How to Beat the Christmas Blues

Merry Christmas my deers (heh heh). Although it seems that everyone is just a little bit merrier at this time of year, some people struggle more than normal during the festive season. If you are prone to depression or anxiety, Christmas can be a really challenging and difficult time. Here are some tips to help you beat those festive blues:

1. Be sociable

It’s so easy to hide away in this cold and dark weather. Staying inside and shutting yourself off from the world, however, can be damaging in the long term. Meeting friends and family for a meal or even a coffee will automatically make you feel better and you’ll feel good for leaving your house, if even for an hour. Aim to stick to coffee or tea instead of alcohol, which is a depressant and will ultimately make you feel quite down. Hot chocolate is always delicious 😋

2. Make your ‘alone time’ productive

It’s important to strike a balance between socializing and relaxing alone. Time by yourself is necessary and healthy. For some people, however, it can be destructive and lonely. To combat negative feelings, go for a walk somewhere quiet and pretty (this time of year is so beautiful!). Alternatively, you could colour, draw, listen to music, meditate…whatever brings you peace. Don’t let those negative thoughts overwhelm you. If you’re busy, they can’t!

3. Don’t over-indulge

I know. I know. Christmas is all about going BIG. The problem is, however, for people with anxiety, over-indulging in food and alcohol and spending too money is a huge cause of stress. You should absolutely enjoy yourself but remember: moderation is key. Your belly and your bank balance will thank you for it in January!

4. Open up

Some people feel that they can’t express their negative or depressive feelings during the festive period because they’ll be a perceived as a burden or a ‘buzz-kill.’ The truth is, your mental health is important to those that love you and opening up to them shows them that you love and trust them. Bottling up negative thoughts is not helpful to anyone. Sharing your feelings is unbelievably helpful and therapeutic.

5. Find peace in the chaos

Christmas is an insanely busy and manic time. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and over-stimulated by this. Remember to take the time to unwind and switch off. Sitting in a quiet room alone for ten minutes in total silence is a wonderful way of relaxing and de-stressing. Listening to Christmas carols is one of my favourite ways to unwind. Just listen to how peaceful this is:

Carols from Kings

6. Be kind and spread the love

This time of year can become ridiculously consumerist and materialistic. It’s a lovely feeling to just be kind and thoughtful and it costs nothing! When you are kind to others, it is a wonderful and rewarding feeling that just can’t be bought. Helping out a family member, volunteering for a charity or cooking someone dinner are just some of the kind deeds you can do. The feeling of being the cause of someone’s happiness is really uplifting. You will find when you are kind, you will receive kindness in return.

There you have it guys! I hope this was helpful to some of you and I hope everybody has a peaceful Christmas 🎄

Happy Christmas to you all!

Hello my lovely internet friends! Things have been pretty crazy for me lately so I will definitely fill you all in as soon as I get proper time, or you know, write a post about cat juggling…whatever.

I just wanted to wish you all a very merry Christmas and say thank all of you that have read and commented on my posts throughout the year. I appreciate you more than you know.

Chat soon guys xxx

Love and laughter to you all!

I just want to wish all my wonderful followers a very Merry Christmas. I hope that we can all take some time today to appreciate the important things in life…like turkey. And if for any reason you are not feeling particularly excited about today and are experiencing sadness or loneliness, just know that there is always someone to talk to. Even me…unless you don’t like talking about owls and other random stuff. I do mean it though, I’m always just an email away. Anyway, have a wonderful day everyone!

Merry Christmas Everyone <3

‘Tis the season to be jolly. And jolly I am. I have just returned from my nephew’s christening and I’m getting my home ready for Christmas. My mother gave me a gigantic bag of presents. Jack and I had to lug it out to our car much like I imagine the Mafia lug bodies to their trunks…not that I’d know. My mother just adores spoiling us at Christmas; so much so that I often feel very guilty because I know there are people out there with very little. When I was a child, she was often working on Christmas Day and I think she still harbours some guilt over that. Seriously, look at it:

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This picture doesn’t do the size of the bag justice. I’m just going to roll around and do snow angels in my gifts.
I’ve scattered them all out under my tree, along with my other gifts, just to be smug.

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She also gave me a card which is possibly the sweetest one I’ve ever received:

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This is one of Jack’s gifts from me; try and guess what it is:

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Clue: it is not a giraffe or a grand piano.
These are a few of his gifts for me:

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He picked out the bag himself. The perfume, Modern Muse by Estée Lauder, is AMAZING!

I decorated our table today. I still have a few touches to add, but I like it overall:

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Even though it’s just Jack and I for Christmas dinner, I like to go a bit food crazy. Since my parents split up, my family don’t really spend as much time together and we don’t spend any Christmases as a family so I like making a big deal of the dinner with Jack.
Here are just some of the supplies I picked up today:

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For dinner, I’m going to cook a ham in cola and cider, with cloves and glaze and all the trimmings. I’ll also roast a chicken (turkey is too much for us) and make a homemade sherry trifle. I’m going to start drooling now, so I’ll stop.

I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and I hope that your holiday season is filled with joy, love and terrible, terrible singing. I bought myself the singalong version of Frozen and I’ve already shrieked along to Let it Go a dozen times. If you are genuinely looking for some lovely holiday music, then it doesn’t come much better than King’s Choir Cambridge singing traditional carols:
Kings College Choir- Christmas Carols

I’d love to hear what your holiday plans are so I can steal them get some inspiration. You may be surprised that I don’t celebrate Christmas with some kind of neighbourhood ninja dance-fight…that’s how I celebrate New Year. Anyhoot, Happy Holidays!

And I’m also just going to leave this here:

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Source

The truth about Christmas

I know a lot of people won’t want to read this today of all days and might call me a kill-joy but I think it’s an uncomfortable truth for many people: Christmas is an anti-climax.
From the end of October (and sometimes earlier), ideals of the “perfect” Christmas are thrust upon us. Adverts on television tell us that this involves consuming as much as possible: expensive gifts for our loved ones, tables laden with mounds of food and alcohol and households full of friends and family. The picture of the perfect Christmas is pretty standard. It usually involves smiling faces, lots of expense and a Frank Sinatra soundtrack. The issue I have with this is that any deviation from this used to make me feel inadequate in some way.
My parents broke up three years ago. Before you picture me lying on a therapist’s couch weeping like James van der Beek, I’m fine. Our Christmases as a family had become gradually more and more depressing (on our last Christmas together I suffered a seizure and my brother left the meal after about twenty minutes, eat your heart out Chandler Bing) but the breakup of our family was a huge change in all of our lives. It was Christmas 2010 that we all decided that it would be best to go our separate ways at Christmas. My brother spent it with his girlfriend (now wife), my sister spent it with her fiancé and daughter and I decided to spent it with Jack.
Between the three of us, we decided to split up going to both parents over the day. It was messy and unconventional but we got through it.
What affected me most though was the expectations I put on myself to provide the perfect Christmas for Jack. I know now that Jack didn’t expect it himself, it was all me. And it mostly came from movies and adverts. I know this makes me sound like some gullible and highly suggestible idiot but who can blame me? Images of the “perfect” Christmas surround us. And what upset me was that I would no longer have any of this. Instead of a table surrounded by family members both young and old, it would just be Jack and I. Instead of a succulent turkey, it would have to be something more suitable for two. And I’d have to cook it (although we both cook now). Instead of party tricks, crackers and watching the children play with their toys, I would just be with Jack. I have no issue with that at all, but it felt just like any other day of the week. And that’s it. Christmas Day is just another day of the week. But I remember feeling huge pressure and I don’t remember actually enjoying that first Christmas together, which is a pity.
I don’t want to be a buzz kill. I enjoy Christmas, I really do. But I think we put far too much pressure and expense on ourselves in order to have the most perfect experience. We don’t need to spend large amounts of money or spend hours toiling in the kitchen to create a nice day. Think about it: the more and more you build up Christmas and the more and more pressure we put on ourselves to make it “perfect”, then the more disappointed we will feel when it doesn’t turn out quite as we had expected.
This might seem like a pessimistic outlook. I don’t believe it is; I think it’s sensible. Today, Jack and I had a lovely meal, we watched Toy Story 3, we played with our pets, we called our families and we snuggled in front of the fire. We decided, after years of panicking about what the other wanted, to negate buying each other gifts. Instead, Jack made me breakfast and I cooked the dinner.
Right now, we are comfortable and happy. We are not surrounded by fairy lights, turkeys, elves, people or Frank Sinatra. And that is totally okay.
I hope, whoever is still reading this, that you have the Christmas experience that YOU feel comfortable with, not the one you think you should have. It’s much more relaxing and peaceful this way.

Fionn’s story…with a happy ending

I am writing about the following because it is something that has deeply affected me. Anyone who knows me knows that I love animals as much as I love my fellow human beings and I firmly believe they deserve the same respect and tolerance that we are expected to show one another.

A while back, a group that I follow on Facebook by the name of Cork Dog Action Welfare Group posted a picture of the most pitiful looking dog I have seen in a long time. This misfortunate creature was left to die in a pile of rubbish in Co. Cork, Ireland. A walker in the woods found him.

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His broken and rejected body was soaked and covered in scars. A hunting dog, he had clearly served his purpose for his owner and was of no more use. He had sustained a serious head injury and the charity group told us followers that they were not expecting happy news for the dog, which they aptly named Fionn. Fionn mac Chumhaill was a legendary ancient Irish hero and warrior, known for his strength and honour.

Cork DAWG continued to post pictures of Fionn’s progress. I found his eyes haunting; they seemed to question why all this suffering and pain had been inflicted on him, a dog that was no doubt as loyal and loving as any.

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The story attracted widespread disgust and shock, as well-wishes and donations flooded in for Fionn, as well as praise for the great work of all the volunteers at Cork DAWG.

Today, Fionn appears to be doing well. I cannot describe my happiness as I looked at the pictures of Fionn’s health steadily improving. He is walking around and eating by himself which you can see here

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I don’t want this to sound disingenuous or insincere, but this is genuinely the best Christmas present I could have asked for: to see a dog, who no doubt had never experienced love or affection of any kind be treated with such care and warmth. He now can hopefully live a life of dignity, like he deserves.

Although we could allow ourselves to become angry at the person who put Fionn in this position, I think there is something more profound and important to take from this: Fionn is alive because of the kindness and compassion of humans. The outpouring of donations and enquiries into Fionn’s welfare have proven to me that even though there was someone evil enough to abandon Fionn like this, more people cared enough to save his life. Humanity is essentially compassionate and caring and this comforts me greatly.

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope that you can take from this story what I did: that while there is great cruelty in the world, there is also compassion, kindness, love and charity. That, to me, is what Christmas is about. Please spare a thought for Fionn. You can visit the Cork DAWG Facebook page and read more about Fionn here

You can also read about the story here

All pictures taken from Cork Dog Action Welfare Facebook page

Poem: A Christmas Childhood

This is a beautiful poem that I learned when I was in school that will punch you square in the feelings. It’s by poet Patrick Kavanagh and it’s called ‘A Christmas Childhood’.

My father played the melodion

Outside at our gate;

There were stars in the morning east;

And they danced to his music.

Across the wild bogs his melodion called

To Lennons and Callans.

As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry

I knew some strange thing had happened.

Outside in the cow-house my mother

Made the music of milking;

The light of her stable-lamp was a star

And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.

A water-hen screeched in the bog,

Mass-going feet

Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,

Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.

My child poet picked out the letters

On the grey stone,

In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,

The winking glitter of a frosty dawn.

Cassiopeia was over

Cassidy’s hanging hill,

I looked and three whin bushes rode across

The horizon – the Three Wise Kings.

An old man passing said:

“Can’t he make it talk” –

The melodion, I hid in the doorway

And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.

I nicked six nicks on the door-post

With my penknife’s big blade –

There was a little one for cutting tobacco.

And I was six Christmases of age.

My father played the melodion,

My mother milked the cows,

And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned

On the Virgin Mary’s blouse.

When you find out that your dad is Santa Claus

When I was a child, Santa Claus used to come to my local village hall complete with reindeer (whose coats are apparently made of felt, who knew?)
Anyway, the year was 1993. I stood in the long queue, excitedly hopping from one foot to the other, anticipating the conversation I would have with Santa. I had so many questions. Does Rudolph’s nose turn off or is it constantly on? And if so, is there a way to dim it for oncoming traffic? You know, all the questions a normal six year old would want to ask Santa.

When I finally reached the top of the queue, I was ushered over to ole St. Nicholas himself by an elf that was suspiciously tall and looked a lot like the lady who worked in our post office. I was perched on Santa’s knee.
‘And what’s your name?’ he asked jovially. Hmm, I thought, that voice is familiar. As I turned my face to his (in what is now a slow-motion cinematic memory) I clapped eyes on…..
MY FATHER.

Yes, Santa was my father. Or my father was Santa. In those seconds that felt like a lifetime of betrayal, I matured more than any six year old ever should. I realised it all: This is why I was never allowed in his shed. It was probably full of disgruntled elves. This is why he always refused to diet and why he had an aversion to sun-holidays. I sat in a stony silence. Any other six year old would have been jubilant to realise the she was the daughter of the world’s most popular fat guy, but the cold sting of betrayal hit me hard.

He repeated ‘and what’s your name?’ albeit a little more awkwardly this time.
Oh I’ll play along, I thought scornfully, but you won’t get away with this.
As I played the part of oblivious child and took my yoyo with grace, my friend came rushing up to me.
‘DID YOU SEE-‘ she began, so excited she was positively giddy.
‘Yes. I know. My Dad is Santa Claus.’
‘You are so lucky. I can’t believe it. I would give anything for my dad to be Santa.’
I thought about this. Maybe it would have its benefits. I mean, surely I didn’t have to spend three hours negotiating my Santa letter anymore. I had a direct line. And maybe, just maybe, his union might order a ‘bring your daughter to work day’ which would be, let’s face it, AMAZING. I mean, sure, I’d have to behave my self a lot more, as it would now be much easier to find my self on the naughty list, but I was sure that the benefits would outweigh the drawbacks.

Years later, I still haven’t told him I know. When he tells me that he’s going to the pub on Christmas Eve, I know better. And when he stocks up on mince pies, I know it’s just fuel for a very long journey. And when he says that he doesn’t know what the capital of Denmark is when we watch quiz shows, I often murmur ‘sure you don’t know, it’s not like you’ve never been there before. Pfft.’

So, even though my childhood was built on lies, it’s pretty cool that I’m a member of the Santa dynasty. You could say we’re one of the most powerful families in the world but I don’t wanna brag. I just want to be normal. Although if I ever get access to one of his flying reindeer, I’m taking that SOB to Hawaii for sure.

The best gift ideas since sliced bread

Feeling the pressure from trying to find your lady friend the perfect Christmas present? Well, you can put down the novelty reindeer antlers and Chris de Burgh CD. I’ve got your back. Here are some ideas so great that I probably should charge you guys actual money to read this. But I won’t cause I’m cool like that.

1. For the philosophical lady

You know what would be so original? Ditching material possessions and instead giving her a big ole box of nothing.
Is the box half full or half empty? Actually, it’s all empty. You’re welcome.

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2. For the maternal lady/hair aficionado

What says ‘I love and value you’ more than a doll covered in questionably proportioned ginger hair? Exactly. NOTHING.

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3. For the technophile

Anyone woman would be very very excited to receive one of these… A GENUINE DORA THE EXPLORER AQUAPET. For some reason, they were all sold out in my local store but I’m sure there’s plenty available online guys. Don’t panic.

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4. For the lady who’s afraid to touch her pussy

Sometimes I don’t actually like touching mine. But alas, all my feline related woes have been solved by this genius invention. There shall be jubilant pussies the world over. Huzzah!

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5. For the lady who just wants an intact banana, dammit!

I genuinely love this. Somehow I feel unworthy of such genius.

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6. For the fashionista

Now when’s she’s doing all your ironing, she’ll be wearing an expression of barely concealed resentment AND this t-shirt. Sweet.

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7. For the ‘cuddler’

Now she can complain that something else smells of stale cigarette smoke and disappointment.

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8. For the multi-tasker

Guys, help a gal out. Now she can serve you dinner and clean the floor at the same time. Or clear your snow-filled driveway. This baby is versatile.

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9. For the trend setter

If Sinead O’ Connor had worn one of these in her famous ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ video, I know I would have taken her more seriously. It comes with a hat *and* a hairpiece. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.

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10. For the lady who is smoking. Literally.

You want a cigarette, you’re wearing mittens. We’ve all been there. You can’t take off your mittens because your fingers will literally fall off. You have to have a cigarette because you will brutally murder all of your colleagues otherwise. ‘WHAT THE HELL DO I DO?’ you ask? Well firstly, put me down. And then take a look at these bad boys. First there was the wheel. Then there was electricity. And now there’s the smoker-friendly mittens. Beautiful.

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So there are all my amazing ideas in all their ingenious glory. No, no, you don’t have to thank me. I live to serve you. In the words of Paul McCartney: ‘now go and get her’!