This Holiday Season, Presence is Your Present

seasonal holiday display featuring pinecones, cranberries and lantern on distressed wood table

With Halloween in the rearview, the holiday season has officially begun.

Are you excited about the upcoming holiday season? Nervous, stressed, or all three?

Do you wonder, How did I accomplish everything last year? Where did I find the time to buy gifts, plan exciting events, cook gourmet meals, or prep for visiting friends and family?

The answer may be dawning on you as you ponder these questions: At a price.

Typically, it’s self-care that falls by the wayside. Self-sacrifice bullies you into forgetting you exist while everyone around you parties it up. Eating, drinking, and making merry as you slump in a corner, exhausted.

batman toy shasow with red and orange background

But have no fear!

Author Kathleen Pendoley is here, the holiday hero you didn’t know you wanted or needed.

You matter! You’ve heard the words before. And on some level, you believe them to be true. So now is the time to put them into action. The best part? It takes little to no effort.

Sound good?

The Strategy for holiday season happiness.

1. Pick a meal.

This is not your typical “Change everything pleasurable about food to get through the season fitter, leaner, stronger.” Nor is it a strategy to stay “good” at potlucks (Are we still doing those?) or sneak quinoa into every bite you eat. (Yuck.)

Come on! It’s the most wonderful time of the year. 🎄

Eat one meal per day - preferably the longest - and simply eat.

That’s it - you and a plate of food, fork, knife, and spoon. No phone. No TV. No conversation.

blue pace setting with gold cutlery

For five to fifteen minutes, smell, taste, and feel what you’re eating without distraction.

Bonus points if it includes something festive like a frosted sugar cookie, a decadent piece of chocolate, or, my favorite, a slice of cake.

2. Self-care

Enjoying the hyper-busy periods shouldn’t mean white-knuckling life until they pass. It’s quite the opposite. Have the presence of mind to be where your feet are.

We take care of ourselves but often only label it “self-care” if it’s extraordinary, a spa service, weekend getaways, or the like.

Step two invites you to pick one thing you do daily that enhances joy, even if it’s become so rote you hardly notice anymore.

woman blow drying hairto the left in humorous fashion

Are you taking a shower? Toss in your favorite scented shower bomb, turn on your favorite music, lock the door, and be in the shower.

Smell the soap as you lather up your body. Feel the hot water work out the kinks from the tight muscles in your neck and shoulders.

Next, work the conditioner into your hair and scalp with firm fingertips for a tension-relieving massage. Pro tip: Use an in-shower moisturizer to save time and double the length of the massage.

You can also bring this present attitude to other aspects of your hygiene ritual. Feel the makeup brushes as they caress your skin. Focus on how each brush stroke or wave of your styling wand turns your bedhead into a masterpiece. See how the razor turns you from a caveman to a smooth, approachable man about town.

red heiroglyphs on rock in Arches Canyon UT

3. Time for bed.

We could discuss all sorts of things about bedtime rituals, like how no electronics, save an alarm clock if you can’t wake naturally, should be in the room. Or how beds are for sleep and sex (I don’t understand why they never include reading), but we’re not going there. So keep doing what you do.

But, when the lights go out and everything stills, it’s time to incorporate what I’ve coined my Greatitudes, a practice that blends how great you are with how grateful you are.

Close your eyes. Option to use an eye pillow if you have one. Then, take a deep breath and list three things you nailed during the day. Think micro-successes if you’re not used to thinking nice things about yourself.

Here’s an example of a greatness list:

I got up.

I tipped the barista.

I made it back to bed in one piece.

And voilà! You’ll build from there.

interior of grand cathedral - beige and towering

Next, list three things you are grateful for. They can be about you, but these don’t have to be. Option to go macro. Food. Water. Home. Or my spouse, kids, or pets. How about the odds of chocolate existing?

Own your holidays and every season.

The point is, if you can remain present, you’ll find you’re always having a “me” moment. The key is not to miss it.

Take these simple exercises and incorporate them into your hectic holiday routine, and with no muss, no fuss, and nothing to buy, you’ll find the space to find true enjoyment and pleasure even when you’re in the thick of things.

Concentrate on “being” instead of “doing” and unlock the key to peace and joy year-round.

Be well,



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