I feel like I am finally in the home stretch- hallelujah, praise Jesus, amen.
I wrapped up my last client of the year (blogging around this time of year is NO JOKE!), the last of the gifts have been purchased, the food preparations are ready to go, and everything is wrapped underneath the tree.
I don’t know about you, but it was a hobbling to the finish kind of year.
I also managed to not order enough holiday cards, didn’t make a single homemade gift this year, and we didn’t even do a magical tree experience with our kids because we were too tired. I, seriously, sent my husband alone to Lowe’s to grab whatever was affordable and didn’t require me to get in the car.
As it does every year, Emily’s birthday snuck up on me too. I had plans of making a beautiful birthday dinner and cake. The weather took a turn though and I could barely move around my house.
Joint pain and negative 15 degree temps just don’t mix- who knew?
Oh, wait. I did.
Instead, we went out to eat and ordered a slice of flourless chocolate cake to share with promises of a sleepover over the holiday break. Mom was definitely low on the birthday magic, but Emily seemed to take it in stride, something a December child has to do every year.
All of that is to say, if you don’t have the magic this year….IT IS OKAY!
This has been a big year of learning that.
I am a big giver.
A magic maker.
An organized and responsive person to those who need me.
As I am digging into this book this week though, I realize that just being present is gift enough and, perhaps, a better gift than the other stuff I’ve been doing. One of my favorite lines in this book reads, “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and look back and realize that the best thing about me was I was organized.”
OUCH! That hits home.
And another beautiful nugget, “What I eventually realized is that the return on investment was not what I’d imagined, and that the expectations were only greater and greater. When you devote yourself to being known as the most responsible person anyone knows, more and more people call on you to be that highly responsible person. That’s how it works. So the armload of things I was carrying became higher and higher, heavier and heavier, more and more precarious.”
This is so me.
I’m that person with an armload of crap.
This year, the bar was set low, a lot lower than the year where I knitted a gift for each teacher, made handmade goodies for the entire staff, and handed out knitted coffee cozies right down to our mailman.
Part of me still wishes I was that girl.
The other part of me realizes that gestures need not be grand to let someone know they are appreciated.
If the magic is lacking this year, I’m with you! Bloggers are required to share the pretty stuff and these expectations can feel grand and my delivery sometimes feels false.
Did you know that I lose followers if things don’t feel magazine worthy?
Sometimes it is difficult to keep delivering that optical illusion though.
Less magic and optical illusion, more presence and truth in the upcoming year.
The site will be here, but I won’t! I’m popping back in next week to share what I read this month and the top book list that you look forward to each year. Other than that, I’ll be offline enjoying my kids while they are on their holiday break.
Here are three things that are making me REALLY happy this week!
We ditched our cable years ago, but even when we had it, we never carried a package with the premium channels. While browsing the list of Golden Globe nominations this year, there was a television show that I hadn’t heard of before, called Westworld, that was up for a bunch of awards. It happened to be an HBO series and now that Amazon is offering HBO, I realized that we could take advantage of it as an add-on to our Prime package with a 30-day FREE trial.
Since we are on holiday, we could do this FOR FREE and then cancel it before the $14.99 charge per month starts rolling in.
The best part?
The entire first season of Westworld was on there and we are finishing the last episode in the season tonight.
The people who can’t finish a single series or watch more than a single show at a time, watched an entire season in less than a week.
I am not kidding.
It is THAT GOOD!
If you haven’t seen it yet, the premise is pretty freaking genius! It is a virtual reality amusement park for wealthy individuals (the rate is $40,000 a day to be there!) that inhabits the wild west and all the people who make up this world are robots programmed to deliver an adventure experience for their guests. These robots live a scripted life where they can die multiple times and then are rebooted and reprogrammed to come back into the world and perform again. The problem occurs when the robots begin to remember those tragic past lives, creating an unstable world for their guests and their programmers. When the robots began to go off script, that is when the real adventure of the viewers really begins.
Anthony Hopkins brilliantly plays one of the founders of this world and Ed Harris makes for a great villain as he tries to solve the hidden maze.
There is lots of nudity and violence in this one, but it strangely feels compartmentalized when you think of everyone as robots.
Isn’t it funny how our brains can process things?
We also enjoyed this incredible documentary about Anderson Cooper & his mother, we were fascinated by this documentary on Scientology, and I’m really excited to give this series a spin too.
Basically, we are milking this free cow for all it’s worth.
Do you have any other recommendations for us?
Get that freebie trial and blow through a season of this over the holidays- you won’t regret it. It’s a great series to pick up with your hubby too, thanks to its sci-fi spin!
I’m not sure if you heard, but the Minimalism documentary just hit Netflix last week. I ended up watching it one afternoon and it was extremely inspiring to see two of my favorite bloggers in action (as well as so many of my real-life friends featured!). I feel like this didn’t necessarily break any new ground on minimalism, for me, but reinforced my own feelings about wanting to own less in my life. It would be a great reminder to start this new year as it offers great encouragement in discovering the freedoms that come with minimizing in your life.
I encourage you to pair it with this documentary- a film that pushed me to reexamine everything in my own life.
Speaking of minimizing, have you heard of Give Back Box? If you are feeling inspired to whittle away at the excess, as you try to make space for all those new holiday gifts, this new free service looks like the ticket! The premise is simple, just reuse a box that you had an item shipped in and fill it with donations for those in need.
Type in an address and the company creates a free shipping label (you can also schedule your pickup!) that sends your shipment to a nearby charity for you.
How awesome is that?
I can’t wait to put the boxes that I planned to put in the recycle bin to work!
The BEST Skin Cleanser
I’m not sure if it is hot yoga or hormonal, but my skin has been giving me a lot of issues lately. I even had to do six weeks of antibiotics to try to clear up a weird burning rash that was on my face. Man, getting old is the worst!
I kept reading about cleansing oils for washing your face and it has been on my beauty bucket list to try. After learning that Argan Oil is heaven sent, I thought it might be worth looking into for facial cleansing too. Lots of these cleansing oils are really pricey though and I wasn’t willing to drop $60 on a facial cleanser, even if my skin is struggling.
Did you know that Burt’s Bees makes a cleansing oil? I got a sample of it and I can’t tell you how different my face looks and feels after a week of using this stuff. The dry patches on my face feel restored and my skin finally feels balanced for the first time in a long time. You can’t beat that price (I even found it cheaper on Amazon!) either! With just a teaspoon of this stuff, it took off all my makeup easily, even my waterproof eye makeup that usually requires a separate remover. Just be careful to not get it in your eyes while doing this!
I highly recommend this if you are struggling with your skin. These people were right- cleansing oils are a skin game-changer.
Thankful: For another epically fun blind date book exchange with my book club. We also decided to make these books into a traveling library of sorts and are bringing them to our book club meetings so we can enjoy these purchases all year long! I shared this book (if you haven’t read it- read it now!) and I won this book. Have you read it?? It looks so good!
Eating: Gluten-free chicken noodle soup season is on. I’m actually working on adapting this one into a frugal and fast pressure cooker dish. Fingers crossed you got one of these gadgets or it is wrapped under the tree for you. I can’t believe how much time and money we are saving with it. No joke!
Loving: A fascinating look at the secret chord that makes Christmas music sound Christmas-y, when cheap people go Christmas shopping (Bahahaha!), and the Oh Hellos perform a gorgeous Christmas Tiny Desk Concert (if you haven’t watched Tiny Desk Concert, make it a weekend priority- you will thank me!!)
Reading: I am finally digging into this book this week and so far it is a very moving read on mental illness. I will let you know next week in our reviews my final thoughts on it!
I also ran across this piece on how to explain Santa to your kiddos. If the question should arise, I love this tactic for keeping the magic alive!
And for those that are hurting and missing the magic altogether, this is a reminder on how those small gifts really do make a difference in the world.
*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of It’s the 3 Little Things!