It rarely happens, but this year it has. I ran into the proverbial wall this past week paralyzed by the amount of “to-do’s.” Don’t get me wrong; I love having a lot to do. In fact, I think I need it … most of the time. This week though, I had many work related obligations, a self-imposed pre-holiday meal to prepare in the middle of the week for my team that included a turkey and homemade stuffing, two night events, my regular family duties and multiple charity commitments that included shopping for gifts for four foster kids in our community. Obviously, I could not disappoint any of those depending on me. I mentioned recently to a group I was speaking to that I was voted most dependable in my high school mock elections. Do you remember those? They were a fun way to see what the masses of your adolescent community thought of you. Sometimes it was flattering and other times, well, it was eye opening. For me, it definitely helped me understand that, even then, I was able to be there for others in a meaningful way. That is, if you consider helping the high school football team manage their monies in order to have enough saved to go on spring break to Daytona a worthwhile, meaningful cause. I know they appreciated it. I told them I would hold their money, plan the trip and pay the bills. When I say I’m going to do something, I truly intend to complete the task to the best of my ability. I detest letting anyone down. There’s just not enough time in the day to get everything done. Part of my paralysis hit when I started composing a list of things to do so I wouldn’t forget anything. Let’s just say that I’m forced into taking it one day at a time with one item at a time. And today, I’m focused on making the most of my holiday traditions. The funny thing about traditions is that they keep growing and changing and getting earlier. Does this happen to you? I have traditions I keep with my parents, siblings and extended family, my husband and children, my girlfriends and my work family. A love of traditions is different for everyone, but making time for your loved ones is really what’s important. Our cover story this month focuses on Jeanie Croope’s love of traditions. The fact that she puts her heart and soul into 14 different trees (each with a special meaning) is totally amazing. It’s fun to hear about some of her traditions like her family gift-wrapping competition. I may have to install this golden nugget into our traditions. It might just save me a whole night slamming coffee into the wee hours and watching an Elf marathon. A new tradition that I’m particularly fond of is time spent with my M3/CAWLM family. Throughout the last few years, we’ve held a Holiday Breakfast where we exchange our last Secret Santa gift, share breakfast, hold our team meeting and conduct a round of our strategic planning. I really look forward to it. This time together feels so relaxed and really beneficial for team building. We work so hard and it’s nice to just enjoy each other in an informal setting. I’m also making new traditions with my nieces and Goddaughter. It’s great to figure out what is important to them as they get older and have something that is just for us. Traditions don’t always have to be associated with Christmas or in the month of December. I think that’s when we feel this tug at our hearts to be with those we love. But, I encourage you to take the time to spend quality — tradition-style — moments with people. This has been a really special year. We celebrated our 10th anniversary as a company, explored new markets, said goodbye to some good friends and hello to new ones. My youngest child got his driver’s license, I drove across the country with my grandpa, visited Hilton Head for the first time with good friends, went to our nation’s capitol with Shelley Davis Mielock and challenged myself to stay fit this year. I’ve been blessed with good health and great family and friends. What more can a girl ask for? Well, if my husband is reading this, there are a few small things I can think of … Otherwise, the only gift I would ask Santa for is that the Lansing region prospers and the people in our community stay healthy and happy for 2013. Thanks for another great year mid-Michigan. From my family to yours — Happy Holidays!
Tiffany Dowling is the Founder and President of M3 Group, a full-service branding agency located in downtown Lansing, Mich. She is also owner and publisher of Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine and the Greater Lansing Business Monthly. Dowling has helped businesses and organizations with branding needs for more than a decade. Learn more at www.m3group.biz.