Winter triggers more negative comments than any other season. People complain about the cold, the rain, the ice, the wind, the short days. But even with these challenges winter can be the perfect time to keep mind and body in sync.
Here are just a few things that make my winter more enjoyable and less stressful.
I’ve decided to limit my time on social media. Too much can be too much. I’ve always favored reading newspapers to watching the news on TV. Lucky me, my husband feels the same way. But I’ve also stopped reading every article. There is a limit to the information we really need.
All around me schools have started to celebrate kindness and friendship to honor Valentine’s Day. To match the mood I deliberately chose kindhearted books at the library this week.
I picked the picture book When an Elephant Falls in Love by Davide Cali and illustrated by Alice Lotti.
The story depicts an elephant, doing all the weird, silly things that we all do when in love with someone who doesn’t know our feelings. Watching the elephant eat an entire cheesecake while he wants to be in the best shape for the elephant of his dreams is both funny and touching.
After reading Saving Red, I chose Girls Like Me by Lola St.Vil, another young adult novel in verse that weaves in emails and texts from the two main characters who have nothing in common and yet fall for each other. He is the gorgeous, popular guy (at least in appearance) and she is the girl considered too fat in their typical contemporary high school. She has no confidence (until she understands what really matters).
These two books remind me that the most beautiful things in life involve love and also happen to those who wait.
Always been my way to deal with the world around me. Over the last two weeks I wrote three new picture book manuscripts (now preparing them for submission). Through writing, I remain creative and also grounded.
Last week, I did a school visit. I included an American and a French songs to my PowerPoint presentation. War and Non, Non Rien N’a Changé are both about the Vietnam War and from 1971, the backdrop and time period of my novel. This is in fact the song War that planted the early seeds of my novel Chronicles From Château Moines. Listening to War reminded me of Non, Non Rien N’a Changé.
I’m happy to confirm that music is a great addition to a school visit. The eighth graders loved it.
Today, I selected a few more French and American songs for my upcoming presentations. They are all part of my novel. As I added them to my playlist, I found familiar old French songs that I knew when I was growing up. They have acquired this vintage status that should make me feel old but somehow soothes the world around me.
Music, perhaps even more than any other media, can really transform our mood and bring light when we feel stressed or a little gloomy in the middle of winter.
I started yoga exactly a year ago. My daughters suggested it, and my husband offered me an eight-class package. I loved the first class so much that the sampling turned into a membership. Although I love challenging exercise, now that I’m the mom of four kids, no longer so little, I listen to the motto: It’s not because the body can that the body should. So I stick to mind body classes and yin yoga with an occasional power class. Where am I a year later?
Besides the expected benefits: more flexibility, lean muscles, balance, better posture, I’ve learned to stop my mind when it starts to wander and in the end gets overstimulated and overwhelmed.
At the beginning of class, most instructors ask us to find an intention and to return to this intention during class when we find ourselves reliving past events or anticipating future events. Staying in the moment, like young children, is the hardest part of being an adult. I always keep my intention very simple. I pick a verb such as FOCUS or LET GO or a word such as PEACE or JOY. Whenever I start to mentally jot down a to-do list, elaborate a plot twist for a story I’m writing, or agonize over my latest manuscript submissions I force my mind to go back to my intention and to breathe. I swear it works. Yoga, especially in the winter when it’s more challenging to hike or work in the yard is a perfect way to relax our body and mind.
I love going to the movies. It’s a whole different experience to watch a movie in a theater rather than at home. This moment connects us to other people, since we’ve all decided to watch the same movie at the same time at the same place.
La La Land is my number one pick to deflate bad vibes.
For once, this is an American movie with no gunshots and no violence. Just music. Jazz mostly, but also the music that plays between two people who dream big artistic dreams. My husband found the plot simple. He’s right. But the filming is not. The actors are terrific. Who wouldn’t tap dance with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone? The movie has been filmed in Los Angeles and close by, in Pasadena, a small architecturally interesting city that I know fairly well, now that my son studies in the vicinity. The ending is not a happy ending and yet it is a happy ending.
And there are these views from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, a place that I also got to enjoy, thanks to my son.
Weather permitting, I always take a morning walk in my neighborhood and often a shorter one at night.
In the winter, nature demands more of our attention to appreciate its beauty. I try to focus on the wind playing in my hair, the sun warming my neck, a drizzle kissing my face, a branch brushing my arm, the earth holding me, the air meeting my lungs. A deep gratitude for these natural elements fills me.
I read somewhere that all French women love champagne and chocolate. Truth is I’m not especially fond of them. But I love my perfume. However, this winter I’m using essential oils, too. Another suggestion from one of my daughters; her brother must have been nearby because he offered me an oil diffuser for Christmas. I use it in my small office. Since I’m new to essential oils and love anything lavender I’ve stuck to lavender. And found out that one single drop rubbed inside my wrist and a few poured in the diffuser are enough to trigger calmness. Also just a drop smells like taking a walk through a lavender field.
If you want to learn more about essential oils you should visit Isabelle (French native who also lives in the US) on her website Univers Aroma. So far the information is only available in French, but if you read French you’ll learn which essential oil is best for headaches, inflammation, loss of hair, cleaning your sink disposal, and easing stress. Lavender seems a good choice! But I feel like exploring many more.
How do you keep your mind and body in sync during the winter season?