Finding Quiet Moments

By: Ashley Whisonant 

As I have written before, being a grown up is tough. I don’t care if you are a mom, dad, single, married, or none of the above! Worrying about bills, work, social life, family, and balancing it all… I have tried hard to find quiet moments to center myself and remember the important things in life.

christmasMaking time to take care for myself has now become more of a priority. I make sure to work out at least three times a week in the morning while my family sleeps. Thankfully, my neighbor convinced me to try an all-female work out group, FiA. We meet in the mornings, varying between 5:00 and 5:15, to work out and get better together. Those moments pushing myself and enjoying fellowship with other ladies has made me a better wife, mother, and employee at work.

Remembering the important part of the holiday season isn’t always easy. I get no less than fifty emails a day about a Christmas special or discount on something. Is that really what it is about this month? To refocus myself, my husband and I decided to make a commitment to going to church every Sunday. We are working hard to teach our boys of thinking of others this season. We found a quiet night after cleaning up from dinner last night. While listening to Christmas music, we wrapped presents as family. Did it take longer with a five and two year old? You betcha. Was it worth the extra time? Without a doubt, yes.

Work hard to find quiet moments this holiday season. In what ways do you find these special, quiet moments?

Buckeye Nuts

By: Rachel Sircy

buckeyes

If you ever want to get a hysterical laugh going in my family, especially around the holidays, just tell someone near to you that there are Buckeyes in the kitchen. This inside joke works best if my mother is just within earshot – my mother will become indignant and everyone else will start laughing.

The story behind this joke is the famous Christmas when our family was inundated with gifts of Buckeye candy from my mother’s friends. For those of you unfamiliar with this treat, Buckeye candy is made to look like the nut of a Buckeye tree. I don’t know how popular they are in South Carolina, but in my home state of Ohio (the Buckeye State) these chocolate peanut butter confections are the staple candy gift at the holidays. For some reason that Christmas my mother’s best friend and her husband decided to make countless dozens of them. When they realized they had more than they could handle, they foisted them off on us. We had candy coming out of our ears. My mother harassed the whole family and all of our guests that year trying to get us to eat the candy just so that she could be rid of it. By the end of the season we were so sick of chocolate we couldn’t stand to hear the word “Buckeye,” and still my mother harped, “Hey guys, if you have a sweet tooth, there are Buckeyes in the kitchen.” Nobody had anything resembling a sweet tooth for months after that Christmas.

Nevertheless, if you are looking for a delicious, easy to make edible gift, Buckeyes are great choice. The best part is that they are gluten free!

Since my family threw out all our recipes for Buckeye candy after the famous Buckeye candy incident of ’03, I am going to share a link to the Allrecipes website. This is a pretty authentic looking recipe and it will make quite a bit of candy.

Be Rebellious!

By: Shannon Boatwright

I am so often inspired by awesome quotes and posts. I recently came across a post on Instagram by #Girlboss…

“In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.”

be rebelliousYes! Bravo! Boom! Man, do I ever like this one. And goodness did I ever need it. Us humans are guilty of continuously thinking about, pointing out, picking out our flaws and all the things we wish we could change about ourselves. It’s way too easy to tear ourselves down, rather than simply focus on all our amazing, beautiful, and unique qualities. I personally am a master at picking out and focusing on my own flaws – or I should say, on what I think my flaws are. And I’m willing to bet most of you are pros at it too.

And let’s face it, society certainly profits off of our self-doubt! I won’t even bother going into the endless things in our everyday worlds that trigger insecurities, fear, self-doubt…you name it, it’s out there at every turn, ready to make a play on all our downfalls. For me, entering my 40s and constantly, consistently feeling overwhelmed, overworked, overstressed, underpaid, under-slept, exhausted, old….ugh…see, there I go, spending way too much time focusing on the negative! Why!?? Because it’s too darn easy!

So, here I go – GirlBoss has inspired me on many occasions and now, I choose to let this latest post of inspiration be my new mantra. Boom! Bam! And Bravo! I choose to LIKE MYSELF.

Goodness knows we could all use more moments of rebellion. I mean that in a good way of course! But come on, how backwards is it that in today’s world we have to label “liking ourselves” as an act of rebellion? UGH!!! ARGHH!!! And, UGHH again!

I accept the rebellious challenge and choose to like myself.

(Try saying that out loud….

Go ahead, say it out loud, I dare you.)

“I LIKE MYSELF!”

I personally choose to do my very best to focus on my pros, rather than my cons; my qualities, rather than what I think are my flaws; my blessings, rather than my hardships. I choose to be rebellious and not conform to society’s nonsense and let it tear me down. I choose to act with a rebel heart, accept myself and celebrate all of my fabulousness!

Will you do it? Can you be rebellious? :)

Elf Everywhere but the Shelf

By: Azure Stilwell

elf on the shelf

It’s December and for all parents of the new “Elf on the Shelf” generation, it is not all holly and jolly. It is a struggle to keep that little elf busy doing antics for 24 days, assuming he comes on December 1st. The idea originally started with the elf moving to a new spot every night so your child believes it has gone to see Santa to report on good/bad behavior – but then Pinterest got involved and the simple moving turned into silly antics every night.

This year, Santa gave Jake the low down. He wrote a letter explaining how the elf antics could be distracting for those trying to work during this busy time at the North Pole, so Santa really needs Jake to keep an eye on the elf so all goes well Christmas Eve. It was also a good way to teach Jake about Grace because sometimes our elf goes as far as hanging underwear over the mantle, wrapping our toilets in Christmas paper, and even tp’ing our living room with a fresh roll of toilet paper. For the most part it is fun but now that our oldest and most creative child is off at college, it has become harder for us parents to muster up the energy to keep the elf going every night. However, for the sake of believing, we will continue to peruse Pinterest for ideas and hope for the best.

I bring this up because a very clever friend of mine recently posted to her Facebook that her elf, Peppermint, had gotten stuck in a blizzard at the North Pole and wouldn’t be arriving for another week. That’s 7 more days of blissful elflessness. Wish I had thought of that but it is nice to know that we are not alone in our longing that sometimes the elf would just sleep at night.

Happy Holidays to all of you and if you have an Elf on the Shelf, we wish you the best of luck!  :)

Give the Gift of Receiving

By: Jeanne Reynolds

christmas season

The closest I got to shopping on Black Friday was a quick trip to the grocery store. (Downside of Thanksgiving dinner at someone else’s home: You don’t have a fridge full of leftovers to enjoy the rest of the weekend.)

Actually I must be missing a girl gene because I hate, detest, loathe shopping. Especially this time of year. My ideal Christmas shopping is more like a military maneuver: a lightning-fast surgical strike that identifies the target, removes it as quickly as possible and gets out.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t love giving. There’s no better feeling than seeing the delight on someone’s face when they receive something they truly wanted, or maybe didn’t even know they wanted and are surprised and thrilled.

Being able to share that feeling is also a gift — one that requires us to allow others to give.

And that seems to be difficult for many of us. Yes, gals, I’m talking to you, and to moms in particular. Genetic or cultural, most women I know are wonderful givers and caretakers, but sometimes struggle being on the receiving end.

christmas season

Case in point: My mom is 84 and lives nearby for the first time since I was in high school (we’re talking decades here). She’s a widow with a limited income and I’m half of a DINK household, so it’s fun to be able to treat her to lunch or tickets to the theater once in a while. When she comes to my home, I enjoy cooking for her and doing all the things she spent so many years doing for us.

The problem is she often has trouble accepting these “gifts.” She says it’s too much trouble for me, or I’m surely too tired, or she must pay half. I’ve tried to explain how happy it makes me to be able to give back to her, but I guess she’ll never stop feeling like she should be taking care of us. While I appreciate the love behind that, it does take a little of the joy out of giving for me.

I’m probably no different. How many times have I insisted I could handle a task myself instead of accepting sincere offers of help, or only accepting an invitation if I pay my share or contribute in some way? So, in the spirit of removing the plank from my own eye first, here are some mantras with which I’ll coach myself this holiday season (and beyond):

  • Thank you, I’d love to!
  • That would be wonderful. Thank you so much!
  • I really appreciate your help.

It’s a blessing to be able to give to others. And that includes giving others the chance to be givers, too.

3 Easy Steps for Sustainable Holiday Gifts

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: time to start shopping for holiday gifts. A shopper at heart, I love buying gifts for the special people in my life. As a “green girl,” I shop with sustainability in mind and wanted to share some tips so you, too, can be a more sustainable holiday shopper.

Think local. The Midlands area has really become a mecca for unique, locally produced items. One of the best locations for finding them all in one place is Soda City, Columbia’s Main Street market open every Saturday morning 9AM – 1PM, year-round, rain or shine. Recycled ornamentLocally produced products support the local economy, and they’re created here – not shipped in from across the country or even across the world. The footprint of your gift will be smaller and result in a cleaner environment.

Consider consumables. Having issues with clutter myself, I refuse to create more for the holidays, for me or for others. My standard gift is usually a recycled-content ornament, but this year I’m only buying gifts that can be used or eaten. The Cotton Mill Exchange at the SC State Museum has a great selection of Palmetto State gifts, including gourmet foods produced within our borders. Or select a gift card to a local restaurant, bakery or micro-brewery. Personally, I’ll be asking Santa for a gift certificate to Spotted Salamander, a downtown Columbia café featuring inventive Southern cuisine with fresh, high quality local ingredients.

Another favorite consideration? Think experiential. In the Midlands, it’s easy to find something for everyone on your list to enjoy, like tickets to a play or attraction you know they like. A donation in the name of your recipient will go a long way, too. At the top of my list is a membership to The Nickelodeon, Columbia’s art house theatre on Main Street.

Where is your favorite place to buy sustainable holiday gifts? And what is it you recommend there? What’s on your list for Sustainable Santa?

Maybe Not Home for the Holidays?

By: Stacy Thompson

Even though stores have been displaying Christmas and other holiday wares for several weeks now, generally the spirit doesn’t move me until after Thanksgiving. The weekend after Turkey Day, I put up my outdoor tree (as is the custom in Cayce – if you haven’t Christmasdriven the Avenues, Moss Creek or other neighborhoods in the 29033 zip code, I highly recommend it), start nailing down my gift lists (thank you Amazon Prime) and begin the internal debate of whether to put up my indoor tree. This debate is waged because, as a single person with no kids, I am the only one who has to drag out the boxes from the attic, assemble the pre-lit tree, hang about 10,000+ ornaments and then find room for the knick-knacks that I’ve accumulated through the years. Then, sometime after the big day, I alone get to wrap up said knick-knacks, de-ornament and disassemble the tree and then drag everything back into the attic. So the internal debate is waged between the nostalgic side of me that loves to stare at a decorated Christmas tree glowing in the night and the more practical side of me that wonders whether, truly, my dog give a hoot about a lit tree.  The jury is still out…

The holidays are an amazing time to travel, particularly when your team is playing in a bowl game (fingers crossed!) – but even if you’re not into chomping hot dogs in a football stadium this holiday season, here are a few of my favorite holiday locales…

  1. Vail, Colorado – You can’t beat a white Christmas, lights and snow everywhere – you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a fully dressed-out Santa flying down a mogul field.
  2. Nuremberg, Germany – The Christkindlesmarkt is amazing – Lebkuchen (gingerbread), nuremberger sausages, Glühwein…not to mention the ornaments and keepsakes for sale amongst hundreds of local vendors.
  3. New York City, NY – Likely freezing cold, but always festive. Don’t miss seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, ice-skating at Rockefeller Center under the tree, walking through Central Park or simply perusing the window displays on 5th Avenue.
  4. Roatán Island, Honduras or the Abaco Islands, Bahamas – If cold weather isn’t your thing, consider heading south. You really can’t go wrong with any of the islands or coastal resorts of Mexico, but Roatán and Abaco have amazing snorkeling and beautiful beaches. You can still have a “White Christmas” just on the sand instead of the snow!
  5. At home, with family and friends…for obvious reasons

Happy Holidays, everyone!