Five Tips To Fight The Winter Blahs

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The twinkle of Christmas and holiday fun are now a memory. Things are packed away in bins for another time. And worst of all, the neighbor’s tree is sitting outside all alone. In the rain. In a puddle. It’s, well, just not quite right.

This first week of the year has already held some little delights sandwiched between more serious moments. It’s felt like a jerking roller coaster and had sad moments with sick friends, the loss of a dear lady’s son, and my own bad back chiming in. Then gorgeous sunrises and sunsets with the unusual clouds in California, the promise of new beginnings everywhere, working with a group of tweens in school helping with topic sentences and writing hooks. My favorite was the rainbow marshmallows they made up to go with hot chocolate. Then another wrench and rare tornadoes appeared on the ocean here and El Nino planted itself firmly in our little corner of the world with fierce storms.

It could almost be too much until I remember to look up, breathe, and decide to search for little corners of light on the path ahead. Here’s five quick thoughts to help in case you’re struggling with negative things lined up three feet deep ahead on the path ahead, and you want to spot a ray of hope instead.

  1. Plan an idea outing with friends – pick a corner of your home and go shop with friends for a new way to decorate it. Challenge yourself to buy as little as possible and re-frame and reuse things you already own. You’re shopping for the ideas more than the objects, and sometimes seeing it set up professionally helps. Not to mention the one-on-one with friends, too. A breath of fresh air.
  2. Tackle something annoying – look at your kitchen or a closet and pick the most exasperating corner to attack and organize. Or an improved system for laundry. Then every time you open the door or cabinet it’s like getting a little smile from yourself. It makes me feel like I’ve wrestled the frustration to the floor, pinned it down, and won a round.
  3. Help someone else – I’m sure someone in your family has said it, but it’s really true. Today I drove all over to get specifically requested oranges for a sick friend and left them on her doorstep. I felt like a little happy elf. Smiles even welled up. When you can’t help them directly, sometimes a gesture of kindness to someone who needs a hand will improve your outlook and give them a hug too.
  4. Finish a project – Eighty percent. I find I often get almost all done with a big project, but there’s some part not quite finished. Determine to check that virtual box as FINISHED. Celebrate with a cup of special coffee or tea or something fun.
  5. Bake with little ones or as a gift – I’m planning to make a pie with my young son, his favorite, later this week. With all the rolling of dough, and dusting of flour, there’s bound to be a nice time to visit and make a memory. Then we all can enjoy it at the end of the day, too.

Hope these tips get your creative juices flowing. What do you do to keep perspective this time of year?

Image courtesy of prozacl at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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The First Step In Air

“Do not go where the path may lead… Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. – R.W. Emerson

“Do not go where the path may lead…
Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – R.W. Emerson

I watched as one teenager after another climbed the high platform, hooked into the harness, and jumped with a whoosh into the trees. This was the last course at T Bar M camp, where I volunteered with a youth ministry and mentored a group of girls. All mine had been through it and survived, so had the boys. My feet were very happy planted firmly on the ground.

“It’s called the Screamer or the Breath-Taker. You see, people either scream their lungs out or not make a sound at all. Which one do you think you are?” The camp supervisor had meant well but I was not eager to find out.

But then this little whisper bubbled to the surface. “Face your fear; don’t leave here without trying.” So for a long time I’d sat at the bottom of the huge platform in the sky wondering if I could really conquer my fear of heights.

Finally, the whole group gathered around and encouraged me. I’d done all the other activities, hadn’t I? This was a turning point somehow, I knew it deep down inside. So I finally climbed up the ridiculously high ladder, knees knocking as I landed on the platform and got strapped in. I dangled for some time with everyone watching and my legs on the edge of the platform.

“Want me to push you?” A burly man offered, hands outstretched behind me.

“Nope, I’ll do it. Just a minute.”

It’s the “just a minutes” in life that can last longer if we’re not careful. Especially if we’ve been through difficulties.

And then I stepped into space and free-fell for several moments. Screaming all the way. Smiling, too.

I did it.

Perhaps there’s some area of your life you’re supposed to be resilient in and trust in a new way. I want to encourage you for new insights this summer. What’s that big step—the one that feels like you’re jumping into space in your life?

I’ve often had to find the “right turn” or new direction. Whether it was my family facing medical emergencies, our fire survival stories, or my own path into becoming a gemologist, life’s definitely given me some incredible challenges and opportunities.

Something exciting is happening this week. I’ve stepped in a new direction, through an open door for the books and am so grateful for this opportunity.

That memory of stepping off the platform, giggling all the way, taking pleasure in the sailing and finding firm ground once more, has remained after many years.

If it’s where you’re meant to try, take heart knowing that adventures can’t begin unless you do take that first step ahead.

Bless you in your new beginnings.

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So here’s the big news: I’ve just signed with Waterside Productions Literary Agency for my novels and series. We’re excited to share the news and hope you’ll come on the journey to getting published, too!

Guess what I'm doing here? Signing my contract with Waterside Literary Agency! So grateful and ready for new opportunities!

Guess what I’m doing here? Signing my contract with Waterside Productions Literary Agency! So grateful and ready for new opportunities!

Right-turn The Blues Away

Jewels above and all around—surrounded by sweet pea vines and fields of rinunculas in Carlsbad. Photo with the Gemological Institute of America in the distance, where I deepened my love of gems and all things with sparkle.

Jewels above and all around—surrounded by sweet pea vines and fields of ranunculus in Carlsbad. Photo with the Gemological Institute of America in the distance, where I deepened my love of gems and all things with sparkle.

A Recipe For Abounding Hope

A weekend of down moments punctuated with sick ones, sad news, and first my husband being far away, then my son going out of town with his class, left me a bit blue recently. My wonderful husband instantly suggested a right turn, which was so nice it felt like a day of vacation. We’ve been tackling serious topics in this blog for a while, and I thought you’d like to come on my most recent “right turn” or intentional change in direction with us.

Whenever you need a boost, try dipping your fingers into intense beauty, of vivid color, and of expansive hope.

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Seeing the baskets spilling over with abundant color reinvigorates my mind.

Taking in the intensity is like sipping tart-sweet pink lemonade on a hot summer day. Or making the perfect golf swing, watching the little white ball hit its target perfectly. It loosens the creative side to enjoy life a bit more, too.

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The organized greenhouse is so pleasant. Like being invited for high tea at someone’s home, where they’ve decorated the table with fine linen and china just for you, to make you feel included and special.

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Rows upon rows of vivid hues make me feel I’ve entered an artist’s pallet and begun to play with the paints. Remember how great it was to roll down a grassy hill when you were a child? The purity of the flowers, the ocean breezes dancing along plucking them like strings on a harp, makes my giddy smile bubble forth.

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By the end of our visit, my husband and I felt refreshed and renewed by sharing the moment together.

I’m a big believer in taking a right-turn when life gets a bit unsettled. Here’s more ideas at Seekerville if you need to be refreshed after a time of difficulty in life. http://seekerville.blogspot.com/search/label/Elizabeth%20Van%20Tassel

Check my author’s Facebook page for a video of the flower fields and experience it for yourself! https://www.facebook.com/elizabethvantassel?ref=hl

What are some of your favorite right turns?

Upcoming guest appearance: Seriously Write, this Friday

For writers and anyone who wants to share: Please come visit with me this Friday as I offer four tips to help sort the rough from the gems in sharing from the heart on the wonderful blog, Seriously Write located here: http://seriouslywrite.blogspot.com/. Would love to see your comments and thoughts, too!