Every Christmas is different and comes with its own set of expectations

Traditions are great. I'm a big fan of them. We just celebrated American Thanksgiving and for our family that includes decorating the house, putting up the tree and having family for dinner. It's a highlight of the holiday season for me. It also launches us into the season of expectations. 

One of the challenges is that every year circumstances change at Christmas. In my extended family, there will be a few people who won't be gathering with us on Christmas Day. I've decided it's time to end Christmas stockings. It really is long overdue. My daughter has her own children now and my son is in his 30's. I enjoyed doing them but I also realized it is time to let go of that tradition. Still I felt a need to explain to them they wouldn't be getting a stocking this year. I didn't want to disappoint them knowing it would be a reasonable expectation on their part. 

Identifying your own expectations is important. And managing expectations other people's expectations will help you have a more meaningful experience. Learning to communicate and be open about what you can manage and plan to do can take courage. It's worth it in the long run though. No one wants to have the Christmas let down that comes from unrealistic expectations. 

Last year I offered a email course on managing expectations. I'm going to offer it again this year. It's 3 emails delivered to your inbox beginning on December 1st. It contains a worksheet to help you get started. And it's my gift to you!



Do you have dreams for your life?

I am a dreamer. I know I am. I think it goes hand in hand with being a learner. I feel like my horizons are continually expanding and there are new lands and ideas calling me to explore them. This year has been such an incredible year for me. It's been a year of growth. In fact, I would say this has been one of the most significant years in my life. 

It's weird because at the same time it's been the worst year I have ever had in my business. In fact, I find myself at a crossroads in terms of vocation or the work I am doing.  I do think that it is part of this transformation I have been going through.  When you start really making shifts in your life you find yourself at odds with what was. 


I always begin the year by choosing a word. This year it was OPEN. I'll be sharing more about the word selection process in an upcoming blog post. My desire was to hold a posture of being 'open' to what I felt was calling in my life. I know it sounds a little woo woo or esoteric. And it is hard to articulate it. 

So I've seen these things happened in my life as I have become more OPEN:

  • I stopped a bunch of stuff including stepping down as President of the business I co-owned with 3 other colleagues, going to church, and spending time with people who exhaust me
  • I started seeing a therapist to deal with lingering health anxiety
  • I went to NYC - very spontaneously with a friend
  • I went to Cuba to read many books and drink many Mojitos
  • I went to Ireland/England/The Netherlands with my sister (the funniest person I know) and I am still laughing
  • I went on a retreat with my podcast co-host and we sort of wrote a book
  • I came face to face with my apathy towards reconcilation and began a project to educate myself and become more involved in understanding and supporting the ongoing challenges facing the Indigenous Peoples of Canada
  • I joined an environmentalist discussion group
  • I discovered the Quakers - and hallelujah they aren't worried about people going to church!
  • I joined the committee that organizes Steel City Stories (a local story telling group)
  • I connected with some new people who seem to be on the same track as I am
  • I decided to return to Cambodia to do an evaluation of the program I started there 3 years ago with a colleague

It's been a crazy year. It's flying by. This week, I've set aside 3 days to do a deep dive into 2018. I've got some dreams and I've got some needs. I've got some ideas around my business and where I want to focus next. 

How about you? Do you have dreams for the future? Are you not sure how to achieve them? Are you lacking confidence or support? I'd love to talk to you about what would help you move forward in your life. Send me an email - let's dream together. 


Why bother?

There are two reasons that I’ve signed up for a blogging challenge. And when I say, "signed up” I mean I committed to blogging for 30 days straight. There is no formal place to sign up. It was an agreement I made with myself and then announced it publicly in my social media spaces to solidify the commitment.

Today is Day 8. I got up at 6 a.m. and stared at the blank screen. "I’ve got nothing,” was my first thought. Followed by, “Well, it didn’t take long for the well of creativity to dry up.” Which prompted a frantic search through my Evernote account for the tag #blogideas.

One of the best ways I know to keep my commitments is to remind myself why I wanted to do something in the first place. So I found myself asking the question, “Why am I doing this challenge?” And there lay the content for this post. 

I’ve been blogging for a long time. I don’t know how many years it has been but I think it is safe to say well over ten years. I’m a weekly blogger. I normally send out a newsletter every 7-10 days with my blog in it. I also record a weekly podcast and send out a weekly newsletter for that endeavour as well. And I write content for social media and a few other blogs. So, did I really need to take on this challenge? I did.

Reason 1: I wanted to become a better writer. In order to do that I need to be more consistent in my writing. I want to build my writing muscle. It’s pretty easy to come up with a blog post every week. It doesn’t require much effort. There is a lot that happens in a week to stimulate ideas. Conversations, books, videos, news events and more fill my head with ideas that gel into a topic that I want to write about. But day-to-day? I don’t always have time for that sifting process to take place. It requires that I tap into a more disciplined approach to writing and not rely on ‘inspiration’ to the same degree. 

Louis C.K. said, “I’ve learned from experience that if you work harder at it, and apply more energy and time to it, and more consistency, you get better as a result. It comes from the work."

It always comes down to the work. It makes sense that our skill develops when we do something consistently. You can’t just pick up a camera/paint brush/microphone and expect to be good at something. You have to do the work.


Reason 2: I am seeking to integrate what is important to me.  I’m attempting to pull together seemingly divergent interests. I care about leadership, the environment, self-development and spirituality. I’ve kept those in silos in my life. My business was about leadership. At one point I had separate blogs for each of those topics. (I am the proud owner of a lot of domains!) I have had this growing desire to see how these things can come together in my life. I’m using this 30 days commitment to explore all of these things on one platform under one domain = sandyareynolds.com  I’m not sure I can hold them separate any longer. I want to see what emerges as I bring them together. 

As Woody Allen said “80 percent of life is just showing up."  And I have for 8 days.