Tag Archives: Vacation

How to have the holiday you want: Part 1

Most of us experience a great deal of pressure to make the holidays AMAZING. And through a sort of collective amnesia, we also forget all the ways in which past holidays have been challenging, frustrating or even disappointing.

I’d like to suggest that this holiday can contain way more of what you love and less of what you loathe… and that you already have the power to make it so.

Step 1: Desired Feelings
Start by asking yourself, “How do I want to FEEL this holiday season?”
*Note: I learned this question from Danielle LaPorte’s work.

When I asked myself this question, I decided that want to feel:
* Peaceful
* Joyful
* Connection (to others and myself)

Step 2: Getting Specific
Once you’ve chosen HOW you want to feel, think about what specific activities, events and people would help you feel that way. In this step, we are employing our powers of discernment to choose both what we’d like to do and what we don’t want to do. We are choosing wisely.

Under each of your desired holiday feelings, make a list of specific things to do and NOT do. Note: You may want to include small turtle steps you’ll need to take to make an item on your list possible.

Here’s my list: {Note: DP is my partner.}

* Create spaciousness. Not too many things in any one day.
* A cathedral of time on my own to dream about projects including my podcast
* No devices in our bedroom at night
* More quiet in the house + less music, television, podcasts that don’t feel special/meaningful
* 8 hours of sleep + early to bed
* No alarm clocks
* Fewer distractions: less email and social media
* No coaching or structured work during this three-week holiday
* Gift giving: only with DP and on a very small level
* Living this holiday entirely within our financial means
* At holiday meals, I’d like to be nicely full but not stuffed

* Loads of time with DP
* Talk to family and friends via phone/Skype/chat
* Sit by the fire (Learn how to use our wood stove + get a temperature gauge)
* Walks down to the Point in Blue Rocks
* Read
* Take photographs
* Read out loud to DP at night (Start with Harry Potter series)
* Have a Christmas tree in Nova Scotia
* Put up Christmas decorations in Nova Scotia + in our apartment in Japan
* Make a yummy meal on Christmas Day
* Watch films that make me happy (Family Stone; Arrival; Guardians of the Galaxy; About Time; La La Land; Moana; Salmon Fishing in the Yemen; Star Wars + Star Trek films)
* Christmas music in moderation (one member of my family enjoys it more than the other): Simply Christmas by Leslie Odom Jr. and White Christmas by Bing Crosby

CONNECTION (Others + Self):
* Give + receive love
* Social time with people we really enjoy
* Meet some interesting new people
* No to social obligations if we are tired or if they feel like work (Listen to my body)
* Christmas cards are completely optional
* Less time online
* Write in my journal

Our Christmas Rituals:
Last week, DP and I had a conversation over breakfast about the kind of Christmas rituals we’d like to observe and create this year. We decided that we’d like to make a traditional Christmas dinner which we’ve never done. We’ll spend Christmas and New Year in Nova Scotia where we have a large, sunny kitchen and an OVEN. {This is not the case in Japan.} In choosing our menu, we talked about the kinds of dishes our mothers prepared for Christmas dinner and, in the next few days, I’ll contact our moms and ask them for recipes so that we can make the most authentic versions of those dishes. When we get to Nova Scotia, we’ll buy a Christmas tree and decorate it ~ another thing we’ve never done. We decided to have our small gift exchange on Christmas morning, followed by a late pancake breakfast which will leave us the whole afternoon to make Christmas dinner at a leisurely, low-stress pace. We’ll attend a neighbour’s party on Christmas Eve and, on Boxing Day, we’ll go to the cinema in Bridgewater. On January 1st, we’ll have Chinese take-out which is a tradition from my father’s extended family. I actually started a Google doc to keep track of our plans and the preliminary steps we need to take before we can create those rituals.

Join me tomorrow for Part 2 of How to have the holiday you want.

This was first published as The Sunday Reader. If you’d like to receive these posts directly in your mailbox, every two weeks or so, you can subscribe here.

I’d love for you to share this post with your tender-hearted, like-minded friends.

Two days on the Adriatic Sea

At the end of March
I spent almost two days
with my friend Jacquie
at her house in Ripatransone, Italy
near the Adriatic Sea.

With one week of school left
and more tasks than time
I find myself returning
to the Adriatic
in my mind.

Who could blame me?

ballet at the shallow end

a confession:
i took on too much
this vacation.
2 conference papers
+ 6 countries
in 2 weeks.
(it seemed like a good idea
at the time.)
as my friend jacquie said,
i am going to need a vacation
from my vacation.
did you ever feel like that?

the good news:
i think it’s going to be okay.

mom, dp and i
are chilling in ubud, bali
where even the geckos are friendly.
6 blissed-out days and nights
without plans
or planes to catch.

my mom is staying
in this gorgeous glass house
with its own pool.
(it’s beautiful like a dream.)

this afternoon
we three
(none of us water-babies)
met up in the pool.
dp jumped right in,
i entered incrementally
(with gasps and giggles)
and mom eased herself
into the water
with trepidation.

i found that i’m still
a mad floater
(“amazing!” dp said,
“i think we found your super power.”)
while he no longer floats with ease.
we bobbed up and down
and laughed like kids.

i suggested that i choreograph
a ballet for the pool.
a ballet for three swimmers.
my mom said her part would need
to be at the shallow end.

here they are,
my water-ballerina mother
with my water-ballet beloved.

there need to be
more days like this.
pineapple spring roll days.
sleep-in + nap days.
stay in your bathing suit days.

i know you know
there ought to be more
days like this.

Preparing for the Flood

I snapped this shot from inside a taxi near Bangkok’s Asoke BTS Station on Friday October 28th. I had just completed my fifth and final dentist appointment of the week (a root canal and three crowns) and was headed back to meet DP at our hotel in our old neighbourhood of Lower Sukhumvit. This couple looked so cute and it was only after I downloaded my photos to iPhoto that I noticed what the man has in his plastic bag.

Rubber boots. Wellies, if you prefer. He was preparing for the flood.

Going to Bangkok for a week during the flood was certainly not the sensible thing to do. We worried if we should go… then we worried if we should stay. We followed the #ThaiFloodEng stream on Twitter and then… not so much. We relaxed. We ate our favourite Thai dishes, spent an evening with some lovely friends and enjoyed the city as a couple of delighted tourists instead of work-weary residents.

We felt a bit guilty knowing that while we vacationed, many Thai people suffered the consequences of the worst flood in fifty years. But, ultimately, people are always suffering, somewhere, and that’s simply not a good reason to stay home. The world is a big place… it’s gorgeous and interesting and difficult and I want to live in that world as fully as possible.

When we were making the decision about whether to travel to Bangkok, a wise friend left the following quotation on my Facebook page:

Ever notice that “What the Hell” is always the right decision? ~ Marilyn Monroe

DP and I have never really been “What the hell?” kind of people… but I feel a change coming on.

About what do you want (or need) to say “What the hell”? What is stopping you?