Category Archives: Family

It’s the Most Magical Time of the Year…and Depression


Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Ben White

Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Ben White

The Holiday Season. Winter. Christmastime, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Year’s. All of it. It’s here again (or will be within weeks).

People are stringing lights across the eaves of their houses, smothering their front yard bushes and trees under ropes of brilliant bulbs of color, tiny fairy lights and large luminosities of red and green, Nativity scenes and Menorahs. Stockings are hung from the mantle or the chimney (or from stocking holders placed on shelves if you live in South Florida, because we don’t have mantles and chimneys), toy trains and holiday villages brighten up hallways and front rooms while trees sparkle and bow beneath their weight of lights, tinsel and decorations. Ugly Christmas and Holiday sweaters make their limited engagement appearances. Millions flock to Walt Disney World for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Holidays Around the World, and festive dining experiences.

It’s the most magical time of the year.

It’s my favorite time of the year. From the day after Thanksgiving (when I begin playing Christmas music) until Christmas night, those glorious, wonderful 31 days are when I’m happiest, each year. Attempting once again (and probably once again, failing) to compose and send out cards to those who are special to me, letting them know I’m thinking of them – all year long, but especially now – by the 2nd week of December. Searching for the best bargains on items from family members’ Christmas lists so I won’t go broke…again…

Christmas parties and luncheons, the annual church Christmas concert and children’s drama that always surprises and delights. The joy of finding that special gift for a member of my family, or a friend; imagining the pleasure on their faces when they open those gifts I’ve painstakingly wrapped in beautiful paper and ribbon. Decorating the tree while watching Christmas movies. And the Christmas movies! There are new ones each year to enjoy and ones from years gone by that have become favorites.

All of this I look forward to each year. Something magical about peace on earth, good will toward men.

But there’s a dark side.

These 31 days are also some of the most depressing days of the year for me and so many other people living with depression. There’s a bitter-sweetness to the celebrating and expressions of love and joy. Perhaps it’s because we struggle to feel the same wonder and carefree happiness that so maafter-the-new-year-graphicny others seem to feel; perhaps it’s because we feel a lack within ourselves – a lack of family or friends or significant other(s), someone with whom to share the joy; or perhaps it’s because there lurks beneath it all the understanding that this won’t last; after the New Year, most of us will go back to our everyday lives that magic never touches, good will and peace will be left at the curb with our dead and dying trees, and churlishness will accompany the deconstruction of all those pretty lights, trains and holiday villages. Back in the boxes, sheds and attics go our decorations and ugly holiday sweaters – at least the ones that survived kittens and puppies and toddlers – to save for next season. And so, apparently, do our belief in magic, joy and goodwill toward our neighbors. (Now THAT’S a depression thought.)

That’s part of it, sure. But for me, another part of the depression is old-fashioned self-pity. I’m single (not alone, because I have family and good friends nearby, but single…there’s a difference, you know). For someone like me, a romantic who dives into Christmas/holiday stories and movies (almost all of which end in some form of Happily Ever After, aka HEA), and watches – teary-eyed – all of the Christmas commercials about family and love, being single at Christmastime is downright depressing at times. Especially this year. Why is this year different? Well, 3 young couples with whom I am friends got married this year. I’ve been privileged to watch ALL 3 romances begin and grow over the past few years, and to see them each begin their own HEA in holy matrimony, and watch them begin their lives together…well, it’s bittersweet. Also, perimenopause is rearing its uncomfortable, heightened estrogen, emotional trainwreck, night sweat-slicked head. And, no sex. Also, no snow. 😦

Changing things up.

So while this most magical time of year is my favorite…and I suffer depression more acutely at Christmastime than any other, I’ve changed things up a bit this year, to see if perhaps I can survive the rest of this year less depressed:

  • I’ve not picked up one Christmas romance novel; instead, I’m reading the final book in an epic fantasy series (The Faithful and the Fallen series by UK author John Gwynne). I might be depressed at the end of the book, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be because the series is finished and not because I’m still single.
  • I’m gathering all of my tax documents – medical bill payments, copays, charitable donations, etc. – updating my writing and editing income and expenses spreadsheet so I’ll be ready – early – for tax time.
  • Keeping an eagle eye on my finances so I’ll be able to afford a nice birthday shin-dig for my son when he turns 16 (!!!!!!!!!!) in January.
  • Making a plan (which includes pep-talks at myself) for exercise, healthy eating and a little weight loss after the holidays (I’m soooo not into depriving myself of all the holiday goodies), so I will have enough energy to enjoy myself on my planned birthday trip to Disney World mid-February, and look good while I’m there! 🙂
  • Taking a little time each day to thank God for His blessings, and reflect upon all of the successes in my life (such as letting my son live another year – that’s a big one!).

So while this most magical time of year often means a deeper struggle with depression for me, I’m determined to enjoy the holidays with family and friends, revel in my independence and strength as a woman, and not dwell on the tiny, rather insignificant fact that I am single.

How about you? Is this your favorite time of year, and/or do you find yourself more depressed during the holiday season than any other time of year? If so, why?

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Filed under Depression, Disney, Emotion, Event, Family, Friendship, Holidays, Humor, Life, Mental Health, Musings, Real Life, Relationships, Romance, Thankful

Guest Post: It’s Time for me to Rejoin the Parade by C. Streetlights


Photo source: Unsplash.com/Maria Victoria Heredia Reyes

Photo source: Unsplash.com/Maria Victoria Heredia Reyes

There is a lot of myself that I keep locked away that I usually say is part of my Old Life. It’s not because these things are embarrassing or bad, but my Old Life is filled with all the parts of me that came before I was sexually assaulted and that life was destroyed. It’s the life that was taken away from me and I was forced to redefine.

Sometimes I happen across evidence from my Old Life that I forgot existed. I realize that perhaps I didn’t box up everything as carefully as I thought I did. Like forgotten Christmas ornaments that roll behind the couch, I will find proof of the person I once was – covered in dust and no longer shining.

My 5-year-old daughter asked me this week if we could go to Disneyland and I told her that we could. In fact, I had already started saving up for our trip during Spring Break. I loved watching her excitement at hearing the news and I suddenly felt the stirrings of an old familiar joy that I had buried when it came to Disneyland.

In my Old Life, I made sure our family had annual passes even though we didn’t live in Southern California because we went there at least three times a year. I had an enormous laminated and illustrated map of the theme park for my classroom and my honors English students read Walt Disney’s official biography.

Anyone who knew me in my Old Life (because I cut off ties with most people from my Old Life) would tell you that I loved Disneyland and Walt Disney. That to me, it wasn’t about what Disney, Inc. does currently, it was all about the park and Walt Disney the man. I could walk down Main Street in my Old Life and tell people the story of the names painted on the storefront windows, help people find hidden Mickeys, and why the train is named what it is. My son could find his way around Disneyland from the time he was about 6-years-old, and I cried during the parades.

But really, it was what the park represented to me and who Walt Disney was. I loved and admired the man’s spirit and drive. It didn’t matter how many times Disney faced financial ruin or economic despair, he kept moving forward and I respected that. According to him, the only time he ever contemplated giving up was when Oswald the Rabbit was stolen from him and he had to head home on the train and face uncertainty. Fate intervened in the form of a little mouse scurrying around on the floor and as Walt Disney would say, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started with a mouse.”

paradeWhen I used Walt Disney as an example with my students, I stressed how success didn’t come easy to him. He was a failure in school and bankers refused to fund him for business loans. But he had heart and resiliency. And he worked hard to achieve his own success.

I believed in resiliency and heart in my Old Life until sexual assault taught me that the hard workers don’t deserve success or their dreams coming true. I shoved it all in the attic along with everything else I identified with in my Old Life and began to build a New Life, one that definitely didn’t involve any risk taking that could yield neither success nor failure. My New Life would be beige.

And yet, after telling my daughter that on a whim I began to save money for a Disneyland trip, I’ve been thinking more about how much I once loved it. And I remembered a story Walt Disney would tell his employees that I would also tell my students:

“Remember the boy who wanted to march in the circus parade?  When the show came to town, the bandmaster needed a trombonist, so the boy signed up.  He hadn’t marched a block before the fearful noises from his horn caused two old ladies to faint and a horse to run away.  The bandmaster demanded, ‘Why didn’t you tell me you couldn’t play the trombone?’ and the boy said, ‘How did I know? I never tired before!’

“… if I’m no longer young in age, I hope I stay young enough in spirit never to fear failure — young enough still to take a chance and march in the parade.”

I’ve started to reread some of my Walt Disney books again, hoping to revitalize this part of my Old Life again. I want to feel this kind of hope and invincibility again. I want to feel the excitement for life I once felt. All of that was taken from me, not just from the person who assaulted me from all the people around me who should have believed me and didn’t.

While some of my Old Life is gone, never to be a part of my life again, there are other parts that need to come home to me. It’s time for me to join the parade.

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cstreetlightsAfter writing and illustrating her first bestseller in second grade, “The Lovely Unicorn”, C. Streetlights took 20 years to decide if she wanted to continue writing. In the time known as growing up she became a teacher, a wife, and mother. Retired from teaching, C. Streetlights now lives with her family in the mountains along with their dog that eats Kleenex. Her memoir, Tea and Madness, won honorable mention for memoir in the Los Angeles Book Fair (2016) and is available for purchase on Amazon.

C. Streetlights is represented by Lisa Hagan Books and published by Shadow Teams NYC. For all press interviews and other inquiries, please contact Ms. Hagan directly.

You can connect with C. Streetlights on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Amazon Author Central, LinkedIn, and Goodreads.

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Filed under Disney, Family, Guest Post, Life, Mental Health, sexual assault, Survivors, Writing

Guest Post: From Size 0 to Size Mom. And Proud of it. By C. Streetlights


I won’t ever be size 0 again, and that’s probably okay. Maybe.

I will be turning 40 at the end of this year and I am slowly accepting the changes in my body that age does to a woman. It’s the age when our bodies turn against us and we come a sort of featured special on the Nature Channel entitled: “When Host Systems Attack.”

I was once one of the girls who other girls longed to be – the type who could eat an entire order of chili cheese fries from Volcano Burger and still want a chocolate shake, not even caring because she knew it would all burn off by dinner time. The horrible trade-off (in my teen-aged mind) was that I was all angles and knees with no boobs. Well, no boobs compared to some others. At that age, or even younger, it was the tale of what we didn’t have compared to what someone else did.

I took my weight for granted during those years. For that matter, I took the entire concept of a healthy lifestyle for granted. Exercise? Hell no; that means sweating. And effort. And probably planning. Eating healthily? Why would I eat fruit and vegetables when God created cheese and the burgers to put it on?

Once I was married, though, my body gave me hints of what was to come. It was like The Christmas Carol but completely different because I’m not Scrooge and this isn’t England. I never gained “The Freshman 15” in college but I definitely gained it as a newlywed thanks to cheap, starchy eating based on our budget and a little special something called the birth control pill. In my young 20-something mind, I thought this was close to the end of the world, bringing my weight from 100 pounds to 115. (I know, I know, don’t yell at me.) But while I was still weighing in at a healthy and normal weight, it still meant no longer fitting in my clothes and that always screws with your head.

exercise-machinesSeveral life events struck me all at once which only added more weight on my body: a busy teaching schedule, a full-time master’s degree, a new baby, and most importantly, my laziness. Sure, I could’ve done something about my weight during any one of these life events, but honestly I just wanted to drink my Dr. Peppers and eat chocolate cream pie. Who wouldn’t? It was bad enough that I had to walk all the way up and down a hill to my car just to get to and from my apartment; why add exercise to that mix? It was a small hill, but still.

However, deep down I knew it was time to drop the weight. My baby entered kindergarten so I couldn’t genuinely call it baby weight anymore. We bought a treadmill with the new house so I mostly enjoyed that. Soon I was running and when I didn’t have to get off of it in order to use the bathroom (all mothers understand this), I could run at pretty good clip.

I can’t run outside. I have sensitive ears. Long story.

When I met my goal weight, the only people excited for me were my family and doctor because the reality is everyone else is a member of a club called the We Hate Success Club. You discover who holds a membership card pretty quickly once you succeed in something you’ve worked hard at and these other people are dicks about it. Soon after, the club president cornered me in her office and accused me of going through a midlife crisis. Because you know, a woman in her early-30s who loses weight is obviously going through some sort of transcendental crisis. The vice president just plainly accused me of having an eating disorder while in the faculty room. Because you know, this is always The Best Tactic to use when exhibiting concern for someone who has an eating disorder.

Actually, it isn’t. Don’t do that. Ever.

In truth, I learned pretty quickly that when it comes to weight your goat is roasted if you gain weight and your goat is roasted if you lose it. No matter what, nobody will be happy with how you look so you might as well be happy for yourself. Overall health should always be the key factor, not the hope that others will be super thrilled for you. Because the dicks from The We Hate Success Club will be at your door, and they won’t bring you a plate of cookies. They only bring sour grapes.

Now that I’ve had my second child – almost 5 years ago – you can bet that I am back at the starting line again. Except this time, I’ve got my age and a bad hip against me. Again, my clothes don’t fit and I face the timeless battle women everywhere face in dressing rooms all over the world: Do I suck it up and go up a size, or do I just go get a Cinnabun and call it a day?

The one activity I did enjoy – running – is no longer an option to me and so now I have no choice but to just sit on my ass all day writing blogs like these and eat the chocolate chips I have hidden in my bedside table. Right? Right.

I won’t ever be a Size 0 anymore. I’m mostly okay with that because for hell’s sake, why are we even producing clothes at that size anyway? But I’m also mostly okay that at my age it just takes more work to get this body to look how I want it to look. I have to fight for every damn pound I lose and be more creative in how I fool myself into exercise. But that’s all okay too because while I won’t ever be a Size 0 anymore, I will always be a Size Mom and my kids need me to be healthy for them.

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CeeStreelightsAfter writing and illustrating her first bestseller in second grade, “The Lovely Unicorn”, C. Streetlights took twenty years to decide if she wanted to continue writing. In the time known as growing up she became a teacher, a wife, and mother. Retired from teaching, C. Streetlights now lives with her family in the mountains along with their dog that eats Kleenex. Her new memoir, Tea and Madness is now available.

You can follow C. Streetlights on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

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Filed under Anxiety, Family, Guest Post, Life, Mental Health, Motherhood, Sarcasm, Writing