This morning my husband and I were talking about the choices we made to consciously work to live, rather than live to work. He remembered telling a friend when he was just out of high school, "If you don't like your life, change it. You don't have to be stuck in something you hate forever."
This is the choice he and I have made over and over again, independently and together. But making a better life isn't always easy. It comes with a fair amount of risk, it requires more courage than is comfortable and feels safer when faith comes along for the ride.
I had a friend, a single mom, who felt a strong call to move from Washington state to Atlanta, GA. She had some friends there and *almost* made the move years prior. It was calling her again, but it didn't make sense to her. Why leave a job she loved? Why uproot her daughter like that? Why risk everything you know for the unknown?
She and I had long conversations about this calling to move to Atlanta. She talked. I listened. I've certainly heard calls like that before, and I've learned to trust them. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it's scary. Yes, there's a lot of unknowns. But when something calls you like that, it's best to answer.
My friend wanted to take the leap and I encouraged her to do so. Not because that's what I wanted, but because that's what she wanted. It was the calling on her life, not mine. Sometimes we need help to answer those calls.
My friend ended up moving to Atlanta and, after a few bumps in the road, settled into her new life. She's getting married next month to the man of her dreams. She said to me, "I didn't know why I wanted to move, other than I wanted a change. Now I know why."
You can't make this stuff up, folks.
We don't always understand until after we pick up the phone, until after we make the leap. Creating Boundaries for the Holidays was one of those calls. It woke me up (literally) and asked to be created. I took a leap. I didn't know how I was going to do it. I leaned on friends and mentorship, especially from the great Jen McFarland.
This work stirred up more in me than I could have ever anticipated. Fear reared its head more often than I care to admit. But I'm still answering the call.
I don't know what waits on the other side, but I know I'll soon find out.
Class begins tomorrow.
Today is the last day to sign up for this cohort. I'm offering it for 10% off.
If this is calling to you, now's the time to answer.
This month, on my video blog Living & Learning, I'm talking about the mental and emotional loads we carry in life, and especially during the holidays. If you don't know what mental load is, you should check out this really cool graphic description.
This weekend I picked up the shoes at the bottom of the stairs, the legos on the floor and gathered the dishes that were scattered around the house. I threw a couple of loads into the laundry, hung up a bunch of jackets and replaced the hand towel in the bathroom. No one else thought to do any of these tasks until I assigned them the opportunity to take care of it. This is mental load in action. It's not to say no one will help, but I have to be the one to ask for that help.
While I clearly hold the mental load of cleaning the house, my husband holds the mental load of cooking. This means I rarely have to think about grocery shopping or timing of meals. When it's dinnertime, the food is there. I have not considered how to cook a chicken or what kind of grain or veggie should be served. A lot of women are impressed when they find out my husband does all the cooking. Besides the amazing meals, I think they are mostly impressed that someone helps carry that mental load. They often hold the loads of both cooking and cleaning, if not more.
Other daily mental loads include yard work, finances and child wrangling, including feeding, napping, transporting and clothing said child. The holidays up the ante on what (typically) women carry. Buying presents, meal planning, taking pictures, meal shopping, holiday cards, event planning, decorating and baking adds to the list of mental loads.
And we haven't even begun to talk about emotional loads.
Emotional loads are when one carries the burden of making sure everyone in the family is happy, peaceful and harmonious: children, spouses, in-laws, friends, parents. But that's another story.
Carrying these loads tend to happen unconsciously. We may be holding a lot and not even realize it. No wonder we get so stressed and burned out around the holidays. If you're working a full-time job on top of managing the mental and emotional "projects" at home, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Add on existing family tension and a general lack of knowhow around boundaries, and it is no surprise why so many Thanksgiving-themed movies are around dysfunctional families exploding into chaos.
If your family prefers to stuff their feelings with the turkey and gravy instead of letting it all hang out, that doesn't mean it makes things any better. Yes, emotions can be delicious, but a life with healthy boundaries is truly la dolce vita.
There's seven days left to sign up for Boundaries for the Holidays. If you struggle with carrying all of the mental and emotional loads for the household or if your family drives you nuts, there's a better way.
In December, most people think about presents, Santa and the next holiday party. As for me, this is the time of year that I think about Shit Stew.
Let me explain.
When my husband and I lived close to my family, we would go home for the holidays. It was tradition to have Christmas morning at my mom's house, then go see my aunt, then go to my dad's house and, finally, we would end the night at my brother's.
My husband thought all the driving around was crazy and exhausting. While I agreed with him, I also pointed out that I wanted to see everyone and this is how my family always did things. After driving our crying newborn daughter to every neighborhood in the Sacramento area one Christmas, my husband was all done with this "tradition" and I was finally open to hearing about other options.
I stopped and asked myself, "What kind of Christmas do I want my children to have? What kind of Christmas do I want to have?" The answer was clear. I wanted peace, relaxation, warmth, snuggles and joy. Driving to everyone's house and checking the box on each relative we were "supposed" to see had none of these qualities.
So I made the tough decision and told my family that we were going to stay home for future Christmases. I told them about the feelings I wanted our kids to remember about the holidays and I didn't want it to be about travel, stress and tension. It was difficult and uncomfortable to break tradition, but our lives are so much better as a result.
In any family it is easy to get used to things that seem crazy from the outside. Toxic patterns can repeat for generations. We can wear a mask around our families of origin, pretending everything is fine when it's not.
It's like we are all eating Shit Stew, a special family meal that has been passed down for generations. It often takes someone from the outside to see that while we scarf down Grandma's old recipe, it is still Shit Stew. While we may see the delicious carrots and potatoes in the Shit Stew, our partners/friends/confidantes are not fooled. They can smell that shit from a mile away.
Yes, the holidays are stressful with all the events to attend, presents to buy and places to go. But it is also stressful because this is the time of year that we sit together and ceremonially eat the Shit Stew.
This holiday season, enjoy your family. Savor the positive aspects of your time together. And when the Shit Stew is passed around the table and old, familiar patterns emerge, just observe your family's special recipe. You can still eat the Shit Stew, as it will be expected that you do. But you can do so with a renewed awareness and be conscious of how much you want to put on your plate.
In one moment you can feel like a total fraud and that you're not good enough to be in your position. The very next moment, you're wondering why you're getting passed up for promotion, offended by the injustice of it all.
Welcome to Impostor Syndrome.
One of the things to remember is that Impostor Syndrome is not about ability. It mostly affects high achievers, people that are able to successfully tackle the most complicated and meatiest projects.
As we navigate these complex and tricky projects, doubt is sure to rise in us all. That's what makes you good at what you do. You are self-reflective, questioning your actions, wondering how you can make a bigger impact, thinking about your next move.
It crosses into dangerous territory when you begin to hyper-focus on your mistakes, and ignore your gains; When you are second-guessing yourself, not for strategic purposes, but because you're trying to avoid getting in trouble; When you're quietly doing your work but not showcasing it because you're worried about what other people will think.This is how promotions go to other people.
It seems early to talk about the holidays, doesn't it? My kids are about to go back to school and I'm not ready to let summer go yet.
But here's what I know: This is the time of year that holiday plans are made. I also know that the holidays bring dread, anxiety and exhaustion like no other time of the year.
But the holidays don't need to be that way. We can be with the people we love and really step into what this time is meant to be. We can build boundaries and not walls. We can take better care of ourselves so the holidays aren't something we have to "get through" but something that we can savor and enjoy.
That's why I created a six-week webinar class called Boundaries for the Holidays.
Maybe you give everyone everything and you end up feeling resentful and unappreciated. Maybe you feel like climbing the walls because you just know that your mother is judging your every move. Maybe you have that crazy brother-in-law that you can't stand. If so, this is the class for you.
We're going to look at common pitfalls in relationships (and how to avoid them), how to have difficult conversations, strategies to take care of yourself when things get stressful and so much more.
This class brings together the "greatest hits" of my workshops and coaching tools and applies it to our personal lives. But let's be honest, this isn't just about personal growth. If you can set boundaries and have a difficult conversation with your mother, you can certainly do it in the workplace, too.
Boundaries for the Holidays starts October 14 and goes until November 22. There will be pre-recorded videos, supportive worksheets and live video calls where I'll answer questions and offer group coaching. You can go at your own pace and even access the live recordings later.
It's my goal to make this information as accessible and affordable as possible. I don't want you to suffer through the holidays, I want you to enjoy them.
That's why I'm offering the entire class for my usual hourly coaching rate: $250.
Why offer so much time, material & content for so little?
Because I want this work to reach as many people who need it.
If you are someone who dreads the holidays because of weird family dynamics and the pain of putting up a fake facade, then this is for you.
Register here or send this blog to a friend who can use it. I'll see you then!