My goal for November was to practice gratitude.
Once again, I feel that I’m standing in front of a learning experience I didn’t expect to have. What I learned this November is that you don’t need to make a measurable change in order for you to see the change. I’m someone who is constantly striving for self-improvement, always looking for goals to set myself, and often belittling my own accomplishments.
This November, I’d say that I achieved my goal. I made gratitude a part of my everyday life. But I still feel like I didn’t make an “improvement.” Why? Because I didn’t learn some new skill or some other demonstrable factor. I’m having one of those moments where I wish I could step outside of myself and say, “Christine–you realize that because of your goal, your entire mood changed last month, right?” Yes. I realize that. And I’m, well, grateful for that. But I feel as though I didn’t accomplish much.
The holidays are wonderful in so many ways, but for every wonderful thing, the holidays also present an opportunity for stress. There’s the pressure of giving time and presents to loved ones, additional activities in your busy schedule, and perhaps some financial strain.
For me, the Christmas season has always brought on a double-edged sword of holiday cheer—I want to make the most of the season and do as many fun things as possible, but that can sometimes end up becoming a bit overwhelming. Then, if I slow down too much, I feel regret on December 26th. It’s hard to not give too much of yourself to others and the season without also missing some opportunities for joy. But you also don’t want to run yourself down and ignore your own needs.
In order to find balance, I’ve written this guide for ways you can prioritize self-care during the holidays.
I’m not one of those people who can just come up with an idea for a craft project; I’m more of a copier than an inventor. My desire to DIY usually comes from when I see something that I like but I know that I could make it better somehow, or more often, I know I could make it for cheaper than it’s being sold for.
I was inspired to make these earrings just about a year ago when I was out shopping with Jake, his mom, and his sister on Thanksgiving weekend of 2017. We stopped in J. Crew and while browsing, I stumbled upon these earrings that I loved–but I didn’t love the price. Here they are:
I liked the idea of them, but I thought they’d look more amazing in a classic red for Christmas. So I took a picture to remind myself of how they looked, and I told myself that I’d make a pair. Well, I didn’t end up making that pair until about a year later. But hey, it gave me the opportunity to create my first DIY-related blog post! Keep reading to see how I did it.
Growing up, Thanksgiving wasn’t really on my list of favorite holidays. I honestly don’t have too many memories of Thanksgivings, and it could be because Christmas has always been very important to my family. I’ve jokingly referred to Thanksgiving as “Christmas 0.5,” because my family didn’t have too many traditions that made Thanksgiving stand out—it was basically like Christmas a month before Christmas, without the great music and cookies and gifts. But the holiday changed for me when I began seeing Jake.
Earlier this year, I realized that the media I was consuming was having a greater effect on my self-perception that I’d like it to. Every platform was full of clutter that I just didn’t want floating around my life anymore. In particular, I noticed that this media impacted my body image.
Most little girls grow up seeing images of perfect girls and women on TV, in magazines, and now online. We’ve all probably heard an Oprah-esque talk show segment about how harmful these images can be to young people (let’s be real, it impacts all children, not just girls). We learn what we’re supposed to strive for from media. We have family and friends to mold that too, but media teaches us what people think beyond our circles. And that’s a lot to take in when you’re young.
I failed my goal for October.
For years, failure has been my greatest fear, so to admit to you that I did not succeed in reading two books last month is not easy for me. A few years ago, I probably would’ve just lied and written this post about how satisfying it was to improve myself by reaching my goal. Instead, I’m writing a post about why failure is ok and how I learned more about improving myself from not succeeding this past month.
For me, November 1st has long been the first day that I allow myself to publicly express my excitement for the holidays. I’d start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas around the middle of October (Halloween has never been my thing), but I’d keep my mouth shut about it until the next month. After November 1st, all bets are off and you can assume that our conversations may involve gift ideas and seasonal recipes.
Baking has been a hobby of mine since I was little, though I didn’t really start to educate myself on techniques and start making things from scratch until after college. I eased myself into it by recreating some of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes by myself (I always baked with my mom as a kid), and I quickly realized that I loved trying new recipes too.
There’s something special about baking in November and December–something about filling your house with the scent of warming spices and heating your kitchen with an oven instead of a radiator. But it’s about more than just the sensations. Baking takes care of you when the weather is cold. It fulfills some needs that I think everybody has, so here’s why I think everyone should bake during the fall and winter.