All I Want for Christmas is a New Experience!

     This time of the year always seems to fly by at breakneck speed!  There is much to do with all of the shopping, gift-wrapping, baking, Christmas cards, decorating, concerts, performances, recitals, parties, get-togethers at work or with friends and family, etc.  The list seems endless and the time seems much too short to get it all done.  I hate to add one more thing to your list but here goes.  What about finding some time to try something new or to do something you have never done before?

      I am sure you are thinking, “That’s all I need! One more thing to add to my already long list!  Is she crazy? I don’t have time for that!”  Hear me out.  We tend to get “wrapped up” in all of the activity and expectations during the holidays.  We work hard to keep family traditions alive.  I love family traditions, too, but what about creating a new tradition, one of doing something different, trying something new, having a new experience?  Let me give you some ideas.

     There is a tradition in my family of cooking a 7 layer casserole on Christmas Eve and eating it when we return from church.  We like this tradition.  We follow dinner with another tradition that I grew up with and that is opening one gift.  We do this while listening to Christmas music and with all of the Christmas decorations out and all of the Christmas lights on to make it more festive.   Then we take a family photo by the Christmas tree.  After this is when we get a little creative.  When my son was little, we read Christmas stories before he went to bed. As he has grown older, we have adapted.  We sometimes play a board game, or we play a game of pool, or we watch a Christmas movie.  Sometimes we get out old family movies and watch them so our son can see either memories of his childhood or of ours.  He gets to see his parents and grandparents much younger and makes a connection to his family and how much he is loved.  He likes this time as both of his grandfathers died when he was young and he gets to see them and hear them, again.  It is a nice time for us to connect as a family.  We choose different movies every year or may choose different board games, but we take the time to enjoy one another as a family.

     Another tradition we have carried over from my childhood is baking cookies and taking them to the neighbors.  My son helps me to roll out sugar cookie dough, cut out cookies, add sprinkles or frost and then add sprinkles.  He also helps me to roll peanut butter cookie dough into balls and to “smoosh” Hershey’s kisses into them when they come out of the oven.  He also is the delivery elf and takes the plates of cookies to our neighbors.  There is much room for creativity in baking and decorating cookies.  I make some of the same ones every year, but also change it up a little bit by adding something different.  This year, I am considering trying a new recipe or making something I haven’t made for many years.  I don’t think I have made a peppermint roll since my Dad died nearly 10 years ago so that may be the winner.

      I hope you are getting the idea I am trying to convey.  Keep your traditions, enjoy them, cherish them.  And consider doing something different or starting a new tradition.  Maybe go out to a movie as a family, try a new recipe, eat at a restaurant you have never tried, try a family activity you have never done before like ice skating or building a snowman (if the weather is conducive to it). 

     Here’s an idea.  Try something new that doesn’t have anything to do with the holiday season!  I attended a creativity workshop last weekend and painted.  It was fun to do something creative with a group of other women.  I also did something interesting that I have thought of doing for ages.  I had a reading done with a psychic/medium.  It’s not for everybody, but it was new experience and I am glad I did it.  An acquaintance invited me to attend a service at her synagogue.  I have never been in a synagogue and am looking forward to a new and different experience during the holidays.

     Is there something you have wanted to learn, a class you have wanted to take, something you have wanted to experience but haven’t done it, yet?  What about ending the year by trying something new or different?  It doesn’t have to be on your bucket list to be a fun experience.  It can be anything!  Get creative in your brainstorming.  Take a time out from the holiday rush.  Give yourself something to look forward to.  It will stretch your brain and will give you some untapped energy to keep up with the high speed of the holidays.  Experience something new this holiday season.

Let It Go

How many times have we heard these words, “Let it go”?  What does it mean to you?  In the Disney movie, “Frozen,” Ana sings the song “Let It Go” to release the magic she has kept pent up inside, regardless of the consequences.  In the Harry Potter books, Hermione is often telling Harry and Ron to let it go or ignore it when Draco Malfoy is trying to provoke them into a fight.  In the Bible, Jesus’ version of letting go is “turn the other cheek” and at the end of his life, when he ultimately “lets go” by turning over his spirit after asking God to forgive those who tortured him.

When I think of letting go, I think of letting go of the little things that irritate me so I can be free of anger, bitterness, resentment, and any other negative feelings I may have in a given situation.  I also think of the saying in Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step programs, “Let Go and Let God” meaning to let go of controlling people, places, things and situations and to let God take care of whatever it is you are trying to control.

“Letting go” has significant meaning to a parent throughout the various stages of their child’s life.  When they are learning to walk, we must let go of their fingers and let them fall on their bottoms so they can learn to walk, finding balance on their own without leaning on their parents.  When they reach preschool, parents must let them go again, entrusting them to the care of other adults.  Kindergarten is another big step in letting go.  This stage is the beginning of 13 years of education, growing, developing, making friends, learning how to be independent and parents learning how to let them become who they are meant to be.  The culmination of this process is high school graduation which is another stepping stone toward independence and adulthood.  This “letting go” is a big one as it marks the beginning of the end of parenting for the first 18 years of their child’s life.  Many parents watch their children go on to college, sometimes moving far away from home.  As I prepare to “let go” of my son as he moves out on his own, I am realizing that even though we have prepared him for this his whole life, it marks an important stage in our growth and development as parents.  In addition to letting go of the time, energy and responsibilities of raising my son to adulthood, it also causes me to think of other things I need to let go of in my life.

I am letting go of some of the aspects of my business that I have always done myself.  I don’t enjoy data entry, so I have decided to “let it go” and am hiring someone who enjoys that type of work and is probably much more efficient at it than I am.  I have done my own website for the past seven years, but have decided to let that go, as well.  I have hired somebody to upgrade my website and to make it do all the things I want it to do, but more efficiently and easily.  I will maintain it, but I am hopeful that it will be easier to maintain after having somebody else who knows what they are doing create it and set it up for me.  I am letting go of being a provider for certain insurance companies as I have decided that the cost of time, energy, work and effort is greater than the benefit of the paycheck I receive from them.

In my personal life, I have been letting go of extra weight by being more mindful of my eating and by exercising daily.  As I let go of the physical weight, I feel lighter and am ready and willing to let go of other things that weigh me down.  I am letting go of clothes that don’t fit me, towels that are worn out and are ready to be used for cleaning, extra dishes that take up too much space in my cupboards and older furniture that my son can use in his new place.  I am letting go of petty things that annoy me and am always working on letting go of perfectionism.

 I am curious as to what other people are ready and willing to let go of in their lives.  Are there people, places, things, or situations that you are in need of “letting go”?  As we move into the summer months, which are a time of rest and relaxation, how about letting go of some of the stress, work, and stuff that overwhelms our lives?  Consider what you can let go of and set yourself free.


This article was posted in the ATD Newsletter for June 2016.


Snow Day

Do you remember how exciting it was, as a kid, to watch the school closings when there was snowstorm predicted?  I remember staying up for the ten o’clock weather report and watching the school closings listed in alphabetical order, anxiously waiting to see if our school was on the list.  If we didn’t see it, we would go to bed disappointed and would get up early in the morning to watch the school closings, again.  When our school showed up on the list, we would hoot and holler, jump around and celebrate!  We were free to have fun all day without the encumbrance of school.  We looked forward to staying in our pajamas, watching TV shows like “The Price is Right” and playing in the snow.  We made snowmen, snow forts, had snowball fights, climbed the giant mountains of snow made by the snow plows and went sledding.  Then we would go inside and enjoy hot chocolate with marshmallows and play board games. It was glorious!

The past 2 days have been snow days for LPS students.  I have also had snow days as my clients changed their appointments to avoid traveling on the bad roads.  I enjoyed staying in my pajamas late on the first day and not getting ready for work.  I spent a lot of time cooking which I enjoy doing on cold days.  I read a book, did some writing, and did some cleaning in my home office, but the best thing I did was watch home movies from last year’s vacation to Disneyworld and Universal Studios with my son.  We were able to relive the fun while spending time together. 

When was the last time you had a snow day?  Even if you can’t take time off work, could you carve out some time in the evening or on the weekend to relax and do some things you don’t normally take time to do?  A snow day is a free day – a chance to do something different from the normal schedule.  Whether you get outside and play in the snow, or stay inside to keep warm, a snow day can be an opportunity to take some time for yourself or to enjoy relationships with loved ones.  What would you do if you took a snow day?  Would you read a book, watch a movie, have some play time with a child or enjoy a hobby?

I challenge you to take a snow day before spring arrives!  Maybe you will take a day off work, or maybe you will schedule it on a weekend.  Whatever you do, celebrate the freedom that comes with a snow day – freedom from your routine, freedom from work.  Enjoy doing something fun, something you haven’t done for a while.  Build a snowman, play a board game, have some hot chocolate and enjoy the fun of a snow day!

This article was posted in the Coach's Corner of the ASTD Newsletter for February 2016.  You can reach Kolleen through this website, Linked In, Facebook or by calling her at (402) 499-5547.  She offers workshops, small groups and individual life coaching on a variety of topics to help you create the life you dream of but haven't been able to achieve.