National Novel Writing Month is my favorite holiday

I know National Novel Writing Month is not really a holiday, but in a way it’s even better than one.

Many writers use National Novel Writing Month to draft a new novel, but there are no enforced rules, except to sit and write, every day of the month if possible, at the rate of about 1,660 words per day. Some writers, myself included, are partaking in order to get closer to the end of their already-in -progress work.

November is magical.  While all the hoopla is gaining momentum for the real holidays, writers everywhere are preparing for NaNoWriMo. Participating in it feels like an act of self-love. I will not abandon my writing goals in order to bow to the holiday gods; they cannot take me until I am good and ready. And that means after I have thrown myself deep and long into November’s writing abyss.

I just cannot resist the spirit of NaNoWriMo, so I am jumping in once again. NaNoWriMo is an every day kind of thing.   Every day, for a solid month, I will be moving forward faster than I would be if I weren’t  participating.

This annual event gives me permission -not only permission- but support and encouragement- even pressure – to live my passion, above all else, for a solid month. Who doesn’t love that?

This starts in four days. Four days. My heart is fluttering, for real. No matter that I have the daunting task of editing and rewriting huge chunks of work ahead. It is still as if the Muse herself is knocking at my door, telling me it’s time.

The spirit of National Novel Writing Month gives me that feeling of I get to write. And at the end of every day comes the fulfillment of having written. It is a fabulous excuse to squeeze the rest of life around my writing, instead of the other way around. And that is how books get written.

Four more days to get everything in order so I can disappear into that magical writing abyss.  I can hardly wait for my  favorite “holiday”. I will see you on the other side of November.

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Holidays and ordinary days

mountains and Christmas treesWhy do we change our daily routine around the holidays? If we’ve established what works best for us on our ordinary days, then doesn’t altering it for special days make us worse off? How about when we alter it for days upon days in preparation for the holiday?

Often the habits that support our own wellness are the first to go, evident by the emptier yoga classes and the crowded malls this time of year.   It’s a funny phenomenon, really, that we take what many of us consider the most sacred time of year and plunge into self-neglect, often with bells on. And in the name of Jesus Christ.

For better or worse, it doesn’t take much ‘extra’ to make me feel out of sorts. I know I’ve had too much holiday hoopla when I start doing things like searching for my phone while I am holding it in my hand. Or creating a shopping list and then promptly losing it. My mind does not do the two- places- at- once thing well, and frankly I don’t even want to.

I don’t want to give up writing for weeks leading up to a holiday. Or even for a few days. Ditto for yoga or jogging or cooking healthy meals or any of the other things that make me happy on ordinary days.

Around the time of my high school prom our History teacher asked the girls why we were making hair appointments for the big event. I assume the way you wear your hair every day is the way you think it looks best, so why change it for prom? he asked.  I thought he had a good point which I guess is why I still remember his statement so many years later. There was something just a little relevant to life here, not just to proms and hairdos.

I enjoy the holidays so much more when I don’t allow them to take over my life, and in particular, my life style. Holidays are fun, but I like ordinary days. My dopamine levels are doing just great on ordinary days, thank you. I’m not really looking for a shot of wow.  I’d rather push my limits in a completely different area of life.

What if everyone leaned into the holidays only as far as they found enjoyable and no more? It’s not always an easy task, identifying your ideal level of holiday stimulation and drawing the line there. It has a lot to do with temperament and personal preference, and maybe a dozen other things. I think it’s worth figuring out for ourselves though, when to shake things up- and when the ordinary hairdo is just right.

Holiday decor, simply put

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My desire to minimize the amount of stuff I own includes all manner of decorations. I was never one for nicknacks, seeing them only as moderately cute dust collecting things that our children would some day have to feel guilty about throwing away. So my home has plenty of surface space to decorate around the holidays. End tables,  a mantel, and doorways are all adequate places to strew all sorts of festive matter. But my preference to keep my indoor space simple and uncluttered doesn’t change when holidays come around. In fact, I’ve found it all sorts of fun to simplify my decorating year round.  I have been delighted by how easy and affordable it is to change the seasonal look with subtle, but aesthetically pleasing decor.

Clear glass vases can hold  dried flowers during spring and summer that can be swapped out for vibrant red silk flowers in winter. Table runners are easy pieces to change with the season. Clear lights can be draped over large plants to brighten up a dreary November. Vines of holly in winter, or artificial foliage in fall, can line a mantel perfectly.

I don’t buy holiday dishes, ever. They would require extra storage space, time to take them out of storage and wash them, time to put them away, and effort to search for new pieces to replace the ones that break. I am not even tempted by the cute holiday pictures crafted onto plates and bowls. My dishes are neutral and I let the napkins, table runner, and holiday food announce the festivities. My boxes of decorations are minimal and my trips to the attic are few and far between. It brings me  joy to beautify and shift my environment with ease.

Seeing Christmas lights and wreaths up well into March makes me wish  the owners would give themselves permission to bring the decorating  down a notch, to a level that can happen with ease, both at the start of the season, and at the end.  What goes up, really should come down.  Or consider skipping the holiday decorating altogether. Any visual pleasure that took place over the holidays, surely is offset by the unsightliness of Christmas decor when  we’re approaching springtime.  Like nail polish that stays on for far too long, chipping and unlovely, some things are better left undone to begin with.

My decorating strategy may be too sparse for some. It really is a matter of personal preference. And like clearing out a closet or a cabinet, I just can’t quite put my finger on why this simplicity  feels so good to me. I feel light.  I look around at the subtle sparkle of the season, and it feels like the holiday spirit has room to breath.