December 24: Grounded awareness

“We sometimes get so caught up in the world that we forget who we are. We need to return to a sense of grounded awareness rather than forcing our minds to be busy with worries, work and future obligations.” 

— Trevor McDonald
Photo by Sabri Tuzcu,

I am one of those people who takes too much on and then wonders why I’m stressed out.

You’re a wise dude, Trevor.

I’ve put some thought into how I can personally attain what seems to kind of a lofty goal (ironic though that is … lofty … grounded … uh, maybe it’s just me) and what I’ve come up with is this:

Instead of worrying today, I am going to simply notice my surroundings. Just for today, I’m not going to get caught up in the world. I’m not going to allow my mind to worry about what I’ve done in the past, stress about work or anything remotely out there in the future —not even Christmas tomorrow.

And when I find myself spinning off in that direction, I will take a breath, remind myself that I am choosing to notice RIGHT NOW, and then ACTUALLY TAKE NOTICE. Because Christmas Eve is actually pretty fun.

What would be awesome is if I could live like that every day. I could, of course, if I had a brain transplant. Or just paid more attention to the ground beneath my feet.

December 21: We don’t have to do it all

“I’ve been a victim of my own ambition and crumbled under the pressure to keep up with everything I’ve taken on.” 

— Christine, “Living with Margins” blog
First day of winter and longest night of the year … so I thought we could use some sunshine.

Self-inflicted victimhood is overrated. I don’t have to be a martyr this season. I don’t technically have to do anything (as we established HERE).

What can we delegate? What can we leave behind? What do we need to do to fill ourselves up this season? It’s like December is a competition that we’re bent on winning, come hell or high water.

I think I’d rather take a nap.

Several years ago, Eric took over purchasing presents for the girls; I just do stockings (which is way more fun). We don’t put up holiday lights — but we do like hopping in the car as a family to take in the lights around town. And there are a couple of holiday gatherings we attend every year because we enjoy them.

And that’s about it.

So this is just a reminder: We don’t have to do it all. We don’t have to crumble under the weight of our own expectations. Trisha says so, that’s why — okay?

December 19: Accepting where you’re at

“When we do something big and life-changing, we might be expecting life to radically change and sometimes, it stays the same. You’re living in a different house or in a different country or with a different person, but fundamentally, things are the same because YOU are the same.”  

— Suzanna Conway
Photo by

Reading the above was one of those lightbulb moments — even when I’m not doing something utterly big or life-changing, just doing small things, I still expect big changes: To feel different or be different or something radical. But that’s not the way it works.

I like to look back in December and evaluate the past year, and I expect to see changes and growth and good things. But maybe that’s unrealistic. And maybe that’s also a lot of pressure. I didn’t do everything on my 2018 goal list, and some of what I did do didn’t stick. Does that mean the whole year was a bust? Is it bad that things are fundamentally the same because I am fundamentally the same?

Maybe just accepting where we’re at is the best wish for ourselves today.

December 17: Daylight

“Deal with problems in the daylight.” 

— Austin Kleon
Photo by Jan Haerer,

This is probably the best practical advice ever given.

Everything looks so much brighter during the day. At night, the walls seem closer, everything is dark and that can mess with your mind. (It messes with my mind, anyway.) Screw that, you guys — we’ve got a new rule: No thinking about our problems after the sun goes down. There’s plenty of time for that tomorrow when we’re all serene, like Emerson taught us HERE.

P.S. Kleon has a fun blog HERE.

December 14: Saying ‘no’ to busy

“We know the world tells you to do more, be more, and hustle more, not to mention the pressures of being successful measured in terms of how busy you are. But what we’re learning is that living in busyness without the balance of fun only leads you down the path of burnout. With that comes exhaustion, frustration, poor decisions and lack of joy.” 

— Nourished Planner
Photo at

There is no month like December for the pressure to hustle more, do more, give more, be more. Which is probably why everyone is always so stressed out all month long.

This is just a reminder to ourselves that we’re drawing our own target this season (remember THAT post?) and we don’t have to be busy for the sake of being busy, or jolly for the sake of being jolly, or do anything that detracts rather than adds.

The world may be telling us to do more, but we don’t have to listen.

P.S. This is the first year in … well, since I was in college, probably … that I’m not feeling the Christmas card / annual Walker Family Christmas Form Letter. So I’m not going to do one. It’s pretty freeing, knowing that the world isn’t going to end because we take a year off.

December 12: Don’t take anything personally

“Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say or do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

— Don Miguel Ruiz
Photo by Sabri Tuzcu,

Oh, I like this very much. This is taken from Ruiz’s book, “The Four Agreements.” I take everything personally, even though my first reaction is always one of stunned disbelief (ARE YOU CHALLENGING ME?). Well, I don’t like feeling stupid and I hate being wrong. And even though I know that when others lash out or try to manipulate my emotions, that it’s about them and not me, it can be hard to remember.

So today we’re going to try to remember. And while we’re at it, let’s try not projecting our own reality and agenda on others as well. (T-Dub, this means laying off the judgmental bullshit!)

Everyone just be cool, okay?

December 10: Permission

“Sometimes we need permission to enjoy the good stuff even if other things in our lives or the world are stressful, hard, scary or otherwise crappy. Things can be stressful AND joyful, hard AND heart-warming, scary AND funny, crappy AND cozy. We get to enjoy the good in the midst of the not so good. We get to enjoy the good stuff anytime we want.”

— Courtney Carver 
Photo by Rudolpho Marquez,

This is just too real — it’s interesting, December, because it can be outwardly happy and inwardly miserable. And that’s what I took from this quote: That THAT is okay.

Things are great and things are terrible, and that’s just the way it is.

We can still enjoy the good stuff the month has to offer. I’m giving myself permission today to enjoy the holiday lights that have sprouted in windows downtown, to sit in my favorite coffee shop and just soak up the vibe there, and later to curl up in a blanket and read — preferably with Johanna and the kittens nearby. The crappy stresses can take the night off.