Friday, October 10, 2008

30-Day Self-Care Challenge: Day 25

Wow. How quickly a month goes.

Today's Self-Care Action: Say No

My mother is a kind, artistic woman who always made the holidays warm. And she still has a bit of her mother and grandmother's pioneer spirit. Instead of buying fancy and overpriced tree ornaments, we'd visit the local craft store and buy plaster ornaments. We'd sit for hours on the dark brown living room rug as she'd train our little fingers and hands in the fine art of painting the fur on a teddy bear skying down a mountain. One year, my mother sewed stuffed dolls-from-around-the-world ornaments. We'd go, usually the day before Christmas, and buy a Christmas tree and spend the evening decorating it with lights and our homemade ornaments while my dad DJed the Christmas carols on the stereo. It was always clear to me that the holiday was about the people and not the stuff. I was very lucky.

So why am I saying no to my parents' very generous request to have me home of the holidays?

The answer is simple, but not easy: Taking care of myself this year means not overextending myself financially or socially. It's a rough decision, and one I may yet reverse should more assignments come pouring in. But as of now, I've decided the sane and serene course is to keep it simple.

This year, that means:

* Sticking to my spending plan: Part of my business plan and my monthly spending plan is a list of prioritized expenditures. I have them for my business (join professional groups, save for a conference next year, buy a more ergonomic office chair, get disability insurance), but I also have a list for my personal life. That list includes everything from a recent trip to Disneyland to saving to replace the caps on my teeth next year, to a long-planned trip to Palm Springs for my loved one's birthday in January.

But here's the thing: I love my family and I want to see them. So when they asked in August that I come to visit, I looked at my numbers, made some calculations, moved a few things around and thought I could afford it.

I accepted. And then I had to make the agonizing decision to back out. Why? Because those earlier calculations were more about my desire to see my family than my practical ability to afford the trip.

We all do it. We all want to please those we love and spend time with them. But we all know what it feels like when we go to far: We feel crazy, we feel stressed, and suddenly we're picking fights with those very loved ones and preoccupied with how we're going to replace the money we spent for a trip or a present we couldn't afford.

So this year, I'm trying something different. I'm just going to stick to my plan. Save money. Fulfill preexisting commitments. Keep it simple.

How are you making your holidays more manageable?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What amazing discipline you have!