Taking Care of Yourself: The Best Gift This Season
By Lena Robin
The holiday season is here and for many, that means adding many more tasks to an already packed schedule. Gifts to buy, parties and celebrations to attend, extra traveling and family to see, all these activities and more can be overwhelming and stressful. Absolutely the best gift you can give yourself, your family, your friends, and even your co-workers is to take care of yourself this season and all year long. Taking care of yourself will keep you happier, healthier, and more capable in everything you do.
Sometimes taking care of yourself or “self-care” can be associated with selfishness but it is not an indulgence. Those around you will benefit as you take better care of yourself. Your work life will improve through self-care by preventing burnout, reducing the negative effects of stress, helping you re-focus your mind and improving your energy levels. At home and with your friends your relationships will strengthen, you’ll have more patience, and your life will appear to be a kinder and more abundant experience in general.
Taking care of yourself is only difficult at first. Once the habits are developed, it becomes a part of your life and something you won’t need to think about often (unless you start to slip, forget your lovely self-care habits and you need to re-calibrate those habits). You can do it all, you just can’t do it all at once: Much of the habit of self-care can be found in scheduling. Schedule into your days what you need to do take care of yourself or it may not happen.
How many Point of View characters are appropriate in a novel?
I am currently struggling with an important question while working on my newest novel. How many Point of View (POV) characters are appropriate in the sequel to Hour of Trial? The sequel (sorry no name yet) has more points of view than Hour of Trial. It needs to have more POV characters because while Hour of trial occurred in a couple main spots, however, in its sequel, the story expands. Non-POV characters were introduced in Hour of Trial and now their importance is growing but should the reader get to hear the story from their point of view? Are they that important? If you have read the Hour of Trial or if you have an opinion, please tell me whom you want to hear from.
Practice Yoga and Meditation to Alleviate Stress During the Holidays
Stress is a year-round fact-of-life, but your stress levels can increase during the holidays. Why do people feel extra stress during the holidays? I mean, it happens every year, we should all be prepared. Right? Wrong! The most common reasons people feel extra stress is:
Stress is your body’s reaction to change, good and bad. Chronic stress can negatively affect your health. Yoga and Meditation can ward off stress and help your body fight disease. There is an old Zen proverb and it goes something like this, “If you don’t have time to mediate for an hour every day, you should meditate for two.” That sounds like ridiculous advice but the sentiment is there. It is saying you need to make time to take care of yourself, especially when you don’t have the time. How about you start off with a yoga class or two a week and mediate for five minutes daily. You will see these benefits:
Who doesn't want to improve how they feel? Let me know if you don't, I can do a full interview and add you to my list of crazy (emphasis on the crazy) character profile designs for one of my upcoming books. My advice is that you instead, find a class to your local yoga studio or gym to help you manage your stress during the holidays. You will feel so good (although possibly a little achy at first), you will not want to give it up.
De-stress Before, During, and After the Holidays
Thanksgiving Day is almost here and the preparations are about to begin. Try and remember what the holiday is all about when you are up to your elbows in Turkey giblets or pie filling and the kids are running around the house like crazy little animals. The chaos can be fun if you allow it to be as long as you can de-stress when things get too hectic.
Levity, the burnt biscuits are not the end of the world (I either forget to put them in the oven or forget I put them there every year)! Each time the thrill and cheer of the holiday begins to fade. You feel like your nerves are frazzling or your eye begin twitching try this exercise:
Close your eyes (please not if you are using a big knife or standing in front of a hot oven) keeping your mouth closed, inhale slowly through your nose. Push your belly out as you inhale so you are getting a full breath. Now as slowly as possible exhale through your nose (mouth closed) concentrate on bringing your belly button towards your spine, then repeat until you feel your stress melt away.
Now, de-stressed, the kids antics can be amusing, the noise festive, and the relative’s debates entertaining. Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner.
Expressing Gratitude, Connecting to Others, and Finding Deeper Meaning by Lena Robin
Thanksgiving is almost here! I love the holiday and so does my family. The entire concept is about family, friends, and food. What could be better? We know we should be grateful for all we have and many of us are. Others, during this time of year, are looking for opportunity to connect with others or for a deeper meaning in their lives. Expressing gratitude by helping others is one of the best ways I have found to do all three, both during the holidays and the whole year. Many, think the idea is admirable but don’t know just how to proceed or feel that their time is too limited to do anything meaningful. You don’t have to be a martyr to make another person’s life a little better. I am here to tell you helping others couldn’t be an easier, more rewarding task.
No matter your income or the time you have available, helping others is easy. A few ideas that work for me are listed below:
Call your local soup kitchen, food bank, food pantry, or church
These organizations need assistance during the holidays and all year long. My friend Taryn organizes a Turkey Tribe (friends, their children, as well as donations) to converge on the local grocer and buy all the 10 to 14 pound turkeys we can find. The kids get to experience, and hopefully, understand that each turkey we are donating is helping a local family have a Thanksgiving dinner they might not otherwise be able to afford. Call your local soup kitchens, food bank, or pantry to see what they need and provide help around your schedule. Some assistance that these charities need is:
Clean out your pantry or consider running a food drive with your friends, coworkers, or neighbors. My daughter simply walks through our neighborhood (with me as her shadow) carrying some bags and knocks on peoples doors. Almost everyone has always helped. She collected a grocery cart full of food and we dropped it at the local soup kitchen (to use in their pantry). If you live in a neighborhood where such a request would be a hardship on your neighbors, go to one nearby. Be prepared to provide the name and location of the charity with each request.
Visit a local assisted-living or nursing home
The holidays can be an emotional time for anyone. The elderly, whose family or friends may be far away or have passed on, are quite susceptible to loneliness during the holidays and all year long. Contact the home to plan visits and consider visiting with a plan. Some of these homes will allow you to bring in your well-behaved pet for the residents to love. You can also bring games, crafts, music, or even coloring to share with the residents.
Clean out your closets
Clean out your closet, your family’s, your neighbors’, and friends’ to donate clothing, shoes, toys, and housewares to your local charities. My friend Cassandra collected clothing for a family who lost everything in a house fire. It was time for me to face up to the fact I would probably never be a size four again and giving the clothes to someone who needed them was a cathartic experience. It sounds a little self-serving but I was helping someone else, right?
Invite someone for Thanksgiving dinner
Many people don’t have family or friends with whom to share a Thanksgiving meal. If you know a single parent, a single person, a neighbor, or even your local grocery cashier who doesn’t have plans for the holidays, invite them to share your meal. Many of the military are far from their families and a home cooked meal is well appreciated. Having someone to your home for Thanksgiving gives them an enjoyable dinner and gives you the chance to know someone new in your life.
Continue the project(s) all year long
Whatever you attempt to do, consider continuing it all year long. Doing so will help you maintain perspective every day. Besides the good you know you are doing, helping others feels great to you!
These ideas may seem insignificant to you but for someone else, they can be life changing. Whether you are looking to express your own gratitude, connect with others, or even for a deeper meaning in life, helping others may be the best way to do it. I would love to hear your experiences in helping others. They may assist me or someone else reading this blog, to find a way to make someone else’s life a little better.
And in the Beginning...
This posting might be my first but today wasn’t the beginning! Long, long ago,...no, scrap that, I am not writing a fairy tale. Seriously, I wanted to be a writer in fourth grade but soon learned that the technical aspects of grammar were quite difficult. How could I be a writer if I couldn’t spell and didn’t understand a dangling modifier? Well, there goes that dream, right?
I am going to be an artist! Wait, not so fast. Like most overly indulgent college students, I started to journal. In fact, I journaled in my sketchbooks because I was able to best visualize with words. I am a mediocre artist at best. I got my degree in Fine Art and went on to a fabulous career in retail. What else is one supposed to do with an art degree if their art is meh?
I still loved the arts but with a career move into corporate HR, I decided, at the age of thirty, I needed a business degree. I spent two years working toward that degree and received my MBA in 2001, right before the world fell apart and I found the job market in a free fall.
Hey, let us try teaching! I was lucky enough to get a job teaching business communications at FAU for several semesters, but that job did not work out. Nobody wanted to take a woman who looked twelve seriously. Can you imagine asking your professor how old they were? Well, they did. I was thirty-four. I only told them I was old enough to be a teacher born in the sixties, but that job was not my calling.
Motherhood came next and it has been and still is an amazing journey. After taking some time with my girls, I began my writing adventure. I know what a dangling modifier is now; I commit that and many other grammar blunders all the time. I have so many ideas and I am excited to share them all with you!