Monthly Archives: December 2019

A soothing “log cabin” meditation to ease you into the new year

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An excellent resolution for the new year would be to add meditation to your self care routine.

If you can’t meditate every day, why not resolve to meditate on Mondays? Meditation Mondays — that’s easy to remember.

Meditation is so good for you! It can help you reduce stress, alleviate depression and anxiety, improve your memory and prep your mind for better decision-making. Many report that meditation helps them sleep better and make mindful choices. It can even build up your immune system! Continue reading


How to keep those 2020 resolutions

Do you write New Year’s resolutions? And do you keep them?

I have been writing resolutions for many years. I carry them with me in my purse in a mini photo album I bought for a dollar.

I make resolutions about changes I want to make in my life, of course. I also make fun resolutions about things I want to do; more like a bucket list. I make some that I know I can accomplish in a short time, and others that I know will take more than a year to achieve.

Every year, about this time, I look back and see what I have accomplished. I am always pleasantly surprised to see that I have achieved a lot of what I set out to do.

There are always ones I did not achieve and that is okay with me, because sometimes circumstance or other obstacles get in the way. What matters to me is that I tried.

I read that when you make a resolution over and over, that means that is an important goal for you, not a failure.

One thing I have learned that the more specific my goal was, the more likely I was to achieve it. You have probably heard of SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for goals that are




Relevant and

Timely (or time-bound).

So, my biggest resolution is to lose weight in 2020. The first thing I did was some research. I learned that to lose weight, I need to cut between 500 and 1000 calories through diet and exercise each day. If you I this, I can lose from 1 to 2 pounds a week. I was happy to learn this because I wanted to lose a lot of weight. But I checked with my doctor. She said my plan to eat only 1200 calories a day would not work for me because of my health conditions. She advised me not to dip below 1800 calories a day. Am I ever glad I checked with her! I had to accept that my weight loss would be more gradual. After doing research and talking with my doctor, I settled on a goal of losing 25 pounds in 2020. I felt this was achievable.

To write this as a SMART goal, I am going to say

“I resolve to lose 25 pounds in 2020. I plan to achieve this goal by eating green vegetables, reducing the amount of soda I drink and going to the YMCA to work out on the treadmill, elliptical trainer and weight machines. When I have lost 10 pounds I will start to take exercise classes, as well. I know I will be making progress on this goal by weighing myself each month. My monthly goal is to lose 2 pounds a month.

So, my goal is very specific. I know exactly how much weight I plan to lose. I know from my research that it is achievable. It is realistic — I already have a YMCA membership and I like working out on the machines. I set a schedule so my goal is time-bound. It is also timely because I happen to have more time to devote to my health this year.

Here are some more tips I learned about sticking to your plan.

  1. Get support. I can definitely use support to achieve my goal. This weekend, I met some lovely, like-minded people who are also working on goals. We are going to meet once a month to motivate each other. I can also use an app on my phone to track my progress and send me reminders.
  2. Focus on the mini steps on the way to the goal. As an example, for me, 25 pounds is a pretty big goal. Maybe too big. So, I need to focus on losing and keeping off 2 pounds in January. That feels less daunting. Then in February, I can focus on the next step. I break down my big goal into little ones. Success at each step will motivate me to keep going.
  3. Concentrate on making lifestyle changes that will support your goal. How long do you think it takes to make a habit like going to the gym work? A month? 3 months? I have heard 21 days. What do you think? I suppose it is different for everyone. I am hoping in a month, it will become a healthy routine for me.
  4. Think about obstacles. There will be times when life gets in the way. For example, it could snow for a week or I could get the flu and not be able to get to the gym. Or I might just lose confidence. That has definitely happened before. I will have to think about ways to get back on track when that happens. If it snows — I can exercise at home? But if I lose confidence, what should I do? I will talk to the YMCA about that. Maybe they will have some ideas.
  5. Make it relevant. Not everyone achieves their goal in the same way. I do want to lose weight but realistically I can’t stick to the goal of never drinking a soda. I know this because I have tried to do that and failed over and over. I just really like ginger ale. I have to come up with ways to eat healthier while still having a soda once in a while.

It bears repeating that writing your goals down and even keeping them with you can help you achieve them. This weekend, we worked on vision boards. My goal is on the vision board and it will go in the bathroom so I can see it first thing in the morning. I’m determined! And psyched!

What ideas do you have for sticking to your goals?

A Cozy New Year’s Eve In

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It happens. You had planned to go out for New Year’s Eve…but the weather turned out to be too dreadful. Or you or someone in the family isn’t feeling well. Whatever the reason, you’re home this year for New Year’s Eve and it’s going to be a quiet evening. But you still want to celebrate! How to make the best of it?

Continue reading

What are you wearing New Year’s Eve?

Fortunately, if you don’t know what you’re wearing for New Year’s Eve, you have a whole weekend to scour your closet, borrow stuff or go shopping! New Year’s Eve is Tuesday and there’s bound to be some great stuff on sale. But check your closet first. Those bills aren’t going to pay themselves 🙂

Let’s break it down by occasion, depending on your plans.

Cozy Night at Home or Small Gathering with Friends or Family.

The look: casual, comfortable and festive. Yay! Minimum planning and spending involved! But since it’s the last day of the year, and you want to ring in the new year on a great note, I would dress up your casual look just a little with a little sparkle. Maybe wear a glittery sweater with skinny jeans or black leggings, like this gray/metallic one from Torrid, put some Scunci rhinestone barrettes or a velvet scrunchie in your hair, and wear a little eyeshadow or lip shimmer.

Outdoor Evening New Year’s Eve Festival

The look: casual, warm and festive. So if you’re going to one of the great outdoor New Year’s festivals, the good news is the temperature is not forecast to drop below 30 and it’s not forecast to rain! There also will be a light, southerly wind. So it will not feel bitterly cold outside, but it will definitely be coat weather. You’ll probably be most comfortable in pants, jeans or leggings, a sweater, comfortable shoes or boots, and a warm coat. Here is a cute look from JCPenney. Is your coat kind of blah for evening? What about a packable down coat with some shine to it? Wear a nice sweater or top underneath to look good for indoor events or a meal out. You could add a glittery knit hat and some shimmery lip gloss and stay warm and look festive. Add a light-up necklace from the party store, leave the backpack at home but carry a small bag or wristlet for essentials.

Play/Concert/Fancy Dinner Date (with possible dancing)

The look: sophisticated, elegant and romantic. Since you will be probably be driving or taking Lyft, you could get away with heels and a dress or another after-five look that makes you feel great. In other words, of course you will need a coat, but warmth isn’t a real factor because you will be indoors the whole time. I would steer away from solid black, red, white and green, if you are dining out or going to the theater, as well as sequins. I also would counsel against a very short look because you will be sitting down a lot and you want to look classy. I like this Anthropologie burn out velvet dress that comes in Womens and Women’s Plus sizes for a New Year’s Eve at the Kennedy Center or a nice restaurant. If you spill some sauce on this, it won’t show the way it would on a solid color dress. It has shine and movement, which is nice for dancing.

I have a makeup tip that I’ve mentioned before. Rimmel makes a terrific eyeliner in metallic gold or silver. It can be very subtle if you apply it that way. You don’t have to put it all around your eye to really enhance your eyes.

Big New Year’s Eve Party or Gala (definitely with dancing)

The look: fun, stylish, flirty. Maybe you are going out with a group of friends to a big party, like the ones at the hotels in the area or the Reagan building. It helps to know the theme of the event when planning your outfit. Factor in that you’ll likely be wearing a party hat or tiara at some point in the evening.  I would say, wear anything but solid black. It just fades into the background, it doesn’t look that amazing in photos and it makes you hard to find in a crowd. Maybe choose a metallic, like rose gold, silver, gold or a gray or blush tone. If your shoulders and arms will be bare, dust them with some metallic highlighting powder for a subtle sheen. I really like this Julia Jordan dress from Macy’s. It’s midi length, which is really in right now. It will look beautiful whether you’re sitting, standing or dancing. And it’s classy. It looks like it would be easy to wear.

The important thing is the bag. You will need to keep your bag with you, but you also will want to dance. You don’t want to ask someone to watch your purse all night and you won’t be able to relax if you just leave it on a table. Maybe you’ve come up with a good solution to this dilemma. I found a cute solution for 3 DOLLARS at Target. It’s a small, rosy pink metallic cross body. Big enough to hold your IDs, some cash and your phone. If you can’t find it, try Forever 21 and WalMart for festive but affordable, small crossbody bags and wristlets.

Whatever you do, wherever you go, and whatever you wear, have fun this New Year’s Eve!

Register for free New Year’s Resolutions Workshop


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It’s almost time! Today and tomorrow are the final days to register for my free BEST LIFE New Year’s Resolution Workshop. The workshop is open to adults and takes place on Sunday, December 29 from 1:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. at the Reston Public Library in Reston, Virginia. Free parking onsite.

The workshop includes

  • An introductory ice breaker about New Year’s resolutions to help us get to know each other.
  • A group discussion about New Year’s resolutions and how to make them stick.
  • Time and space to work on a take-home workbook designed to help you get in touch with your dreams and set goals that are personally meaningful for you.
  • A Vision Board station featuring crafts supplies, poster board, images of affirmations and quotes, special papers, stickers, markers and more.
  • A New Year’s selfie station with fun New Year’s Eve and resolutions props.
  • A group circle of positive affirmations for the New Year.
  • A closing meditation about positivity in the New Year.

Feel free to bring your own photos or inspirational cut-outs for your New Year’s collage or vision board! Please register by 5 p.m. on Friday so I can make enough materials for everyone at the workshop. See you then!

What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

happy new year text

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Cool Yule Tip: free New Year’s Resolution Workshop registration open now.

Need some ideas for New Year’s Eve? Celebrate the last day of the year and the decade at one of these events happening in Northern Virginia.

Daytime Fun

  1. The Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria is celebrating Olde Year’s Day with free hands-on, creative art activities for every member of the family 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Meet working artists in their studios and get inspired for 2020. Tickets for First Night Alexandria will be available for sale.
  2. Ice and Lights: Winter Village at Cameron Run is open 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. $5 for the village, plus $8 for optional skating and $4 skate rental. Alexandria.
  3. Outdoor ice skating is open at Reston Town Center.
  4. The Smithsonian Museums, National Gallery of Art and U.S. Botanic Garden (Seasons Greenings) are open today 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Light Displays

  1. Meadowlark Garden Winter Walk of Lights is open from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. $8 – $13. Vienna.
  2. Bull Run Festival of Lights (drive-through) is open 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. $20 – $25/car. Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville.

Free Concerts

  1. Samovar (Russian folk music) performance 6 pm – 8 pm. U.S. Botanic Gardens, Washington, DC.
  2. New Year’s Eve Party 6 p.m. FREE Ring in the new year (and a new decade) at the Kennedy Center New Year’s Eve Party/Millenium Stage Concert in the Grand Foyer. Performances by Brianna Thomas and Zach Cutler. Guests can also enjoy champagne bars (not free, ha ha) and a photo booth. Washington, DC (remember there is a free shuttle from Foggy Bottom Metro station; pay parking is also available on site).

Spiritual Gatherings

Burning Bowl 2019 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Participants will have time to reflect and meditate on what they wish to release, and then symbolically burn those limitations in the burning bowl. Next, they will envision the new year and write a letter to themselves that will be mailed back to each participant the following November. Unity of Fairfax, 2854 Hunter Mill Road, Oakton, VA.

Family-Friendly Celebrations

  1. 25th First Night Alexandria Festival. 6 p.m. – Midnight. King Street, Old Town Alexandria. $30 – $35. This event is alcohol free and family friendly. 100+ live music performers/bands, food, fireworks at midnight.
  2. Jammin’ Java All Ages Show: 80s Dance Party. 8 p.m. – 1 a.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Do you love the 80’s? If so, put on your best 80’s fashion, grab your dancing shoes, and ring in 2020 with your 80’s favorite hits. Prizes for best 80’s outfits and “Name that Tune” contest. Champagne toast at midnight; NYE party favors and glowsticks for everyone. Vienna. $30 -$40.
  3. 22nd Watch Night Street Festival. 7 p.m – Midnight. West Broad Street. Falls Church City. Free shuttle from East Falls Church Metro station runs every 20 minutes, beginning at 7 p.m. This community, volunteer-run event is alcohol-free and family-friendly. A variety of live music at multiple venues on the blocked off street and at other locations nearby. Karaoke, rock-climbing wall, moon bounces. Food and souvenirs are for sale. A star is lowered at midnight from a crane.

Adult Celebrations and Parties

  1. New Year’s Eve Party. 6:30 p.m. Cocktails, dinner, band and party. Knights of Columbus, Arlington. $60 per person.
  2. The Legwarmers NYE Party (80s tribute band) Doors open at 7 pm. The State Theater, Falls Church. $50.
  3. New Year’s Eve Party with Collective Accord. 9 p.m. – 1 a.m. Clyde’s Restaurant, 1700 Beauregard Street (Mark Center), Alexandria. Band plays hits from 80s, 90s and today. Meal specials and Midnight champagne toast. NO COVER!
  4. Prohibition-Themed New Year’s Eve at The Bungalow Lakehouse. 9 p.m. – 1:30 a.m. 46116 Lake Center Plaza, Sterling, VA. Meal specials, DJ, favors, New York City countdown, and complimentary champagne toast at midnight.
  5. New Year’s Eve Party at Passionfish, Reston (Reston Town Center) 10:30 p.m. -1:45 a.m. NO COVER  Party in the bar/lounge with DJ, special bar menu, photo booth and a balloon drop at midnight.

Merry Christmas! Fun things to do

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At last, Christmas Day is here! Merry Christmas!

Are you getting cabin fever? Would you like to get out of the house and do something fun today? Here are some ideas.

  • Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA. More than 500,000 LED lights and displays transform the gardens into a winter wonderland, including a flowing stream of softly glowing lights, two-story animated fountain, and Gingerbread Village. $8 kids; $13 adults.
  • Ice and Lights: The Winter Village at Cameron Run. 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. Admission to village is $5. Skating is additional $8 plus $4 for rental. 55×80’ Real Ice Rink, 20’ Walk thru Tree, 100’ RGB Lighted Tunnel, lit trees and winter displays, Fire Pits, Heated Igloos, Wreath Photo Op, Bling & Things Retail Shop, Slice & Ice- Pizza, donuts & more.
  • Bull Run Festival of Lights. Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville. 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Two and half mile drive-through light display and walk-around winter carnival and Holiday Village with attractions, s’mores and Santa Claus. $20 – $25 per car; 15 or more passengers, $50.
  • Seasons Greenings at the U.S. Botanic Gardens Washington, DC. Model train and amazing flower displays. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Gingerbread Village exhibit. Made from real gingerbread. It smells and looks delicious. Hyatt Hotel Reston lobby. Reston Town Center.
  • The National Christmas Tree and nightly Pageant of Peace on The Ellipse: The  The National Tree and state trees may be viewed until 11 p.m. There is also a Nativity scene and a roaring Yule log fire. Just adjacent is the National Menorah.
  • The Capitol Tree  West Lawn, U.S. Capitol. Washington, DC. There is very little parking, but the Capitol South metro station (Orange, Silver and Blue lines) is nearby.


  1. Christmas Day Brunch, 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Ritz Carlton, Tysons Corner Galleria. $120, plus tax and gratuity.
  2. Holy Eucharist at Washington National Cathedral. 11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Doors open at 10: 15 a.m. This service features incense, which may bother some people who are sensitive to it. The Cathedral bells will ring out after the service. Passes are not required to attend the service but an admission fee of $12 ($8 seniors and teachers) to enter the Cathedral will be charged. There is no touring on Christmas Day (or Christmas Eve). Parking on the grounds and below the Cathedral is free.
  3. Christmas Day Organ Recital at Washington National Cathedral. 1:30 p.m. $10
  4. Holiday Jazz by the Fire at the St. Regis Hotel. 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Purchase a cocktail or hot cocoa and cookies for the kids and relax to the sounds of holiday jazz by Christopher Linman. 923 16th and K Streets, NW, Washington, DC
  5. Luray Caverns and Mount Vernon are open today.
  6. Denny’s, some McDonald’s and some IHOP restaurants are open today. The Chart House, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Morton’s and some Legal Seafoods are open today.

More ideas…

  • Take a walk around Reston Town Center and check out the gingerbread village in the Hyatt Hotel lobby.
  • Take a walk around Old Town Alexandria and window-shop. The decorations are beautiful.
  • Bundle up everyone in the car and take a tour of neighborhoods with the best Christmas light displays. My old neighborhood of Falls Church is a safe bet; the neighborhoods in the town of Vienna also have great lights and decorations.
  • The Unity Club in Falls Church is having a Christmas potluck lunch at noon that is welcome to all, especially those in recovery. You can sign up in advance to bring a dish. There are 12 step meetings scheduled on Christmas, as well.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas full of love, joy, beauty and wonder. Thank you for joining me here on Cool Yule. Please return for daily posts through the New Year’s and the Christmas season until January 6.

ASMR Christmas

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This is something a little different to try, if you haven’t tried ASMR before.

This YouTuber, ASMR Darling, has assembled a variety of Christmas items. Along with her voice, she uses the items in this video to produce sensory effects that can spur a pleasant and relaxing response in many people. She receives millions of views for her amusing and well-produced ASMR videos.

Watching and listening to the “triggers” in a video like this can make you feel relaxed or sleepy. Some of the sounds might make you feel shivery or tingly (but not in an unpleasant way). Others might not elicit a response. Everyone is different. I recommend you listen to this video using headphones to take advantage of the binaural effects.

I hope you enjoy it! It’s an innocent, free, holiday pleasure!

I especially like the tapping…and the Christmas tree! Let me know if you had any tingles!

A guided Christmas-themed meditation

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Here is a lovely, guided meditation from Peaceful Meditations that offers a soothing and creative spoken script facilitating visualization of beautiful Christmas imagery, accompanied by soft, background Christmas music.

I hope you can take time to relax and make meditation a part of your self care this holiday season.


Seasonal Fun This Weekend

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As we coast toward Christmas Day, the holiday events just keep on happening! Here are some ideas of fun things to do this weekend that will keep you in the Christmas spirit and out of the malls!

Friday, December 20. Go Caroling Day. Ugly Christmas Sweater Day.

  • Cool Yule Tip: Today is the USPS recommended deadline for mailing holiday greeting cards.
  • Holiday Market, Old Town Fairfax. Also the 21st and 22nd.

Saturday, December 21

  • Cool Yule Tip: Today is the USPS recommended deadline for mailing Priority Mail packages.
  • Northern Virginia Ukulele Society Holiday Concert. 12 noon. Reston Town Center.
  • Rick Landers holiday performance. 3 p.m. Reston Town Center.
  • Fairfax Symphony and Fairfax Ballet present The Nutcracker. 4 p.m. George Mason University Center for the Performing Arts. $39 – $89.

Sunday, December 22, Fourth Day of Advent. First Day of Winter. Winter Solstice.

And don’t forget these ongoing events…

  • National Cathedral Creche Exhibit, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. through January 12.
  • Seasons Greenings at the U.S. Botanic Gardens Washington, DC
  • Zoo Lights National Zoo, Washington, DC. Nov 29 – January 1. Not open December 24, 25, or 31. More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland. Lit animal silhouettes, musical light displays, and a new garden scene light sculpture.
  • Norwegian Giant Model Train exhibit. Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sundays Noon – 6 p.m. until December 31. Union Station. Washington, DC
  • Gingerbread Village exhibit. Hyatt Hotel Reston lobby. Reston Town Center.
  • Millenium Stage Concerts at the Kennedy Center, Washington, DC. 6 p.m. nightly. The holiday concerts are free but tend to be crowded. You can also watch them for free, live, online on the Kennedy Center website.
  • Pageant of Peace on The Ellipse: nightly musical performances, through January 1. Weeknight performances are 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. and weekend performances take place from 4 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. The National Tree and state trees may be viewed until 11 p.m.
  • Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA. Through January 5th. More than 500,000 LED lights and displays transform the gardens into a winter wonderland, including a flowing stream of softly glowing lights, two-story animated fountain, and Gingerbread Village. $8 kids; $13 adults.
  • Bull Run
  • Georgetown GLOW outdoor light display. 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. through January 1. Georgetown, Washington, DC.
  • Holiday Market. Old Town Fairfax. December 6-8, 13-15, 20-22.
  • Christmas at Mount Vernon runs through December 31.

Listen to Carol of the Bells…