Umpteen reasons why you should LOVE Winter

It hit me one Saturday morning during a work shift, as I left the warm confines of my place of employment to walk down the road and grab a coffee. Feeling that fresh air, that Winter chill on my face, reminded me of the time I felt it last year, and suddenly I was down memory lane, remembering the things about Winter you choose so hard to forget when it is done and dusted for the year.

So, then, I tried harder to remember. What fascinates me about this time of year, is that once it is upon us, it’s actually not that bad. It’s the anticipation of it – that is the shits, and one of the major factors of making the entire season that much more unbearable.

Hey, calm down… I’m not like, a ‘Winter ambassador’ or something! I am the first to put up my hand and forge ahead with the get-rid-of-Winter fan club. I wouldn’t say I HATE it, since that is a strong word, that I HATE to use (see what I did there?) but I do in fact, detest the coldest of seasons to a degree that once the longest day has come and gone in January, I am in slow grief over the gradual dissemination of Summer.

But like I said above: it ain’t too bad. I’ve been most surprised by my own attitude towards it, in finding that there are actually plenty of great things to enjoy, and celebrate, about the coldest time of the year! You don’t say! Let me hear it! Well ok then, here is my list of things to get your blood boiling…

(And don’t fret, this isn’t one of those bullshit ‘buy a really good coat and scarves’ nonsense post. We all know that we need more than layers to make up for the fact of Winter, duh).

1. But First, Coffee.

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And so one of my fave coffee quotes signals the beginning of this Winter Warm-up list. When else to drink, and enjoy coffee most, than in Winter? Not only does the caffeine hit give you a burst of much needed non-hibernating energy, but it is WARM, and therefore, heats you up from the inside-out. This is a super simple and accessible way to keep you happy, buzzing and hot, ALL DAY LONG. Make it at home, or buy it out and about… really, this one is a no-brainer.

 

2. To café, OR, to café…

And, how to get to your hot coffee? Why, you enter a café of course. Just picture it: you are in the freezing winds, walking briskly to your café of choice so as to remove yourself from the unnerving elements, when you finally, step inside, and –

Ahhh. That moment.

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You know that moment, when the feeling of cold is replaced by the scent of coffee beans, and you are away from the outdoors, but can still see everything including all the fools still stuck out in the real world? And you’re ‘in here?’ and about to get a coffee? Yeah that’s great. Café-ing it, not just for coffee, but for anything in Winter – be it brekkie, lunch or any other fare – is a beautiful way to while away the day. Choose a good one, a cosy spot, and watch the world go by… just see if you don’t feel better about Winter when you put yourself in this supreme predicament…

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3. Walk This Way…

On a contradictory note, on those cold and still Wintery days, sometimes it can be somewhat, what is the word, rejuvenating! to take a nice long walk.

Yes, the air can be biting. Yes, the cold will still seep through your clothes. But there’s something about a fresh, freezing-cold walk that awakens the senses, both physical and mental, as it is often when I am walking in the cold that my creative mind is switched on. I don’t know why, but a brisk walk in Winter allows me to daydream and plan for any future blog posts (how this one came about) much more efficiently than in Summer. Maybe it’s the fact that other than getting into a heated area immediately, there is no other thought trying to take up head space like it does in Summer, where I would be planning future events and social gatherings, and the things I’ll be doing for the next 3 weekends. In Winter, it’s just Winter, and my creative thoughts are allowed to fly beside the recurring thought of ‘get inside.’

I don’t like to be in the cold, and yet a walk like this brings about a whimsical dreamlike effect to my walk, where I find myself observing, being in the moment, and smiling often. I’m not wishing myself out of this hellhole, I’m just smiling. I’m not trying to prove a point… Next.

4. Stay IN

Although I absolutely love Summer, there is one thing that gets tiring by the end of the season: the constant go-go-go. Summer makes you feel like you have to be super-efficient and on top of the world, heading to every social event, enjoying every ounce of sunshine, waking at the crack of dawn, and starting a new body-building course when you’re not preparing your new gluten-free, dairy-free, animal-free, everything of any joy or texture or enjoyment-free diet. It is FULL on.

But Winter allows you to just chill. Hibernate like a bear, and in doing so, drink all the hot chocolate/tea/coffee before doing so. If there is any season where you should feel the least guilt about doing nothing, and where you should completely and utterly embrace the act of doing absolutely nothing, it is Winter. It’s okay, you will be at it again in a couple of months time…

5. Pimp up your home

But, if you absolutely HAVE to, you could always forgo sitting around and chilling on the couch, with doing something around the house. Just as our sanity and ‘me time’ gets neglected in Summer, so too does the house, and house ‘stuff.’ You know those odd jobs. The broken door handle. The 3rd light bulb that has been burnt out in the lounge room for 4 months. The pile of boxes that hasn’t been broken down into pieces. That heap of junk in your garage that you know a charity would love, but alas, Summer time.

In Winter, it is ALL possible. Case in point. We had bought new door handles from Bunnings to replace our old ones, as we wanted to spruce up the 80s-style house we had recently moved into. They remained untouched for months and months, ALL THROUGH SUMMER, and it was only when the cold hit, that Hubbie finally started replacing them.

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Winter is the best time to look outward-in. Look around you and see what needs a little TLC, and then proceed accordingly. Home improvements, up-dos, renos – whatever it is, you will feel soooo much better for it, and not at all like a lazy bear once you are done.

6. Go OCD, mofos

And for those of you like me, that love to sort and clean and organise… well, what are you waiting for? Use these cold months to file away. File to your freaking hearts content. Label and shelve and box. Store those photos in chronological order, organise your home family videos, and clean up your menu folder so that you don’t have crappy old recipes in there that you won’t even sniff at again. There is no better feeling then tackling a long, put-off job, and I swear, as Winter ends and Spring begins, the sense of accomplishment you feel in knowing everything is sorted and ready for another season/year… GOLD. GO you OCD peeps, GO!

7. Jump!

Ok, so this is kinda parent-specific. But, you don’t need to be a recently-acquired trampoline owner for a cheeky monkey princess like I have, to jump. You probably do need a child of some kind, so if you don’t have any of your own, borrow one – like you probably have a niece, or nephew, or know someone who would LOVE for you to kindly offer their brood a day out? (You will be on their Christmas card list FOREVER, I promise you).

But my point is, be childlike. Jumping is not only fun, good for you, and is healthy (hey, exercise), but it warms you up too! And if you think jumping is only for kids – 20 seconds on the thing and you will remember what a jumping extraordinaire you used to be 20 or so years ago… and then it will be the kid trying to get you off the trampoline, not you, them.

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8. A good book

So, a no-brainer. Totally. But when else is it more acceptable and necessary to snuggle up with a book and lose yourself within its pages? Never, ever, EVER. Even on holiday, you should be doing things and seeing things, but at home, in Winter? Perfect reading weather.

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Whether it’s at home, on your lunch break, or on the train, waiting for your doctors appointment (that brisk walk/jumping probably gave you a little cough, ahem*) or at the park while the kiddies play, there is really no better time to invest in a good book.

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9. SLEEP

So a totally acceptable place to read is in bed, but if you’d rather not even do that, you can just sleep. I know this is such a ‘Duh, Fred’ point, but still, it HAS TO be said. Fred.

Sleep ’til your big hearts content. Of course this is totally dependant on whether you have a paying job or go to regular schooling (most of the Western population), but in your down time, this is a perfectly acceptable hobby. Yep. Even if you have kids that don’t let you breathe, just pull them in, throw a blanket over your heads, and once the hilarities have died down, watch them fall into a slumber. You will be there too soon, don’t worry.

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Sleep on the bed, sleep on the couch… wherever you wish. Just make sure it’s comfy and inviting, there are plenty of blankets, and a real nice place to rest your head. Ahhhh.

10. Shop ’til you Drop

Let’s change tack and ramp it up a little, to my favourite past-time! Like seriously, how annoying is it in Summer, when you need some new clothes/shoes/pillows/coffee beans, and you head into the confines of a multi-level shopping centre, but it’s a stunning, and I mean STUNNING day out? You don’t want to miss out on that, and stay indoors most of the day? This is so especially true for us Melburnians, as sunshine, even in Summer of all seasons, can be soooo fleeting.

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But in Winter? Hell, bring the shopping on! You won’t miss out on ANYTHING because its so cold and miserable out! YAY. Shop to your hearts content, in fact, shop for all seasons, and stay ahead of the pack.

11. Work it out 

Ok, so I know some of you might wanna swipe me over this one, as I am known for finding gratitude in the most wide-ranging of places… but I tell you, work really IS better when it’s cold. I mean, just look at the below:

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How miserable is the above photo? Okay well it is oddly pretty in the dim light, but you know what I mean… I am not really missing out. It’s taken from my work window… do I wanna go outside? Hell no!

Work is actually not too bad, and you can almost be grateful to be in the confines of work, when it is so shit-faced outside. You will never be sad being at work during Winter, unless of course you had to get up at 5am like me, and are staring out the kitchen window at 7am thinking of Hubbie and baby girl asleep and warm in bed… damn.

TRY to be grateful for work while you can, in Winter, at the very least.

12. Let’s go to the beach

Your welcome. Ok so maybe not Summer-thumping-beach-vibes weather at the mo, but you know where I’m headed.

This may be a bit left-of-centre for some, but for me being fortunate enough to live BY the beach, not so. But either way, a trip to the beach is for most in our fair country, accessible and do-able.

Why should you do it, you cry? Cold, winds, uninviting waters…

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What do you think? I’m not telling you to jump in. No, hell no. I’m just saying that the ocean views bring about a sense of calmness, of peace, of reflection, and retrospection, and the waters don’t even have to be still and unrippled. No. They are in fact most beautiful and spectacular when they are savage, wild and unleashed, ripping against the shore or pier or rocks, and showing you the brutal nature of Mother Earth herself.

Rug up and try it. See how your mind feels afterwards.

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13. Do something NEW

While you’re out and about at the beach, how’s about you keep trying new things, and enrol in a course of some kind. (Like not literally walk down the road, just think about it). Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Like maybe, learn a new language? Try your hand at some knitting? Learn how to cook like a chef? Drive a manual car? For some creative pursuits, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home – just log in and you’re connected.

Doing something you’ve been wanting to do for a while is not just fulfilling, as you are catering to yours truly, yourself, but you are putting yourself out there in a vulnerable position. Only when you are vulnerable, can you really learn anything. Since everything is on the down-low in Winter, there is no time like the present to focus in on yourself, and give something new a go. Time to study, reflect on where you want to go in life, and centre yourself both spiritually and mentally, is the perfect cold-time creative pursuit. Just try. You won’t lose a thing.

14. Cook up a storm! 

While doing something new, you may want to try your hand at some new recipes.. or old, whatever tickles your fancy. But what I love about this coldest of seasons, is the deliciously warm dishes to match. Or should I say, warm you right up. Whether it be a vegetable curry

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a cauliflower soup

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or some yummy baked goods

there is nothing quite so inviting on a cold Winter’s night, than to indulge in warming, delicious and comforting, Winter-specific foods. Slow-cooked meals, lasagnes, roasts… the list goes on and on and on. And the upside? When you are buying Winter-y things like cauliflower for your soup, you are buying in season, so it is cheaper! Winning 🙂 Go foodie mad.

15. Catch up with some old ‘friends’

Now, I don’t mean ACTUAL friends, and boy would it be appropriate here if I actually  loved the show of the same name. Instead I’m talking of your movies and your DVD box sets. Plop yourself in a comfy place, and get ‘re-acquainted.’ I feel forever-guilty whenever I sit on the couch – I always feel like I should be doing something more worthy, more important, and being a Mum makes the feelings more so. This is an activity I rarely indulge in.

But this Winter, I am really going to take it on board… and what better way to feel better about the blowing winds outside, than to be laughing/crying/hysterically shaking, over the antics of some old faves.

You don’t even have to have the DVDs. Shows like Sex and the City are on repeat on TV, there are streaming devices, and have you heard of Netflix? People even ‘download’… I’m not condoning it, I’m just saying, ok?

It’s never been easier to catch up with, or watch a brand new series to get stuck into. Need tips? Some of my old faves:

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The above mentioned, my fave gal pals. “Abso-fucking-lutely” amazing.

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Angel. An amazing series that is 5 seasons long, and is totally worth investing your life into. Get ready to have your soul literally ripped apart, thanks Joss Whedon (no really, thank you!)

Dawson’s Creek is actually on free-to-air Go! at the moment. My face when I realised this? Bliss 🙂  I know it’s a teenage show, but it’s one of my ol’ faithfuls, and besides, the actors were probably my age when they filmed it, so….

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my current must-watch on TV, Shark Tank. This is splendid in every way. Seeing the investors rip through and tear to shreds some of the up-and-coming entrepreneurs and inventors, is just brilliant. You must watch this show.

So grab a warm drink, snuggle up on the couch (child or partner is optional) and chill-ax….

16. Bust a move.

Exercise. I know I know, it’s not bikini time, and it’s probably the only time of the year when there is no pressure to be beach-ready… but it doesn’t mean you can’t devote time to yourself to be healthy.

Still not sold? You don’t even have to leave the house. There are a world of gyms, gym classes, personal trainers, and get-fit programmes out there, and there as just as many exercise DVDs! Find what tickles your fancy, and do it in the privacy of your own home.

Do as I do, and pop on some trakkies, put on that old Zumba DVD, and get dancing! Exercise gets you going and warms you up at a time when it is so easy to be sluggish and sloth-like. And you know what I was so surprised to find? Even one session a week (baby steps) has given me increased flexibility and energy to run after a certain 3 year-old rascal. True story.

17. A ‘warming’ drink

I couldn’t bulk ‘warm drinks’ with ‘coffee,’ as coffee is just too damn important to me to be watered down like that… but I conclude with the option, that if you don’t like coffee, maybe tea is more your fancy?

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Or maybe a spicy chai latte can rub you totally up the right way

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No? Vino? There’s nothing like a good glass of red to get the fires burning

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Wanna get more creative? I give you, a combination of the last two options, Gluhwein…

https://www.chowhound.com/recipes/german-mulled-wine-gluhwein-30925

Which is German Mulled Wine. It’s a whole lot of fabulous spices and wine/alcohol, warmed up, and you will create some GREAT memories in the making and drinking of it, let me assure you.

If you can’t be happy with a glass of wine/mug of tea/brew of gluhwein, while the winds are raging outside your window, well then YOU CAN’T BE SAVED!

 

So, how did I go? Have I given you renewed (or maybe just NEW) inspiration to totally LOVE Winter? We may be about half-way through the coldest of seasons, but living in Melbourne, we ALL KNOW it’s going to totally screw us up right up ’til November, if we’re lucky.

So guys. Pick a point and get to it. If you think I’ve left anything out, drop me a line!

(I say as I finish off a warm mug of tea…)

 

 

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How to MAKE it while doing it all

This is the thing. I’m not aware of any writer out there, any woman out there, who has managed to achieve literary publishing success, while her children are young.

Young. Little. I’m talking 1 + children under the age of, let’s say 4-5.

Because really, when would they have time to do it?

Baby girl is not a baby anymore: she’s a toddler, 18 months to be precise. Life was already busy without her, and now that she’s here, it’s even busier. I’m fortunate in that if left to her own devices, she will nap for about 2 hours a day. This is great. This is unreal. The only thing is, I have so much to do, I don’t know what to do first.

There’s always some kind of cleaning, some kind of food prep or cooking. Today for example, I had phone calls to make. I’ll pay bills online. I always try to squeeze in some writing time though. Like today. I haven’t posted something non-food related for a while, and this post and all the contradictory thoughts that come with it has been stewing in my mind for months. I sit down during her nap, with a coffee, and let the caffeine take me on a journey.

I have so many thoughts about this. There is some way, that I could achieve publishing success, with baby girl, as is. Like, now. But if I were to have another baby, I don’t know where I would find the time. I have this small sliver of opportunity that currently exists during the day. I can, and I do often write at night when she has been put down for the night. But unfortunately on some occasions, I’m just too tired. I’m tired from the day, I’m tired from the constant running around and not stopping. I’m tired of everything.

So instead, I’ll surf the web, or watch something I’ve recorded on Foxtel.

(Tsk tsk tsk).

Two people spring to mind when I think of me as Author (because we all are Authors aren’t we, only no one knows of our impending success yet)… me as Author watching TV.

Stephen King and Jackie Collins.

In Stephen King’s On Writing, he talks about TV being possibly the worst thing to thwart an Author’s efforts to write. He tells us to unplug the thing, and to find places where you can read during the day…standing in queue at the post office for example, or while waiting at the doctor’s office.

Jackie Collins says quite the opposite. In a recent interview, she spoke of how much she enjoyed watching television, and the volume of television she watches. She finds it inspiring and helps her to formulate her stories and give her the inspiration she needs.

I think they’re both right. Stephen King is right, but so is Jackie. You should avoid the TV, just for the sake of not getting sucked into the tedious monotomy of fluff being broadcast to a passive audience, hypnotising the viewers into forgetting about the next 3 possibly useful and effective hours of the night.

But if you’re watching something brilliant, something compelling… well. I find inspiration not just from books, but from movies and television shows. When I watch entertainment on TV, I don’t just stare numbly: I break it down, I analyse. In my mind, when something surprising occurs, I think ‘Oh. See how they did that? It went from A to B and then C was missed and suddenly you were at M and you were like what?! How did they think to create that story?’

So I can’t deny my visual form of entertainment either. I just have to pick carefully because of my limited time.

My foxtel planner is inundated with movies and shows that are yet to be watched. I have DVDS and movies that I’ve bought, and likewise have not had the time to sit down and dedicate myself to it. I feel so bad to sit there, not writing, for approximately 40 mins to 2 hours, when I could be productive and working on my book. I really feel guilty about it, yet I feel like my desire to consume this screen action won’t go away soon either.

I was thinking of the whole theory that Mums don’t have time to make themselves a success while their children were young, when P.D. James died. The night after hearing the shocking news, I googled her and some interesting articles came up on her back story. She had had a very difficult upbringing with her Mother institutionalised due to mental illness while James was still at an impressionable age, and then her string of misfortune continued when her husband developed a severe case of Schizophrenia after returning from the war, resulting in frequent hospitalisation. She found him dead one morning in their home, due to suicide.

She’d had two children with him, and moved in with her in-laws after he died. She worked full time to make ends meet. And you know what she also did?

She would wake up 2 hours before work every day, and write.

I remember the strong emotional feeling I got when I read that. I got very teary in the realisation that she had done, so many years ago, what I’d always known I could do. But I hadn’t.

Basically, in the end, there are no excuses. If you want to write, you will find a way. Like one blogger wrote, you’ll lock yourself in the bathroom away from the toddlers just so you can have 5 minutes of peace and tranquillity and a moment to put your fingers to the keypad. You’ll get up early, you’ll stay up late, or you just won’t sleep much at all.

Didn’t Bon Jovi sing “I’ll sleep when I’m dead?” That sounds about right.

Like another blogger I follow recently posted about, Andrew Toy at Adopting James, he also gets up 2 hours before his work start, in order to get in some writing time.

There are really no excuses.

There will always be things to do. I’m such a planner. I think I organise and plan and think and create more than I can possibly achieve. I love being on the move, being busy, and hate the idea of boredom. So I do it to myself, really. But in the end, do I want to tick off all my jobs on my to-do list, or do I want to say:

“I’m a published writer.”

There is no question there.

And don’t get me wrong, don’t accuse me of procrastinating now. I have been writing my book, the second book in my series in fact. I finished the 1st chapter just the other day, and while I stir up some more creative juices as to what to do in chapter 2, I sit here, and add to my blog, and catch up on stuff, and just generally imagine the possibilities for my characters, for myself, and for life.

Sometimes I think this blog has taken me away from my book writing. Maybe I’m right. Maybe I’m totally right. But at the end of the day I have to write, and I have to write somewhere… and this kind of outlet, I wouldn’t give up for anything.

So in reference to the above heading… how to make it, while doing it all?

1. Prioritise

2. Decide on your goals, and what is important to you

3. Forget about sleep. It can wait.

Her Anthem

They start off so well.

Well, maybe not ALL of them, the babies. Our baby girl did though.

Settling herself to sleep, and then sleeping through the night.

She still sleeps through, when the teeth aren’t hassling her… but for a few weeks now, she just won’t be left to fall asleep on her own.

Hubbie thought of the idea to just stand in her room and wait until she dozed off, and then quietly creep out. This is a great idea, because it saves me the back-breaking task of rocking her to sleep, which I never used to do at the end of the day. She may be petite, but she’s still 13 months old, and a growing toddler (though she’ll always be my baby girl).

As great as the idea sounds, and yes it is effective…. It is effective EVENTUALLY. Because of her game.

I think she’s not settling due to some developmental thing. She’s recently discovered that she can pull herself up into a standing position, and is crawling right all over the place. And when I put her in her cot for the night, she sits up, and then pulls herself up so she’s standing against the cot railing.

I stand there, side on to her, staring at the space above her cot, not making any eye contact.

She might make some noise, or laugh at me because she thinks we’re playing peek-a-boo, and I quietly pry her hands off the railing and lie her down, tuck her blanket around her again, and resume my wall-staring.

Again she stands, this time her teeth gnawing at the railing.

I wait a while, and then frustrated that this going-to-sleep thing isn’t progressing any faster, pull her off the railing and tuck her in again.

She starts playing with the bars of the cot. Out of the corner of my eye I see her stand up again – I ignore it. Her intention is play, but it’s too late in the day, and her tired legs give way and –

PLONK.

“I get knocked down.”

I try not to smile. She temporarily lies down, sucking her fingers. I think ‘good, she’s become discouraged.’

Within seconds she’s sat back up.

“But I get up again.”

Standing up again, leaning against the cot, chewing on the railing. “Ehh!” she yells out in protest. Play with me Mum! is what she means.

I sigh, promptly lie her down, tuck her in firmly, and say “Shhhh.”

That’s all the motivation she needs. After all she just broke me: I spoke.

In no time she’s at it again.

“You’re never gonna keep me down.”

I ignore her and stare at the wall, closing my eyes, wondering why she can’t fall asleep while I standing there think I may soon become a sleep-stander.

“I get knocked down.”

Over she falls once more, and she swings her legs from side to side. I hesitate – is she settling in?

“But I get up again.”

Nope.

“You’re never gonna keep me down.”

Tubthumping indeed.