The holidays are full of excitement and sadness. As we get older, we appreciate the moments, but we also think of the past. My husband just turned forty and just preceding that his father died. His mother died when he was 26.
As I looked around at my large family of 65+ — I thought of the many people who weren't there. My grandfather and grandmother. My other grandmother has dementia and can no longer walk much less make her famous dressing.
And as I look at Monday, I just feel like staying in bed and pulling the covers over my head and having a good cry. I know that five thousand things will come barreling at my head like barbed projectiles from those who have no idea how difficult some of the things they ask are. Students may not want to be there and I'm going to have to be UP!
So, my husband and I had an extended discussion of how we will tackle tomorrow and turn what could be a tough day to a better one. (Besides that my football team, Georgia Tech lost to our archrival Georgia and I can count on the 75 % of our school who are Georgia fans to really “rub it in.”)
How to turn a tough day into a terrific one!
1 – Start Right
If I think of the best days of my life, all of them started right. For me, that means that I get up early and start by reading my Bible, praying, and if I don't have time for a full workout – at least situps and pushups. That gets me going.
Then, I put on something that will make me happy (like my cute Christmas sweater). I put on my makeup and do my best to look great. I find that if I dress nicely and look nicely, my mood often elevates.
I love a good cup of coffee so I will treat myself to a good cup. I also will fix a good breakfast for my kids because that makes me feel good about myself. I will do my best to keep my voice quiet and keep myself calm.
2 – Put worst things first
This is from my practical, engineer of a husband. He says that he makes a list of the top 5 things he needs to do, no more. Then, he tackles the worst one first. At least he knows that he's got the worst thing out of the way and somehow the sense of overcoming that one thing elevates his mood the rest of the day. I am doing this tomorrow. (And leaving the other 40+ things on another list!)
3 – Make a list
When I best handle those “projectiles” from those who've procrastinated asking me about things, I keep a weekly list. I will add their items to my list. I go over my list with the appopriate folks and let them prioritize. I'm a classroom teacher first. Just getting things off of my mind and onto my list is great. Letting admin handle the headaches of prioritizing is also a help. I simply cannot do it all. (I teach full time and maintain 100 computers and a network!)
4 – Focus on others
I find that when I'm down, that the easiest way to get back up is NOT to think of me, myself, and I. Selfishness, pride, and ego are ingredients for misery. The world is full of disgruntled people who do not think they are getting their fair shake.
Well, guess what? Life isn't fair and work is hard. Sometimes we don't want to go to work, but we get up and go any way. And when we get there, if we look and find a person who needs us and we help them, even if it is a little thing, we feel better.
Bill Cosby's Mom was wise. He was in a philosophy class and they were debating whether the glass was half full or half empty. He went home to impress his mom with his new philosophical knowledge and posed this question to her. Her answer:
“It depends on whether you are pouring or drinking.”
See, she knew that it is by pouring yourself into others that you are refilled. It is by sharing with others that you grow and become more yourself. It is when you selfishly drink of everything and demand that you have only the best that others refuse to come and fill your glass. The selfish have a lot to learn for true happiness is in giving to others.
5 – Keep the main thing the main thing
I heard somewhere the importance of “keeping the main thing the main thing.” That is wise. We all have 24 hours, no more and no less. We must prioritize our family, our spiritual lives, our physical health, and yes, even our sleep so that we can live a balanced and good life. Work will always be there.
Work is important. But it will be there in the morning. One day you'll wake up and your kids will live half a continent away and your parents will no longer be a phone call away. If you have trouble getting your priorities straight, you should see the movie Click with Adam Sandler. It is a funny movie (but not for kids) with a point that echoes with me daily, “Family is the most important thing.”
We need reminders of such.
So, in order to fight my own struggles with not wanting to emerge from my cocoon of fleece and cotton tomorrow morning, I am focusing on you by trying to give you some encouragement. I hope that by encouraging you, that I can encourage myself and you know what, it has worked. I am already feeling better about tomorrow.
Holidays do not always mean happiness
Those of us who are always happy during the holidays need to remember that it is a tough time for people who have lost loved ones. We love our families and the separation of death, albeit temporary according to my beliefs, is a very real and difficult thing to bear.
Get ready for tomorrow!
So, start right, put worst things first, make a list, focus on others, and keep the main thing the main thing and perhaps that will help you if you're having a rough time.
What do you do on such days? I could use your encouragement too!
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