How to Avoid Winter Depression and Exhaustion

Clump #256:  Wash and iron winter duvet and put away ironing board; day fourteen of National Blog Posting Month.


Look what happened overnight … I watched the movie White Christmas yesterday, and the Snow, SNow, SNOw, SNOW came down! No, this is not Pine Tree, Vermont, and no, my spirits did not lift at the sight.  In fact, I could have written: “lift mood” as today’s clump.  Bah.

Maybe I’m hitting a wall with the daily posting.  But one thing I did figure out was that connections between ironing and gift wrapping are many. Both are fairly mindless, thus the mindless-type movies I watch while doing them; both take up a lot of space in the house; and both seem endless … there’s always another and another item needing either pressing or wrapping coming up.  Because of this, I tend to keep the ironing board out way too long, and now the wrapping paper containers are becoming squatters in our family room.


Okay, I know a case can very well be made for weeding out these containers.  A clump for another day.  Today I just had to admit that, though getting a head start on Christmas wrapping seems like a good plan, the idea of these containers hanging around me for six weeks (what?–six weeks??) is kind of depressing.  Yes, Christmas wrap is depressing me.


Here’s why.  I read the article below in this week’s People magazine.  I’m a big reader of  tips, so, of course, “Amazing Holiday Tips” are right up my alley.  Molly Sims’s rule number 23 is: “Do all your shopping in one day.  Afterward you’re exhausted, but you’ve done it.”


The enormity of that one tip blew me away.  Granted, Molly must have personal assistants and, so far, one small son (she’s pregnant … I know everything about people with People).  But I began to think that maybe I operate under the assumption that holiday preparations have to be a long, drawn-out, exhausting ordeal.  I’m having a The Grinch Who Stole Christmas moment.  One day?? Onnne Daaay???  I’ve really got to recalibrate my expectations for the holiday and myself.  Wait, I think I’m ready for tip number 8, “Have a signature cocktail.” Yes, please.

True confession: the wrapping paper is still out.  The ironing board is put away.  I washed and pressed our winter duvet cover, and I’m sure you are sitting on the edge of your seat to hear about that!


The dark winter berries (?) are replacing the light seashore motif.  (Sighhhh.)


I think I need to get out into the sunlight a little bit more.


And, if I have such powers, find a movie called “World Peace,” and wake up to a world truly transformed.

Pile of Paper, Piles of Snow

Clump # 155:  Clear away small pile number 14 of 28; activate Lumosity gift.

Four pieces of paper does not quite fit the definition of a pile.  I admit, I consciously chose an extra-small clump for today.  Here I am at the half-way mark of February, and I’m hitting a wall: tired and uninspired.

The “pile” was a few papers related to gifts we received.  The only one needing action was a gift subscription to Lumosity, the brain training and game site, given to me by my older sister.  It was from 2011.  Yikes.  One of countless things I’ve meant to do … someday.

I was sorely tempted to put it aside again in something like an “action” folder … for another sometime in the future.  I know all too well that “action” folders are paper graves.  The act of filing makes you feel virtuous, as though you’ve done something.  So (drum roll) I forced myself to actually activate the gift.  It reminded me that I tried to do so in 2011 and couldn’t figure it out.  Too dumb for the brain exercises!


One cause of brain freeze: this was the arctic world I drove through this morning:


Beautiful, but dangerous.  Even the street signs obliterated.


Remember this jaunty goose, kitted out in smart outfits?


This is what she looked like today:


Remember the hopeful “Think Spring” Snow-maiden?


Today’s slap-in-the-face to such thoughts:


This is more like it:


Thanks very much, but you can stop now.

Three Bags Full

Clump #152:  Pile number eleven of the twenty-eight paper piles in February challenge.

Today’s paper pile was petite.  It was a bunch of papers addressed to our older daughter, who no longer lives with us.  One ancient newsletter, bank rate notice, and tax forms: easily filed or shredded.


And speaking of shredding, as much as I’ve been marveling at how easy this project is turning out to be (in direct opposition to the dread with which I approached it), the proof is in these bags waiting to be kicked to the curb and picked up by the recycling truck.  Mama Mia!  That’s a lotta shredding!


In other news, we are so ready to show winter the door.  Another big storm is predicted for tomorrow and Thursday.  Enough!


I was shopping in a store yesterday and a salesman there said to me, “I fired Mother Nature last week.  She didn’t get the memo!”


We’re getting a little winter-weather-wacky.  Help!  (Another Strasburg, PA snow creation:)


Hope you are faring better!

White Out

Clump # 144:  Clear out little pile number 3 of 28; shovel big clumps of snow.

Okay, I admit: the clump today was laughably small for my Flippin February Paper Pile Purge.  Not quite qualifying as a “pile,” it was several papers our younger daughter had sorted together as a favor to me in January; they all pertained to my husband’s credit card. He took a look at them and declared that they should all be shredded. Done.


The big clumps we cleared today were a different type of white stuff clogging our world:


Boulder-size clumps of snow.


This was our eleventh snowfall of the season … with more arriving imminently.


We haven’t gotten so sick of it yet that we take for granted the marvelous beauty it bestows on the landscape.


Even from indoors.


Right now (before we go snow-crazy), the snow is teaching me a lesson in my quest to eradicate our problem paper: small things done consistently can really add up to a big thing.


Like the clearing away of one little pile after another.

News and Hues

Clump #113:  Draft Christmas newsletter and email to family for approval.

This job has always been a big stumbling block for me.  Anyone reading who is on our Christmas card list knows exactly what I’m talking about. I can’t remember a year when I didn’t have to dance around an apology for lateness of some sort.  I think a holiday newsletter, at its best, gives information without being boring or boastful.  Ideally it’s positive in tone, but truthful.  A fine, difficult line that I hope I navigate, but it’s easy to lose perspective.  I insist on all family members’ approval, and make changes accordingly.  And I almost always put it off until I am at peak holiday stress.  Crazy.

But this year, thanks to this here blog, I’m finishing it at a shockingly early date. (For me, that is!)  I realized today that the act of writing daily has strengthened my writing muscles such that I could crank it out much faster than in previous years.  Progress!

Below are some more pictures from my snow-photo-binge yesterday, ones with more color:


This poor thing looked like a giant marshmallow plant:


As the day wore on, the black and white scenery developed a pastel background…


…that then became golden:


As I said yesterday, I was trying to do some errands … but got so distracted.  This was near where I stopped for gas.  I love the way each chain link opening is a frame for a different picture:


And to all a good night!

Clean and White

Clump #112:  Confront plastic Bag O’ Junk.

For the life of me, I can’t remember when, why or how this bag of random junk got stashed together.  A mystery for the ages. But today I broke it down into things I can do: toss out, give away, or, in at least three cases, return to someone else.  I enlisted my husband’s help and we puzzled over the pile together.


A few of the contents: foreign coins.  Great timing!  I’m going to see my younger daughter tomorrow and she can drop them off at her college’s Travel Abroad Office.


So, a little lesson for myself.  When an area is cluttered, it follows that the floor below is filthy.

What’s left?  My mother’s and my accordion recipe files.  They are not going anywhere … yet.  I’m sure the recipes could be winnowed down, but that is a clump for another day.


Clean at last:


We had a big snow storm here today, and the world was transformed.  It was a day of cleaning inside and out.


I couldn’t stop taking pictures.  These are just a few that seem like I was photographing in black and white.


I’ve been whining a bit (just a bit?!) lately about the loss of color in the landscape.  Man oh man, I couldn’t complain today!  I had a difficult time doing errands without pulling over every two seconds to capture another shot.


The minimal palette is divine.


At this very moment, the Christmas CD I’m listening to is Kelly Clarkson singing the song White Christmas.


May all your holiday days be clear and white, bright and light, and filled with beautiful sights.