Self help

Let it snow – and how to fight the winter blahs

I was pretty excited about the snow the first few days after it snowed. I got out there and walked around, played in it, took photos. Watched others sledding and trying to make snowmen and snowballs out of snow that was too cold to pack properly. Yeah. It was fun.

By day three, it wasn’t so fun anymore. I’m used to it being on it’s way out the door by then. Nope. It was coming to stay for a while. The cold started getting to me, so I didn’t want to go out in play in it. But the sunshine was nice and made me feel happy yet ‘trapped’ indoors.

Then came the warm up. It got gray, cloudy and stormy. Whoo whee, do those gray days ever knock something out of you! I actually hunkered down around mid-day in my blankets on one of the first ones and literally thought I was really about to hibernate away the rest of winter – just like I’d joked about in my last post.

So, how do we get around these winter blahs that hit us when we live in colder climates?

 

Framed!
Framed!

 

 

Go do something outdoors

I felt a lot better on the days I went outside than on the days I was feeling trapped indoors. I realize from reading many articles about it that we don’t actually get much vitamin D from the sun this time of year because we are so far away from it during the winter months, but somehow, just getting outside and getting a bit of fresh air helps you feel less trapped on those sunny but cold days.

 

Snow covered bridge
Snow covered bridge

Soak up some sun rays

On the sunny, cold days, I felt a lot better if I had time to just sit in the sun coming in the windows. Again, I don’t think it’s the vitamin D because of what I just said about not getting much in those winter months from the sun, anyway. Also, apparently, we don’t get vitamin D through glass windows anyway. But I must say, just being able to see the sunshine and feel the warmth really helps me when it’s sunny and cold.

 

Winter at Red Sunset Park
Winter at Red Sunset Park

Take Vitamin D

Since we aren’t getting it through the sun, take a good vitamin D supplement in the winter to help chase away winter blues – especially if it’s gray outside. It’s a winter happy pill.

 

What long arms you have!
What long arms you have!

Get a Sunlamp

I don’t have one of these, but I’ve heard they really help and am really considering getting one. I notice even if it’s a cloudy/sunny day I feel better than on one where we are just socked in all day with gray clouds and rain. Since I live in the Portland Metro area where we are known for our heavy rain, this would be a good investment.

 

Winter sunbeams
Winter sunbeams

 

Seek medical help

Honestly, it’s okay to seek advice from a doctor if you feel like S.A.D. is affecting you too much. They may start with Vitamin D or recommend a sun lamp, or put even put you on an anti-depressant during the winter to help get you through the dark, gloomy days ahead. And that’s okay.

 

Come sit a while...
Come sit a while…

 

Fly south!

And, if all else fails, you can always move south to a warmer and sunnier climate. I realize that’s a bit drastic, but if nothing else is working perhaps getting away from the gloom and doom feelings of winter permanently will do the trick. Or just plan a tropical getaway in the middle of winter, if you can afford to get away.

 

Feed the birds.
Feed the birds.

 

Just breathe ~ learning to take time to breathe when bad things happen

That moment you hear bad news. The feeling of dread settling over you. You hold your breath – not daring to breathe or your whole world will fall apart.

We heard the terrible news last week that my mom’s cancer in her lungs was stage 4 cancer and what we were told were small spots on her lungs were actually, in reality, 2 cm in diameter. She was told she had 1-2 years to live. Perhaps 3-4 because she was really healthy before the cancer hit. She has a rare and aggressive type of cancer – leiomyosarcoma – that chemo won’t kill. Only slow down and prolong her life.

A friend from Australia probably said it best when I told her the news – ‘You must all be reeling.’ Reeling. Yes. Spinning out of control. Finding out my mom now has a death sentence on her head. Trying to stop crying. To put on my big girl panties and start dealing with the reality of what’s going on.

Last Friday, I took my mom to get the port installed for her chemo treatments. This song by Johnny Diaz came on the radio when we left her house – Breathe – reminding me to take a deep breath and deal with what’s going on in today. Don’t worry about tomorrow …just breathe. 

Later that night when we left the hospital it was playing as well:

Just breathe

Just breathe,

Come and rest 

At my feet

And be,

Just be

Chaos calls

But all you really need 

Is to just breathe.

Purple hydrangeas
Purple hydrangeas

 

 

Ivy creeping along a fence.
Ivy creeping along a fence.

 

 

Pink hibiscus
Pink hibiscus

 

 

Fall ivy
Fall ivy

 

 

Sunflower
Sunflower

 

*Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers as we are going through this. Today is my mom’s biopsy to confirm what the cat scan has already told us about her cancer before her chemo treatments begin.

 

How to get freebies for your birthday

I just had a birthday recently, and decided to see what all I could get for free for my birthday. I’m not counting restaurants, because usually most restaurants you go to have some sort of birthday freebie – I still have yet to get my free burger from Red Robin as it is. A few of these items are only for people living in the Portland Metro area of Oregon, but some are good across the US. I discovered you probably don’t want to be signing up for your freebie on the day of your birthday, because it will probably not process for 24 to 48 hours and you may risk not getting your free birthday item if you do it too late. However, if I did get my free birthday drink at Starbucks by just telling them I was signing up and asking if I could get the drink that day. And, when I still hadn’t received my free coupon for a milkshake over 24 hours after I signed up, I asked them if I would get the coupon if I signed up on my birthday and it processed the next day. The manager gave me the shake anyway. So, if you just speak up, you may still get your birthday treat.

Here are the ones I rounded up during my birthday week:

 

Coffee, coffee and more coffee!
Coffee, coffee and more coffee!

Did I hit the coffee jackpot, or what? Sign up for Starbucks rewards card.  My son said he did this without having to get a Starbucks gift card to get started, I ended up buying myself a Starbucks gift card with the minimum of $5 on it to get my Star code. I didn’t really want a gift card, but now I have one to me, from me. 

Dutch Brothers is awesome! No sign up necessary. Just show your I.D. on your birthday and you get a free drink. Voila! Couldn’t be easier.

The other one is a local coffee shop called Origins. They use the 5 star rewards card program for their business, and it sends you a text telling you that you have a free birthday drink to pick up on or before your birthday. Not bad.

 

Kitty treats
Kitty treats

Next up, kitty treats! No, not really for me, but the place I go to, Exclusive Pet Supply in Troutdale, Oregon also has a 5 star reward program card and I got to pick up free kitty treats (or dog treats if you have a dog) for the kitties for my birthday. So I can have spoiled, happy kitties on my birthday!

 

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.
My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.

This is the free milkshake I had to ask about as I still hadn’t gotten my coupon after signing up on my birthday for. You have to join the Raving Fan Club for Del Taco for this one. Do it at least a day before your birthday. My coupon never did come. I did get the coupon for my two free tacos just for signing up, though. 

 

Mini Bun + Iced Coffee
Mini Bun + Iced Coffee

 

This one I did actually sign up for the day before my birthday and all of my coupons came in. You need to sign up to join Club Cinnabon After you join you will receive a Mini Bun for signing up and the free Iced Coffee for your birthday treat.  

 

Pip's donuts!!!
Pip’s donuts!!!

 

Pip’s Donuts are the Best. Donuts. Ever! Tiny little bits of deliciousness. They are mini cake donuts made fresh during store hours. Oh. My. Word. I love their donuts. And, if you notice, their box says ‘You’re the best’ on the inside of the lid. Not sure if that’s a birthday thing or if they do that on all of their boxes to go. This is a Portland only thing. Only one Pip’s Donut shop at this point in time. That’s okay. More for me, none for you unless you come to the Pacific Northwest. Ha.

 

DQ Buy one get one free Blizzard
DQ Buy one get one free Blizzard

If you join Dairy Queen’s Blizzard Fan Club you’ll get a Buy one, get one free coupon for a Blizzard. I tried the Royal Oreo Blizzard treat with a core of gooey, yummy chocolate inside. Yeah, baby! That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Technically I also signed up for the Cold Stone My Cold Stone Club as well and got another buy one get one coupon, but I was thinking you got that anyway just for signing up and didn’t take a photo of my ice cream before glomming it down. Looking at the website, it actually is a birthday deal, so it does count. So I’ll give it a mention even though I didn’t take any photos of my ice cream before eating it. 

How to stay positive when things are going bad in your life

Do you ever wonder how some people can be so positive despite bad things in their life, and others can be negative even when things really aren’t that bad? What do positive people do that helps them bounce back from bad things that happen to them quicker than people with a negative view on life?

I am in the middle of a long string of months with very limited income coming in, and was looking forward to getting my tax refunds. Only to have a letter come in the mail from the state telling me that I needed to pay all of my taxes for the last year, despite the fact that I’ve been faithfully paying my quarterly taxes, plus they tacked on fees and interest on top of it all.  At first I felt like, because every time I think I have some small bit of hope that something good is going to happen, and it doesn’t end up happening, that meant my federal tax return wouldn’t come as well. Then I decided to be positive. The federal one is still coming, nothings going to happen to it, and the state one is the smaller one anyway. And I moved right along with my new positive thoughts. Only to have them all come crashing to a halt when I received a letter from the IRS a week later regarding my federal return as well. Also wiped down to zero, no taking into account all those tax payments I made throughout the year and telling me I owed all of last years taxes plus fees and interest. Did I go through the roof at that point? Yes, I did. I was pissed off! And I let myself be pissed off, because I think sometimes the stages to being positive are similar to the stages of grief. Should you deny the negative feelings and just jump right to the final stage of acceptance and moving on? No. (Kudos to you if you can.) The key is not to allow yourself to stay in the negative feelings for days and weeks and months or even years on end.

One thing I’ve noticed about positive people is: they find things that make them happy and do them. These are some ways to bounce back from the curves life throws at us:

1. Go out and spend some time taking photos in nature. People may think I’m crazy, always taking photos everywhere I go, but in the process of taking on the hobby of photography, I’ve learned to look for the beauty all around me. Oftentimes I’m out in nature staring in wonder and amazement at all of God’s creations. I can see the fingerprint of God all around me and I am in awe. It makes me forget my problems and humbles me when I am in the presence of an awesome God. And in that process I am grounded and not thinking about all of my problems. As I am again, when I go through all of those photos in the days after a wonderful adventure.

 

Gorgeous red gerbera daisies
Gorgeous red gerbera daisies

 

 

2. Throw a virtual party on Facebook. My Auntie Leilani is sick a lot. And yet, when she is feeling better, you know it. All the sudden she’ll start posting funny stuff on Facebook, and one of my favorite things she does is post a virtual party where she comes up with a theme and then posts a whole bunch of fun photos and invites us all to come join her out in cyberspace for her virtual party to celebrate that she is feeling better. She takes that negative stuff by the horns and tosses it right out of her life, until the next time she’s really sick again. She has learned to to live life fully while she can, because who knows how long the good times will last? What a great example of living life to the fullest despite chronic illness always knocking her down!

 

Hanging restaurant
Hanging restaurant

 

3. Jump for joy. Yep, I’ve mentioned this one in a previous blog post, but it’s worth mentioning again. I feel like I’ve been doing this more and more lately, and part of that is because I can either chose joy or sit in a corner, curled up in a ball, rocking back and forth, trying to self-sooth myself because things are really tough right now. And yet, sometimes, the very day after I’ve been out jumping for joy, I can feel really down. It’s like Satan comes around like a prowling lion trying to steal your joy, and I’ll try to look at the photos taken on my latest adventure to cheer me up, but sometimes that only helps for a short while and then I’m trying to figure out why I feel so down now that I’m having a normal day at home. Is it because I’ve just had a lot of fun, and now ‘normal’ feels too mundane, or is Satan really out to steal my joy? Which brings me to the next thing…

 

Jumping for joy at the Hulda Klager lilac gardens.
Jumping for joy at the Hulda Klager lilac gardens.

 

4. Put Satan back in his place. Yep. You heard me right. Right now, I keep getting this feeling that every time I have an ounce of hope or joy in my life; every time I take a step forward, things go backwards again. So, if I am feeling really frustrated as hell at being in this ‘Job’ time of my life, I just let Satan have it. I take my Gandalf stance from the Lord of the Rings movies, pick up my fake ‘air’ staff and I let Satan have it – either in my head or out loud. Out loud can be at varying degrees of whisper shouting, if people are home, or just outright shouting if no one is around. I then pound my imaginary staff on the ground and I yell: ‘SATAN, YOU SHALL NOT PASS! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO BE IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW. I COMMAND YOU TO GO BACK TO THE FIERY DEPTHS OF HELL WHERE YOU BELONG, IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST!!!’ Or something along those lines. And if I think people must think I’m crazy when I’m out taking photos. Can you imagine if they saw me commanding Satan to go to hell? Hahaha. That’s some awesomeness right there in the craziness, you’ve got to admit! And it makes me feel better in the long run.

 

You shall not pass!
You shall not pass!

 

5. Meditate. If you’re bummed, but not quite feeling up to yelling at Satin, taking some time to meditate or dwell on God’s word can be a good, calming way to find peace and positiveness in your life.

 

Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when you listen to God.
Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when you listen to God.

 

6. Look for positive uplifting quotes. I like to lift myself up by reading positive quotes and have two Pinterest boards that have wonderful quotes in them: Words of Wisdom for ones that seem wise, and a plain old Quotes board. There’s something about reading positive uplifting quotes that lifts me up as well.

 

Take every chance you get in life, because some things only happen once.
Take every chance you get in life, because some things only happen once.

 

What are a few things that you do to stay positive? And if you’re in a funk where you’re temporarily not feeling positive, know that it’s normal to not be positive at all moments of your life. But when you’re  down, just be down for a short time while processing those thoughts and feelings that are making you down, then get back up and find the things that make you happy and go do one or more of those things. It will help get those positive vibes going in no time. And if, like me, you find Satan trying to steal your joy after you’ve fought so hard to find it. Try yelling at Satan. Sounds crazy, but it does makes me feel better.

 

 

10 ways to choose joy every day

Sometimes there are moments when, despite what’s going on in our lives, we can choose joy. Sometimes, those same moments of joy only last for the few moments we are in them, but hopefully they are enough to get us through tough days ahead.

A couple of weeks ago, I was jumping for joy at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Fields in Woodburn, Oregon. We also did this two years ago when we went there, so we’ll call it a tradition to jump in the tulip fields now that we’ve done it more than once. The next day, however, I was feeling rather bummed out, but looking at all the photos of us jumping in the tulip fields made me smile and carry that memory of joy into another day.

Just before that trip, I’d been jumping for joy up by the Rock of Ages as noted in my last post. I’m honestly not jumping around every day of my life, nor am I saying you need to jump for joy every time your life isn’t going well, but there are other ways you can choose joy each day.

Here are 10 ways you can choose joy instead of despair in your life:

1. Watch a sunset. Enough said.

2. Turn on music that lifts you up and start dancing or singing to it. Yeah baby!

3. Go to a comedy club. I just finished taking an improv class that lifted my spirits every time I went.

4. Find three things you’re thankful for. No, they don’t have to be anything specific. Any three will do.

5. Take time to smell the flowers. Or photograph them. I like to do both.

6. Exercise – I know, it doesn’t seem like it will cheer you up, but it will get those endorphin’s flowing, believe me.

7. Take a walk. I like to bring my camera along on walks to take photos – unless I think I’m going to run, then just the phone will suffice.

8. Eat a special treat. Dark chocolate is always a plus in my book!

9. Take time to read a book and have a cup of tea or coffee. Transport yourself to another world. Try and jump in an stay there if it’s a good one.

10. Take time to talk to kids. Do you ever notice how uninhibited kids are? If you have some kids in your life you can talk to, do it. They’ll cheer you up in no time! I like to FaceTime with my nieces and nephew.

 

Or you can try jumping for joy. It’s quite fun. Unless you have a headache. 😥

 

 

Jumping for joy in the tulip fields
Jumping for joy in the tulip fields

 

An iris amongst the tulips
An iris amongst the tulips

 

The windmill at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, Oregon
The windmill at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, Oregon

 

 

Rows of purple tulips
Rows of purple tulips

 

Pink & White Candy Striped Tulip
Pink & White Candy Striped Tulip

 

Ruffled Purple Tulip
Ruffled Purple Tulip