The comparison game may kick in over the holidays

It’s nearly Christmas, so I’ll be signing off for a few weeks and writing my Notes again in January. Before I go, I wanted to send a reminder that taking a break at the holidays always opens up more of your mind to what “everyone else” is doing. 

The comparison game.

For me it can get stronger either right before I finish for the year, or as soon as I come back.

The “recap of the last year” posts. The new contracts or projects or clients or opportunities someone else is announcing in the new year. The success (or apparent success). The highlight reels of social media.

Add to that anything which happens while you’ve been off. The prospect you were hoping to sign who decided not to go ahead. The client who is frustrated or confused. The new project you’ve been working on which is taking longer and longer.

I realised I was about to get sucked in to this kind of thinking – the kind which would leave me feeling sort of bummed before I finish for Christmas, rather than enthusiastic and grateful and focusing on what’s good.

Fortunately, I stopped to think about it, and catch it for what it was. I’m writing this Note for me, really, but I’m sharing it in case any of this feels familiar to you.

I paused to think about it, not just keep going endlessly and figure it will all work itself out.

And I realised I’ve been thrown off schedule in a big way, and it’s starting to catch up to me. After two full years of a consistent, reliable routine, for the last six weeks I’ve been working on a different schedule and in different countries and rooms and offices and time zones. Every four or five days, I pack up all my stuff and move to another place, with a different bed and a different place to work and different weather. I get up several hours earlier than I usually do, and I am continually surrounded by people. It’s different. It keeps being different. I’ve adjusted to it, and I’m also tired.

Also, it’s Christmas. The time of year when, no matter what we try, we still have imagined expectations of how the season will go, how time with our families will go, how much work we’ll get done, and what we’ll achieve next year.

So, whenever you read this – whether it’s before you finish for the year or after you return – I invite you to join me in reminding yourself you are damn good at what you do and in being who you are.

Nobody else can be you like you can. We don’t want you to be someone else: we want you to be you. Entirely you. The best of you, as you are able right at that time and place.

Whatever it is which feels heavy or hard or not as good as someone else, do your best to let it go. Because focusing on someone else’s stuff or victories or highlight reels or success or apparent success is not going to strengthen your ability to complete what only you are capable of doing. 

I find myself a little shocked when I share this kind of thing and someone tells me they do it too, and the person they compare themselves with is me. “But look, your business is like this, and you live there, and you get these things, and you have this and go here and that’s all amazing”. And here I was looking at someone else, and they’re looking at someone else again… which is a complete waste of time for all of us.

So I’m turning my gaze towards who I am and what I’m doing which is good. I’m grateful for all of it. I won’t list it out here, but I’m doing the exercise for me, and I encourage you to do it for you, too.

Here are some things you could remind yourself of:

  • What victories did you have this year?
  • What can you be proud of yourself for?
  • Was there something you dreaded which you ended up navigating and it’s now behind you?
  • What is good, right now, today?
  • What were you worried about last Christmas or the previous one or the previous one which is now behind you?
  • What’s in progress which will be amazing when it’s done?

That last one is the kicker for me.

Sometimes what’s hardest is the big projects which will be so amazing when they’re complete, but right now they’re in progress. Messy.

It’s like a house renovation or any kind of physical project: there is so much mess and dust and broken things and holes in the wall and items to discard…and it makes life hard for a while. One day you’ll have the shiny new kitchen or the entire new home or the brand new door which actually opens and closes like a door is supposed to…but right now you have to move stuff around and it’s harder, not easier. (And, of course, your neighbours have a beautiful new driveway or deck or hot tub or conservatory or something very obviously amazing, staring you in the face every day.)

The projects I have in progress seem to have been in progress for ages. 

My book. Our new PF website. A new KLR website. House renovations. Business expansions. And also…me. I’m in progress. I’ve got things of the heart and soul and mind which are hard and I keep fighting to understand who I am and to be fully, truly me. No matter what anyone else imagines or wants me to be. 

All of that is victorious, and the “after” will be a thing of beauty and relief. And (since I know myself), while I celebrate the victory I’ll also be thinking up or working on new projects and new expansions and new renovations and new books and the cycle will not really end….

…so I may as well enjoy the in between.

And Christmas, too.

Here’s to finding beauty in the in between.

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Well. So. Small update.

Was out hiking on mull and slipped on a rock crossing a burn, and broke my ankle. (I remember hearing an audible “crack” as I went down.)

No signal on phone. Managed to climb down a ravine to get to a more open place and hopefully signal. At that point still convinced it “wasn’t that bad”. Tried to walk along the path and realised yes, it was that bad.

Phoned coast guard, who were utter legends. Sent a boat AND a helicopter. Sun was setting and they didn’t want me sitting in the dark. Oh my word it was cold. Helicoptered out to fort William hospital (nicest people ever), then down to airdrie where I got a cast.

Ankle broken in one place. Doctors pleased (as much as you can be!) it’s a clean break & lining up well. I’ll be down for 4-6 weeks.

I’ve repeated myself a lot over the last few days so here’s the short version to all the questions, with appreciation for the care.

Yes, I’m okay. I’m also utterly exhausted & have hit the “damn, this is going to be a long road” phase. Taking it one day, one hour at a time. 

I’m being looked after. Very kind friends and things being delivered. My amazing sister @secondsunrise2 flying in tomorrow from america to be with me for a few weeks. SO grateful.

What do I need? I’m good on the basics. There have been unexpected costs and more coming so if you want to PayPal monies for deliveries or getting my car & belongings back or all the taxis or whatever, feel free. I’m hardly destitute so only do that if you want to send something useful and aren’t sure what. PayPal username karenlreyburn. Amazon wishlist in bio. Random care packages also happily received!

My car & belongings are up on mull. I have people to help and we are working on timing. But if you’re on mull and want to return a car near Glasgow, let me know :)

Shout out to the Coast Guard for being so swift, & that beautiful combination of sympathy and practicality.

Download the @what3words app. Literal lifesaver.

That’s all for now. All the love. Oh - and no, I don’t hold this against mull at all. It’s still my happy place. Things happen & the mull community has been beautiful. Shout out to @treshnish who couldn’t have been kinder. ❤️
Morning walk. I stood and watched the ferry come in and the sun lighten this little edge of the world.
Been going through old photos and letters - the last of the boxes i had stored at my sister’s house in america. 

When I first moved to Scotland, I only planned to live here for a few years and then go back. Then after a few years I wasn’t ready yet…then I got my residency…still not quite ready….then started a business…then Scottish citizenship…bought a house …finally accepted this is my home and I wasn’t moving back. 

And with every visit back to the states I would go through more boxes, more photos and letters and memories. I’d keep some and throw others away; take photos out of frames and give away the frames; and as time went on I was able to distinguish between the ones I definitely wanted and needed to keep, and those which were lovely at the time but didn’t need to be saved anymore.

Over twenty years on and this past trip I went through the very last of the boxes. I joked to my sister that I’ve now officially settled into Scotland 😆 

This photo of me and my Gramps is a fave and definitely a keeper. Most of the photos and letters I’ve kept are those of family - parents, grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews. And as much as I love taking landscape photos, I noticed that 20 years later it’s the people photos I am more likely to keep. Thankful for the traditions and patterns of seeing family every year or so since moving to Scotland. They’re small things - baking Christmas cookies and going for walks and going for road trips - but it’s the time together and the continuing family jokes and the memories which remain. And a few photos.

My grandfather (and all my grandparents) have now passed on, but I remember with fondness sitting around at their kitchen table, eating fresh vegetables from the garden, playing scrabble, laughing and talking and drinking coffee.

It’s the small things, and the rhythms of family, which last. ❤️ 
#family #memories #grandparents #oldphotos
Made fresh mince pies for the first time ever. Over twenty years in Scotland and I’d never tried to make them from scratch, so I figured…now is the time! I’m doing lots of thanksgiving baking (yes, we stretch it out here so I’m still prepping!) and decided to buy the ingredients. 

Dried fruit…mixed peel…lots of spices…and Venezuelan rum :) I made up the mincemeat last night, and then today put it in the little pastries and even cut out the wee stars to go on top!

I think I can safely say they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had. Fresh out of the oven sprinkled with icing sugar and with a glass of said rum alongside :) 

Now we are curled up with a Harry Potter marathon, with plenty of mince pies AND a thanksgiving feast still to come. Happiness! 

#mincepies #homebaking #maryberry #maryberryrecipe #happythanksgiving #happychristmas #harrypotter #hpmarathon