top of page
  • Writer's pictureJeanette Miura

The month of December opens with great anticipation and excitement as we head straight towards Hanukah, Christmas, and Kwanza. COVID may change the way we shop this year, but it won’t stop the stress and pressure we place on ourselves to create the perfect holiday. Self imposed expectations of what the perfect holiday looks like diminishes the joy and peace offered by the season. Holiday stress is seductive. We don’t realize we are falling into the dark, stress pit until it’s too late. We fool ourselves into thinking we are in control and acting out of love, but instead we overextend ourselves physically, emotionally, and financially. If you are tired of “surviving” the holidays take a step back, reflect, and make a plan to reclaim the joy that is waiting for you.

Don’t survive, thrive this holiday season! Here are a few suggestions to help you find joy during the holidays:

1. Gift Time and Attention

We are wired to equate material gift giving with the holidays. What is this season really about? The best gift you can give is your time. Sharing time is how we say, “I love you,” and, “You are important to me.” Set aside time to spend with your spouse and children. Schedule a phone call or Zoom call with a friend. Have a wine date with your girlfriends online and laugh until you hurt. Gifting someone your time and attention is more special and memorable than any store bought gift.

2. Set a Realistic Budget

There is nothing worse than over extending yourself financially during the holidays. Suzie Orman says, “You can’t give what you don’t have,” and I live by this rule. The people that love you and truly care about you don't want you to get into debt or miss paying your bills especially during these COVID challenging times. Gifts should be tokens of affection not centerpieces of wealth. Take an honest look at your bank account and determine how much “free” money you actually have to spend on gifts. By creating a realistic budget for gifts we honor ourselves by setting a healthy, sustainable financial boundary. “It’s the thought that counts,” is not just what your Mama says, it’s the absolute truth. A true friend will cherish the gesture and the thought behind your gift because they cherish you.

3. Morning Reflection

I have played with my morning routine to see what truly works and what does not. Creating a morning routine that begins with reflection is key to reducing stress throughout your day. So many of us wake up and grab our phones. We are instantly inundated with news headlines and social media posts that only create mental noise. Instead of reaching for your phone as soon as your eyes open, capitalize on your refreshed morning state. Be still. Relax. Take in the morning sunlight. Breathe. Reflect on the fact that this is a new day filled with new possibilities. Think about how you can serve and help others. Offer thanks for the gift of life you are experiencing at that very moment. Think about your loved ones and feel grateful for their presence in your life. Do this instead of grabbing your phone first thing in the morning and a sense of peace will be yours the entire day.

4. Positive Self-Talk

We are constantly thinking and making self-judgments. We all know the phrase, “You are your own worst enemy,” and we are our own worst critics. Stop negative self-talk by using affirmations when stress begins to build. Quietly say these to yourself while focusing on your breath.

I will find joy right now where I stand.

I accept myself and know all is well.

The harmony of the season brings me joy.

I stand in gratitude for all the love that is present in my life.

5. Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously

A sense of importance is key for healthy confidence, but it needs to be tempered with the realistic view that the world does not revolve around you. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Most things are really not that big of a deal. When you misstep, forget, or simply f-up, have a good laugh and move on.

6. Creative Gift Giving

Think about what you can create rather than buy. Every Christmas I open my memory box, look at each gift that has been made for me over the years, and have a good, joyful cry. One of my all-time, favorite, handmade gifts came from my husband. He wrote a beautiful poem for me on beautiful stationary and made a collage of photos of our family and framed it. I was truly speechless. When someone takes the time to “make a gift” rather than buy a gift, they are gifting you their time and their vulnerability. This vulnerability leads to deeper affection and connection. From beginning to end the giver magically infuses love into their gift for the recipient. As we all know from Peter Pan, “Love is a powerful thing.” Get creative and let your love flow in your handmade crafts. (I will be adding a creative gift idea guide next week!)

7. Write a Letter to Someone Special

2020 has shown us how important family and friends are to our very existence. I am grateful everyday for the love and support I receive from my tribe. I’m a big fan of writing letters especially thank you notes. Writing can be an easier way to express our true feelings. Write a letter or a short note to someone you cannot live without. Tell them how important they are to you and recognize all that you appreciate about them. Don’t hold back. Be genuine and vulnerable and let them know how important they are in your life.

8. Schedule Sexy Time

A great way to eliminate stress is to enjoy intimacy with your partner. During the holidays our tired, over extended selves usually just drop into bed exhausted. We’ve all been there! Clinical studies indicate that romance can be a great stress reducer and it also creates healthy connection. Schedule sexy time with your partner and follow through. Set the mood with candles and oils for full relaxation. Start with a massage and let the rest build organically. Have fun and enjoy!

9. Go For a Walk

Going for a walk either through your neighborhood or local scenic path will recharge your batteries. Walking gets your blood circulating, your breath regulated, and opens your mind to creativity. Last night we walked our dogs in the evening and stopped to enjoy all the beautifully decorated homes. We returned feeling calm, relaxed, and in the holiday spirit. Go for it, take a walk!

10. Listen to Music

Music is therapy. Music transports us to different places, regions, and times. Turning on some eighties tunes always reminds me of my younger years and quickly puts a smile on my face. Holiday music fills us with joy and nostalgia. Remember singing in your elementary school holiday show? When you are feeling out of sorts or a little anxious, turn up the music and let the melody carry you away.

You got this. Create your own plan during the holidays and know that you are not defined by the gifts you give. You are resilient and flexible. The holidays are about joy. By making the decision to experience joy, you won’t just survive, you will thrive this holiday season. Happy Holidays!

21 views2 comments
  • Writer's pictureJeanette Miura

"Practice any matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow." Kurt Vonnegut

This advice by Kurt Vonnegut is exactly why I launched Fiery Living last month. It was an impulse that I decided to follow solely to grow my soul. My regular mode of operation is that of an over thinker. My mom nostalgically tells the story of my first steps. She says that I refused to take my first step as a baby until I was absolutely sure I would not fall. I looked around, assessed the room, and after a thorough risk analysis finally took my first step.

Fiery Living has forced me to step outside my comfort zone and jump in! For the first time I have decided to "feel" my way through a project instead of over thinking my way through. I have decided to focus on all of the reasons why I should be doing this instead of talking myself out of it in order to protect my ego. Through writing and this platform I am powerfully learning who I am, and more importantly becoming comfortable sharing this authentic self with the world.

Create and dream with me. Share your art with the world! I am happy to post your writing, artwork, music, or video on this website. You are brilliant. Inspire others to live strongly and brightly.

Wishing everyone a joyous day filled with love and laughter.

Letter from Kurt Vonnegut to a High School English Class

In 2006 a high school English teacher asked students to write a famous author and ask for advice. Kurt Vonnegut was the only one to respond - and his response is magnificent:

“Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:

I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.

What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.

Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash receptacles. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

God bless you all!

Kurt Vonnegut

Photo Credit: Jamez Miura - Rae Lakes.

This backpacking trip to Rae Lakes was my first jump into living strongly. I found the courage to do something I was really scared of. Here I am resting after having climbed Glenn Pass (11,000 feet). I completed a 41 mile loop with a 30 lbs pack strapped to my back and life has never been the same since.

35 views0 comments
  • Writer's pictureJeanette Miura

Happy almost Halloween! How are you feeling about Halloween this year? Are you still celebrating? We have so many family and friends that absolutely LOVE Halloween. This is the one holiday they go all out for. They design haunted houses and always create the most amazing costumes. I am always in awe of the time and effort they spend transforming themselves into different characters and creatures.

I fondly remember a grandmother I would talk to waiting for Akira to come out of the kindergarten gate. She had an amazing collection of creepy, scary dolls. She showed us photos of her collection while we waited for the kids. She announced when she got a “new baby” and would delight us with stories of people running out of her haunted house screaming in terror. At the time her passion for Halloween seemed wild to me, and she was judged by some of the moms as being crazy. With time and a little wisdom I think I finally understand her WHY. She enjoyed being "childish" and that kept her young.

Halloween is the one day we have permission to truly be children again. It’s about dressing up, eating candy, hopefully feeling the thrill of being scared by a monster popping out from the corner. It’s a simple holiday too. We don’t have to prepare a turkey or wrap presents. We don’t have to clean the house cause trick-or-treaters aren’t coming inside. All we have to do is ignite our imaginations and let go.

“We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw

Remember as a child dressing up not just on Halloween, but all year round? I remember spending hours playing Star Wars with my brother and cousins. I would wrap myself up in a white sheet, twirl my hair in buns, and I was instantly transformed into Princess Leia. We spent hours killing storm troopers with our lightsabers and my brother’s bunk bed became the Millennium Falcon. I remember the hours and hours of laughter we shared on Alderaan.

And then society began to tell us to grow up and to part with our childish ways. Being “childish” became an insult and we learned to avoid the rich fantasy worlds we used to visit. We abandoned imagination to become serious and hard working. Our desire to play was replaced with our desire to acquire material wealth. We convinced ourselves that this was the path to a successful life.

By reconnecting to our inner child on Halloween we are reminded to not take ourselves so seriously. This holiday transports us to a simpler time when we didn’t have a mortgage and only had to worry about grabbing a pillowcase big enough to hold a lot of candy. I propose we use Halloween as a starting point to remind ourselves that being “childish” isn’t a bad thing if viewed through the lens of play.

And let’s not stop with Halloween. Let’s figure out a way to add fun and play to our adult lives all year round. Let’s model to our children that play and laughter are an essential part of being happy in life. So carve your pumpkins, eat candy corn, and plan a few tricks for your family. Make them laugh hard and enjoy your time together. For a truly well balanced adult will always embrace their "childish" ways.


City and County websites have published guidelines and videos on how to have a safe Halloween during COVID. Here's the link for San Bernardino County:

28 views0 comments
bottom of page