Holiday Letters- Can I Get a Reality Check?

by Liz on December 18, 2014

Broken gingerbread cookies.


As I may have mentioned before, I have a love/hate relationship with the tradition of holiday cards and letters. On the one hand, I love seeing pictures of my friends and/or their kids, dogs, horses, etc… I like getting the yearly update from those who do that sort of thing. And on the other hand, it’s all too easy to slip into feelings of jealousy, inferiority and insignificance when I read about their overachieving kids, successful careers, glamorous vacations and so on.

Meanwhile, I’m staring at a pile of unfinished tasks that never seems to diminish, a kitchen sink that desperately needs re-grouting, a handful of frustrated ambitions, and a kid who is often wonderful, usually pretty average and occasionally a candidate for boarding school.

I can start to believe that everyone else is having a better life than me!

When these feelings start to brew and I’m tempted to eat a whole plate of cookies, I have to remember that this is the highlight reel of someone else’s life. These are the stories that have happy endings or make for good photo-ops.

And I get it. After all, part of what I do as a coach is help people tell the best (most empowering) stories about their own lives. I’m all for telling awesome stories about our experiences.

The problem (for me!) comes when I forget that these awesome stories and gorgeous photos aren’t the whole story. The cards and letters that make me feel the crappiest are usually those from people I only hear from at this time of year. These are the friends who are distant (whether because of geography, lifestyle, whatever), but who I still want to maintain some kind of connection with. So we touch base in this very limited way once a year.

I know nothing of their every-day lives, so the only data I have is the pintrest-perfect photo and the rundown of the high points of their year. So of course their lives look nothing but wonderful. I’m missing a huge piece of the picture!

The closer I am to the person behind the letter or the photo, the less prone I am to these feelings of jealousy or inferiority because the more likely I am to know more of their stories- the hard times, the boring times, the merely ordinary times.

It’s only when I’m not privy to the ordinary details of someone’s life that the highlight reel sparkles brightly enough to blind me to what I know must be true: no one’s life looks like this all the time. Of course everyone must have their share of hard times, boring times and merely ordinary times.

Remembering this little bit of reality helps me, and maybe it will help you if you are prone to similar reactions to the cards and letters that come this time of year or any time you’re exposed to an overdose of highlight reels without the balancing backstory.

At the end of the day, I don’t really believe that everyone is having a better life than me. And on balance, if I had to pick between their basket of joys and pains and my own, I’m pretty sure I’d pick up my own basket any time.

So if you’re feeling like your life just doesn’t measure up, I’d invite you to consider that you’re seeing only the tiniest sliver (and the shiniest sliver) of another person’s life.

If you want a fun exercise, try writing next year’s holiday letter with all the activities, accomplishments and adventures you want 2015 to contain.  Then figure out what you need to do to make this happen.

If you’d like help turning these plans into action, let me know.  It’s one of the things I do best!


Closing the Circle

by Liz on November 21, 2014

Well, here we are- the end of my personal NaBloPoMo project.  And it’s a good thing I didn’t commit myself to any more than I did.

This month has brought more than the usual November craziness and things have taken a big left-turn in my world in the last few days.

So here I am.  Signing in/signing out.

I’d imagined a month of much more robust posts, plugging the book and so on.  But that’s not what’s happened.  I still have a few posts outlined and I’m sure I’ll get those finished up sometime in the next little while, but this exercise seems to have been about just showing up day after day, even when I think I have nothing to say.

So for that I’m going to call it a win!


Kitty Therapy

November 19, 2014

  This week has taken a turn for the hard and while there may be plenty to write about at some point, right now, I’m indulging in a much-needed moment of kitty therapy.  

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On Falling Down and Getting Up Again (and again and again!)

November 18, 2014

Well, perhaps no one but me has noticed, but my NaBloPoMo ambitions have (once again!) proved to be bigger than my capacity to carry them out. This is the story of my life! And like any story (especially the story of one’s life), it deserves a little critical scrutiny to see if it is a […]

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Family Traditions…and Cheesecake!

November 12, 2014

This is a family heirloom. I know, it doesn’t look like much and it’s definitely not as sexy as a diamond broach or a silver tea set. But I love it and feel very grateful that when my Grannee died, I got to keep this cookbook.  It’s not even a proper cookbook (though she had […]

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When will I learn???

November 11, 2014

It is well documented that my brain is at it’s best in the morning. This is why I normally schedule writing time or anything that requires high-level thinking before noon.  And yet today, I rearranged my day for reasons that made sense at the time, and were in some ways more ‘efficient.’  It meant less […]

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Good Morning Wishes for Parents of Preschoolers…

November 10, 2014

  If I were a fairy godmother and could wave a magic wand over all the homes with toddlers and preschoolers, here’s what I’d wish for you: First of all, a good night’s sleep for all the parents! Some time in the morning (at least ten minutes, or maybe an hour) that’s just for you. […]

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Seven Strategies for All Good Mornings

November 7, 2014

    All Good Mornings is now available and I’m so thrilled with the feedback I’ve been getting.  Moms from Colorado to New York to Canada have been kind enough to let me know how much the book has helped them understand what’s really happening in the mornings, and how to make things easier for […]

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Today’s Lunch: Roasted Carrot Soup

November 5, 2014

      This was my lunch today.  Roasted Carrot Soup. It all started a week ago when we were expecting a freeze here and my husband, ever the attentive gardener, pulled all the carrots.  And there were a LOT of carrots! Last year we tried blanching and freezing which worked OK, but they got […]

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Woolf on Writing…

November 4, 2014

So lovely that this came through my Facebook feed this morning. It was a great reminder that writing is its own…. reward isn’t quite the right word, but writing has its own value apart from the value of what is written. It’s a place I get stuck sometimes and one of the reasons I think […]

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