Category Archives: Self-Care

What delights you?

This post is largely inspired by a great blog post penned by Caitlin Kelly  who has a wonderful way with words. I came up with my own title because I didn’t want to be too much of a copy-cat.

Now that the mid-term elections are over and we can all breathe a sigh of relief (if only because for the time being we have a respite from political ads on t.v. and all of that godforsaken political junk mail), I think it’s time to reflect inwards a bit.

Thanksgiving will be here before you know it, with Christmas shortly behind. I’m just not quite ready to start all the planning and shopping yet. Let’s take a minute or two to relax and consider those things in life which we may take for granted that give us pleasure. Those things that soothe us. Those things that give us a sense of contentment. Those things that simply delight us.

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Here’s but a few of mine:

The feel of my favorite fuzzy socks on my bare feet.

Peering out the window of our warm, cozy townhome at the magical, silent, slow-falling snow.

A solid cup of coffee with a bit of cinnamon sprinkled on top.

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The “P” is for Polly!

A heart to heart conversation via phone or in person with a good friend.

The mouth-watering aroma of a home-cooked meal in my crockpot at the end of a long work day. And the sense of self-satisfaction I feel for having the good sense to put it together in the morning before work.

Waking up naturally, without hearing that silly alarm coming from my cell phone. Ahhh…weekends!

Sipping a complex glass of merlot. Savoring the hints of dark cherry, chocolate, and spice.

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A good, long,  luxurious shower. The way those hot, wet, pellets of water feel on my tense shoulders.

Interacting with dogs in public. Petting and scratching them, telling them they are a “good girl” or “good boy”. Listening to their human parent or parents telling me about their breed, their adoption stories, their personality quirks.

At work: sharing a laugh or two with a senior client over the phone.

When just the right song comes on my Sirius XM, while I’m tooling around in my CRV. Like the Pina Colada song  song (don’t judge me, I realize the couple in the song has a completely f’d up relationship as both are willing to cheat on each other and escape to an exotic island with someone they just met at a bar called O’Malley’s). It’s just such a chilled out, easy-breezy, sing-a-long song though, right? Let’s not overthink this.

How a November day in Colorado reminds me of one of those sweet February days in Wisconsin when the sky is bright blue, dotted with a few fluffy clouds, the snow is melting on the pavement, the air is chilly but mild and there is no wind to speak of.

Glorious pictures of the sunrise in the foothills, taken by Hubs, when the moment strikes, upon his arrival at work.

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Please share in the comments what delights you, my delightful blogging community!

 

Life is Fragile, Be Gentle

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I don’t know the origin story for this sign. I can only imagine that it was something someone made back in the early 70’s and gave to my parents. I just remember it hanging on the fiberboard walls of my dad’s beloved garage while I was growing up. I can only assume that my mom couldn’t find quite the right place to display it in our house. Or she found it tacky.

But my dad had an appreciation for this sign. It meant something to him. It was hung on those fiberboard walls next to scribblings from family and friends from near and far who were visiting our house for one celebration or another. Dad got a big kick out of having guests sign the wall in the garage to commemorate various celebrations. He was quite the sentimental guy.

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Yes, I christened myself the cutest “chic” that ever came here.  I was a brat that apparently couldn’t spell.

I think first and foremost, this sentiment, these words, apply to the important concept of self-care. I think it’s easy to go through our days mentally haranguing ourselves about how we could have done “this”  better, or how we shouldn’t have said “that” to whomever, or that we should have reacted differently in a particular situation. Something I’m trying to do lately is to put my self-defeating thoughts on pause for a moment and ask myself if the negative thoughts about myself would be something I would actually say out loud (or even under my breath) to a close friend. The answer is always, emphatically, “no”.  I think this sign is an excellent reminder to be gentle (aka kind) to oneself.

I also believe if we have any hope of ushering in a kinder, less dysfunctional, society, not only for the benefit of  those of us living in the here and now, but for the generations coming up behind us, we should endeavor to heed these words in our day to day interactions with others, whether they be strangers or friends.

What does this look like for me? I think it’s more what it sounds like, in my case. When I am frustrated with another person because they are jumping on my last nerve, if I’m being honest, these not-so-positive feelings are evident in my tone of voice. If I can be cognizant of this fact, in the moment, I can hit the pause button for a hot second and make the necessary adjustments. I think one simple tool is to slap a smile on my face. Then when I open my mouth to speak again, the words cannot help but come out in a kinder, gentler way.

Tell me, kind and gentle readers, do you think this sentiment has value as I do? If so, what does it look like in your life?

Beauty in Song Form

Anyone who has been following this blog even for a little while gets that I am obsessed with music. And that I love to write about it. For reference, I blogged about my  appreciation for music here, here, and here.

True confession: I’ve always fantasized about being a writer for Rolling Stone magazine. That just might be the coolest job ever, in my opinion. Oh, the people I’d meet! The things I’d learn! The music I’d be exposed to!

I am also a huge fan of creating Google playlists. One of the many I have created is my “Beautiful Songs” playlist. This is the one utilized during those times when I feel the need for self care.  When I’m feeling contemplative. It is composed of songs that I want to hear when I’m by myself during a long drive. Or when I’m home alone, cooking a good meal to enjoy when Hubs comes in from work (a rare occasion, these days, and admittedly very traditional, in a Leave it to Beaver sort of way). These are the songs that I will stop whatever it is I am doing (unless of course I’m behind the wheel) and pause to enjoy until the last sweet notes.

My Beautiful Song playlist is a *WIP, just like me  (no, I am not finished with acronyms quite yet). Actually, all my playlists are WIP’s. That’s what makes them so much fun for me to create. They can be customized to my own personal moods and tastes.

Here’s a sampling of what you can find on my Beautiful Songs playlist, and why they belong there:

Wildflower, by Skylark: I’m pretty darn sure that Skylark was one of those one-hit wonder kind of bands. If they were destined to fall into the category of one hit wonder bands, they should be quite proud that this was that one hit, right? The lyrics bring tears to my eyes, as they remind me of someone I love very much who is struggling to find her strength as a young woman in this world.

Sunshine On My Shoulders, by John Denver:  When I hear the first few lines of this on the acoustic guitar, my heart fills up and my eyes begin to well up. Pure auditory beauty.

Nobody Does it Better, by Carly Simon: The melody and musicality of this one, accompanied by Ms. Simon’s powerful vocals blows me away every time I hear it.

Wonderful Tonight, by Eric Clapton: The first time I heard this song, it was at my Aunt Connie’s house. She was always a huge fan of music and frequently would insist we all shut up and listen to her favorite new song (think we share some genes? ha!). This was one of them. At her funeral (stupid fricking cancer), just a year ago now, once everyone was seated for the service, this song was played. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

This One’s For You-Barry Manilow: Yes, I will admit that I am a lifetime fan of Barry Manilow. I recognize that this statement is unlikely to entice anyone from Rolling Stone to come a’knocking on my door to offer me an opportunity to write for them. The first concert I ever went to was Barry Manilow. I went with my mom, my aunt, my cousin and a couple of other family friends.  My cousin Brett and I were totally over the moon (being the “hip” 12 and 14 year old children of the 80’s that we were) about seeing Barry live. We even created a big sign that was emblazoned with the words “We Love you, Barry”. This particular song of his may be the one I find the most beautiful. It is quite likely I’ll be adding more Barry Manilow songs to this playlist (remember it’s a WIP!).

Here we go again, performed by Ray Charles and Norah Jones: Okay, people. If you are still reading this stop and listen to this song. It’s smooth and sultry, like a fine wine for your ears. Trust me, it’s simply gorgeous. You can thank me later.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road-Elton John: I gotta say, I’m a bit particular when it comes to Elton John. I dislike much of the music he put out from about 1985 to the present. But man, he really had some awesome songs before that. This one is probably my favorite, with the beautiful piano start and the questions: When are you going to come down? When are you going to land? Wow.

Harvest Moon by Neil Young: I think Neil Young is one of those artists, much like Bob Dylan, who people either really love or really dislike, voice-wise. Personally, I love his voice. I love that it’s not perfect. I love the way this song starts, with the simple ba-da, da-da-da-da-da and the percussion (you know that little brush they use on a drum).  And the harmonica then the trombone towards the end make it extra special, like the cherry on top. It’s just such a sweet tune to me. My sister and I recently enjoyed a performance of this song by a two man band while sipping craft beer at an outdoor patio in Duluth, Minnesota. I know now that I’ll always think of this moment with her when I hear this song again.

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So, fellow music fans:  What songs would you have on your own personal “Beautiful Song” playlist?

*WIP: Work in progress.

 

 

 

Thoughts on Self-Care

It feels to me as if the term “self-care” is being tossed around a lot these days. It’s “trending”, which I take to mean the concept will, before long, peter out. It will lose it’s meaning, it’s importance. People will tire of it, finding ways on social media to mock it and render it irrelevant. They’ll find another term to latch onto.

Ironically, I just googled “self-care” and on Merriam Webster, front and center, there is an icon of lightening next to the word “trending”. My point is thus proven. 

Before this concept is indeed no longer trending, I’d like to add my two cents about self- care. I can only speak from my own perspective of course, recognizing that many people in the world are struggling mightily to survive another day, physically and/or mentally, so finding the time and energy to even ponder what self-care means let alone practicing it eludes them. Which really is a damn shame.

Bottom line: I am grateful that I have enough quiet time to myself, along with the mental energy to both identify what self-care looks like to me and the physical and intellectual ability to regularly engage in the activities that promote it. Especially during those times, like right now, when those people near and dear to me are experiencing life challenges that are weighing on my mind and heart, causing me to feel utterly helpless. 

I think that in order to practice self-care in any sort of meaningful way, it’s necessary to define for yourself what it specifically looks like to you. However, taking the time to recognize why practicing self-care is beneficial for you should be your first task. My personal theory is that if I choose to not practice self-care, my ability to be emotionally present for my loved ones will be dwarfed. I will feel put-upon, frustrated, tired, and stressed out. By not practicing self-care, I will lessen my ability to find the silver linings in things as well as hindering my ability to be the best version of myself. By regularly practicing self-care, my chances of being effective at providing emotional support to those I love greatly increase.

Now, while I am admittedly an over-thinker, I cling firmly to the K.I.S.S. mantra (the Keep it Simple, Sister version) when it comes to what self-care looks like for me. I don’t believe any self-improvement endeavor is worth much if there are too many steps.

Let me share some of the self-care tactics that work for me. I urge you to consider what yours are and then share them with me and our blogging friends here in the comments, if you feel comfortable doing so. 

  • I keep a regular sleep schedule and make it a priority to get enough sleep (8.5 hours per night has proven to be ideal for me).
  • I listen to my Soul Song and other playlists daily as they bring me joy. I find that listening to my music each morning puts me in a positive mindset for the day ahead.
  • Regular grooming of fingernails/hands and toenails/feet. As in, at home manicures and pedicures. Taking care of my physical appearance in this way boosts my confidence as I am out and about in my day to day life. And it’s a very relaxing activity for me, especially when I’ve got my favorite tunes playing in the background.
  • I regularly make to do lists, which gives me a sense of order and purpose. This tactic calms my anxious brain and is a valuable tool that boosts my focus on my priorities for the day, or week. I also get a little kick every time I check something off on my to-do lists.
  • I  lay out my yoga mat and stretch my body and do a few strengthening and toning exercises every single morning.  I follow that up with some prayer time. Expressing gratitude and connecting with the Spirit helps me clear my head and gives me good mental energy for the day ahead of me.
  • I ignore people that only have negative things to say as much as I possibly can. You know who they are in your own life. We all do.
  • I strive to remain mindful as I go through my days. For instance, really listening  to people instead of thinking up responses to what I think they are going to say. Also, limiting the amount of times I check my cell phone throughout the day allows me opportunities to see and experience what is going on in my environment. I think it’s healthy to keep FOMO (fear of missing out) at bay.
  • I mentally pull out a phrase or mantra that speaks to me if I’m feeling stressed, such as “This too shall pass”, or “Let it Be” of course in song version because that is how my brain works. 

 

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