It’ll Be Fine When I Get There

I have anxiety. It’s great fun. I’ve learned to cope with it for the most part. Little tricks that make living with it more bearable. Because anxiety lies just as much as depression, let me tell ya.

I think of my anxiety in two ways: anticipatory and aftermath. The holidays are a great illustration of how this works.

First we have the anticipatory. I literally start having the anticipation anxiety as soon as November starts. I’m thinking of the gifts that I have to make and the places I have to be and the trinkets that I have to buy and the money I have to spend. All of that is pretty understandable. The holidays are overwhelming for lots of people. It’s a stressful time.

But the anxiety means that there’s no release valve. There’s no relief when I get something on the Grinchmas To Do List finished. Is it good enough? Will they like it? Could I have done better? Do they think I’m cheap? These thoughts continually pop up in my head no matter how many times I answer these questions.

And then there’s the actual going of places. I imagine most people who have decent-to-good relationships with their families don’t have much in the way of anxiety when it comes to seeing them for the holidays (except for maybe traffic). Well, I do. In fact, I have anxiety any time I’m supposed to see anyone because what if I’m wrong? What if this isn’t the right day? The right time? Am I dressed appropriately? Do they really want me there? Now because I tend to have low level anxiety whenever I go anywhere, this is easier to deal with. I just remind myself that it’ll be fine when I get there. Because it will be. It always is. But I need that mantra.

Then there’s the aftermath anxiety.

No matter how well things went, I am inevitably smacked with this sort of anxiety (it happens a lot after I record a podcast or submit a story). When it comes to the holidays, it means I get home from my merry-making (where I usually have a good time) and the questions start again. Did I say the wrong thing? Did I do this wrong? Did I sound/look like a moron? Was I wrong about something? Did I sound sincere enough when I thanked them for the present? Was I appreciative enough? I have come to depend on meditating to help me purge my anxiety, as I think of it. Otherwise, I can’t sleep and when I do, I dream about it, the distorted barrage of questions invading my slumber.

Between my amped up anxiety and my usual holiday blues, the holidays are a great time. So much of my exhaustion actually comes from trying to maintain some sort of mental health so I can function. A couple of years ago, the blues went into a full blown depressive episode. This year, my anxiety is pummeling everything. At this point, I’m willing to sign a petition to have December cancelled.

But like every other day when my anxiety acts up, like every other year at this time, I remind myself…

It’ll be fine when I get there.

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Getting the Grinchmas Spirit

Grinchmas 2015

I’ve had a really hard time getting into the Grinchmas spirit this year. I haven’t been particularly inspired when it came to making Grinchmas gifts and I haven’t been very willing to listen to Christmas music. I was even late getting my Grinchmas tree up.

But!

The Grinchmas tree is up. The gifts are made and wrapped and ready to be given. I’ve watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’ve heard a few of my favorite Christmas Carols.

I’m ready for my heart to grow three sizes.

Rob Whoville!

December Writing Projects and Other Tidbits

SnowflowerIt’s December! And December means that I don’t do as much writing work because I’m too busy wading through all of the holiday cheer to get much done. And yes, that was sarcasm because this has long been my least favorite time of year and I think I lost what precious little Christmas spirit I might have had back on November 1st when I inhaled about a pound of artificial snow during a floorset.

Anyway. Writing projects.

I’m going to continue working on The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys novella. Just writing 500 words a day, taking it very easy. I’m also going to start revising Voice, again taking it very easy. I have almost nothing made for Grinchmas so that’s where most of my energy is going to be directed. Making little bits of progress on writing projects is better than making none or stressing myself because I’m struggling to write and make Grinchmas. I can go full blast again in January.

Tidbits and News:

The distribution of The Ivy Russell Novellas paperback has hit a snag because that book is jinxed and/or I am terrible at my job. So for the foreseeable future, it will only be available on Lulu. Sorry for any inconvenience, but there shouldn’t be much because Lulu is just as good as the more popular marketplaces.

Speaking of other not so popular places, I’m doing a couple of holiday deals through Smashwords (which is compatible for most all eBook platforms) for my two 2015 eBook releases, The Ivy Russell Novellas and People Are Terrible.

Use the coupon code CW86C to get 15% off of The Ivy Russell Novellas.

Use the coupon code DS99F to get 15% off of People Are Terrible.

These coupons are only valid at Smashwords and the deals end on Christmas, so don’t miss out!

Making Grinchmas

English: Three Christmas ornaments

I make as many presents as I can for Grinchmas. The present depends on the person. My nieces always get jewelry, but what kind of jewelry varies from year to year (and request to request; I’ve been making them jewelry for years so they anticipate it now). Other folks I try to come up with something unique, but if I can make several for different people, I find that handy.

Last year a couple of my friends got little recipe books that I personalized for them while several of my family members got mason jars that I wrote on with hot glue and then painted silver so the writing would show up. I filled the jars with either tea or hot chocolate and attached candy canes with ribbons.

This year I found a recipe to make dough for Christmas ornaments and decided that would be a good idea. Creative and unique and I could make several of them for different people. Of course I’m making jewelry for my nieces (including the newest one I picked up through my sister’s marriage) and my cousin’s girlfriend, and my mother requested that I sew her some kitty curtains and coasters for her new house (I’ll post an explanation with pictures about all of that later).

While it’s nice to have everything known and lined out and whatnot, I’ve found that once again I’ve put the pressure on myself time-wise. And I even started earlier this year than last year!

Part of the pressure comes from trying to do all of these things between three jobs and writing. The other part comes from the fact that some of this stuff has to be mailed and if I want it there before the holiday, I need to have it done sooner than everything else.

The biggest part of the pressure, though, comes from my brain. I feel like I need to have this done NOW. And I won’t be happy until it is all done. Never mind that I sew by hand and that I have to wait for my charms to arrive by mail and that paint needs to dry. Now. NOW.

It’s like there’s a self-imposed deadline is in my head. More like a clock ticking down to detonation. If I don’t get this all done by a certain time everything will blow up.

The clock was running down for me this past weekend. I could see it in my head, ticking down to Sunday night. Which was kind of silly. Of everything that I still had to do (most of the jewelry and the kitty curtains were already done), only the coasters HAD to be finished (I delivered the curtains last week and I promised the coasters by Tuesday). Most of the ornaments won’t be delivered until Christmas Eve/Day. Of those that have to be mailed, I still have time for that. Ditto with the bracelet I have to make (the one for my niece’s birthday, which is a week before Christmas, is a little more pressing, but not that much really).

So I spent the weekend frantically thinking about all of the things I needed to have done and doing those said things.

Not the most restful weekend, but at least I’m almost ready for Grinchmas.

Now I just need to start wrapping things.

But that’s another post.

The Definitive Grinchmas Post

grinchmas2013The purpose of this post is to concisely explain Grinchmas to anyone who might be curious as to what I’m talking about when I refer to it on Twitter or Facebook (because I’m usually not being an actual Bah Humbug when I talk about it) or tell folks to Rob Whoville instead of one of the standard December sayings. It might also be used as a sort of blueprint in case anyone else would like to celebrate or create their own December holiday alternative.

The Origin of Grinchmas (in a nutshell)– I created the holiday in reaction to the material gluttony of Christmas and the Christians telling me I HAD to say “Merry Christmas”, but shouldn’t be allowed to celebrate it because I’m not Christian.

How I Celebrate Grinchmas:

-I bid people “Rob Whoville” instead of saying “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays”, or any of the other standard phrases. When the Grinch robbed Whoville, the reaction of the Whos made him realize that Christmas was about more than presents and his heart grew three sizes that day. “Rob Whoville” means more to me than “Merry Christmas”.

-My Grinchmas decorations (which curiously look a lot like Christmas decorations) are put up on December 1st and come down on December 31st, completely contained within the month of December.

-I make as many Grinchmas gifts as I can. The few Grinchmas gifts I buy are bought with gift cards that I earn through a market research program (and those gift cards are specifically for Grinchmas; I don’t consider them mine to use for myself for the most part). The only money I spend on Grinchmas is for any materials I might need to make gifts.

And that’s about it. That’s how I roll in December. It’s the way I prefer to celebrate the holiday season. I can still blend in and do Christmas with my family and friends and such, but for me, doing Grinchmas is much more fulfilling. Instead of going through the motions like I used to do, the motions now have some meaning.

Grinchmas is a made-up thing and I’m sure it will continue to evolve with the years, but these are the basics, the FAQs, if anyone ever asked me about it. I’ll add to this post if I need to.

I don’t think I’ll need to.

The Night Before Grinchmas

Grinchmas 2012When I first started doing the Grinchmas thing a couple of years ago, I didn’t realize it would become an actual thing. At the time it was a reaction to all of the Christians demanding that I say “Merry Christmas” and then telling me I wasn’t allowed to celebrate their holiday because I didn’t belong to their religion (note: I have never had a Jew do this to me; apparently it’s a Jesus related thing). So I started telling people Rob Whoville! instead because I wanted them to embrace the meaning behind the month of December, let their hearts grow three sizes, and stop being dicks.

Yeah, that effort has pretty much been ignored as I ended up shaming a bunch of people on Facebook for crying persecution and saying they’re not allowed to say “Merry Christmas” DURING HANUKKAH. Seriously. It’s things like this that just aggravate my spiteful spirit. The more you say I have to, the more I do the opposite.

Anyway, that’s not what I meant about Grinchmas becoming a thing. It’s become a thing FOR ME.

Without much intention, I’ve found myself attaching behaviors and beliefs to the concept and forming traditions in regards to my made up holiday. Giving of myself is a big part of it. It comes from being broke. I can’t buy wonderful, awe-inspiring gifts and frankly, I shouldn’t have to. Instead, I give little things that I think someone will like and/or use. I want to give useful things. I want to make things for people.

This year, if I didn’t make the gift, then I bought it with Amazon gift cards I’ve been hoarding. Or I spent as little as possible on ready made items to assemble into a gift. That’s right. I tried to not spend any actual money on anyone. I wanted to give as much from myself as I could without coming across as stingy or cheap or in general an asshole.

Now, I probably will anyway. People are so conditioned in this day and age to go broke proving their love for friends and family by buying them as much as possible. Because I didn’t, I’m going to look like a dick. The exception might be my nieces because I’ve been giving them various handmade items for Christmas most of their lives. They’re used to Aunt Kiki not spending money on them, but spending time and creativity on them instead. (Besides, those kids are spoiled anyway; they don’t need me spending any more money on them.)

I’m not knocking anyone else’s holiday celebrations. If it makes you feel good by going into debt for your loved ones, then hey, rock on. I don’t pay your bills. Everyone should get to celebrate the way they want to. I’m just saying that with Grinchmas solidifying into a real holiday practice for me, I’m going up against what is considered normal and proper for the holidays. It’s not going to be understood by most people.

I’m going to be labeled a cheap asshole for celebrating this way. That’s what I’m saying.

And I’m kind of “Oh well” about it. Because it means something to me.

Grinchmas is just as made up as any other holiday. I’m just the only one practicing on it.

The moral of the story is December holidays are about more than free stuff, but in the end, we all like free stuff, so just be happy if you get free stuff from me. It means I care.