Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Greeting All,

Now that we have all survived the past few months, we may feel like the air has been let out of our tires.

From Halloween we gear up for the holidays. Those of us with children begin to weave tales of witches, ghosts, pumpkins, goblins, and such. Sugary sweets in all forms enter the house but usually leave in only one way ... through our mouths.

Our weather chills and bulky clothes are added to cover any bumps and bulges we may have attained. This, my friends, is just the beginning ... as we all know.

Thankfully we still manage to get a run in or go to the gym, but time is fleeting. Thanksgiving is just around the corner. We begin shopping and planning menus. So exercise takes a back seat. For some, baking comes into full blast. But as the holidays approach, more stress is added, and Christmas is just a blink away.

You see where I'm heading with this, so I will spare you the fattening details.

The bottom line ... A new year.

But with it, we drag in last's years' baggage. How many of you are sad, depressed, anxious? Feel out of sorts? Not yourself?

You are NOT ALONE! MANY, MANY, people experience a major let down after the holidays. It usually starts when the credit card bills come rolling in. By this point the happiness buying gifts for loved ones has long worn off, especially when your kids are no longer playing with their new X-box or other high end toys.

SO, what do we do to pull ourselves out of this mess? Keep beating ourselves up? Lock ourselves in and not resurface until spring? Plan unrealistic and totally unattainable resolutions?


First, BREATHE. That's right. Stand up. Roll your shoulders. Inhale. LONG and deep. Hold it for a few seconds, and let it out SLOWLY. Do this at least five times and several times a day. It's a great stress reliever.

Next. Try NOT TO LOOK at all of your situations at once. FOCUS only on ONE thing at a time. Choose the easiest. Tackle something that will give you the confidence to move on to a more difficult challenge.

Let's start with your health. Yes, this is hardly an easy one, but, believe it or not, it doesn't take much to get on the right track to feel better. Once you feel physically better, you will feel mentally better, too. Then the rest should fall into place.

I know there are still holiday goodies lurking around your house. They can be anywhere. Not just in the kitchen. It's time to CLEAN HOUSE.

Believe it or not, I am still baking... LOL. Yesterday I was a day late baking King's Cake. An amazing confection to celebrate the arrival of the THREE KINGS. The official end of the Christmas season. I had never made it before and wanted to try. I found a wonderful recipe. After several steps and hours, out pops two HUGE danish-like cakes, filled with caramelized pecans, fresh pears, raisins, and figs. Now I usually have amazing resistance when it comes to my baking. I have baked TONS, during these past few weeks and just nibbled a bit here and there. Well... after breathing in the intoxicating perfume all afternoon, I attacked. BAD MICHAEL!!!!!

I literally inhaled two pieces. Not just slivers either.... What did I do? Well, I Yelled at myself for about thirty seconds and then planned my counter attack.  Quickly I wrapped them up in plastic. Stuffed them into freezer bags. Then hid them in the freezer along with about a dozen other things I had baked. LOL. Out of sight ... out of mind.

Then I went to the gym. Yes, even in sub below temps, I trekked through a foot of snow for a half mile. Okay. You may say I'm insane. But there are certainly warmer alternatives. Many of us have treadmills, workout cds, or even stairs. MOVEMENT is the key. Do something for at least a half an hour and you will not feel guilty and you body will thank you.

As for the other goodies. GET RID OF THEM. And, I don't mean by eating them. Seriously. So many of us have no will power and while we are in this fragile state, it's even harder.

Finally I'd like to touch on resolutions. DON'T torture yourself this way. Goals are a much smarter way to approach the new year. Again, start small. Then build from there. Whose to say you can't add more goals throughout the year. Give yourself a break.

And never forget this last bit of advise ...


I mean it. We are our own worst enemies.

If you are really frustrated talk things out with a friend or loved one. It's amazing how much better we feel when we can just vent...

Isn't that what the first Wednesday of every month is all about?

Many THANKS to Alex J. Cavanaugh and the IWSG team! You all ROCK!!!!

And if you get a chance, drop in on the other IWSG entries. They will really give you a LIFT!

Later today, I should have my badge up and a linky for my very COOL and FUN COFFEE BLOG HOP.... So please drop back later today or tomorrow for the deets!


Isn't if FUN! It really WAKES YOU UP!

Are you ALL ready.... This is going to be a super fun HOP! All you have to do is tell me what you LOVE about coffee ... AND ... A few random winners will receive ONE POUND OF PURE COLOMBIAN COFFEE! YUMMY! I almost HATE to give it away, but I want to share with you guys... I can only ship in the US ... so I hope my international pals understand.... The mails are so expensive these days...

We have over a week for the HOP so please spread the word by shout out and placing the badge in your side bar... that is if you have room. LOL.

Please sign up at the linky below. I can't wait until next FRIDAY!!!!!

Have a WONDERFUL rest of week everyone!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I bet those two pieces were good though!
We try and devour all the holiday treats by New Year's Day. What's left over, we chuck.
And I try not to forget the gym during the holidays.

Chancelet said...

Great encouraging words for those who are feeling lacking now. I have to say, I've had a great holiday season in 2013, which is bleeding into 2014. Hope you have a wonderful and successful new year Michael! Writer’s Mark

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That is smart advice, Michael. Focus on one thing at a time. It's like people who decide to change everything at once, and that's hard to do because it's overwhelming.

Julie Flanders said...

I was just reading something about how January 6 is the most depressing day of the year. There is definitely a let-down after the holidays and the freezing cold weather so many are dealing with doesn't help, that's for sure.
I try to get rid of the Christmas sweets after the holiday and avoid temptation but now I am wishing I could have helped you devour that Kings Cake! Sounds so yummy! :D

Looking forward to hearing about your Coffee Blog Hop, that definitely sounds right up my alley. ;)

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I had never heard of King's cake. It sounds intriguing.

shelly said...

A man that bakes? Awesome!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Reading about King's Cake has made me drool big time. How come I never got even one teenie weenie piece of King's Cake?

Roland D. Yeomans said...

The King Cake we here in Southern Louisiana know is called just that. It is the festive cake for Mardi Gras -- which has a tiny plastic baby somewhere in it. Whoever picks the slice with the baby is the one who has to buy a replacement King Cake! Cajun Roulette! Some have been known to calmly swallow the plastic baby! Great post as always!

D.G. Hudson said...

Excellent advice, Michael. I throw out the goodies and candy at New Years. I have an easy trick which helps drop a few lbs - cut your intake by a third every day for a week or so. (whatever goes in your mouth). Take care, you sound like a fitness instructor. My inspiration is basically clean eating.

D.G. Hudson said...

coffee, did someone mention coffee. . .?

Crystal Collier said...

Oh man, I used to go biking in the snow. It was a challenge to see what kind of terrain I couldn't take, and snow, slush, etc made for some amazing obstacles. Of course, that was before kids--aka another life.

Awesome advice, Michael, and I'm excited about your hop.

JJ said...

I'm never depressed, but I am my worst enemy. I'm not in the same shape I was in when I was in competition, and the older I get, the more difficult it is to stay in shape and to lose weight. I try to work within my limitations and that seems to work. Good post.

Laura Clipson said...

Some great advice for the new year here, thanks for sharing :)

David P. King said...

Now I'm in the mood for cake!

Your advice rings of common sense, and yet it's important to give ourselves a reminder each year - maybe more often than that, even. Lot's rock this new year, sir! :)

Tonja said...

The sweets are definitely going to be tossed today.

Chrys Fey said...

Great post! A few days ago I was experiencing the new year let down. And for me, since I have suffered from depression, it is difficult to battle, but I talked to my best friend on the phone and we did what you advised; we talked each thing through that was bugging us. Our conversation even turned morbid a few times, but when I hung up I was feeling a lot better. The problems are still there, of course, but I have a better handle on them.

I never do resolutions. I only make goals that I know I can complete if I put myself into it.

Happy New Year! :)

Jo said...

Luckily I escaped all the holiday blues this year and managed to continue to lose weight rather than put much on.

I live somewhat north of you in Ontario and we have looooots of snow although not as much as Buffalo I am delighted to say.

I keep coming across your name and know you are friends with lots of my blogger friends so I figured it was time I visited.

Steven said...

Michael, you're been through a lot lately, and it looks like the experience has given you great perspective. In the past year I had the pleasure of losing my single biggest client and moving against my will. I learned to focus on one problem at a time instead of looking at the whole field, because it was just too much to swallow. The funny thing is life is much better now than a year ago. Great tips anyone, writers and others, can put to practice!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great advice, Michael. I tried to exercise through the holidays to not gain any more weight and it did work. Now I'm into my healthy eating and exercising to lose the unwanted pounds. Another helpful thing I do is to stand and work a few hours a day. We all sit too much and it isn't healthy.

VR Barkowski said...

Inspiring post, Michael. I confess, I did what you warned against: got rid of my holiday goodies by eating them. I paid the price, too, and not just on the scale.

It is so much harder to get moving when it's cold. I walked a couple miles yesterday (my usual route) in single digit temps—fortunately, it's not near as cold here as it is in Chicago. I was amazed at how exhausting it was. It takes so much effort to get bundled up to go out then to take all that stuff off once you get to where you're going. It's tempting just to crawl under a blankee and hibernate. :)

Looking forward to 2014. This is our year!

VR Barkowski

Anonymous said...

Great post Michael, Once this virus is over the weight resolution will commence.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

The let down for me is coming this weekend when my children head back to college and the house gets empty and quiet again.

Jai Joshi said...

Oh man, that cake! I'm slavering, why did you have to talk about a giant danish cake? Called Three Kings, too! Can you please post a picture?

I get all my exercise by walking outdoors, even when it's freezing. It's great because it means I get my light intake for the day too, otherwise I'd be light deficient and that leads to seasonal depression syndrome. You're so right that dealing with our health first is so easy and it doesn't take much to feel better.


Cathrina Constantine said...

Spoken and written like a real trooper. Yes, I've added lots of extra baggage (pounds) from the Holidays. If we don't take care of ourselves, who will. If we don't have our health, we have nothing but problems. I have to get into an exercise routine. Thanks for reminding me Michael!

Johanna Garth said...

Michael...can I get that recipe? Please!! It sounds so good!

Unknown said...

Just a beautiful post friend! Such an easy time of year to get down on yourself.


Think I'll pin that to my writing desk. :)

Unknown said...

Hope 2014 will be a great year for you Michael!
Best wishes,

Nicki Elson said...

Ooh, a coffee hop - I'm in! Well, I will be when the Linky is up. Thanks for the new year's pep talk! I like starting a new year because it feels like the world around me slows down a bit in January, letting me try to catch up.

S.P. Bowers said...

I threw away a pan of cookies earlier! They'd been sitting around for a week and while I'd been pretty good (Most of them were left) I didn't need the pressure of them calling for me. Plus they were getting stale. I hate the waste, but it's better for my waist. Thanks for the pep talk!

Jemi Fraser said...

I brought a huge plate of baking to school on our first day back. They were thrilled and I got rid of temptation! Great advice Michael - all the best for the new year :)

Shell Flower said...

I love that you are so encouraging. And YES, getting outside or just moving is key. Exercise cures so many stresses! Happy New Year.

Morgan said...

I threw away all the treats this week! Waaaaay too tempting... your self control and discipline is AMAZING, Michael...

Tammy Theriault said...

For one...why is there no cake on my door. Two...why aren't we running together and hitting the weights sweating like monkey's in rain, and three...I miss you babe!!!

dolorah said...

LOL; DO NOT come to my house and cook. Nothing goes in the freezer! How could you hide it away like that. Good for you eating the spoils of your labor, lol. Oh wait, that's not what you wanted to hear . .

I don't like coffee, but my sister and brother can't live without it. My Sis has been known to bring her own coffee pot when she visits.

Stay warm Dude :)


Misha Gerrick said...

So true. Being kind to ourselves is the best way to get on track. I find that guilt and anger at our mistakes just debilitates us.

Nicki Elson said...

I've signed up and have the fabulous button in my sidebar. :) But I don't see my link so if I did something wrong PLEASE let me know.

Samantha May said...

I think I've gained 3 pounds since Thanksgiving, which isn't AWFUL but still...back to the grind!!

Deniz Bevan said...

*boards train to chicago*
*dons catburglar outfit*
*wraps self in Invisibility Cloak*
*follows Michael into his house*
*raids the freezer*

Seriously, those cakes look amazing. I wish I was eating them, with a bit of ice cream and fruit, right now.

And coffee! I love coffee! Looking forward to the blog hop!

Cherie Reich said...

That King's Cake looks yummy.

Fantastic post! And what a great idea to just get rid (as in throw away) all the leftover goodies. After all, they probably aren't good anymore and we don't need them.

Happy New Year!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Michael .. that's another great talent - the cakes sound delicious .. I love fruit and spicy cakes and your King Cakes sound superb.

Thankfully I just don't bake - if I did .. I'd eat .. but I certainly need to do some running up and down stairs, walks around town and along the beach ..

Spring is coming .. and so are my healthy ways .. thanks for the reminder .. cheers Hilary

Cynthia said...

Happy New Year, Michael. I love baking, and connecting with other bakers. Those cakes look very tasty, and I can see why you gave into the temptation.

I don't experience a letdown at the beginning of the year, but more of a sense of "Okay, the break's over. Now it's back to work."

LD Masterson said...

Well, my first thing to fix in the new year was kind of decided for me. I need to get rid of this horrendous head cold. The up side? No appetite...even for those yummy holiday leftovers.

I'm going to pass on your blog hop for a simple reason. I don't drink coffee. Maybe I'll have to start a hop for tea drinkers. *grin*

Donna Shields said...

Yeah, I've given up on 'resolutions' and now simply have mini goals. No big letdowns that way. Great to meet you.

cleemckenzie said...

Anyone who will go to the gym in sub zero temps gets my applause and my muffler. I'm in awe and I'm the Coffee Hop. So there we are, my friend. Muffled and Hopped. Yay!

Mark Koopmans said...


As you know, I spent one full winter (and two summers) in the Windy City.

After reading your post, I remember why I spent more summers than winters in Chicago... dang dude, that's COLD :)

PS: Fantastic advice by the way, I was nodding at several spots, so thanks for sharing:)

PPS. I am SO IN for the Coffee Hop that I've changed my name !! And, I will post about it this coming Monday :)

Cheers :)

Denise Covey said...

Now who isn't being kind to himself? How could you possibly resist your wonderful baking? Trudging through the snow to gym should have helped. When I get home I will have to break the croissant and baguette habit but it just suits Europe.

Spain celebrated THREE KINGS on Monday. Lovely. Now they've finally stopped with the Christmas carols.

I have signed up for your delicious blogfest. Not sure if it's taken on my phone. Let me know if it doesn't work.

Here's to a happy, healthy, writerly 2014.


~Sia McKye~ said...

I tend to bake more in the winter. I love trying out new recipes. You need to send me that recipe, Michael. I love the ingredients of figs etc.

I find it much easier to focus on a couple of things at a time. I do have a major item on my list and I'm making headway. As with most major things, it doesn't change or move quickly so results aren't quick to see. The rewards come a bit slower but I look for small things to celebrate along the way. :-)

We have a foot of snow outside and it's now warm enough to rain. Believe it or not, we just had thunder roll and lightning flash. Very odd. lolol!

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Jo said...

Heard of those cakes before, very difficult to resist. These days I don't bake much, I am the person who would eat most of them and my hips don't need them. I have diabetes too so that doesn't help. I still have some candies around but I restrict my consumption every day, have been doing that for a while now.

I agree working on one thing at once rather than dozens of things is a good way to go.

Crystal Collier said...

P.S. I've got your badge up and a QUICK line at the end of my last post, but since I don't like coffee...

klahanie said...

Good sir, upon reading your thoughtful posting, it's most assuredly clear that you focus, you cultivate all the positive aspects to your life. Positive distractions, healthy thinking and eating. Very well said and with that I shall bake a cake.

A peaceful, hopeful year to you, Michael.

Gary :)

Michelle Wallace said...

Breathe. Got it.
Be kind to yourself. I think lots of people struggle with this one.
And yes, exercise IS the way to go. Though in these blazing temperatures we're experiencing, you'd be able to sweat all the excess pounds off your body without setting a foot in the gym.
Writer In Transit

Anonymous said...

I like coffee, I like tea
I like the java java and it likes me
Coffee and tea
The java and me
A cuppa cuppa cuppa cuppa coffee!

My dad used to sing this to me all the time when I was little. Thanks for the memories! :)

Old Kitty said...


Awwwww so glad you're ok what with the polar bear and the vortex hanging over you - no matter how adorably cute baby polar bears are and no matter how chrissmassy snow is - you truly can have too much of a good thing or two!

Now where was I? Oh yes - THAT CAKE!!!! I WANT! LOL! Oops where are my manners? I WANT. Please! :-) That would lift any dark clouds, put smiles on faces and make the sun shine again. Well it would for me! LOL!

Wishing all the best with your personal resolutions. Yes, focus on one thing and be pro-active about it - keep going, keep positive and keep baking THAT cake and sending it to Old Kitty. Ahem.

Take care

Briane said...

All right. I'm in on the coffee blog hop. January 17? That's this week, right?

I don't make resolutions, and the only really depressing thing this year about the end of the holidays is that my year-end pay was way less than I wanted it to be. That and I had five days off at Xmas, and then had to go back to work... but it's all made easier by the fact that (A) I love my job and (2) I rarely actually work a full five days in a row. Add to that that I get cinnamon scones at our Friday morning meetings, and I'm pretty lucky.

I don't make resolutions. If I think of doing something, I start doing it -- not waiting until later.

Carol Riggs said...

Chuckled throughout this. Your cakes look LOVELY! Great job. I love filling the house with warm scents of baking in the winter, but yeah...don't want to eat it all. LOL on you eating 2 pieces and then putting the rest in the freezer and dashing off to the gym. Willpower!!

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I've never tried that kind of cake but it does sound wonderful! No wonder you ate some. Thank you for the inspirational post, Michael. Great advice!

Morgan said...

Had to pop in and see the additions to this post! You're always so inspiring, Michael. And the hop will be a HUGE success--too bad I don't drink coffee!!!! (gasp---I KNOW) :) :) :)

Love the pictures.

Anonymous said...

MOVEMENT is the key. That is so true. For our health and for our writing.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Leanne ( )

Robin said...

My goal is to not make this comment as long as your post. I am terrible about overly long comments. I am just going to apologize now. Sorry.

First, I see you commenting everywhere and have for a long time. We have many mutual friends. Several times, I have thought to myself, "I need to check out that guy's blog!" But then I thought about how long my reading list is and how short my time and... well, you know the rest.

I saw the link to your coffee hop on Mark Koopmans blog and thought... Kismet. It is finally time to see what is going on over here.

I loved your IWSG contribution. The end of the year takes a toll on everyone. So many Truly Important things get edged out in order to just get through the holidays. There is so much eating done at the end of the year. So much buying. So much wrapping. So much decorating. And when I am in the middle of that whirlwind, I love it. But, yes, things like exercise land on the back burner. Common sense spending gets shifted just because... And all of it looks bleak come January. That is no way to ring in a new year. We do need to be more forgiving of ourselves AND we need to get back to our good habits. Thanks for the verbal kick in the behind. We all needed that one.

Now, let's talk coffee. I actually have a coffee story. My parents were coffee addicts. For many years the coffee pot started brewing first thing in the morning and they continued to refill it and drink until bedtime. I really don't think they drank anything else!!! Then, they decided it was time to cut back and even started mixing regular and decaf to cut back on the caffeine. Plus, they stopped drinking all day long. No more after dinner. That sort of thing.

My younger brother and I didn't like coffee. I was sure that the coffee gene simply skipped us. My father passed several years ago (a coffee drinker until he died) and my mom still drinks 4 cups every morning. She just bought a Kuerig (did I spell that right????) so that she can make a cup at a time if she wants one later.

This Christmas she convinced me to try a cup of coffee with some mocha creamer in it. It was wonderful. Except for the eating your words, which went down rather bitterly. I had said for as long as I can remember that "I will never drink coffee." I drank two cups that day. And have been drinking coffee ever since. It is what I look forward to as soon as I open my eyes. It is how I convince myself to get out of bed. I can have my coffee if I get up. It is shameful really.

I haven't told my brother yet. He still won't touch the stuff and I am afraid he might disown me.

And that's my story.

I would love to try some PURE COLOMBIAN COFFEE. So, put me down for an entry. And thank you, win or lose, for your generosity in sharing your bounty with the blogging world!!!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

The pictures made me hungry! I love the idea of the Kings Cakes! I'd inhale them too...and not likely run to the gym. But I'm going to start exercising. I need the energy and the good feeling vibes of movement.