Last Year’s Christmas Cake

Here I am sitting at my kitchen table, working from home with stress billowing from my ears. This is the Friday before Christmas. Others checked out last Friday and have been in the slow lane ever since. At times on the M25 this week I felt like there was something wrong with me, being the only one still making the journey into the office. It was me and the delivery vans, busy crisscrossing the motorways with Christmas presents for their customers.

So why wasn’t I on go slow? Why was I still going full throttle? Why were all my worlds colliding on the last Friday before Christmas with everyone screaming for my attention?

My son came home last night from University. I haven’t seen him in three months. He was full of stories of his adventures and his new friends. All what I wanted to do this morning was sit and listen to him and hear more of his stories, but my emails were piling up. My phone was ringing. I have to chase down contracts. My team needs me. People have gone AWOL. Why am I the only one still at full throttle? I can feel resentment setting in.

My husband has been chasing me for the Christmas shopping list for days. I normally have the cake baked by now, but I can’t seem find my recipe to make him a list. Christmas is my favourite time of year but this year somehow it seems to have got away from me. Thanks to Amazon, I have at least sorted out the Christmas presents, which is my least favourite part of Christmas, by the way. I hate the whole commercialisation part of it. The part I love is the cooking, the baking, the walking dogs in the cold winter mornings, the slowness of everything, having my family around and enjoying each other’s company.

Luckily, even though I have got stress coming out of every pore, I know when I down tools this evening, that will be it until the new year. When I down tools, I really down tools. I am like a completely different person. I potter about, floating from room to room with no sense of purpose or urgency. My days kind of roll into one another and I don’t bother with times and dates. It is like I go into the twilight zone. I read lots, I watch lots of Christmas films, if there is a party going I will be there. We normally have a Christmas party but his year I can’t be bothered because we have still got building works going on. The last time I checked both the dishwasher and the new downstairs loo don’t have water supply so that puts paid to any party aspirations. That said I couldn’t be bothered to have a party anyway.

This has been a very eventful year. For starters my book: Octopus on a Treadmill; Women, Success, Health, Happiness was released on International Women’s Day. To say the journey to and from that moment has been life changing will be the understatement of the year. The book has brought new experiences and new people into my life. I have been asked to speak to Banks, Management Consultancies, Schools, Professional Associations, Oil Companies – the list goes on. I have even done TV appearances would you believe! I have done a TEDx Women’s talk which was a dream come true. This truly has been an eventful year and next year looks to be following suit with my first speaking gig happening at Oxford University of all places!

It is little wonder that I am now sitting at my kitchen table, fighting for time to get this blog out because I know there are people out there who want to hear from me. So, what have I got to say?

Do not let the Christmas madness destabilise you.

Fight for your down time.

Fight for the time to spend with your nearest and dearest. This is the time you can unashamedly focus on what is important to you.
If you don’t know what is important to you, this is the time to figure it out.

Whatever you do, let me remind you of the top 4 things that contribute to our sense of wellbeing.

1. Mental Health
2. Personal Relationships
3. Physical Health
4. Income

Most of you will have spent the majority of the last year concentrating on the number four. Christmas is the time to re-funnel that energy into the first three on the list and make those your priority while you can before the new year. Form new habits in your downtime to help sustain you when the new year comes around when we will all have to get our backsides back into number four again and the other things start getting pushed to the back burner.

Christmas is a good time to re-evaluate where you spent the bulk of your energy in the year and try and get this right for the following year. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to course correct. Grab it with both hands.

Somewhere between downing tools, eating cake, devouring whole cheese platters, walking dogs, holding your nearest and dearest closer to you, you will come out in the new year feeling rejuvenated.

So, go on, down tools and join me in focusing on what is truly important to you. I haven’t baked any cakes yet this year, so I am going to leave you with the one I baked last year while I go on the hunt for the recipe for this year. Talk about cutting it fine!

Happy Christmas and I love you all for reading my blog and for continuing on this journey with me.

Here is to your continued unfoldment in the new year.