Fitness Healthy Eating Leisure Reading

Six Ways to Zen Over the Holidays

Holiday season came fast and furious this year because Thanksgiving fell so late.  Concerts, plays, parties and other preparations are all in full swing.  Many days are double booked with activities.  Shopping may be complete or may be wrapping up (pun intended because all those gifts need to be wrapped).  Time needs to be set aside for baking and preparing holiday feasts.  Next week travel begins as we make our way to loved ones or they make their ways to us.  Start packing suitcases now or risk forgetting something! Oh, and then the guest rooms need to readied, linens cleaned, closets and drawers cleaned out.

I’m exhausted just writing this and I don’t do half of these things.  I’m just old enough (and wise?) that I make the holidays exactly as busy and non-stressful as I like.  Truth be told, Christmas is not my favorite time of year and if I could hang out by myself and read next to the fire with a cup of Earl Grey (chardonnay?) I wouldn’t feel cheated a bit.  But I know others get really caught up in the festivities or many want to celebrate but schedules or relationships might now allow for that.  It can be sad, it can be stressful, it can be hard on the body.

If you’re already feeling the stress of the season, try to give yourself a pass and find some Zen.  Here are some ways I’ve found to avoid the insanity.  You won’t be surprised by my #1 activity.  Yep, exercise.

Exercise  So many people set goals to go to the gym after New Year’s but what about trying a new class, routine or walking route now?  Classes tend to be smaller sizes, the gym is most likely decorated and festive.  Of course, the gym is my happy place so I just feel better by being there.  Now, here’s the flip side of that coin.  If you don’t make it to your usually scheduled physical activities, let that guilt go.  I missed the gym this weekend, but we walked to a local concert and yesterday we did a six-mile hike with our friends.  Perfection.  My goal this week is to try a spinning class.  Something different for me!

From left: Gordon, Barbara, Stuart, John Front: Shira and me

Diet  My other secret really starts at Thanksgiving.  Don’t touch the pumpkin pie.  Even the smallest sliver of pumpkin pie with a pyramid of whipped cream after dinner on Thanksgiving gets my sweet tooth started and it seems like I cannot get it under control until after Valentine’s Day!  Not only is the resulting weight gain not worth it, all that sugar really messes with my joints and arthritis.  I’m not a great baker and I gave up holiday baking years ago.  I know many friends bake beautiful creations and it’s truly a labor of love.  I limit my choices to what I cannot live without and remember that when I’m with friends, it’s the fellowship, not the food that is important.

Holiday Decorating  Here’s something I found out recently.  Did you know that you do not need to put up you’ve ever been given?  What?  That’s not a rule?  I now decorate very lightly at Christmas and I may actually buy a few new things to freshen things up.  It’s not like the North Pole around here, but you do get the gist when you enter my home.  Here’s my other secret:  Fairy String Lights.  I bought this entire pack on Amazon for $14 and they are wonderful.  I light up every basket of everything and every puny garland and by 5 p.m., it’s magical.  I really do love them and they add so much.  They are fun for all sorts of decorating and not just Christmas.

Christmas-lite decor with Fairy Lights

Music  While we were working around the house this week, we played a Golden Oldies station on Pandora and it was fun listening and singing along to the songs.  Sometimes we forget to turn on music and miss the magic it can do – soothe, uplift, energize.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be Christmas music right now, but don’t forget to get in the groove.

Give  This is the time of year I send out annual donations.  They aren’t huge, but it feels good to support non-profits that are meaningful to me and to my friends.  I pray over money that it is used for God’s good and that it blesses the receiver.  Giving always blesses me too.

Volunteer  If volunteer opportunities arise and you have the time and inclination, those activities can be uplifting and fun.  One year I volunteered to be a Santa’s elf (I know!) at a pet store for pet pictures with Santa.  This may actually not be a great example because I ended up not loving the experience.  The dogs were kind of dirty and ruined my white gloves, one giant dog who literally weighed more than I stepped on my toe. Anthem Pets, the non-profit, only ended up getting about $100 in donations and I gave up an entire Saturday in December.  I decided I would have rather written a check for $100 and called it good, but I can see how that day could have been fun for a different person or under different circumstances.  I also volunteered several times to wrap Christmas presents for donations.  That really was fun.

What I’m Reading

I listened to the first of a series I’ve not read before by an author I like, William Kent Krueger.  Iron Lake follows an ex-sheriff as he makes his new life and solves a pretty complicated crime.  His personal life is a mess and that makes it even more fun.  I recommend it.  This week I’ve downloaded the last of John Dunning’s Janeway novels, The Bookman’s Last Fling.  On my sister Monique’s recommendation, I am reading a book first published in 1889, but it’s so contemporary and fresh seeming, it hardly seems old at all.  And it’s pretty dang funny.  Three Men in a Boat is a very funny novel by Jerome K. Jerome.  It follows three London clerks as they take a little vacation on the Thames and suffer misadventures beginning with packing their toothbrushes.  I recommend!

What I’m Eating

The new eating restrictions started this week and I didn’t really have the heart or energy to try any recipes out.  However, I did read an article on the best way to cook bacon and we successfully tried it and loved it.  We swear by the uncured bacon from Trader Joe’s.  It’s such a treat.  Anyway, the process is to line bacon up on a parchment-covered cookie sheet, bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or your desired crispiness, transfer to paper towels and voila!  Perfect bacon and NO MESS to clean up.  We just roll up the greasy parchment and toss it in the trash.  There are a few grease speckles on the over door, but a little Dawn on a dish rag removes it easily.  The cookie sheet even stays perfectly clean.  The house doesn’t stink for two days after cooking either.  Love it.

What I’m Doing

John was super productive repainting the pantry this week.  It was a two-day job and we had stuff all over the kitchen.  That really threw Roxy for a loop and she was extra naughty.  Our pantry doesn’t exactly look like something on Pinterest, but it’s so bright now thanks to white paint and a new light.

Freshly painted pantry

We went to dinner Thursday night with a group of friends and had our pic taken in front of the beautiful tree at the club.  Friday night we attended the golf cart Christmas parade and happy hour.  So great catching up with our friend Katherine and her lovely daughter Emma.  Saturday morning we walked to about 1 ½ miles to our community center and attended the java and jammin’ concert.  The weather was perfect for a morning on the patio with a cup of coffee. The musician was just great and such a fun way to start the day.  That evening we went with our friend Evon out to dinner and then caught friend Cindy’s Christmas concert.

Sunday we met Barb, Stu, Shira and Gordon for a lovely Christmas hike and then out to lunch.  It really could not have been a prettier day.  I called it “going to church” and indeed, we were worshipful for much of the hike and appreciated being in nature and with each other.

So you can see we’ve been busy, but have schedule a lot of downtime in there.  Many of the activities were free or very low cost.  Two of the activities we did in exercise clothes, so didn’t even have to dress up.  I will say I put in my emerald earrings and a little lipstick and felt pretty stylish. I’ve now treated myself to a sparkly red mani and I’m saying “bring it on”!

2 Comment

  1. “The dogs were kind of dirty and ruined my white gloves, one giant dog who literally weighed more than I stepped on my toe.”

    Is it wrong that I thought this was REALLY funny? Hahaha

    1. Looking back it’s pretty funny, but at the time I think I had lost all dignity. Merry Christmas!

Comments are closed.