Writing through the Holidays: De-stress Your Life with Help from Mari McCarthy

Thursday, November 24, 2011
When I think about the holidays, I’m reminded of the good things: roasted turkey shared with family and friends; singing carols around a roaring fireplace; the intoxicating smell of Christmas trees; attending The Nutcracker ballet; making dolls and ornaments (a tradition of mine); and the surprised look on my loved ones’ faces as they open their gifts. Ah, the wonderful reflections on the holiday season. You may be feeling that today, on Thanksgiving, because hopefully you are reading this after you’ve finished cooking and have time to relax! We all feel better after we’ve accomplished something, right?

Blerg! (As Tina Fey would say) But the reality is, the holidays always add extra pressure to my life, both personally and professionally. Like many women, I tend to do more cooking, entertaining, shopping, and visiting with in-laws (don't get me started on that one). That leaves less time for writing, deadlines, projects, and making money (at a time when I need it the most!). It can be downright stressful. So when I received a copy of Mari McCarthy’s new eWorkbook, Help for the Holidays: 7 Days of Journaling to Ho! Ho! Ho!, it was a welcome invitation to spend time on myself and do a little attitude adjusting.

What a breath of fresh air! I was having a spell of writer’s block before I started this journaling experiment, but Day 1 in Mari’s eWorkbook allowed me to write the first sentence of this post. She asks you to list your favorite things about the holidays, as well as the ones that cause you the most stress or sadness or frustration. At the end of the chapter, she guides you to write a short story describing your perfect holiday season. This is where I had the most fun! I wrote like no one was reading; I indulged in everything I ever wanted.

In my story, it actually snowed in Long Beach, California, and I was wearing a brand new pair of Louboutin boots. While those two things didn’t make for the most realistic scenario, the other things in my story were quite attainable. Things like spending quality time with family and friends, and going to holiday events. I read the story to my husband and he thought it was pretty attainable as well, and (surprisingly) it put him in the holiday spirit! We are making it a point of rekindling the holiday activities we’ve enjoyed in the past and turning them into a holiday tradition.

The best part about this eWorkbook is it works as your personal coach. Yes, you have to do the work yourself—an important part of journaling and self-discovery—but Mari guides you through the process with specific examples and exercises. And, it’s not too intensive. Help for the Holidays: 7 Days of Journaling to Ho! Ho! Ho! is a 26-page workbook that you can complete in seven days. It’s like taking a class! Currently priced at $8.97, you also receive access to a private forum where you can ask Mari questions and get inspiration from like-minded journalers.

I’m currently working through the rest of the eWorkbook, so you just may meet me in the forum, but let me tell you what else it covers:

- Day 1 focuses on The Holiday Spirit. This is what I covered a couple paragraphs ago. You aren't skimming, right? (wink)

- Day 2 covers Family Dynamics. Boy, this really breaks it down! If you follow the directions, you will figure out who tries your patience the most, what topics create conflict, and more. You will create a “sanity list” you can refer to when you need it.

- Day 3 covers Stress! You will examine your stress triggers and make a plan to work through them.

- Day 4 focuses on Money Matters. This is one of the biggest stressors of the holiday season. This day tackles this problem in a unique an interesting way, including writing a letter to Santa! When was the last time you did that? You will channel your Inner Child and find your own solution to ease your money worries.

- Day 5 is about Coping with Loss. This is particularly important to me. The holidays have always been tough since I lost my mother, and for many of my early years, I wasn’t able to deal with the holidays at all because of this. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel right to celebrate when you don’t have your loved one with you. This exercise will get you through it and help you find the support you need within yourself.

- Day 6 focuses on The Winter Blues. You know the feeling...when it’s rainy, snowy, windy, or freezing...and you know something isn’t right? This day deals with the seasonal depression that many people experience during the winter months. Figure out how to cure it with these intensive exercises.

- Day 7 focuses on Healthy Habits, and our waistline! Oh yes, the delicious indulgences...the ones that you vow to make up for in the New Year. These set of journaling exercises examine the bad habits you want to avoid and help you come up with a plan to achieve a healthy balance.

Throughout the eWorkbook there are also tips in each chapter about “Focusing on Your Gifts,” that include helpful tidbits of inspiration and ideas from the little purple elf pictured on the cover.

As you know, we’ve worked with journaling specialist Mari McCarthy and her website, CreateWriteNow.com, in many capacities—whether through blog tours, e-mail promotions, articles for WOW!, including Journaling for Health, Healing, and Happiness—but I volunteered to write this review after I started doing the exercises because I felt that it changed my entire outlook on the holiday season. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m still working through the exercises, but I feel liberated! Doing these exercises has helped me appreciate so many aspects of my life. It’s helped me reenergize, de-stress, and recharge my writing! Today, I feel thankful to be a writer.

When you purchase Help for the Holidays! 7Days of Journaling to Ho! Ho! Ho!  (for only $8.97!) you also receive access to a private forum where you can ask Mari questions and share ideas with other journalers as you go through the exercises. I know this is last minute, but if you purchase before Black Friday (tomorrow) you'll also be entered to win a cute t-shirt.


Unknown said...

I find 'help for the holidays-' quite useful after reading the review.I now know how and what to write no matter my mood.

Mari L. Mccarthy said...

Thank you for the marvelous review, Angela. I'm doing the HHH class myself and the insights and AHAs keep coming. I's helped me remember the importance of breathing. :) WriteON!

Unknown said...

Just a glimpse of the book and it looks like such a winner for the holidays, a real helper!

Kimages said...

I'm following along with Mari's forum and so far loving it. I have made a holiday to do list - and for the first time ever - a holiday 'FuN Do' list. I'm really taking time to examine feelings and reactions and make things more enjoyable. Love this ebook!

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