It’s that busy time of the year again.
To be honest, I’ve found 2019 busy all year- round. Even when I’m not at my desk, my mind continually whirs with ideas. Writing can be all-consuming.
Apart from recognising that I’ve neglected family and friends, I know I need to find ways to unwind and create time for nurture.
So, my hubby and I took time out last weekend. We took a slow drive north and after popping in to visit his poorly mother, we stopped off in fascinating Lincoln for “us-time” before heading for Leeds, where our youngest daughter lives. It all felt good. A change is as good as a rest.
(We decided not to opt for afternoon tea in Leeds city centre)
I’m a writer. I’m nosy. I asked fellow authors what they do to relax. Perhaps their thoughts might help you in your busy routine. I’ve wrapped them up to put under your tree.
Not surprisingly, walking is a popular relaxation. It’s free and a great antidote to sitting hunched over a laptop.
John Broughton , author of fascinating novels set mostly in the middle ages and who lives in Calabria, told me that “…getting the balance right between writing and relaxing is difficult… To do that, I escape to the unpolluted air and silence of our local mountains – we have them on three sides of or village. The nearest is the coastal mountain chain, the tail end of the Apennines. I usually go with one trusted friend who respects my silence when I need it. We sometimes take a bottle of red wine and a bread roll and make a long morning out of it. On occasions we have the mountain to ourselves. Each season has something different to offer. We enjoy the frozen waterfalls and the cooler contrast in the hot summer months but I love the carpets of cyclamen in the autumn as in my photo.”
Helen Christmas has had a tough year. She shared her ways of pushing out “ negative thoughts.”
“Apart from taking ‘Kalms’ on a daily basis, I find yoga to be very calming. After a couple of sessions at our local gym, I immediately began to think more positively. We had a lovely holiday in France too, where the villa owner, Penny, teaches yoga and meditation. She has given me some MPs, so I can practise at home – the Chakra meditation is really good and helps clear the mind. Visualisation also works; picturing those beautiful mountains in France, or a sunset on a beach. Some nights though, when switching off your mind is impossible, I find Dan Jones’ Adult bedtime stories (on YouTube) are great for helping me to drift off.”
Helen’s beautiful French mountains
Jessie Cahalin is an author and special blogger. I always enjoy her posts, and she’s recently shared her new mindfulness regime. Check it out
“I always seek solace in the simple things in life. A daily walk is essential for me to connect with my thoughts and relax. I leave the laptop behind and do not think about anything at all. Strolling works its magic and any plot tangles seem to sort themselves out. Just knowing I will pack up at ten and walk ensures that I use time efficiently. Furthermore, exercise also helps me to sleep well. I went through an intense period of writing and composing four blogs a week, and this resulted in terrible migraines. One of my daily strolls gave me the space to realise I was in control of my time and deadlines thus did not need to put myself under pressure. I am lucky to live in an area where meandering county lanes are on my doorstep. I love to watch the scenery transform through the seasons and documenting the changes with my camera helps me to take a closer look at those delicious simple things in life.”
Jessie walking in the country lanes very near to her house.
Jane Cable has written one of my favourite books. I love a WW2 story and in her haunting story, Another You ,we have an intriguing pinch of paranormal. Jane writes romance with a twist and a nod over the shoulder at the past. I love her honest thoughts on how to relax.
“I would say walking is a good source of relaxation, but it isn’t exactly time away from writing because I am almost always plotting as I walk. So I should say Pilates, or maybe a little meditation, but no – I’m going to be truthful. To relax I go to the pub. We’re lucky enough to have a proper local and there is no better feeling than dragging a stool to the bar and, glass of wine in hand, putting the world to rights or doing the crossword with our friends. It’s the real world, far away from writing, and I absolutely love it. I say far away from writing, but one day sitting at the bar I heard a story so prosaic in the telling but so eerie in the content, I just had to write it. The result will be published by Sapere Books towards the end of next year.”
Thank you, Jane – this really made me smile and I can’t wait to read your new book.
Finally, moving to the USA and friends I’ve happily discovered through social media, meet supportive Jenn Hanson-de-Paula. I find her help for authors inspirational. She writes a fabulous blog and runs courses and I follow her avidly on Instagram and FB. Take a look at Mixtus Media
“Relaxing is something I’m having to relearn. As a business owner, wife, mother, someone involved in her community, and so on, it can feel like I have no time for myself. I know many women feel this way and are in similar situations.
I’ve tried various hobbies to try to relax, but they ended up being more work. So how I relax is very simple: I go to the library. There is something so soothing and comforting about that sacred place. Roaming the stacks of books, looking at other book lovers seeking out their next read, and talking with the wonderful librarians is a haven for me.
My husband can tell when I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed. He often will look at me and say, “Do you need to go to the library?” It’s my favorite way to relax! 😊
Wow! Jenn’s library is a little larger than ours in the village where I live
Joanie Chevalier is editor and founder of RAC promoting the reader/author connection and another walker: “Walking is one of my favorite ways to relax and recharge. It’s my way of taking a deep breath to relish in the scents and colors associated with each new season. I am lucky enough to be able to live, work, and travel in my RV and I have taken walks on many beautiful paths, whether in the mountains, on the coast, at a national park, or inland in the desert. Even if I’m staying in a populated area, I still find the time to locate a peaceful spot. My doggies, Frankie and Lily, love it too, and together we explore and enjoy nature’s glory.”
Compiling this blog, I realise that my American friends all have names beginning with J – purely coincidental. For the final J in the American series, and more words of wisdom, meet American blogger, and golden lady, Jena C Henry :
“Shouldn’t it be easy to relax? Somehow, telling yourself to relax is like trying to fall asleep on a pillow that’s too hot or too cold. Impossible?! Especially during the holidays?? Let’s unpack this. You can find plenty of advice online. Try Instagram. #relax, has 104 MILLION posts. Change the hashtag to #relax and you can scroll through an additional 447 THOUSAND posts. What will you learn? Everyone is chilling with wine and cranberry vodka, bath bombs, and vegan unicorn smoothies. OR ARE THEY? I have a secret. I, too, show a different ME on social media. I act like I’m driven, eager to achieve, questing for likes, book reviews, sales, Number One, that’s me! But in reality, I have chosen to be lazy and relaxed my whole life. I happen to have been blessed with a good sense of time management- I’m always punctual and I know how to plan and get things done. In today’s jargon, I try to stay “mindful” and “in the moment”. Great skills if your real dream in life is to loaf. So, what does a typical, relaxing day for me look like? With apologies to The Grinch, here is a page from my “SSHHHEDUAL!” “My Schedule Won’t Allow it!” Reminder to me at the top of each page! 9 AM Coffee, Read, Putter on my Blog 12 PM Do I need to do anything today? Nope. Grocery, vacuuming, decluttering TOMORROW! 2 PM Announce that I am going to Water Aerobics; take a robo-call instead 3 PM Sit outside and talk to dog 5 PM- Stare into the abyss. Imagine traveling to Europe to visit all my new writing friends. Look for passport next year. 6 PM Dinner with me (and my husband). We can’t cancel that again! And that’s how I stay relaxed. I just do whatever comes along! I have plenty of time to chat and commiserate when friends and family call and I’m always available to wait and sign for UPS shipments for others. Go ahead- RELAX!! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Stay Golden!”
So, there we have it, friends. We’ve travelled round the world together.
I hope you can extract something from this rather long blog to help you over the next months.
Have a peaceful, healthy, enjoyable, special time over the festive season and see you in 2020.