A lot has happened since my last post. We’ve recovered from Omicron, had a delayed holiday celebration with family, and I am fully fighting back against seasonal affective disorder.
Of course, I fight that good fight every year, and have written about it more than once. A friend told me that it’s good to have things to look forward to when in the dregs of winter. She’s not wrong. I’ve planned a solo trip to the place I left my heart: Los Angeles. And I am counting the days.
When you have a family, you fall into a rhythm over the years. Not the grim reaper rhythm of monotony that we all fear, but a general expectation of pace over the seasons. Because our birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays ramp up in the spring, I like to view this as our family’s recovery time. Life moves at a slower pace. This is when I try to work on home projects, update my website, and the most cheerful activity? Party prep for my son’s birthday in spring.
Sound crazy? Not when you’ve seen one of his all-out thematic parties. Instead of stressing about it in the spring, I get all the DIY details done in advance, and I love it. I have a new, pandemic-era art studio in my basement and I tinker away for hours, using what I already have to create something new. I was sustainable before sustainable was cool. Hopefully, it will create a core memory with my soon-to-be eight-year-old. You can check out some of my previous events on the Parties and Events section of my site. This year’s theme? He chose Pokemon.
If you generally struggle this time of year, you can find some inspiration with a road trip. Even if it’s a simple day trip to pull you out of your home, which can become a vortex during a pandemic winter. If you live in Central Virginia, here’s a day trip idea I wrote about for North of the James. A little good news here: I was given my own column in the North of the James newspaper, called Diversions.
…Which brings me to my next topic: I just cannot find enough time to get on here and post as often as I’d like. In addition to writing full-time at a regular job, I’m freelancing again for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, running a column at North of the James, and still posting weekly as a lifestyle columnist for Ladles and Linens.
Not to mention, counting the days until can get home to California!
When Christmas ends, it’s like emerging from a haze. We’re snapped into the harsh reality of winter; something that had been slowly closing in while we were distracted by eggnog and tinsel.
“Only three months,” I repeat to myself every January. It’s a countdown to April’s big thaw. Winter is not something I missed when living in Los Angeles. But rather than survival mode, I’m attempting to embrace the “I love all four seasons” mantra of obvious psychopaths. Below are 10 things you can do to better enjoy life on such a winter’s day.
1: Little Miss Sunshine The days are shorter, and we’re missing out on hours of nature’s mood enhancer: the sun. It also provides Vitamin D, reduces blood pressure, and aligns your circadian rhythm. If it’s too blustery to be outside, park your car in full sun, dip out of the office during your lunch break and bake in the car. It warms you to the bone. Close your eyes and play classic 60s surf music, like The Ventures. You’re set after just a few minutes.
2. Fortify If you can’t soak up the rays, be sure to take Vitamin D supplements. I do super-concentrated sublingual drops – much easier and stronger than pills.
3. Body Hair Don’t Care Revel in the fact that you needn’t shave on the regular, or deal with a pedicure – not that you’re everobligated to do these things. In fact, current trends are having us reevaluate why women feel the need to shave so much in the first place. Get cozy in chunky sweaters. Ditch the razor and wear tights. Black tights are a basic but invest in more interesting neutrals, such as heather grey and burgundy. You’ll wear them more than you think.
4. KTHXBAI Even if you weren’t being lashed with subzero temperatures, many need to detox from family and holiday stress alone. But don’t jump on a plane first thing January. Give yourself time to unpack suitcases, bond with your pets and get some laundry done. Plus, waiting a bit gives you something to look forward to, and time to find vacation steals. Go somewhere warm, but prepare to lose a few friends. Your Instagram stories and post-vacation tan will be the envy of all, even if that wasn’t your intention. And side note: Never let that be your intention.
5. “Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture” – Outkast There’s always that late-winter panic about spring being around the corner, instilling fear that once we shed our coats, hideous winter secrets will come jiggling out. Why not hide another secret? That beneath our layers lurks a mean, lean machine. Exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good hormone that hits depression head-on. Make the decision to get moving, and soon your body will crave these endorphins. I switch it up with yoga, Just Dance on the Wii, ballet, and a treadmill. When you step into a sundress at the end of April, you will slay.
6. Face Your Bully They say the best way to deal with a bully is to stand up to it. Don’t hide from the snow. Go on a ski trip for the weekend. Build a snowman with your children. Snowball fights and shoveling are great exercise.
7. The Big Purge Imagine how much better spring cleaning will be, if you have less junk around the house. Take Christmas gifts you don’t want, and place them in a re-gift box, especially if you know someone who would love them. Rid your closets of clothes you don’t wear, or that don’t fit, and donate them to charity. Avoid the Salvation Army, as their ideology doesn’t support equal rights. Donate to a thrift store that stands for a good cause, such as animal shelters or children’s hospitals. Removing the dead weight will make your home feel airy and organized. Get inspired to reorganize your life by watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.
8. Self Care: It’s not a trend Winter is a time of slowing down. Before wedding season, and before those BBQ invites star rolling in, make good use of your downtime. Do deep-conditioning treatments for your hair, indulge in face masks and a paraffin wax treatment for your dry winter hands. Crack open a cookbook and find more delicious or interesting ways to eat your veggies. I’ll never steam cauliflower again, after I discovered how caramelized roasted cauliflower tastes. Mend your clothes, polish your leather shoes. During commercial breaks, do sets of push-ups and sit-ups to build strength. Stretch to build flexibility. Most importantly, moisturize!
9. Blink and it’s gone Take advantage of the things that you can only do in the winter. Sled down the scariest hill in town. Ice skate in an outdoor rink under the stars, and hold hands with your date. Load up on my favorite winter fruit, the pomegranate! They’re tart, full of antioxidants and will disappear as soon as warm weather returns. For the best way to open a pomegranate, check out this video.
10. Give In Enjoy the slowdown after the holidays. The nights are longer, so light a scented candle, sink under a weighted blanket and sip some hot chai. Marathon a great show, and read anything by David Sedaris or Joan Didion. And I cannot say it enough – moisturize!
Some spend New Year’s Day packing up ornaments. I’d rather sleep in and go to brunch. I’m in the league of defiant revelers that leave their holiday lights up through the first week of January. Why? Because we’re trying to stave off the impending doom of a long, cold winter. In fact, many believe that all the hoopla surrounding Christmas is just a way to distract us from the misery gaining steam outdoors.
Here’s how to keep your spirits up after the holidays:
A Little Twinkle
We’re all a little taken aback at how stark a room looks when stripped of holiday accoutrements. Hold on to a strand of white lights, and wrap them around an indoor tree, or gather them into an oversized glass vase, to keep a bit of sparkle in your home.
Don’t toss those candy canes! Swirl them as swizzle sticks in your hot cocoa or mocha. Smash them to pieces and lay them in an empty Altoids tin to use as mints on the go. And if it really feels like you’re going cold turkey after the holidays, here’s a little-known fact: You can get peppermint mochas at Starbucks year-round, though they don’t advertise it.
It’s no secret that working out is good for your heart, but the endorphins improve your mood and the exertion results in a great night’s sleep. Besides, when you peel off your sweater this Spring, how nice would it be to find a strong, lean body beneath it?
Get the Party Started
Plan a small party! It’s so much easier to corral your loved ones in January than it is at the height of the holiday season. Plus, everyone needs something to look forward to. My go-to this year will be an Oscar party! Since it’s a weeknight and the show runs late, it will be a pajama party. People will be cozy, well-fed and filled with Prosecco. Go LaLa Land!
Green is Golden
If you can’t spend ample time outdoors, bring the outdoors in. Buy a palm and place it by a sunny window.
Doors to Enlightenment
So your holiday wreath is down. It doesn’t mean your home should go unadorned. Have something beautiful waiting for you every day when you return. There are plenty of gorgeous wreaths you can use year-round. You can even create one.
Spring may be a few months away, but now is a perfect time to imagine how you’d like to use the green space outdoors. Whether planning a vegetable patch or a fire pit, enjoy researching the best place to plant, the best deals on materials and read reviews if thinking of buying plants or seed online. My son is obsessed with blueberries, and I’m a fan of raspberries. When Spring arrives, I won’t be making a mad dash to plant these bushes before the heat of summer sets in.
…and then before you know it, the holidays will be back.