Tag Archives: decide

How To Customise Your Christmas and Cut the Stress

Do you sometimes feel it’s all too much?

Do you feel caught in a Christmas trap?

I used to. I worried about every aspect of the approaching ‘Festive Season’, feeling far from festive. And then my son, who knew how I was feeling said this:

‘Mum, why don’t you choose the parts of Christmas that you like and leave the parts you don’t like? You don’t have to do all of it!’

I was reminded of when I bought my new Mini.

I knew the colour I wanted but that was it. The salesman had to talk me through how I could customise my new car. He explained which features came as ‘Standard’ and then presented me with choices for all the rest of the spec. Bit by bit I built up the picture of the car I wanted, choosing fabric or leather seats, interior and exterior colours, automatic or gear shift and so on.

The Mini I collected bore very little resemblance to the one in the brochure because I’d chosen how I wanted it to be. I’d ‘customised it’.

You can do this with the Christmas holiday.

 There are no rules apart from the fact that we all celebrate (or not) on the same day. You do need to be positive and assertive (not arrogant) but with a bit of practise, you can do this!

What comes as ‘standard’?

  • A day for giving gifts
  • Food
  • Decorations
  • A tree
  • Cards
  • Family time
  • Parties
  • Carols

You will want to add more to my list but let’s look at the first three.

How to customise.

  • Gifts.

You need to get ahead on this one, if you’re going to change from the ‘standard’ requirements. If you want to change who you buy for, perhaps only for children and not for adults, let people know your intentions well in advance, to avoid embarrassment or upset. It’s not easy to change a long-established routine but it is possible to do it if you are sure that’s what you want to do.

You could write down what you’ll say and even practise saying it until you’re confident.

  • Food

Ok, so the turkey roast followed by Christmas pud, mince pies, large amounts of cream and custard, is fairly ‘standard’. But you can customise!

Christmas food should be special. That get’s hard to do when we have the ridiculous amounts of ‘special’ food in the shops all year round.

One way to customise your Christmas food is to choose your favourites. If you love fillet steak but it’s a rare treat, or your mother is coming and her favourite is steak and kidney pie then that’s what you have! Try to have the food that’s a ‘treat’ for as many of your guests as possible.

If you choose to spend the day with your OH then it’s easy to have your favourite food but it can still be done with the family. Not everyone wants turkey when they can have it on any day of the year.

  • The family.

Not so easy to customise but not impossible. Here are a few suggestions:

Decide, well in advance, where you and your family want to be for Christmas. At home? On holiday? At your parents? Your parents at yours? Once it’s decided, stick to it. A few feathers might be ruffled but there’s no rule that says you have to do what you always do. You can change the habit, if it’s a habit you don’t like…

Do you spend much of the holiday driving your children to see step – parents, grandparents, divorced parents, so much so that everyone’s bad-tempered and the children hate it? If it’s what you want to do, and most importantly, if it’s what the children want to do, fine. If not, decide how to customise.

It’s about forward planning. It’s about taking the ‘I ought’ out of the equation and replacing it with ‘I’m happy to’.

I was delighted, and still am, with my beautiful blue Mini. Every time I drive it I smile. (Except in snow.) It suits me fine but I know it wouldn’t be everyone’s choice.

You can customise Christmas, to suit your capabilities, needs, emotions and stress levels.  It’s not selfish in a bad way, it’s simply deciding what you can cope with. As my son said, so wisely, you can include the parts you love and leave out the parts that concern you. That way, you might even enjoy it!

How do you deal with the varying ‘obligations’ of the Christmas season?

Are you changing things this year?  

 Have you ‘customised’ Christmas?

Do pass on your hints and tips.


Header by cursedthing, post image by the mullett, on Flickr.



Filed under action, adjust, anxiety, change, expectation, fear, hope, plans, positive, progress, success, timing

A Happy Family Christmas? Impossible. Or Is It?

I’m writing this post in response to a request from Christine. She asked this:

‘How do I find a Positive Spin when there are unspoken expectations/disappointments between the generations and amongst siblings?

Imagine the scene.   (This was me, a few years ago) …

It’s nearly the end of September. Leaves are turning, some are even falling. The clocks ‘go back’ soon and the winter darkness will begin. My stomach begins to churn. Butterflies, no, great big moths are revving up their wings as I spot the first Christmas cards in the shops.

There’s nowhere to hide. I try to pretend it’s not happening. I do distracting things. I sit outside on rare warm days, my face lifted to the sun and pretend that summer’s still here. I refuse to notice the displays of enormous tins of Quality Street in Sainsbury’s and scurry past the shelves stacked with Christmas Crackers. But the day comes when I have to face it. I have to ‘deal’ with Christmas.

I don’t think I was alone in worrying about how to manage a family Christmas. It can be far from ‘peaceful’. I still have a bit of a problem with it but it gets easier!

Here’s my Positive Spin on

 A Happy Family Christmas?  Impossible. Or Is It?

In a Christmas spin?

1.   It’s fake.

It’s an artificial situation. In most families the generations don’t live together all the time. Each generation gets to live their lives according to their needs and wants and these are very different. But at Christmas everyone is expected to get on with everyone else and even, (whisper this) spend a whole day together. Add the ‘booze’ factor and it’s doomed…

Each generation will have quite different ideas about how to spend Christmas.

Entertainment? TV? Games? Gifts? Real or artificial tree? Turkey or beef ? Meal at home or in a restaurant? And so it goes on…. and on….

Each generation and each branch of the family will have established traditions, and siblings will expect these to continue. It starts about the beginning of November…

  •  ‘But we always have a real tree….’
  • Why do we have to watch what grandma wants?
  • ‘I want to have my friends over!’

I’m sure you get my drift.

So…what can you do?


2.   You must make a plan and … stick to it.

Sit down with your OH and decide what you want to do,  what you will and won’t accept from the rest of the family. Then (this isn’t easy, I know!) you must tell the rest of the family what you’ve decided. (Pause while you sigh and say you just can’t…)

Why can’t you?

Because you don’t like confrontations. No-one does! You want everyone to ‘get on’, to fall in with the plans.

Believe me, that isn’t going to happen! Why should it? They have their views on the matter, you have yours and that’s that. So you have to accept that someone is going to get upset. It’s just the way it is.


3.   Compromise is the key.

  • The whole family needs to realise that ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time’. Perhaps it could be agreed that Christmas will be organised their way next year, or that you’ll celebrate separately! 
  • It’s important to make your plans clear ASAP and face up any arguments from the start. You could even have a family discussion about it but perhaps that’s a ‘step too far’!
  • If you have to share the children, due to divorce, put their needs first. Whatever you do, don’t pass them from family to family like a parcel, driving miles to deliver them to the other parent, or grandparent. It’s not fair on anyone. Find out what they want and forget  using them as weapons to blackmail the other parent. And don’t compete for who gives them the ‘best’ present.  I know it happens. Hey! You could even buy a joint gift! OK, sounds impossible but not if you think about the children and put them first…
  • Tell yourself it’s only 1 day out of 365! We used to keep Boxing Day for ourselves but entertain others on Christmas Day, the way we knew they wanted it. My elderly mother loved ‘soaps’ as she was lonely. She always expected to watch them on Christmas Day in our house and I hated it. But… I just had to let it go and look forward  to the next day when we could do our own thing.

To sum up:

  • This whole family Christmas idyll is Fake. It’s not a ‘normal’ situation.
  • Make your plan…. and stick to it. You can be sure that someone will get upset.
  • Compromise is the key.

Remember, this is only my view.

You will have different opinions and that’s how it should be.

I hope you will add your advice and thoughts in the comments for Christine and any other readers who are having butterflies (or moths) about Christmas with the family.

Come on now! Help me out here!

 Do have a look at my new ‘This is me’ page. I felt I wanted to introduce myself so you know who you’re ‘talking to’ here.

Header image by cursedthing, post image by aaronjwebb on Flickr.


Filed under Uncategorized

How To Stop Putting Up With Stuff You Don’t Want To Put Up With

‘I can’t believe you never exercise!’ 

‘Why on earth would you want an i-phone?’ 

‘You really should drink more water!’ 

Hold on a minute! 

  • You’re over twenty-one!
  • You get fed up with people telling you what you should do or not do!
  • You feel undermined!

So what do you do? 

  • You sit on it.
  • You put up with it.
  • You keep your mouth shut.


  • Because you hate confrontations.
  • Because you want to stay friends.
  • Because you always do…

OK, Spinners! Here’s…   

How To Stop Putting Up With Stuff You Don’t Want To Put Up With 

from bret polok on Flickr


Problem: You’re worried that you’ll find  yourself agreeing to go to your sister’s again for Christmas.. 


  • Sit down quietly and decide what you want to do.
  • Write down exactly what you want to say.
  • Set aside a time to speak to her, in person or on the phone
  • Stay calm and state clearly what it is you want to change.
  • Start with a ‘positive’, like ‘I do appreciate the hard work you put into Christmas.’
  • Then: ‘We’ve decided to have a quiet Christmas here this year. ‘
  • Then:  ‘We’ll arrange to get together as soon as Christmas is over/in the New Year/in February…

Problem: You always end up buying the clothes items  your dominant friend suggests. 


  • If she tells you she doesn’t like your choice, simply smile and say, ‘ I can see you don’t like this coat/dress/sweater but I love it and I’m buying it!’

Problem: You’ve allowed the situation to escalate. Your friend is used to you always going along with her plans. 


  • Decide to put a stop to it.
  • Next time she tries to ‘organise’ you, step in and make it quite clear you’ve decided what you’re going to do.
  • When she invites you to go to the cinema/meal/coffee shop, say, ‘I’ll get back to you on that’ or ‘That won’t work for me. Can we leave it for a week or two?’
  • When she suggests you should do more exercise, drink more water, buy a more up to date phone, tell her it’s your choice to make.

Problem: You find assertiveness difficult. 


  • Watch people when they’re being assertive, on TV, in a film, anywhere!
  • Note how they behave and practise copying them, their body language, speech, attitude.
  • Practise saying what you want to say, in the car, alone in your home, out for a walk, until it comes more naturally to you.

 Remember this: 

  • You have a right to an opinion.
  • You have a right to a choice.
  • You have a right to be heard.
  • You have a right to be ‘different’.
  • You have a right to disagree.

Don’t put it off! 

Make your voice heard there and then, next time you think about ‘putting up with it’, without anger, without fear, calmly, confidently and assertively. 

Do not put up with stuff you don’t want to put up with. 

 I read this over on my friend’s blog: 

 ‘The shoe that fits one person pinches another. 

There is no recipe for living that fits all cases.’ 

Carl Gustav Jung 

Over to you! 

What are you putting up with? 


What are you going to do about it? 

Header image: thanks to cursedthing on Flickr


Filed under action, change, excuses,, expectation, fear, happiness, persistence, plans, positive, success

How Failure Can Turn You Into A Happy Bunny (Part 3)

My stomach churns.  

I hardly dare look.  

She hands me the pages.  

Covered with red ink.  

‘It’s good so far’, she says. ‘But may I make a few suggestions?’  

No… it wasn’t my Maths homework. This happened about two weeks ago. It was the first draft of my book, edited by a professional editor.  

‘I’d like you to do some more research. It’ll add a lot to the book, but…. it’s your work, you must decide what’s best.’  

I was not a happy bunny.  

It felt exactly the same as having my Maths homework returned with loads of corrections to do.  

Let’s face it – my pride was hurt.  

Why wasn’t it OK as it was?  

Why did I have to do more research?  

Why wasn’t it a masterpiece already?  


Picture the scene two weeks later.  

I’d researched for hours on the net, added several thousand words, re-arranged some of the chapters, changed some titles and felt quietly confident with the result. In short –  

I was a happy bunny.  

I knew she was right...


No-one likes to be corrected. Not really.  

Especially as an adult.  

It’s hard to admit when we haven’t got it quite right and need to do more work.  

But failing to write the perfect ‘first draft’ of my book taught me a lesson.  

It also illustrated the last two of my…  

6 Reasons That Failure Is Good For You.  

5.   ‘Failure’ shows you how you can, and should, improve.  

      Just when you think you’ve got it right, perhaps you haven’t.  Perhaps you ‘could do better’.  

6.   Failure shows you that nothing achieved easily brings satisfaction.  

I shall be so proud when I truly have finished and my editor tells me it’s ready for publication.  


Over to you!  

  • What have you worked extra hard on and finally completed with pride?
  • What have you failed at but secretly known you should have done more to succeed?
  • What has failure, in any sense, taught you?

All thoughts in the comments please!  


Header image by abyreed on Flickr.  

Rabbit photo by hans s on Flickr.  




Filed under adjust, anxious, excuses,, expectation, failure, hope, persistence, plans, progress, realistic, success

99 Achievements You May Have Overlooked ( Not To Be Read All At Once)

from Turkuu


Going into space.    

Our achievements seem to pale into insignificance compared.  


Bad word.  

Every achievement stands alone.  

We can all list our achievements and believe they ‘don’t count,’ if we compare them with being a successful astronaut.  

The point is, there is no comparison. It’s impossible to compare.  

On Tuesday I asked a question about achievements and one of our Spinners commented that  

she had no achievements to be proud of,  

and that made me sad.  

As a result, I decided to compile this list of  

99 Achievements You May Have Overlooked (Not To Be Read All At Once)  

Each one has been achieved by a person I know, or know about,  and some of mine are in there too.  

1.   You create a cottage style garden, from scratch  

2.   You get out of bed in the morning when you’re severely depressed  

3.   You travel to London to work when you’re blind  

4.    You take up belly dancing again after a long break  

5.    You undergo chemo when you’re 6 years old  

6.    You undergo chemo when you’re 60 years old  

7.    You choose breast reconstruction  

8.    You choose not to have breast reconstruction  

9.    You pass your driving test after 13 attempts  

10.  You travel in a lift when you’re claustrophobic  

11.  You bring up your child alone   

12.  You are a carer for an elderly parent    

13.  You give up a well paid job to care for your sick child  

14.  You keep a ‘gnome’ on display in your garden, although you hate them, because it was a precious gift  

15.  You become a regular hospital visitor  

16.  You befriend a difficult neighbour  

17.  You teach your teenage son how to budget  

18.  You read Lord of the Rings without skipping any of it  

19.  You produce a Bat-Man fancy dress costume with 2 hours notice  

20.  You keep taking driving lessons although your hands leave damp patches on the steering wheel  

21.  You lose 8 pounds in weight in time for your son’s wedding  

22.  You help a child to make cup-cakes without losing your patience  

23.  You pay off your credit card  

24.  You cut up your store cards  

25.  You take a flight in a micro-lite, despite a fear of enclosed spaces  

26.  You go snorkelling despite a fear of deep water  

27.  You go up a long spiral staircase to the top of an ancient Italian tower despite an acute fear of heights  

28.  You leave your abusive partner after years of trying to do it  

29.  You climb a proper mountain for the first time  

30.  You give a talk to a large group of professionals in your field, despite your natural shyness  

31.  You go on holiday abroad by yourself after recovering from agarophobia  

32.  You walk a marathon with a friend for charity  

33.  You walk through a field of cows despite your fear of them  

34.  You go to adult swimming classes   

35.  You have an article accepted by a national magazine  

36.  You join a gym despite not liking exercise and go twice a week for 3 months  

37.  You pick up an enormous spider without showing your fear to your husband who’s petrified  

38.  You give up alcohol for a month to show you can  

39.  You drive on the motor way for the first time, despite your fears   

40.  You take control and sort out your difficult housing situation  

41.  You help an unemployed friend to update his CV and, as a result, he gets a job  

42.  You leave your comfort zone and fly abroad for the first time  

43.  You successfully learn to play golf so you can see more of your OH  

44.  You cure yourself of your chocolate addiction (well, almost)  

45.  You visit a friend in Intensive Care despite feeling very scared  

46.  You ask a child to teach you how to skateboard in the park  

47.  You painstakingly research your family history back to 1700  

48.  You go to the dentist for the first time for years  

49.  You sign up to a writing class and discover a hidden talent  

50.  You make jam for the first time and it sets!  

51.  You learn how to take excellent digital photos  

52.  You apply for a part-time job, now that the children are at school, and you love it  

53.  You go to assertiveness classes to help with bullying in the workplace  

54.  You receive one of the largest ‘office leaving collections’ ever  

55.  You are a ‘stubborn optimist’ (you know who you are!) despite being on dialysis for ten years  

56.  You are dyslexic and achieve your degree. You’re considering a Ph D to follow  

57.  You take a risk and get your ‘purple wallet’  

58.  You start a successful antique market stall with no previous experience  

59.  You complete your promotion exam for the prison service despite being severely dyslexic  

60.  You bravely decide to drop out of your uni course after a year of doubt and despair  

61.  You choose not to wear a wig when your hair falls out after chemo  

62.  You decide  to travel abroad by yourself so you go off to China with ‘Just You’ (for solo travellers)  

63.  You undergo a 30 minute MRI scan despite your claustrophobia  

64.   You adopt a mistreated cat from Cat Rescue  

65.  You perform Karaoke at your daughter’s party in front of a room full of strangers  

66.  You  sit with your father in hospital on his last day on this earth  

67.  You go horse riding for the first time since childhood   

68.  You achieve a 2.1 degree at 43 years old  

69.  You jump in the deep end and take Copyblogger’s 7 Link Challenge  

70.  You book up for piano lessons at 60  

71.   You write your autobiography and have it published  

72.   You travel to Canada to find your birth father  

73.   You hand in your notice for the job you’ve been unhappy in for ages  

74.   You take your cat to the vet knowing it’s his last journey  

75.  You finally learn how to make a decent cup of tea for your fussy MIL, despite never drinking tea yourself  

76.  You play the piano with your feet because you have no hands  

77.  You handle an enormous python, to prove you’re cured of s snake phobia  

78.  You stand up for yourself against a bullying boss  

79.  You sign up to take A-Level Art with your daughter at her college, and you get an ‘A’  

80.  You survive a stroke at 50 with great courage  

81.   You learn how to make Christmas pudding and it’s as good as his mum makes  

82.   You bravely remove the heads and tails from a plate of prawns to conquer your squeamishness  

83.   You decide to stop being a people pleaser and learn to say ‘no’ when you want to  

84.   You decide to take control of your children’s difficult behaviour and make a realistic plan to achieve it  

85.   You set aside a whole day every week to be you and stick to it  

86.   You make up your mind that you’re not just a housewife  

87.   You decide to stop harming yourself by pulling out your eyelashes. It’s not easy but you achieve it.  

88.   You join an internet dating site with confidence  

89.   You buy Dr Phil’s Book, Life Strategies, and start to follow his brilliant advice  

90.   You press publish on your very first blog post, despite the butterflies  

91.    You  hold down a job you enjoy despite 4 hours daily commuting  

92.    You speak up at a business meeting despite worrying that you’ll look foolish  

93.    You run a successful Parenting Course, overcoming your self-doubt  

94.    You spend nearly a year writing a book, finally seeing it published  

95.    You put your child’s needs before your own, always.  

96.    You walk through a flurry of bees on the lavender path,although you’re terrified of them  

97.    You go into the anaesthetic room with your daughter without showing her your fears  

98.    You decide to start a blog to show your readers that Positivity can be found all around us  

99.    You complete writing/reading this list!  Phew!  

Still believe you have no achievements?  


When you have a few hours to spare, write your own list.  

I guarantee it will be a long one.  

Why not add your most important achievement, in the comments?  


Header image by abyreed, on Flickr 


Filed under action, change, dyslexia, expectation, fear,, goals, happiness, hope, persistence, phobia, plans, positive, progress, realistic, risk, success

How To Face Your Fears When You’re Too afraid To Try

‘I can’t…’

‘It’s all too much…’

‘I’ll never be able to…’

‘I’m so scared…’

Fear attacks us all.

It’s part of life.

Somehow it always seems far worse at night.

After writing about Night Fears yesterday, I’ve been thinking

and this is my Positive Spin on facing your fears.

Fear thrives in the dark.

It can be whatever it wants to be because we can’t see it.

It can take any form, any shape.

It can fill our minds with nightmarish imaginings and they multiply.

One fearful thought leads to another and before we know it we’re rigid, stuck, unable to face any of it.


we turn on the light.

As soon as we do that, fear cannot cope.

It shrinks, disappears, scuttles away into the corners where it thinks the light can’t go…

Light tells the truth.

It shows us how it is, not how we imagine it is. It makes everything clear, shows every detail. We can see the way we should go.

We’re no longer stuck.

In the darkness we say –

  • What if…
  • I can’t…
  • How can I…
  • I might not…
  • It might mean…

But when we ‘turn on the light’ we can say…

  • What’s the worst that can happen?
  • I can…
  • I might be able to…
  • Tell me more about…
  • All I need to do is…
  • Could you help me to…


Here’s my Positive Spin on the problem.

How to face your fears when you’re too afraid to try.

1.   Be clear about what fear is.

Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat.

Notice the word perceived.

We all have different perceptions of fear.  I’m not afraid of clowns, others are!

What we need to do is reduce the perceived threat and the fear will reduce also.

2.      Take your head out of the sand.

Unless we accept that we’re afraid we can’t begin to face the fear.

Say it out loud. To the cat. To the dog.  You could even write it down.

3.   Turn on the light.

By this I mean, see it for what it actually is, not how you imagine it is. Stare your fear in the face. Decide to face it.

4.   Gather support.  Share the fear…shrink the fear.

There are many ways to do this –

  • google the problem,  
  • phone a friend/fellow sufferer,
  • talk to your GP/other half/mentor,
  • ask your family to help you.

5.   Take some action today, however small.

The longer we put it off the larger our fear grows.  You can say, ‘I don’t want to think about this right now. I’ll have another glass of wine…’

But tomorrow the fear will have morphed into a much larger fear.  It won’t simply ‘go away’. It’ll lurk in the dark corners of your mind.

With every ‘small’ action you will watch the fear start to shrink.

 As Dr Phil says,

‘If you want different you must do different.’

Dr Phil McGraw ‘Life Strategies.’

Last week I saw a challenge on Problogger.  As a newish blogger I immediately felt out of my depth, uncomfortable, incapable of taking the challenge. Others might be able to do it but not me.

Then, over on Jean’s Virgin Blogger Notes, I read her post about the challenge. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone. Gradually I began to face it, to at least try. The result was the post I wrote two days ago.

Jean read it and gave me the compliment of leaving a comment.


I faced the fear, albeit a small one to some, but I perceived it as large.

I faced my fear when I was too afraid to try and learnt a great deal about myself in the process.

 It’s the same for you!

Whatever your fear is, small or large, just face it.

I know it works.

What fears have you faced?

What fears will you face, now that you’re not too afraid to try?

Leave a comment

Filed under action, anxiety, anxious, excuses,, expectation, failure, fear, hope, plans, positive, progress, risk, safe, success


She’d spent £25,000 on her addiction.

She had no confidence in her future.

She was addicted to Psychics.

I listened as she described, on GMTV, how she was unable to make any decisions without consulting a psychic. She wanted to know exactly what the future held and she totally believed what those ‘money spinners’ told her. She sought help for every area of her life, totally reliant on someone else’s guidance and totally obsessed.

She has stopped wasting her time and money now, but had been completely hooked for many years.

Such a sad tale.

In my view, the only person who can reassure you about your future is YOU!

The Best Way To Predict The Future Is To Invent It

Alan Kay


It’s All About YOU!

  • YOU act
  • YOU choose
  • YOU decide
  • YOU speak
  • YOU behave
  • YOU think
  • YOU believe
  • YOU react
  • YOU allow
  • YOU relate
  • YOU give
  • YOU change
  • YOU succeed
  • YOU progress
  • YOU learn

And perhaps most important of all, you become the confident person you want to be.


I’ll write in more detail about some of the above in the next few days.

Leave a comment

Filed under action, adjust, change, Confidence Coaching, goals, persistence, plans, positive, progress, success