The Unleashing of the HOLIDAY SPIRIT

red christmas spirit image


So, it’s a couple of weeks until we celebrate Thanksgiving with Christmas being around the corner. I can honestly say this is the most I have ever been excited about either one of them. I have decided to truly experience both holidays, instead of just managing to get through it with gifts bought and received. As a child I had some that were great, and some that sucked. We never fed into the myth of Santa Clause, my parents certainly weren’t going to let someone else get the credit for what they bought myself and my brothers. I remember my mother being completely exhausted from all the cooking she did on both days, with little time to appreciate the importance of appropriate table setting and tree decorating my father was trying to instill in me. It’s safe to say that the romanticism of it all may have gotten lost in translation.

The change in my attitude about the holidays could be attributed to me realizing how much of ourselves that we tend to give to our jobs and even our dreams, so time spent on things and with people that make us happier become even more important. With that in mind, I am determined to stretch out the months of November and December. This year they won’t just be a blur until the day of, with me confirming that I’ve gotten what I requested, and figuring out whose house will I end up at for dinner. I am going to go out of my way to really observe these traditions, and the best way I can do this is by remembering the details. It’s in the music playing, it’s in drinking hot chocolate, it’s in putting up cheesy decorations that would typically make you turn your nose up, and most importantly being grateful for what I already have. In addition I have decided to leave the conspiracy theories about these occasions out of the picture. It’s safe to say we are not idiots, and we celebrate these holidays not because of the historical or date accuracy, but because we want to. As a society at times it can seem that we don’t have much to come together about, let’s not take away these things too.

We should not allow the “powers that be” dictate when we start getting into the holiday spirit. Do we really need our malls to let us know it’s that time of the year to be of good cheer? When will we decide to meet each other with great expectation and joy on our own? When will we go out of the way to make others happy because we want to see them smile? Should we only be like this towards the end of the year? Absolutely not. While we do have birth days, Valentine’s Day, and anniversaries, they are truly not enough.

Let’s find more reasons to enjoy our lives and our families throughout the year, and make the most out of what we have without needing permission to do so.




I am slowly turning into a person I never thought I  would become……a sentimentalist. Yuck!

Rachel Bryant Lundy

“ME” TIME…life sucks without it, so how do I get it?

Image of relaxing 2

I don’t know about you but if Rachel doesn’t get to spend quality time with Rachel, she gets pretty cranky. As a result I suffer from chronic moodiness, impatience, and a lack of interest in most things I have to do. So, it’s obvious that keeping time to and with myself needs to be a priority. As a kindergartner, one of the requirements was that I bring a mat with me to participate in daily nap times. It didn’t matter if I couldn’t go to sleep, but just having some time to calm down, relax, and reflect on a picture I just  painted did wonders for my disposition. Since nap times were apart of most kindergarten classrooms, teachers must  have discovered that it helped keep the classroom day running smoothly while giving them a much needed break. Whenever a child is cranky, one of the first things someone says is “they must be sleepy”. If having time to ourselves and resting is so important when we are younger with barely any responsibilities, then why do we think it is less needed when we have more of them? “Me” time is a must.

Without having a spouse or children, finding time to relax can be daunting, because there are so many task that keep us preoccupied in our day until it’s time to go bed. Add a spouse and kids to that and it can seem almost impossible. I recently vowed that since life isn’t going to give me any more hours, I have no choice but to cheat the system and essentially “cheat my chores” to get the extra time I need. Simply put “cheating your chores” is figuring out a way to quickly get done the things you can’t get around, that will allow you to have more time to focus on yourself or the things you find important. You will have more time in the mornings and in the evenings to relax, exercise, read, create, or do whatever else adds to your personal happiness. Are you really going to wait until you have the extra cash to do a spa day or plan a vacation to relax? No, that’s crazy. You have to find a way to let the little moments you steal for yourself feel like the bigger ones.

To do this effectively, I also had to learn to make a schedule and stick to it. I find the easiest way to do this is to use the daily calendar on my phone that reminds me of every major and minor “to do” so I won’t forget. Time Management isn’t a practice that only the best students need to learn to master, but productive adults also need to use it to live their most fruitful life.  Being a creative person, I once rebelled against this kind of organization and felt it was too controlling. I now realize the anxiety and stress caused by disorganization and chaos isn’t worth it, and a poor alternative to the calmness and order that organization can bring.

This has been a huge challenge for me, because I certainly wasn’t raised this way. I can vividly remember a night before the first day of school, digging through unopened mail with my mother, searching for school issued bus cards that came over the summer. I remember thinking, “What if they don’t let me on the bus, am I gonna have to walk to school?”  I was already scared to death of the first day of class since I was entering the seventh grade, now my nerves were already shot before I got there. Just imagine how peaceful my night would have been if I already had my bus card packed away in my book bag. Instead of frantically looking for a school addressed envelope, I could have been in my bed sleeping peacefully or having “me” time.

Most of us dread having to do things immediately, letting procrastination trick us into thinking we are getting our “me” time now. Unfortunately, “me” time riddled with guilt because you know you should be taking care of other things is ultimately no fun at all. To increase your opportunities of having more time to spend with yourself while taking care of your responsibilities, try beginning the following :

  • First, iron your clothes for the upcoming work week in advance. Don’t just iron the night before for the next day, take an hour or two and iron for the entire work week. This gives you a much calmer morning because you’re not figuring out what to wear and hurrying to iron it. Your clothes also look much better when you are ironing them to look good until you wear them, instead of ironing them to hurry and put them on. I like finding a weekday night to do this so I am not performing this boring chore on the weekend. And, there is nothing like coming home trying to think of what to wear and remembering, it’s already done. Leaving room for “me” time.
  • Secondly, cook items that last for atleast two days or that you can get multiple meals out of so you’re not constantly thinking of what to make.  For example, if using ground beef or ground turkey some meals you could make together are spaghetti and meat balls, sloppy joe, tacos, meat loaf, or hamburgers. And, deciding to use left overs is not just cost effective , but there is nothing like the feeling of coming home trying to figure out what to cook, and remembering that dinner is already done. Leaving room for “me” time.
  • Thirdly, don’t under estimate what you can do in 10 or 15 minutes. It doesn’t take long to throw some clothes in the wash machine and dryer or do a quick mopping of a kitchen floor. Before you know it all of your laundry is done, freeing up more time for you to relax.
  • And lastly, take advantage of lunch breaks to spend time with yourself and clear your head by meditating or praying. If you have an hour, consider using 30 minutes to eat and the remainder to take a walk. If you have the option to eat at your desk while working, consider taking the full hour to walk. This way you are able to have “me” time and get in exercise.

I am sure there are other tricks you will learn on your own that will help you on your journey to finding more “me” time. But these simple ones have allowed me to enjoy my days so much more and I hope it will do the same for you.

Remember…. Stay a Busy Bee and share with a Bride to Be

Rachel Bryant Lundy

THE GROCERY GAMES….How to Survive Market Runs with your Spouse


Shopper beware- I’ve learned that in healthy relationships, opposition has no choice but to show its ugly head at the strangest of places. A grocery store, as innocent and unassuming as it appears is the perfect breeding ground for preventable disputes. We recently experienced another unexpected snow storm here in Baltimore, and I had to think if it was worth going to the market before we got the worst of it. Markets can be an annoying place to end up in on a Sunday evening. Ultimately, we decided to go and it wasn’t that bad, but that was not by coincidence.

My husband and I  have always gotten along well, so when we were engaged and our personalities clashed in the grocery store, I had to figure out why. I mean it really urked me, to the point where I had to ask a married friend of mine if she and her husband went grocery shopping together.  She moved her eye glasses down to the middle of her nose, looked me square in the eyes, and said “NO”. And when I thought about it, I don’t have any memories of my parents grocery shopping together. But, I do have many of my father being frustrated and impatient while waiting in the car for my mother to come out of the store. Most of the time they made shopping trips on their own, and Lord help us if my little brothers and  I accompanied them. Let’s just say a lot of times we were left in the car, or found some way to remind our parents they should have left us there.

I realized our personalities clashed when going to the market because we both had different approaches to grocery shopping. I typically enter the market with a  peaceful “Hmmm what do I need in here” kind of vibe, whereas my husband is more “get it and go”. My approach left my husband to believe that I was clueless about what I needed to get, which was not true. While he made me think that he took grocery shopping way too seriously. I can only assume this may be where my mom and dad, and many other couples also differ.

Optimistically, I tried going shopping alone but that ended up being inconvenient because we were rarely not together. We enjoyed being with each other, even at the annoying grocery store. Plus, I’m totally hooked on not carrying any shopping bags. I have carried enough bags in my life, refusing the help of my sketchy neighbors, while making a million trips back and forth to my car, almost dropping everything.  Sure, I offer to help, but my husband doesn’t like me to. Of course I insist on it because it doesn’t take much to make me feel guilty, and he gives me the lightest bag-sweetie pie.

Nevertheless, practice makes perfect. Overtime, I’ve come to not absolutely dread shopping trips and you will too. With communicating to your spouse about the preferences of both of you, eventually you will get used to each others behavior. Also, the more you visit the market, the more familiar you will become with the ins and outs of your grocery store. You will remember where the items are you typically buy, and no longer feel like you are in a never ending maze. I expect our shopping trips to continually improve, but admittedly I am not ready to add a baby or another little person just yet.  I really hate it when I see a whole family at a market or a little kid with their own shopping cart, I just want to yell, “There’s no room for that people!”  Pray for me, maybe the Grinch will grow a heart….one day.

To make your grocery shopping experience more enjoyable, try doing the following:

  • First, make a  grocery list of the items you need and go over it together, so there are no major surprises about what you are buying when you get in the grocery store.
  • Secondly, leave room for “cheating”, from the list. For example,  if cookies are not on your list but you can afford to buy cookies, and your spouse has a sweet tooth, then buy them. It’s the little things that keep a home happy and it shows them that you care about what they like.
  • Thirdly, create and commit to a budget while shopping together. One person shouldn’t be responsible or the only one knowing what the budget is. Both should feel the anxiety of trying to stick to it and the joy of sticking to it. I love “hi -fiving” my husband  if we were able to stick to the budget or telling each other “not bad” if we went over some.
  • And lastly, let go of the shopping cart. If one person really likes to push it, let them. Don’t start caring all of a sudden because they do.

I hope I have helped make your future shopping trips more enjoyable.

Remember… Stay a Busy Bee and share with a Bride to Be

Rachel Bryant Lundy

My Funny Acting Valentine…. I still don’t know how I feel about you


Call me “cray cray” but I’m one of those strange creatures that prefers a gift that is pretty, and I can look at forever, instead of a gift that I will have to watch die or needs digesting. And, I’ve never been a fan of the high school graduation or last minute feel that balloons bring to any occasion. These sentiments combined with my background in finance, has me asking every time I see expensive yet corny V Day memorabilia, “what bill or savings account could this money have gone too?” I know, I’m strange or at least, not the most romantic person in the world. Thankfully, my husband leaves the over thinking to me and ignores my conspiracy theories on the meanings of this man- made holiday; otherwise there would be no fun in the Lundy household. I still find it hard to get super excited about this day, originally for lovers only.

Truthfully, my heart is torn over V Day. Yes, I am married now, but I’ve been “team single” for so long, that I still have the wounds from the triumphs and trials of a single girl’s heart. I can recall many times of committing to just sleeping through the day. Being single on V Day is just starting to be celebrated. It wasn’t that long ago that taking yourself out for a wonderful dinner was perceived as you being a glutton for punishment.  It was best to stay home, and tell yourself that all dine in restaurants were off limits until the next day. And even though you typically wouldn’t be dining anywhere as part of your daily routine, you instantly resented that if by chance you wanted to, you felt like you couldn’t. Suddenly a few hours of staying in, feels like an eternity.

Having worked in numerous retail stores that cater to women, and currently working next to a popular pharmacy, it’s hard for me to take V Day seriously while watching stores prep for it immediately after Christmas. Immediately folks, GEESH! I’m bombarded with so much chocolate and candy  so long before the day, that it almost fades away to background noise, and becomes lumped in with the other items I’ve learned to ignore while perusing down the aisle . How about the running jokes in my head, mocking the many relationships on life support, that use V Day as a way to quickly pump some life back into them. This typically backfires because someone has to ask “Why does it  take Valentine’s day for you to show how you feel about me?” And let’s not forget about the relationships  that  won’t have a chance of progressing, because this one day drops in as a bomb destroying everything in its path. Usually, one person feels it should be celebrated and would be if they were being taken seriously. The other might take the day seriously, but feel it is mainly for people that are committed and love each other, not just starting to get to know each other. Who’s to say which one is right, but  typically it is the woman that needs V Day validation, whether it’s  genuine or not.

We can’t ignore the awkwardness it causes between close friends, the one that has plans and the one that doesn’t. You can’t be a jerk to your single friend and ask what they are doing if they haven’t mentioned it to you. But of course they will ask what you are doing, which ends up making you look like a jerk anyway, just because you have something to do. This one day can cause a lot of drama. Even those of us who seem above it, are somehow drawn into the antics. As convicted as we are to not care about the day, it only takes one spouse of our coworkers to have something delivered to the work place that makes us run home to make sure were getting something too. And our whole “every day is valentine’s day” mantra goes flying out the window.

However, with all my cynicism about V Day I was able to find some good in it. Not a lot, but enough. Here me out and temporarily forget about my previous case against it. In our current society, where there is bad news bombarding our news feeds all the time, a day that focuses on giving love and appreciation might not be that bad.  It also gives our sweetie pies a chance to show their true colors even more.

My hubby and I were snowed in on V Day and the day before. The streets were a mess, but he caught the bus downtown to get my gift. And even though I had a specific request, he was still able to surprise me, just to show me he cared… I’ll stop bragging now. I guess when put that way, maybe we should have more than one V Day a year. Maybe it should be one for every season? With the use of Instagram, Flip gram, Twitter, and Facebook, feelings about love are able to be spread so much quicker, and end up dominating the news feeds that day. Taking our minds off the murders, kidnappings, robberies, etc., even if but for one day. And I’m happy to say the celebration of this day is becoming more inclusive. Now people are emphasizing the love for their children, spouse, coworkers, and best friends. It’s actually turning out to be a day of love, instead of a day just meant for lovers.

I guess the idealist in me is stronger than the skeptic part. And I wish that everyday people treated the ones they cared for as if it was V Day. In hopes of spreading more love in the world, maybe one day we all may learn to love first and love daily. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins (1st Peter 4:8).” Btw, on this V Day weekend, we were able to make it to two baby showers, YESSSSSSSS.

To better your chances of having less anxiety over future V Day’s, try implementing the following:

  • If you are not a fan of traditional gifts, let your Valentine know what items you would prefer in advance. The key is making sure you don’t let them know while receiving their gift. Being unappreciative is never smart, and greatly increases the chances of not getting any more gifts.
  • Keep the day in perspective. If you have a true Valentine, don’t make a big deal about it if you don’t get a gift on Valentine’s day. You may have gotten something else that was more important earlier in the week, like rent money. In my book, that counts the most.  There is no need to change your values for one day.
  • Be clear and honest in your communication with your spouse about what you can afford, if you honestly want to celebrate the day but don’t have the means to. You can still show how much you appreciate them by making a wonderful breakfast or dinner, followed by the best desert ever (wink, wink).
  • If you are single, you have two great options. You can ignore the whole day all together. Get some rest and save your money. Sadly, like most holidays now, the one who wins the most are the many stores that are patronized.  Tip: If you have friends that have plans don’t be bitter, be happy for them. You never know if they may know your future valentine. They will remember if they saw you give them side eye when they mentioned their plans, or if you genuinely were happy for them. Your second option is to find a group of people who are as pessimistic about it as you and make fun of the day for the rest of the evening.

I hope what I have shared makes your future V Days more enjoyable.

Remember…Stay a Busy Bee and share with a Bride to Be.  

Rachel Bryant Lundy