Step into the light.

Today was a day when I felt like quitting. All of it. The coaching, the business building, all of it. I felt like quitting my book.

I'm working with a writing coach who is helping me finish my book. To put it mildly, it hasn't been easy to write. In fact, it's one of the hardest things I've ever done because it demands that I commit effort every single day to something without any idea of what it will look like in the end, whether it will be good or what it will even accomplish. We humans like our immediate results and our instant gratification. Writing a book has literally NONE of that. That's what makes it so hard.

I hadn't written anything for about a week and was feeling like quitting. Today, I wanted to quit so bad. So I decided I needed a chat with my writing coach. I honestly told him I was frustrated and wanted to bail, but that there was a part of me that had to finish, and I needed help inspiring that part of me to keep going. Here is what he told me:

Of people who are asked what their top 10 life ambitions are, 83% have writing a book on their list.

Only 5% of that 83% who say they want to write a book, ever start writing.

Only 1% of the 83% finish writing their book.

He said that just by starting I'm already in the 5% and by completing my rough draft, I'll be in the 1%.

He said that no matter how well (or badly) written my book is, the absolute worst thing that can happen to me if I finish is that I will be in the 1% and will accomplish something that 83% of people want to do, and 82% give up on.

I think that's pretty amazing.

And I think that's true about life and becoming your best you. All of us want connection, love, to be seen and heard, to belong and to feel worthy. To have those things, we need to do what's hard and what scares us. We need to be open and vulnerable as we walk into the dark and the scary to own our stories and own who we are. We need to pull back the curtain on our light and bring ourselves out of hiding. All of ourselves. We must admit we are afraid, we must open ourselves to all of life's experiences and all of our emotions even when they cause us great discomfort.

Even if it scares us to death.

We have to lean in to those uncomfortable and awkward parts. We have to make peace with those parts. Because we can't have the light without the dark. When we uncover our light, our own unique light of the billions of lights that are on this planet, we give others permission to do the same. It is the hardest thing to do. So many of us keep our light hidden because the possibility of being rejected and hurt while we're vulnerable is awful and terrible. Yet it's when we shine our light despite those fears that we find love, belonging and connection.

In uncovering your light and sharing all of yourself openly, you will encourage others to shine. The darkness will vanish. You will be surrounded by the light of others and your own unique light will inspire others. Your life will be made so much brighter, and it starts when you decide to own all of yourself by shining your light.

And the more often you uncover your light and the longer you keep it uncovered the stronger it will get. It will get so strong that the worst thing that happens to you won't feel like the worst thing anymore.

You will have done what so many others can't. Just starting puts you in a wonderful place, and as for finishing? There is no end to what the power of your own light can do for others.

Make Christmas Traditions Your Own

At times, Christmas can feel like one of the most hectic, stressful and crazy times of year. There's the decorating, cooking, baking, hosting, visiting, gift buying, doing the party circuit, card writing and family visits. The list goes on. It can be enough to make your Christmas feel like this:

Well, perhaps not with so many cops, guns or crotch-grabbing (or maybe so, I don't know what you're into). If there's a certain chaos and craziness to the scene above that you can't help but relate to, here is the first instalment to help you tame your holidays and make them something you look forward to with calm anticipation, starting with Christmas traditions.

Traditions are sets of beliefs and behaviours that are handed down from the past within a group such as a family, a society, a country, or a nationality. Traditions can continue and evolve over many years with some lasting for thousands of years. Traditions typically hold symbolic meanings and can represent a connection with a time in the past from which they originated. Some common examples of traditions include the observing of holidays and the wearing of certain clothes or eating of certain food to mark important occasions. A great example of a tradition is a birthday party. 

Many traditions are actually started on purpose, and as our lives change, so can our traditions. Some traditions we observe are relatively new, some are old, some can feel stale, others can generate fear and panic while yet others can feel comforting and warm like a familiar, well-worn sweater.

One thing you can do to make Christmas a time to look forward to and not as something to dread is to think about your Christmas traditions and whether they are helping make your holidays special and meaningful, or just stressful and daunting. Here is a way to do that:

As a family, make a list of your holiday traditions. 

These can range from simple traditions like opening one gift on Christmas Eve, to more intricate traditions, like helping to set up and host a feast for your large extended family.

Write down and describe the different parts of your traditions

such as decorations, food, clothes that are worn, people that are there, the location, the date, the time and what usually happens at the event.

Talk to each other about the traditions on your list.

If you have big list, choose one or two traditions to talk about. What do you like about each tradition? What don't you like? If you like driving around the neighbourhood to look at the lights on Christmas Eve, share with your family about why that's fun for you. Maybe you love spending time with your family and talking together in the car with the lights being an added bonus. 

Talk about why you observe each tradition.

Is it for fun? Does it hold special meaning to you and your family, or have you lost touch with why you observe it every year? How do you feel about each tradition? Maybe your kids love going to the children's Christmas party at your office while you dread taking them because you know you'll have to deal with the ensuing sugar bender. 

If a few of your traditions aren't big winners on the list, that's okay.

You don't have to love every tradition. You don't have to even like every tradition either. You aren't bound to any tradition just because you've been doing it forever. If any of your traditions are not creating a meaningful, special holiday for you and instead bring about genuine stress, apprehension, anxiety, fear, fighting or (inappropriate) tears for you or anyone in your family 

you may want to consider whether that tradition should change or even continue at all.

If you do decide to stop a particular tradition remember that it's perfectly okay.

Consider what you're letting go of: stress, anxiety, tears, or even fighting. Is any tradition worth keeping for the sake of appearances if it brings on arguing or crying?

If you decide to change an existing tradition,

decide what parts work and what parts aren't working and change what isn't working. Don't feel that the whole thing has to go just because one part isn't going as smoothly as you'd like.

For example, my husband and I both agree that it's important to decorate our Christmas tree together. This year he told me that he doesn't enjoy helping me decorate the tree because we have to hang what I call 'filler' ornaments first. Those are the cheap plastic ornaments I bought for us because I love having lots of ornaments on the tree. He finds this boring and it doesn't help to make Christmas meaningful to him. All it did was make it so we were both unhappy about decorating the tree. I learned that what my husband does enjoy is hanging all of the special and unique ornaments that we've collected over the years and given to one another as presents. He loves to talk about each ornament as he finds a special place to hang it on the tree. This year we agreed that I would hang all of the 'filler' ornaments while he would work outside, and I would call him in when the time came to hang the special ones. It ended up being a win-win: I got to hang all the 'filler' ornaments just the way I wanted to while listening to music I love, he got to work outside and get the deck shoveled like he wanted to, and we both got to hang up our special decorations and enjoy a beautiful tree without any frustration, complaining, boredom or arguing.

As a final thought, why not start your own Christmas tradition?

Find something you love about Christmas and build a tradition of your very own around it. Get creative and even a little silly together. A tradition based on creativity and silliness can be one of the most enjoyable parts of your holiday and one you will look forward to every year.

As another example, I love Christmas get-togethers, but I dislike the general busyness, dressing up and complicated schedule juggling that goes along with them. The social aspect also tires me out quickly and I would always feel guilty for leaving early if I got too tired. Four years ago I decided that the solution was to host our own Christmas party and invite everyone with whom we wanted spend time during the holidays. We've been hosting a party between Christmas and the new year ever since. This way we get to connect with people who are special to us and show them a great time. Each year we put out a ton of food and drinks for our friends, we play a fun party game and give away prizes, make festive milkshakes, and overall have a great time. Last year we had so many guests sitting on our couch it actually broke. I considered this a great thing: we had so many wonderful friends sharing with us that our furniture broke. I still do go out to a few other get togethers, but I make sure that those I go to are ones that I really want to go to and I've ditched the parties where I would only be going for appearances sake. 

I think it's perfectly okay to make Christmas your own. Having a meaningful and special holiday season based on what brings you and your family happiness is worth far more than the effort of maintaining any tradition that brings about negative feelings and bad memories. Talking about your traditions together can become its own tradition that brings you and your family closer together and builds happy memories that you can look forward to making year after year. 

I'd love to hear about your holiday traditions. Tell me all about them in the comments. What do you love about them? What makes them meaningful to you? Which ones would you change, and why? Are there any you'd let go of this year? 

I'd love to hear about some of the traditions you've kept up over the years and why they are special to you.