Monday, February 23, 2015

Top 10 Ways To Survive The Harsh Winter

To say I have the winter blues this winter would be a massive understatement. Every winter I get some degree of seasonal depression. I live in a climate where it is cold, snowy and cloudy all winter and then some. Winter is technically 3 months, right? Not here it isn't. Here it's more like 5 or 6. Here, the sun shines a couple times a week through the winter months, if we're lucky. It's very cold, it's dark and snowy.
I just want to hibernate.
People who live in warmer climates don't get it. They keep right on going with their lives, oblivious to the hardships of living in a cold, snowy climate. They might get a day or two with a sprinkling of snow, or a dip in temperatures to 20, 30, or 40 degrees. (Egad!)
Where I live, I would welcome those temperatures with open arms.
Especially this winter.
This winter has been so cold, I am ready to lose it. And by, "lose it," I mean, I'm not even sure what I might do, or what might become of me. I feel trapped in my house and I just want to sleep all the time. I don't care if I eat, until I actually get hungry. Then, look out. I am like a grizzly bear coming out of hibernation!
I don't even want to do things I normally want to do. That's when the siren goes off in my head.
I am depressed.
I've been depressed a few times in my lifetime, so I know what it looks and feels like for me. I know the signs and can spot when I need to intervene.
I'm ready for some winter rescue!
This is a list of things I've done, been doing, will try to do to get myself through the rest of this trying winter. I thought I'd share to help the rest of my peeps here in the tundra.

1.  Sunbathe. Get that sun on your skin whenever it comes out. We are so vitamin D starved at this point, we need that sun whenever we can get it. I literally will get as much of my skin as I can into a sunny window. Much like a napping cat, I will sun myself for as long as possible; sometimes that's 5 minutes, sometimes it's up to 30 minutes. Some mornings, it has been the only thing that got me out of bed that day. It seriously helps. Give it a try.

2.  Speaking of vitamin D, let's talk supplements. I take a pretty good variety of them every day. Everything I take, I've built up over the years, finding that each one helps my health in some way. Don't forget these every day. The mornings will happen where there won't be time, or the thought of opening all those bottles exhausts you. Do it. Every day.

3.  A bit more on supplements. Taking care of your skin. Our skin goes through so much this time of year. Winter is as hard on our skin as a desert. The dry heated air sucks moisture from our bodies like a child sucking lemonade from a straw on a hot summer day. You can try the obvious lotions and oils, but these only do so much. They help, but you really need to work from the inside out to really give your skin the upper hand it needs to get through this dry tundra. A good vitamin E, and an omega fat supplement is what you need. I have been taking these for years now, and not only has it gotten rid of the nasty cracks on the bottom of my feet, but my skin is so much softer and able to retain moisture through these harsh conditions. I also use lotion, of course, and I use natural soaps as well, leaving softer skin all around. The less chemicals we expose our skin to, the better off it can breathe properly, and help moisturize itself.

4.  Move. Whenever, wherever you can. You'll have to fight it, because your body just wants to hibernate. If you have a workout regiment, good for you! Keep it up, and try not to slack off (I have basically forgotten how to walk on a treadmill).

5.  After all this talk of taking care of yourself from the outside, let's move on to taking care of your mind and spirit. The mind goes a bit wild this time of year, and it needs attention. Occupy it. Get into your hobbies like never before. It may take a bit of force, as all the brain really wants to do is sleep. But get it going, whenever possible. Read, knit, play an instrument, do a crossword puzzle, play a video game, write a journal. Whatever it takes to use your brain in a way that makes you happy. We all get busy with life, and sometimes we need to be reminded that it's ok to take time for your needs, wants and desires. At this time of year, it is crucial to keep the mind from losing it. Find your happy place for your brain.

6.  Aromatherapy. Stimulate your senses. Get some candles, get some body spray, get some lip balm (after all, your lips should not go outside without it). Start a fire in the fireplace, cook up something delicious. Hot tea, coffee, chocolate. What do you like the smell of? Get it and let it fill your home and/or workplace.

7.  Get out! Make yourself get up and get out of the house. Find places to go; the mall, the movies, a restaurant. Wherever you enjoy, go there.

8.  Get together with folks you enjoy. Friends, family, it doesn't matter. Whoever you like to be with, be with them. Spending time with other people can make the time go by so much more pleasantly. Throw a winter fest. Build some gingerbread houses. Have a hot drink party with tea, chocolate, or toddies.

9.  Get your sleep, but don't overdo it. It's easy to stay in bed 'til noon (believe me, I know). Try hard to stay on your routine. It's definitely acceptable to give yourself a morning in bed if you've been running yourself ragged all week. There's nothing better than a Saturday or Sunday morning snuggled up in a soft, warm bed. But don't make it a regular thing. Because your body and mind will want it every day. If you really find it hard to get out of bed on a particular day, open those curtains, fluff the pillows behind you and sit up. Stay in bed and watch a good movie, or read a good book. (Sigrun, anyone?)

10.  If you can't beat it, join it. Get outside! Go frolic in the snow! No, not when it's zero or below, but when it creeps up to a whole double digits, bundle up and get out there! Just breathing in the fresh but frozen air will do your body good. The great thing about having lots of snow is being able to play in it! Build a snowman, go sledding, skiing, snowshoeing, color spray designs in the snow! Build an igloo or other snow sculptures. There are so many things to do in the snow. I would rather have a snowy winter than a plain, frozen, gray landscape you can do nothing in.

So, there it is. Ten things you can try to get through the rest of the winter. Try these individually, or better yet, use them in combination for the best impact on your sanity. Stay warm and good luck, my friends, as I do know how challenging it is.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Happy Bloggerversary to Me!

Hey there readers! Today marks one year of blogging for iDDeas! Not sure how we got this far, but I'm so happy to celebrate it with you!
In honor of one year of blogging, I will be giving away one signed copy of my book, Sigrun, The Bandamann Saga, with a Sigrun bookmark to match!
Haven't I mentioned, I wrote a book? Shame on me! But...
I write...
there it is.

This whole writing journey has been an amazing experience, it will be my pleasure to share something in return.

Entering is easy as can be! Follow the copter below!

For more information on my book, please follow the link to my website, here.

In Love With Love

I love Valentine's Day.
Yep, I do.
Despite the commercialism.
Against the haters.
I'm in love with love.

I've loved the color red since I could remember. Growing up a redhead, I was always told I shouldn't wear red. I liked red. I settled for pink. I think by middle school 80% of my wardrobe was pink. The rest of it was green, as that's what looked good with red hair.
To this day, I love the combination of pink and green. Coincidence?

Last year I wrote about some of my memories about Valentine's Day, and why I love it. This year I continue to be excited about sharing the day with my family.
I like to think of Valentine's Day as a day to spend with those you love. You don't have to spend it with only one other, in a most romantic fashion, with flowers, candy and jewels. (Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't say no to any of it.)
Think of it as a time to be with anyone you love, even your favorite pet.
Even yourself.
The commercialism of this holiday has gone so overboard, every "single lady" out there hates on it. They feel sorry for themselves if they aren't receiving a bouquet of roses and a proposal in a glass of champagne.
Forget that!
Dump it!
Let it go!
Stick it to "the man"!
 Enjoy where you are, and who you are.

A couple years ago I designed shirts for my little ones. I was so excited to come up with the designs and see them come to life on the shirts! I got to make each one custom to them, and for less than $10 a piece.
Of course, I wrapped them over heart shaped boxes of chocolates too. I'm a sucker for the sweet thangs.
They loved them! They even wore them proudly the next day to school.
The real pleasure of the day was seeing their faces opening their gifts. Enjoying the love and happiness that came from something simple but meaningful.
The hub and I exchange gifts too. We try to keep it simple as well. There haven't been jewels for years. Flowers aren't my thing. Let's see, I believe the year before last was a pink PS3 controller.

The year before that was a bottle of marshmallow vodka. Mmm...that was yummy. I give him chocolate that usually sits around until the kids ask if they can have it.
This year I am keeping it simple again, with...well, I can't tell you, it would spoil the surprise. You can bet there will be something sweet with it though.

So this year, find your love. Whatever, wherever, whoever that might be.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Personal Week: Snowy Memories

Watching the kids get older by the second, I am almost constantly reminded of phases of my own childhood. We seem to have a child in every stage of older childhood right now, and it is marvelous. I watch their interactions and can be taken back to sibling play, quarrel, and competition instantly.
It's such magic to be part of it, then to watch it again.

I grew up in the city, near the airport. Our neighborhood was a good, old fashioned place, with lots of streets full of wonderful houses, and kids galore. We were a diverse bunch, I can even remember fights breaking out in the street, but for the most part, I remember the fun times. The innocent times.
I walked two blocks to school through 4th grade. I wore a uniform, as it was a Catholic school. I had to wear a skirt to school the whole school year. Our babysitter was our neighbor.
This time of year, I am reminded of how red my legs got walking just those two blocks. (I didn't like to put on pants under my skirt, or snow pants. Too much effort.) I remember knowing lots of the neighbors who lived in the houses I passed.
I remember feeling safe in the world.
I remember street lights made of white stone, or concrete. How they were my curfew, which changed as the seasons changed.
I remember having friends who lived all over the place. Across the street, down the street, around the corner, or a few streets over. It was all good. Bikes were our transport, and everything was accessible.
I remember snowball fights which would put girls against boys and it seemed every kid in the neighborhood joined in. I remember a friend's house, which was dark brown, covered in white polka dots of snow. How I thought it was hilarious and beautiful at the same time.
Who remembers skeetching? I had to google that to make sure it was a real word, and it's in the urban dictionary. You can look it up if you want to know what it is. It was popular in our "hood". I remember it well, but I would never allow my kids to even try it.
I remember piling in the station wagon to go sledding. (Yeah, the station wagon!) Crowding as many people as you can into one car, because that's all there was. I remember steam coming off our snow clothes when we got back in the car, as we thawed ourselves by the heater vents.
Now, we live in the country, and are lucky to have a hill right outside the house. I can watch the kids sled from our living room and dining room windows. Reliving my own sledding youth. It's awesome.
So many memories, these are only a few. It's what came to my mind on this, a blistery cold snow day.