Intentional Christmas

in·ten·tion·al

inˈten(t)SH(ə)n(ə)l/
adjective
          done on purpose; deliberate. Conscious, premeditated, preplanned.

Christmas living room ©CatrinaAtHome

If you’re like me, the Christmas season is a time you look forward to all year long! I mean, what’s not to love? Most people are in a better mood, everything is made prettier with lights and greenery… and most importantly, cookies.  Priorities, people. We rightly want to squeeze every little moment out of December that we can.
If you’re also like me, some years you wake up on December 26th a little bummed out that “it’s” over and you didn’t do all that you wanted to and you know it’s going to be 11 months before you can start celebrating again. (sniff, sniff) Stuff happens and life just gets in the way, sometimes.
The idea of an Intentional Christmas is simply this:
Decide in advance what you want the Christmas season to look like for you (and your family). 
Do you want a relaxed/laid back Christmas season or one packed with fun and adventure?
What will work best for you and your family?
What are the top five things (in order of importance) that you want to do or experience during the Christmas season?
What new traditions do you want to start for your family?
Here are a few things you might want to add to your list of intentions:
1. Have a Christmas movies ‘n’ jammies night (once or as often as you want).
2. Go see Christmas lights together.
 Outdoor christmas lights 1
3. Read the Christmas Story in Luke, together.
4. Make cookies and/or treats together.
IMG_9603
5. Do an Advent calendar.
6. Have mandatory rest nights, 1-2 nights a week.
7. Decorate a gingerbread house together to eat Christmas morning.
8. Attend a Christmas Eve service at a nearby church.
9. Make simple Christmas cards and send them to family and close friends.
Christmas cards ©CatrinaAtHome
10. Have one night where you eat snacks and make paper snowflakes and paper chain decorations as a family.
11. Go ice skating!
12. Get all Christmas shopping done before December 20th.
13. Decorate the Christmas tree together.
14. Sleep in and watch cartoons on Saturday morning.
15. Make a homemade Nativity.
Christmas Nativity ©CatrinaAtHome
Most of us don’t have trouble thinking of new things to do in the Christmas season but saying NO can be a little difficult. Sometimes it’s those last minute invites that cause the most stress, am I right? They don’t mean to, of course, but figuring out what you’re going to wear, finding a babysitter, picking up a hostess gift etc. etc… can stress a girl out!  The good thing is, if you have written intentions for your season ahead of time, you can just say- thanks for the invite but our family has plans to relax/make dinner together/watch It’s a Wonderful Life that night. (whew!)
Four Tips:
  • Try working on your Christmas Season Intentions together as a family and post it on your refrigerator when you’re finished.
  • Pull out the school calendar and the family calendar and decide what you’re going to add in and what you’re going to skip this season.
  • Don’t forget to plan one or two rest nights a week to help everyone rest, recover and bond.
  • If you have the energy for it, add in a Surprise Night where you do something unexpected and fun with the family. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun.
Most of all, I encourage you to be gracious to yourself and your family during this season. Sometimes stuff happens that is beyond your control. The ability to roll with those punches will help lower your stress and have a more peaceful season.
So tell me, what are a few of your Christmas intentions for this season? I would love to read about them in the comments.
And please, have a very merry intentional Christmas season!
-Catrina
Setting intentions for an awesome Christmas. CatrinaAtHome.com

The most effective form of exercise is…

I’ll never forget the question.
The crowd that day was eager to hear from Exercise Physiologist and trainer to the stars, Jimmy Pena (who also happens to be an old friend of mine) when it came out of nowhere:
“What is the most effective exercise you can do for physical fitness?”
hmmm..
Decked out in their track suits and tennis shoes, people were throwing out answers left and right- “Running!” “Spinning!” “Rowing!” “Crossfit?”
I admit, I was thinking up a few of my own, and once everyone quieted down he said, “After writing countless articles on health and fitness since 1998 (he’s being modest, he’s one of the nation’s most published fitness experts) and even after co-authoring or contributing to 6 health and fitness best sellers, I can say with certainty that the most effective form of exercise is (wait for it…) whatever you’ll do.”
huh.
That’s.. yeah.
wow.

(The truth is always simple.)

We all know that we can have the most sophisticated equipment, the best workout plan, etc., etc.. but if we have no desire whatsoever to even do the work, it does us no good, because we won’t do it. Right? (Raise your hand if you have now or have ever had a piece of exercise equipment that sadly became an extra closet or bookshelf in your bedroom. Hmmm? Anyone?)
I never had that problem. I love to work out. It’s ok, you can hate me. Lifting weights is enjoyable for me.
Well, that is, until about 3 months ago.. when my world turned upside down.
I was going through a big life change (which I’ll write about soon) and I started experiencing a drop in my energy level, and then out of no where, I completely lost my desire to lift weights.
(Moment of silence, please)
Utter sadness.
So I did what most fitness fanatics do. I pushed myself to stay after it anyways, going through the motions until one day I just couldn’t do it anymore. And I stopped.
What happened? Where’s the love? I mean, seriously, this wasn’t supposed to happen to ‘people like me’, I encourage others to work out and live healthy, I’m supposed to be the good example, dangit!

I felt bad and even guilty for not working out, don’t ask me why, I just did. Habit.
But the motivation had absolutely left me. And it was no where to be found.
It was about a week later, when I decided I wanted to finally start a garden in my back yard (after years of wishing), aaaaand I thought it would be cool to lay a brick walkway around the two beds (because I like to come up with new ways to torture myself).
Our home is 104 years old and every square inch of her bad self needs renovating, including the large mess behind the house most people refer to as a “back yard.” So, completely uncharacteristic of me, I started spending two hours outside every morning working on my back yard. Hauling around buckets of dirt, shoveling sand, carrying bricks of all shapes and sizes, digging compost trenches,

knocking the mortar off the old bricks with a small axe, etc..

And guess what? I loved it! (Whoa, stop the presses.)
I was out of breath and sweating up a storm (it was hotter than Hades out there), but I really loved it! The two hours flew by and I couldn’t wait to get back out there the next day. I felt like I did when I first started with weights. I felt at home.. and relaxed, it came naturally.
(Here’s my yard in progress..poor thing. If you blink you might miss my cucumbers coming in.)
So, somewhere in the middle of all that I stopped feeling guilty about not doing ‘regular exercise’ and started to see the work in my garden/backyard for what it was- a dang good workout. And wouldn’t you know it, just this week (some 3 months later), my love for lifting weights, returned. Aaaaand they’re back to kicking my butt. :-)
So, am I starting over in some ways? Have I lost a little ground in the weight room? Yes. There’s no other way around it. But what I gained was a refresher that exercise can be anything that’s physically demanding (and progressive), even hauling bricks and shoveling sand.. and it should be enjoyable. Because, bottom line, it doesn’t matter how “effective” a particular exercise is for the masses, what works best for me is… whatever I’ll do.

What is your favorite form of non-traditional exercise? Do you enjoy lifting weights? Do you have a garden? (Please say yes to that last question so you can help this little brown thumb out.) :-)