Friday, December 22, 2023

Coping with Grief During the Festive Season: A Guide to Self-Care For The Holidays

Surviving the Holidays with Heart: A Chill Guide to Self-Care

Hey there, friends! The holidays are supposed to be all twinkly lights, good vibes, and cozy moments, right? Well, not for everyone. Sometimes, they're a stark reminder of what's missing, and grief hits a bit harder during this season. So, let's talk about it and share some self-care tips to make it through.

1. Reflecting on Loss:
First things first – it's totally cool not to feel the holiday cheer 24/7. Seriously, who made those rules anyway? If you're like me, missing loved ones for decades, guess what? You're not alone. Embrace your feelings, and forget about feeling guilty. I gave that up a long time ago. My parents are gone, and even though it's been over 20 years, it SUCKS. I think that's totally normal, and I no longer feel bad that my grief isn't on anyone else's "timeline". 

2. Set Those Boundaries:
Boundaries are your holiday BFFs. If you're not feeling that office party or your neighbor's festive soirée, it's okay to hit pause. Your well-being comes first. Advocate for yourself, and don't let anyone guilt-trip you. We all know that certain situations can be harder than others during the holidays, so don't be afraid to skip out on ones that you KNOW are going to be too much for you. 

3. Craft New Traditions:
I know, I know – "new traditions" sounds like a cliché, but trust me, it can really help. Start some rituals that honor your loved ones. Like a special ornament or revisiting a favorite book. In my world, reading "Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree" brings back sweet memories. It's like a warm hug from the past, and I even bought the 1963 version from Ebay just so it would be just like my childhood. We also made an ornament of a picture of my parents, and every year, I hang it up after all the other ornaments are hung. It's kind of a comforting end to the tree decorating now, and the kids even look forward to it. 

4. Get Your Squad:
No one should navigate the holiday blues alone. Round up your friends, family, or find solace in support groups. And hey, if online groups or a chat with a therapist feels right, go for it. Sometimes, strength comes from your people. Bottom line, don't be afraid to reach out or to talk to people about how you're feeling. 

5. Chillin' with Self-Care:
Holiday exhaustion is a real thing. Take a breather with some low-key self-care – reflect quietly, dive into cozy activities, catch those Zs, meditate a bit, or express yourself creatively. You gotta treat yourself – it's not a luxury; it's a must. I find that my grief is a million times worse in those moments when I am stressed out or exhausted, so I've learned to be extra easy on myself during the holidays. 

6. Remember & Celebrate:
Keep the memory of your loved ones alive during the holidays. Maybe support a cause they cared about, create a scrapbook, or binge-watch old home videos. Volunteering in their honor? It's a win-win. For me, I always try to do something during the holiday season that I just KNOW would make my parents proud, and it always makes me feel a little better. 

7. Flexibility is Key:
Grief doesn't follow a script, especially during the holidays. Some days are smooth; others, not so much. Cut yourself some slack. Be easy, and remember, you're doing your best. 

Closing Thoughts:
Here's the real deal – it's A-OK not to ride the holiday hype. Your grief is legit, and these tips are your toolkit for cruising through with a bit of flair. Need a chat or got extra tips? Drop a comment below because, hey, we're all in this together. Sending virtual hugs and good vibes your way! 🌟

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Surviving the Holidays as a Parentless Parent: Tips for Finding Comfort

Hey, lovely souls! 🌟 Let's get real about the holidays, shall we? While the world is busy wrapping gifts and decking the halls, some of us are wrestling with a different kind of jingle – the one that comes with the territory of being a parentless parent. It's not all cocoa and cozy vibes, but fear not! I've got some tips to help you find comfort and sail through this season with your sanity intact.

1. Roll with the Feels:

First things first – it's totally legit not to be the holiday cheer captain 24/7. If the nostalgia hits hard, embrace it. Cry, laugh, or do a bit of both. Your feelings are your feelings, no judgment here. You definitely don't have to be perfect all the time! 

2. Create Your Own Cheer:

Who says traditions are set in stone? Craft your own rituals that bring warmth to your heart. Maybe it's a solo dance party to your favorite tunes, a movie marathon in cozy PJs, or even an impromptu karaoke session with the cat. Make it yours. There literally are no rules. At our house, we do pizza and movie nights with a little bourbon drinking after the kids go to bed. Is it traditional? No, but it's our own tradition, and I love that! 

3. Lean on Your Crew:

Holidays are meant for connections. Reach out to your tribe – friends, family, or even that neighbor who bakes killer cookies. Don't hesitate to share your thoughts; you might be surprised how many can relate or offer a virtual shoulder squeeze. You might actually be surprised to see how many people are not fans of the holiday season for the same reasons as you! 

4. Make Time for You:

Parentless or not, the holiday hustle can be draining. Sneak in moments of self-care like it's a secret mission. Whether it's a bubble bath, a good book, or just zoning out with your favorite podcast, remember: you-time is non-negotiable. This self care time really helps me to recharge and put things into perspective so I feel like I can better handle myself during the crazy season. 

5. Honoring Memories:

Take a beat to reminisce. Share stories about your loved ones, look through old photo albums, or maybe even whip up a dish that screams nostalgia. It's a beautiful way to keep their memory alive in your holiday celebrations. My kids love to hear stories from my childhood now that they are teens, and I feel like it's a way to help them to know who their grandparents were as people, even though they never got to meet. 

6. Be a Holiday Rebel:

Permission to rebel granted! If the standard holiday playbook doesn't resonate with you, toss it out the window. Create a holiday playlist with your favorite rock anthems, ditch the traditional feast for a foodie adventure, or declare a day of Netflix and chill – holiday edition. You get to be the boss of your own holiday. For me, as a mom raising kids without my own parents, that has actually been pretty healing - the fact that I can create my own traditions (however crazy they may be!) for my own family. 

7. Reach Out for Support:

Remember, you're not alone in this journey. Seek support from groups, friends, or even professionals. Online communities can be a game-changer, offering understanding and a sprinkle of virtual cheer.

Closing Thoughts:

So, my brave friend, you've got this holiday thing on lock. Be gentle with yourself, savor the small joys, and know that finding comfort is your superpower. Drop a comment below with your go-to holiday comfort tips or just to share a virtual high-five. Wishing you all the cozy vibes and a sprinkle of holiday magic! 🌈✨

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Dive into Delight: Our Unforgettable Day at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

Our trip to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg was already packed with excitement, but Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies turned out to be the unexpected star! I confess, I doubted the aquarium's appeal initially – being more of a "zoo" person – but boy, was I in for a delightful surprise.

The Spectacular Start: A Building Beyond Expectations
First things first, the aquarium's building itself is a marvel, even in the daytime. It's not just about the glow; it's a genuinely cool place that sets the stage for an extraordinary experience. It's an amazing place all around, and perfect for getting some pictures outside!

Friendly Faces and Hassle-Free Entry
Picking up our media tickets at the friendly ticket desk was a refreshing start. The warm customer service was a welcome change, setting a positive tone for the entire visit. Make sure to check out the multi attraction discount if you are planning on visiting any of the other great Ripley's attractions in town! (We highly recommend that you do!)

Aquatic Extravaganza: A Surprisingly Extended Stay
Expecting a quick visit, we ended up spending an incredible four and a half hours exploring the spacious, well-lit exhibits. I NEVER intended to spend this much time here, but we made our rounds at a slow pace, letting our boys take the lead. The late January visit offered the rare luxury of almost having the entire place to ourselves! I am sure that this place gets crazy busy during the summer months and beyond, but visiting in the off season was a huge plus!

Jellyfish Joy: A Family Favorite
The jellyfish stole the show, especially for my boys, who were beyond amazed. Imagine their delight, having only known jellyfish from SpongeBob! It was a laughter-filled, mesmerizing experience. I couldn't believe that they stood at the jellyfish exhibit for over fifteen minutes, but I was totally entranced too!

Beyond Expectations: Aquarium Accolades and Diversity
Doubting TripAdvisor's rave reviews, I was proven utterly wrong. With over 10,000 sea creatures and 350+ species, the aquarium lived up to every award and word of praise. This aquarium truly does deserve all of the awards and great reviews that it has received!

Tunnel Thrills: Sharks, Turtles, and Moving Floors
A personal favorite – the tunnel with its glass top and moving floor. Watching sharks and turtles swim overhead was genuinely amazing. You could stroll or step off for a closer look – flexibility at its finest.

Shark Shenanigans and Giant Crab Fun
The giant crabs and a shark with a questionable agenda provided unexpected excitement. Picture a shark following us back and forth – a hilarious, slightly unnerving encounter, but one we will not ever forget!

Penguin Paradise: An Hour of Pure Joy
Who can resist penguins? An hour spent exploring the penguin exhibit was sheer joy. And don't forget to grab some treasures from the gift shop on your way out! The penguins were definitely a highlight of the visit, and the exhibits are so interactive and fun!

I must admit, I underestimated this aquarium. If you haven't been, trust me, you need to go NOW! January's odd weather meant no crowds, making our visit even more special. Make sure to ask for a homeschool discount if you are a homeschooling family. The discounts for homeschoolers are super great at not only this, but other Ripley's attractions as well!

Full transparency – I received complimentary tickets for this attraction in exchange for an honest review. But as always, the opinions expressed here are entirely my own!

Friday, December 15, 2023

HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS 2024 WORLD TOUR Tickets are now on sale!

It's that time again y'all! HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS 2024 WORLD TOUR Tickets are now on sale!

Save up to 20% with Promo Code: USFAM
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Globetrotter stars LIVE as they DRIBBLE, SPIN, SLAM, and DUNK their way past their relentless rivals, the
Washington Generals! You'll be amazed by new levels of mind-blowing trick shots, expert ball-handling
skills, and BIG LAUGHS with unrivaled opportunities for pre-game, post-game and in-game fan
Save up to 20% with Promo Code: USFAM
Bringing world-class basketball showmanship to arenas all over the U.S.
(Discount valid on tickets purchased at least One Week Prior to Game Date)



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