The definition of insanity

With Thanksgiving firmly under our belts (both literally and figuratively) we find our selves in the beating heart of The Holiday Season.

The delightful implications of this time of year are numerous—twinkle lights, evergreen trees, frosty snow, social gatherings and ugly sweaters, snuggling up in slippers and blankets with hot cocoa and flames (provided via candlelight or fireplaces; either one will do). Traditions and memories and hopefully, extra doses of love and joy and generosity.

And also…it’s a stressful time of year, for just as many reasons. The end of the calendar year marks a rush to complete all the projects, make all the cookies, buy all the gifts, attend all the parties and eat all the rich, delicious food. There is pressure from all angles to stretch your budget—from travel expenses to gifts to treats to donations, there’s no shortage of places to drop dollars. We want to be present and jolly and be the change we want to see in the world, which compounds bad moods and frustrations with self-judgement and guilt if/when we fail. Then we add a thick emotional layer of concentrated family time, vivid memories of loved ones who aren’t with us, and fresh waves of grief over losses, recent and fargone.

(I need to stop and take a deep breath. That last paragraph felt exhausting and heavy, because it’s all true, for me. What’s true for you this season, honestly?)

We spend extra evenings and days and weekends away from home in the spirit of something wonderful, but home becomes a spilling ground for the chaos no one sees, an ever-present barometer for the fullness of our lives.

I’ll tell you what this barometer looks like for me this week:

  • an empty fridge, because I haven’t had time to shop or even think
  • piles of laundry—even after I make time to wash the dirty stuff, it becomes piles of clean laundry I don’t have time to fold
  • just realizing YESTERDAY that I have exactly 10 workdays left before the end of the year (due to a work trip and holiday time off)
  • almost out of cat food (Bob and Jane will be pissed!)
  • I’ve bought exactly two gifts so far. Out of…a lot.
  • **massive overwhelm ensues**

I could go on. I’m getting bored by the list, so I’m stopping.

I had a dentist appointment this week, and got into a discussion with my hygienist about all the things we juggle as women who do millions of things while managing households and families. She had attended a talk I gave a few months ago about making space in your day.

Her life, she said, is the definition of insanity. Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting something to be different. Waking up to Monday morning and remembering she was going to do this and that to make things easier this week but it somehow didn’t fit in…and realizing it’s going to be a hectic, crazy week. Again.

That statement rang so true for me—and I suspect it resonates with you, as well. After all, isn’t that one of the things we have in common, one of the things that keeps us coming back here? We all want more ease, and less stress. We want to feel taken care of, not drained by our homes and our surroundings. We want more of the beautiful, loved and useful—more twinkle lights, more cocoa, more love—and less of the stuff that exhausts us and weighs so heavily on us.

This is where the rubber meets the road—finding a way out of insanity when we are so well acquainted with the loop we simply MUST find another way.

Here’s a secret: breaking free from insanity does not come naturally to me. I’m learning how to do it out of survival and necessity, not just for fun and lolz.

This holiday season, I invite you to make a small change that offers the opportunity split your path from insanity. Find one thing that doesn’t need to be in your day, in your schedule, in your mind or in your home, and move it out of your way.

Maybe it’s self-judgement.

Maybe it’s that load of laundry.

Maybe it’s a phone call to hire someone else to clean your house, or maybe it’s declining a party invitation so you can realistically do it yourself.

Maybe it’s skipping the long list of Christmas cards this year, and just writing two or three heart-felt ones.

Maybe it’s something else entirely, but I do know this: small changes make a massive difference. This time of year comes with its fair share of inevitable chaos, not all of it is inevitable. In fact, a good portion of it can be edited out. And you deserve all of the good things this holiday has to offer—free and clear of anything that might stand in the way of feeling nourished, joyful and taken care of.

Amid the chaos of my morning, I took ten minutes to make a meal plan. Jon or I will go shopping later today, and instead of facing a week of take-out and thrown-together meals, we’ll have simple, nourishing food in the fridge and a list to look at with a variety of solutions for being hungry. I felt immediate relief at having taken the time to do this—and I know I’m avoiding pizza delivery (which tastes great, but costs too much and usually makes me feel gross) and hanger (hunger/anger—not good for my marriage), among other things, in the coming week because of it.

Meal planning is a small change you can make that will incite a world of difference in how you spend your precious money, time and energy during a busy season. I’ve created a simple, 4-step weekly routine that allows you to make use of the food you already have and intentionally plan not only the ingredients you’ll need, but how the meals you choose can cooperate with how full your schedule is on any given week.

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As always, if you have questions just email me at