RWA/NYC congratulate member Lynn Marie Hulsman on the debut of her novel, CHRISTMAS AT THORTON HALL.
It's the best holiday gift for a writer.
And I love the energy of December! I feel it in a stranger’s joy in the department stores as he or she lands on the perfect gift for a beloved. It sizzles in the fizz of connection between newly made friends at a holiday open house. And I get a charge from the feeling of hope and expectation in every party invitation I’m blessed to receive.
And the flavors of Christmastime, so special because they come but once a year: Fragrant mince pies, buttery shortbread cookies, minted hot chocolate, and eggnog redolent with nutmeg. Sheer delight!
But there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.” That’s why I like to pace myself, to step back, rest, and reflect during this period of potential sensory overload. Just as there cannot be yin without yang, I find that I cannot find full joy in participating in holiday fun without the occasional step back. In the interest of keeping myself in fighting form so I don’t cheat myself out of festivities, here’s what I desire to stay sane in every sense of the word:
Solo Movie Time
This time of year, I love to duck out by myself in the middle of a weekday, grab a very plain tub of popcorn and an uncomplicated Diet Coke, and settle into a dark theater to watch a goofy comedy like “Delivery Man” or a magical fantasy like “About Time.” It’s a “me” pocket of time. It has nothing to do with Christmas or with other people. I emerge refreshed into the holiday bustle of Manhattan rejuvenated, and ready to shop!
Laying on of Hands
I’m happy to give myself an early present in the form of healing touch or spa pampering. A visit for an acupuncture treatment (It can be relaxing, I swear!), a nurturing massage, or a soothing facial literally de-stresses and reenergizes me. And the Zen-like world music played by my practitioners transports me to a timeless, placeless space where earthly holidays don’t exist. Instant vacation! When I wander Gandhi-like back in to the fray, people are happy to welcome me.
The Pumping of the Blood
I know what you’re going to say: I don’t have the time or energy to exercise during this mad period! I say it too! I’m no Jillian Michaels. You’ll never hear me say, “I live to run.” But…but…We all know we feel better after we exercise. I used to do it as a way to chase down the perfect body. That wasn’t good motivation for me. It felt mean, and self-critical. That’s no way to motivate someone! Now, I do it as a de-stressor and a sleep enhancer. The side benefit? My pants still fit despite the ubiquitous Salted Caramel lattes and reindeer-shaped cookies I don’t plan to turn down.
Peace and Quiet
It’s what every writer wants at most times during the year, but during the holidays, I’d say its status rises from important to crucial. I don’t want to put anyone off by mentioning the “M” word — meditation — because many people think that to meditate one has to “do” something, and they just don’t know what. Taking some time to sit and listen to your own breath is all you need to do. Lie down if you want to, if you can do so without falling asleep. When thoughts of to-do lists or panic about not being good enough (common among writers!) crop up, thank them and ask them to move on. Visualize them floating down a river, if this helps. Don’t expect to reach a transcendent state. Just plan to spend a few moments with yourself.
I do it whenever and wherever you can, for as long as I can! With all the late-night gatherings, concerts and tree lightings, I treat myself like an athlete in training. I catch a 20-minute snooze between hauling in my bags of gifts and whipping up a cheese balls for hostess gifts. On the nights I’m not going out, I get in bed with a book by 9 and try to fall asleep by 10. Maybe that sounds lame, but my eyes look much brighter the next night seen over the rim of a mug of Brandied Cocoa.
Tiffany jewelry, Coach bags, and Patek Philippe watches make lovely gifts but I think the best present anyone can give is his or her company. What your kids, parents, friends, and partners want is your presence and attention. If you’re depleted, angry, and burnt out, you won’t have fun, and you won’t spread fun. This season, let’s all agree to give ourselves the gift of self-care. Only when we’re in our best shape physically, mentally and spiritually, can the miraculous season really sink in.♥
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: HarperImpulse novelist Lynn Marie Hulsman's varied employment background includes stints as a copywriter for a direct marketing agency specializing in casino advertising (Free buffets! Loose slots!), ushering at Manhattan Theatre Club where she ran smack into Steve Martins' chest, irritated Jeremy Irons's agent, and saw John Slattery naked over 50 times, editing materials for major pharmaceutical companies (Ask her anything about the prostate: She knows.), creatively ideating to re-brand major household products for huge corporations, and passing out cheese cube samples (a decided low point). As a performer she's been seen onstage at Caroline's, Stand Up New York, and headlining with her sketch group Hits Like a Girl at The Big Stinkin' Comedy Festival in Austin,TX. She can't tell you what she's ghost written (obv!) but she's co-written two books on cookery, and is sole author of the forthcoming cookbook THE KENTUCKY BOURBON DESSERT COOKBOOK. She does not believe in white chocolate. CHRISTMAS AT THORNTON HALL is Lynn Marie’s debut novel. Visit her at http://www.lynnmariehulsman.com, and follow and friend her on Facebook and Twitter.
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lynn-Marie-Hulsman-Author/591579824213840
ABOUT THE BOOK: CHRISTMAS AT THORNTON HALL is a country house romance for the modern age, a must-read for fans of the scandals and drama of “Downton Abbey” and the charm and wit of Helen Fielding.