A process to feel better about Christmas (or anything)

This has never been my favourite time of year.  I don’t have especially happy memories of childhood Christmases, and my favourite ones as a grown-up have been the ones I’ve spent abroad.  Like many people, I have a tendency to let deferred-gratification and perfectionism take over, but a bad-feeling journey can never lead to a good-feeling destination! Big J has good memories of childhood Christmases spent with his extended family, though, and I would love for C and J to have a similar experience, so going away every year isn’t an option.

The other day I found myself sounding downright Scrooge-like while talking with Big J about my Christmas present for him (or lack of!) and I decided it was time to make a change! I’d really love to create a tradition of wonderful Christmases for my children.  But for now I’ll settle for feeling good about this one. 🙂

Focus Wheel

Feeling good has to come before action, so I decided to use an Abraham-Hicks process (from the book Ask and It Is Given) to help me get to a better-feeling place about Christmas.

A focus wheel is laid out like a clock.  In the centre you write what you’d like to feel or believe by the end of the process, even though you don’t really feel or believe it at the start when you write it. Around the edges you leave room to write twelve statements which will help guide you gradually towards the centre.

Getting Onto the Wheel

Getting onto the focus wheel  is a bit like getting onto a moving roundabout in a children’s playground – you have to slow it down to get on;  you can’t just jump right onto the middle – there’s too much of a gap between where you currently are and what’s written there.

Instead, look for a statement in the right direction (“downstream”, as Abraham-Hicks say), that you do believe.  Write that down in position 1.

Now you’re on the wheel, and you should be feeling a little better than when you started.  Next, look for a statement to write down in position 2.  Again, be careful it’s not too much of a leap or you’ll be thrown off the wheel.

After you’ve filled in a few positions you’ll be on a roll.  Use this good-feeling momentum to fill in the remaining positions.  By the time you get to 12 you should be able to authentically relate to what you’ve written in the centre!

Focus Wheels on the iPad

In the past I’ve used pen and paper to do focus wheels, but I’ve recently started using the free iPad app Simple Mind to create mind maps, which lends itself perfectly to the focus wheel process.

Did It Work?

As I write this I’m feeling contented and peaceful and – dare I say it? – distinctly Christmassy!  Presents are wrapped under the tree, and I’m actually rather looking forward to a little Christmas party later this afternoon.  There may be more focus wheels over the next few days, but for now the magic is working.  🙂

Further Resources

Since writing this post I came across this great YouTube clip which takes you through the Focus Wheel process.

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The Joy Of Home Education # 32

I am SO in love with home educating right now!  Not only are we cruising through maths, English and our other subjects, but we are REALLY making the most of the flexibility our lifestyle brings.


I love being able to take holidays when it’s cheap and uncrowded.

(Still waiting to be tall enough...)

Like last week  at Centerparcs where we swam, biked, climbed, bowled, crazy-golfed, pampered ourselves at the spa (the big ones) and attended wizard training academy (the little ones).

C and J Potter, wizards

I love that Sunday evenings are not over-shadowed by back-to-school pressures.

Last Sunday after C’s rugby and my lovely nephew’s Christening …

C scrubbed up well after rugby!

we were still able to celebrate Big J’s birthday as a family…

by going to see our local ice hockey team play, without having to worry about getting up early for school in the morning 🙂

And … I love that when temperatures hit an unseasonal 27 degrees (80 F) in the last week of September we can close our books for the day and spend the day playing at an open air swimming pool – YAY!

In The Vortex At Legoland

Few things feel better than staying firmly connected to a sense of calm, happy wellbeing even in the face of other people’s grumpiness and circumstances that might, in less mellow moods, be stressful.  That was me, today!  And of course no one stayed grumpy around me for long. 🙂

We spent the day playing in the gorgeous sunshine at Legoland with my mum, sister and nephew S.  It was FULL of people, the queues were HUGE, and C did NOT start out in a fun mood!  But I somehow I felt great throughout it all, and of course the day got better and better.

We left Windsor at 5pm and drove to the coast through summer Friday rush-hour traffic, the journey an extra hour long thanks to vehicles exiting Goodwood’s Festival Of Speed (in my good humour I actually LAUGHED at the irony!) Inspired by our recent visit to see “We Will Rock You”, we listened to loud guitar rock the entire journey, and we laughed.  And I basked. 🙂

Surfing Mondays

This time a year ago as we wistfully left the beach on a Sunday afternoon, the sun still high in the sky, I looked forward to the time when C would be home educated alongside her brother and we would be free to stay and enjoy the beach for as long as we wanted, free of cares about Monday morning school runs.

I love it when a desire comes to fruition!  Yesterday we played with our friends in the sunshine all day, had a leisurely supper on the balcony, and today enjoyed another beautiful day, the beach all to ourselves 🙂

It’s All Unfolding Beautifully

Two summers ago my dear friend Sarah visited us at the coast.  It was a windy summer and on that particular day the high tide sea was completely wild, but having made the journey from London, Sarah was keen to try the water.  Once we’d mustered our courage and run down the steep slope through the point where the waves crashed mercilessly down on the beach, we found ourselves in deep, deep water, waves as tall as us hitting us every few seconds.  Once we were in, I realised this was the roughest sea I’d ever “swum” in (I decided not to share that observation with Sarah until we were safely back on dry land!).

We spent an exhilarating 10 minutes making split second decisions as to whether it was safe to let ourselves be lifted up high by a still-rising wall of water, or whether an approaching wave had passed the point of being safe to float over and had to be dived through.

My experience of home-educating over the last few weeks has felt a bit like that day in the waves.  Making a decision about whether C is to take up an offered place at a local (“outstanding”) junior school has put our homeschool under a magnifying glass, at a time when it’s probably not wise to look at it very closely at all!  It’s been a very intense few weeks, with some highs – I’ve loved researching different homeschool styles  and exploring some of the wealth of practical and inspiring home ed information out there – and some more, as we deliberate creators say, “contrasting” experiences!

Listening to an Abraham workshop CD in the car earlier (one that just happened to be still in my CD changer – my boot is so full (I’m not sure what of 😐 I don’t change the CDs often), I was reminded that “it’s all unfolding beautifully”.  After over four years of school (including nursery), C has been at home for just five months.  I’ve only been home-educating for a year, and the changes I’ve seen over that time have been profound and wonderful.  The children are happy, bright and confident, they have plenty of friends, and they participate in a broad range of activities at home and within our community.

That day two summers ago the children played happily on the beach as we grown-ups were tossed around by the wild sea.  I would probably never have gone in if I’d known quite how scary it would be, but it was also one of the most fun experiences of my life.  And so is home-educating my children.  It’s all unfolding beautifully.

The beach that evening

Preliminary Observations

So on Monday I started an experiment aimed at prolonging the feeling of freedom and lightness I brought back from holiday.   So far, I’d say the experiment’s been a success, at least in so far as I have some insight into what usually happens to those good feelings as I settle back into the routine of daily life! Here are some observations so far:

1. I’ve noticed that when something works for me – goes well – I have a tendency to make it into a new rule or standard and then make myself wrong for not measuring up to it.  For instance, on Sunday I spontaneously tidied the children’s rooms before going downstairs for breakfast.  As I did it I felt good, and I thought to myself “Wow, that was easy.  If I did this every day their rooms would never have a chance to get too messy!”  Fast forward to today – as I brushed my teeth I found myself thinking “oh no, I’ve got to tidy their rooms before breakfast 😦 “ !

2. Taking short breaks really works – and  I have to be very intentional to take them!  My default tendency is to take deferred gratification to the extreme – I’ve been known to delay having breakfast until mid-morning in order to be able to relax while I eat, after “everything else” is done (unloading the dishwasher … cleaning the kitchen … tidying the craft area …  emptying the cat litter… having a “quick vaccuum”…)!  But as Abraham-Hicks say, no one ever does anything or wants anything except for the reason that they think they will feel better for the doing or having of it.  So if the intention is to relax, then relax – instead of resentfully working away for two hours on the promise of five minutes “relaxation” – as if relaxation were a scarce resource, not of a state of mind and body we can choose at any moment!

I don’t know whether it’s the experiment or the spring sunshine, but I’m having a wonderful week.  The last two days I’ve found myself more than once contentedly sighing and thinking one of my favourite thoughts, “I’m so glad we home educate!”

My Library Thing

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