See you soon…

Hello there!

I’m taking a step back from my blog for a few weeks.  As those of you who follow my blog and social media know, I’ve been on an at times very painful mental health journey over the last year.  I am now, under medical supervision, going cold turkey on some of the medication that I’ve been taking.  This, as I’m sure you can imagine, is taking its toll both physically and mentally.

Even though I love my work, and indeed writing helps to keep me stable and sane, I need to take the pressure of deadlines and blog schedules off myself for a few weeks while I heal.  This means that I’m unlikely to be posting here until early March.  I’ll be dipping in and out of social media as I feel able, so please do come and say hello to me there (there are links in the sidebar) as I’d appreciate some company while I do what I can for the rest of this month.

With love,

Rae x

 

Tuesday Reviews Day 13th December 2016: Get Your Glitter On (& a giveaway!)

Get Your Glitter On || Tuesday Reviews Day 13-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
Get Your Glitter On || Tuesday Reviews Day 13-12-2016 || raeritchie.com

I’ve long been particular about my style and appearance.  As an early teen I remember scouring several branches of Topshop to find the belted cardigan that most resembled the one featured on the Calvin Klein catwalk (and then getting hacked off when other stores started stocking similar ones too).  Around the same time, I saved my pocket money until I could afford to go to the big department store in a nearby city to buy the just released Yves Saint Laurent Touch Eclat and was super chuffed when the sales assistant gave me a load of extra samples too.

Now I’m a freelance writer with an interest in fashion and beauty, I spend even more time thinking about and researching lovely things.  When I write about articles, I try to place them in their broader context and discuss their significance and meaning too.  I don’t want my work to read like a fluffed up press releases.  That said, it seems daft for me to not find a way to simply and quickly share some of the products I come across in the line of work and pleasure if I think other people might like them.

As a result, I’ve decided to introduce ‘Tuesday Reviews Day’ to my blog.  Each week’s listicle will will feature a handful of products, ranging from bargain beauty buys to best biscuits (I’m lining up a festive special on that one already!).  I’m not an affiliate so I don’t stand to gain from recommending anything that I include – every item listed is genuinely something that I think warrants a shout out.

I hope that you find this new feature both a fit of fun and useful too.  Let me know if your thoughts on what I’ve included and whether you’ve been tempted to try any!

Last week we looked at how to get festive with your appearance without losing your sense of style by using burgundy cosmetics and accessories.  This week I’d like to put forward another perennial Christmas trend: glitter.  Anything that shimmers or sparkles seems fair game in December but it doesn’t have to be dramatic or gaudy.  There are lots of easy ways to add a bit of fairy dust to your outfits without looking like you’ve fallen off the top of a heavily decorated tree!

One style I love is a suggestion from this month’s Harper’s Bazaar to just add a glittery nail varnish around the crescent and one edge of each nail.  I don’t have the manicure skills to pull this off myself but am sure many of you out there can, or you could ask your beautician to create the effect for you.

WAH nail varnish in Roma's Ruin & Schrager's Touch || Get Your Glitter On || Tuesday Reviews Day 13-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
WAH nail varnish in Roma’s Ruin & Schrager’s Touch || Get Your Glitter On || Tuesday Reviews Day 13-12-2016 || raeritchie.com

Even full on glitter nails, whether on one finger, several or all of them, is a nod to the sparkly trend without too great a commitment.  Some sheer glitter nail varnishes look great over the top of other colours but if you’re looking for a standalone polish then check out WAH‘s offerings.  This brand du jour, with a newly opened must-visit nail salon in Soho, has two outstanding options in this field, classic gold (Roma’s Ruin) and silver (Schragers Touch).  They retail at £9 each and both are densely packed with pieces of glitter that you can build up thin layer at a time to amazing effect.

 

GIVEAWAY!

I like these two products so much that I’m going to offer them in my first Tuesday Reviews Day giveaway!  If you’d like to win both Roma’s Ruin and Schragers Touch, then simply share one of my blog posts on social media over the next 24 hours (and tag me so that I see it) and you will be entered into the prize draw.  I’ll select a winner at 21:00 GMT on Wednesday evening.

[The giveaway winner is Jill Axon]

Glitter giveaway! || Get Your Glitter On || Tuesday Reviews Day 13-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
Glitter giveaway! || Get Your Glitter On || Tuesday Reviews Day 13-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
Get Your Glitter On || Tuesday Reviews Day 13-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
Blush Sparkle

I’ll also include in the giveaway another little product that’s great for adding a bit of Christmas sparkle to your look.  I picked up a Blush Sparkle pot of Fine Snow White Sparkles  (£3.50) at the Clothes Show Live recently.  There were numerous stalls offering similar goods but what stood out for me was the subtle look that the stallholders themselves were demonstrating.  Rather than full on bling, their products were used gently as highlighter, eyeshadow and lip covering.  Also the sparkles themselves are really teeny tiny and fine, although Blush Sparkle does offer a chunkier range too (as well as lots of different colours – there’s something for everyone on their website).  Simply apply a thin smear of Vaseline then add the glitter as you wish on top.  Simple, sparkle.

Dune shoes || Get Your Glitter On || Tuesday Reviews Day 13-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
Dune shoes || Get Your Glitter On || Tuesday Reviews Day 13-12-2016 || raeritchie.com

My personal favourite way of wearing glitter is on my feet.  If you’re uncertain about trying out a new trend of any sort, shoes are a good way in, allowing you to nod to a new look without the full on commitment of a head-to-toe outfit.  Almost two years ago I splashed out on some flat sparkly shoes from Dune and they’ve pepped up many a party outfit since.  If you’re looking for a pair this Christmas then Kurt Geiger is the place to go.  They’ve everything from flats to heels with bows – even sparkly trainers.  If I didn’t have my silver numbers then I’d definitely be tempted by their block heel gold ones.

 

 

Goodwill bag || Get Your Glitter On || Tuesday Reviews Day 13-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
Goodwill bag || Get Your Glitter On || Tuesday Reviews Day 13-12-2016 || raeritchie.com

Like shoes, another easy way to integrate a bit of glitter into your wardrobe is with a bag.  My beaded purse, covered in small pearls, sparkles all year round but particularly gets used in December.  I picked it up at a Goodwill store but obviously charity shops don’t have guaranteed stock!  A good alternative is to look on Ebay, where you’ll find hundreds listed under glittery, sparkly or metallic bag.  They don’t have to be evening bags either.  Last week I spied a woman in Friends House Cafe toting a beautiful silver leather shopping bag that was ideal for daytime; upon enquiry I learnt it was from Kin by John Lewis but alas it’s not this season and I can’t track it down (purely for research purposes, of course!).  I regret not asking to take a picture of this beaut as it just goes to show that in December at least you can get your glitter on any time of the day or night.  Make the most of this time to sparkle.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate it if you could share it on social media using the buttons below.  And if you find yourself regularly coming back here, how about signing up to my mailing list?  You get a monthly letter from that comes complete with links to all my writing (blog posts, Sunday Suggestions and articles elsewhere) as well as a creativity prompt for you to try.  

 

 

 

Sunday Suggestions 11th December 2016

Sunday Suggestions: a round up of things to read, watch, listen to and do
Sunday Suggestions 11th December 2016 || raeritchie.com

Welcome back to my regular series with suggestions of awesome people and things to check out, read, participate in and follow.  The festive season is much on my mind today, with a couple of great ways to transition from this year to the next as well as some bits of reading about Christmas.  This is followed by two pretty serious pieces about extremism and the controversy around recent revelations about Last Tango in Paris.  Lightening things up towards the end is another article about kawaii and our attraction to cute culture.  Last up, as I like to finish with a funny video, is the first viral video I ever saw (I was a bit late to the game with this phenomena): a hilarious send up of Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind.  Enjoy!

Do

Susannah Conway has been offering her free ‘Unravel Your Year‘ workbook for several years now and it’s an essential part of Christmas for hundreds, if not thousands, of women around the world – myself included!  It’s completely free to sign up for and contains lots of gentle but powerful questions and prompts to help you reflect on the year that’s passed and look to the one ahead.

Susannah also offers a free five day course entitled ‘Find Your Word’ which helps you to discover a word or phrase to guide you through the coming year.  I’ve also done this a few times and recommend it highly too!

 

Christmas reads

Gender equality is for life, not just for Christmas: Kat Lister writes for the always brilliant The Pool on the extra emotional and physical labour that December’s festivities place on women in ‘The “perfect” Christmas doesn’t exist so why are women still expected to provide it?’

If that one might stir up anger then the next two may well generate some tears:

Fi Newsam’s ‘Father Christmas didn’t come’ for The Huffington Post blog tells of what it was like to grow up in a family who belonged to a Christian denomination that didn’t celebrate Christmas.  At all.  No presents, no special food, no nothing.  The emotional impact upon Newsam is fascinating and also so sad.

Totally contrary in tone is the story from this week’s Independent that a Muslim-owned restaurant is opening up its doors on Christmas Day to offer free meals to the elderly and homeless.  Welling up just writing this plug for it!  Just goes to show that even a holiday traditionally associated with one religion can actually provide an opportunity for different communities to come together.  A gorgeous story.

 

The serious stuff

Also from the Independent, and also about Muslims, but very different in tone, is an in-depth report on what make young British women turn to an extreme form of Islam known as Salafism.  This branch of the religion is associated with the Islamic State and very strict rules and regulations.  This article provides a nuanced insight into these women’s lives and experiences that will undoubtedly make you think.

The Pool provides a second recommendation this week: the also brilliant Sali Hughes (whose work appears here quite regularly) wrote a powerful piece for them about the revelations that have recently come out regarding the notorious rape scene in The Last Tango in Paris.  Even if you’re not familiar with this debate, or the wider issues that it draws upon, ‘The callous abuse of Maria Schneider, and the impunity of Hollywood men’ will make you care.

 

Now for something completely different: kawaii

If you’re looking for an intelligent read on a diverse range of topics, the Conversation is great resource.  The site features blogs from academic experts on all sorts of subjects, including this analysis of kawaii  and what the attraction of this Japanese cult of cute is.

 

Finally…

I was a latecomer to the world of viral videos but I clearly remember the first one I saw: it was late on a Friday night at my friend Mel’s flat in Wandsworth and I’d gone round at the last minute in order to do a 5k Race for Life with her the next morning.  She was incredulous that I didn’t know what a viral video was nor had seen this particular example of the genre – a parody of Alicia Keys’ epic song Empire State of Mind featuring the Welsh town of Newport.  Clever, so clever – and hilarious too.  Point of information for readers outside of the UK: the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) is a government organisation that deals with driving licenses etc and is based in Swansea, another south Wales town.  Because so many people have contact with the DVLA, it’s well known for being based there.  In fact, the agency’s address is DVLA Swansea SA99 1TU – that’s how intertwined the two are.  There are probably lots of jokes in the video that need explaining to non-Brits but that’s the one that jumped out for me!

If you enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate it if you could share it on social media using the buttons below.  And if you find yourself regularly coming back here, how about signing up to my mailing list?  You get a monthly letter from that comes complete with links to all my writing (blog posts, Sunday Suggestions and articles elsewhere) as well as a creativity prompt for you to try.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not easy but essential: make that difficult decision

Not easy but essential: make that difficult decision || raeritchie.com
Not easy but essential: make that difficult decision || raeritchie.com

My school friends and I have just booked our annual weekend away, going to Center Parcs next March. It’ll be our second trip there. Before that we went to a couple of 1990s weekends at Butlin’s holiday camps. These were lots of fun but after two of them I felt I’d had my fill of reliving my youth. When the subject of the next group getaway came up one lunch together, I seized the chance to say I didn’t want to go there again. Turns out some of the others felt the same so changing the destination was really painless but when I raised my objection I didn’t know that would be the case. There were no signs that the others felt as I did so I was taking the risk that they would all simply go to Butlin’s without me – in fact I even encouraged them to do that if they were still enjoying the events.

In this instance the situation worked out really well but rarely can we be sure of this when we speak out about a difficult decision we’ve made. Although we may hope that our choice will be welcomed, we have to accept that others may not react as we want them to. We may fear the response of our parents or friends or children. We might be so worried about what others will say that we are deterred from taking the path we wish to follow, whether that’s emigrating or separating or abstaining.

For all of us, there are occasions when we make a decision that is hard enough in itself then find that the response we get makes it worse still. Even when the change is positive for us (getting fit, a new job which we love and pays more) – or perhaps especially when the change is positive for us – the new situation may seem like a threat to our nearest and dearest, triggering a defensive stance from them.

In such circumstances, we are perhaps breaking a rule, whether stated or unwritten. Maybe we’ve always enjoyed a boozy Friday night with a friend which they’ve assumed is a never changing fixture in our diaries yet suddenly you’re cutting out early so you’re fresh for a run on Saturday mornings. Maybe splitting up with your partner challenges your family’s treasured determination to stick relationships out no matter what the cost. Maybe quitting your job to pursue your dream breaks the complicit understanding between you and your husband that work has to be a source of unhappiness which you can moan about together.

Even more insidiously, friends and family can make the right noises about changes we make yet in reality strive to undermine or sabotage our efforts. We all know people like this: the parent who seems to encourage weight loss but sulks when we refuse second helpings, the friend who says they’re pleased we’re in a romantic relationship then proceeds to dig for the new beau’s flaws, the sibling who remembers all our previous failed attempts at habit change (“The only thing you could run is a bath!” – please say I’m not the only person whose younger brother has said that to them?!).

Not easy but essential: make that difficult decision || raeritchie.com
Not easy but essential: make that difficult decision || raeritchie.com

This time of year is often a crisis point in terms of trying to make changes or instigate a significant new choice as we find ourselves spending more time than usual with our loved ones. It’s tempting to just take the path of least resistance and stick to the status quo…tempting except that while this is easier for those around you, it may be considerably harder for you. Maybe you just can’t bite your lip any longer. Maybe you simply cannot tolerate the bad behaviour of another or the condoning behaviour of yourself. Maybe the prospect of waking up in the same situation in twelve months’ time makes you feel sick.

Perhaps you’re a lucky one and you don’t have any such big decisions to face. If there’s no painful choice that you deep down know you have to face sooner or later then I envy you. I wish I could say it were so for me or indeed many others. I have a sneaking suspicion that there are more of us who have a tough decision decision lurking near. I suspect this because over the last six months I’ve heard many telling me I’m brave for doing the things I’ve done, such as walking away from a seemingly enviable career, and saying they’d love to do something similar only someone in their life is holding them back from it. Any time you wonder “But what would X say?”, you’ve touched on this.

I wish I could tell you that making big, hard choices actually works out really well and you’ll be supported in the end, only this is not true. You might run the risk of ruining a relationship. Things might never be the same again. But I can tell you that if you don’t do what’s right for you then you’ll end up hurting yourself far more than your choice will hurt others. You will always suffer for this sacrifice.

The other thing I feel sure in saying is that there is rarely, if ever, a right time. Sometimes we think that by leaving things a while longer that it’ll get easier or the situation will change enough that our decision is redundant. This is simply not true. How it is now is how it is. You could be waiting your whole life for better circumstances and they may never come. Accept what is and act now. Step towards your decision today, tomorrow, over the weekend, in the next week. Act before the end of the year. Start 2017 having taken the decision you know you need to face. It may not be easy but it will be done.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate it if you could share it on social media using the buttons below.  And if you find yourself regularly coming back here, how about signing up to my mailing list?  You get a monthly letter from that comes complete with links to all my writing (blog posts, Sunday Suggestions and articles elsewhere) as well as a creativity prompt for you to try.  

Tuesday Reviews Day 6th December 2016: Red, red wine

I’ve long been particular about my style and appearance.  As an early teen I remember scouring several branches of Topshop to find the belted cardigan that most resembled the one featured on the Calvin Klein catwalk (and then getting hacked off when other stores started stocking similar ones too).  Around the same time, I saved my pocket money until I could afford to go to the big department store in a nearby city to buy the just released Yves Saint Laurent Touch Eclat and was super chuffed when the sales assistant gave me a load of extra samples too.

Now I’m a freelance writer with an interest in fashion and beauty, I spend even more time thinking about and researching lovely things.  When I write about articles, I try to place them in their broader context and discuss their significance and meaning too.  I don’t want my work to read like a fluffed up press releases.  That said, it seems daft for me to not find a way to simply and quickly share some of the products I come across in the line of work and pleasure if I think other people might like them.

As a result, I’ve decided to introduce ‘Tuesday Reviews Day’ to my blog.  Each week’s listicle will will feature a handful of products, ranging from bargain beauty buys to best biscuits (I’m lining up a festive special on that one already!).  I’m not an affiliate so I don’t stand to gain from recommending anything that I include – every item listed is genuinely something that I think warrants a shout out.

I hope that you find this new feature both a fit of fun and useful too.  Let me know if your thoughts on what I’ve included and whether you’ve been tempted to try any!

Last week, we had the five items I’ve been most complimented on this season.  This week, my thoughts have turned to the festive season.  I’m not talking about actual red wine, nor the UB40 song with the title that inspired my choice of wording.  This column is about some red wine coloured goodies that can help you to feel Christmassy without loosing a sense of style.  If you’d rather avoid a cheap scratchy jumper or anything else marketed as ‘novelty’ for December then these four ideas might help…

Burgundy shoes || Tuesday Reviews Day 06-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
Burgundy shoes || Tuesday Reviews Day 06-12-2016 || raeritchie.com

Burgundy shoes 

A dark red shoe make a great nod to the festivities while also being a pair that you can wear during other seasons too; I actually picked up these shoe boots from Office back in February and have worn them throughout the year but I think they’ll come into their own this month.  Choose comfortable ones and you can easily substitute them for your regular black pair across the days of December as well as the nights too.

Mine are no longer available but Office has a huge selection in a similar hue and price (c £68).  My particular favourites are their Chelsea boots, patent loafers and – if you’re looking for a definite party shoe – velvet bow mules.

 

Nails Inc. Victoria after four days wear || Tuesday Reviews Day 06-12-16 || raeritchie.com
Nails Inc. Victoria after four days wear || Tuesday Reviews Day 06-12-16 || raeritchie.com

Dark nail varnish

In the picture above I’m wearing peacock green nail varnish on my feet but in the weeks ahead I’ll be donning a dark number that tones with the open toe boots.  I recently stumbled upon Nails Inc’s Victoria (£14), which is a very dark maroon shade.  Two thin coats (and no top coat) on my fingernails dried pretty quickly and lasted four days before they chipped so if you’re looking for a reasonably priced varnish for your hands you could do much worse than this one!

Nars Red Lizard lipstick

An old favourite of mine is Nars Red Lizard Semi Matte Lipstick (£21).  Generally I love Nars lip products as they all have a great level of pigment meaning even strong colours stay put without constant attention and touching up.  This shade is an old fashioned hue in the best way – one slick and I feel like a 1940s film star.  If you don’t normally wear make-up but fancy a bit of playing with colour for Christmas, this is an easy way in. Smudge it on with your finger for a less dense effect.

Gung Ho flower earrings || Tuesday Reviews Day 06-12-16 || raeritchie.com
Gung Ho flower earrings || Tuesday Reviews Day 06-12-16 || raeritchie.com

Go Gung Ho

Last week I interviewed Sophie Dunster, the creator of new ethical fashion label Gung Ho Design.  While in her studio, I kept getting distracted by the rail of awesome flower earrings that were on display and I couldn’t leave without getting myself a pair of gold hoops adorned with red roses (£15 although price varies depending on size of earrings).  My Christmas party outfit planning will start with these beauties and work downwards!  You can shop Gung Ho here.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate it if you could share it on social media using the buttons below.  And if you find yourself regularly coming back here, how about signing up to my mailing list?  You get a monthly letter from that comes complete with links to all my writing (blog posts, Sunday Suggestions and articles elsewhere) as well as a creativity prompt for you to try.  

Sunday Suggestions 4th December 2016

Sunday Suggestions: a round up of things to read, watch, listen to and do
Sunday Suggestions 4th December 2016 || raeritchie.com

Welcome back to my regular series with suggestions of awesome people and things to check out, read, participate in and follow.  Today’s post is an eclectic mix but I couldn’t resist any of these!  There’s some ideal Sunday morning listening.  As is common, there’s some fashion and beauty.  There are also two links showcasing two very different women’s lives as well as a heartwarming example of community resistance from the New York subway.  Finally, because I’ve realised I like to end with a funny video, there’s a great clip of a little girl and an Irish dancer.  Enjoy!

  • Listen: Boat To Row

Boat To Row are an awesome band from my home town.  They have a modern folksy town, with great instrumentation and lovely lyrics.  Handily for this blog post, they are ideal Sunday morning listening.  You can listen to them here.

  • Read: Different perspectives on fashion & beauty

Like so much good stuff in life, fashion and beauty are paradoxes: we should take them both less seriously and more seriously.  Here are some links from both perspectives…

Sali Hughes’ new beauty book, Pretty Iconic, was the first item on my Christmas list this year.  Writing for The Pool this week, she nails the pleasure and camaraderie that getting ready for a night out can give us.  I especially love this because there’s a tendency to talk about beauty very seriously, forgetting that it can be a huge source of playfulness, fun and bonding between women too. There’s even academic research on this very topic.

At the other genuinely serious end of the fashion and beauty spectrum, I’ve spotted a couple of articles this week about ethical consumption: one on cruelty free beauty brands and the other (again from The Pool) on sustainable approaches to Christmas shopping.

And because who can resist a listicle, here are two that have caught my eye recently:

Ten fashion bloggers who are also journalists (I guess I fall under this heading too, although haven’t quite made it into this round up!).

12 of the most fashionable films (my partner and I have decided to make Sunday night a film night so this has given me some examples that I definitely want to follow up).

  • Inspiration: two different women’s lives & a tale from the NYC subway

Last Sunday I spent the cold and grey afternoon curled up on the sofa watching the snooker (is there anything else on TV as relaxing?  Even the commentary is whispered).  I was excited to notice that the umpire of one of the matches was a woman.  It’s always great to spot women at the top echelons of sport in any capacity, but it seemed particularly noteworthy because this was in a high level match between two men.  I can’t imagine a woman referee at a Premier League football match or Six Nations rugby game.  I looked her up and her name is Tatiana Woollaston.  You can read her story here.

Another inspiring woman is my new friend Shona Macpherson, who bravely and openly shares about her coming to terms with a life she hadn’t imagined.  Definitely one to make you think.

From two individuals to a moment of community: one woman shares how a group of strangers came together on the New York City subway to resist the current climate of political fear and hatred.  It’s a Facebook post but you should be able to see this page even if you don’t have an account.  It’ll make you want to carry an eyeliner even if you don’t wear it!

  • Finally…

I doubt you’ll see a sweeter video this week than this clip showing the moment a little girl spotted an Irish dancer in the street.  I especially love the bond that forms between them, with the dancer neither getting annoyed with the child or simply laughing at her but instead engaging her.  I just love it!

If you enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate it if you could share it on social media using the buttons below.  And if you find yourself regularly coming back here, how about signing up to my mailing list?  You get a monthly letter from that comes complete with links to all my writing (blog posts, Sunday Suggestions and articles elsewhere) as well as a creativity prompt for you to try.  

Longing for a Quiet December

It’s 1st December.  How the heck has that happened? 

vision-board
My 2016 vision board || raeritchie.com

Glancing to my right, I see the vision board that I made right back at the start of January and I think about the goals I was aiming for.  Some I’ve achieved, others are still outstanding.  Life has got in the way of certain plans.  The mental health issues sadly scuppered getting married (and yes, I know it’s just postponed but I still feel both sad and angry about this).  There are a few things that I just need to get on and sort out in order to get done: going horse riding, for instance, or reading Middlemarch (if finishing it within a month is ambitious then I could at least get started).

Only trouble is that I can’t be arsed.  I could go a considerable way to achieving the remaining goals which I set myself in the time that is left, only I just don’t have the inclination or the energy.  Last week I may have written (with the help of friends and readers) a blog post about the good aspects of the maligned year that has been 2016, but I still can’t wait to turn over the first page of a new calendar.  January offers a fresh start which, however mythical, feels appealing right now.

a-quiet-december
Woolacombe Beach, Devon, 31st December 2015 || raeritchie.com

What does this desire to get to 2017 mean for the rest of 2016?  Is my urge to begin again affecting my attitude toward the month we have left?  The answer is most definitely yes.

I love whole festive season but this year my enthusiasm is seriously dampened.  My partner and I had the Christmas discussion on Saturday evening and he rightfully pointed out that my sigh and groan when mentioning Christmas cards was a sign that I ought to not bother sending any this year.  We are also having debates about the tree.  Last November going to choose one from a nearby Christmas tree farm was one of the highlights of my whole year and I waxed lyrical about it to anyone who would listen.  This year we’re considering get a pre-potted one from a supermarket or maybe not even bothering at all.

This lack of vim and vigour bears no relation to actual demands or levels of responsibility.  We only have eleven gifts to get between us.  We’re even going away on Christmas Day thus are avoiding much of the season’s labour – cooking, hosting, trying to keep everyone pleased – but even so the impending holiday feels like hard work that I don’t have the energy for.

What to do?

My instinct is to go full throttle, ramping up the gears from now until the end of the month in an attempt to jump start myself into feeling Christmassy.  That would be my usual approach – forcing myself to be festive to fit in with my self-image as someone who loves Christmas.  I’d be forcing myself because of what I think it means if I don’t turn on the bells and whistles – that I’m a curmudgeonly, negative miser who doesn’t value the opportunity that this time of year offers to truly connect with family and friends while celebrating the best that life has to offer (usually in the form of edible substances).

Glade Jul (Happy Christmas) by Viggo Johansen (1891) - my favourite image of Christmas & one that for me evokes the softness and comfort of a quiet December || raeritchie.com
Glade Jul (Happy Christmas) by Viggo Johansen (1891) – my favourite image of Christmas & one that for me evokes the softness and comfort of a quiet December

I don’t want to be that person, but nor do I want to cajole myself into an emotional state that doesn’t fit.  Moreover, that approach never works.  Instead I need to go with the flow of how I’m feeling.  I need to let go of the shoulds and oughts and focus on what is.  I need to accept that however much is actually going on in my life, this festive season is a quiet one; sombre, even, given the events of the year in both my own life and the world at large.  The prospect of a quiet December makes me breathe deeply as my shoulders relax.

A quiet December, no goal setting or added demands, feels good.

A quiet December…but we may still get a tree.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate it if you would share it on social media using the buttons below.  And if you find yourself regularly coming back here, how about signing up to my mailing list?  You get a monthly letter from that comes complete with links to all my writing (blog posts, Sunday Suggestions and articles elsewhere) as well as a creativity prompt for you to try.