Beating the winter blues

It’s official.  I have become an old fogey.  I say this not because I’m about to celebrate my birthday this week, but because I start every conversation I have with anyone I encounter (including unsuspecting clerks at 7-Eleven) with a comment about the weather.  Given that I live in Boston, that means the conversation is typically limited to varying degrees of rain or the ever amusing pre Halloween snow storm.  Fortunately, the recent time change has given me new fodder.

I hate the end of Daylight Savings Time.  It comes in like a shroud, covering everyone in the doom and gloom of the impending winter, forcing those of us hoping for an Indian Summer to finally put away our shorts, pull down the storm windows and pray for June to get here as soon as possible.  That being said, I’m sitting here basking in a sunny dining room while it’s a blissful 65 degrees outside, so I’ve got renewed hope for this winter.  Since Mother Nature has decided to throw me a bone with this balmy day, I’ve decided to do my part to make the most of the shorter days and to fight the winter blues.

A quick Google search along with calls to ask a few friends yielded these bits of advice.  I hope they help. If you have any other favorite tips or tricks, please post them.  I can use all of the help I can get!

Crazy Cat Lady

While I'm trying to avoid the cardigan, I do love the glasses!

Wear light layers.  Layer several lighter articles of clothing rather than wearing 1-2 heavy pieces to avoid feeling weighed down.

I spend my days trying to ensure that I don’t turn into the crazy cat lady someday, so I need to get a jump start on that by not wearing the same gray wool cardigan every day from November to June.

Learn something new. Start a hobby. Developing an interest in something new will make you feel good during those long winter months.

I’ve decided to try and take up knitting.  I love scarves, so I’m going to try making one.  Even if I don’t succeed at knitting anything that resembles a scarf, just being able to knit a few rows without poking out my own eye will be a personal accomplishment.

Pick up the phone.  If you’re feeling isolated after a few days of being holed up in your house, reach out to an old friend by giving them a call.

My houseplants are not suitable conversation partners.  I have some wonderful friends that I’ve lost touch with, so I can use this time to catch up with them and see how many kids they’ve had since we last spoke.

Get out of the house. It may be freezing outside and warm inside but if you don’t get out of the house the blues will just increase. A walk or even a drive can get the blood flowing and shake the blues.

Granted, I don’t recommend going for a drive if you live in Boston, since peoples’ behavior on the roads here always makes me doubt my belief that human beings are inherently good, but a walk around Jamaica Pond always does the trick.

Book it. An old trick someone told me was to read a book or watch a movie that takes place in the desert or some other place that is extremely warm.

This gives me a good if not noble excuse to watch The Blue Lagoon for the 17th time, or if I’m trying to be slightly more respectable and responsible, I could finally finish reading Reading Lolita in Tehran.

Wear bright colors, even if everyone is wearing dark earthy tones. Color will give you a real lift.

I have to admit, I’ve done this for years and it’s one of my favorites.  Not only does it make me feel better, but I’m always amazed by how many comment on my outfit.  Not only do I enjoy, but they do, too, and it sparks a conversation.

Bring color into where you live.

Flowers in window

I've learned to stretch one bunch of flowers by using bud vases for individual stems

Whether treating myself to a brightly colored coffee mug for hot chocolate on those cold days or buying a $7 bunch of fresh flowers at the market, color has getting me through even the darkest day (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).

Get your blood pumping.  Getting any exercise when it’s frigid or snowing out is tough, but it’s an important way to stay off the couch and get an energy boost.

Granted, I have yet to bite the bullet and join a gym, but a brisk walk is free and also gives me a chance to satisfy my dog cravings.  There are a few new Labs on my block and I met a St. Bernard puppy my last time around the pond!

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How Snag-It stole my heart

I’m in love.  Now, those of you who know me and my dating track record are automatically turning your calendar to three months from now, noting the date and entering a reminder that my relationship will have ended by now and you’ll need to come over with a movie where something blows up every 2 minutes, or a bottle of wine, or both.  Whether or not you’ve endured my quarterly dating cycles, you’ll be happy to know that my heart belongs not to a man, but to an application called Snag-It

SNAG_IT Screen Shot

Here's a screen shot I captured using Snag-It.

Snag-It enables you to grab images from any place on the web, making it possible to copy, paste and repurpose images from any web page, including pesky Flash presentations and 360 rotating product images.  As someone who is yet to be walking upright when it comes to Web technology, Snag-It is the answer to my prayers.  Now I can get events from images where our bags are featured, capture important product shots for R&D, and juxtapose my head onto Penelope Cruz’ body without fancy Web or design apps.  For a sneak peek, check out this video from CNET.

And, since not all relationships are a good fit, I love the fact that I could get a 30 day free trial before committing.  I don’t tend to fall head over heels, but I’m just 2 weeks into Snag-It and I think it’s the one for me.

Going gaga

I'm a reluctant (read: insanely nervous) model.  It was 30 degrees the day of the photoshoot and I was still sweating!

I'm a reluctant (read: insanely nervous) model. It was 30 degrees the day of the photoshoot and I was still sweating!

Originally from Virginia, I moved to Boston 4 years ago to try living in a place where sweet tea isn’t the default, to attend grad school and to try my hand at starting a business.  Since then, I’ve managed to carry over 1,000 bags up 2 flights of stairs to my office, kill 5 houseplants with good intentions, burn through 3 Mr. Coffee iced tea makers, launch 1 company, and meet more terrific people than I can count.  In addition to running things at Go GaGa, I spend my time feeling guilty for not working out, eating lime gummi bears instead of green vegetables, calling my family for advice, and catching up with old friends over cocktails named for 80’s TV actresses.

I’m figuring things out as I go along, whether trying to be greener without throwing out the 17 bottles of cleaners that my Mom gave me when I moved in or trying to remove something from my website without being an HTML maven.  So, I’ve started this blog to share what I’m learning, what I’m struggling with, what makes me laugh and what ceases to amaze me, like the resurgence of neon colors and how strong 12 year old girls can be when you’re arm wrestling them for the last large shirt at H&M during a sale.

Hopefully some of these things will help you, distract you, or at the very least amuse you, which is why I’ve chosen the moniker Lighten Your Load.  Just like our ergonomic bags that are designed to ease the pressure that bags put on your back, I hope that this blog will help to ease the strain on your sanity and sense of humor as you figure things out, too.