I don’t often have nightmares, but when I do, it’s usually based on the same theme: I am trying to hide from someone who is looking for me. . .someone who wants to hurt me. Sometimes I am being chased, sometimes I am hiding in a dark closet or under a bed.

Please don’t find me.

Please don’t find me.

I wake up in a panic and tell myself, “you are okay—go back to sleep.”

The dreams are terrifying. But they aren’t real.

My heart hurts for those families in Newtown, Connecticut who are waking up this morning, hoping it was all a nightmare.


Have yourself an anxious little Christmas

Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. . .theoretically.

In actuality, it’s making me feel kind of sick. Lately, whenever I start to think about what I have still to do—-all the posts I still need to write for work, the holiday activities I’ve promised to do with the kids, the Christmas cards, the gift shopping, the cookie making, the “making merry and bright” . . .I feel like I’m about to spiral out of control. Or just lie on the ground and weep.

Even the little Christmas Countdown app I have on my iPhone makes my hands break out in a cold sweat. Two weeks?????

I need more time. More. Time.

Though, I’m sure that’s not the only problem. Part of it is the overload of a to-do list that will not quit. Part of it is some weird expectations I have on myself for what the holidays “should” be like and what we “should” do. Even though some of those things aren’t even things the kids care about doing. (Seeing Santa? They could care less. I want the photo.)

But, I’m trying to de-stress in ways that don’t involve eating a jar of Nutella, guzzling wine, or yelling at the kids. How?

* Getting outside. Honestly? I’d probably never do this if I didn’t have a big dog with soft eyes who looks at me as if she’s saying, “PLEASE take me for a walk” And, while it’s One. More. Thing I have to do a few times a day, once I start walking down the street with her, I feel the burdens of the day lifting from my shoulders. I always try to walk at least a half a mile (or so—I don’t measure it!), and breathe really deeply while I walk. I’ve had a few freezing walks the past few days, and while I sometimes wish I didn’t have to go outside (especially at 10pm!), I never regret it afterward.

* Zzzzzzzzz. 15 minutes on the couch and—wow—so much better. Reminds me of when I was in college and would arrive at the library at 7pm most nights, put my books down, my head on the desk, and fall promptly asleep for a short while. Just like then, I wake up ready to handle the next bunch of tasks. (don’t tell my former bosses, but I did the same thing when I worked in an office.)

* Magnesium. I started taking a magnesium supplement a few months ago on the suggestion of my doctor who said it might help me with those mood swings that come up every month. (YOU know what I mean) I’m supposed to vary the dosage based on where I am on my “cycle” but I’m lazy and just take 250mg every night. I can’t say that this is good for everyone (and you should always talk to your doctor before you take any supplements!), but I swear I’ve been a little more even-keeled this fall and winter.

* Just stop and go to bed. I’m a morning person and though I’d love to be productive at 10pm, I’m really just staring at my computer screen, getting nowhere. I don’t expect to get “enough” sleep this month, but I’m trying to get as much as possible.

* Lowered expectations. I will never have a house neighbors wants to visit for my decorating tips. I don’t make 10 different kinds of Christmas cookies or write a note on each Christmas card. And if we don’t see Santa this year, we’ll be okay. I think.

I’m doing okay and trying to remember why I love this holiday so much, though there is always room for improvement. How are you doing? Any other things I could be doing?

ScreenShot2012-09-27at74056AMThis is my last of three sponsored posts with Harvard Pilgrim (here are links to the first one and second one.) All the thoughts, opinions, and advice expressed are my very own. Want to find even more ways to be well? Check out 

Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker: Another reason to love the holidays


Photograph by Gene Schiavone

A few years ago, I started taking the girls to see The Nutcracker. They were both studying ballet, and their friend was in a local production. Plus, I was really, really curious to actually see the ballet in its entirety, having grown up as one of those poor, underprivileged children who never got to get dressed up to go with Mum to the famous ballet each December.

I’m not sure it’d feel like the holidays now without The Nutcracker. Back in November, I start to get excited to bring the girls to see their friend who, this year, is playing Clara in her dance school’s production.

But when the Boston Ballet asked if I’d like to check out their newly revamped version of  The Nutcracker this past weekend—along with a tour backstage to see the brand-new sets—I leapt (and pirouetted) at the chance.

I chose to bring Jilly who studies ballet herself, and the two of us headed up to Boston’s Opera House which deserves its own paragraph of “wow”, “gorgeous”, “stunning”. All dressed up for the holidays in gold and red, it felt like we’d stepped onto the set the moment we walked into the lobby.


Upon arrival, we were given a “goodie bag” for us bloggers and media folk who had been invited to attend. Inside, Jilly found something that may rank up there with her favorite gifts ever: A pair of used pointe shoes from one of the soloists, Ashley Ellis.


Broken-in (and autographed) pointe shoes? This is what dreams are made of.

As for the production itself, there was plenty to awe us both. I had read of Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen’s decision to completely redo the sets and costumes (created by designer Robert Perdziola), as well as add new choreography and characters. I never had the chance to see previous years of the Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker for comparison, but, wow, I loved so much about this production.

The sets have an old-fashioned storybook feel to them, with so much detail incorporated into them, they would actually make a gorgeous picture book if they were ever shrunk down and bound between covers. Let’s make that a pop-up book, okay?


Photograph by Gene Schiavone

So much glitters in this production that it really adds to the feeling that you’ve entered a dreamland: from the sparkly costumes to the shimmering snow and the pretty silver sleigh led by silver reindeer, it’s all very magical whether you are 9 or 40-cough-something. And Mikko Nissinen has a great eye for cool special effects like the huge shadows the mice cast which makes them seem so much more threatening, and the took-my-breath-away moment when the towering, glittering Christmas tree grows to over 40 feet in size.

Though it is the dancing that really makes this show worth the drive into Boston and the higher-than-your-local-dance-school’s prices. The quality of every dancer on stage is so high—-from the adorable little polichinelles that spill out from under Mother Ginger’s skirt, to the gorgeously athletic leaps and dizzying spins of the soloists. It has us all breaking out into spontaneous applause throughout the show. And, the young girl who played Clara was so beautiful and expressive on stage, I could tell exactly her emotion from 20-or-so rows back.


Photograph by Gene Schiavone


The best thing about it all though was turning to my left and seeing how excited and energized Jilly was by what she was seeing on stage. I know The Nutcracker’s story line can be a bit confusing and–well–odd, especially if you haven’t seen it several times. But, armed with the scene-by-scene synopsis in the program book and charmed by this spectacular performance, this may be one more holiday tradition to look forward to each year.


Jilly. . .someday?

Are you a Nutcracker family? Do you take the kids to see if every year too?

You can find out more about the Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker on their website. Also, go here for details on half-priced tickets. 

Thank you to the Boston Ballet for providing us with tickets to the ballet and the memories to go along with it. All opinions are my own.