Creative Thinking: Pace quickens with season

November 3, 2013 

It’s really happening! It’s the first weekend of November. We all know what that means: The holidays are upon us and time seems to speed up. Even before it was Halloween last week, Debra and I had already gathered the travelers for our annual New York City trip for their orientation session.

It appeared we were having this meeting earlier this year since no one had uttered the words trick-or-treat yet, but when we actually looked at our calendar, we realized that our trip is only a few weeks away. Calendars always have a way of immediately putting things into perspective.

This time of year things really go into fast motion for me. I have a schedule that is already spinning out of control most of the time. But, starting about now, my schedule hits the warm waters of the upcoming holiday seasons and immediately goes from a Category 2 to a Category 5. So, maybe I have been watching a little too much of the Weather Channel recently. However, I do feel like a hurricane is going on in my head most of the time.

I never can quite keep it straight in my mind which season it really is. It reminds me some of the movies I’ve seen over the years where there is a time warp involved. I completely understand where those people are coming from who wake up in another decade and are dazed and confused. When it comes to the current season that is exactly where I am.

I refer to this state of mind as a “seasonal time warp.” In the last couple of months, I created the artwork for my new Christmas T-shirts and aprons. I compiled a book of my Sunday Telegraph columns and sent it to press. I worked with my production team on putting together a DVD of one of my comedy shows.

I gathered produce and searched for pumpkins to become imaginary turkeys for a Thanksgiving tablescape. I turned an ordinary cheese ball into a plump orange pumpkin complete with real stem. I dressed up like a pirate and a friendly Dracula, all the while working diligently with the Telegraph’s Southern Style magazine team on the upcoming holiday issue. Now, do you see what I mean by seasonal time warp?

Don’t get me wrong. I am blessed and love what I do. With each year I realize how important it is to live in the present. But, because of what I do for a living, I have to constantly remind myself to be present right here, right now. From a creative aspect, I’m always thinking of a future project or an upcoming event. It’s very hard to turn off a creative mind.

But, I promise I’m trying -- even though it’s very easy for me to lose sight of the current season. I’m one jack-o’-lantern, turkey or Christmas ornament ahead of relishing what is actually happening at the present moment.

My mind is always charging forward to the next stop on the yearly calendar of holidays and, with each year, the journey quickens. In our fast-paced lives that move at the speed of sound, where does the current season go? Early September had many retail stores already displaying their Halloween decorations right beside -- yikes! -- Christmas-themed items.

“They didn’t used to be out this early and certainly not at the same time,” I said to myself. Shouldn’t we be able to get through one season before another one begins?

When I was a child, we never put up our Christmas tree until about Dec. 19. I am certain of this because my birthday is Dec. 19 and that was when we did our decorating. Now, the day after Thanksgiving and sometimes even before, our house is already morphing into Christmas. Thanksgiving blows by and gets lost in the shuffle of Christmas anticipation. I sometimes wish things were like they used to be -- slower and more in the moment!

I don’t know if we will ever get back to that pace of life, but we can challenge ourselves to relish each season for the joy it brings. To enjoy the taste of candy corn before we taste the eggnog. To carve the jack-o’-lantern before we bake the pumpkin pie. In other words, to learn to really immerse ourselves in the joys of each and every season.

I know I’m as guilty as the next person. This upcoming season, I’m going to make a concerted effort to pause and soak in the current holiday. I want to take a deep breath, sit back and enjoy each one of them instead of frantically rushing through one in order to get to the next. We all know time moves fast enough as it is. I would like for you to try to do the same.

Now that the ghosts, ghouls and goblins are safely packed away for another year, I’ve got to immediately gather things for my next Thanksgiving video and plan all my holiday baking. Then, there are all those boxes of Christmas decorations to unpack. I know all the elves and Santas are more than ready to be set free.

See, I’m not doing so great already. I have to get a grip on myself. I have to set a good example. Wait, was that the “ho ho ho” of Santa I just heard? No, it couldn’t be. Not yet!

More with Mark

• Join Mark at the 21st annual Christmas Made in the South from Friday- Nov. 10 at the Macon Coliseum. Hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 10. Adult admission is $6 and children 12 and younger are free. One admission is good for all three days. Mark will have all his new holiday merchandise on hand.

Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email markballard@cox.net; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.

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