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MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL, FROM MY FAMILY TO YOURS and welcome to this episode of Friday Reflections by Dad.Work!

Every Friday I share the best of what we have been doing in the Dad.Work community, to provide perspective, new ideas, and motivation for you to continue on your journey to becoming the best man, partner, and father you can be.

This week we talk about turning your attention and focus to Christmas holiday, prioritizing  your family wants and needs during this time and being able to take a break when you feel overwhelmed with everything going on around you. We’ll talk about:

  • Preparing your nervous system for Christmas
  • Setting good boundaries/expectation for your family during Christmas
  • Understanding what Christmas is and what it’s all about
  • Building and maintaining your family traditions during Christmas
  • Setting boundaries with our phones this holiday season
  • The presence you can bring to your family as the father during this time
  • Vulnerably sharing your christmas stories growing up with your family

Mentioned on this episode:

Curt Storring 0:00

Welcome to the Dad.Work podcast. My name is Curt Storring, your host and the founder of Dad.Work. This is the last episode before Christmas. And it is going to go into just some thoughts about regulating your nervous system, preparing, making some boundaries and setting good expectations with your family. And generally some ideas that I have about how we have been approaching Christmas and the general holiday time, it can be magical, and for many people, it's not. And that's too bad. Because whether you celebrate Christmas or Solstice or something else completely different. It's a very magical time, there's something in the air, there's something about this time of year, a death and rebirth cycle that I think can be the basis for an incredible start to the new year. And so I hope that you get something out of this. And if you do, please, and I'm not going to go too much deeper into this before the actual episode other than to say thank you so much for following along for listening, for sharing with me the things that you're struggling with and the winds you are experiencing, following along with our better man better dead course. And in our men's groups. I'm very, very grateful for everyone listening and for anyone who interacts with this content, because I truly think we are doing the work that it's going to take to create a better world with better men who become better partners who become better dads, who leave a legacy of better, more grounded, more resilient, more regulated children, who will bring that to their children, and on and on and on. So thank you for being a part of that. You're a chain breaker, you're doing the work to break the chains of generational trauma. And I appreciate you very much. So have a Merry Christmas, from my family to yours. And here is the last episode before Christmas of the Dad.Work podcast we will see you back here as usual on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of next week, there will be no break. We've got things lined up already. Let's get in to this episode.

Tomorrow's Christmas 2021. And what a year it's been the point of this podcast today in the Friday reflections is to help you prepare for Christmas specifically prepare your nervous system and get a more balanced idea of what Christmas is what it can be. Even if you don't celebrate it, I'm using Christmas in interchangeable wording with Solstice or Hanukkah or whatever the holiday just these magic time of year. And I tend to believe that the magic comes from the original sort of Solstice, changing of the seasons, the death and rebirth cycle, there's a magical spirit to the air. And the first thing that I wanted to touch on was generally the nervous system because Christmas for so many of us can be hectic, it can be triggering, it can be so much the opposite of a calm, loving family time. And a lot of the reason is that we don't set boundaries, we don't take care of ourselves, we rush around we have a million responsibilities as fathers. And when we get a couple of days off or a week off or on Christmas, we tend to try to do everything for everyone else, we try to get our own rest in while everyone else has needs. And we're finally Holmes we're being asked to do a whole bunch of things that we have not done over the last number of weeks or months or perhaps even years. And we have family come over and we have in laws come over. We are not taught how to set boundaries. And many of us do not know how to do that. And we fall into this trap of this generational family conditioning. We are triggered by certain people, we don't want to say it we are at our worst with the people who trigger us most which surprise surprise our parents and the people closest to us because that is where our initial pains and wounds come from typically. And so if this is you, please listen on. If this is not you listen on as well, because I think this is a great process for you to do just to prepare yourself regardless, if you do not have a family like this. And Christmas is indeed magical. That is fantastic. I would love to hear more about that. And I would love to hear about how you have made the holidays magical. We personally have gone from the assumed traditions from our families. And we have pared that way down to almost nothing over the last few years. And we're now slowly building it back up. What that looks like for us is setting clear boundaries about who we will see and when and for how long. We have been doing a lot more in nature. Recently, we celebrated Solstice by trekking out into the woods, we collected fallen down branches from evergreen trees. We made a wreath in the middle of the forest in a spot that sort of spoke to us. We made a circle of a wreath and we held hands in the circle. And we noticed we simply noticed I spoke briefly on the death and rebirth cycle. And we did some breathing together as a family and we do this in men's group often just simply breathing and conditioning the space to be a container for all of us to be mindful and grounded in but there was like a different sort of energy When it was done with a family, it was very curious and unique. And something that I would like to develop more of a relationship with, just with that family breathing. And we also made an offering to nature and to the changing of the seasons. And we committed to letting go whatever we needed to let go of, in order to be reborn as the best newest version of us as the days start to warm up. And we just gave things we noticed, we noticed our place and our prospective nature in the world. And it was just a beautiful thing to do is much better than going to a tree lot and cutting down a tree or buying a tree and overpriced tree and letting it die in our home. Not super interested in that. Although it has been a wonderful part of my childhood. I loved doing that as a kid, and I know the kids do. And we're just slowly building up how we want it to look. And it's not always perfect. And there's always sacrifices made and, and we wish we could do it, you know, certain certain ways. But for now we are we're balancing things as I talked about regularly on this, we're finding a balance that both pleases us and allows us to feel content. And also give as much as we can so that the rest of our family can also enjoy because, gratefully, they want to spend time with us as well. And so this is what we're doing, I would love to hear what you're doing either send me a message on Instagram or an email. We'd love to hear what some of the best traditions you have are. But for those people that have trouble around Christmas, my challenge to you is to prepare your nervous system. If you have been running around like crazy if you only have a few days off, if you haven't actually settled yet. Try to find some time today or early tomorrow morning on Christmas morning to prepare your nervous system for what is to come.

Your kids will be excited, you might judge the way they react if they are going a little bit too crazy. That's something I am prone to do. And let's just find a space for you to breathe, to meditate to sit in stillness to get the day settled under you so that you are the one living it. Not the other way around. It's only too easy to blast through the day, never feeling like you're in control, start to feel resentment and anger and stress and then realize that it wasn't actually that great of a day for you. So my challenge is to wake up a little bit early, or stay up an extra 10 minutes. You can do that. Right now even after listening to the podcast. You can find any time throughout your day today and tomorrow to hopefully wake up early. But otherwise, to find a quiet spot to meditate. You can simply follow your breath. You can find some of my meditations on the Insight Timer app, you can use whatever app you use. Breathe deeply and slowly. I recommend 10 very deep breaths into the pelvic floor. So deep into your belly, you can feel the pelvic floor, touched by the breath and exhale everything you can even make noises. You can emote. As you breathe out just getting everything completely out of your body, lower shoulders from the ears, let the face relax the throat in the tongue relax, open your heart space. Get some movement and exercise in throughout the day. Even if it's a quick walk right now or in the morning, take your kids for a run around the block, go into nature, do a hike, just do it. Sometimes I when especially when I have time off, I work so much I exercise so much I'm usually tired. And I don't want to do a whole lot because for me the first couple days off, or like a reset, I just want to be gentle. I just want to catch up on my rest time. And I don't often want to go out but the other day, I just looked at my eldest son, I was like, let's go get me a tea. Let's just walk let's not drive, it's freezing cold. But let's just walk and it was so good. Moving more exercising more, make sure you are sticking to those habits if you have built them. And if you've not, this is a great time to do it because you might be eating more than you normally would. And it's just a great way to to balance once again. And unfortunately right now where I live in British Columbia in Canada, there has been a new mandate to scare us all into compliance with the current government overreach. And that is that the the gyms are closed. And I'm pretty pissed off about that. I think it's completely nonsensical. And one of the best ways to stay healthy and have a strong immune system is to exercise. And, you know, unfortunately, people think that this is worth doing to get ahead of the alleged incoming curve. And I have talked a little bit about this on Instagram the last few days. And regardless of that, the point that I want to make on this is that I have found gratitude in the space that it's going to give me to deepen my yoga practice. And so yes, I am angry about it. Yes, I'm pissed off. Yes, I

think it's stupid. And I'm choosing to drop that and focus more on something that I can control, which is yoga, which is building the core strength which is getting more in touch with my body, throat this next month or however long you're going to be closed. And so I would suggest that to you as well regardless of what the lockdown or restrictions are with you. Fine A way to keep moving, go for a walk, I love going for walks in the morning through the woods, go for a run, do something to move and include the kids, I would suggest here as well limit your phone time, especially when there's people around when your kids are home, when you're home with your kids, if you want to nip out down to the spare room, in the basement or outside or something, think of it like taking a smoke break. Okay, a lot of us look down on smoke breaks, people aren't supposed to be going on to do that. And it's at least out of the way it's out of the house, it's out of the office, whatever it is, you take five minutes, go down there, use your phone, like a smoke break, take five, have a quick look, put it back down and go back to the family. I also encourage you to drink less booze than you normally would around Christmas. If this is something you do. It's simply not not worth it. In many cases, in my experience, at least. And I would rather wake up feeling amazing each day of my holiday, then, you know, really tying one on because I just need to escape. And it's finally my time to relax. If you want to do that a couple times, obviously, no judgment, this is just my own some of the rules that I'm trying to follow myself. And it does generally help with your nervous system to not be, you know, loaded. So one more tip there is to sleep more. And this is huge, we often don't get enough sleep. And you know, I'm not going to go to the science of it. So actually, let's just keep it there. Because you just sleep more. I think just what everyone can do so much with more sleep and helps with your physical body with your mental health. And basically, literally everything comes from this foundation of sleep. So if you do not think it's important, or you don't get enough of it, I recommend doing some research and focusing on getting more sleep, and slow down. This is a time that a lot of us go nuts. I mean, we watch crazy Christmas movies, I love Christmas vacation. It's just full of insanity. I think this is a great time to find that stillness, to find that silence, to be in nature, and really slow down and get ready for the next year. This is a chance for you to close any loops from this year to shed anything that you need to shed to kill off whatever you need to kill off for this new version of you to be born in 2022. So I like to use December to do this work. I like to finish up everything I like to plan and then I like to allow this slow, almost a death and a rebirth cycle to unfold after Christmas before the new year so that when I come to 2022 Yes, it's an arbitrary number. Yes, it's an arbitrary date. But there's something about it that can allow our minds to feel fresh. And so slow down this season, do less, feel more, just see what comes up for you. See if there's any parts of yourself, you notice when you slow down, take 1015 20 minutes to do nothing and not checked out nothing, not look on your phone, not even meditate, just try and do nothing and see what comes up. Give yourself the gift of presence this Christmas season. One final note on this is just accept and be aware of the part of you that doesn't want to slow down that wants to drink the wants to eat a million cookies and a million chocolates and just find a healthy way to process this, if that is giving into those cravings and having that food, having those drinks, do it intentionally and do it from a place of understanding that you are wanting this for certain reasons. And that it's not going to be all the time and you really would like to partake in this. And you do it consciously that is totally fine. So just accept these things, be aware of them and indulge responsibly and consciously would be my my final piece of advice on that. And one of the things we've been talking about this week on Instagram is just the presence that we can bring as a father and that's presence with a CE not a TS. And this is so important. I mean it's it you probably heard it before on Instagram or wherever but kids need more presence. And if your presence, and obviously you can pick which one is which given the choice. And this is sort of like they talk about in the Grinch between the two of you. I'd pick the seasick crocodile. Well, in this case, even if you are the seasick crocodile, and presence or you know not picking you is the Grinch, your kids are going to pick you if they had a choice between you and presence. Right now at least especially when they're younger. They're going to pick you hopefully there never comes a day when they're older, and they realize you were never there for them and that you did not show up and securely attached to them when they pick, not you. And I hope that hasn't come true for you. And I hope that doesn't come true for you. But the way that it doesn't come true is if they want to pick you now. And if you allow them to pick you and give them the presence and give them the gift of your presence

this year. Be with your kids, be with your family, be with your wife. Talk deeply with one another share vulnerably your wishes. How was Christmas for you growing up? What desires do you have? What needs do you have around this season? Do you need to be more people around or do you need there to be less people around? Do you need to take a five minute break now and then to chill out because you're overwhelmed? Do you need to go for a run Running in the middle of the day, express these needs that will make this a magical time for you because it can be, it's hard to set boundaries, it's hard to say no, it's hard to ask for what we want and what we need. But when you do that, many times people will accept that and you will have a better time, they will have a better time knowing that you're being authentic, and they know what your boundaries are. It's just so much better. And so this time of year is a great time to be practicing what we talked about on this podcast all the time, compassionate communication, and the ability to express your needs clearly to everyone the ability to say no, the ability to set boundaries and say what you want and what you need. This is a great training ground, it might be the hardest training ground because it's all with family and family is super close and family can be overwhelming. But this is the time to see whether all the work you have been putting in is durable. Is this going to work. I'm going to give you a quick overview of this Instagram post that I wrote for Christmas, just before this podcast came out. And I'm going to take a few days off of Instagram, mostly just for the fact that I don't want to be connected to my phone over the next few days. And it starts off by letting you guys know that my favorite Christmas movie I watch every year is Christmas vacation. My oldest son regularly request that we save the neck for me, Clark, and at one point Clark Griswold exclaims worse, how can things get any worse? Take a look around you, Ellen. We're at the threshold of hell. And it's hilarious. We are however, each individually at the threshold of hell each moment of our lives. So in this joke, in this ridiculous movie, there's this little piece of insight that we can grab onto and find meaning and and I know it's ridiculous sometimes to find meaning but I'm going to grab it anyway. And I'm going to go with it. Alright, and so the the difference between falling into the fiery pit that Clark exclaims the threshold of hell and staying safely on this side of it is conscious awareness and intentionality that we've been talking about setting your boundaries and noticing each moment. And in each moment a choice is required. Christmas makes the consequences of your choices 100 times more obvious. Will you choose to prepare your nervous system will you breathe? Will you meditate? Will you keep your consumption moderate? Do you actually go outside? Will you set boundaries? Will you stay actively on this side of the threshold to help? Or will you do what you do every year and perhaps plunge headfirst unknowingly into the hell that awaits an unconscious unaware asleep at the wheel life. Give yourself your kids and your family the gift of your presence. And that's p r e s e n c, not more presence with the NTS at the end, speak up before you become resentful and destructively angry, discuss expectations. This was one of the things that we did this year is we openly discussed what our needs were and offered space for our family to share their needs as well. And this felt so good to do. And you have to go into these things knowing that not all your needs are going to be met and that's okay. But when you express them, it makes it much easier for the other person to express their needs vulnerably and then find a way to meet in the middle where everyone will at least be satisfied to some degree. Communicate compassionately. And remember the most other people are also triggered by Christmas family closeness, overwhelm, and try to find the compassion and the empathy to go along with that understanding. Make the choice in each moment to stay mindful of your reality. How you feel the thoughts and emotions in your mind and body. Your needs your desires. Only through mindful awareness and intentionality. Can we stay safely on this side of the threshold of hell? This year, find the balance between Clark's love of family holiday celebration and playing full out in cousin Eddie's easygoing. shitter was full chill attitude. In fact, if you need to take 10 minutes alone outside, when everyone's over, use that as your mantra shitters full, go outside and take your time empty your sewage into the proverbial sewage tank, and just relax a little bit get back into that chill atmosphere that cousin Eddie. So unfortunately, embodies no judgment, just action to empty it so it can be refilled again. This is a huge problem for all of us. We often don't express or empty the things in our physical body that come up from emotions. And when they get filled up and filled up and filled up, they overflow and that's when we get negative consequences and negative reactions from our emotions. So find the time and the mental space this week to ensure your shitter doesn't explode from lack of self care.

That's it for the National Lampoon's philosophy series. Merry Christmas, everyone. Happy Solstice. Thank you for all your support this year. We'll see you next Monday. Same time, same place. We're going to be continuing to launch podcasts as usual throughout the New Year. Those will not stop. And yeah, finally I just want to say thank you and my wish for you this year is that you find peace and joy and that you find a way to express your needs through this sometimes difficult time of year, it should be magical, it is magical. And it's up to you to take the responsibility to make it magical for how you want to experience it. In fact, I have one last challenge for you. And that is a challenge of gratitude and the expression of appreciation. Instead of more gifts instead of last minute gifts. Why don't you express your gratitude to the people in your life? Why don't you write a letter to the people in your life your wife, your kids, even your in laws, your parents, and simply express something that you love, appreciate or admire about them. Could be one thing could be a list of things. But this is a way to vulnerably show up and invite the same sort of vulnerability in the people in your family. You don't need it to be reciprocated, you can simply do it to express what feels right to you. And allow yourself the gift of the amazing feel that comes the amazing feeling that comes from sharing gratitude. Alright, enjoy Christmas Eve. Have so much fun with your kids. I hope that Christmas Day is magical for you. And I hope that the time leading up to the New Year is refreshing. Enjoy us. From my family to yours. Merry Christmas. We'll see you next week

that's it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening. It means the world to find out more about everything that we talked about in the episode today, including Show Notes resources and links to subscribe leave a review work with us go to Dad.Work/Pod That's Dad.Work/Pod. type that into your browser just like a normal URL, Dad.Work/Pod. You'll find everything there. You need to become a better man, a better partner and a better father. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.

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