Hello dearest friends!
‘Tis the end of another life-changing year and we’re only a few days away from jumping through the New Year hoop! Are you excited? Big plans for 2017? New goals? Dreams?
I’m on the same boat – a new year means a new way of living. All throughout the year I never notice the changes being made until I look back many months ago and think, Holey moley! Was I really doing that? Did I really make that much progress? (Or the dreaded…Did I really not do what I planned? That’s the worst…)
So I have a New Year’s resolution plan just like you. :) A few years ago I made quite the detailed resolution list and you know what the worst thing was? It was so long and intricate that within a week I had forgotten the majority of it and just went back to my old ways of life. Even two years ago I made a decent long list of things I wanted to do, and even though it was much less detailed I still didn’t accomplish much. So this year, I’m going with a theme instead of a detailed list.
For the past couple of months, I’ve been realizing, rather forcefully, that I am an over-stressed person. I’ve always known I was capable of letting things get to me – I had a stress-induced stomach ulcer in high school when I was bullied pretty badly, and apparently I’m not immune to them when I’m in my late 20’s and high school memories can only be found in my diaries. I thought I had gotten the flu a couple months ago but then familiar symptoms started happening and I was diagnosed with another ulcer; this time mean girls was not my issue and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what my issue was. Yes, lots of things are happening in my life, but nothing more than what happens in other people’s lives, and really, I have nothing I could possibly complain about. But there it was plain as day and I had to get my emotions under control.
So my theme this year is to de-stress. Be more in tune with myself. Be kind to myself. (I’ve since realized that most of my stress is self-induced. I’m a perfectionist, a people pleaser, and guilty of never thinking what I do is good enough and I could always do better.) Let the small things go. Bring relaxing things into my daily routine. Stop caring so much. (It’s wonderful being married to Paul because he does exactly all of this. I learn from him all the time and just wish I could be as laid-back as him.)
That’s it! What do you think? Are there others like me who are self-induced stressies? We need a support group.
But as always in life, there are little snippets that ring through the chaos and bring us peace, content, joy, and butterflies. Paul was away in Germany for work in the beginning of December (something that also may have contributed to my stomach fire) where he was enjoying mulled wine and Christmas festivals and adorable little towns filled with shop windows reflecting Christmas trees, ornaments, dolls, and basically everything he knew I’d love. I’d receive photos of places he was visiting, always with the caption of “You’d love it here,” so when he finally arrived home, it was time for us both to enjoy the magic of Christmas.
A week before Christmas, we left on the morning right after some heavy snow (always advisable) to the adorable little bluff town of Lanesboro – some of you might remember it from our anniversary last year. Since the roads were so bad we didn’t make it down until just an hour before sunset. When we arrived down that sloping hill towards the river and over the town’s rooftops, I was just in awe. It’s nothing spectacular, but to me it’s perfect. The town was alive with Christmas shoppers, even though it was barely 10 degrees, and the wreaths were strewn about on the lampposts and shop doors, garland wrapped around each window with twinkle lights peeking through the greenery, the bluffs were covered in a fresh blanket of snow, and right in the middle of the street there was a long string of garland connecting the streets to one another with a big wreath in the middle. I couldn’t have been happier. :)
After checking into our little inn (complete with wraparound front porch and a little toy poodle barking from the upstairs balcony) and unloading our stuff in our “Mocha” themed room, we decided to get some food at our favorite spot, Pedal Pushers. Run or drive? That was the extent of our decision making that weekend. We were only a couple of blocks from main street but the snow was already tough to get through everywhere else…so we ran. The cold bit at our faces, the wind tore through our coats, and 2 minutes of running felt like an hour. But then we got to main street and all that anger towards winter froze. It was like looking at a Christmas card. I took pictures, (Paul continued his flight to the warmth of the cafe) absolutely delighted that places like this still exist. The grocery store is a tiny corner market with only the necessities. There’s an ice-cream shop, an English pub, the cafe, a fine dining restaurant, a casual riverside saloon, a liquor store (the cutest liquor store I’ve ever seen), antiques in an old barn, gift shops with local products, an art gallery, and a local theater (live, not movie). What more could a girl ask for??
After dinner we jogged over to a few shops for last minute Christmas gifts, picked up some goodies for us at the liquor store and then some sustenance at the market, and then ran on back to the inn to get ready. Because what we really went down there for was the local theater’s production of A Christmas Carol. And of course being produced in this little arts town, it was a home run. Around 7pm we bundled up and braced ourselves yet again for the fierce cold which had only gotten worse since sundown. But we knew warmth lie only a few blocks ahead and we wouldn’t have to leave it for at least a couple of hours. Always a silver lining. :) And while we were running down the street, we noticed on the top of the bluffs, a lone, lit Christmas tree and we stopped, in the dead chill, and smiled. Of course this town would have a Christmas tree overlooking all the shoppers and theater goers.
We entered the theater and again, I was in awe. It was nothing spectacular but it was everything I wanted it to be; cozy, warm, and old-fashioned. The ticket keeper was having conversations with the little old ladies in front of us like she knew them from her childhood while tiny piles of people came in through the doors with gusts of wind behind them, all red-cheeked and smiles. The play was lovely, a classic tale with some brilliant acting – I didn’t want it to end, and I couldn’t help but feel extremely grateful I had someone who shared my love of old-fashioned cozy things sitting beside me.
After the play we hunkered down under our hats and scarves and big coats, ready for the night air. I took one last look at Christmas time in Lanesboro and knew we’d be back again (preferably without all the running).
And that was our little dream that happened in the midst of the holiday chaos. I think we all need moments like that where we actually can take the time to just be. Right, friends? And if that weren’t wonderful enough, this year was the first year in 8 years where my family was all together on Christmas Eve. My brother, sister-in-law, and nephews have finally moved back home and it was such a blessing to all be together on Christmas. Of course when we realized how long it’s been, we cheered and laughed and smiled and clinked our glasses in my mom and dad’s kitchen, with the pasta cooking and the meatballs baking, while the four little nephews were heard screaming and laughing in the basement. ‘Twas bliss. :)
And now, since I’ve written you a small book (and it’s taken me almost two hours to write this), I shall bid you adieu. I wish you all the happiness in these last days of 2016 and as always, I can’t wait to see what this next year brings us! Hopefully good fortune, laughter, health, love, and an abundance of happiness. Cheers to you, friends and Happy New Year!! xoxo