Dec 13, 2022 | Podcast, Your Business

The 12 Days of Conscious Holidays

About the episode:

The inspiration for today’s episode, and actually, for the next couple of episodes resulted from a conversation that I overheard at a bar over the weekend. In short, another patron said this about Thanksgiving: “It was rough, I went to Gloucester, Hamilton and then Rockport, but there were no fights, so that was a plus.”

On the opposite hand, I’m someone who really does love this season, and one thing I can appreciate about the holidays is that it is a time of a lot of emotions, a lot of pressure, and a lot of expectations. Sometimes when there can be that hype and anticipation, judgment, preconceived notion of how things are going to go, it just can create a lot of pressure and human beings don’t typically like pressure. As you may know, one of the ways we often resist pressure is avoidance. So for today’s episode, I want to share with you a nod to the 12 days of Christmas, the 12 days of conscious holiday planning as a way to practice doing something different and as a way to practice bringing more intentionality to your holidays to create the experience that you want to have.

 

Topics discussed:

  • What to ask instead of “What do you do?” at your holiday functions this year and the power of a compelling and thoughtful question
  • Catherine’s positive relationship with envy and how you can see envy as an opportunity to look inward
  • Why you should create an intention for every holiday instead of falling back on what is usually done 
  • How the holiday season is a time of great rituals and why you should create some that are just for you 
  • The ways in which you can set yourself up for success during the holidays, whether it be in your business or personal life 
  • Remember the holidays are meant for enjoyment and why we should all employ a healthy sense of humor 
  • Why extending grace and compassion are a must coming off of the past few years and why this makes reflection even more important
  • Creating an out for yourself to overcome subconscious expectations of the person others may think you should be  

 

Resources:

 

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Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode

Catherine A. Wood  00:00

Hello, hello, and welcome back to another episode of the prosperous and bath podcast. The inspiration for today’s episode, and actually, for the next couple of episodes resulted from a conversation that I overheard at a bar over the weekend. At the time of the recording of this episode, it we’ve just finished celebrating Thanksgiving here in the States. And it’s really like the official start of the holiday season here. People are buying their Christmas trees and decorating for the season and sending out holiday cards. And I love this time of year. And the conversations that I overheard at the bar were a reminder for me that not everyone does. So we were having some oysters and mocktails because we’re not indulging right now, which has been amazing. And I overheard the bartender share with one of his colleagues that, you know, Thanksgiving was fine this year, it was just busy. We had one Thanksgiving dinner here and then went to visit my cousins in this other town and had a second dinner. And then we went to a third town for dessert. And then the waitress replied, and she’s like, Oh, well, you know, in my household, there were no fights. So at least that was a plus. And it really got me thinking, because, you know, one thing I can appreciate about the holidays is that it is a time of a lot of emotions, a lot of pressure, and a lot of expectations. And sometimes when there can be that hype and anticipation, judgment, preconceived notion of how things are going to go. It just can create a lot of pressure. And human beings don’t typically like pressure. And you know, one of the ways we often resist pressure is avoidance. Right? So for today’s episode, I want to share with you as a nod to the 12 days of Christmas, the 12 days of conscious holiday planning as a way to practice doing something different as a way to practice bringing more intentionality to your holidays, as a great structure in allowing yourself to enjoy them more to create the experience that you want to have. So without further ado, let’s jump in. So number one day number one, instead of what do you do at your holiday parties and your networking events this holiday season, I want to invite you to practice asking a compelling question. Gosh, I know that the question what do you do is one of the safe ball questions for us. It’s the question that we always ask. It’s the knee jerk response. And it is filled with so much pressure so much anticipation. And it made me think of actually this book I’m reading right now which I love it’s called do nothing how to break away from overworking, overdoing and under living by it’s called do nothing how to break away from overworking, overdoing and under living by Celeste Headley. And she says Gosh, it’s she says it certainly makes it difficult to answer. Here’s what Celeste higly has to say about the question what do you do and her book do nothing how to break away from overworking, overdoing and under living, which I love the book, by the way, highly recommend. She says that question is considered rude in many other countries. But it is often one of the first things Americans want to know about others, mostly because knowing someone’s profession makes it easier to categorize them and rank them. Now. Some of that I imagine we do subconsciously. But gosh, that really hit me reading that question. So instead of asking what do you do at your holiday functions and family parties this year? Practice asking questions from the heart questions that on Earth people’s eyes sense and people’s inner truth. And here’s what I believe about a compelling question, a powerful question Can it can unlock the expertise and the uniqueness of an individual? A compelling question. It serves a lot of functions, right? Like, clearly it’s the heart of my work as a coach. But a thoughtful question makes an individual feel seen and known, which can be a very intimate and connecting experience between peers. A thought provoking question helps an individual access more of their own self knowledge, their intuition. And it’s just a really vulnerable connecting way to cut through the surface level conversation, and practice something different this holiday. On the second day, I feel like I should start singing, I’m not going to start singing on the second day of conscious holidays, practice having an eye on your own judgment, and envy. What I notice is that when we are surrounded by people, and noise and parties, it can be hard to be intentional, it can be hard to be conscious, it can be hard to be mindful about who we want to be about how we want to engage in conversations. And in the face of that unconscious. Connecting and conversation. It can often be a, a time when we. On the second day of conscious holidays, I want to invite you to have an eye on your own judgment and envy. What I noticed is that in the face of lots of noise being outside of our own environments, being with lots of people, it can be challenging to be as intentional or mindful about who we want to be and how we want to engage in conversation and with other people. And in the face of that we might feel uncomfortable, we might feel a little stressed out insecure, anxious. And judgment and envy are some of the most common emotions that come up inside of that dynamic. So when you notice that you are envious of something that someone’s wearing, or sharing about or their recent trip or vacation they’ve taken or what they’re doing in their career. Instead of seeing that as something disempowering or negative, I invite you to jot it down, just take note of it. The things that we are envious of and other people are simply a sign of something that we want for ourselves and haven’t yet brought to life. So I have a very empowering relationship with envy. And I invite you to practice that lens and see how it shifts your experience. And then with judgment, you know, we are human beings like we’re, we’re judgmental creatures. It’s normal, it’s natural. But in reality, sometimes we use judgment, to project our own insecurities, or opportunities for growth on other people. We make our judgments mean something about the other person. And in reality, like our judgments are mirrors our judgments towards other people, the things that we judge in other people are simply a reflection of something that we are not yet at peace with and ourself. So one of my favorite resources about this topic is The Four Agreements, which we will link in the show notes today but truly, I just invite you to have an eye on your own judgments this holiday season and when you do it Just like with envy, jot them down, take note, they are simply light bulbs of what there is for you to heal, or make peace with in your own life. And with the things that you’re envious about. They’re simply a sign of what you want and haven’t yet brought to life. On the third day of conscious holidays, I may start singing by the end. I want you to create an intention for how you want to experience the holiday season so that you can literally design it, you might start by asking yourself the question, what do I want this holiday season? What am I committed to? How do I want to experience the holidays, I noticed that with holidays with birthdays, it can be a place where we default to how things typically go to what’s normal to what’s predictable. And I think we can lose sight of the fact that we get to design our holidays in a way that we want to experience them, we get to fill our schedules with the events and commitments that are aligned with our intentions. So simply by bringing some for planning and, or pre planning, I guess, some pre planning and reflection to designing the holiday season for yourself, you can set yourself up to get your own needs met to have your expectations met or even exceeded. I know, in my world, I’ve been doing this work for myself. And this is my first holiday season as a married woman. And I’m really committed to making this holiday season ours. So for the first time in my business, I’m taking off three weeks this year and in service of really honoring that intention of making it ours. Some of the pre work that I have already done is emailed my clients in November to let them know that we need to change some of our client appointments and to work through any scheduling needs that might come up for them. All right, let’s see what’s next on the fourth day of conscious holidays. I want you to prioritize the rituals that are important to you. The holiday season is a time of great rituals for many of us. And I imagine some of the rituals are ones you love. And some are the rituals. Some of them are rituals you likely don’t. So I invite you to apply opting in and opting out generously this holiday season, take some time and reflect what are the rituals that are important to you? What is it that you want to commit to and make time for? For us? Cash for my husband and I we love holiday movies? Actually, I don’t know if he loves I think he does, but I’m not sure he loves them quite as much as I do. But I do think he indulges me, and which I very much appreciate. So we make time to watch all of our holiday movies every single year. And I also grew up loving going to visit the Nutcracker at the former whang theater in Boston, and that’s not something that I’ve ever gotten to share with my husband before. So we you know, we’ve already scheduled a day, and some friends of ours, we bought tickets to go see the Nutcracker with them, which I’m really looking forward to. And then there are other rituals that aren’t quite as important to me. And I’ve just let my family and and friends know that, that I won’t be participating this year, or we’ve made alternative plans. And you know, when we let our loved ones know that with notice, and admit with advance notice it just gives them a lot more time to process their own thoughts, feelings and body sensations around us changing, changing, you know, our own rules, and it’s just it’s really a win win. So bringing that intentional planning ahead of time sets up everyone to be at peace to except maybe not fully, but with a bit more grace, our decisions. On the fifth day of Christmas, oh, sorry. On the fifth day of conscious holiday planning, I invite you to set yourself up for success. So think about your best Business, what are the things that there are to put in place the out of office reminders that there are to set the expectations and availability that there is to communicate to clients, colleagues, employees. One of the structures that’s always been really helpful for me is just one of the structures that’s always been helpful for me is if I’m taking any unplugged time from social media, communicating it in one of my weekly newsletters, or making a post on social, it’s just it’s a great built in accountability structure, letting people know, I’m not going to be available. And then if, you know, they see me that I’m clearly not following through on what I said. So it’s just it’s a great structure for me. And then next, in terms of setting yourself up for success, look at what are the important projects to handle, versus what can wait, you know, as sensitive empaths, we are highly conscientious, we’re also typically highly ambitious, and it can be hard to leave projects. Incomplete, or not fully done or not leave our inbox at zero, if that’s something that’s important to you. So it can be, I really want to invite invite you to reflect on what are the projects that you’re committed to completing before you disconnect for the holidays, and what can wait until after one of the structures that supports me and honoring that is literally snoozing the emails in my inbox until the day or week or month that I am willing to refocus on them. And then likewise, what will support you in your return to work and life after taking some time off for the holidays. So we’re setting ourselves up for success both on the front end, and on the tail end. So on the tail end, I know that having my house clean, having my trash emptied the laundry empty, having groceries simultaneously delivered with my return to my apartment, buying those automatic waters for my plants, those are all structures that supports me in in kind of reentering work intentionally. On the sixth day of conscious holidays, I want you to remember what the holidays are about. They are a time for enjoyment, and enjoyment looks different for all of us. And I think we can frequently lose sight of that reminder, when we’re in the midst of it when we’re in the family drama or breakdowns or arguments or the pressure of gift buying or giving. And at the end of the day. holidays are a time for enjoyment. So I want you to create an opportunity to check in with yourself and assess whether you’re enjoying yourself in the moment. And if you’re not create opportunities for you to opt out, to take a break to go out and come back in. One of the ways that I’ve practiced this over the years with my, in my in laws house is they are a very extroverted and loud family. It’s so fun to be around them. It’s a bit different than my family. And sometimes I can get overwhelmed by the volume, by the chaos by the smells, the noises, all of it, right like as, as a highly sensitive person, I’m just very sensitive to my environment. And I need to oftentime create opportunities for me to go out so that I can come back in from a more mindful and aligned place. So one of the ways that I always do this is when I notice I’m not enjoying myself in the moment. I go take a walk, I go outside, I get some fresh air, I take the dogs with me. And it’s just a built in structure that has really supported me and over supporting me over the years in in engaging with that experience of enjoyment longer. Right. It’s not like it’s going to we’re not we’re not perfectly going to enjoy ourselves from start to finish during the holiday season. But when we can take intentional breaks and come back out, go out and come back in from a more mindful place. We can certainly sustain it that experience for a much longer time. On the seventh day of Christmas of conscious holidays, I invite you to employ a healthy sense of humor for all of it. I remember when I lived in the Dominican Republic, gosh, more than a decade ago, during the holiday season, when I couldn’t come home, everyone would comment about my weight always doesn’t make or the Dow or you know, you’ve you’ve lost, you’ve gained some weight, or your cheeks or Chevy or Gosh, shoot, you’ve been eating really healthy recently. And I, you know, my knee jerk reaction was to get offended, of course, which is natural. And then I realized that, you know, they were just being themselves, they were it was really a sign of flattery for for them that I was eating well that I enjoyed their food that I was settling in. And I realized that they meant no offense by it, which is, which is so often the case when people make comments about others, right? Like, it’s simply, it’s typically more reflection of them than it is about the subject they’re speaking about. So I reminded myself of that in the moment, and with time, I was able to employ a healthy sense of humor about it, laugh it off, maybe even like, respond with like a chuckle and a snide comment. And it just really helped me not take their comments personally, and not embody them or identify with them. I think if we can all employ a healthy sense of humor, this holiday season, that it will result in a lot more enjoyment and, and conscious creating of our holidays. On the eighth day of holiday planning, I want to invite you to extend a whole lot of grace and compassion this year, you know, we are still experiencing the impact of the pandemic. And some people, many people are still processing their experience of that, and experiencing the repercussions of it. And I just noticed that people’s emotions are on high, on high around me everywhere, there’s just like a lot of strong emotions, both mine and other people. And I think that if we can go into the holidays with that reminder that this season might be a little different than seasons of the past, the foreboding recession, the lingering effects of the pandemic, if we can just set our expectations and create perhaps some ways in which to practice grace and compassion, whether you need a structure or a reminder. Some structures that really support me and in reminders are like, like wearing a ring on a different finger. Or if I’m really wanting to, to practice a certain way of being, even just having having an elastic on my wrist and snapping it each time, I see an opportunity that I either miss or want to kind of like, you know, snap myself out of it to practice something different. Whatever, whatever works for you. I think that going into the holiday season, with that level setting of expectations that people are probably going to need a lot more grace and compassion this year, will really support you in enjoying your holidays more. On the ninth day of holidays. I want to invite you to design an out or a know for yourself, you know some of some of our common ways on the ninth day of conscious holidays, I want to invite you to create an out or a know for yourself. So I talk about this a lot when I discuss boundaries but we need automatic alternatives on the ninth day of conscious holidays, create an out or a know for yourself. I talk about this a lot with when I talk about boundaries. But you know, so much of the ways in which we respond are automatic and conditioned. So, you know we might default to yes or we might default to I will or, you know, people come to expect, what events will attend or who will buy gifts for, or how we’re going to operate during the holiday seasons, right? There’s just kind of these like, these subconscious expectations of who we’re going to be. And it can be hard to choose differently to create a different option for yourself. So one of the structures that will really support you in practice something intentionally and differently, is creating alternative language for yourself. So whether it’s a simple sentence, thank you so much I’m going to pass or thanks for the invitation, we will get back to you. In two weeks after we decide how we’re going to spend the holidays this year. Creating those those kind of just those alternative responses and writing them down, having them handy. Having them in templates in your email inbox, or even just on a post it note is a great way to practice consciously rewriting your scripts of what you communicate and how you typically communicate. On the 10th, Day of conscious holidays, make time for reflection, honoring and celebrating yourself for the past year. So one of the future episodes, we’re going to talk a lot more about this. But it is so important to acknowledge yourself for how far you’ve come this year for what you’ve accomplished for what you haven’t, for what you’ve done and not done for who you’ve become and what there is to lean into. Celebrating our progress towards our goals, celebrating our successes, celebrating the experiences that we’ve had, and making time to process them to communicate them to talk about them is just one of the most helpful structures to digest and embody those experiences. On the 11th day, I invite you to practice gifting consciously, versus from an obligatory place this season. As empaths, we are natural givers. And this can be a place where we harbor resentment, where we linger in negative feelings, where we allow ourselves to consistently give more than we receive. So I invite you to take some time and plan ahead of time. How do you want to gift consciously this holiday season? What charitable organizations do you want to give to what family members do you want to buy gifts for? Is there an amount you want to spend? Is there some agreements to set with your partners with your family with friends about how much you want to spend? Do you want to do a white elephant or a gift exchange this year with your family rather than buying gifts for everyone. There are abundant opportunities to break out of the norms to redesign how things are done, to redesign the ways in which we celebrate and share with one another. And it really starts with having a willingness to take some time to take stock and to take perspective about what actually works for you and what you want. And finally, on the 12th day of conscious holidays, please please please make some quality time for yourself this holiday season’s in the rush of rituals and guests and things to do and events to attend and people to see and friends, friends from out of town who are visiting like we can lose ourselves inside of that pressure and quality time with yourself. Whatever that looks like for you. Whether it’s your morning ritual and afternoon bubble bath, daily nature, walk with your husband or your dogs or even with yourself. Take the quality time that you need so that you actually have the space to bring that intentional for planning to bring that intentional and conscious creating of how you want to enjoy this holiday season. I hope you enjoyed this episode. This was a real fun one to record and we will see you next week.

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