I was hoping to get this post out at the start of the month, but it seemed a little counter intuitive to rush a post about slowing down! So, here we are. Better late than never.
In the new year, around the first of every month I will be writing here about my intention for the weeks that follow. A word or action that I hope to practice or live by in order to keep life balanced, work achievable and myself and my family happy!
For December so many ideas came to mind - so many things I feel I should be doing - and they just made me feel exhausted. It’s the season of giving for sure, and I don’t just mean Christmas gifts.
We feel the need to be everything to everyone all of the time, but it's impossible without looking after ourselves first.
We feel the need to give more time to family and friends, to spend more money on things and occasions, and donating to those in need. To use more energy on decorating, cleaning, getting our work finished before the holidays. I know it’s an especially manic time for makers as we try to keep our head above water, creating seasonal products, marketing constantly, fulfilling orders, attending markets and trying to make enough money to buy gifts for our own people.
And yet, as the weather grows colder and the days shorter, what we should really be doing is focussing on self care and slowing down. The seasonal shift is telling us to rest, but instead we throw ourselves into the most manic time of year where companies tell us we have to buy fast and now, family tells us we should be availiable (and present and very, very patient), and society often tells us we want to drink and eat more than we really ought to. It‘s intense, its draining, and it always feels like there is something you should be doing.
Should, should, should.
So this December I’m listening to what winter is trying to tell me. I’m making a To Do list (and checking it twice) for what I want from this month, but I’m keeping it short.
I intend to be at home. I did actually plan to apply to a Christmas market or two this year to sell my letterpress stationery, but my hangover from an incredibly intense Summer meant I missed the deadlines and now I’m so relieved. I have printed runs of just two different Christmas card designs, have listed them online, and that’s it. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. No panic over re-stocking for events or last minute rushes. I’m in the privileged position of making the majority of my income from print workshops, which I run from home, so I can afford to let go of this labour intensive aspect of the business this year. Of course there’s always FOMO, and the natural desire to try and make as much money as possible, but letting go of those competitive emotions is part of my slowing down.
I intend to send thoughtful Christmas cards to friends and family. For someone who makes stationery, I’m pretty terrible at remembering to write and send my cards. This year, my list is shorter and my intention is to sit down at my desk and write longer, attentive messages to those people. I love to write, so now it’s a task that I’m looking forward to.
I intend to have dinner somewhere local with my closest friends because I know I won’t see them over Christmas itself. Other than that, I'm politely turning down all invitations. I’ll be staying indoors with blankets, books, biscuits and Netflix and just appreciating the chance to be cosy with my husband and daughters as the nights draw in and the rain patters against the windows.
I intend to limit our family gift giving to one or two presents each. We always spend too much, focussing on physical goods and are we the only ones who then can’t remember a week later what we were even given?! The girls are always spoiled rotten and they have too much stuff as it is, so this year I already kept back two of their birthday presents for Christmas and, other than a few small things (stickers mostly!) for their stockings, I won’t be buying anything more. They don't need anything else.
For the rest of the family I am seeking out one off, handmade items that I hope will mean more, or booking experiences they can look forward to in the new year.
I intend to support our local butcher and green grocers instead of doing a mega online shop. This year, we’ll be creating meal plans for the few days we’re all together under one roof to try and ensure minimal waste. Buying local also often means less packaging, whilst supporting your local small businesses. Win win! I’m also hoping by planning this way there’ll be less last minute dashes to the supermarket for forgotten ingredients (which almost always lead to impulse buying things on sale that aren’t actually necessary. Hello mint chocolate Lindor, I shall eat you all at once).
I intend to step back from both businesses and social media for a genuine break. No content creation, no emails, no scrolling. The world will still be there when I get back. I feel like I have some hard decisions to make on how to move forward next year, and there's nothing like stepping away to bring clarity and motivate. Ok, the reality is I probably won't last long at social media cold turkey, but even a few days with notifications switched off will be a good start!
How are you approaching December? Are you manically trying to fit it all in, or letting go of FOMO and taking some time for yourself? Join the conversation over on Instagram with the hashtag #sillyheartintentions.