it small stuff and go on with what needs to be done now.)
·        Simplify. (Although I love making gifts and even shopping for them, I’ve learned that to be practical, I really should give some of my family cash instead of a wrapped gift. Because I don’t know what they have, what they need, or what they like. Cash is always a welcome gift, in my recollected experience as a young mom with responsibilities.)
·        Take charge of your life. (If somebody else seems to have everything under control, does three times what you do, works a full-time job, and still looks neat and pressed . . . well, I’m sorry, but people like that aren’t in my world. I don’t keep them out, I just don’t attract them. But if you have to deal with them, don’t let their uber-organized life make you jealous. Do your thing. You’ll live longer and enjoy it more.)
·        Finally, take time to, um, smell the cookies baking. Read a different author you’ve been wanting to try. Put your feet up, drink a cup of tea, and sample the cookies while you read. Do whatever it is you like to pamper yourself--a long walk, fishing, shopping, picnicking in the park with kids. And while you’re relaxing, take time to give thanks for all you have, all you’ve been given, and all you are able to do.
Happy Holidays!



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