I have always loved Advent calendars! In the past, I have collaborated with other bloggers, to write a series of posts to countdown through the holidays (our “calendar” always counted down until New Year’s). Maybe next year, I will bring back Simplify the Season.
In the meantime, I was very excited this year to see that Sue from Sizzling Toward 60 & Beyond is doing her own advent calendar, a “25 Day Countdown to a Happy Christmas.” Every day she will post a writing prompt from her own advent calendar.
I do realize that I am over a week behind, but I have never been one to do things on their exact dates. My last Christmas in Michigan, Santa came to our house on the 27th, so we would have more time to prepare. And so it will be with my advent calendar! I am calling mine a “Countdown to a Happy 2019,” and it will take us somewhere into January.
I will post a prompt everyday, interrupting occasionally for posts about our family and other such things.
So let us begin with Day 1…
“Re-assess to Reduce the Stress”
This prompt is about reducing committments, so that the holidays (and the rest of the year) are less stressful. This is a practice that I have been doing continually, so I thought that I would share some of the ways that I have pared down my committments.
1. Working Part-Time
I have written about my choice to quit my full-time teaching job and switch to substitute teaching. This has allowed me to spend more time with my family, spend more time on my home, and even spend more time getting ready for the holidays! I rarely have to drive in rush hour anymore, so my stress level is significantly reduced.
2. Working Four Days a Week
I immediately realized that working five days a week was more stressful than I wanted it to be. I did not have the time to keep our home, and I felt like my self-care was suffering. I realize that a four day work week is not an option for everyone, but since it is for me, why not do it? Our budget can handle it, and we are able to be self-sufficient, now that I am receiving regular paychecks.
3. Paring Down on Close Friendships
Over the summer, I made the difficult realization that I had grown apart from my closest friends, with whom I was spending most of my time. It was hard and painful for us to go in our separate directions, but doing so did allow me to focus on self-care and nurturing some of my other relationships.
4. Being Mindful about Where I Work
When I first began substitute teaching, I worked in two school districts and at a two-campus charter school. I absolutely loved the charter school and felt very energized when I worked there. I loved one of the school districts as well, except for one campus.
I went to that campus one time, and immediately felt a negative vibe. It looked…tired. And so did the staff members. I decided to keep an open mind and set forth to teach my math classes. My last period of the day, I had a very challenging group of students, with a ringleader who was using inappropriate language and being very disrespectful. I knew he needed to be removed from the room, so I called the number that the office had given me for disciplinary issues.
The students watched as I called, received no answer, and left a voice mail message. I tried calling the principal and was also directed to voice mail. At that point, I had lost the students. They knew there would be no follow-through with their behavior.
I mulled it over and thought, “I could learn to be successful here.” And then I wondered why I would want to, when I have the choice to work somewhere else. So I stopped accepting assignments at that campus.
When I started working at the other school district, I immediately noticed the tired look at many of their schools. And again, working on those campuses was always a battle. Even when I worked at nice schools, the drive home had road construction, and I always got home later than I wanted. I came home in a negative mood. Eventually, I decided to stop working in that district.
5. I Don’t Do Everything I Want to Do
This has been the hardest one for me. It’s become easy for me to say “no” to things I don’t want to do, but what about the things I do want to do? There are so many opportunities for fun, especially during the holidays, but doing them all will simply become too stressful.
So I don’t meet up with my friends as much as I would like to, but when we do get together, it is very special.
Yoga is a priority for me, but I do miss class if I already have something going on that afternoon or evening.
Sometimes we decline an invitation to get together with friends, if we would rather spend a night at home.
And while I sometimes feel guilty for saying “no” to something I would like to do, I have found that my saying “no,” has allowed my friends to do the same, without worrying that I will judge them.
Now It’s Your Turn
What ways have you found, to re-assess and reduce the stress? Are there some things you would like to say “no” to?