Last week I hosted my first Hangout On Air. We talked about what can get in the way of having happy holidays and shared tips for reducing the stress.
In case you missed it, you can catch it here:
Here’s what we covered:
01:14 Expectations 04:30 Is Pinterest really the cause of our stress? 06:30 How we manage fitting in all the relationship expectations 07:15 Expectation of piles of gifts for the kids 08:15 Stop overwhelming kids with presents: Four Gifts 10:14 My teenager creeping in the back 10:30 Give little kids time to experience their gifts 12:00 Happiness Tribe… of women 13:13 Creative gift giving with the adults on your list 15:30 When gift giving is your love language 17:30 Giveaway from Minted 20:30 Stress and Traditions 24:40 Do you feel guilty when someone unexpectedly gives you a gift? Stop it! 27:40 Tricks for making homemade gifts easier 30:10 Sharing kids – with ex-spouse or new in-laws 36:47 Book giveaways 41:20 What do you do with gifts you don’t want to keep? 44:24 Happiness Challenges Announcement
Loukia has a smile that lights up a room. That’s one of the first things I noticed when I met her a few years ago at a BlogHer conference. I also noticed her shiny blonde hair and kickin’ curves. It’s hard not to notice what Loukia looks like, because she is stunning.
But then she opens her mouth, and kindness and warmth inevitably come flowing out. It didn’t take me long to figure out that this Canadian blonde bombshell was much more than a pretty face. She’s also a dedicated parent, a loyal friend, and a savvy business woman with a big heart.
She shares a piece of that heart with you in this interview.
What makes you happy?
The number one thing that makes me happy is my children. When I see my children happy, laughing, and healthy, my heart feels like bursting from happiness. When I cook a meal for them that they enjoy eating, I’m happy. When they’re smiling, I’m happy.
What else makes me happy? Good laughs with friends, vacations, a good book, dancing, music, and movies. I love having things to look forward to. Staying happy during the long, cold and dark winter months is a struggle for me. I do better when the sun is shining! But I can definitely pinpoint what makes me happy.
How and when did you figure that out?
Becoming a mom continues to be the scariest thing I’ve ever done, and it’s changed my life in good ways and bad ways (I worry so much more now.)
It is important for me to remember that I’m lucky and blessed every day. Remembering people who have suffered or who have gone through tragedy is a good way to keep things in perspective for me and to remain thankful.
I am certainly not happy every day, and often I think too much about the negative, but I try to stay happy. I know there are things I can do to help shift my mood to happy, too—if I’m down, dinner and drinks out with friends or a loved one will help lift my spirits. Or getting in my car and driving while listening to my favourite songs also helps. Dancing is a great release, too. It’s hard to not smile when you’re dancing!
How do you fit what makes you happy into your day-to-day life?
I love alone time in my car so I can listen to my music and get some thinking done—this makes me happy and helps clear my head.
The best part of my day is when I’m with the kids at home, relaxing, talking about our day, or eating dinner together. I also love bedtime and snuggles with my boys. This is happiness for me in my day-to-day life. I also love the routine of taking my boys to school and picking them up. I still get emotional sometimes when they walk away from me and run towards their friends. But inside, I’m smiling.
Are there any “shoulds” you’ve had to let go of in order to pursue your happiness?
Pursuing my happiness is still an ongoing challenge… or battle… for me. I hate change and get depressed when things I love come to an end. A trip, a conference, a special event. It’s getting back up and stopping myself from thinking of what I should have done differently that can be challenging for me.
It’s sometimes hard to do things that I want to do for myself because I often think about what other people’s reaction will be, and that can stop me for pursuing things I want to do.
Thank you, Loukia, for your honesty and vulnerability!
I do not have a great friendship history. The list of people I used to be friends with is embarrassingly long. I think I’m starting to figure out why.
If you had asked me a few years ago about the secret to being a good friend, I would have told you with confidence that the secret was honesty.
I was proud to be the friend who called you on your bullshit. My compliments were sincere, but so were my observations of all the things you were doing wrong in your life.
I was the friend you could call for advice.
I was also the friend who made sure you knew what needed to be fixed.
And I loved you despite all those problem areas, right up until you didn’t take my advice.
Then, my concern for you overwhelmed me and our relationship. Concern gave way to judgment, and when I could no longer handle the lack of control I had over your happiness – and how that made me feel about myself – I cut you loose.
It’s hard to admit that.
When I blew up my life a few years ago, I had a handful of friends who stuck by me. They loved me, they held me up, and they gave me what I had never been able to give anyone else: faith that I’d figure it out.
Even when I doubted myself, they remained confident that I would find my way.
I know now that what you need most from a friend isn’t honesty. It’s trust.
A good friend trusts:
you to figure it out.
herself to be OK until you do.
Of course, there is more to maintaining a relationship than trust. Relationships are built on connection, and connections are strengthened by time spent together and mutual vulnerability. There’s also compatibility, shared interests, and common values to consider.
You do have to actually like someone to be friends with them.
Are you a good friend?
My experiences have led me to value trust and vulnerability in my relationships. I believe those are the secrets to really great friendships that last.
What have your friendships taught you? What do you think is the secret to being a good friend?
The very best part of my week, hands down, was Jared coming home from vacation.
He spent a week visiting friends in Florida, a trip I wish I could have taken with him and yet was so very proud of him for taking alone. So often people talk about keeping in touch, promising to visit, but never buy the plane ticket and make the journey.
I’m happy for him that he has friends who welcomed him with open arms on empty couches and who didn’t think twice about shuttling him from and to the airport.
Really, I’m thrilled for him that he had that week.
But holy crap were we lost without him while he was gone.
OK, fine. I was lost without him.
Not just because he cooks dinner most of the time – although I did forget to feed the kids one night.
And not just because I hate sleeping alone – although I did let Emma sleep in our bed for a week.
And not even because he usually makes coffee in the morning – because as it turns out, I make better coffee.
But somehow in the last three years or so, I’ve gotten myself hooked on my husband. This is strange for me. I’m not used to needing anyone, and I spent the first decade of our marriage in charge of absolutely everything. Somehow me being less controlling and him being less passive has led to this place of really count on one another.
It scares me, to be honest. It scares me to realize that I need someone whom I can’t keep safe. It scares me to know how utterly vulnerable I’ve let myself become.
It also feels really, really good.
The best part of missing someone, after all, is the homecoming.
Clap along if you feel
like a room without a roof.
Clap along if you feel
like happiness is a truth.
Clap along if you now
what happiness is to you.
Clap along if you feel
like that’s what you want to do.