Saturday, December 21, 2013

Is it OVER YET??? By Karen McGovern

I’m not talking about preparing for Christmas.  So there.  We’ve all heard enough, amiright?  It’s in four days.  Enough said.  Well, okay, the only thing I’ll say about getting ready for Christmas is that I made an ornament.  By accident.  I was fooling around with some copper wire and this happened.  My first, and probably last ornament ever.  A partridge.  Or maybe a French hen?  Is it a calling bird?  Man, that song has a lot of birds in it…whatever.
 
 
In fact, this post is about the aftereffects of Christmas.  The post-holiday funk that can, and does, descend upon many of us.  Not just us artists, but all of us.  The period of delirium that begins in October and rushes through January is pretty spectacular.  Planning, creating, obsessing, scheduling, rushing, procrastinating, then panic with a nice splash of chaos thrown in at the end…just because.  It’s such a weird time of year.  So much crammed into a relatively short time span.  Frankly, it’s exhausting.  Then, the big day comes, we have a blast, and….it’s over.  You wake up after Christmas with an emotional hang-over that can sometimes be pretty crippling.  Family disperses, wrapping paper, boxes and tinsel are thrown away and the tree suddenly looks a bit harsh and dried out in the morning light.  What just happened?

 
I find that after the holidays I need a good 10 days to 2 weeks of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  And that is just fine and dandy, thank you.  No, I will not be firing up the torch and creating anything new.  I won’t be in my studio at all.  My brain at this point is equivalent to soft serve ice cream.  Stick a fork in me, I’m DONE.  If you need me I will be curled up on the couch with a book, or listening to the soundtrack from Inside LlewlynDavis (the best collection of music I have come across in a looooong time.  Get it.  Right now.  Seriously).  Or I may be visiting with my new best friend, Delilah, a baby bongo antelope we are hand rearing.

Yes, I am utterly adorable.  Deal with it.
Don’t fret the non-existent afterglow of Christmas.  Embrace it and use the time to recharge.  Let somebody else cook dinner.  Don’t answer the phone if you don’t want to.  Turn off the computer.  Sleep in if you can (YES I KNOW I AM CRAZY HERE).  Most of all, don’t let anyone make you feel bad for…well…feeling bad.  Not everyone fa-la-las happily forever.  For some of us, Christmas is WORK.


Courtesy of craftfail.com
I’m not going to get all dark on you here, just wanted those of you that understand what I’m talking about to know you’re not alone.  I can only use a candy cane as a stir stick in my coffee for so long.  I’ve learned to simplify holidays, so that there might—just might—be a chance to actually enjoy them (or at least recover from them a bit quicker).  While I admire those that can flawlessly pull off a Martha Stewart holiday of dreams, I cannot.  And trying to do so just sets me up for an even bigger let down when it doesn't all come together like the magazine promised. 

There are no rules or sure-fire ways to make it through the holidays if they are difficult for you.  You simply have to find what works for you and stick with it.  I recently read a scientific study has proven that memories of unpleasant events are more firmly planted in our brains than happy memories.  Thanks, Science, we really needed THAT.  Anyway, what I try to do every year is make note, in some real way, of the wonderful things that do occur during the holidays.  The thoughtful, unexpected gift/call/visit from a friend or loved one.  The smell of the Christmas tree.  The look on my cat’s face when he discovers said lit and decorated tree.  The wonderful meals shared with friends, even if it's just a quick lunch on the fly.  All this might sound trite or stupid, but that damned scientific report is right.  We do remember with great ease (and stunning detail) all the uncomfortable or unpleasant things in our past and the good stuff just gets lost.  So capture the good any way you can.  I write it down and take lots of pictures of moments that make me smile.  I make notes and stick them on my ‘fridge.  Song lyrics that cheered me, quotes I’ve read, whatever, so I can see them over and over again and remember that it’s not all bad.  And when that isn’t enough I plug my ears with noise cancelling headphones and crank up some really good music and maybe sit and cry for a bit.  Defuse any way you can, and do not for one minute feel guilty about it.


There have been other scientific studies that prove creative people are often plagued with depression or depressive thoughts because we emote more.  I guess that’s a clinical way to say we FEEL MORE.  I suppose that’s true.  The question is, what do you plan to do about it?  I suggest owning it.  Accept the feelings.  Try not to keep things bottled up.  As cliché as it sounds, writing down your thoughts does help.  I don’t keep a journal or anything; I’m far too undisciplined for that.  But, I do rant on my personal blog and write quite a bit for myself.  Give it a try…it can’t hurt.
In the meantime, try to remain present.  By that I mean try not to let the past become the only reference point for your well-being.  Hang on to happy memories with a white-knuckle grip, but don’t obsess if the current situation pales in comparison.  I often have to give myself a mental shake when I begin to slide into those “I wish Christmas was like it was when I was five” feelings.  That is pointless.  All you have is here and now.  MAN, I AM GIVING AWAY CLICHES TWO FOR ONE TODAY!!!  Lucky you…


Cake stencils?  That's a real thing?
Okay, I’m done.  Grab 2014 by the--ahem--bells and run with it.  There is a fresh, New Year out there waiting for us.  Let’s do something SPECTACULAR with it, shall we?  See you next year….

8 comments:

elisabeth said...

Great post - well said! Thank you and happy 2014!

Artisan Beads Plus said...

Thanks for the laugh! How true....... I particularly like the Martha Stewart reindeer.... lol! Hilarious! We get Martha Stewart' magazine sent to us for some reason (never asked for it) and it goes right in the recycling bin! My biggest thrill this year was running into Ebenezer Scrooge at a local event and leaned down to my three year old grandson and said, "See that guy there.... that is Nonnie's best friend!" Of course, I know he had no clue what I was talking about, but I got some satisfaction out of the moment and Ebenezer liked it too!

Lela said...

This is so well written...great post, Karen. I know we can all identify with it. Thank you!

Robbie said...

Love, love the ornament!!! So cool!!!

Kathy Lindemer said...

Well said! Thank you for taking time to give us all some thoughts worth reflecting upon.

Cory Tompkins said...

I Like anyone who can make me laugh out loud from their writing and you have made the list...thank you for that!! This year I'm taking two weeks off, Christmas and the week after and I can't wait!!

stacilouise said...

so very true! it is a blur from October to January 1st! and depression run rampant. so many suffer silently. I try to be thankful for the little things. being thankful helps me to remain present, and to not be worrying about how it wish it was, or how it was in the past. some days its hard, but once you start to make yourself be thankful- you start to feel thankful. and that brings joy. today I am thankful for NO real AGENDA. just clean up and enjoying the post holiday quiet

Ema Kilroy said...

Thank you! This year was particularly rough for me and I can't really put my finger on a reason as to why. I'm just glad it's over. Thank you for the post. I am looking forward to 2014!

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