Holiday Stress Stirs Your Perfect Storm

Many creators find December, the holiday season, particularly stressful. You want your holiday to be perfect. The list of things to do during the holiday season can be overwhelming and exhausting. You are on deadlines at least to get your holiday shopping or meals or decorations done. Most likely you are also on deadlines for your creative business or you’ve got holiday gifts to create. And it’s not done yet. Holiday stress stirs a perfect storm to derail your creativity.

Photograph of holiday stress caused by a storm--in this photo appears a person in winter outerwear walking through a snow storm. In near white-out conditions you can see a once shoveled sidewalk covered in snow and large pine trees lining the long snowy walk.

So Many Holidays

December many, many holidays. Woman’s Day lists more than one hundred. My December Celebrations posts discussed thirty-seven holidays.

Some holidays hold deep meaning. If that’s adding to your stress, step back. Breathe. You don’t have to make light of your holiday.

Being a creative means being flexible. If holiday stress stirs your perfect storm, take a moment. Remember that you are creative, even if you have to put aside your work for a while during this crazy month. Allow yourself to focus on the most important things and let some things go. Most importantly, destress, have a little fun so you don’t burn yourself out. Reset your mindset. Holiday relaxation can feed creativity and make you feel better too. Too stressed-out to know how to have some fun? Maybe one of these suggestions will give you an idea.

Have Fun With Krampus

Krampus is a scary creature from folklore who punishes kids who misbehave at Christmastime. But don’t be a Krampus because you’re stressed. Decrease your stress with a fun Krampus gift. This one is available on Amazon.

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image of black t shirt with Krampus image and the words "You might not believe in Krampus but Krampus believes in you!"

Relax on St. Nicholas Day 

This day is a feast day honoring the saint. Take a few minutes to relax and reset. Print out one or two of these online coloring pages and use fat crayons or markers and color. Scribble if you need to get rid of some excess emotions. Don’t worry about keeping color inside or outside the lines. Focus on making it colorful and having fun.

If you are an artist,Trick yourself into a more child-like state of mind. Use your non-dominate hand. Close your eyes and pick a crayon. Use that color on the object least likely to be that color in reality. Have fun.

St Nicholas Center.

Get Coloring Pages.

A Meditative Bohdi Day

Buddhists celebrate this day of awakening or enlightenment. Even if you aren’t a Buddhist, take ten minutes and forget about your list of to-dos. Light a candle and meditate. Or take a stroll among the trees. 

Mitten Tree Day 

Image of a colorful, hand knit mitten ready to be hung on a mitten tree. Giving to others and counting our blessings can reduce holiday stress.

This holiday didn’t make it on the December Celebrations posts. But it reminds us to count our blessings. Buy a pair of colorful mittens or two or three and hang them on a tree for anyone who needs them. If you don’t have mittens to spare, volunteer a few hours to your local soup kitchen or food and clothes pantry.

Feast of Immaculate Conception

This one can be easy. Take the day off—at least refrain from unnecessary work and feast on your favorite foods.

National Cotton Candy Day

Image of a woman at a candy cotton machine, spinning pink cotton candy onto a paper stick. Even imagining taking a bite can reduce holiday stress.

Guess what? Go get some cotton candy and dig in. Get messy. Lick your fingers. Enjoy yourself.

Your Perfect Storm

Don’t let holiday stress create your perfect storm. Don’t let it cause burn out. Take time out to enjoy a little fun, relaxation, exercise. Creativity is a gift. And your time is a gift. Be generous with your gifts, but remember to nurture them as well.

How do you relieve holiday stress?

Image Credits:

Snowy Day Photo by Gary Ellis on Unsplash

Mitten by dooneling, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cotton Candy by Joseolgon, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Touch of Vegas on First Line Friday

First Line Friday is a series of blog articles posted on the first Friday of every month. The first line of a story, we’re told, must hook the reader. Implied is that the reader will not buy the book if the first line isn’t great. These entries are a sampling from the authors I met at the 20Books writers conference in Vegas. Do these first lines hook you into reading more?


This first line Friday Book cover for Selfsame shows the back of a female in a red cape standing on a rocky outcropping facing a distant castle-like building or city.

Aria dropped her spear on the grass and stepped into the water’s edge.

SelfsamE
Lower Earth Rising Book 1
Eden Wolfe

This first line Friday book cover the Princess of Shadows shows woman with long brown hair and a purple gown 3/4 turned toward a valley and toward a castle on a mountain top across the valley against a dark sky filled with lightening bolts

Air rushed into Lina’s lungs. Her eyes snapped open, but she saw only darkness.

Princess of Shadows:
The Princess and the Pea Retold (Fairy Tale Adventures)
A. G. Marshall

This first line Friday book cover for the Pulse with two men and a boy holding weapons and standing with their backs to the camera looking out of a cave-like place toward a city

The sunlight breaks through the blinds like a hot knife cutting through a stick of butter.

The Pulse
Greenlight Boys Book 1
Daniel MacLagan

In the top third of this first line Friday book cover for The Lost Yearsis a round clock shape photograph of a city inside a frame that looks like gears. The clock hands shows four o'clock and  in the smaller portion of the photograph the city is in ruins

A small, white corner protruded from the damp ground, barely waving in the gentle breeze. 

The Lost Years:
The Palumbra Chronicles: Book One
L. D. Fairchild 

This first line Friday book cover for Project Dandelion has a woman wearing a gas mask with a worn flag behind her.

Katrina wanted to scream. Instead she rolled onto her belly and stretched her arms underneath the thin pillow.

Project Dandelion
Project Dandelion Book 1
Heather Carson

This first line Friday book cover for Lies the Guardians tell has a woman with long brown hair and her arms crossed on the top half. On the bottom half is a dome over a city

“Is there a problem, Sierra?”

Claudia loomed over Sierra’s desk, a scowl on her face, the emerald-tree orb on the head of her staff pulsing in unison with the blue luminescence that lit the walls of the classroom.

Lies The Guardians Tell
Lies of The Guardians Book 1
Herman Steuernagel

This first line Friday book cover for Upload has a textured background in a wine red color with an eye in the center. In front of the eye are a pair of crossed swords.

Jett is pure adrenaline. Even with a shackle on her right ankle, she can’t stand still, shifting weight from one foot to the other.

Upload
The Daughter of Rebellion
J Lynn Hicks

Clarification

Even though these are authors I met at the conference in Vegas, there are no affiliate links in this post. I don’t make a cent off of the books listed on this page. These titles are here for your enjoyment. And to entice you to buy more books. Buy books from Indie authors like these and you make a direct difference in that author’s life. Leave a review and you help the author and any reader looking for a similar book.

Do You Want to Read More?

Did you enjoy a touch of Vegas on First Line Friday? Check out previous First Line Fridays. You’ll put another enormous smile on my face if you tell me in the comments below— Which ones spoke to you? Did you buy it?

Doing What I Love Takes the Sting Out

Doing what I love takes the sting out. Much of it anyway. Not all. The death of my husband overwhelmed me and impacted what I have accomplished so far this year. It’s been messy. I’ve not met many of my intentions. But tracking what I have accomplished and reporting on it here reminds me of what I have accomplished. Takes the focus off what I haven’t done.

Do what you love, and do it well – that’s much more meaningful than any metric.

Kevin Systrom

Intentions

Instead of goals or resolutions, I use intentions. You can miss a goal. You probably break most resolutions. But an intention is a focus. When life impedes your plan, take care of that event or disturbance, intending to return to your primary plan. Every morning begins with a renewed intention.

Making

I didn’t finish the revision on my work-in-progress as soon as I had hoped. But I finished the first set of revisions on If I Should Die. The book is out to my Beta Readers. 

Beta readers are voluntary. They understand that this is not a polished draft. They comb the manuscript for inconsistencies, slow pacing, or other story problems. I usually give my beta readers a 3-4 week window to read and get their comments back to me. When I have all their comments, I review the comments. I consider all comments carefully, especially if more than one person made similar comments. After a week of brainstorming how to use those comments to improve the story, I revise the manuscript. 

This is doing what I love. I love writing, but unlike many authors, I also love revisions. It’s exciting and satisfying to shape the story into the best reader experience I can make it.

Managing

Busy, busy, busy. Attending the 20Books Conference in Vegas kept me running most of the month. I learned a lot of best practices, tips and tricks and small but significant details of publishing. I’ve spent a large portion of time since my return making plans based on what I learned.

I made calls. Sent emails. And I bought software and tech stuff that will (I hope) improve my productivity and health in this very sedentary life. (More about those later.)

I posted my second blog post on the Writers in the Storm blog. Those posts seemed to increase visits to my blog. 

Posts on my own blog have slowed considerably this month. I planned not to blog while in Vegas, but other days were unplanned misses.

Due to all the extra activities, I also missed most of my virtual write in meetings and my critique group meetings. 

Marketing

I’m continuing to refine my marketing efforts on Amazon. These efforts have increased impressions received on those ads. Hopefully, more sales will follow.

Home

This area of intentions has also been crazy busy. Cleaning and reorganizing, selling and donating, and strolling down memory lane are a large part of my non-writing time.

Of course, I still enjoy time with my grandson every week. 

Mea culpa. I completely ignored the fact that during the last few years of my husband’s illness and then the pandemic, my poor dogs had only ridden too and from the dreaded vet’s office. SIGH. They have forgotten the joy of riding in the car.

Events

I’ve already blogged about Las Vegas. 

My son and daughter-in-law hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year. I ate too much. And I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed game time with the family. (The toddler made a game of running in and out of the room where we were playing.) It was a low-key affair and just what I needed this year.

What I Learned

Oh my. I could fill a book with what I learned during this month. No, I won’t bore you with the details. However, in the months ahead, you will notice a few changes around here.

This is part of doing what I love. I love to learn new things, try new things, experience new things. Between the pandemic and my grief, I haven’t experienced the lift of doing what I love as much as usual. 

Intentions for Next Month

I could fill a book… Yeah. I bite off way more than I can chew. Unfortunately, as an independent author, there are things that are time sensitive. And many pieces of writing and publishing must happen in a certain order.

Intentions for Making in December include drafting an outline for book 3 in the Fellowship Dystopia Series, revising my website and, at long last, republishing my books with new covers. 

I am hosting on the Writers in the Storm blog this month. 

And besides the two major holidays, I have a trip to Memphis planned, and three birthdays to celebrate. Oh, and the trip means I’m taking short drives with the dogs to help them remember car trips can be fun.

Yup. It’s going to be another busy-bee month. I’ve got big intentions and I know that most of my intentions will extend into 2022.

I am Grateful

It’s the end of November. Thanksgiving is over, but my cup of gratitude is overflowing. I’m grateful to be doing what I love. And my gratitude to my readers, my friends, and my family is unending. You all have enriched my life. Thank you.

What are you most grateful for at the end of this month?

What intentions do you have for next month?

Image Credits

Top Image by 3844328 from  Pixabay 

Middle Photo by Marije Woudsma on Unsplash

Last Photo by Ephraim Mayrena on Unsplash