Festive Season: Battle or Break?

Port Elliot Beach. Photo by Jennifer Sando.

Port Elliot Beach. Photo by Jennifer Sando.

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. –E.B. White

This year, it was important to me to put out content during the holiday break. I’d made a promise to myself to publish one blog post a week, and I was not going to let Christmas stop me from keeping up my side of the bargain.

While I believe that downtime during the festive season is necessary for recharging, the Christmas break is never relaxing for me. I am fortunate to have a wonderful extended family that strive to maintain the tradition of the annual catchups, which spans three days.

In between the Christmas shopping, the gift-wrapping, the cooking, the errands, the visiting, the over-eating and the drinking, the house-cleaning, and the retraining for my youngest (who was confused and overstimulated by all the partying), I can never catch a break—let alone be recharged by it.

When I hadn’t looked at my blog in 6 days, and knowing we were due at a beach town for a mini holiday from December 27th, it was clear my agenda was in control of me.

With each phone notification of new content from folks that I follow on social media, I grew more and more antsy. I was scheduled to publish my weekly blog post in a matter of hours and there I was, sitting in the recliner in my youngest’s room (coming up to two hours of trying to get him to go to sleep), ready to admit defeat.

When I finally got out of my boy’s room, I felt drained, frustrated, and sad. If I break my promise to myself, what does that say about my commitment level? And when New Year’s Eve rolls around, will I break my promise again?

I was annoyed at myself for not being more organised. The last thing I wanted to do was make excuses. Unlike the writers and entrepreneurs that inspire me. They plan for the breaks. (Some even double the content they put out over this time.) I should have been proactive and had an unpublished holiday post at the ready.

Comparisons don’t serve a purpose and I could feel that I was placing too much emphasis on what others are doing to get themselves out there. But, I’d made a decision to find myself an audience and even though my start has made little impact, I have started nonetheless, and I didn’t want to jeopardise my momentum.

No Matter What

My husband, bless him, said: don’t be so hard on yourself, It’s Christmas. But that’s the difference between a serious writer and a hobbyist, I told him. It’s the difference between what I am trying to be, and what I am trying to break away from. This does not compute when I’m striving to be one of those “no matter what” writers.

Is writing or creating during a break the difference between a serious creative and a hobbyist?

Is it wrong that I want to have a “no matter what” attitude when it comes to my writing or should I be cutting myself some slack? Showing up each week, come rain, shine or Christmas, is what I’d expect from a writer who is trying to build and maintain trust with her readers…

Despite my fatigue, it was around 11pm when I got my butt in my chair, ignoring that I was behind in schedule, and began to write the shell of a post. Two hours later, my boy was unsettled again, and it was time for me to hit the lights, rather than hit publish. I was nowhere near ready and I’d wanted to keep going. My boy needed his mamma however, and even if I were a fully fledged entrepreneur, that would still be the executive decision that I’d make.

My mind wandered to the following morning; it was going to be a mad rush to load the car for a four-day beach holiday. I had to accept that my post wasn’t going out this week. I didn’t want to go to the beach—I craved writing time and downtime. I brought my boy into my bed and at least we both slept soundly.

We arrived at Port Elliot. I brought my iPad, still hopeful for my blog post. Better late than never, I told myself, as I picked my room and tried to continue where I’d left off. I had a view of the southern hills and a whiff of the sea, and my parents were around to help out with the kids. I was determined to finish the post.

I did write, but wasn’t happy with the piece. It felt incomplete but it was not obvious why. What I was feeling, what I had written and what I wanted the reader to take away was not the same thing. I left it alone, unsure how to fix it.

Then I was forced to come out for a walk at dusk. Through a pathway that ran between the houses, and over the road, and down the steps with logs for rails, a scenic masterpiece awaited me. Creamy light glazed over the brown sugar sand and the tame blue-green sea, with foamy waves that looked like cake frosting. A pink ribbon was woven through the endless Port Elliot sky. God had greeted me with open arms.

One look at all of this and I was recharged. It was about thirty minutes of heaven, but it was all I needed. I’d pushed through the chaos and finally got my downtime.

I took a deep breath, a huge smile across my face because I understood how to make my blog post gel together.

The Rhythm of Life

I forgot that good writing can be born out of chaos and out of harmony, and out of the cracks in between. The universe has a time and place for everything, even if you don’t see where or how the pieces fit within a schedule.

I guess that some people have a knack for thriving and creating in a state of disarray, but if you’re not like that (neither am I), all you can do is ride the wave. Only one thing gets you to where you need to be: patience.

I’d been concerned about inconsequential matters; it’s not about the difference between seriousness and a hobby, and it’s not about what happens if I don’t publish weekly. It’s also futile to think that I am entitled to a writing routine without interruption—there is hardly a place for this with motherhood.

Waiting for the rhythm of life to change to suit me only brings about frustration. I need to remember that the words are always with me and I just need to teach myself how to bring them out no matter what is going on around me, break or no break.

This was the clarity I needed, which only came when I remembered the importance of balance during a moment of much-needed patience.

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About Jennifer Sando

I am a writer and photographer, and author of the book, Picture In A Frame.

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5 Replies

  1. Great piece Jennifer. While the Festive season is a difficult time to find writing periods, this particular struggle is one I face 365 days a year as I juggle the realities of work, looking after elderly relatives & other commitments with writing. This is a good reminder about balance & patience. Cheers, Fontella

    1. Hi Fontella. I’m afraid I struggle most days, too, but there’s always that expectation that things will be easier on a break, huh? : ) Thank you for your comment. PS – I just love your name.

  2. Caroline

    ‘Waiting for the rhythm of life to change to suit me’. You hit the nail on the head. Mind blown.
    Your quote might be my new motto. The kick up the butt I need to remind me to focus on me, not just the kiddlywinks. Thanks!

    1. Caroline! I hope you are well. Lovely to see your comment on my blog. I’m glad there was something you could take away from what I wrote. Thank you! : )

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