With the holidays upon us *dun, dun, duuuunnnn*, this post couldn't come at a better time! Please welcome author Tara Fox Hall as she gives us some pointers on minimizing stress during the holiday season. Plus, she's sharing an excerpt from her new installment in the Lash Series (he's a weresnake--isn't that cool?) AND she's giving away a $5 gift card to one lucky winner!! Read on and be sure to enter the giveaway:
My name is Tara Fox Hall, and I’m here to promote my new Lash Series Book, War, the third installment in this paranormal fantasy action series with historical elements.
There are dozens of holiday articles about how to handle holiday stress, how to be the perfect hostess on a shoestring budget, or how to get more done in less time. This is the time of year when every women’s magazine and blog—-and all cooking magazines and blogs—list tons of recipes for gorgeous looking cookies, the perfect handcrafted presents, and shortcuts for getting a “perfect home of your holiday dreams.” Almost always added to that are articles on how to remain thin or even lose weight during the holidays, so that gorgeous red dress you’ve wanted to wear for Christmas for three years running might actually fit this year. My contribution to this “To Do” holiday blast is the short equation below:
MINIMALIZED STRESS = MAXIMIZED HAPPINESS FOR ALL
Your first response might be, “that’s easy to say, and impossible to do.” I agree to that…if a person is unwilling to let go of what expectations they think others have for them during the holidays. If people really love you, then they do not want to see you stressed out, or sick from making 10 different kinds of holiday cookies, or sleep-deprived from handcrafting felt ornaments with all your kids’ names and the date embroidered on them. They will not care if your house is clean enough to eat food off the floor. They want you healthy, happy, and available to spend time with them during the holiday seasons doing things you both enjoy, or even just relaxing over a hot mug or cold glass of your favorite seasonal drinks. So let go of the expectations and be yourself. Trust me, you’ll feel much better.
Those perfect holiday houses, all detailed out in the 2-page spread and holiday movies? They got that way with an army of decorators, cleaners, and likely a wad of cash for the decorations themselves. Think about what you really need to make yourself happy. Is it really 50 strands of outdoor lights, or a huge balloon of Santa that chuckles and waves at passerby? Do you need the life-sized nativity scene, seventeen separate side dishes for the big holiday meal, or the handcrafted tablecloth with matching napkins for twenty? Does anyone need that to enjoy themselves, truly? Of course not. But we’ve been told it so often that it is part of our culture, one of the traditions of this time of year that I wholeheartedly advocate breaking.
Now let’s talk about your own expectations, like getting into that red dress. Do not forgo your favorite holiday food, under any circumstances. This is the wrong time of the year to diet. Does that mean I advocate weight gain? No, I am advocating moderation. Eat healthy when you can, and don’t beat yourself up if you want those Godiva chocolates, Ultimate Chocolate brownies, and bull’s-eyes at a party. Stress—like denying cravings for food you see once a year—tends to invite binge eating, in my experience. If you are less stressed, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself without going overboard and feeling sick as a result.
Now you might be saying, “I could get by without all the holiday trappings and rigmarole, but the kids expect it.” Yes, having been a kid at an undisclosed point in the far distant past, I can truthfully say kids do expect presents at Christmas. They also expect some decorations, and some cookies to eat. But after those needs are met, what do they really want? Parents, they want your time. Put down your phone and tablet, and spend some time with them. Don’t buy a book that reads a story to them; take the time to read it to them yourself. Make time to enjoy some cocoa, to trim the tree together, and to watch a favorite Christmas movie. Holidays are about making memories and enjoying times with loved ones, not who has the best house, or the most handmade presents, or the fanciest baked goods.
The holidays only come once a year. Make this one count. Do what matters. And if you can’t fit into the dress, put on your favorite jeans and come as you are. The welcome hug I give you will be just the same, I promise.
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War: Lash Series, Book #3
by Tara Fox Hall
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Weresnake Lash journeys to Europe on the eve of war, desperately searching for not only his nephew, but also his former lover Nancy. Leveraged into service to Germany by the malicious German werecougar Theodor von Kessel, Lash befriends fellow soldier and weresnake Dieter, even as he secures safety for Nancy. When Theodor divulges The German Final Solution and the part they are destined to play in it, Dieter and Nancy attempt escape to England while Lash orchestrates distraction. Horrified to learn upon his escape that Nancy and Dieter were captured, Lash returns to Europe in a second rescue, banding with another weresnake called Nails and his motley crew of various weremen to free Dieter and Nancy from the camps where they are imprisoned. Caught by demons in an ambush, Lash is imprisoned in a death camp, but breaks free with Dieter in time to join the American Forces near D-day. Resolute, Dieter and Lash fight onwards with Allied forces to Germany itself, their goals to find Nancy, kill Theodor, and survive the final bloody days of World War II.
I’d not thought a lot about fighting beyond killing my enemy, or saving my ass. I’d trusted to my poison, my skill and training, my mystical impermeable shield against magical attack, and my ability to heal to win my battles. The rest had been luck, or someone else’s planning.
Now I was heading into war, something I’d never known, not on this scale. I could use all the help I could get.
The ocean journey didn’t take long in those days, and the trip was uneventful, mostly because that was before U-boats prowled the Atlantic waves. The Bremen was a German boat, but it docked in England instead of Germany. Before it took me to my destination of London, it stopped at a number of ports all down the French coast, the Spanish coast, and even Algiers on the African coast. By the time I landed, Poland had been conquered by Germany, and they’d moved onto Denmark and Norway. Worse, the Nazis were poised to invade France.
That first night I spent sipping a drink in a dark English pub, trying to think of what to do. My initial plan had been to go to Italy directly, and find out from there where Nancy was. But in the long hours of my trip here, I’d decided Titus had the better idea. Italy was a place to be avoided as much as Germany itself. If Jews were being deported from Germany and Italy, it was better not to waste time going to one place they were certain not to be.
That left the question of where the Jews were being sent. No one seemed to know, at least that was the talk I’d overheard tonight. Until I found that out, there was no use wasting time traveling. Europe was too big a place and war on the mainland was imminent.
On the other side of the ocean, this war had seemed like something that couldn’t touch me. Here it could do more than touch me, it could blow me to pieces.
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