It's the most wonderful time of the year. The perfect meal, smiling family members gathering, Pinterest decorations, loads of presents under the tree, a crackling fire, laughter filling the air. Can you see it? Yup. I see it in my mind, but I have yet to see it happen in my real life. And it's not that I haven't tried. Every year without fail, I do everything I can to create the perfect holiday, Normal Rockwell, unrealistic, postcard bullshit image.
However, my holidays usually play out like a combination of Christmas Vacation, Die Hard, and A Christmas Story. It doesn't matter how Pinterest perfect my table looks or how much I blow through my holiday budget; at some point, I end up feeling like a 13-year-old girl trying to please everyone but herself. There is inevitably some tension, awkwardness, and disappointment. The holidays trigger us and tap into deeply ingrained stories like our origin, money, and body stories. We navigate some heavy stuff during the holidays. The anxiety of creating unrealistic perfection and over-the-top experiences combined with family tensions, divorce, loss, and now, a global pandemic can make it feel like the most stressful time of the year. It brings up the emotions that (thanks, Norman) we're not supposed to feel or see during the holidays. We work our butts off to hide them, leaving us feeling like Hans Gruber, ready to kick some ass. As a result, our holiday feels less-than-perfect, often leaving us feeling less than, too.
We don't want holidays to be awkward or uncomfortable, but they are. What if we just let them be a little weird? What if a bit of tension, disappointment, and awkwardness were just okay? Uncle Joe is going to talk politics and make everyone uncomfortable. Your mother-in-law may say something about your parenting that makes your blood boil. Your nephew might proclaim he's a vegetarian as you set the ham on the table. Your new holiday budget might result in fewer gifts this year. Costco. You may even buy an entire holiday meal pre-made from Costco. Someone may shoot their eye out. Isn't all that awkwardness what makes those holiday movies so brilliant?
Because we try so hard to create holiday perfection, we miss the chance to see the real magic and the beauty of an imperfect gathering. Like the year my grandmother with dementia held my baby for the first time. Or last year when my daughter walked into the kitchen and burst into tears of gratitude to see my ex-husband, arm around my shoulder. The anxiety and awkwardness are actually part of the deal. They make way for the special moments if you let them.
The holidays are an incredible opportunity to do things differently and find the magic in the glittery-covered mess. I wish I could say "do these five things," and your holidays will be free you from holiday stress. But, of course, if I did, it would be bullshit. We are all different and have unique holiday and life triggers and stressors. But you can keep a few things in mind during the most wonderful time of the year.
Be realistic: It's been a hell of a ride the past two years. We're all a little raw, and our nerves are exposed. Don't expect Norman. Expect Uncle Eddie. This is especially true this year. We are all showing up with a few more cracks in the new gathering era. Celebrate how clumsy we all can be when we get together.
Acknowledge your feelings and feel them all: It isn't supposed to be perfect; it's supposed to be real. Your life and your holidays can contain the word AND. Good and bad. Magical and batshit crazy. Peaceful and loud as hell. You're human with a kaleidoscope of emotions to share, show and feel every day.
Don't bite off more than you can chew: Financially, emotionally, energetically. You can say no, even during the holidays. So can everyone else. You don't have to buy presents for everyone in your family, even if others choose to. You can leave a little early or stay late. You can spend the afternoon or the weekend. You can set boundaries for yourself. It's okay if it ruffles a few feathers.
Take care of yourself: Keep your healthy habits intact. The holidays are not the time to put your mental and physical health last on the list of must-dos. You're asking everyone what they need right now. Why not ask yourself? Need rest? Then rest. Tend to be lonely and sad during the holidays? Then gather with friends, even if it's for a quick walk or coffee. Need someone else to host? Ask. A surefire way to feel like crap during the holiday season is to say yes when you mean no. We rather say yes and suffer by our design than say no and suffer the pain of being judged by family and friends. You are your own best expert. Take care of yourself. Everyone will be okay.
No matter how hard you try, you can't control holiday joy: I know my control freaks are cringing. Try as you might, you can't cook, buy or create the perfect holiday for anyone but yourself. This year, on Thanksgiving, I did the unthinkable. I didn't want to host a 20+ person dinner, which I have done for over 20 years. I called everyone and told them I would be spending Thanksgiving at Disneyland, eating churros and turkey legs with my two daughters. There was some disappointment and sadness. I can handle that as long as I'm not abandoning myself. We had a blast, and everyone survived feeling uncomfortable. What do you really want from the holidays? Ask yourself. Refer to the above list. Then create an authentic, messy, ridiculously imperfectly perfect holiday season for yourself.
It is the most wonderfully awkward time of the year. Let yourself be both Hans and Ralphie, and it won't be the most stressful. Yippee-Ki-Yay Motherfucker.
Want to talk more about being better broken and creating beauty in your messy, magical life? Schedule a FREE 30 minute life coaching discovery call with Karen Caton-Brunings: https://calendly.com/karen-kaanect/30min
Party With A Purpose came about very organically for us as a way to allow for some life coaching in a group setting and facilitate connections and self awareness. We are so excited that Moonshine Ink heard about our parties and featured them this month!
Moonshine Ink is an independently owned and operated monthly publication here in the Truckee/Lake Tahoe area and we're honored that they heard about Kaanect and realized its importance to the local community.
Life coaching isn't something that people are familiar with and often don't know if it's a good option for them....our Parties With A Purpose are the perfect intro to Life Coaching and allow community members to bond with each other and themselves in a safe and fun setting!
You can read the article here: Moonshine Ink: Soul Sisters - Navigating the Road to True Wellness
Below are a few snippets that we just had to share!
The theme of the party that evening, Beck added, was Better Broken. “Real life is not the perfect picture we post. Life is messy and beautiful and inspiring and broken,” she said. “I had not really seen my life that way. I have endured tragedy in my life. It handicapped me. I am just beginning to see that the pain has actually made me a more compassionate, understanding, and nonjudgmental human, especially when in self-reflection.”
“I thought a life-coaching party was a great idea … what a fun way to enrich our lives and perspective in a comfortable environment with our support circle of friendship,” said Truckee resident Sara Dube, who recently hosted a Party With A Purpose. “I thought it would be a way to not only to connect with friends, but also take it a little deeper than just everyday life and surface conversation. I thought it would be a great way learn a little more about myself and listen more intently to my friends in order to support them better.”
The article focuses a bit on the trauma and transition we all experienced during the COVID19 lockdown and the immediate time afterwards, as that's the workshop that the women quoted attended. Our Parties with a Purpose offer different workshop themes- Better Broken (featured in this article), Make it a Habit and What's Your Travel Language. Our hope with these parties is to support you and your group of friends with a life-coach led workshop to bring you a sense of growth and focus in the area which is best for you at this time.
If you're interested in learning more or hosting any of our Party With a Purpose options, give us a call or send us and email and we'd be happy to chat with you about a party! Or! If you know someone who would love a Party With a Purpose - give them the gift of a party with a Kaanect gift certificate!
Party With A Purpose started when we, the founders of Kaanect, were asked to plan a birthday party for a friend and we realized that after Covid and with the struggles we were all facing, we wanted a party that meant more. While wine and cheese sounded okay, we all felt a need to go deeper, to really connect and to focus on personal growth... not your typical birthday party!
Of course we’re a group of life coaches, so we focused on what we know best and Karen put together a moving presentation about being “Better Broken” and a workshop to go along with it. Our friends showed up and we listened to Karen speak her truth and then together looked at how living through the universal struggle of Covid-19 had impacted us, what we wanted to take away from it, and how we wanted to grow from it. It was an evening of connection, authenticity and love, and we all left feeling inspired, empowered and purposeful. The experience was so powerful we realized that this was something others could benefit from, and Party With A Purpose was born.
We now have three different topics that can be presented to your friends, family or office coworkers. As we slowly emerge from the Covid pandemic, we see the need to learn who we are now, connect with the people that matter to us, and get tools for personal growth. Our Parties With A Purpose help create a safe space where authentic connections happen organically and give us tools as we start this post-Covid journey.
Three different topics allow you to choose the focus that will appeal to your group:
Leader:: Karen Caton
Better Broken is an amazing two-hour look at how many of us don’t put our authentic, beautifully broken selves forward. It gives us permission as we come together to explore our “cracks” and look at how to fill those cracks to make ourselves that much better. This is an opportunity to really connect to your fellow party goers in a safe and authentic way.
Make it a Habit
Leader: Andrea Ross
How many times have we tried to create a habit and just not been able to make it stick. It turns out we all process expectations differently and we all have proclivities that impact the way we develop habits. In this two-hour party we’ll talk about habits and their impact on our lives, and then run through a workshop to learn more about ourselves. By knowing ourselves better, we are set up for success in habit forming.
What is Your Travel Language?
Leader: April Cole and Andrea Ross
Constantly bombarded by travel shows, travel influencers, the travel media and that amazing trip your neighbor took, it can often be hard to sift through all the images and information and create the right trip for you. The problem is that many travelers allow themselves to be influenced by all the media noise and don’t take the time to think about what really suits them. This two-hour party is a celebration of the world, but rather than focus on the where, we’re going to focus on the who and the why. By learning who we are as a traveler and why we want to travel, we set the foundation for a trip of a lifetime, every time!
How It Works:
You host the party, you invite the guests, you handle the food and wine... we bring the entertainment! We will attend your party for two hours and after a short talk, we jump right into workshopping, sharing and learning from each other, based on the topic you chose.