Dealing with Winter, Part II


by Abbey Algiers

I’ve decided that winter is like the mean girl in middle school who just won’t leave you alone.  Your mom tells you to ignore her, but she is relentless, waiting for you at your locker and around every corner, with new, nasty tricks up her sleeve.  Winter’s tricks include piercing cold, grey days, ugly landscapes where the snow has melted, and that chilling wind that whips the hell out of you.  Add fun jobs like shoveling snow, scraping windshields, and generally just dealing with the meanest girl of all, Mother Nature in full-on winter mode.

That said, the only way to handle winter is just throw on some layers, suck it up, and pretend it’s not there while you focus on things that make you happy, like perhaps some of these:

1.     It takes one to know one… why not deal with that mean girl winter by planning a bea(t)ch vacation that will remind you what it feels like to be warm? Not into the beach, or maybe it's impossible to get away for a week now?  Then consider a girl’s weekend or a couple’s getaway. It’s amazing what even a night away can do for one’s outlook.

Even if you can’t get away now, you can still look into trips for the future.  What if I told you there was a way to spend a week in a Spanish village with all expenses paid except your airfare? You’d perk up a little, wouldn’t you?  Well, forget about the cold, and fire up your computer to check out  Here you’ll find details on how you can make lifelong friends from around the world while you learn about Spain, enjoy its cuisine, and generally just expand your mind while making a huge difference “teaching” English in Diverbo's "Pueblo Inglés" program. To answer your question, no formal teaching is required, it’s more like a week of great conversations  with Spaniards, allowing them to fine tune their English for their jobs or lives. And no, you don't need to speak Spanish, in fact it's banned at Pueblo Inglés in order to give the Spaniards an authentic English immersion.

Wait, you want to speak Spanish? No sweat, amiga. Diverbo’s got an answer to that too.  Spend 8 days in that same charming village, but this time you’re the student who will be immersed in Spanish in a fantastic program called (you guessed it) "Pueblo Español."  This program will cost you a little, but it’s worth it for the 100 hours of authentic Spanish communication you’ll experience. 

Both programs are tried and true and 100% legit! Give them a peek and be ready to rock your world in this amazing cultural exchange.

2.     Okay, your vacation’s booked, and the wind is still howling outside your window? Well, then curl up with a good book, grab a cup of tea or glass of wine, and get lost for a while. My top pick is In the Company of Women , an awesome read that inspires you on every page of this dynamic book written by Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge. (Note, I took a 25 minute mini vacay on this site when I just popped over to get the hyperlink set up for this article.  You may want to spend some time there yourself.) In the Company of Women tells the stories of over 100 female makers, artists, and entrepreneurs.  My favorite fun fact about the book is that Grace Bonney wrote it in just two months! Just before deadline, she made a last minute decision to change the entire book she was contracted to write.  Her publisher allowed the change, but kept the deadline.  What Bonney created in those two months is indeed a masterpiece.

3.     Would you rather just unplug a bit and let inspiration come to you? Then charge your phone and throw on a great podcast. Need some ideas? Here are a few:  

You’ve Got Issues With Anna David- I love this podcast because it makes me feel better about all of the issues I have about silly things.  Each podcast starts with the guest telling their issue, such as “people who ask ‘can I squeeze by?’” or “friends who walk together on sidewalks” or “women who don’t sit on toilet seats.”  Clearly, there are a lot of issues out there, and this podcast hits on some of the most pressing.

The Chris Loves Julia Podcast and Young House Love Has A Podcast- If you’re into HGTV, you’re going to love these two podcasts. Each features a husband/wife duo who talk all things home design and renovation.  The podcasts cover the projects the couples are working on, and offer tips on what you can do in your own home.  Nothing heavy on either podcast, just good fun.

Being Boss: Mindsets, Habits, Tactics, and Life:  If you can’t be the boss of winter, at least find out how to be the boss of your life.  Entrepreneurs Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson offer great insight into the world of being a creative and making a living at it. The best thing about the podcast is that it feels like you’re listening to a great convo among friends. Friendly advice you can trust.

One Part Plant:  Rooted in healthy, plant - based eating, this podcast goes above and beyond the basics of what to eat, and introduces us to cool people doing amazing things all around the world. I love the host, Jessica Murnane’s calm, casual nature that makes you feel like you're listening to a girlfriend you’d want to wine with. REALLY great podcast, with a special series coming in January that will highlight the making of her upcoming cookbook, One Part Plant.  (Please, just stop what you’re doing, and pre-order it right now.)

4.     With all of this talk about podcasts, I almost completely forgot I’m addicted to Netflix. Perhaps you know someone who is as well.  If so, it never hurts to have a few more shows to binge watch when you’ve got extra time to kill, or no time at all. Because we all know Netflix is a great aide in procrastination, if you need ideas on how to do that. Some of my favs:

Parenthood- When the show went off the air, I went right back to Season One to remind myself of how it all began.  Whether you watched the show back in the day or not, I recommend this if you like a show that covers how siblings interact in adulthood.

Bluebloods- I really never thought of myself as a cop show loving gal, but my husband got me into this one, telling me I'd like it because it's about family, and every episode ends with the family having dinner and drinking wine together. Say what? He was right - I love it, and turns out it was just like my beloved Parenthood.  Just picture the cast of Parenthood, only they live in New York, and most of them are cops. Same dynamics, just add guns and crime.  At the end of the day, it’s a show about family, and who can argue with that?

This is Us- Speaking of family shows that add an element of time travel, and writing that is beyond words, This is Us could be the show of the century.  If you haven’t watched this NBC hit, where the hell have you been? Seriously, you need to catch up on the season and get with the program. Head over to and binge, now. Or just download the app and find your show on your phone.

If none of these shows float your boat, here are a few documentaries and movies on Netflix you may want to see:

The Way- One father uses a 500 mile trek from France to Spain to grieve the loss of his son.

Finding Vivian Maier- Like photography? You’ll love Vivian.

Living on One Dollar Put things in perspective and see how the producers took this concept to heart. It really makes you think about how we live our lives with all we have… and makes us wonder how much we really need.

Minimalism – Live more with less. Enough said.

5.   Let’s face it, even with all of these fun activities, it’s still fricking cold out.  So, why not completely escape, and create a vision board that lets you get your goals and dreams out there well past the winter? Sound a little woo-woo? Maybe. But I don’t care. This stuff works.  There are tons of ways to do it, and you can personalize your board in whatever way you like. If you’ve got a lot of old magazines, cut out pics of houses, trips, clothing, jobs that you’d like to “create” for yourself, and add them to your vision board.  See what Martha Beck has to say about vision boards here.

Another idea, have a vision board party.  The Travel Mamas have tips on how to do this on their very cool site. 

Maybe the thought of scissors and magazines isn’t your jam. No sweat. There’s an app for that Actually, there are a ton of apps for that… just google “vision board app” and you’ll find options that will allow you to create the life of your dreams from your phone.  Because if you’re like me, you don’t spend nearly enough time on it the way it is. 

Well, I hope these suggestions keep your mind off that mean girl winter, and on happier things that bring a smile to your face and warm your heart. I’m going to stop now and get this post out because as my husband gently reminded me, “You’d better get that post out before winter actually IS over.” 

So there you go. Take these ideas to heart and give that mean girl winter a swift kick in the locker.