Getting away before Christmas can provide some welcome relief from the ‘hustle and bustle’ that can often accompany this time of year in our usual surroundings.
This month I took the opportunity to go on a six day festive adventure. Much of the time was actually spent travelling by coach and by ferry, however, having the perspective of that being part of the adventure itself provided the opportunity to rest and enjoy the process.
It was wonderful though to finally reach our destination for a chance to get some dinner, sleep and to relax at the Hotel Hirschen in Germany’s Black Forest.
It’s now a week and a half since I returned from my pre-Christmas trip to the Black Forest in Germany, although it seems like an age ago now!
I thought I’d share a few highlights from my mini-adventure with you, and maybe follow these pics up with some more details in a subsequent post. I hope it leaves you feeling cosy and festive. Enjoy! 🙂 x
I wonder if you share a similar fondness as I have for ‘boxing day’, the day after Christmas?
Many of us have spent the preceding days or weeks in preparation in various ways. For some of us, we have been preparing ourselves spiritually by contemplating the fulfilment of thousands of years of prophecy in the Birth of Jesus Christ, and what this means for humanity and for our own lives. We may have spent time during the Advent season exploring scripture and praying and meditating upon these great Truths that changed the course of human history, and continue to do so.
I imagine, however, that the vast majority of people in a broadly commercial and secular world have been busy with the things that the Christmas and holiday season brings with it such as Christmas meals or get-togethers with work colleagues, friends, acquaintances; tying up loose ends at work; buying presents; decorating our homes; visiting family; shopping, cooking and all sorts of other festivities.
Christmas day has come and gone for another year (and yet the true meaning and significance of Christ~mas is eternal), and perhaps you have had a good day, or maybe it was stressful and challenging.
I wonder if you breathe a sigh of relief as we enter into boxing day, a day where you can rest, knowing that the preparations are done, and you have time before ‘normal’ life sets in again to rest and enjoy.
According to Google, ‘boxing day’ as a term originates as follows:
“The Oxford English Dictionary gives the earliest attestations from Britain in the 1830s, defining it as “the first weekday after Christmas day, observed as a holiday on which postmen, errand boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas box”.”
I used to think that it was so called because it was traditionally when people opened their Christmas presents or boxes. It is nice to discover that it was in fact a day of giving to others for their service as postmen and errand boys, etc.
Today it seems that ‘Boxing Day’ is synonymous with ‘sales’ and shopping, and this is quite unfortunate.
Avoiding the Shops and Sales, for a day of Reflection, Rest and Play:
I’m not sure about you, but I personally like to avoid the ‘madness’ of people rushing after so called ‘bargains’, pushing past each other to get to the ‘boxing day sales’, or spending a lot of money online searching for the next material thing that we and our loved ones probably don’t even need.
It is nice after Christmas to take some time to relax, rest, play and enjoy what we already have, what we have been given, what we truly are celebrating, and to be present with the people we care about and love if this is possible. Even if we are on our own, we can take that time to think, to enjoy, to be grateful, rather than to be greedy.
A sigh of relief:
So as you embark upon the 26th December, what does this day hold in store for you? Will you rush on to the next material thing, or will you take time to slow down, rest, recharge and enjoy and be grateful?
Personally, I’ve spent the morning with my family, praying on my own, and am now snuggled up in a blanket as I type. I have no intention of hitting the shops, but of enjoying the simple things today, resting in the Light that I have been celebrating, and being thankful for the rest and blessings after a busy season.
I hope you are able to put your feet up and enjoy some quiet time today too.
Happy Christmas to you all ~ I hope you all had a blessed and peaceful Christmas day, yesterday.
Even if the day itself was difficult for you, I hope that if not now, then someday, you will find the Pure Love and Peace of Jesus Christ to rule over your heart and circumstances.
It is such a gift to be able to pause and wonder at how incredible it is that God came to earth in such a humble way, incarnate in Christ, born to suffer, to reign, to save us and enable us to live in the Pure Love that God has for us.
This is far greater than any gift or circumstance the world has to offer.
So wishing you a blessed Christmas, with Christ at the centre, knowing God’s Great Love for you.
I don’t know about you, but it is a rare treat for me to have an extended period of time off from work. Sometimes I’ll have this time over the summer, but this year I only had a few days off here and there, and I therefore have my longer break from work in the wintertime this year.
It’s nice to not have to get up early in the cold and dark weather to go to work, and to know that for many other people, especially for those of us who are fortunate enough to have office closures over the Christmas and New Year period, we are having a collective rest and break from the normal day to day routine. Of course not everyone has time off and I am especially respectful of those who work over the holidays to keep our communities going, particularly those who work in the emergency services and frontline crisis and care work.
Yet, for many of us, we’ve been long awaiting the Christmas break and are looking forward to a good few days to rest and relax and maybe even ‘hibernate’ a bit.
I’ve already had a couple of weeks off, which has been spent tidying up, organising, decorating, preparing for travel, going away for 6 days to enjoy some Christmas markets, coming back home, catching up with sleep, unpacking, washing, tidying, preparing for Christmas, going to church, preparing myself spiritually and generally trying to get organised. For many of us, the lead up to Christmas seems to bring with it seemingly unending things to do, and the household tasks seem to just keep coming, until we can finally get things all settled, cosy and prepared so that we can have actually have the rest that we have been hoping for and preparing for.
It is easy to get lost in this hustle and bustle, and by the time we do get to ‘put our feet up’ we are more than ready for a rest.
Sometimes Christmas and the holiday period involves spending time with friends and family, and maybe even a change of scene. Once we have prepared and got things suitably ready, had some festive events, and done some charitable acts of kindness, we may find that we are blessed with some quieter days ahead, which will be spent mainly indoors.
Ahead of me is a stretch of 11 days from today – 23rd December until 2nd January 2020 where I’ll be away from my home and spending time with family. We all say it so often, that the time just ‘flies by’ and before we know it we’re in another new year and back in the ordinary routine of things, and feeling stressed again. We sometimes look back and wonder whether we made the most of our time, or whether we ‘frittered away’ our time sleeping too much, eating too much, lazing in front of the TV, and letting days flow into each other in an unproductive blur.
There is a time when we need to rest and relax and just ‘chill out’ but I’m also aware that the holiday season is precious and that I’d like to use my time wisely. However, it is hard to really use our time wisely without knowing what our priorities are, or without having some kind of structure or routine, plan or list of things we’d like to do. It’s nice to be spontaneous, and we don’t always need to plan, but sometimes without any structure we risk wasting time, and for those of us who have suffered from depression and anxiety, some form of a routine is essential for our mental and physical health and wellbeing.
For me, getting back into blogging after almost two weeks away doing other things, provides me with the opportunity to quieten my heart and mind and reflect on how I would like to use my time over the next 11 days.
A simple routine:
Without being too prescriptive, one thing I’d like to maintain is a simple, yet flexible daily routine to add structure, meaning and joy into my Christmas holidays, prioritising what is most important to me. My brain likes to see things written down as this helps me to be wise with my time. So, this is what I’m hoping my days will include:
A healthy dose of rest, relaxation and sleep, incorporating a morning routine where possible, but not putting any pressure on myself to do this.
Focusing on the True meaning of Christmas, and keeping Christ central to my thoughts, and taking time to truly be amazed that God came to earth to be with His people, to save us, to save me, and to deepen my relationship with the God Who loves me.
Having a daily time in Scripture and prayer to God, seeking Him, praising Him, and praying for the needs of others and myself.
Being intentionally grateful on a day to day basis, and taking the time that I don’t usually have to reflect more deeply on the blessings and lessons in my life and to give thanks for them.
Being present and slowing down enough to appreciate the special moments and time spent with family and friends. Appreciating how precious the time we have together is, and enjoying each other’s company and being there for each other.
Taking time to stay in touch with and reach out to friends who I know are struggling in this season due to various circumstances.
Being helpful so that everyone gets a chance to rest and relax over the holidays.
Enjoying food and holiday treats while being mindful of what I eat and not to overindulge.
Keep moving and doing a little bit of exercise, even if just five minutes, everyday, and where possible go out for fresh air and walks so as not to stay cooped up in the house all day every day.
Reflection on the year gone by, on blessings enjoyed and lessons learned, goals achieved, and seeking direction and wisdom for moving forward.
Time spent figuring things out, working through my thoughts, issues and continuing to become stronger mentally and emotionally, and considering my priorities and how I will achieve them going forwards.
Enjoy having time to do things that I find creative or relaxing such as playing Christmas music on my violin, writing more, reading, listening to audio books, watching films, playing games with the family, arts and crafts, selecting photos from the year gone by for creating an album, and taking time to enjoy the cosiness of the season.
Plan for what’s ahead, so that the transition into the new year will be as seamless and enjoyable and productive as possible.
What about you? What kind of holiday routines do you have that help you make the most of your time? x
I realise that it has been a while since I blogged, and that my last post was regarding tips on finishing up at work before the holidays. That seems like quite some time ago now, and I hope you have all been doing well and finding Peace in what can otherwise be quite a busy season.
As an update, I did finish up at work for the holidays, after which I got to cleaning and decorating my home for Christmas. I also mentioned that I had a festive trip planned, and I can now share with you that I was away in the Black Forest in Germany, and visited some festive European Christmas Markets in Frieberg and Strasbourg. More on that soon!
As it is the eve of Christmas-eve, and I’m sure most of us love seeing cosy Christmas pictures, I thought I’d share a few of my own with you, and wish you a Peaceful day.
It’s your last day of work before the holidays – but before you rush out the door, there are a few things you can do to make your working life that bit more pleasant when you return after your break.
After some time off work, especially if it’s an enjoyable or longer period away from the office (as it’s my realm of work, this is mostly geared towards office workers), it is quite common to feel a little bit disoriented on your first day back. It’s good to prepare in advance for this.
For example, you might forget your password to log into your computer, and you might find that you have a deluge of emails clogging up your inbox.
Here are some handy tips to alleviate these problems:
Before you ‘clock out’ for the holidays, respond to any outstanding emails or correspondence that you have, and make a note of anything you need to follow up on for when you return.
Delete any unnecessary emails and clear out your recycle bin and junk mail folders.
Unsubscribe from any ‘alerts’ (such as Google alerts) or correspondence, newsletters, etc. that aren’t too important – you can always make a note of what you’ve unsubscribed from and re-subscribe when you come back to work. That way you won’t be inundated with unnecessary emails to sift through after your holiday.
For the remaining emails that you need to keep in your inbox, create sub-folders and categorise these according to task / work-stream, etc. and ‘flag’ any items that are priority items for you to look at when you get back.
You’ll be likely to forget your password to get into your system, so keep a reminder with you (not at your computer) with some hints as to what it is (don’t write down your actual password). You can also keep the number of your work IT support service handy so that if all else fails you can call for help on your first day (but bear in mind you probably won’t be the only one!).
3. Clear your desk
As keen and eager as you may be to rush out the door as soon as you possibly can on your last day, don’t leave your workspace in a mess, because it won’t be the most pleasant of things to come back to after a relaxing break. Instead, tidy up any clutter, bin any rubbish and keep things clean, neat and tidy. File away any paperwork, and make sure confidential information is securely locked away or safeguarded. Maybe even write a ‘welcome back’ note for yourself to come back to! 😉
4. Tie up loose ends and update your colleagues
Try to complete any outstanding assignments well ahead of your last day so that you won’t have to be stressing to get things done at the last minute and you can relax and enjoy ‘winding down’ before the holidays. Create a ‘task list’ for yourself for when you come back to work and if you are leaving earlier than other colleagues who may have to pick up work for you when you’re on holiday, then make sure you have a chance to chat with them beforehand, email any updates and make sure that everyone is informed with what to do and that a plan is in place so that things keep running smoothly in your absence.
5. Create a plan for yourself for your first day back at work after your holiday
This will make the transition back into work more seamless and you won’t be sitting around feeling confused as you try to remember “what’s my job again?!” 🙂
6. The gift of giving
If you are leaving a few days or more before your other colleagues, try to be sensitive to this even if you are ‘super excited’ that your own holidays will start soon. You could do something nice for them, even a simple kind gesture, such as bringing in some chocolates or festive treats for your colleagues and leave a note or a card wishing them well and thanking people for any things they have done through the year that have been particularly helpful to you. Say goodbye in some way, and leave on good terms with everyone.
7. Out of office.
This may well be your favourite ‘task’ of the day – putting on your ‘out of office’! That sweet sensation of knowing you will be ‘free’ for the next so many days, or weeks, to relax and do just what you like. As well as feeling good, putting your ‘out of office’ on is important in keeping other people updated as to when you will be away and when you will come back, and it will also be helpful for others if you can provide them with alternative contact details for someone who can assist them when you are away.
So, that’s that! Or perhaps I should say, “That’s a wrap!”. Enjoy ‘winding down’ for the holidays, and have a peaceful, stress-free and wonderful rest when the time comes for you. x
It’s nearing the end of the first full week of December, and I don’t know about you but I’m beginning to feel quite ‘Christmassy’ now. Christmas lights and trees and markets have been going up around the city since mid-November, but it’s only now that I’m beginning to catch the holiday feeling. This probably has to do with the fact that having not had time off work for summer this year, I have annual leave days to use, which means…..tomorrow is my last working day of 2019! (“Yay!” 🙂 ).
Last working week of 2019:
This week has been surprisingly interesting for my last work week before the holidays. I attended a training session in a beautiful office building that I hadn’t been in before in the city centre. Added to the fact that I was really engaged in the training and will have some new pieces of work to take forward, and the ideas I’ve generated so far have impressed my boss, I also had a great view of the central square and the ‘big wheel’ and Christmas markets from the window of the training room!
I’ve been tying up loose ends, and am well ahead of the game. It’s given me the chance to do some preparatory work that will help my boss so I’m pleased to be rounding off the year with some more quality work contributions. I have another external meeting tomorrow, and then probably some notes to write up, and then it will be time to wrap things up (just to be Christmassy about it 😉 ) and down tools for the winter.
Being ahead of schedule with my work has given me the chance to also go over my work logs that I keep for myself from this past year, and take a look back and assess the work I’ve done this year, and it is a good feeling to see that I’ve actually done some great pieces of work and have broadened my skills base as well as having helped out and contributed to other teams. Ok, so there may not be any pay rise, but there is a personal satisfaction in knowing that I have done my best and have gone above and beyond and have brought in some great results for my team and for wider strategies and can start 2020 on a positive note and with some new projects to get stuck into.
Health-wise this last week has been a bit of a challenge at times – other than the standard coughs and colds, I’ve had some other physical pain, and had to push through some of the c-PTSD challenges I have, so I am looking forward to the chance to give my body and mind a rest, to ‘reboot’ and spend some time in reflection and enjoying this Christmas season so as to be ready and prepared for a brand new year. It is a significant step forward for me to be writing in this way as a few Christmases ago I was in a very bad place emotionally and mentally – the depression and undiagnosed (at the time) trauma, made me feel that there wasn’t even a future to look forward to at all. So, this year is a bright change to be looking forward hopefully, and I am blessed to share a glimpse of it with you 🙂
The Christmas tree has gone up at work today as well, and it is beautiful. I’m so glad I get the chance to see it before I finish up tomorrow.
Over to you:
As you near the end of the calendar year, do you have any plans for looking back to review how your year has gone from a work perspective?
Whether you work from home, blog full time, have your own business, work for a charity, do voluntary work, work for a large or small company, or do something entirely different, it is a good time of year as you conclude projects and prepare for the new year to look over how far you have come and what you have achieved.
Even if it has been a difficult year for you work-wise, the challenges also present an opportunity for you to reassess how you do things, whether you are in the right place, whether you need to make a change and how, if there are any developmental opportunities for you and what lessons you can take forward into 2020 to help you learn, grow and thrive.
So, what have you learned from your working life this year, and what lessons will you take forward into 2020?
Well dear readers, friends, we’re finally here, and I’d like to wish you all a very happy December.
This is the time of the year when everyone seems to say “Can you believe it? December is here already, hasn’t this year gone by quickly?”. I personally don’t think it has, but it is a natural time of reflection when the seasons change and the calendar year comes to an end. We ask ourselves where the time has gone, and it is a chance to look back in reflection and also to look forwards in hope.
I’ve never done ‘Blogmas’ before, you know, posting a new blog post every day in the lead up to Christmas. I really like this idea and have often enjoyed stopping by different ‘vlogs’ on YouTube for ‘Vlogmas’.
It’s the 5th of December, so I’ve already missed the first few days, but it’s nice also to blog as we approach Christmas, without necessarily doing this every day. Just as I created my Winter Survival Guide series (my 50th and final post for that series will be coming soon!), I’d like to also blog regularly in December. I love the idea of reading your Christmas themed blog posts, and ‘blogmas’ posts, it is a cosy and comforting feeling.
However, as I contemplated using the term ‘blogmas’ in my title, I realised that it wasn’t really what my heart was going for. Which is why you can think of this as a Christmas blog story, as I like to focus on Christ being the centre of Christmas, rather than blogging or any other thing. It’s just a personal feeling I had for my own blog, but like I said I love all of your blogmas posts and will enjoy reading them. So, what instead….?
Who doesn’t love an advent calendar? I have quite a fondness, even though I don’t have one myself, for those hand stitched patchwork style advent creations with hand stitched pockets. I think we all love the countdown to something special and exciting and worth celebrating.
For many of us, Advent signifies the first coming of Jesus Christ into the world, and the waiting and anticipation of those who lived during that time. Now as a Christian, I can approach Christmas reflecting back with gratitude for Christ’s first coming into the world, and looking forward in hope to His second coming for He will return again, and also celebrate the Christmas season knowing and experiencing personally that He Is Emmanuel – God with us – The One True and Living God, here, and now.
Advent is also a time of preparation, and I love this because as a Christian, preparing my heart for Christ is a daily thing, however at this time of the year it is a new and fresh opportunity to do this with other believers and also to know that the world around us is celebrating and anticipating and that this is an opportunity to share the Light, Love and Truth of Jesus Christ with all.
What are you waiting for?
As a Christian, I wait on God, and I live in the experience of His present love, forgiveness, peace, joy and truth. I wait, and yet I am also fulfilled.
What are you waiting for and preparing for at this time of year?
I look forward to sharing my journey, this year’s Christmas (blog) Story with you as I give you a glimpse into my thoughts, friendships, travels, holiday fun, faith, spirituality, home and lifestyle. I hope you will stay with me as we continue on to the next chapter, and as we hopefully approach what will be a “Merry Christmas for one and all”.
1. Keep a list of emergency contacts handy so that you can easily call someone if you need help. Also, phone or reach out to a friend and connect to people face to face when you can even if it’s not an emergency. We all need each other.