Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Darker days: Combating Seasonal Depression

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.

And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

Albert Camus 


If you live in a climate with longer winters, you might be more prone to seasonal depression. I've lived in New England my whole life, and it was only in recent years that I realized this seasonal shift and darker days were the cause of much of the depression I'd experienced in my life. While some depression definitely requires professional help, whether that be a therapist or a visit to your doctor or naturopath, there are many things we can do at home to help feel better in these challenging times.

Here are some of the ways that you can fight the darkness:

Try to step outside everyday. If you can do it early on in the day, even better. A short walk in the morning or on a lunch break can shift the whole day. If you don't have time to walk, just stand outside for a minute or two and breathe gently. Don't let the weather stop you, unless it's severe. Just bundle up or a put on a rain coat if needed. You'll be surprised about how pleasant a solitary walk in the rain can be. If you only can squeeze in a short one, it's still worth it!

Winter sports like cross-country skiing or snow shoeing or just playing in the snow can help us to stay active outside. This time in the sunshine each day, even if it's not long, can really energize us and keep us moving towards the light.

Nature is healing. Take a walk in a park or forest or by running water whenever you can!

Take extra vitamin D if you need it. Consult with your doctor if you're unsure about how much you need. My midwife recommended this to me when I was  pregnant with my second daughter and constantly exhausted. I was surprised at the energy boost. Sometimes exhaustion can really cause a down shift in our mood that can spiral into depression.

Take up a hobby. Drawing, cooking, crafting, knitting or crochet, photography, woodwork, playing board games... whatever it is, sometimes doing is the best medicine. It doesn't have to be complicated. Write a short bit in a journal each day if you're at a loss for what to do. Staying active and interested in something you care about can keep our thoughts from despair.

Be mindful of content: If your reading lots of depressing news or watching or reading too many disturbing shows or books, take a break until you're feeling more balance again. These things can be hard to consume when we are in the depths of despair. Music can also bring us down. Sometimes we turn to these depressing things precisely because we are depressed, but try them again when they are not feeding your negative thoughts and feelings. Instead, look for content that inspires, motivates, or gives you perspective on your situation.

Think about your environment: Colors can have a positive effect on our mood. If we are surrounded by drab or boring colors, they can feed our dismal sense of the world. I try to choose warm colors in my home. If you can't choose the colors, try adding an item with an inspiring color. If artwork on the wall doesn't make you feel overwhelmed, pick out some special pieces that inspire you every time you see them.

If clutter is stressing you out, purge some belongings you no longer need. Sometimes space helps us to feel better. Start with one small area. Don't let yourself get overwhelmed by the task.

Scent can also help us heal. Choose scents that uplift you when you're feeling down.

House plants help connect us with nature when our outdoor time is limited. You can also plant micro-greens, sprouts, or cat grass. Bringing nature indoors can really change the feeling of a place.

Try movement medicine: Yoga, thai chi, stretching, hula dancing, wild crazy dancing to you're favorite music can all effect how we see the world if done regularly. I start everyday with a youtube yoga video, and it really helps me to get through the morning rush with kids. You can also play a game like basketball or go for a run. Exercise really does help improve how we feel. If you missed a day, don't despair, each day is a new chance to give it a whirl.

Reach out:
Talk to a friend that makes you laugh. Call a family member that always listen.  Go out for coffee with someone you care about. If you live alone or are having trouble connecting, this is a good time to volunteer. Pet shelters, homeless shelters, nursing homes, or helping out with an after school program could all be options. And as I said before, reach out for help if you need it. Friends, family, and professionals all want to be there for you, but they may not know what you're struggling with. If you're able, try to listen to other peoples problems. This helps us to not feel so alone, and also takes the focus off our own misery. You don't have to fix anything for them. Just listen and be there.

Stay away from toxic people:
Some of these people might be people you love, so you don't necessarily have to stay away from them forever, but just avoid them when you're struggling. If you know they might bring you down, try to minimize your contact or have someone to vent to about these people when they leave.

Bring light into your life:
Candles at dinnertime are necessary in our house during the winter months. If you are lucky enough to have a stove or fireplace, sit by it when you can and take in the warm beams of light. Stare out the window when the sun is shining. Get a sun lamp if it will help you bring more sunlight into your life.

Drink tea everyday:
Warm tea always helps me slow down and take it easy. Ginger and Peppermint are uplifting. Chamomile is calming. Chai can bring some spice in your life. Experiment with different blends.

Think about your Whole Body: When we feel depressed we tend to concentrate on our mind and our problems. But our whole body contributes to how we feel overall. Eat more vegetables. Enjoy nourishing herbs. Give up something in your diet that you know is hurting you. Take care of the physical problems as best you can that might be causing stress in your life. I have nerve damage in one of my feet. When I remember to soak my foot each night and massage it, it takes off a lot of the tension it causes me. Physical problems can cause stress and tension and we can't always fix them, but we can tend these chronic problems with love and gentleness.

Make Plans for Warmer Days:
The winter is a great time to plan your garden, plan Spring projects and day dream about flowers and sunshine. Don't let it get you down, but use it as a reminder that the seasons change, and you'll change too. 



I am not a doctor or healer, but I decided to write this because I know from experience how hard the winters can be when we're depressed. I hope these things help others to make it through the darker days. Love and light to all!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Yarn Weather

The trees are just starting to go a little past peak in the valley. The pellet stove is warming us a bit more frequently. Our winter coats and warm woolly slippers are out and in use. Yes, it's definitely yarn weather.  I think it's safe to curl up in a rocking chair with a cup of tea and a fuzzy ball and hook. My newly finished felt piggies are cozy in their woolen shawls, and I've quite a few shawls I'd like to try my hands at for real people. My yarny day dreams tend to go far beyond what I have time to create, but it's nice to think of all you can do if the days would just stretch a little longer.

These beautiful crochet projects are all on my list of "Someday, when I have the Time...":

Crochet Hygge Scheepjes Shawl
 This one does give you week by week assignments to help break it up.

Magnolia Vintage Capelet
The size of this project is a bit more manageable than a full shawl and it's oh so pretty.

Girls Leg Warmers
For some reason I have a hard to finishing projects that come in pairs. I've had a pair of mittens I've had half completed for a couples years now.

Snow Drop Mod Scarf
I'd like to make these in different colors for my girls.

Top Down Crochet Cardigan
I've been wanting to make a sweater for years, and this one has short sleeves and could be made with scrap balls of yarn, so it definitely makes it more do-able. Plus, it's lovely.

That just scratches the surface of my project desires, but maybe someone else can find some inspiration in these links. Do you have anything on the hooks or needles now? I'd love to hear about it.

Joining in with KCCO over at Frontier Dreams .

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Tooth Fairy Envelopes

My daughter's dental visit yesterday reminded me how much fun it is to make these wee felt tooth fairy envelopes. I made one for her when she had her first wiggly tooth.  Every time she loses one it brings such joy to put it in her own special envelope. The envelope is small enough that the tooth fairy can find the tiny teeth easily. This design that I'm working on originated when a classmate of my daughters saw her envelope during share time, and her mother asked me if I could make one for her. I didn't want to make the same thing, so I came up with this design where the tooth fairy is an actual tooth. Yes, I agree, it's silly! Since then I've sold countless more to local children at our farmer's market, and it brings me such joy to think about what they might find it in the next day.

We have a theory in our house that there are many tooth fairies... one for every region, as it would be hard for just one to take on the whole world. We suspect ours is a bit of a scavenger as there's always something different inside. Sometimes it's coins, sometimes pretty stones, sometimes bangles, but always it's wee enough to fit in the envelope. Do you have any special tooth fairy traditions in your house? Has the tooth fairy ever left anything surprising?

Joining in with KCCO over at Frontier Dreams .

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Out of the Mist and Fog

It's been raining hard for days. While the October sky is still gray,  it's let up for a time, and I can see the leaves are beginning to pop out my window. We've been blessed not to have a frost in the valley, but there's been a chill in the air, and we've had to turn on our pellet stove more than once. We'll need to order our winter supply soon. The rocker by the fire is ready and yarn and wool are calling me. Yes, we are definitely in Fall now.

It seems I'm also in a new season of life. In this season, small children who once spent there days beside me are both off at school for full days. It's nice, sometimes a little too quiet, and still quite busy. I'm trying to find my footing and my path right now. I thought I knew where I was going, but honestly, there are still a lot of questions in the air. In the meantime, I'll keep making and planning.

Hope you are well! I'll try not to stay away so long!

Joining in with KCCO over at Frontier Dreams .

Thursday, August 9, 2018

African Flower

Hello, forgotten blog kingdom! Summer tends to turn my brain to mush and the rest of me to a puddle on the floor. My eldest is off at day camp this week and my Mr. is off working on music for a local play. The little and I are watching our family store and pretending to go to camp at home. So far we've painted, made smoothies, picked flowers, played with marbles and clothes pin dolls and dusted the store. Hence, "pretending" to got to camp as we haven't actually done much that's very camp like. I've been using my store hours  to crochet this "African Flower" mandala into a stool cover. We seem to be big fans of stools around here, and I have many more stools I want to make cute covers for so expect to see more soon.

We've had buckets of rain lately, and buckets more of humidity and the garden is a jungle. I'm not sure how much it is producing, but my tomato plants are taller than I am. We certainly have enough zucchini to make the worlds largest loaf of chocolate chip zucchini bread, if only we had a large enough oven. The gladiolas and zinnia are popping in gorgeous colors... I never tire of the flowers.

Lives been a bit harried this week with the irregular schedules, and I'm looking forward to a return to our Summer norm/laziness before we have to swing into a totally different schedule for the Fall. Yes to more swimming, more hiking, more evenings spent in the garden!

Joining in with KCCO over at Frontier Dreams .

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Summer Adventures

Summer seems to pass in a heart beat, so we are taking it in as best we can. My littlest has graduated preschool and will be full time student this Fall when she enters kindergarten, so I want to make sure we make the most of these long days together. And we do seem to stretch them out as long as we can. When summer comes, I understand why we endure the long winters here. Everything around us is alive and singing and the mountains and the river call us to play. I hope you are playing and enjoying the fresh air where ever you are. Time to head back to the garden!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

In the Garden: Lilacs and Forget-me-nots

I love this time of year when the air is perfumed with cherry blossoms and lilacs. Change bursts from every corner of the Earth. I haven't been keeping up with gardening tasks as much as I'd like to, but still, a seed planted here or there and something comes forth.

After years of trying to get forget-me-nots to bloom, I was pleasantly surprised to find them scattered throughout the yard. Hurrah for planting packs of wildflowers seeds year after year. I had planted a big patch under one of our cherry trees last year that must have gone in to late, because it never bloomed. But I left them alone, and they came back in abundance this year, and found their way to other corners of the yard (probably from all those wildflower packs I've been sowing). I love all the colors right now. I wish I could drink flower colors.

Another happy surprise "in the garden"(I say this even though it refers to our whole yard), was the return of my bleeding hearts. They were accidently dug up when Jake and my dad were trying to find the septic tank in December.  Yes, it's truly not the best time to go looking for a septic tank. Anyways, they were slow to poke their head out of the ground, so I thought they'd been lost to the dig, but they made a come back. They are half the size that they were last year, but at least they're not gone for good. There was actually a small patch that ended up in our driveway so I transferred them to the children's flower garden. It seems the bleeding hearts are spreading throughout the yard now, too.

I'm hoping to get a lot in the ground this weekend. What are you growing, friends?