MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS: EPISODE FOUR

Holy fuck you guys. It’s fucking Christmas time all fucking ready.

Can you fucking believe that?

OH MY GOD IT FEELS GOOD TO SAY FUCK so much again.

If you kindly follow my blog you may have noticed I haven’t written anything since… June-ish or so. I promise you it’s not because I didn’t have anything to say. I have ALL THE THINGS TO SAY. It’s because I’ve been up to my MOTHER FUCKING EYEBALLS in parenting, work, other work, some other work, and some more work after that.

Sigh. More on that later. Continue reading

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MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS: THE SECOND EPISODE

It’s that time of year again, uh, again.  You know that one. Where your life’s choices are mocked at the dinner table, your little brother wins the best child award for the 27th year in a row, and you spend a lot of quality time with reinforced lycra.

Or maybe that’s just me. . .

Last year, I wrote the first edition of Merry Fucking Christmas and managed to piss off my own family to the point of social media disownment, and this year, having learned my lesson, I’m going to um, well, to be quite frank,

Give zero fucks and do it again.

Because this is real life people, and telling any other story would be a half-truth. So, in the name of authenticity and good humor, I offer you:  

(STILL) NOT ANOTHER FUCKING CHRISTMAS LETTER

Dear Friends, Family, and People That Don’t Fit In Either Category.

Happy whatever-you’re-celebrating-this-month. Vodka, Gin, Red wine. Whatever floats your. . . spirits. Oh, and Happy all those other real things too. Really. Cheers to celebrating family, blessings, triumphs, heroes, saviors, endurance, and love. Continue reading

MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS

So, after a rather lengthy internal battle, a few rounds of rationalization, several bottles glasses of wine with my friends, and uh, careful review and critique. . .

I ordered my Christmas cards this weekend.

Sigh. Insert monkey covering eyes emoticon here.

Yep. I caved.  I totally did. Like, I did the expected thing.

Ugh.

I’m a little pissed off at myself, being so traditional, predictable, materialistic, and generally propagating the curated version of my life that I think people want to see.

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 11.11.30 AM

Lame.

Because on the one hand, what’s the point? With social media we all pretty much know what’s up with our peeps (and their peeps) so like, save a tree, or something, right?

And, let’s be honest- what do people actually DO with that shit anyway?

They toss it in the recycle bin along with their guilt (and some debatably compostable petrified halloween candy) and move the fuck on with their real actual lives, that’s what.

So. Yeah. Speaking of (real lives). . . I just made an executive decision. The cute Christmas cards I ordered in bulk? Yeah. Not sending those. Nope.

Instead, you get, the real, live, authentic (cost effective!) e-card/newsletter that describes our life. This one though- is a bullshit free zone. No fluff. No spin. No labels. The real fucking deal.

Gulp.

Here we go. Presenting:

Not Another Fucking Christmas Letter

Dear Friends, Family, and People That Don’t Fit In Either Category,

Thanks for all of your adorable cards and holiday wishes. Good shit.

In case you don’t stalk roll your eyes at make fun of follow me on instagram, facebook, twitter, RSS feed on my blog, elephant journal or like, actually see me in person, then you maybe don’t know that my life is, uh… a little different than it was a decade ago when I wrote my last Christmas letter.

A smidge. Tad. Small amount.

So, um, here’s a quick update:

Madison

She’s nine now, and basically that means she acts like a bitch with a wad of angel in her back pocket 99% of the time. No, I don’t mean the other way around, I mean exactly that. She’s in hormone change central and waivers between a sweet and loving big sister to a screaming maniac at any given fucking moment. I’m using this opportunity to teach her about karma (ahem . . .), self control, breathing, and sarcastic replies being kind.

I feel for her, in a big way, actually. Luckily, she is catching on fast to the satire game and her witty banter is developing quite nicely. Can’t say the same for her spatial awareness, but it’ll kick in soon enough.

On the upside- she’s quite musically gifted. This means she loves to sing and dance. Everywhere. All.the.fucking.time.

She is ridiculously clever and pretty and tall and could easily pass for a twelve year old. Sometimes I accidentally put on her pants. This has a whole lot to do with lycra and that’s all I’m saying about that.

Rory

That little dude finally learned how to ride his fucking bike, can’t hold fucking still for two fucking seconds, can read like a fucking eighth grader, knows the square root of 99, 999, and asks forty-five fucking questions a minute.

Also, he doesn’t forget anything. Ever. E-V-E-R. Except that you asked him to put his shoes on five times. That — he fails to recall.

He turned six last April and hasn’t been particularly successful with the team sport scene since the coaches don’t really like it when you kick them in the knees and run off the field. However, we’re trying our luck (and their patience) again this Spring since I finally fucking remembered to sign him up for Little League on time.

Fuck.

Me

Um. Let’s see.

I’m pretty sure I’m officially in my mid-thirties now, which makes me old and you oldER.  I’m still single and I’m mostly avoiding dating because it’s hard fucking work finding the time and a man who can fucking keep up with me (she said ever so humbly), but uh, I’m trusting the universe to provide. Because it will.

Yes, I did say “trusting the universe.”  That’s how I roll now. And also, I have used the word “fuck “ probably twenty times in the last eight paragraphs. Fucking get over it. Be grateful I used it grammatically fucking correctly and move on already.

I’m using my college degrees and credentials to . . . ummmmmmmm . . . leverage my resources? I write, actually, like, for money not just because I can.  Twice a week I play dress up as an English Professor too so I can sound important and shit. Actually, no, because they pay me to help adults learn to read while I crack jokes for several hours. It’s fucking awesome.

I ride my bike to the yoga studio, shop at the Food Co-Op, and buy organic fucking produce at the Farmer’s Market.  Oh, yeah, yoga. I do that. Like a lot. I’m rather flexible. For real. In lots of ways, as a matter of fact. I did Teacher Training last summer, and then I quit a normal well paying job so I could help people work their (sweaty) shit out at five locations a week.  Because I fucking wanted to, that’s why.

I finally decided what I want to be when I grow up, and I’m going after it, spiritual gangster style baby.

I’m busy. Ridiculous busy. My calendar makes my head spin and my heart sing. I love where I’m at, and I’m amazingly fucking happy.

Life is good. We fucking hope you are too.

Be love. Be light. Be happy.

Peace out.

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OH TANNENBAUM

So, um, according to my calendar it’s December 1st today.

December. First.

As in, the last month of this year. As in, just 31 days of 2014 remain. Well, like 30 and few hours at this point I suppose, but still. . . damn.

What the hell Mother Nature? Slow your roll already would you? I mean. Crap, what’s it gonna be January before we know it?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that’s how it works.

I can deal, though, actually. Mostly because I can’t FUCKING WAIT for 2015 to get here, as a matter of fact. Cannot.Wait.

Not because I’m over 2014, not by any means; 2014 kicked some serious ass.

However, there are so many amazing things happening next year I can hardly stand it. I’m bursting at the seams with excitement over the unbelievable, out of this world, downright miracles are that filling up my google calendar like it’s 199. . 9… errr…. 2015.

Gratitude seems an entirely inadequate expression of how I feel right now about what has happened to date, and what is yet to happen still.

I am awed. Humbled. Most incredibly honored to be living the life I love right now.

The whole concept of visualizing to materialize has most clearly been at work, because, well, I’ve got my (sparkly) red pen out baby, and I’ve been kicking ass and taking names all year.

Quite literally.

And all I can say is call me a Monkee, cuz’ people, #imabeliever.

Once I got a grip on my current reality, became clear about what I wanted, set my intentions and took positive action to move toward that, then, well, shit started happening.

Funny how that works out, that whole ask and you shall receive bit, isn’t it?

This understanding has been life changing for me; I’ve had a permanent shift in perspective. I can quite honestly no longer see the world as I used to.

It is so much more beautiful. So much more mysterious. So much more full. So much, well, joyful.

As a result of that shift, as one of the many things that has changed is my attitude about the holidays. That, I am actually quite over, actually. The yearly vomitrocious expulsion of Christmas crap from garages and attics, the nonstop live retelling of “The Berenstain Bears and The Gimmies,” and those fucking Christmas commercials.

Buy this. Get that. Have that. Save money buying people you barely know shit they don’t need.

Wrong, people; we are doing it wrong.

The stuff is not the point.

So, this year, I’m taking a page from my own notes and changing it up, again. I’m ditching the hypocrisy and working to create a more authentic experience.

The kids and I are doing the Twelve Days of Giving again, and you can follow us on instagram @ictfd #twelvedaysofgiving if you’re so inclined. In fact, we’d be tickled pink (red?) if you’d copy the idea and do it with your own family and friends too.

We decorated our house very simply, choosing just a few treasured pieces to display and setting the rest aside for donation or to use another time.

We are adhering to a few yearly family traditions like the advent ornament calendar, singing badly to Christmas music in the car, taking lights walks, and my Daughter and I are holding our annual date to the Nutcracker, fancy dresses and all.

My parents even kindly arranged for us to go cut a Christmas tree up in da’ mountains with them this past weekend (so, yes, we decapitated a tree in the forest. By ourselves. With a real saw. Yup. Not sure yet how I feel about that yet. I’ll let you know when my fingers thaw out next Spring).

But, speaking of said evergreen, what I DID very deliberately and conscientiously decide to do with oh’ tannenbaum this year, is turn it into something meaningful, rather than simply a big (pleasant smelling) needle dropping shrine for all things glass, shiny, and color-coordinated (don’t even pretend to be surprised about that part— I don’t.do.messy.trees — there isn’t enough yoga in my day to ground down that inner feng shui freak).

My children are both familiar with the law of attraction, how we invite that who and which we are. They know how to create a vision and set goals, and are (altogether too) familiar with purpose.

They get it. They don’t always apply it, but they get it.

So, in any case, we dialed it up a notch and made that concept into a “Thing.” Like a real thing, like a BFD, actually.

This year, we created a Tree of Possibilities together for Christmas.

That’s right, we made a miracle tree right here in our living room.

It’s amazing. Beautiful. Shining from floor to ceiling with opportunity and light.

Using blank ornaments and tags to record affirmations, wishes, goals and action statements, we created an image of our own future, sending out positive intentions to the universe.

With each addition, my heart felt lighter. With each heartfelt expression, their smiles grew brighter. With each placement, our awareness heightened.

It was nothing short of magical.

This morning they were content to add one each of their special ornaments, but were absolutely delighted to create a statement on a tiny scroll for their day, again taking positive action for their own happier reality.

My daughter wrote “I will be kind to others.” My son scribed “I will be nice” (he’s only six so, you know, cut him a little slack). I wrote “I will live the life I love: yoga, writing, wellness.”

It is, as my daughter said, “the best Christmas Tree EVER.”

The law of attraction is at work in our hearts, minds and spirits. May the year bring us (and you) all of that, and so much more.

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JUST BREATHE

On a scale of Grinch to Jesus, just how stressed are you about the big event? Hyperventilating yet? I’m not. Why? Because it’s CTFD Christmas baby, and I’m not riding that train this year (or ever again, actually. I retired. No longer eligible for visits to Santa’s Insane Asylum. Bummer.).

Not sure if you qualify for “Rescue Me” status yet? Try these questions on for size:

  1. Have Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover (wait, does anyone use that anymore?) on speed dial so you can check your available credit?
  2. Itemizing and listing gifts you have purchased to make sure you’re being FAIR and EQUAL and spending the SAME amount on each kid?
  3. Ghost of Christmas Present (aka- the super pleasant ding of your iphone task reminder) visiting you to remind you of all the shit you still have yet to purchase for all 150 of your closest friends and relatives?
  4. Bracing yourself for the righteous hasty judgment you’re about to endure from your pending houseguests regarding the acceptable cleanliness level of your house. That you live in. With real people. . . ?
  5. Baking and delivering cookies like Martha Stewart is your middle fu*#ing name?
  6. Knocking down the neatly stacked ornament tubs (spilling that stupid peanut shell “packing” crap everywhere) while frantically grabbing suitcases down from the top shelf of the closet?
  7. Have your present wrap time down to sub 2, per gift, with coordinating ribbon and tags thankyouverymuch?
  8. Mailed out 200 Christmas cards then had 50 returned because you forgot to: a) stamp them b) address them or c) both?
  9. Got a decent ab workout while simultaneously earning more anger/worry lines by smirking at the daily delivery of perfect family photos and accompanying shamelessly self promoting holiday letters describing the idyllic life you don’t have?
  10. Managing hangovers accrued from holiday parties or coping through family “fun”?
  11. Stepped on at least three broken glass “special” ornaments that were placed high on the tree that the kids are NOT SUPPOSED TO TOUCH?
  12. Running out of reasonable explanations to your children for why your breath smells like chocolate at any given time of day (damn that Godiva chocolate box your former realtor insists on giving you every year despite the fact that you haven’t given her any business for at least a half a decade)?
  13. Having a slight gag reflex at the sight of anything orange, or, shiver, crimson, because it reminds you of pumpkins and cranberries (of which you have found a ridiculous amount of ways to “experience” in your foods for the last five or so weeks)?
  14. Spent twelve hours manipulating (pun intended) the seating arrangements for dinner so Uncle Tom isn’t next to Aunt Ida who isn’t near cousin Jane who doesn’t like your sister-in-law who can’t be near a child because she is going through a rough time, and . . .
  15. Thanking GOD that a long sweater or shirt and leggings and boots qualify as “real clothes” this time of year and ignoring the fact that if you pair that with a vest and boots you look like Hans Solo. . .  ? photo

Have I hit home yet? Guess what. There is a simple solution to all of it. Besides a trip to your local warehouse of choice for some oversized bottles of liquor (Costco, you so get me, thanks for being there), here’s another strategy for how to make the most of your Merry Little Christmas. Ready?

Step 1: Breathe

Step 2: CTFD

Step 3: BREATHE!

Oh, and maybe take some Advil, a B vitamin (or five), drink some tea and lemon water and go sweat it out with some exercise. That helps too.

Remember, when it is the hardest to breathe is when you need your breath the most. 

So put down the scissors. Step away from the ribbon. Put your credit card back in your wallet. And just walk away from that scrub brush and the table diagrams. Let the chaos happen sans your management. You have enough. You’ve cleaned enough. You’ve baked enough. Your kids have enough gifts. Your presence is enough of a present for everyone. Christmas is about giving, not getting. Loving, not judging. Spending time, not money. Sharing friendship, not guilt. Spend the next week the way you want to, with the people you want to be with, and with the attitude you want to have.  Chill out already. YOU are enough.

Cheers to a Merry CTFD Christmas.

For more humorous thoughts on the subject, check out these related blogs:
Killing of Supermom
Don’t Stress On Account of Me 
Humble Holiday Letter
Grinch Goes To Therapy
 

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ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS

Tis the season. Yep. Uh huh. Sure is. THE season. The season of. . . what, exactly? To many, it’s the season of miles, points and Benjamins, all provided in abundance courtesy of guilt trip airlines, passive aggressive combat at the dinner table, and mastercard (December’s BFF- it’s everywhere you want to be). How. . . joyful. . .or something.

It also is the season of giving. And by giving, I actually mean GETTING, and I know you know what I mean. It seems that the emphasis of Christmas has shifted rather heavily to the receiving end of the deal as opposed to the true spirit of benevolence. As a whole, the commercialization of the holidays has encouraged us to view generosity as spending more, eating more, doing more, getting MORE. Bigger, better, faster, stronger, and right.now.

Why? Because more is better, size matters and our sense of urgency and competition trump patience and fortitude? Right?WRONG.

You picking up what I’m throwing down here?  I’m all about growth and change, exceeding goals and overall maximizing capacity. But not like this. Not as measured in material possessions, coated in the glitter and sparkle of December and quickly dulled in January’s austerity.  Transformation, humanity and goodwill are not demonstrated by how much money you spend, how many arguments you “win” and how outstanding your gift giving skills are. It is our actions, in the end, that determine our real contributions.

Why the soapbox, you may be wondering. This is hardly a novel concept. Agreed. It’s not. People have been saying this for years. I’ve acknowledged that for at least two decades, and yet I continued to overspend and overdo it. Year after year, maxed out credit card after maxed out credit card.  The difference for me, this time, is that it’s really hitting home. Big time. For the first time in a long time, I really understand that less is more. Really and truly.

As a family we have slowly been working to minimize our material belongings by downsizing our house, selling and donating possessions and spending our time and money on experiences as opposed to “stuff.” It has been awesome. Amazing. A “why didn’t I do this sooner” kind of deal.  Everytime I get rid of something I actually physically feel better, as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. It is incredibly freeing.  I’m not moving to a full “minimalist” kind of lifestyle by any means, I am way too fond of my wardrobe to go full board (my shoe collection is only rivaled by my bling; it’s close competition), but it is assuredly a move in the right direction to a more balanced life.

For example, when I went out to the garage to get our Christmas decorations out, I found ten giant rubbermaid tubs awaiting me. TEN, big enough to fit at least one child in, if not two, each. HOLY SHIT! Who needs TEN  tubs of indoor and outdoor decorations? Not me, that’s for damn sure. I used maybe two boxes for the whole house. The remaining eight are hanging in the garage awaiting donation to whomever the universe sees fit to offer them.

This is great progress, I might actually be able to see the back of the garage wall by springtime at this rate. Whoo hoo.

However, the most powerful lesson so far has come via the sincere innocence of my son and his unassuming naiveté. When I started asking what my children what they would like for Christmas, he replied with “I’m getting _____ for Christmas.” WAIT A DAMN MINUTE. You’re GETTING that for Christmas? REALLY? REAAAAALLLLLLYYYYY? Oh my. Oh, oh, oh my. If that’s not a wake-up call to do something about their perceptions about giving then I don’t know what is.

So, what do do? FIX IT, that’s what. Fix.It. I broke it, I will FIX IT!

How? Well, for starters, by continuing to demonstrate and model a “less is more” lifestyle, by showing gratitude and by continuing to give, often and in abundance, to others and to articulate this to my children. It’s time to preach and practice. To say and do, to believe and to act.

First up- Project “12 Days of Giving.” Post conversation with Rory I brainstormed ideas for how to tie this all in together in a fun and meaningful way. I want to use this month as a teachable moment and a launching point for encouraging sustainable altruism. With (all that) in mind, I landed on the 12 Days of Giving idea – which I thought, by the way, was original- until I went on Pinterest and found out that um, it’s not, and there are all kind of resources out there for this- SCORE!

So, putting my usual personal spin on it, I made a graph for each day (I know you are shocked by this, me graphing things, such unusual behavior, sticking things in boxes and categories and all. . .) so we can track our acts and use them as a motivation and reinforcement of the concept.

And speaking of, the concept itself is simple. Give one thing on the first day, two on the second, and so forth until we have twelve drummers drumming on the 25th. The premise is that we do our best to give authentically, to be genuine in our intentions and to give fully, no half-assed efforts.

Each day, for the twelve days leading up to Christmas we will practice the art of giving.
The giving of our time, our service, our devotion, our love, and sometimes, an actual tangible gift.

When I sat down with the kids and talked them through the idea they were totally down with it, giggling with excitement even. And, as they are sooooo their mother’s child, they didn’t just agree, they grabbed pens and paper to make lists with me and together we brainstormed ideas for how, what, and when we could give. Then we spent some quality family time together making our chart (see picture below).

For day one (which we did early, because they are at their dad’s for the weekend so my grand plan needed a little tweaking, standard), we chose to give the gift of appreciation. Each of us wrote a special note to a friend thanking them for being the wonderful person they are and all that they bring to our lives.  We wrote our letters last night and honestly, it gave me goosebumps to watch them. I teared up a little even (just a little, hallmark commercial level stuff). They were so eager to express their love to their friends, so legitimate in their feelings and willingness to share them; it was beautiful.

We have other great ideas for the rest of the days, little glitter bombs of happiness we will be dropping all around town. We will quite possibly do this, by the way, while rocking our most ridiculous Christmas swag, because what other month do you get to model sparkling knit fabulousness? Ugly Sweater party, here.we.come. #opportunity#knocking

I am very much looking forward to the lessons we will all learn, the love we have to share with others, and the goodness we will both create and experience as a result. In a month that could easily be overburdened, exhausting and a little depressing, we are choosing to bring light to others, to give beyond ourselves, and to spread the joy. I pray we will carry this lesson with us into the new year, and beyond.

Amen, Hallelujah, and Peace Out friends. Oh, and Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas.

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 photo (10)