Holiday Countdown to PANIC

When I was a kid, I loved everything about the holidays. Thanksgiving was a time to hang out with cousins and enjoy a ton of amazing food. I remember making a paper chain to countdown the days til Christmas. New Year's Eve was the one time we'd have eggnog and I loved it! 

I wish I could still feel that way. Now it just a ton of stress and pressure. The closer each holiday gets, the more anxious I feel. In my mind I can see the ticking the ones that set off a bomb. It's a race to get it all done. There's the shopping, the cleaning, the planning, the phone calls, the gift buying, the cards, the cooking ... and I never feel like the list is completely checked off.  

When did it turn from a countdown with excitement to a countdown with panic?  

I don't know how to fix it. There's really no one to blame, although I wish I could pin it on someone. Maybe it's just part of being an adult. When I was a child I could enjoy the fruit of the adult's labor and now it's my turn. Is that it?  

This year, I'm already starting to panic, but I'm also making an effort to identify the source of my stress and deal with it. Maybe my expectations are too high. Maybe I can cut back. Maybe I can pray for some (non- life threatening and non-painful) sickness to attack me and require isolation until January 2.  

Since it's unlikely that any of that will happen, I need a new plan. I wish I could come up with something amazing that would help me and anyone else who shares in this type of holiday dread. Instead, all I can think is that we'll get through it. Someday, we could be old, alone, sitting in an assisted living and wishing we had all this busyness. We will actually miss this and wish we had enjoyed it more when we had the chance.  

For now, there's always wine.  


I have a problem...

We've all heard (and ignored) the stats about cell phone addiction. I've secretly struggled with the idea and blocked it from my mind. I like my phone. I love having immediate access to the web, Facebook, Twitter, Email, Direct Messenging...etc. etc. Do I really need to justify that? 

Why should I feel guilty?  It's not like I'm alone, right?  I'll admit that I have left the house and realized 20 minutes into my drive that I left my phone at home and...I went back. Who doesn't do that?  Yes, I check it all the time, even in the middle of church, to see if I'm missing anything. I've also been known to check it during a movie by hiding it (and my head) under a jacket. Does that mean it's a problem? 

So, I've been living happily in my little world of denial for a while now. Until something happened that I could no longer ignore. I spent the day with some of my family exploring a State Park. It was a beautiful place full of trees, creeks, and even a really neat canyon with walkways providing access. 

The next day, my son posted some pictures on Facebook and tagged me in a few. In one picture I was off by myself, cradling my phone, obviously intent on what I was seeing on the screen. My family was enjoying the beauty of the park and I was caught up in something on my phone. I wonder what it was? What could have been better than the interaction with people I love and the unique loveliness of the park?  

It stayed with me, although I refused to talk about it with anyone until now. I'd love to tell you that I immediately got a handle on my problem, and...YES, it was/is a problem. However, the truth is I have been working to make small changes that are finally showing some results. It's been nearly a year.  You read that correctly.  A year.  

Here's my goals:
  1. I try to leave the phone in the car when I am taking a walk with my family or at an outdoor activity. Currently, I'm at about a 50% success rate with this.  
  2. I try to leave my phone off the table when I am eating with other people. I thought I was doing well that that one, but another Facebook photo recently busted me with phone right there on the table. I'm stepping up my efforts. 
  3. I try not to look at my phone while I'm talking to other people. If my text messaging alert goes off, I do my best to completely ignore it. This is a BIG DEAL...or at least it was for me. 
  4. If I do happen to look at my phone when an alert goes off, I try not to respond. I don't know why, but for some reason I've looked at "texting" and "responding" as though it were two separate things. Responding is the same as texting and it shouldn't happen during a conversation. 
  5. I'm trying to be more conscious of time I spend doing anything on my phone. Because an IPhone has so many features, I can get lost in checking email, texts, Facebook, etc.  If I've spent 5 minutes on each activity, it's easy for a half hour or more to pass without realizing it.  
Overall, I think I'm doing much better than I was a year ago but there's still progress to be made. I encourage my students to consider their cell phone habits (and addictions) and to make positive changes. I now take note of families eating together in a restaurant while each of them has a phone in their hands. Is that really where we are all headed? I hope not.

 I'm take a big step here to admit that I have a problem.  I hope you'll consider adopting some of my goals.  Feel free to comment if you have an additional idea or thought.