Friday, December 6, 2013

Baby Steps, Celebrations, and Victories

Image courtesy
of [Stuart Miles]/


Early this morning, as I finally get up after a night of sleeping and dozing, I am thankful there are some things in life that can be changed or improved.  Like this piece I published yesterday, I am unfinished.  I thought I had myself together, but I discovered I am actually a rough draft, a work in progress.  Just as I am being changed, I have edited this post. 

 The title never quite set true with me.  It felt awkward and uncomfortable.  The original title was Warnings, Celebrations, and Victories.  Perhaps, I was warning myself:  slow down, be careful, you are overdoing.  I knew that I had to rest yesterday.  My activities were quiet, things I could do with my hands with my feet up.  I think the most I did on my feet was fix two simple meals and clean up the kitchen.

Here is the cleaned up version of Warnings, Celebrations, and Victories.  In this cyber world of instant publishing, it is easy to publish something too soon before it is ready.  One can change titles and do updates.  However, the change of title doesn't show, unless you copy the old piece, paste, and republish.  Here is my cleaned up version, with a couple of changed paragraphs, deletes, and an added cookie recipe.  Also, I have a new title, which fits:  Baby Steps, Celebrations, and Victories.

This is the time of year that can drain our physical resources because of traditions we are not willing to let go.  When one has a chronic illness, there are Christmases one has to lighten up on the traditions.  And this varies from year to year.  We may have willing minds, but our bodies don't always cooperate with what we want to do, so we push ourselves to a point we have reached all physical limitations by January and often fall into an exhausted state of relapse.

Image Courtesy of [Artur84]
The important thing to remember is your reason for celebrating.  If you cannot cook all the traditional dishes or elaborately decorate your house, you can still remember the Christ Child's birth.  Or, if you are Jewish, you can remember why you celebrate Hanukkah.  Whatever tradition you celebrate, you can choose to keep the important elements of your tradition, but lighten up on some of the frills.  

One of the things I want to do this year is spend time in meditation and prayer -- quiet time, which can be refreshing to the body and soul.  Spending time with our creator and Lord is important.  It makes the celebration dearer.  

Hopefully you will be able to spend time with family and friends, but rest is an imperative.  You no longer have to be the host or the hostess  with the mostest.   Feel free to let others help you or be the preparers of the feasts.  By the way, deli trays are good too when preparation is too much.  After all, what is more important -- spending time with family or eating the traditional feast?

Please don't feel like I am admonishing you.  I have pushed myself until I was in a relapse by January more times than I want to admit, so I know how hard it is to not be influenced by what we think we have to do.  I am merely encouraging you to think about how you can have a fulfilling holiday without pushing yourself into a corner.

Here's a quick list of ideas:
  1. Put up a smaller tree.
  2. Don't use every decoration you own, just the ones you like the best.
  3. Use bags for presents, or wrap one or two presents a day.
  4. Figure out which edible treat you cannot live without and make it. Or, maybe you can buy it ready made.
  5. If you have a party at your home, it could be "bring your favorite party food or snack."  I can practically guarantee  everyone will enjoy themselves.
  6. Maybe you think paper plates are gauche or a waste of perfectly good  trees, but they don't have to be washed.  Your energy is precious too.
The important thing is to baby step your way through the holidays!  

Victory Report

I would love for you to share your holiday victories with us.  Large or small, they all add up.

I already have a few, which I believe are a result of what I have been working on in small steps for the last two years. Here they are.

We have had a light out in one of our rooms for two weeks.  My husband put in a new switch.  We had a knowledgeable friend that came over and tested circuits.  Today, we had a trained electrician over and he fixed it.  The thing that impressed me was for the first time in a long time, I felt ready when I had to have a repairman come into the house.  The only thing that looked messy were the counters in the kitchen;  and, I had those wiped off before he got to our door.  It felt good to not have to repress embarrassment:  instead, I felt calm and did not frazzle myself with quick pick ups.

A few days ago, I almost had a crisis about our Christmas tree, which my husband was eager to have up this year.  I started melting down, because I felt like I was right back in the middle of clutter again.  I didn't want to ask my husband to move the furniture, so I had the tree in possibly the most unbalanced position I have ever seen for one.  In fact, it looked plain old ugly where it was placed.  

However, when I explained to my husband how the tree and the boxes of decorations were overwhelming me, he wanted to help.  He even offered to put the tree back up in the attic.  But, I finally remembered how we had the furniture last year:  note to self -- draw a picture and put with my Christmas information for future use.  He moved the furniture and it made all the difference in how I felt about that tree.  As for the decoration boxes, he started putting the emptied boxes up in the attic in the evening to get them out of the spare bedroom.  The spare bedroom was my other source of frustration, because I felt like the progress I had been making by getting out the things I was saving for the cancelled garage sale had been destroyed.    

The good news is there is progress at my house.  It was not instant, but I am reaping the fruits of my labors.  This is how I know baby steps work.  I am experiencing it.

From feeling comfortable about short notice someone is coming to my house, to having one mantel decorated, to having the tree up, to having the Manger Scene arranged, and having three wreaths up, all before the second week of December, I am experiencing success.  After my husband and I readjusted how the job was going to be done, I could breathe easier.  Moreover, it was a boon not having to clean the living room before we decorated the tree.  

I know it is going to take perseverance and many more baby steps to continue what I have started.  I hope you know that too.  May we continue to encourage one another, changing methods when what we are using doesn't work anymore.  Thinking out of our normal boxes can revitalize and make our lives better.  

Finally, if you haven't joined my Facebook Page, Chronic Fatigue and Creative Decluttering, the exchange of ideas and methods for managing our clutter and cleaning has been helpful.  Also, look for the cookie recipe  below the picture.  I think I have had this "secret" recipe for forty years.  It is one of the frills I don't want to give up this year, so I plan to make it.  And, I can sit down to decorate the cookies.

Image courtesy of [africa]/

Nana's Sugar Cookies (possibly the best sugar cookie recipe I have ever tasted)
Image courtesy of [apolonia]/

Cream together  1/2 cup of butter
                          1 cup of sugar

Blend in              1 large egg

Sift together and add to mixture (I use sifted unbleached flour, so I just mix the following ingredients with a wire whisk.) 
                          2 to 2-1/4 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour
                          2 tsp. baking powder
                         1/2 tsp. salt
                         1/2 tsp. vanilla

Divide dough in two parts.  Chill 1 to 2 hours so it will be easy to handle.  Roll dough, one part at a time on a floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness and cut with cookie cutters that have been dipped in flour first.  Keep other part of dough chilled until ready to roll.  Transfer to ungreased cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven (375 degrees) for 8 to 10 minutes.  (Use a spatula to transfer the uncooked dough to your cookie sheet.)  

If desired, Frost with Confectioner's Sugar-Water Glaze while the cookies are still warm.  I like to make small bowls of different colors, and "paint" the cookies.  I use an inexpensive water color brush for each color (wash the brushes first).

Confectioners Sugar-Water Glaze

Blend together 1 cup sifted Confectioners sugar and 5 to 6 tsp. water.  Add food coloring, if desired.  Brush glaze over cookies while still warm.




  1. Great idea to sketch out how the room/furniture/tree was, when you liked the layout best ! Lots of good tips, too :)



It's always lovely hearing from you. xoxo, Deborah