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The Perfect Gift you Can Give Yourself, Friends & Family and Your Company

Hint: You can't buy it on Amazon

I was driving home after spending the day at my company’s headquarters last Friday afternoon and called my husband to let him know I was on my way home.

“I’ll be home just before 6 and then I have that wine tasting thing at 7:30. I’m kind of dreading it, to be honest.”

Let’s let that sink. I was DREADING a WINE TASTING. Not a root canal or having to put our beloved pet to sleep….I was dreading a lovely evening that included laughter & conversation with smart and amazing women, wine, cheese, the best chocolate cake I have ever tasted. A night that culminated with a scoop of vanilla ice cream…In the wine.

And I said I was dreading it.

Who would dread such delight…such decadence? Yes, possibly an introvert whose idea of a perfect evening is watching the Hallmark channel in a Sleep Number bed wearing yoga pants. But it’s also someone who is exhausted because they have not given themselves the precious gift of margin. Leaving ourselves margin, time and mental space to breathe, is the pinnacle of self-care. It is essential because it allows us to be present.

For many of us, the holiday season can bring an increased sense of family responsibility and, along with it, additional feelings of stress. The joys of and reason for the season can feel lost as we scurry around trying to do even more than usual. But how can we be truly present with our family and friends or show up for those who are hurting or in need if we have no margin? How can we be focused and productive during arguably the most important month for many industries if we are tired? How can we be generous and joyful during the overall season if we are over scheduled, over stimulated and almost resentful of all of the demands on our schedule & items on our to-do list? How can we notice all that is good and precious around us if we are always distracted? How can we savor a wine float?

We must leave some margin to simply be. 

We can be a fussy people during the holidays. We scurry. We spend. We go. My challenge to myself this year is to not default to my standard playlist. Over shopping. Over committing. Over Doing. Getting lost in a to do list that seems to never end. Filling every open slot on the weekend, every moment with outings. It’s tempting, I know. We want to be #makingmemories with our families. But what if the memory that my daughter and my husband really want is that of peaceful, intentional, uninterrupted time?

This year, we are going to simplify. We are going to prioritize and breathe. Rather than adding to lists, we are going to cross some things off. We are going to embrace being imperfect and messy. We are going to leave some open slots in our calendar and revel in doing nothing. We are going to sometimes say “no” so we can be intentional and present in our “yes.” We are going to enjoy the blessing of our family and our friends. We are going to savor.

We are going to give ourselves the gift of margin. 

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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