The Holiday Blues

I admit that December is not my favorite time of year. I do like Christmas–I enjoy giving and receiving presents, being with family, seeing the joy on my son’s face when he opens that gift he really, really wanted. But the holidays are extraordinarily stressful for me. The stress of getting the perfect (or sometimes, just any) gift, for making treats for my kid’s teachers, sending all the presents off so they get there in time, the 13 hour drive, yadda yadda yadda.

In an effort to make the season a bit more sane, a few years ago I stopped sending Christmas cards–I just couldn’t do it any more, although I am sorry not to receive cards from friends. This year we decided not to make treats for all of the teachers–sorry, guys. There’s even some doubt that we will put up the Christmas tree this weekend, although I am trying to get into the spirit. I am strangely world weary this year, and I couldn’t really tell you why. Life is good, work is busy, family is healthy, and next month, my first book will be published. Perhaps it is my innate cynicism waiting for the other shoe to drop, or perhaps I just need a little vacation.

Do you get the holiday blues? How do you get yourself out of them?

 

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

City Girl Meets Country Christmas

Are you ready for the holidays? If you’re answer is a resounding, “Not even close!” Welcome to the club. This year I find myself well and truly behind. Let me explain. If you’re a long time reader of this blog you know we do our Christmas celebration any day but Christmas. For the sake of meshing schedules, it’s later this year than it’s ever been.

So, I’m planning no decorations, no shopping, no guests, and no big meals. Whew! We’re the only home with no outdoor lights in our neighborhood. (Yes, the Grinch is my favorite holiday character in case you were wondering.) Just a quiet holiday with my guy. And then last night…

My son calls and is bringing his girl whom we’ve never met home because he wants to be ‘home’ before Christmas. And some friends are coming in from out of town. These are two fabulous surprises, but they aren’t bad. No way. I couldn’t be happier. However, you know what I have to pull off in seven days, before they get here.

http://www.suttonfox.com

Most of the time, I love living in the country. I wouldn’t trade it. Except at times like this. To find some things I’d like to get, have, or do, requires at least a fifty mile round trip to town, so I’m making adjustments to avoid spending the time on travel. Because even after a couple years, I still have the urge to just run over to the mall (which we don’t have one of) or where ever and just pick something up.

And this morning the dog got sprayed by a skunk. Which is now hanging around our house, maybe in hopes of more entertainment from the dog? When it came toddling out of the woods at me, I confess to standing there like an idiot. It just kept coming. I’m thinking it’s going to be scared any minute. Well, no. I ran away from it, the dog ran at it, and then it was on. It’s been downhill from there.

I admit to being curious about how others handle unexpected surprises during the holidays. Stress is stress, whether it’s good or bad. Yes, I’m thrilled but I can see the exhaustion bearing down like a freight train. The only weapon I have is my sense of humor, which I use liberally this time of year.

Do you have a trick you use to reduce stress during the holidays?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

Turning Over a Healthier Leaf

Sorry, this is a day late, since it’s been that kind of week.

I’ve been thinking a lot about wellness lately. A week ago I finished my second book. I wrote 13,500 words in three days–an unprecedented burst of creative productivity for me, so I had to ride it out. The next day, of course, I woke up with a pinched nerve in my neck so bad I had to lie in bed for hours, unable to move my head unless it was to suck down more ibuprofen.

This was a bit of a wake up call for me. During last winter’s Polar Vortex I gained about 15 pounds, none of which I’ve managed to lose, although I will admit I haven’t really tried very hard. I love to eat and I hate to exercise, so you can see where this has led.

Writers, or so the stereotype goes, often live unhealthy lives. They drink too much, eat a lot of bad-for-them foods, and exercise very little. This is not always true, of course, as evidenced by Julia Quinn‘s treadmill desk and Susan Elizabeth Phillips‘ Facebook pics of all the healthy meals she eats and crazy hiking trips she takes. I drink more wine than I ought, could happily eat Lay’s Lightly Salted potato chips all day long, and time not spent working, writing, editing, blogging, cooking, chauffeuring the kid around town, reading, sleeping, or washing the dishes is usually spent watching Hulu or playing Angry Birds Transformers.

But as I mentioned, the pinched nerve woke me up to the fact this is probably not the best way to live, and after a lovely massage yesterday I am ready to turn over a new leaf–now, before all the crazy holiday stress eating starts. Weight Watchers tracking has begun, as has the new exercise regimen–20 minutes on the trusty old NordicTrack I’ve had since 1989. Wish me luck, for I will need it.

Are you a fitness fan, or do you struggle with staying motivated to exercise? Favorite bad-for-you food?

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Winter Wonders

IMG_1359You heard the newsman. There’s going to be snow! What’s the first thing you think of? Oh great, it’s time to bring out the shovel! Tell me that thought didn’t run through your head?

I always look forward to the winters in the North East, but once the first snowfall hits, I realize that it’s not as fun as when I was a kid. I used to love pressing my nose against the window, watching the fat snowflakes float down, or stand out and look up at the sky and pretend I’m flying through space, or even just jumping onto the fresh layer of snow and making snow angels. Seriously, where has time gone?

It’s been so long since I’ve sat down next to the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate and a warm blanket and read a holiday story. Or even just stay in for the day to watch Christmas movies before Christmas arrives.

Now I catch myself glaring out the window at the fluffy white stuff covering the grounds and the salt trucks driving pass my house and chugging salt at my car. I’m not going to tell you that I have a bake-a-thon like most normal people around the holidays, because truthfully, I wouldn’t recommend inviting me into a kitchen around this time of year…as I’d be the one eating all the cookies before you can let them cool and package them up nice….DSC00881

Winter is wonderful! It brings the blues at time, but do you remember the wonderful things that occur around this time of year? Remember the first snowball fight you’ve ever had? The first time you’ve put on your fancy new snowboots? Or watch your dog traipse through your snow-covered lawn?

So I’ve decided that I’m going to take a day off. Shoot! Maybe I’ll take two days off and just curl up next to the fireplace with my mug of hot chocolate and a Christmas story to warm my heart.

What makes you happy around this time of  year?

Comment and enter to win a holiday story you can read right next to your fireplace! Remember to check out the other blogs!

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About Clarissa Yip

Constantly on the run, Clarissa leads the life of adventure and mischief. When she's not getting herself in trouble, she's usually busy studying the art of eating and curling up with a good book or spending numerous hours reading and writing. It's really hard to find her in one place for too long...

The Joy of November

Every fall or early winter, life takes a different turn for me. The air starts cooling down and the weather changes, sometimes drastically. Living in Austria, a place with four seasons, I am reminded why people have gone crazy from gray days. The first year I was here, I read that the winter had the most days without sunshine since World War II. All I could think was wow.

Today, I look outside and see the clouds gathering because it’s supposed to rain. It’s another gray day and frankly, all it makes me want to do is grab a good book and curl up on the couch. Or for me, I grab my tablet and curl up on the couch. LOL!

Still, being a writer makes these days hard as our observation skills are not as tuned as normal. When I write setting, I try to make the weather a living thing. It is really when you think about it. I remember a line once from the movie Twister that I always thought fascinating; Jo’s talking and she says, ‘You’ve never seen it miss this house, and miss that house, and come after you!’ Weather is like that and one can use it in stories as character when needed.

Everyone remembers the famous first line: ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ from but how many of us really remember what novel it’s from. I didn’t and had to look it up: it’s from the 1830 novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton called Paul Clifford. While you might not remember the author or book, you most certainly do remember the weather of the opening.

You’re probably wondering just why I’m talking about the season and the weather this way. While this is my favorite season of the year, it is also one of the hardest for me. During fall and the beginning of winter, I’m moody, I write dark things that I normally wouldn’t write and all I want to do is laze around, not doing much at all. Hence the above sentence telling you about curling up on the couch and reading.

Some people have what’s called Seasonal Affect Disorder and it was noticed in places that are dark for large portions of the year. In Alaska and other places around the world, people use special lights, like grow lights, to give them back what they are missing from the sun. Now, I wouldn’t say I’ve gone that far but I can certainly commensurate with those people. I will go days without even wanting to do something productive then a switch is flipped and I’m baking up a storm. Believe it or not, it is also one of the reasons lots of babies were conceived during this period as there wasn’t much else to do when the world got dark.

I’m better around lots of people doing things like writers’ meetings but not having many friends in Austria, and no family, is really taking its toll on me during the fall and winter seasons. So, I’ve learned to take my joy from other things. Like writing. It’s during this time that I write, besides the dark parts, some of my more happy stories like those set around Christmas. That holiday has done more for me during the winter months than any other.

Thanksgiving here is something new here whereas at home it’s a major tradition. In Austria, we’ve actually started the American tradition and invite many friends to our home. We love doing it and were amazed last year when we discovered a full sized turkey will fit into our small oven. We did dressing and pumpkin pie as well as other traditional American dishes as we shared one of our most precious holidays with people who didn’t know a thing about it prior. Sharing one’s traditions is a good way to learn about people and have them learn about you.

So, today, I will watch those clouds outside my window, looking for the dragon or train or plane…aren’t clouds amazing that way? And I’ll hope for the sun to come back soon. Until then, I’ll write the dark parts of my stories as well as some of the happy parts too.

But how about you? Just what do you do to keep the seasonal blues away? Do you write? Read? Do you bury your head under the pillows and wish it would suddenly be spring? One lucky commenter will get a copy of one of my happier stories, A Viennese Christmas.

Have a great month…and see you all next!

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

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