How I Overcame the Holiday Humbug In 7 Steps

image source: we heart it

I have a long history of hating the holidays. All of them, but especially the ones the last six weeks of the year.

Yes, even as a kid.

Maybe it was the high expectations for fun or the knowing one side of your family was disappointed because you were with the other or the shuttling from place to place to place…

In any case,  the holidays used to fill me with dread and a heavier dose of SAD than the average gal.

That is until recently.

Three years ago, I signed up for a Yoga for Holiday Stress workshop at It’s All Yoga with my good friend, Madeleine. I thought if nothing else, I will have a nice day of yoga with one of my favorite teachers, but what I ended up with was nothing short of revolutionary.

The best take away from Madeleine’s workshop: if the holidays get you down, find new traditions that make your heart sing.

New Holiday Traditions Maybe You’d Like to Try:

1.    Take a yearly workshop in December – mine is yoga, but maybe yours is cooking, crafting or reading. Do something fun for yourself either with a friend or on your own. You may even make new friends there.

When will you find the time in an already stuffed full calendar you ask? I started saying no to things that weren’t working for me any longer (or never had and I had been doing them because of tradition or other people’s expectations). Once I started saying no, I was able to find time to do activities that made me happy.

Was it uncomfortable at first? Oh, yes! Disappointing people isn’t my strong suit, however, the trade off ended up being worth it.

2.   Listen to holiday music that doesn’t make you cringe – mine is the Do They Know It’s Christmas ( station on Pandora. They played lots of Wham’s Last Christmas and Bruce Springsteen and Bing Crosby and Elvis. Even the Waitresses made the cut. Now when little Ruby hears Christmas music she pumps her little fist in the air and dances along.

As cute as you might expect.

3.   Make a different kind of tree each year – seems like a lot of work I know, but knowing my little monkey will climb anything and every thing the idea of putting a tree in my house just seemed completely nuts. Plus I’m less into the 3D tree than most. Don’t get me wrong, I like looking at them a lot – in public places and at your house…. kinda like how I love other people’s dogs.

4.   Saying no to shoppingwhat???? I know. But hear me out.We have a really small house and we’re trying to keep the clutter monster from eating us alive, so not bringing more gear into the house ourselves helps toward that end.

The Hubs and the Girl’s birthdays are in December so those two are presented up right before Christmas. We usually make a present of some sort of the grandparents (which requires us to get our act together way before December) and we decided years ago to forgo presents for each other so we can have less stress and get better birthday gifts. We see it as a win, win. Plus our girl is tiny right now and doesn’t really get the present thing, so…. we’ll check in later on this business. But just know, for now, it totally works for us.

5.      Saying yes to experiences – the zoo on Christmas Eve morning, White Christmas on the big screen, walking around midtown looking at Christmas lights. I’m hoping to add seeing the Nutcracker and ice skating once little girl is a bigger girl. I figure we are saving lots of time cutting out baking, shopping, and wrapping, so we might as well have fun.

6.     Healthy eating and walking daily – this one is new this year and I feel so much better because of it. Every morning this month I’ve been drinking warm lemon water as soon as I get up (before !) and drinking either a green smoothie or vegetable soup to start the day with lots of vitamins and fiber. What a huge difference this has made! I don’t know about you, but when I start my day in a healthful/intentional way, that’s usually how my day goes. I think I’ll keep it up after the holidays.

7.    Stay mindful. Or at least keep coming back to the moment. This is a good practice all year long. Most moments are pretty darn good, if I’m leaving the past and future where they belong. A mindful practice can look like a formal meditation sit, but usually looks more like a nature walk in the early morning or washing dishes for the thousandth time.

Tell me about the holiday traditions and winter activities that you love. I’m always interested in adding new fun winter activities to our calendar.

Blogs I Love: 100 Days of Real Food

Blog I Love: 100 Days of Real Food

Who they are:

100 Day of Real Food‘s tag line – 1 Family, 2 Kids and 0 Processed Foods pretty much sums it up. A couple of years ago, Lisa – the mom behind the blog – read Michael Pollen’s In Defense of Food and had a major food epiphany and decided to change how her family ate for 100 days. They are still at it and she writes about how they keep their food real.

Why I love 100 Days of Real Food and what I learn from it:

I have been really interested in whole food and organics for the better part of a decade. I honestly can’t remember why I decided to start eating whole foods, maybe it was starting to really learn to cook and realizing how fulfilling it is to feed myself.  Also reading books like This Organic Life: Confessions of A Suburban Homesteader changed how I thought about where my food came from. After reading this book, I signed up for a CSA and began eating foods in season and grown close to home. And I started feeling better.

When I was studying to become a teacher, we got to work in school gardens with some of our students. It was pretty eye-opening how little students knew about where their food came from. That experience helped me to want to help others eat better.

One of the ways I teach students about food is sharing what I eat. This may sound weird, but I show my students my meals. I eat breakfast at school and show them my steel cut oats with cooked apples or yogurt with honey and real blueberries.  Sometimes we sit together at lunch time. They are so interested in what I’m eating. They usually say they’ve never heard of it or comment that it looks weird, but smells good. We talk about the importance of eating the rainbow. Not like eating every color Skittles (actual conversation), but to eat different colored fruits and vegetables. On my birthday, I bring treats: strawberries and vanilla wafers with whipped cream. Well, I don’t use the dairy anymore, but they love it.

I love food and now that I’m in change of feeding another human, I am even more concerned with the quality of said food. Plus with all my allergies, I’ve got to be pretty diligent about reading labels and keeping allergens out of my system.

I absolutely love reading about other people’s adventures in navigating the real food world.
Posts I find inspiring:

Real Food Tips: 7 Healthy Holiday Parties (for kids!) – as a teacher, I am thankful for posts like this one full of ideas on how not to sugar up the kiddos at school. I’ve already tried a couple of these ideas with great success (recycled trash crafts and board games with the teacher playing day) and I look forward to my return to the classroom to try more.

Real Food Tips: 10 Ways To Switch Up Your Kid’s Lunch – Kid’s lunch? What about MY lunch? Really, in all seriousness, use these ideas to make your own lunch better.

Real Food Tips: 10 Reasons To Cut Out Processed Foods – please know I still eat completely and utter like crap some of the time. On purpose. But 90% of the time, we are hitting up the whole foods.

Real Food Tips: 12 Ways to Keep It Cheap – Eating whole food can be expensive. Lisa has specific tips to help defray the cost. At this point my life, I’d rather spend money on quality food than medicine in the future. I’m that guy now.

Welcome to 100 Days of Real Food – where it all started and a 10-Day Pledge.

Lunch photos on Facebook – I very much want Lisa to make my lunch.

If you haven’t already, go check out 100 Days of Real Food and then tell me what you think.

What blogs do you love?

In Case You Missed It Edition! Volume 30


Each week I’ll give you links to posts that made me laugh, cry, think or at least raise an eyebrow. Please click the links and check out the posts. You may find something that rocks your world too.

Leave me some feedback in the form of comments below on what you liked, what you hated and what you’d like to see more of. I’m here to help you find the best of what is online.


Compressed family time this weekend. 24 hours round-trip to Texas. So happy I was there for my niece and nephew’s big days and to hand-deliver Mother’s Day cards.


My Best Of…

You all know of my huge blog crush on Pink of Perfection, right? Well Sarah went on a yoga retreat and reported about it in the 6 Things I Learned On A Yoga Retreat. Totally spot on.

Staying Green and Healthy When Time Is Running Short – um, sign me up. I couldn’t click this fast enough.\

The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries from Dave Eggers in the NYTimes.

Why You NEED to Get Up Earlier (And How To Do It) found on Twitter via @sarahschaale

Terry Gross talked education this week on Fresh Air.

Michelle is offering an online meditation class which starts tomorrow. Don’t miss out!


That is the In Case You Missed It Edition for this week, folks.

Remember to click the links and leave some comments. This is a conversation, you know.

In Case You Missed Edition Archives -click it to see them all.