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!
1) Instead of being sad that Christmas is over, remember your actual Christmas. Not the one that Frank Sinatra sings about, but the one with your drunk aunt and the watery dollar store lotion your co-worker re-gifted you.
2) Don’t focus on the shorter days – focus on the longer nights! Slip into your PJs moments after walking in the door. Spike your hot cocoa with some Kahlua and settle in for a night of Netflix.
3) Winter is the least expensive time of year to fly off to a sunny locale. And honestly, who’d want to pay peak season rates to leave a warm and sunny place, just to arrive in another warm and sunny place? Going in winter also earns you social media bragging points. Don’t overdo it – everyone hates that guy. Not jealousy, actual hate.
4) The stores have already shamelessly stocked their shelves with Valentine’s Day tackiness. Forget the crowded restaurants with the overpriced prix fixe menus, which is an old restaurant trick to push out a surplus of expiring food. Instead, send those you care about a nostalgic surprise; a children’s Valentine’s Day card in the mail, complete with candy hearts. And on February 15th, snatch up some high-end chocolates on discount. Godiva will be dying to purge their heart-shaped candy boxes.
5) Liven up these drab months for others too, and throw a dinner party. Not only will you be surrounded by good company, but your home will be spruced up, and if your guests were brought up right, you’ll have a couple of extra bottles of something!
6) Just because the forecast resembles the hideous weather from California Dreamin’, doesn’t mean you need to go pasty. Exfoliate that dry winter skin and do a self-tanner at home. Yow will look fantastic naked.
7) Learn some new crock pot recipes. Those warm, hearty meals are perfect for this time of year, and will make your house smell of heavenly meat potpourri.
8) Whether or not you made resolutions, there’s no doubt that exercise gets your endorphins up. If it’s cold where you live, take up an indoor activity that you’ll be more likely to do. Yoga Today is offering a free, 14-day trial which will get you two weeks of freebies. And Amazon hosts a plethora of used exercise DVDs that come at a fraction of the price of a live class.
9) Take a cue from Elle Woods and go get a mani pedi! Avoid the Bend and Snap.
10) Instead of waiting for it to warm up, take advantage of the cold weather. If it snows, go sledding. If it’s cold inside, start up a fire and roast some marshmallows. If there’s an ice storm, know that it’s like earth porn for photographers. It’s gorgeous. Grab a camera, be careful and capture the beauty of it. And always remember, we can’t truly appreciate spring without a harsh winter to precede it.