Tag Archives: holiday stress

Blankie Time?

by Kimberly A. Cook

The past two weeks family commitments have kept me busier than a popcorn fart, as my Dad used to say.  Nothing bad, just hectic. Plus given the news lately, sometimes I don’t even know what to write.

But here goes. Compassion fatigue is real. Back in the day we had three tv channels that went off the air at midnight, no cell phones and social media happened at the hair salon.

So feel free to unplug, turn off and give yourself a break. Take action to focus on family, friends, pets and neighbors close to you. What you can control.

Believe it or not, we are USAStrong. We’re a very big family, a dysfunctional bunch, but that is true with most families. So practice kindness and see what happens.

With that goal in mind, here are some of my favorite recent pics to focus on pleasant moments.

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The Fall colors are here. Gorgeous.

 

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A picnic lunch last week at Chinook Landing in Fairview to watch the Columbia River presented us with river breezes and the approaching storm front.

 

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This little guy was very busy storing snacks for the winter while we were on a neighborhood walk.

 

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After passing Mr. Squirrel we came upon this gorgeous view of Mt. St. Helens, our resident volcano, across the farm fields.

 

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One of my favorite roses, The Fairy, is still blooming in October. How about that magic?

 

And if you could use more happy moments, the Hallmark Holiday movies launch this weekend on their two channels. Get your blankie, eggnog and snacks and start training for the holiday movie/series marathons of your choice.

There’s nothing like a good jammie day to pick up the spirits!

 

 

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Got Gifts This Year?

by Kimberly A. Cook                    (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Fighting the mall traffic, the crazy weather and the to do list as long as a roll of toilet paper, we can forget the real gifts we’ve already gotten. So this time of year I like to reflect on what I’ve already received and am thankful for all year long.

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Spec Ops Cat shows off his pre-cuddle exercises.

  • Kitty cuddles from Spec Ops Cat complete with free purrs
  • Laughter with family, friends and co-workers
  • Hugs from family and friends
  • Listening ears when I’m cranky and tired
  • Sleeping in my own bed
  • Heat
  • Hot showers
  • Massages
  • Good health
  • The colors pink, purple and teal
  • Books and reading
  • Digging for thundereggs
  • My Subaru getting me through the December monsoons
  • Faux fur blankets
  • Imagination
  • Tea pot collection
  • Fuzzy socks
  • Heating pad with timer
  • Elvis
  • Classis Christmas songs
  • The Minions
  • Taking photos
  • Daffodils
  • My writer friends
  • Oatmeal with peanut butter
  • Alpaca socks
  • Yarn
  • Home
  • Flannel sheets
  • Roses
  • Red sparkly nail polish
  • Daydreaming
  • YouTube animal videos
  • Cartoons
  • Raspberries
  • Garfield
  • Beads and jewelry pieces
  • Writing
  • Warm summer night breezes
  • Blog readers
  • Naked toes in sandals
  • Carnations
  • Purple glasses
  • The calls of frogs and crickets
  • The ocean
  • Bunnies
  • Hummingbirds
  • Hot tubs
  • Rainbows
  • Creative minds
  • People who do good things
  • USA
  • Squirrels
  • Sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing
  • Chocolate
  • Support

That’s the short list. This month I’m finishing my nineteenth year of keeping a daily Gratitude Journal. Because besides the tinsel, wrapping paper, gift cards and crazy, the true gifts we receive all year long are the most important.

Here’s wishing you all happy holidays and gifts all year long on your very own all ready gotten gifts list. We are all more rich than we realize. What’s on your 2015 gifts gotten list?

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Ready For A Holiday Time Out?

by Kimberly A. Cook           (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Between fighting the creeping crud the last three weeks, dark nights, wind, rain, holiday craziness, news nightmares, and a neighborhood zoning fiasco that would break Ghandi’s patience, it’s Holiday Time Out Time.

What do I do when the Grinch grumpies hit this time of year? I have a plan of attack. First I bake. Food therapy. Sunday’s treat of choice was a box mix of poppy seed muffins. Perfect. I used up some leftover milk and all I had to do was stir.

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After tons of time watching the Barefoot Contessa on HGTV, I use the big scoop to transfer the batter from the bowl to the muffin tins. Works like a charm. Much faster too. I do the same for cookie batter except I use the smaller scoop. Tip: you have to push the round dough balls down for cookies. Took me awhile to figure that out, had cookie globes for a bit.

Next on the agenda is to move. While I may need to have the LaZBoy surgically removed from my butt after this siege and replenish my tissue stockpile, moving is the key to getting energy and endorphins.

I always like to start with what’s bugging me the most in the house. Sunday it turned out to be the toilet bowls. Yucky. After a quick cleaning I felt much better and happier. Sometimes it’s the  dishes, or vacuuming or piles of mail, but this time it was the toilet bowls.

Then I get on the treadmill for at least ten minutes. When you’re trying to get energy back you have to expend energy. It’s some stupid physics law, but it’s true. Always add my workout tunes – disco to movie themes – and that helps too. Grinchy moods don’t like music.

Then I work up to walking twenty to thirty minutes a day. It really helps having a treadmill in the Oregon monsoon season, since we have flood warnings this week I prefer to walk inside instead of using a scuba suit and rubber raft.

Third action on the Grinch grumpies be gone list is to create.  Anything. It can range from my holiday shopping list to printing out photos or gluing on the top bead to the mini Christmas tree that fell off. Wrapping a present works too.

Any hands on activity helps the left brain relax and the right brain engage. Another reason I’m taking my knitting back to the day job. Knitting also keeps me from eating since it’s hard to snack and eat at the same time as it mucks up the yarn. A good way to prevent too much holiday grazing.

Last but not least I review my gratitude list. Since I write down five things every night I’m grateful for, it’s always a good time to sit and ponder any time of day and reflect on my blessings. Some days it’s clean toilet bowls, kitty hugs, friends, family and sleeping in on a day off.

And today it’s knowing there are some fine folks out there willing to read my little blog and make comments or likes and communicate with me. Those are Big Magic Moments Thank you. And before I know it the Grinch grumpies are gone!

So my Grinch grumpies be gone action plan is bake, move, create, and gratitude. What’s yours? Got clean toilet bowls? Poppy seed muffins? 

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Coping? With The Holidaze?

by Kimberly A. Cook         (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

On Saturday, November 1st, I dashed into our local Freddie’s store to pick up some items I forgot the day before. Stopped short in my loafers – Christmas had exploded in the store. Looked around and did a mental double-take. I was eating Halloween candy YESTERDAY, right? The orange and black decorations were all gone and it was full press holiday overload. Like the elves and a thousand minions re-did the entire store overnight. Must have been some good spiked eggnog.

For the wild children out there, try this no fail scratch pie crust recipe. It's a friend's high school home economics recipe. Pretty sure that makes it vintage!

For the wild children out there, try this no fail scratch pie crust. It’s a friend’s high school home economics recipe. Pretty sure that makes it vintage! (Click on the photo to enlarge)

In the military when something expanded or moved up we called that mission creep. Now we’ve got Christmas creep or Kwanza Creep or Holiday hustle. Pick your personal celebration. It’s enough to make my frazzled brain ask for a holiday time out. Seems buying bathing suits in January isn’t bad enough, now we lose out on the discount Halloween candy! Is there no justice?

Each year I surrender earlier to the holidays. Really reduces my stress level. Lower your expectations, it’s a great thing. We’ve even decided to have pizza for Christmas and friends are cooking for us on turkey day. A first. Fabulous!

I used to slave over making the pie crusts from scratch for turkey day until my brother-in-law’s mother confessed she used Pillsbury pre-made pie crusts. The family was stunned and shocked. I had no idea her amazing pies were not scratch crusts, so I decided to do the same thing. (I think mixing up the Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe and pouring it in the pie pans counts as cooking, don’t you? I add evaporated milk, eggs AND spices. )

In this season of “everybody looks happy on tv” (it’s fantasy) and “everybody has tons of fun festivities to attend” (who has time for all those parties? Fake tv people!) it can become a bit overpowering if we’re not in the same mind-set or personal situation.

So besides lowering my expectations and surrendering to the holidays, here are a few things we can all do to make the holidays easier to cope with, besides chugging hot buttered rum.

Do one fun thing for yourself each day. Take time to blink. Or breathe. Give yourself a foot rub with lotion or Crisco – whatever works for ya. Watch a favorite movie. Smell a holiday tree. Sniff cloves or cinnamon – sniff not snort, safety first here. Cuddle with a pet or person – either/or need to give their permission first. Wear those comfy raggedy lounge clothes at home while watching football. (Just because my 300-year-old sweatshirt has blue paint on it does not mean it’s worn out.)

Do one nice thing for someone else each day. Smile at people; a nice smile not a vampire on steroids scary smile. Comb your cat or dog or parakeet, if they’re okay with it. Open a door for a fellow human. Give someone a compliment. Donate some canned food to the food bank if you’re able. Take your friend, pet, spouse or kidlet for a nice long winter walk. Send someone a snail mail card for the fun of it.

One of the driver training videos by our Sheriff’s Department talks about how you will drive where your eyes look; so if you focus on the holiday crazies that’s where your brain is going to go too. Try evasive maneuvers if you start to get the holiday blues. For me this is a time to cuddle up at home, write, read and bake in the warm comfort of my toasty house and comfy LaZBoy. Especially since our Oregon weather temperatures are rising again; I am SO SORRY for the rest of the country on Arctic Cold Outbreakageddon- the sequel.

Feel free to bake cookies or cupcakes or pie crusts. Go online and listen to my current fave radio station www.island985.com on iheartradio for some Hawaiian reggae music. Or eat baked goods – just not ALL of them. The holiday season is still young – pace yourselves!

Got any holiday coping tips?

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Filed under Food

Tighten Your Seatbelt, Here Come The Holidays!

by Kimberly A. Cook                         (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Chatting with a friend recently whose decided to concentrate on her quilting during the holidays. Such a great idea. Focus is a challenge for us creatives on any given day, but the holidays add a special spice of chaos to the normal distractions. Squirrel! Santa! Cookies! Icky weather! Gifts! You get my drift – pun intended.

Field trips can happen in your backyard. Dashing to work I saw this and snapped two photos. First October frost.

Field trips can happen in your backyard. Dashing to work I saw this and snapped two photos. First October frost.

At lunch with the family in August I asked us to map out the holidays – folks were a little taken aback, but I said it will be here before we know it and voila! When the Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day decorations are all crashing together in the stores right now, overwhelmed is a normal reaction for us.

I cope by surrendering in early August. Like a runaway stagecoach, holidays happen. I make my plans, try to keep things simple and pick ways to celebrate to make it fun and focus on using my off time from the day job for creative activities. Everything from baking cookies to sorting beads and egad, reading, make the list. Keeps my muse well fed and out of the Grinch cranky zone.

Add in the recent time change this past weekend and all I want to do is curl up with a book, blankie, bottle of chocolate milk and hibernate. So planning fun things to do to feed my muse and taking some time for myself is job one during the holiday season.

“Try to do one thing a day for yourself,” my sister told me recently. Actually she said two, but it’s the holidays. Simplify! These are not big things, but small tokens of time which reinvigorate our creative soul and keep us from losing balance. Lunch out with a friend, taking leaf pictures, buying a new writer magazine, actually sitting down on a weekend afternoon and reading, plus watching football or Hallmark movies all work for me.

Keep your muse in mind this holiday season and take it out for a few field trips. See how doing less means more for your creative health. Slow down and smell the leaves, cider or holiday cookies. Be a kid again. Unleash the crayons!

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