How to Beat Winter Blues – Staying Happy in Winter
Here are a handful of the O family's best-loved routes to delight. We hope some of them will become yours, too.
Favorite Way to Brighten Up the Morning
"Before I leave my office at night, I spritz my favorite scent around my desk. The next morning, a hint of vetiver and amber hits me as I walk in. When colleagues comment on how nice my office smells, I tell them it's beauty editor magic. Then I spray perfume in their eyes. Kidding! Just kidding."
—Valerie Monroe, O's Beauty Editor
Favorite Thing to Hear from a Loved One
"When my youngest son, Jordan, was 4 or 5, I'd say to him, 'Daddy loves you!' and, to tease me, he wouldn't say he loved me back—he'd laugh and say, 'Oh.' Then I'd get him with a big tickle, and he'd say, 'I love you,' and I in turn would say, 'Oh.' And with great exuberance he would always teasingly say, 'Don't you say "oh"!' That was about 20 years ago, and we still do it to this day—it's an inside joke we both treasure."
Favorite Kitchen Tool
"It's actually tools, plural. For years I searched for the perfect spatula, until I figured out that there's no such thing—there's only what's perfect for you. My husband is left-handed, and he likes his wide and thin, but I like mine small and sturdy. So after ten years of disagreeing about which was best, we each got our own. His is made for lefties, and it's big. Mine is a pipsqueak, with the perfect amount of flex and a rosewood handle. It's compact and sort of muscular, and I love it. I think of it as the Mary Lou Retton of spatulas."
—Michelle Shih, O's Director of Digital Editions and Lifestyle
Favorite Holiday Candy
"For me, this is the time of year for chocolate-covered gummy bears, the treat that scratches my candy-freak itch in the most amazing way. One Hanukkah my wife made a homemade batch—a not-so-simple undertaking—and they've since become a tradition."
—Kate Rockwood, O's Senior Editor
Favorite Holiday Memory
"My mother wasn't easily affectionate, but every Christmas she'd gather us kids and pass out notes in which she reminded each of us what we'd accomplished that year: You learned to dive from the high board! You made new friends!
We were supposed to read them aloud, but often we were weeping too hard to finish. The last part of the note was a gift we'd longed for—a permission (as in 'You can get your ears pierced') or an experience (as in a concert ticket). But the real gift was knowing that our usually distracted mother had been paying attention all along."
—Marie How, Author of The Kingdom of Ordinary Time
"I've talked about the gold earrings I always wear—but I also have a necklace I've worn almost every day since 1991. It was a gift from a spiritual teacher in India who put it around my neck and said, 'This will protect you.' The pendant is a 16-petal lotus with an upside-down triangle, the symbol of the Vishudda chakra—the power center of your voice. It reminds me that nothing is more powerful than our words, and that each one needs to be kind, necessary, and true."
Favorite Life Coach from Literature
"Winnie the Pooh. There's a scene in which he, Piglet, and Rabbit get lost. Rabbit, the frantic intellectual, keeps steering them in circles. Then he leaves, and Pooh tells Piglet: 'Let's go home.' 'But, Pooh,' cries Piglet, 'do you know the way?' 'No,' says Pooh. 'But there are 12 pots of honey in my cupboard, and they've been calling to me for hours. I couldn't hear them properly before, because Rabbit would talk, but if nobody says anything...I shall know where they're calling from.' All I ever do is help people quiet their Rabbit minds until they hear the pots of honey speaking to their tummies. That's the way to our destinies: Follow what's sweet, delicious, and calling."
Favorite Short Story
"In Amy Hempel's 'The Man in Bogotá,' the narrator describes a wealthy industrialist in Colombia who was kidnapped for ransom. The man had a heart condition, and to keep him alive, his captors made him exercise and quit smoking. After his release, his doctor told him the kidnapping was the best thing to happen to him. I love the last line: 'He wondered how we know that what happens to us isn't good.'"
—Kristy Davis, O's Associate Editor
Favorite Current Decorating Obsession
"Antique English mahogany furniture. When you include an old piece with lots of character, a piece that's marked up or a little warped from age, you let yourself off the hook—you no longer have to strive for some perfect, unattainable space. Oh, and I'm also crazy about wallpaper that resembles things from nature, like semiprecious stone. The walls of my powder room now look like malachite, all saturated green and black."
—Nate Berkus, Interior designer and author of The Things That Matter
Favorite Way to Shake Things Up
"I've been dyeing my hair since college, usually favoring relatively tame red or blonde highlights—but recently, after noticing a well-dressed middle-aged woman rocking a single pink stripe in her platinum bob, it hit me: If she could be that bold, why couldn't I? So I decided to add fuchsia streaks to my hair. Now whenever I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and see that blast of pink, my mood immediately improves."
—Ashley Williams, O's Senior Editor
Favorite Ocean Photographer
"National Geographic's Brian Skerry
has been exploring the oceans for three decades, bringing back hauntingly beautiful images from a parallel universe that happens to be here on Earth. I'm giving copies of his latest photography book, Ocean Soul
, to everyone on my gift list."
—Susan Casey, O
's Editor in Chief
Favorite Reaction to the Words "You Won"
"Last year I got to call the winners of our Favorite Things
giveaway to tell them they'd won everything in the O List. One woman really couldn't believe it. She kept saying, 'Is this for real? Is this for real?' The next day, her bank called. They'd found my name in the magazine, called the Hearst corporation to verify that I was an employee, and still
wanted to speak to me! After I explained every way I knew how that this was legit, the woman accepted the prize. I don't blame her—I'd double-check, too!"
—Kristi Stewart, O
's Assistant to the Managing Editor
Favorite Unexpected Vacation Destination
"Greenville, South Carolina. I went there for a food and music festival called Euphoria
, and I left feeling like I'd experienced the best of the South. I sat under the stars beside the Reedy River, drinking blueberry-infused beer, eating three kinds of shrimp and grits, and listening to twangy singer-songwriters play Patsy Cline covers. Before I went I'd never heard of the place, but I can't wait to go back."
—Katie Arnold-Ratliff, O
's Associate Editor
Reason to Make a Mess
OPeter Walsh: "Cooking! I'm a crazy cook."
Ken Greenblatt Peter's partner: "Yes, and I get to clean up afterward. Do you really have to use every pot?"
Peter: "I like to cook adventurously, which usually means a high volume of pans. A great example is—"
Ken: "—your lasagna Bolognese."
Peter: "Right. With the béchamel sauce and the noodles."
Ken: "It takes a day and a half, but it is delicious."
Peter: "I also make a chicken liver parfait...."
Ken: "I don't think you should talk about that in O."
Peter: "Our favorite thing to do is throw a dinner party for ten to 12 people, at which I make only things I've never made before, and everyone can stand or sit around the kitchen island helping me cook. And then after we eat and they say, 'Can we help you clean up?' I'm not shy about saying, 'Yes, please.'"
Favorite Thing About Getting Older
"Not worrying about what people think—I can do pretty much as I please. And now I have time to read in the morning and nap after lunch."
—Beverly Cleary, 96-year-old author of the Ramona series
Favorite Explanation of the Inexplicable
"There's a concept in physics called the fine-tuning problem. Imagine the universe has adjustable knobs: It, and we, can only exist if the knobs are adjusted perfectly. So perfectly, in fact, that it seems improbable, uncanny, that we should exist—and yet we do. To grapple with this paradox, physicists developed the anthropic principle, which says it's not uncanny that we exist in this universe, because there are other universes out there, too, some in which we could exist and some in which we couldn't. In July I was on a pop culture and science podcast with 30 Rock's Scott Adsit, who summed up the idea beautifully: 'In an infinite universe,' he said, 'there is no fiction.' In other words, our theory of a finely tuned universe isn't false or fictional, or even improbable, if only some of the universes out there support life—because of course we'd only find ourselves in one that does. After he said that, I couldn't speak. It was just so perfect."
—Kyle Cranmer, PhD, Part of the worldwide research team that discovered the Higgs Boson particle
Favorite Unheralded Moment from the Olympics
"In one of the semifinals for the men's 400-meter race, Kirani James, the 19-year-old from Grenada with an irrepressible smile, came in first, and Oscar Pistorius, the South African double amputee, came in last. After the heat, James embraced Pistorius and gave him his bib—the name tag each runner wears—as a sign of respect. It wasn't repeated a hundred times on TV. It wasn't some big, celebrated triumph. It was just this moment of connection, the best of what sports can foster. It was a quiet note of grace."
—Bob Costas, NBC sportscaster and prime-time host of the 2012 Olympic games
Favorite Unstylish Thing I Can't Let Go Of
"I have one of those big, wide, silver TVs—a fat clunker, 12 years old—that makes no sense in my very contemporary apartment. But even though I'd love to buy a flat-screen, I can't bring myself to spend the money when this one is still kicking. And it's such a fabulous product that it will never die."
—Adam Glassman, O's Creative Director
Favorite Way to Shut Out the World
"Mary Oliver, my favorite living poet, once wrote some great advice about finding joy: 'You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.' Some people do that by eating ice cream, or having sex, or taking a hot bath. I pee in the woods. It gets me outside my house and my head, and it reminds me that I'm an animal. I've peed all over: in French fields and leaning up against New Mexican boulders. It's an up-close, slowed-down, personal way to experience nature—your own, especially."
—Elizabeth Lesser, Cofounder of the Omega Institue
Favorite Home Remedy
"My wife, Lisa, introduced me to peppermint oil—which is great for taming tension headaches. Just massage a few drops on your temples and forehead when you feel a headache coming on, and the cooling menthol can help ease your pain."