Tips for the Holiday Season

As we grow closer to the end of 2017, the holiday season is yet again upon us. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, New Year’s…and who knows what else, will fly by lightning quick and soon you’ll be wondering what happened to your days. Do you look forward to this time of year? Or do you dread it? Are you someone who doesn’t celebrate any of them or possibly all of them? One?

If you dread this time of year, you aren’t alone. Shopping areas are super crowded and busy, especially the times that most people are off: evenings and weekends. Everyone seems to have a bad attitude or in a hurry or both. A ridiculous amount of foods, both healthy and mostly not, seem to be everywhere. Family arguments and issues seem to be front and center, causing friction and headaches. Schedules are jam-packed with parties, dinners, last minute deadlines, and other various activities. To do lists are long and days are short. Weather is unpredictable and tension is high. Charitable organizations are laying guilt trips on you at every turn to help those less fortunate than you. Thieves are out in droves, breaking into cars, churches and stealing packages off porches. Depression seems to be rampant this time of year too. Any of this sound familiar?

I’m not trying to be a “Scrooge” by bringing all this up. I’m hoping to help with some tips for how to survive the holiday season, whether you are immersed in it or trying to avoid it like the plague. I’ve tried to divide it by categories below. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like some friendly, non-expert advice on during this holiday season. ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Family – Love ’em or not, they are your relatives. Does that mean you should let them drive you bonkers? Maybe, maybe not. If you love your family and generally get along with them at other times of the year, then this should be a fun time to spend time together. If these are people that the only things you seem to have in common is some DNA and physical characteristics, then limit your interactions with them or spend time with friends instead. Pick your battles and don’t let others push your buttons! If you know Aunt Busybody drives you crazy by interrogating you about your life, limit the time you spend with her at family functions, have an “escape” plan, find snappy comebacks to her questions if you like, or if you are not comfortable with that, then just try to take deep breaths and remember that it’s only a brief period of time and this too shall pass. Try to avoid topics you know upset people and if unsure of how to answer what is being asked or said, suddenly excuse yourself to the bathroom. If you don’tย  have family to spend the holidays with or maybe they are too far away or you won’t be able to see them for some other reason, figure out if this upsets or depresses you to the point that you just can’t stand it. Then try to plan a time to call or face-time or Skype or whatever with them so that you can spend some time with them. Volunteer to keep busy or maybe find some friends or coworkers who are in the same boat and maybe plan a luncheon out or dinner with them. Whatever you do, do NOT buy into the media hype that everyone except you is with their loved ones on the holiday, having the perfect food and wonderful time, singing around the piano with a roaring fire in the fireplace. It’s not true. You aren’t alone and there’s no such thing as the “perfect” holiday most of the time.
  2. Gifts and charity donations – Giving should always come from the heart, not the retail industry telling you that you have to give to someone. If you don’t want to get anyone a present and don’t want to give during the holiday season, then don’t. Give when you want to, what you want to, to whom you want to. The other side of that is not to be greedy in what you want or receive. Be gracious and thankful that someone thought of you when you are given anything, even if you don’t end up using it or keeping it. If the holiday season is only about material things for you, you will end up with a very empty life and heart. Also, one big thing: DO NOT spend more than you can afford! I’m amazed at people in the past griping at how much they spent on Christmas presents, etc, and how long it took them to pay it off! There are plenty of ways to give and to stay within your means/budget.
  3. Food and diet – Maybe you’re like me and are trying to watch your weight and this time of year, the temptation is just crazy hard to resist. For me, it’s really just being mindful and paying attention that keeps me on track. If there are tons of snacks in the break room at work, don’t go in there if you don’t have to! Keep up your water intake as it will keep you from over eating. Pay attention to if you’re actually hungry or not before pigging out on food just because it’s there. Before you pile your plate high at gatherings, choose your selections carefully. Ask yourself: Do I really like this food or am I getting it because it’s there? Am I really that hungry? Start with the veggies and proteins that are good for you and then if you just have to have some pie, have a small slice. But stop when you are full! Don’t over stuff yourself. Make a plan for how you will handle certain food situations if you know they are coming. And please don’t beat yourself up for not doing as well as you wanted or planned. You will find that unless you are eating non-stop junk for the entire month, most of the damage will be minimal. Just get up if you fall, dust yourself off and keep moving forward.
  4. Depression – If you are someone who gets depressed at this time of the year, try to figure out what about it depresses you and then try to remove or counteract the depressing elements. No one to celebrate with? Find a place to volunteer. Nursing homes would be great because there are a lot of older people who don’t have anyone to spend time with either, who are lonely or depressed and you can brighten their day just by spending a little time with them. If it’s gloomy weather, try having bright lights in your home or go on vacation to some place more tropical or sunny or whatever will work better for you. If you can’t seem to shake it, are thinking of doing something drastic, or just need to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Seasons change and pass, life does have its ups and downs. If you need help, you aren’t alone and there is help out there to be found. Please don’t hesitate to look for it if you need it. If you know someone who is depressed, try to be there for them. Don’t tell them to ‘just cheer up’ or berate them for being a ‘party pooper’. Offer to listen, try to provide a distraction, or offer to help them find professional help. Depression is real, sometimes it’s not ‘just a case of the blues’ and can be very serious. Try to be kind and understanding. I know it can be hard to do.
  5. Crime and attitudes – As I brought up before, there will be a lot of people out there with bad attitudes and no-good on their minds. Try to be patient with people who work in the grocery stores and retail and fellow shoppers. Treat others the way you want to be treated. If you aren’t handicapped, park a little farther away and walk a little. It will do you some good. If the lines are long, be patient or go at a time when it’s not as busy, especially if it’s a store open 24 hours. If you waited until Christmas Eve day to go to Walmart, do NOT take it out on the employees because they are exhausted and paid barely above minimum wage. I have worked two Christmas seasons in retail and I have never been so tired and so happy to have a little counter between me and everyone else in my life. If someone cuts you off or doesn’t return your greeting or smile, try to give them the benefit of the doubt that they just aren’t thinking or their mind is on something else. Maybe they had bad news given to them recently or maybe they really are just jerks. But maybe not and they may end up being a good friend one day. As for criminal activity, if you usually have packages delivered and left outside of your house, try to have them delivered somewhere you can pick them up instead. Amazon lockers, the post office, UPS stores, a trusted neighbor or relative that’s home during the day. Do not leave wrapped packages in sight in your car. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t flash a bunch of cash around. If, heaven forbid, you are held up, don’t fight for material things. They can be replaced. You can’t. If you don’t celebrate holidays and someone wishes you a “Merry Christmas” or a “Happy Holidays”, don’t be an a*hole and berate them. Just say thank you and move on. It may irk you a little but most people mean well are trying to be nice or polite.

Those were the five big topics that I could think of to try to address. I hope I was able to be a little help to you. Most of the advice was probably things you’ve heard before but human beings seem to need reminders so I hope you will benefit from them. If this time of year is always awesome for you, then I’m happy for you and maybe you could take a few minutes to make it a little brighter for someone who maybe isn’t having such a great holiday season. Be kind to each other, y’all!


Elevator Etiquette (for laughs)

So this particular entry is really just for laughs and doesn’t really fit my usual categories but maybe you agree with me. Does it seem to you that lately nobody knows what good manners are anymore? And then there are those who don’t seem to know how basic things like elevators work. This is something I must take for granted. It seems simple enough: elevators are boxes on cables inside buildings that you get into to go up or down instead of taking the stairs. Well, I have a few gripes about how people don’t seem to get more basic manners or maybe just exactly how elevators work, but instead of being angry and ranting, I decided to simply list a few things to keep in mind. Maybe you know someone who should read this and forward it to them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Pushing the button to call the elevator once is enough. If I’m standing there waiting for the elevator and the button is lit up, there is no need for you to step in front of me and stab at the button ten more times. The elevator moves at one pace and it’s coming. Just relax! lol
  2. Hold the door for people! If you are on the elevator or the first one on and there is a group of people filing on or maybe they’re just a little slow, don’t let the damn doors close on the people. Find the “Door Open” button and hold it or trigger the sensor to keep the door from closing if at all possible. There’s no reason to watch an older person with a walker struggling to get onto the elevator and then get thrown off balance by the closing doors.
  3. If you’re by the only set of buttons, you are the designated operator. What does this mean? Well as people get on and you are crowding the buttons, ask them what floor they need and then push the button for them. Conversely, you can always get outta the way! lol The other side of that is, if you get on and I ask what floor and I’m pushing buttons, there’s no need to shove me out of the way to push the one you want. I promise I’ll push it if I asked. That said…
  4. Know where you want to go! I work in the medical field so people are always getting on the elevator for various floors that hold multiple suites and doctors’ offices and other businesses. No, I’m sorry that I don’t have the huge building’s directory memorized or have never even heard your doctor’s name. You need to know what floor you’re going to before getting on the elevator and don’t get mad at me when I don’t know where you need to go. lol I know my area and a couple of others. That’s it.
  5. No need to be rude or ignore people. I get it that maybe you’re tired or cross or just don’t feel like a long conversation. It’s a short trip in an elevator and I’ve felt that way on many days. But it makes my day when someone just smiles and says something like “hello” or “have a good day”. It takes so little effort and can make someone feel a little lighter. However, I also know that sometimes we can have things on our mind and not be paying attention. So I try to let little snubs go as I realize they might not be intentional. Or hell, maybe they don’t speak English and, as that’s the only language I know, they just didn’t understand me. But also…itย is a short trip so don’t start a conversation that won’t finish when you or I need to go. lol
  6. Don’t crowd the door so people can’t get on or off. If I’m waiting for the elevator to open onto my floor and there’s a huge group around the door, it’s very hard for me to get off. Typically it’s better to let those on to get off before trying to stampede onto the elevator and run them over.

That’s it. Six short rules to try to keep in mind when you’re getting on or off an elevator. Not too difficult when you think about it. It’s just things that maybe people have forgotten. Do you have anything to add? I’d love to hear from you.

Southern Girl Losing Weight

So one of the things I’m trying to change about myself is my eating habits and my relationship with food and exercise. As a Southern born and raised girl, I’m actually not that much like my predecessors in my family. I rarely fry things, I actually don’t care for gravy, I keep a close eye on how much butter and salt I put on things and I try really hard not to cut out my veggies.

So you might think, ‘Wow. She does pretty good!’ Well I thought so except that my weight and size kept going up and as I’m now closer to 40 than 30, I knew that any battle with that was not going to get easier but would only get harder. So I started looking at my vices. I don’t smoke, I am on my feet a lot for my job so I move around. However, I am/was extremely addicted to Dr. Pepper and Mr Pibb. Everyone knows that’s a big factor, so I started cutting that back.

Finally, I was ready to really make changes and I joined Weight Watchers in January. Now I will be the first to admit that I don’t follow the program as strictly as I probably should. However, I seriously wanted to make life-long changes. Already I have lost almost 18 pounds and that’s a good chunk of my 55 pounds gone initial goal. I might go for another 5 pounds after that. I don’t know and I’ll figure that out as I get closer. I know a lot of people try different diets or weight loss plans with a goal of making it to a big event or a birthday or a special date. Me…I just chose somewhere around a year as I thought that was a doable goal. Am I going on a vacation? Yeah I have one planned. Do I wanna look good in a swimsuit this season? Of course!

But honestly, I know I’m in the right mindset because I am accepting the ups and downs of the journey and not depriving myself. I have cheat days but I’m paying better attention to what I eat. I’m learning that some choices really weren’t as good as I thought. I’m learning to know that feeling full doesn’t mean I have to feel stuffed. I’m drinking more water and moving more even when I don’t have to lol Is it hard? Sure. But my clothes are fitting better and I’m feeling like I’m more in control of myself. And for the first time, I’m starting to feel beautiful. Losing weight isn’t the only contributing factor to this but it’s helping.

There will be plenty more entries on my journey as I go from 205 to 150 or less. (Hopefully) I hope you will offer encouragement and tips if you’re reading this. Or maybe draw inspiration from it. That’s cool. I love to help in any way I can.