Staying Positive During The Dark Half Of The Year

All nature seems to weary now, her task is nearly ended and more of the seasons will come by and by“.

I love when the days get shorter and the weather cools. It’s time for being indoors and preparing for the upcoming Holidays. For some however, this time of the year can be difficult. Daylight savings means waking up and going to work while it’s still dark out, missing family members who may no longer be with us for the Holiday’s, little sun light and months of dull damp weather.

Today I wanted to share some ideas of what I do to get through the dark months and hope they might help you – if it isn’t your favourite time of year.

Romanticize Your Life

By this I mean embracing the beauty that is Autumn and making small things extra special: A hot cocoa while reading a spooky book in bed on a rainy night. I’ll wear something that makes me feel extra cozy like a sweater in Fall colours or my duck boots so that I can splash through every puddle on my walk like a kid. I decorate my home and pretend I live in a cabin in the forest (even though I’m in an apartment high above a major city). Creating an ambience in the home, lighting candles when the sun sets is a way to turn our focus away from the weather and on to enjoying what is happening in the moment. Every November 1st for years, I’ve bundled up in my coziest Autumn outfit and gone for a walk at the old Mountain View Cemetery. Walking amongst and reading the gravestones, I imagine who these people were, what their lives were like. Romanticizing your life means noticing the little things, making yourself the main character so that life doesn’t continue to pass you by. Call me weird, but I live in my own storybook.

Practice A Hobby

Diving into an activity or project I enjoy gives me a sense of achievement and in turn inspires me to do more. This year I got into food preservation and canned jams and pie fillings, made cordial and pickles. If you love to knit for instance, Autumn is the perfect time to pick up your knitting needles; challenge yourself to that pattern you’ve wanted to try or knit something small for Holiday gifts for friends and family.

I already have sheet music ready with new songs I want to learn on the piano and I might spend a stormy afternoon looking through my cookbooks and planning new recipes. Pumpkin pancakes sound delightful and I’m excited to make beeswax candles to burn at home and to gift.

I find that even mundane chores like organizing the pantry or going through clothing that need to be repaired or given away is a distraction. What do you enjoy doing? Do that! Gift yourself some alone time. It will break up the monotony of your day and you’ll feel content and fulfilled.

Decorate The Home For The Season

I change the decor of my home each season. Right now I’ve got a centrepiece on the dining room table with plaid pumpkins and a vase filled with dried wheat. It reminds me of the harvest season and gives the home a country Autumn vibe. Each seat in the living room is draped with a fuzzy blanket to cozy up in while watching movies in the evening. I like to change the position of the furniture; it gives the home a fresh look and the energy shifts too. Candles are everything for me so a Woodfire scented candle or something spicy that smells like baking is great. I don’t believe in wishing about having my dream home some day. Create yours now because it’s the space you live in everyday. Make it a space you love being in.

Try Hygge

Are you familiar with the term Hygge? Its a Scandinavian word for things that feel cozy, that bring a sense of calm and appreciation for life and the people in it. With some very dark months in the northern countries like Denmark and Norway, Hygge is a way to look forward to the season and enjoy indoor activities that make the darkness a part of the festive feel. I’ve hosted a couple of Hygge afternoons. An entire Sunday void of phones or social media. No talk of work, politics and now I guess I’d have to add Covid. What is allowed? Games, movies, music, story telling, sharing photo albums; anything that really connects us. I make comfort food like my Turkey, Leek and Mushroom pie and put the fairy lights on. Practicing Hygge makes me want Fall and Winter to last forever (well almost).

Get Outside

Even as the weather cools there are still plenty of sunny days (although something about walking in the forest when it’s wet and dreary is very romantic to me). Mother Nature never judges us. Many times I literally roll out of bed and into a warm track suit and head out the door, just me and the trees. I take it all in: the smell of the cedar, the sound of the birds, I feel alive and grateful in nature. There’s a saying in Sweden: There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing. Layer up and enjoy the outdoors.

Don’t live close to nature? walk in the city, enjoy the sounds and window displays. Compliment someones outfit, take artsy photos, grab a hot drink at a coffee shop, discover places in your city you’ve never visited.

This year I’m looking forward to snow shoeing – it’s something I’ve always wanted to try. My husband is a snowboarder so he can’t wait for it to get colder to be up in the mountains. Find something you can enjoy outdoors. Plan a day at a park with a friend taking in the Autumn foliage. Moving your body and feeling the cool air on your face will invigorate you and nothing feels better after being out in the cold than coming back to the warmth of home.

Try A Marathon

No I don’t mean running (although if you like to run by all means!). Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have rain sometimes for days on end. This is the perfect time for a binge fest. Some of my favourites are Virgin River, The Twilight movies, The Chronicles of Narnia and Gilmore Girls. I like immersing myself in the small town feel of these shows. Buzzfeed Unsolved is another one I can watch for hours; 2 goofs investigating haunted locations or discussing theories about unsolved crimes. It’s pretty entertaining. Whatever you’re into, this is the time of year to really get into a good show.

Shop

I like to add something new to my wardrobe or home each season; a new pair of boots, a winter wool hat, a set of flannel sheets for the bed or a festive tablecloth. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it can even be thrifted. There’s something about getting something new to me that makes us feel happy. Some of my favourite shops are H&M for clothes and home goods. Homesense is always a win and QE Home Linens is the best for bedding (they’re also a Canadian company). With the magic of the internet I can browse online while watching Harry Potter and shop in my pijamas.

Learn Something New

Have you always wanted to learn an instrument or a new language?. What are you waiting for? You will get bored when the nights are longer if all you do is flip through channels trying to find something to watch. There is so much information at our fingertips. Channels like Youtube or sites like Masterclass have pretty much anything you want to learn. Cooking? Singing? German? Painting? Stop putting it off. Even an hour a week and by the end of a year, you’ll have learned a new skill and be proud of yourself and who knows, maybe your new skill can make you some extra cash.

My sister Stephanie is a musician, flamenco singer and dancer. She also teaches ESL and Spanish online. Visit her online school for her schedule of upcoming classes. https://www.stephaniepedraza.com/copy-of-music

I’ve been using Youtube to learn Tarot. I dropped off a bit during the Summer so Im looking forward to getting back to it. The world is your oyster. What would you like to learn?

Do Something Kind For Someone

There are 2 places I like to donate to. The first is the Vancouver Crisis Intervention Centre. Mental health is something I feel passionate about as someone who has struggled with Anxiety most of my life. When I had my spa products business, I donated $1 of every sale. At Christmastime I purchase a backpack for a youth in need through the Covenant House Christmas Backpack Program. Each backpack includes essentials for a teen who has been removed from their home due to domestic violence or abuse. It’s filled with things like toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, clean socks and certificates to Tim Hortons as well as other basic necessities.

Other ways to give can be by taking feminine hygiene products, unused makeup/skincare or gently used clothes to a woman’s shelter. Bake or cook something for an elderly neighbour. Serving others will instantly boost your spirit. If you’re feeling particularly down due to the weather, whip up a batch of cookies, wrap them up with a bow and brighten someone’s day.

Revisit Your Child-like Imagination

Someone once told me I was the queen of indulgence (because I have a spa night every single night, I think they were jealous lol). I took it as a compliment! One of my favourite quotes from the movie Under The Tuscan Sun is “Never lose your childish enthusiasm and things will come your way.” I live my life by this quote. I find it terribly sad that as we grow, we become jaded, stop playing and disconnect from the magic of life. I refuse.

Do you ever hear music while you’re at home and want to dance? Do it! When was the last time you blew bubbles, played Twister, built a fort, sang or watched cartoons?

Bringing playfulness and joy into your life will help you through this time of the year. I’m a huge kid at heart and when it’s cold and dark outside I’m inside having a bubble bath and watching Scooby Doo on my iPad. Last year I built a Hot Chocolate Bar in our dining room; with sprinkles, candy canes and marshmallows! I gifted my husband a puzzle of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts for our wedding anniversary; we had fun for days putting it together.

Why do we disconnect from our childish imagination? Because we THINK we need to act a certain way as adults but who wants life to be so serious anyway?

Thank you so much for joining me today and I do hope some of these tips will help you as Autumn turns to Winter. Keep busy and do things that bring your heart joy.

If you liked this blog and would like to buy me a hot chocolate so that I can continue creating content you can do so here.




Until next time.

Love,

Jennifer

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Lupe Pedraza says:

    Thank you for all your suggestions Jen. You’re brilliant and your ideas and thoughts are do on point! I’m continuing with my knitting, reading at least three books at the same time 🤣and now I’m wanting to try watercolour painting of botanicals. Something I saw on Pinterest that just made me fall in love with the technique of using tiny amounts of watercolour paint with really watery images as results. Keep up the good work, I look forward to your blogs!

    1. Thank you for your comment and glad to know you enjoy the blog. I’m planning on making handmade beeswax candles and continue cooking comfort food into the winter months 🙂

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