• Sharon Mackay

A Gentle Warrior’s Guide to Embracing the Silly Season

Updated: Dec 3, 2018


Here in Australia and New Zealand the silly season starts early and last a long, long time. As soon as the last horse crosses the line in Melbourne right up to until we finish celebrating our national contested holiday at the end of January if we're honest. During my years of working with women in the fitness industry I've heard (and used) every excuse in the book this time of the year. I've seen (and felt) the real struggle to put ourselves first, to make ourselves a priority, to just say ''Im worth it.' In this protracted silly season we stop being the priority. "I'll start back after Christmas," "I'll book in the new year," "I'll get back on track in February..." Face it we're a busy lot; kids, end of season parties, food shopping, present shopping, wrapping, husbands, households, school holidays, work, etc, etc. There is a lot to take care of. As advanced as our society has become the majority of the organising still falls to us to handle as we put pressure on ourselves to make everything perfect for everyone else. Well, this year I've decided to practice some self preservation, to put myself first at least some of the time, to continue to be an active outdoor woman, to embrace my life and spend time with people important to me all year long. Courtney Carver's article from Be More With Less really struck a cord with me and with her permission I share her 'non-negotiables' for our Southern Hemisphere very silly season. I challenge you to embrace your own 'crooked star' too!

Years ago, I celebrated the holidays by spending money I didn't have, by eating and drinking everything and by over-committing and over-extending. All the overs, all the more, all the burnout. I always got sick and I always felt bad about how I treated myself, especially in February when I had extra debt, weight, and fatigue to deal with.

Now things are different. I do the holidays differently (like I do my life differently) ... with more love and intention. I don’t want to “survive” the holiday season or “get through” it. I want to embrace it. I’ve written about my gentle warrior’s take on busyness, work, and navigating trying times and thought I'd see what this looks like through the heart of a gentle warrior.

This guide is a list of my non-negotiables, especially when I struggle with the call of more. I hope it encourages you to create your own list and to embrace the holidays with your own heart of a gentle warrior.

1. I will double-down on healthy habits.

Instead of abandoning the things I know are good for me in the name of enjoying the holiday season, I'll double-down and dig in deeper. I'll sleep 7-8 hours a night, practice my morning routine daily, add an extra meditation session each day, and spend more time nourishing my body, heart and soul.

Be a gentle warrior.

Build in extra time to take care of you, even if that means leaving the party early. This Zen saying sums it up, "You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you're too busy, then you should sit for an hour."

2. I will not say yes when my heart says no.

Most of the time, when presented with an opportunity or invitation, I know the answer. My heart knows long before I take time to consider what I’ll say. When I think about saying yes when my heart says no, I can feel it in my body. I might clench my teeth, squeeze my hands, or feel stress where there should only be light. For many years, I ignored those outside signs of inside struggle, but now I pay attention.

Be a gentle warrior.

Protect your heart and say no with a kind smile. Instead of saying yes when your heart says no, be honest. Your no doesn’t need a lengthy explanation or apology. Saying no more honestly will give you a chance to say yes and allow you to show all the way up for people you love and work you care about.

3. I will choose presence over presents.

I'm not opposed to exchanging gifts, but I am opposed to the attempt of buying or proving love with gifts. I'm opposed to compromising our budgets, schedules, and well-being in search of the perfect presents. I know there is nothing I can buy to show someone how much I love them. Love doesn't work like that.

Be a gentle warrior.

Give and receive gifts with love and gratitude but remember that love isn't inside the box. You can't prove how much you love someone by giving them a present.

4. When it comes to people pleasing, I’ll start with me.

I love to make people happy but after years of putting myself at the bottom of the list, I've realized that if I don't start with me, treating others with the love and kindness they deserve isn't sustainable. I'm better to the people around me when I take care of myself.

Be a gentle warrior.

Instead of thinking you are disappointing others, remind them to notice what’s important in their own lives by honouring what’s important in yours.

5. I won't try to cram it all in.

I'm not going to bake all the cookies, buy all the things, go to all the events or even see all the people I want to see over the holidays. When I try to do everything, I don't enjoy anything and when everything is important, nothing is.

Be a gentle warrior.

Be lovingly selective. Choose less. Give your time, energy, dollars and love to what matters most to you.

6. I will live in priority ... on a day-to-day basis.

You know how I feel about the word busy, so it pains me to say that I'm in a busy season. My new book comes out December 26th so I am doing interviews, writing guest posts, recording the audiobook, planning a book tour and putting together the details on a crazy contest (you won't believe what I'm giving away). I'm also working on A Simple Year (early registration closes in less than a week) and 31 Days of Gifts You so Deserve is coming up. I almost nixed 31 Days this year, but it is so dear to my heart and part of the way I move through the month of December next to you with more peace, love and joy.

Working on those big projects means letting go of other things and deciding what that looks like on a day-by-day basis. It also means working with others, asking for help, and not beating myself up when it feels like I fall short. Because I won't compromise sleep for work, if it doesn't get done, it doesn't get done.

Be a gentle warrior.

If you are in a busy season, spend time each morning or evening and take a good look at your day. What's important? What's not? Be flexible knowing things may change and gentle with yourself as you navigate through the extra things. Give yourself permission to let go over and over again.

7. I will make room for magic.

Just because I have empty space on my calendar doesn't mean I am going to fill it with appointments and obligations. I don't say no because I'm so busy. I say no because I don't want to be so busy. Especially in this busier season of work and holidays, white space is more important than ever. I want room to curl up with a cup of tea and a good book, or time to create a magical holiday playlist and listen to it while I walk through the city and watch the snow fall. I want room to cancel everything for the day and go ski after an overnight snowstorm and room to do nothing at all.

Be a gentle warrior.

It's in the quiet moments, and in the white space that you are open to magic. Create that for yourself. Make room for magic and comfort and joy.

8. I will not apologize for my crooked star.

The star on our Christmas tree is usually crooked. I love our little star, but it will not sit straight on a tree. I used to try to straighten it, but after a few days of the dog barreling into the tree, the cats using it as their own personal playground, or the door shutting too hard, the star would be crooked again. Instead of aiming for perfection, I embrace our crooked star. I don't try to fix it or make it look like all the other stars and I won't apologize for it when people mention it’s a little off-center.

It’s like me, like all of us … imperfect, unique, messy and perhaps a little off-center. It reminds me to let go and let things be what they will be, and let people be who they are.

Be a gentle warrior.

When we are willing to share ourselves as we are instead of who we think people expect us to be, and before we’ve got everything straightened out, we give others a chance to see us for who we really are, to fall in love with us, and perhaps to share their own crooked stars.

The most meaningful holiday seasons aren't the ones with the most presents, the best meals, the craziest parties and the least amount of sleep. We find meaning in the holidays and all of our days when we create space to listen to our hearts, time to believe in magic, and the love, health and presence to show all the way up for our lives.

#BeaGentleWarrior #ActiveOutdoorWomen #EmbraceEscapes #SillySeason