November 18, 2015

Steer Clear of Cultural Seasonal Insanity: The Power of “No.”


I hereby declare this my month of ‘NO!vember.’

I’m giving up the gig. I’m saying “No” to the holidaze and steering clear of the acute case of what I call the ‘Cultural Seasonal Insanity’ that runs rampant through the U.S. population mid-November through December. Cultural Seasonal Insanity symptoms are pissed off people in parking lots, shoppers resentfully carrying long lists, crazed crowds, zapped budgets, chaotic calendars, folks fretting an exhausting number of holiday gatherings and the resultant bah humbug blues.

I used to subscribe to the frenzied pace of the season. I fought the good fight alongside my fellow shoppers. I have myself been the pissed off person in the parking lot stalking a space just to get disproportionately irate when someone else breezes in and nabs it first. [Insert many curse words.] I’ve been semi-present at holiday events with that glazed-over holidaze in my eyes.

Well before the presents were wrapped every year, all I wanted to do was nestle into my cozy home cocoon. At most holiday shindigs, I found myself in the company of complaints (or outright fear) about to-do lists and entertaining and family obligations and spouses’ work parties and and and…

This is not what I want. I don’t want a trail of errands, lists and command performance holiday gatherings all at breakneck pace. I admire those who somehow seem to maintain their jolly while socializing through the season full-throttle. I appreciate the hosts/hostesses who create merry gatherings infused with heart and soul. A small part of me at rare times wishes I could be that person: the hostess opening up her Martha Stewart-esque home to greeting card worthy Kodak moments, or even the smiley person showing up at the front door in my most festive velvet dress (if I had one). But my introverted self simply isn’t that person. I admire that others are, and I do appreciate the invitations. I also appreciate my need to safeguard my sanity against the onslaught of overwhelm, and that means saying no to overload.

By the time the New Year arrives, I want my holiday balls to feel jingled, not jangled. Given the mass hysteria of Cultural Seasonal Insanity, sometimes it takes balls to accomplish this. (Or ovaries, as the case may be.) The word “No” is not always popular in the midst of the avalanche of seasonal expectations, yet it’s an essential sanity-saver for me. I started using this almighty word several years ago to whittle down my formerly overwhelming Novembers and Decembers. I was tired of spending Januarys recovering from my mid-winter marathon.

When Old Man Winter whispers to us to slow down, hunker down, bundle up and cozy up, we expend energy fighting him by pushing to do and be more, more, more. When our bodies naturally wish to hibernate, we instead pick up the pace like frenzied rats running hungry through a maze.

Giving myself permission to opt out of the mindless holiday hustle gave me space to ask what I did want. Clarifying what I want for myself and my family made life simpler and oh-so-much-sweeter.

My perfect recipe for a conscious approach to the holidays: the spaciousness of downtime, fire in the hearth, pajamas, hot chocolate with a peppermint splash, cozying up for movie watching with my hubby and son, a too-big bowl of freshly popped popcorn, conscious consumerism, reindeer on the roof, our yearly offering of cookies and a bottle of Guinness for Santa (by the time Santa hits my zip code, he’s rarin’ for a beer) and the secret magic ingredient of breathing room. Add to the backdrop of all that spices slowly simmering on the stove (toss a cinnamon stick, cloves, juniper berries, ground ginger, bay leaves and orange peels into a big pot), and I feel festive. This seasonal recipe elicits, in me, a wholehearted “Yes!”

This year, I wish to see just how much “Yes” my holidays can hold, so I decided to devote my month to deeply honoring the truth of my “No.” To create more space for and to linger longer in “Yes,” I declared this my NO!vember.

The very next day, this one minute video that stopped time for me crossed my path:

Shazam! Indeed. I am drained by wondering: “Should I write this? What do you think? Is that okay to say? Are they going to like me if I say that? Should I say something different?”

Stefani Gaga Hybrid Person gave the power of “No” roots, legs, heart, wings and a gigantic, sparkling dance floor! She’s not wielding the power of “No” merely to survive the holidaze. She’s energetic-clutter busting her entire life by using “No” to clear the path for her “Yes.”

The ante is upped, Ms. Gaga!

Why would I give myself the gift of “Yes” for only two months out of twelve? This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship with the power of “No.”

NO!vember kicks off my new knowing of “No.” I lovingly wield this word as I shift out of people-pleasing and churning precious time and energy worrying what others think and expect of me. It’s time to give up that dead-end gig and reconnect to self. NO!vember is when I seal the deal of consistently using my voice to create what I desire. I flex my energetic muscles, creating a new template for and habit of walking through the world more connected to self. I commit to moment-to-moment shifting from standing in the space of being externally-referenced to sitting in the sweetness of referencing internally.

I know that there is boundless energy wanting to be unleashed within me through my “No.” And now, I claim it.

This is my holiday gift to self. No shopping required.

Happy NO!vember.

“Yes” to MEcember!

And much cheer.


Author: Tracy Stamper

Editor: Caroline Beaton

Image: Flickr/Lali Masriera

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