Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A serene season

I have decided this year I am not buying into the craziness. I know some enjoy the frenetic buying energy of Christmas, but I’m not one of them. I just get stressed and unhappy. And this year ‘by rights’ I could be more stressed as we are hosting two family gatherings. Other years because we lived in such a tiny place we were always the guests, so why exactly was I feeling so put upon then?

So whether things are stressful or not, I will be calm. I will be happy and 'up' and little things will not bother me. Sometimes it is as simple as making a decision to be that way.

I had planned to keep up my walks and yoga as far along December as possible, but it has been too busy in the shop. That’s okay though, I am still calm. Making sure I eat enough protein has been a key factor in this I think. I have been keeping away from junky foods for the most part and planning in a good dollop of protein with each meal. It keeps me full for longer and I haven’t been craving sugar.

And not eating sugary gross foods means I feel happier and more in balance. Despite there sometimes being an instant connection to eating a bag of lollies and then me feeling jittery, hot and irritable, I still didn’t click and change what I did next time. A friend of my Mum’s who is a cancer survivor and is now much more aware of her health stays away from sugar entirely. It’s really not good stuff even though it comes along in bright colours and says ‘look at me I’m fun, you’ll have a good time with me’. And it’s marketed at children!

I’ve also been listening to my good friend Dr Norman Vincent Peale on his audiobook The Power of Positive Thinking. He is a religious man and likes to quote the bible every now and then. I am not particularly religious (I think of myself to be more spiritual) but what he says makes so much sense and it is very calming to listen to him. He really makes me see reason and the world seems a more manageable place after I’ve had a dose.

Dr Peale says none of us are born as worriers and that it is a habit we acquire over time. We go into it bit by bit and so we have to turn things around in a slow and steady manner. I still have a long way to go but I am willing to keep doing the work to be a happy and serene person who lets minor annoyances wash over them.

Another way I have been cultivating calmness is to do things ahead of time. Some family members and I swapped wishlists which I have to say I’m a real fan of now. It takes the stress out of gift giving, and isn’t a ‘surprise’ gift a waste of time and money if it is not used? In my ideal world we would all swap good wishes rather than buy stuff, but who doesn’t like to open a brightly wrapped Christmas present on the day.

My relaxed and calm Christmas feeling was severely tested this morning. The first post on this subject I had been writing over the past few weeks went ‘pop’ just as I hit publish and completely disappeared. Even though I had been saving and autosaving all along, every single word was gone. After checking and rechecking that I couldn’t find it, I decided it wasn’t worth getting upset about and started writing another one.

And now here I am with a second post. And I’m calm. Today I am at home for the whole day, oh joy, and I can really get stuck in and whip our chateau into shape.

Be serene this Christmas everyone!


  1. A wonderful message. And I love the photo - should I recognize the church? I'm staying serene too - online shopping from wish lists, no decorations but enjoying other people's, etc. Have a wonderful holiday season in your new home!

  2. Excellent sentiments, Fiona. I love the photo. My husband and I hope to get to Rouen one day (his ancestors are from that lovely place).

  3. Yes, I love the photo too, beautiful colors. Your message of cultivating calmness couldn't come at a better time, an excellent reminder. Thank you. I wish I had your discipline with the sweets though ...

  4. Juhli, Notre Dame? Or Notre Dame-ish? I've been ordering gifts online too and it's so nice to have things delivered.

    Juliana, lucky you to have French ancestry in the family.

    Blue Jeans Girl, I treat myself with fruit now. One good thing I did take from Weight Watchers was to enjoy lots of fruit. I spend my junk food money on strawberries, pineapple, pears, bananas and whatever else is in season. I make a big bowl of one or more diced fruit and it satisfies my sweet tooth and doesn't make me crash later. People might say there are a lot of sweet calories in fruit but it's all natural sugars, and besides, it wasn't the fruit that was making me fat!

  5. I'm seriously impressed with your calmness - if a long post I'd written had disappeared I'd probably be going mad! I'm trying to approach everything in a calm manner this year, though I am quite lucky to have the month off work which does help a lot. Hope you can stay calm and serene throughout the season :-) Love from London xo

  6. I am feeling rather calm about the holidays this year. My list is rather short these days - just Bill and the kids to worry about.

    Sugar is evil - I am convinced of that. I gave it up in October (of course, it is hard to give it up entirely - the stuff hides in almost everything) and feel much lighter and have lost some weight. I also gave up flour/carbs and haven't missed them one bit. I thought it would be hard this time of year, but it's not. Not when I remind myself how great I feel and how much happier I am with my figure.

    I hope your calmness continues throughout the season. It must be particularly hard when you're on the retail end of things.

    How is Miss Jessica these days?

    xo, A

  7. I applaud your decision to be calm even if others around you are frantic.
    You can be "a port in the storm" the kind of person that people will seek out and admire.

    I have been keeping protein in at all my meals too.
    I just discovered how tasty Asiago cheese is and have been slipping a sliver of it on a multigrain cracker with my tea.

    How nice that you are able to invite your family to join you in your new home over the holiday.

  8. I've been feeling more serene this Christmas season too - I'm not as stressed, I don't have 1,000 obligations to fulfill and I'm just enjoying the season. Feels nice!

    I'm sure you are thrilled to be spending your first Christmas in your new home!

  9. Totally agree with you and Adrienne about the evils of sugar -I cringe when I see people giving it to their kids! I have found it really difficult to give it up because it really is everywhere, in everything! Meows to Jessica.

  10. I'm the opposite, if I don't have enough carbs with my dinner I will be starving in 15 minutes no matter how much protein I chow down, it does nothing to fill me, I got fat on Atkins because I never felt sated!

    On being calm - oh I really need to work on that, I'm a nervous wreck just now.

  11. Mademoiselle Poirot, I think it was the Universe poking me with a stick to see if I could live up to my lofty calm and serene claims in the post I had just written.

    Adrienne, I know sugar is in many things (and more so in the US than other countries too with HFCS) but just cutting out the obvious stuff has helped me for now. I suppose by eating more real and unprocessed food you can help avoid it. There's no additives in a potato!

    Miss Puss is wonderful. She follows me round like a shadow and enjoys flicking the ornaments off the bottom of our Christmas tree.

    Leslie, one of my favourite afternoon teas is thin slices of cheese on multigrain crackers. I have not heard of Asiago cheese here. Yum!

    LR, you don't know how thrilled I am to be in our own place. I'm sure that's part of my happiness. Do you think we pile all those obligations on ourself half the time?

    Sulky Kitten, Jessica purrs back to you. If sugar has instant consequences on an adult, how much quicker would it work in a child's body? How many 'hyperactive' children get fed too much junk?

    Tabitha, I never don't have carbs. I always have a spud, or rice, or pasta. I lasted one day on the South Beach Diet once. No carbs didn't agree with me either.

  12. Such wise words Fiona... and I am following your lead this year... As I became more and more stressed over what I hadn't done, I decided to enjoy what I am doing... to stay in the moment... I will do as much as I can... and knowing me if a few loose ends remain it won't be the end of the world!
    Lovely post, thank you... xv

  13. So true Vicki. When I was stressing over our house being perfectly organised for Christmas day I thought to myself 'my family is coming to see us, not to check that my sewing room is in pristine order'. The important things will get done and perhaps if other things aren't, our sanity is worth more.

  14. I applaud your effort Fiona. This is such good advice. I admit to occasionally dipping into the frenzy this season, but I am taking off a couple of days from work so I can take care of things instead of jamming my weekends and evenings with preparations. Now it seems more fun that I have dedicated time to shop and prepare for our holiday party etc.

  15. Yes, it is a good photograph, it is mine! Given that you have used it, without my permission, or without acknowledging it according to standard procedures, can you please remove it - or I will be filing an appropriate report for violating copyright terms.

  16. My sincere apologies Thomas.I had a link to where I got the image from and thought that was what was done. I have now removed your photo.

  17. I love giving gift cards for Christmas. They are so well received with a big smile to reward me. I put them in a gift bag and those are reusable. It doesn't hurt anything and it is so easy.


  18. So with you on this Fiona. For the first time since living in Spain we are not returning home to the UK. Consequently everything is very calm here, and for the first time in years I am really enjoying every moment instead of racing across the UK (usually in snow and blizzards) to make sure we spend "equal" time with respective families ;-) .

  19. Great post Fiona- I am not buying into the craziness either. We have our Christmas tree up with lights and that is about it! Christmas presents are small and thoughtful this year... I refuse to go overboard- want to set a good example for my daughter. I really need to read The Power of Positive Thinking- I've heard so much about it. Hope you have a very merry (and calm!) Christmas :) xo

  20. I've been reading your blog for about one year, and it always brightens my day to see a new post. This year, you have inspired me to bring little bits of chic into my life. I cannot thank you enough for the wonderful words that you write and the window you give us into your thoughts. It has been a wonderful year, so thank you very much and Merry Christmas.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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