Good things come in 3s?

By the time you read this, we’ll be close to halfway through the month of December. Also, it will be 10 days until Christmas Day.

Maybe when you read this post you’ll be patting yourself on the back for having finished all of your Christmas preparations, including shopping and wrapping gifts. If so, then good on you. I’m pleased for you.

I, on the other hand, will not be ready for Christmas by the time you read this post. I won’t even be close. In fact, I’m already behind.

If you’re following along with the December Sanity Journal, then perhaps you just kept rolling along on days 13 and 14, even without a prompt. If you aren’t following along and wondered what happened, then I offer my apologies.

On the upside? Now you can pick and choose what you need from these three options.

Let’s try and catch up…

For Day 13 I planned an easy-peasy bit of occupational therapy: A coloring sheet. Coloring is a great way to take attention away from yourself and let your brain relax in a low-risk, low-stakes activity. A simple sheet like this one, for day 13, won’t take long to complete and might be just the respite you need to reset in the middle of a stressful day.

Yes, it really is that simple. Don’t overthink it. It’s so simple that I somehow couldn’t manage to get a post posted about it. It’s really that simple. Print. Color. Enjoy.

For Day 14 the work was/is a little more challenging, but also with potentially more payoff. And this one deserved/deserves a little more of an introduction than the coloring sheet: Think of someone who makes you feel guilty.

It might be someone you love deeply and dearly.

At the top of my “I love her dearly but she makes me feel so guilty” list, when she was alive, was my mother, and the feeling was especially acute during the holidays when I was an adult. As I wrote about last year in a guest column for The Daily Memphian, being torn between divorced parents is a feeling like no other, even for adult children. Talking to someone about that can make a world of difference. A first step in that direction might be acknowledging a feeling of guilt, if it’s there.

Your life is not my life, though, and you may have an entirely different guilt-inducing relationship and scenario. Write that down.

It might seem counterintuitive, but naming the person who triggers feelings of guilt — especially if that person is someone you cherish — can help you manage your response and reaction to that person. Like the coloring sheet, this is a low risk/low stakes exercise. Write it down and then tear up the paper afterward if you like.

And now for day 15, which is today (the day I’m writing/posting), which will get us caught up. Today’s work will be either super easy or super challenging. Today’s suggestion is to try a root cause analysis exercise (something you may have done in a professional setting) in your personal life. The exercise is called “5 Whys,” and it’s a terrific technique for discovering what’s really behind errors or noncompliance, either at work or at home.

Here’s an example, from my work life (many years ago and changed here, in the interest of privacy): A staff member was routinely out of compliance with dress code, which was pretty strict because we were in a medical setting. She wore shoes that did not meet the standard, and we often had to send her home.

Why did she wear noncompliant shoes? Because they were more comfortable.

Why? Because she had an issue with her foot.

Why? Because she’d had it for years and didn’t know what else to do but wear these particular shoes that felt comfortable.

Why? Because she didn’t have medical insurance or know a physician until she worked for us (my company, at the time).

Why? Because she was a high school graduate who’d worked various odd jobs in retail and fast food before going to trade school to learn this particular clinical skill (at which she was very good).

The answer, then, was to coach her through using her insurance to see a physician and get help for the underlying issue.

This twist on today’s suggestion, other than the idea of taking a business tool and applying it to personal life, is to look forward instead of back. Instead of doing a root cause analysis on something that has gone awry (though you could certainly do that, if it’s helpful – no rules here, it’s a blog for Pete’s sake…), look ahead at something you’re planning to do, and ask 5 whys about doing that thing that might be stressing you out a bit.

It could be as simple as going to the grocery. It could be as complex as taking a trip. Whatever your situation, this exercise could help strengthen the intention behind even simple, routine actions. Being more intentional might help you feel more grounded and balanced.

Give it a try, and let me know how it goes.

My plan is to see you back here tomorrow, on day 16. That’s my plan. Until then, be very well.


  1. Well, I spent most of the krimbel season turning at Christmas song into a Christmas classic. We played from the top of the Empire State Building, we played at the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center and we did a podcast called Shero. We work on Christmas Day at Disney Park, which will be a blast. The short ones are very excited. If it matters, she is my hero.

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