Forget Stress, Let’s Have Fun

Have you noticed an increase in your stress levels lately? I feel like everyone I talk to lately (myself included, yes, I talk to myself) has been under extra stress lately. I know, I know, Mercury is in Retrograde, so most of our lives have turned into 3-ring circuses with too many monkeys.

This was supposed to be a post advocating for meditation during stressful times like these. It was just a real slog to write. I absolutely believe in the one two punch of meditation and exercise to beat stress. Good stuff!

But you know what? Sometimes the only cure for high stress is having a little bit of fun. Life’s too short to be serious all the time.

So for my fun for the day, I’m going to sing and dance my heart out to my current favorite song. We’re talking total abandon, good thing nobody’s watching, all in. Take that, Mercury Retrograde!

What about you? How do you want to have a bit of fun today?

 

 

 

 

 

New Feature: Monday Motivation!

There’s just something about Mondays, right? I like to think they can set the tone for the rest of the week, so I’m introducing a new category for the blog- Monday Motivation!

First thing on Monday morning I’ll post something I find motivating with a sentence or two about how I plan to act on it. I really hope some of you will join in in the comments with your own ideas. Let’s start our weeks off on the awesome foot!


beautiful-things-883617_1920

Today I’m going to add extra time to my self-care activities: 5 minutes to meditation, 10 minutes to yoga, and 30 minutes to reading.

What can you do to make today the best?

And You Can Sing Along

Coming home from a medical appointment yesterday, I did something I haven’t done in a long, long time: I sang along with my music as I walked down the street.

I still vividly remember the last time I did this. (Annnnd I’m about to date myself, good thing my about page already has that listed!) I was at the farmer’s market with my mom, listening to a Paula Abdul tape in my Walkman.

I think this is the one I had.
I think this is the one I had.

I was so excited to be alive to hear music that I loved, I was singing along out of pure enthusiasm for the moment and for my life. Here was my mom’s reaction:

You shouldn’t sing out loud in public. Especially with music other people can’t hear. You sound terrible.

Thanks, Mom.

The criticism stuck though, I spent many years thinking how bad it would be if I sang in public. So I shoved down that little spontaneous part of me who wants to sing along with an awesome song as I walk down the street.

Then, yesterday, I finally allowed myself to reconnect with that spontaneous and joyful reaction to really feeling a song. I heard those old, hurtful words in my head and just let them go.

Yesterday I reclaimed the silly part of me who sings and dances to music only I can hear while I walk down the street. Not for anyone else. For myself. For the joy of just being alive.

I found this picture from 2014 recently. That's me singing and playing my guitar. Also, I still have that shirt.
I found this old picture recently. That’s me singing and playing my guitar. Also, I still have that shirt.

How about you? Anything you’d like to reclaim today?


If you’re wondering about the song, it was “A Murder of One” by Counting Crows (Yup, still dating myself.) It begins with one of my favorite lyrics of all time:

Blue morning, blue morning, wrapped in strands of fist and bone.

Finally, yes, the post title is another Buffy the Vampire Slayer reference.

Shaking It Up

I haven’t been posting as much on here lately, I know. There are so many things I want to do this summer, that the blog became less and less of a priority. Frankly, it was feeling like a chore. I realized what the problem was yesterday, when I was captioning that awful food picture: I was making this blog too serious. Again.

Wellness and self-care are topics that I take very seriously, but sometimes I let that overwhelm my naturally silly personality. I think it’s time to bring a little more of that to this space. After all, laughter is the best medicine (after food, probably).

Why a photo of a peeled onion on the red line tracks? Because it matches the last few posts and really ties the room together.
Why a photo of an onion on the red line tracks? Because it matches the last few posts and really ties the room together.

Laugh on!

A Quick Question (plus bragging)

Is anyone else out there totally thrown by the fact that it is basically July, or is it just me?

Anyway, I made the time to walk over to the beach three days in a row last week when the weather was hot. It was awesome! I hope that you’re all managing to take advantage of those days too (well, those of us in Chicagoland, I understand that other places have more reliable summers).

I got a cool notice from my magic gizmo yesterday: I have walked 736 miles since I got it at the end of March. All those hikes to and from work are paying off!

Challenge Accepted

I wrote about a recent realization I had about my own physical capabilities. In a small way, I have experienced what it’s like when your body “betrays” you.

That feeling still lingers in the periphery of my awareness, that tiny little voice telling me, “you can’t” when I start to consider whether or not to push myself harder. It spoke up when I decided to start taking kettlebell and boxing classes (which I absolutely love), and it spoke up when I decided to start running again.

Sure, the last time I took up running was when my wrist issues were just starting and I had no idea what was coming. I ended up running for a couple of months and stopping when I had chronic hip pain and bronchitis. That was a fun summer.

I have to remind myself sometimes that I really have changed my relationship with my body in the past two years. I give it love and care that it would never have occurred to me to give back then.

So this past Sunday morning I had a little thought, one of those little sparks of inspiration that only hit me when I’m outside in the fresh air, I should run a marathon the year I turn 35.

That means I should aim to run a half-marathon next year and go the full monty the year after that. That seems just over the line of what’s possible, like I’m being a little overly-ambitious. Good.

I’m putting this new idea out on the blog now for two reasons. One, putting this intention out there for all the world to see will be great motivation. And two, because even if I don’t do it, even if I fail (oh no, not that word!!), there’s a lesson waiting for me here.

So, any favorite marathons to recommend? I think I might as well go someplace a little more exotic than downtown Chicago in case 2017 is my only attempt. Next up: better running shoes!

Epic Summer Redux

All the photos in this post are from last week’s mini vacation in New Buffalo, MI. I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of that adventure here, but it seemed really self-indulgent to write an actual post about it.


 

Two years ago I was having the worst summer of my life: I was experiencing on and off debilitating pain (more on, sadly); I had suddenly left my job, my clients, and presumably my profession; and a close family member turned out to be very ill. Sometimes I thought it was going to crush me.

Walkway to the dunes
Walkway to the dunes

It was also in some ways the best summer of my life: it felt like I had very little left to lose and so I really lived in the moment. When I was in Chicago my besties and I would go to street festival after street festival and dance in the street like we didn’t have a care in the world; in those moments I honestly didn’t.

Little New Buffalo lighthouse behind the dunes
Little New Buffalo lighthouse behind the dunes

I have decided to try to have it all this summer in what I’m calling, “Epic Summer 2: The Return”. At first is seems like a daunting idea; seeing clients (and giving them my all), keeping healthy, blogging and staying up on social media, working on my creative writing, and then finding time to dance with abandon. Kind of the opposite of carefree, right?

A family of geese joined me for morning meditation. Such fluffy goslings!
A family of geese joined me for morning meditation. Such fluffy goslings!

Fortunately, in addition to all the other ways I have been trying to optimize my life, I have been reading a lot on time management/productivity. This article was the inspiration I needed to finally go for it.

We randomly stopped at Central Beach in Indiana to admire the Chi skyline.
We randomly stopped at Central Beach in Indiana to admire the Chi skyline.

 

Here’s my plan for the days I don’t see clients: during the hours when all sensible vampires and people of Irish descent are staying out of the sun as much as possible, I will be doing my computer projects like writing for this blog and my newsletter. During my original Epic Summer I spent these hours either reading about the Founding Fathers/ Revolutionary War if I was in Michigan, or watching t.v. if I was at home. I’ll use timers to help ensure that I’m using that time as productively as possible (I cannot tell you how much of a difference using a timer has made in my life already!). The rest of my time is for playing outside, or reading, or street dancing.

I just really liked this bush.
I just really liked this bush.

The days when I do see clients will stay the same. When I am at work, my time is theirs and I give them my all.

I have no idea if this plan will actually succeed. My hope is that by bringing back little pieces of that carefree summer, I’ll have even more to give during my working hours. The beauty of being self-employed is the freedom to play with things like this. The danger is not re-calibrating in time if it doesn’t work. Luckily for me, I’m an optimist.

This was the view from our balcony. I could never get tired of waking up to that!
This was the view from our balcony. I could never get tired of waking up to that!

Time for some fun!

Even though you’re growing up, you should never stop having fun.

-Nina Dobrev

I’ve been so locked down lately in the serious business of adulting, I lost sight of the second part of my blog’s mission statement: “have fun”. Oops.

Fortunately, I had an opportunity to get back in touch with that mission during a recent visit to a new park. It was a chilly and gloomy day, but I was still happy just being outside. I was so happy, in fact, that I agreed to climb a tower on this new playground. Between my heavy coat and bags, it was a tight fit. Getting back down seemed like an unpleasant proposition. Then I saw it; the Slide.

It was really tall, fully enclosed, and had a wicked-looking curve. I couldn’t help myself, that was my way down. The only acceptable way down. I threw myself into it, and for those moments I shed my serious skin. I was as carefree as our idealized version of a child. I was having fun, I was playing. That single trip down a big slide brought out the sense of fun that’s been missing from my experience lately.

Returning to that playground isn’t a realistic choice for me (those of you with young children, take advantage, go down slides with them!), but I can still bring play back into my everyday experience. Cartwheels and somersaults are out because of my wrist, but what about skipping? Skipping is safe for my body. So that’s what I’ve started doing. Just for one block, I allow myself to forget about being a serious grownup. I skip freely and joyfully, looking up at the sky. I ignore the people around me giving me weird looks, and give myself over to the fun of it.

What about you? Do you want to bring play back into your life for a few minutes?