Surviving Holiday Exhaustion

It’s December 3 and we’re officially in full-tilt holiday exhaustion mode. How are you holding up?

Are you feeling worn down? Overwhelmed? Wondering how you’re going to cram everything into your schedule between now and the end of the year? Is the dreaded holiday exhaustion taking away all the joy?

Me too, sister.

To the tune of only about 4 hours of sleep last night because of all the things running through my head. My body is tired today, my eyes are scratchy, my sinuses are full. But my brain is on fire and my heart is overflowing. Today is going to be a great day.

This, my friend, is the crux of a good life: the decision to make it great.

I could list all the craziness and drama in my life right now. How’s this list?

  • An emotionally wobbly Thanksgiving week
  • The uncertainty of my one of my main revenue streams
  • Crash and burn on original Christmas plans, cancelled flights included
  • Frustration with physical weakness
  • Insecurity of my own ability…
  • Buying a Christmas llama

Yeah, I think all women can all identify with most of these things.

(Well, maybe not the llama. But it has legwarmers. Surely you understand now? See?)

But making life great doesn’t mean filling it up with stuff or suddenly getting 8 hours of sleep at night. No, it’s about keeping healthy boundaries and deciding to focus on the positive. To take the wins, no matter how small others may think they might be. Even in middle of holiday exhaustion. No, especially in the middle of holiday exhaustion.

Here are a few truths to remember: Emotions do get wobbly from time to time. Financial pressure is real. Self-doubt is normal. We all go through seasons in life. And it’s uncomfortable to push up against these pokey things. 

I don’t know about you, but my natural response is to procrastinate. To deny reality. To avoid confronting. Especially if it means confronting myself. Or sometimes it’s the exact opposite response: cramming my schedule so full I don’t have time to do the work. (Who hasn’t mopped the house when a writing deadline is due? Yeah? I thought so.) I’ve found this behavior only results in more stress and less sleep. Are you with me? 

When I don’t know 100% what to do, I let the 10% of “I don’t know-ness” stop me dead in my tracks.

But I don’t call it that. I call the pause research. Or wisdom. Or getting more education. Or some other ridiculous excuse that my mind fully justifies.

Until I read a book over a while back that kicked my butt in the best way possible. The War of Art. I’ve had it for two years, and while I knew it was supposed to be good, the title turned me off. I’m not into war or fighting, so a book that uses this as a metaphor was unattractive to me. But in the craziness of the week and my need for a physical book to hang onto and read, I grabbed it off my shelf.

I was wrong about my aversion on so many levels. This book is like my best friend telling me to get up and do my favorite thing. Now.


Check out this list that defines the mindset of a professional artist:

In this specific season of life, a few of these stand out more than others.

Namely, Number 3: Stay on the job all day. While I sit at my desk all day as I’m supposed to, I haven’t been as focused and productive as I want to be. This week I’m focusing on well … focus. Pushing hard on one thing so I can finish, pack it away, and be fully present for the next. (But yes, balancing that with realistic expectations as well. That’s something that’s not on the War of Art list but is on the Amy list.)

I’m not advocating more work hours. I’m talking about being present. To be focused on whatever you’re doing at the moment. Be fully invested, whether it be making your morning coffee, strategizing 2022, or on an afternoon Zoom call. Walking the dog or wrapping Christmas presents. Lean in. Enjoy. Soak up the moment. In whatever you choose to spend your time on.

It happened today, thanks to some great music, an uber early 4:50a start, and afternoon instead of morning phone calls. It feels like soaring. (Maybe that’s the sleep deprivation?)

But here’s what I know: Learning ourselves and our own rhythms helps us set ourselves up for success. Being honest about our stumbles allows us to work through to a solution. (Sometimes that’s assigning the task to someone else or just letting go. You’ll get no judgment from me!)

What’s your nemesis? What are you working on right now to stay balanced? How’s the Holiday Exhaustion level at your house? Shoot me a note and let me know how it’s going for you. We’re in this together!

Surviving Holiday Exhaustion

7 Small Business Benefits of a Strong Brand

Who you are and what you do are two very different things.

And yet our culture works as though who you are and what you do are one in the same. We relate worth to doing, not being. Especially when we’re constantly bombarded with messaging about who we should be. It’s difficult to step back from expectations, grab the wheel, and steer in our own direction for our own reasons. But who we are the very first step to achieve the benefits of a strong brand.


Who you are matters especially in business — it's the key to experiencing the benefits of a strong brand

When you meet people, one of the first things they’ll ask is, “What do you do?”

We may identify ourselves this way: “I’m a Business Owner. A Legislator. Administrator. Project Coordinator.” But that’s not who you are, that’s what you do. It’s a functional answer. Most of the time, this definition works. We wear this label and leave it at that. But we’re so much more, and it’s worth it to think of yourself as a who, not a what.

Business Branding 101 can be tricky: it can be difficult to sum up your identity succinctly, more so as a woman.


As a mom, writer, and business owner, I’m often tempted to define myself by my weekly tasks:

  • Dog Feeder: My 3 rescue pups bark their assent.
  • House Cleaner: The Little Blue House has been home for 6.5 years.
  • Grocery Shopper: Vegetarian will be more realistic when the youngest leaves for Boot Camp.
  • Toilet Paper-Within-Reach-Provider: Don’t ever mistakenly buy one-ply, even if it saves more trees.


The Benefits of a Strong Brand begin when you realize that you do is not who you are

  • SEO Content Expert: Thanks for stopping by!
  • Doctor Appointment Scheduler: Between the 3 kids and I, we have 3 medical insurance companies.
  • Dinner Cooker: Since the youngest started his job, this now falls fully back onto my plate. Boo.
  • Yard Nurturer: This summer we’re trying all new things in the garden.
  • Book Reader: My Kindle travels with me everywhere.
  • Business Manager: Spreadsheets, business meetings, goal casting and planning galore!
  • Homework Nagger: There’s only one left in high school, but he’s doing AP classes so homework is real.
  • Relationship Maintainer: What a raft of girlfriends I’m honored to have!


Whew. It’s easy to forget that we’re more than what we do.


Full stop.


We’re MORE than what we do.


When you figure out who you are, only then can you figure out what you do and why it matters. You’ll begin to lead and not follow. And it doesn’t get much better than that.

Have you ever realized that there’s not anyone who can see the whole of who we are? (My boys like to remind me I’ve never seen my face. It’s always a reflection, projection, or picture. 

How’s that for an identity crisis? While that thought might launch you into scads of lonely, I think it’s quite liberating because it means we can be anyone we want to be.

  • Your child’s teacher sees you as Mom. 
  • The grocery store clerk knows you as the one who always buys cheese, chocolate milk, and English muffins. 
  • The gas station attendant knows you as the one who rolls in with a sigh.
  • Co-workers know you as the one with the best snacks. 
  • The dogs think you’re the warmest, coziest lap when it’s cold outside.
  • And as an entrepreneur, your clients consider you the Expert.


You and only you can decide who you are. Not our culture, not the neighbor, not the person behind you at the traffic light. And certainly not the self-declared business expert who hangs out at the local coffee shop. So peel off their labels and find one of your own that fits you just right. 

Which leads me to ask, “Who are you, friend?” Your answer will shape the direction of everything. 


Who you believe you are in relation to your business can determine your success or failure. This is the foundation you need to start reaping the benefits of a strong brand.


If you believe you’re the expert, you’ll jump in with both feet and start cranking out products and services with abandon. If you don’t think you’re good enough to make a difference, you’ll keep procrastinating and never get much of anything off the ground.


The Benefits of a Strong Brand: When you know who you are you'll begin to lead and not follow.


Who you believe you are is important to your business future, your financial future, and your happiness.

When you figure out who you are, only then can you figure out what you do and why it matters. You’ll begin to lead and not follow. And it doesn’t get much better than that.

The Small Business Benefits of a Strong Brand:

1. A Competitive Edge in the Market

Once you know who you are, the benefits start flooding. YOU as an entrepreneur or woman-owned small business start shining in your brand, and as a result develop a strong brand identity. You are your own brand ambassador, whether you’re at a networking meeting, showing your stuff on Instagram, or buying cheese at the grocery store. 

This confidence makes you magnetically unforgettable. That check-out clerk will wish she were your best friend. And that fellow networker will instantly have a list of potential clients she’s ready to pass your way. 

When you are YOU, the world shifts. When you live and breathe comfortably in your own skin, confident of who you are and what you bring to the table, you become a force to be reckoned with. It makes you irresistible. How that for a competitive edge?


2. Loyal Customers

The people who flock to you are the ones who share your values. Once you’ve made emotional connections with your tribe, you’ve turned them into long term customers. This customer loyalty provides benefits for years to come.

3. A Steady Stream of Referrals

If you can show that you’re a reliable brand that’s here to stay, potential customers will come to you. Your current clients will talk about their great experiences with your customer service, which will help you attract even more business.


4. More Effective Marketing

When you’re authentic and comfortable in what you say and your presentation, you’re able to build trust rapidly. This likeability factor means increased interest and greater engagement, which means your sales journey moves more like a rocket than a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. You’ve proved your value in the market

5. Premium Pricing

With greater trust comes higher prices. Does this mean you take advantage? No, but as in any industry, greater demand justifies a higher cost. People will pay more for something they know works. When you engage their emotions, the same magic happens. 

(Remember when Strawberry Shortcake dolls were all that and then some in the 80s? I was obsessed. From Orange Blossom to Lime Chiffon, I had them all. I even wanted Purple Pieman with his mean old Berry Bird.)


6. Engaged Employees

A solid brand strategy doesn’t just look outward. It keeps in mind that your brand’s reputation is vital inside your workspace as much as it is on social media or on the store shelves. 

Creating a brand that your employees know, like, and trust will keep them by your side through thick and thin. This increased brand loyalty means lower turnover rates, greater efficiency on the production line, and happier work environment. 

7. Stronger Partnerships

Powerful brands create partnership opportunities with other brands in the marketplace. Who doesn’t want to work with a company who has stellar financial performance, carries high brand recognition, and a steady stream of customers who don’t just recognize your brand, but are fanatical about everything you do? Customer recognition like this means money in the bank for anyone you choose to work with.