All posts tagged: Winter

How I Officially Became a Middle-Aged Badass in the Finnish Arctic

Last summer, I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime: a roundtrip holiday junket to the Finnish Arctic region in hopes that I’d write about the region’s beauty, sustainability and why it should be a top travel destination for millennials who are increasingly seeking meaning and purpose when they travel.  But as a woman in midlife, a decidedly non-millennial, I found meaning, purpose and a little bit of a super-hero skill in the deep-freeze. I was offered two, week-long options. The first was to take the trip during the summer solstice in August, featuring hiking, biking and outdoor trekking. The second was a visit during the darkest and coldest time of the Finnish winter, January. Given that I’d be traveling solo and am middle-aged, I initially leaned towards the safe and more “typical” sounding summer holiday. But, after reflection, I thought, “Hell, Susan, why not go the challenging route? Get out of your comfort zone and be a badass for once.” So winter darkness was the selection I made, and my trip would include skiing, …

Here’s Why I Did the Polar Bear Plunge

Usually, I spend the first day of the new year like any normal person would: hanging out in flannel pajamas, watching TV, nursing a hangover and maybe going to a movie or a New Year’s Day brunch with friends. But, to usher in 2014, I jumped into the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Accompanied by my sister, boyfriend and nephew, I joined hundreds of others as part of the 20th Annual Polar Bear Plunge in Margate, New Jersey. I have to admit that I always thought the people who participated in Polar Bear swims were completely nuts — albeit fun-loving lunatics. Most of my knowledge about them came from those images of the New York City’s annual Coney Island dip on New Year’s Day. (Cue my father, pointing to the television, saying: “Can you believe these people?”) The Coney Island Polar Club was founded in 1903, making it the oldest in the nation. It attracts thousands of zany polar bears and onlookers every January 1st, including my brave Reuters colleague Peter, who participated in the group’s 111th New …

Stave off the Chill With These 7 Warm-You-Up Recipes

By the time you read this, half of the Lower 48 will be shivering in its collective boots, the result of a massive polar air mass over the eastern seaboard and the Midwest. It’s predicted to deliver sub-zero wind chills and historically low temperatures. From my perch in Seattle, I’m enjoying more civilized temperatures in the low 40s. I feel for the rest of youse and your freezer-burned brains and the inevitable madness of cabin fever. Allow me, a long-time veteran of wintry past lives in Philly, New York and DC, to help scrape you off the floor and spin you like a dervish right into the kitchen. Herewith, some of my all-time favorite ways to take the edge off a dastardly chill. You’ll be toasty in no time.   1. Spiced Hot Chocolate Think chai with a chocolate twist. Steep milk with star anise, cardamom and other warming spices, then whisk in cocoa powder. I’ve made this using fortified coconut milk with equally rich results. Excellent with or without a shot of rum for …

5 of the Coziest Winter Books

Oh, the weather outside is frightful — which means reading inside is delightful! As long as you’ve remembered to charge your e-reader, that is, because in this snowy mess you’re not going to be running out to your local indie bookstore — or any bookstore for that matter — anytime soon. But I’ve got some great, Kindle-ready recommendations that will keep you riveted to the page (or should I say screen). Here are five of the best recent books to get you through a bitterly cold week: 1. Longbourn by Jo Baker. Is your idea of heaven Season Four of “Downton Abbey?” Look no further and pick up this “downstairs” peek into the world of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. You may not be surprised to learn that there’s just as much social scheming in the servants’ quarters as there is among the Bennets, but you’ll enjoy it every bit as much. 2. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. If you like to keep current with your reads, you’ll want to get a …

How to Survive the Deep Freeze — Without Booze

I hate winter. Especially once January hits, and we’ve got four long months ahead and nothing but freezing forecasts and deceptive wind chills. I get blue. Really blue. Like a lot of us do: Seasonal Affective Disorder is in the DSM, after all, and while I may suffer from a touch of it, I think most of my melancholy comes from this disease called alcoholism. A disease that, I’m now learning, I’ve suffered from for a long time before it really dug its teeth into my soul and brought me to my knees. Now that I’ve accepted my illness (and its severity), winter has become a critical time for me to use the tools and coping skills I’ve learned to stay sober. Chief among them: knowing how to normalize those self-sabotaging and self-defeating thoughts that take residence in my head when I isolate myself (which is a typical winter practice for me, especially as a freelance writer). [pullquote]While I wouldn’t say I was any less of an alcoholic in the spring, summer or fall, there …

Shedding the Winter Weight. Again.

“Fuck French fries.” That is what the Upper East Side nutritionist/psychologist said to me after reviewing my weekly nutritional intake, noting that on Wednesday I’d eaten 10 little fried yellow sticks. But it was a business lunch, my client insisted on ordering them, I didn’t want to be rude. You know how it goes. “It doesn’t matter, fuck French fries.” Seriously? And I’m paying you how much to tell me this? But there was wisdom in her harshness. She was trying to make me angry. Only it made me angry at her, not French Fries. Last year I’d decided I needed help losing weight. Not just Weight Watchers/Nutrisystem/Fresh Diet Delivery help — all of which I’ve tried and then some (and chronicled for you last year) — but real, personalized, tell-me-what-the-hell-to-do every-week help. To find just the right program/person, I created a spreadsheet. It’s the way I approach anything when I have an overwhelming array of options (like finding an apartment or hiring the right person). The spreadsheet detailed each possible option, service, doctor, nutritionist, …

The Best (& Worst) Films of 2013

It was a cinematic year that saw a singular devotion to the idea of survival — be it from a disabled yacht, cataclysmic space debris storm, or the alienation from your entire community of friends — which, I suppose can be analyzed any which way, but to this critic suggests the idea that no matter how grievous our world seems to be getting, how close we may be getting to the environmental and political precipice, our world is still worth fighting for, even if our chances of coming out the other side seem slim. To say nothing of all the sturm-und-drang concerning the fate of the Hollywood big-studio system itself, which suffered attacks from within, both from heralded indie-auteurs (Steven Soderbergh) and, perhaps, Tinsel-land’s most celebrated living director (Steven Spielberg) en route to a big box office year once again. Things might very well be broken, but there still seemed to be a fabulous glut of truly exceptional filmmaking going on all over the world (you go, Denmark!), which is to say, things might indeed …

Winter on the West Coast: A Postcard

Dear Midwestern and Eastern America, I’ve seen the pictures, watched the football games, and, boy, it looks cold out there. You, brave people, are experiencing WINTER — the real, soulful kind of winter, the way hearty-stocked Americans should. I mean, the snow… it’s magical how it makes everything look so pretty on TV! But, as a former Iowan and New Yorker myself, I know that you can only fully appreciate the gravity of seasonal change when your left pinky toe has almost frozen off because you miscalculated a giant puddle of slush for solid ground. It’s grit, it’s mettle. Magical, indeed. And you already know this, of course: the majority of us Southern Californians are made of considerably less hearty stock than you are. We can talk of nothing else when the temps dip below 50°, like during our “Epic Cold Front” three weeks ago (aptly covered by Jimmy Kimmel). While it was unthinkable that we were forced to use central heating and wear undershirts during that trying time, we bravely triple-layered our flimsy wardrobes …