Tag Archive | holidays

Happy New Year! A Guide to Making Resolutions and Keeping Them.

Happy New Year Darlings!


Happy New Year!


If you’ve been following me long enough you’re already aware of my fondness for the new year holiday. If not, let me tell you it is one of my favorites! I love starting fresh, setting new goals, revisiting past ones, and looking forward to the year to come. I know there are a lot of you out there who dread the idea of resolution making. Maybe you’re afraid of failure, perhaps you dislike the idea of ritual goal setting, or maybe the winter blues has got you in a funk? But truly, new year resolutions are a healthy and fun way to set your year up for success and help snap you out of a dreary mindset. I myself suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is maddening for someone of a generally cheerful disposition. One of the things that has shown itself to be most therapeutic for me is resolution making. So, please allow me to share with you my 2018 resolutions along with my tips for making them stick.

#1 Set Actual Goals


Art by Bill Randall

Goals, I mean real attainable goals, are definable, quantifiable, and timely. Think about the things you want to achieve in the next year, but be specific and realistic. 

Define your goal. If you can’t explain what it is that you want, how in the world do you expect to achieve it?

Is it quantifiable? Can you measure it? “Finding happiness” is not measurable. Abstract goals are not goals at all, they’re moods. Following the abstract is a recipe for failure. Instead, think of things that would make you happy: spending more time with your family, gardening, starting a new hobby, quit smoking, and so on. These are things that can be defined and broken down into achievable steps.

Is it attainable? We are told since childhood to “dream big!”, “shoot for the stars!”, and while there is some merit to that, there is also folly. When I was a wee lass in my first tap (dance) class, I dreamed of being a Radio City Rockette, but that dream would never come to pass no matter how hard I trained because at 5’2″, I am just too short. There is absolutely nothing I can do to change that. Some goals just can’t be reached, and setting them only to fail time and again is detrimental to the psyche. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t set similar attainable goals. Maybe I can’t be a Rockette, but I can (and did) become a professional dancer. Maybe professional dancer is out of your reach for whatever reason, but taking a dance class is not, or maybe it is too much right now, but buying a dance lesson on DVD or following FREE YouTube tutorials is absolutely doable!

Is it timely: Ugh, I know! Everyone hates a deadline, probably because we approach them all wrong. Deadlines are necessary in actually achieving our goals. If we don’t set timelines, our goals fade away into that abstract abyss, forever out of reach. How depressing is that?! Very. So, learn to love a deadline. We do that by making them realistic. “Loose 20 lbs in a week” isn’t very realistic, in fact it’s downright dangerous! But, “loose 20 lbs in 3 to 6 months” is realistic. *Disclaimer: always check with your doctor before starting any weight loss or exercise program (wink)* The point is, deadlines only work if they are realistic, and goals are only reached if we implement deadlines.


#2 Get Organized


This is but a small sampling of my journal collection.

Lists! I love lists! I have piles and piles of notebooks, planners, binders, and files for everything. Staples is one of my favorite places on Earth! I just love to sit down with a cup of tea, and write out all my plans for whatever it is I’m doing. Some of my lists are straight forward bullet points, some are artistic collages, some are scattered brainstorming, but they all make it out of my head and onto the page so I can see what needs doing.

Get yourself an notebook or planner or cork board and set out your goals. Remember to define them, write out the necessary steps to achieve said goal, and give yourself a timeline. I like to also leave some space for a bit of journaling. Sometimes a goal becomes unrealistic and I need to try again later. If I write down why, I’m better equipped the next time I try. I also like to give myself praise for steps I’ve made and mini-goals I’ve reached. Positive reinforcement will motivate you unlike anything else will.

#3 Get Going!


Ann Miller

I’m a firm believer in the “fake it til you make it” philosophy. Little factoid about yours truly, I suffer from a chronic illness called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. There is no treatment, there is no cure, it’s just a thing I must deal with on a day to day basis. I don’t always feel like being productive (or even getting out of bed). I don’t always have the energy to exercise or cook or garden or to do any of the things that I love, and one of the nasty little side effects to that is depression. If I let it, all of those things will snowball into an awful existence. So, I get up and push through. Some days more than others, but every day I make an earnest effort, even when I don’t feel like it. Even when some days I feel like a fraud. Even when I’m too tired. Just making the effort to start, to take those next steps, makes each effort easier and easier. I’m not one for motivational sayings, but it really is true “Procrastination is the thief of time”. (I’ve no idea who said that. I likely saw it on a coffee mug somewhere).

My 2018 New Year’s Resolutions!


Marilyn Monroe was an avid reader and had an impressive library.

Read more – I love to read, but didn’t make much time for it last year (though I did finish one book *pats self on back). This year I’d like to make bedtime reading a nightly ritual, eventually working it in to some daytime indulgences.


Art by Gil Elvgren

Get in shape! – Ugh! This one. 2017 was not kind to me in terms of physical and mental health. So this coming year, I endeavor to bring my health back to acceptable levels. I’m still working out the details, so I’m short on specifics, but I know the steps I need to take. The end result is up to my body, and I’m willing to let the chips fall where they may. I know I don’t like feeling sluggish and weak, so that’s my goal, not so much the numbers on a scale. Maybe I’ll share this journey… or maybe I won’t. Are there too many health and fitness blogs out there already?


Art by Pearl Frush

The January Cure – A new year ritual for me, spring cleaning in the winter. Every year I join Apartment Therapy’s January Cure. It’s a weekly deep cleaning and home organization challenge for the month of, you guessed it, January! Each task is doable and not too time consuming. Some tasks take the weekend, some take 10 minutes. If you find yourself drowning in clutter, or you just want to spruce up the olde domicile, I HIGHLY recommend joining.


This lady’s kitchen is everything!

Write more letters – I love snail mail. I love sending hand written letters and receiving them. For some reason, when we moved house, I just dropped off the face of the earth. I never mailed our change of address cards, and as such lost touch with a lot of my friends and family. So, this year, I’m going to make the effort to send at least one note or letter a month (see what I did there? A quantifiable, timely goal!)

And there you have it. Some of my New Year’s resolutions (I do have more. Some are too personal to share, and some are holdovers from last year that need revisiting), and a few tips on making your resolutions successful. I do hope you’ve found this post helpful and at least a little inspirational. Let me know what your resolutions are. I’d love to hear your plans for the new year!


Dolly Marlowe


New Year, New You

Hello Darlings!

The new year is almost here and I am giddy with anticipation. Not because I have any exciting plans, mind you (well, other than the Sherlock season 4 premier). My romantic NYE celebration aboard the Queen Mary plans were waylaid by a very costly auto repair (insert sad face here). No, I am giddy because I love the New Year holiday! I love the hope that comes with the turn of the calendar page. I love the promise of a fresh start. I love new year resolutions!


Jayne Mansfield counting down the New Year

I know some people do get a bit grumpy about such things: “January 1st is just another day”, “You don’t need a holiday to change your life”, “Things won’t magically get better when the clock strikes midnight”, etc. While those are all very true statements, they ignore the thing that makes the new year so special… community. For this one day in the year, it seems the whole world is looking out to the horizon with eagerness and hope. We can do better, be better, we can make small but meaningful changes in our lives and the lives of others if only we dare to try.

Silly and cliche as it may be, I make New Year’s resolutions every year, and every year I get better and better at keeping them (making them public also helps keep me accountable).

My 2017 New Year’s Resolutions!

  1. Concentrate on my health. Like most people, my past resolutions have been something to the effect of “get in shape”, “lose weight”, etc. Those are great goals, and if they are your goals, I say go for it! For me, however, things aren’t that simple. You see, I live with chronic illness, and as such, my weight can fluctuate quite dramatically throughout the year. I can’t always go to the gym. I can’t always get out of bed! BUT I can focus on making healthier choices both mentally and physically by eating better, exercising everyday (even if its only a few minutes of stretching), clearing out negative influences from my life, focus on personal growth.
  2. Be more productive. This one always manages to make it onto my resolutions list. Maybe because I’m a creative and a perfectionist (a dangerous combination, indeed). I’ve made significant progress in the past, but I’ve also seen a steep decline recently. We moved to a tiny town, in the middle of nowhere, where I don’t know a soul. It can be a little depressing (and boring). When the gloom sets in, I stall out. So I resolve to do something productive everyday, something creative, something active, something constructive, it doesn’t matter as long as I’m doing something.
  3. Explore more. Especially in my new home. Apparently my new little spot on the map is full of rich history: old western mining towns, Nazi spies, classic western filming locations, and even Star Wars was filmed out here. Who knew? Not me, and that’s why I resolve to get out to do some exploring. This will be a tall order for an introvert, but I plan on writing about my adventures, so maybe that will push me over the social hump.
  4. Get organized. This is another one that lands on my list every year, and I have made improvements years past, but again, this move has really thrown a monkey wrench in the works. Nevertheless, I remain undeterred. This will also help me with my other resolutions, so organization will likely forever be on my list.

The lovely and talented Debbie Reynolds, who we sadly lost this year.

And there you have it. I really do look forward to this coming year, and I hope to share my progress with my readers. What are your resolutions? Any hopes for the new coming year? I’d love to hear about them.

Happy New Year!


Dolly Marlowe

Holiday Greeting Etiquette

Hello Darlings!

Now that Hallowe’en is over, my thoughts wander to family feasts, snow, and sugar plums. As joyful as the holidays are for many people, there are also some humbugs out there. Between the over commercializing of Christmas, Black Friday extended into Thanksgiving, and some very recent political ugliness in the US (and abroad), I thought this would be an excellent time to talk about holiday greeting etiquette.


For the last few years there have been a number of silly controversies popping up, from the color and style of coffee cups to exactly what greetings people are allowed to offer to wether or not there is a cultural war on Christmas. I honestly believe these controversies are given life because too many people are unaware there are actual standards of etiquette that go along with the holidays, well, that and some people could benefit from a hobby.

So, let’s discuss appropriate holiday greetings. Its important to remember there are many holidays reflecting many religions and cultures during the latter part of the year. Good manners dictates we be mindful of the person we are greeting. The greetings we offer are for them, not us.


What to Say to Whom

Verbal greetings are by far the trickiest of the holiday greetings. Unlike cards, we offer verbal greetings to everyone, friend and stranger alike. Because holidays are rooted in religious and cultural traditions, holiday greetings for strangers take a moderate amount of presumption. Some presumptions are safe, others not so much.

Before Thanksgiving, usually starting the week of, I say “Happy holidays” because I am including the pending holiday of Thanksgiving as well as the following holidays of Christmas and the New Year. A simple “Happy Thanksgiving” is also appropriate. Most Americans observe Thanksgiving in some fashion, and because it is the cultural norm, it is an appropriate greeting for friends and strangers.

Once Thanksgiving is over, we then greet with the coming holidays in mind. Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Al-Hijira, Ashura, and Yule are all observed at the end of the Gregorian calendar year, making greetings to a stranger a bit more difficult. Remember, your greeting is for the benefit of the person to whom you are speaking, so it should speak to their point of view.


There are some things we can safely presume. If you live in the western world, Christmas is the predominant holiday. In modern times Christmas has taken on a more secular role in society. I come from a multi-faith family (Christian and Jewish). Many of my Jewish family members  send Christmas gifts, have a Christmas tree, and so on. To them, Christmas is more of an American cultural holiday than a Christian one. The majority of the American population observes the Christmas holiday in some way, whether it be religious, secular, or a mixture of both. It is ,therefor, perfectly fine to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” if there is no obvious indication the person you are greeting celebrates something else.


The Kwanzaa Kinara

If you do see an obvious indication that Christmas is not the holiday they observe, feel free to greet them with something specific to their worldview. For instance, if you meet a man wearing a yarmulke, it’s ok to wish him a “Happy Chanukah”. It is worth noting the Jewish yarmulke and the Muslim taqiyah may look similar to those unfamiliar with those particular headpieces. When in doubt, a friendly “Happy holidays” is good option as well as the non-holiday related “Have a nice day”. Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Al-Hijira, Ashura, and Yule are their own holidays with their own religious and cultural significance. They are not stand-ins for Christmas and should not be treated as such.The thing you certainly do NOT want to do is assume a holiday preference based on a person’s color or ethnicity! Do not assume because a person is black they celebrate Kwanzaa. Likewise offering up a “Happy Chanukah” to someone because they “look Jewish” is deeply offensive. Again, the greeting isn’t for you, it’s for them.


A Finnish Yule Card


What if you are the person offended by a misguided greeting? Suck it up. No, really. Most people don’t mean any offense when they say the wrong thing and should not be punished or made to feel embarrassed for it. Etiquette is all about making those around us feel comfortable. You can either graciously accept the greeting and return it or offer something neutral like, “Happy holidays” instead. NEVER reprimand or admonish a greeting and NEVER use a greeting as a verbal weapon, EVER! If you do, YOU are the Grinch, no one else.


How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Last year I was doing some Christmas shopping when I overheard a cashier give out a cheerful greeting, the woman to whom she was speaking promptly snatched her receipt from the cashier and snapped, “It’s (insert holiday here)!”. **Im intentionally leaving out the exact exchange for two reasons. #1. It doesn’t matter, slide in any number of greetings and retorts, but the outcome is still the same. The person rebuking the greeting was in the wrong. She was rude. Period. #2. I don’t want your personal bias, and we are all of us biased, to taint the way you view the transaction. A friendly, but (unintentionally) incorrect greeting was offered. It was rebuked. While the greeting may have been incorrect, there was no malice. The rebuke, however was full of malice, and therefor the one that violates the laws good manners. 

What if you have inadvertently offended someone? Apologize as you would any other time, even if the other party is behaving in a particularly nasty way, still offer up a sincere apology. “I’m terribly sorry. I meant no offense. I hope you have a very (happy, merry, etc)…” is a nice way to defuse a potentially uncomfortable situation. Don’t flog yourself. Apologize, smile, and them move on.

The holidays are meant to be a time of generosity and goodwill to our fellow man. We can all do our bit by just being friendly. I hope your holidays are full of laughter, good food, and good cheer.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours.


Lighting the menorah with my little boy.


Dolly Marlowe