#296 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

as I attempted to buy wine the next day – I was asked for ID. As I got back in the car to go home I slammed a solid fist pump into the air believing that my primping was responsible.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#296

Have an at-home spa day

This may be the ultimate in Self-care activities. Spending an afternoon or an entire day pampering your face, your hair, your skin, and your nails. Back in my youth this meant massaging a gross amount of mayonnaise into  my hair and wrapping it in a warm towel; rubbing my heels with Vaseline and covering my feet with cotton socks; and then applying baby oil all over my skin from head to toe. Just to be cute I would use cucumber slices on my eyes on occasion but mostly they got cold compresses. That was the process of beautification as I knew it.

Today, while those methods may work fine, there are dozens of fancier options. From homemade facial scrubs to electric foot baths – having a personal spa day is easier than ever. Get started with a bath, a glass of wine, some soft music, and a few drops of your favorite essential oils. Spend time moisturizing your hair, your face, and your extremities. A sugar scrub for your face, hands, and feet will exfoliate and prep your skin for the lotions that come next. Using honey, buttermilk, coconut oil and/or avocados are a natural way to hydrate the largest organ (your skin) on your body.

Finish up with attending to your finger and toenails – to polish or not is a personal preference. Some light yoga or meditation may be a great way to still your mind while while your body regenerates and then perhaps some outdoor time in a garden or a short nap.

In my late twenties I treated myself to a full day of pampering and as I attempted to buy wine the next day – I was asked for ID. As I got back in the car to go home I slammed a solid fist pump into the air believing that my primping was responsible. Who knows? The more you take care of your skin – the longer it looks good so go ahead and treat yourself to an…

At Home Spa Day.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#308 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Quiet your mind by concentrating on the sensation of your body suspended in the water. Stay in until your fingers crinkle or the water turns tepid.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#308

Take a bath

In a conversation with a friend yesterday, she described growing up in a home with ten people and one bathroom – without a shower. The only option for personal hygiene was the tub which, doesn’t sound especially pleasant. Once showering was a common household option for body cleanliness, the tub was for kids. And then Calgon enticed us to get back in the tub and the bathtub took on new meaning.

Indeed – taking a bath is good for your health on many levels.

Most importantly, relaxing neck deep in warm water for even a few quiet minutes can help your body dismiss built up stress. The warmth of the water helps to sooth sore or tired muscles. It can moisturize your skin. With a few drops of aromatherapy, it may offer benefits to your sinuses and/or respiratory system.

To make the most out of your bath time, turn the lights down low or light a candle and turn them off. Play some soothing music and grab a glass of wine or a cup of tea. Leave your book, magazine, or electronics in another room so that this time is dedicated to you and your thoughts. Quiet your mind by concentrating on the sensation of your body suspended in the water. Stay in until your fingers crinkle or the water turns tepid.

Understandably, you may not be able to indulge yourself with a 30 minute time out every day of the week but scheduling time with your tub on a regular basis is a great addition to your self-care plan. Surely, one of the most basic pleasures is to …

Take a bath.

 love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

 

#316  of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Of course, there are some people who don’t want their feet touched… I simply cannot understand denying yourself that pleasure as it can be almost orgasmic with the right massage – but o.k…

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#316

Get a pedicure

From the top of your head to the tip of your toes, life is better when things are put together. No, that’s not really the kind of poetry I referenced a few days ago. I’m talking about making your toes – and your heels – pretty. Even the funkiest feet are prettier with clean, trimmed nails and soft, smooth heels. This includes – YOU, gentlemen.

Admittedly, I was well into adulthood before I had my first pedicure but quickly understood it was such a simple pleasure that I added $25 to my monthly budget from anywhere I could in order to treat myself. I love to go barefoot and so – no visual needed – my feet were in constant need of TLC and I was slow to respond personally. The fact that there are people in the world willing to take on that task blows my mind but I try never to look a gift-horse in the mouth (sorry – for all my non-american or much younger readers, I’m not sure of a good substitute for that idiom). I graciously accept the loving care that anyone is willing to commit to my feet.

Our feet are important! They carry us where we want to go. They hold us in position. They are abused, squished, tormented, and only sometimes – temperature regulated. They deserve any extra attention they can get!! Additionally, when ‘professionals’ are regularly assessing a body part, they are more apt to discover early warning signs of potential problems (i.e., bunions, corns, fungus). Pedicures most often include a brief foot massage – improving circulation. And, if absolutely nothing else – taking 30 min. – give or take – out of your daily routine to completely relax has its own specific health benefits.

Of course, there are some people who don’t want their feet touched… I simply cannot understand denying yourself that pleasure as it can be almost orgasmic with the right massage – but o.k., I respect that a few will protest this suggestion. Winter, spring, summer, and fall… once a month and just because …

Get a pedicure.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

 

 

 

#341 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Perhaps the most compelling reason to change our sheets is the sense of comfort and pleasure that fresh sheets compel almost Every. Single. Time.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#341

Fresh Sheets

The mention of fresh sheets brings a sigh of ‘ahhh’ when ever it is considered. Memes suggesting fresh sheets and shaved legs are heavenly experiences float through social media with happy puppy faces and satisfying smiles.

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As I investigated people’s thoughts about sheets, I found a variety of practices as it pertains to how frequently people do change their sheets. From “weekly, duh!” to “umm…. I really can’t remember”, it seems that only some of us have a hard fast rule.

There are all kind of reasons that we might consider a more regimented protocol for clean linens but this post is not about hygiene. Perhaps the most compelling reason to change our sheets is the sense of comfort and pleasure that fresh sheets compel almost Every. Single. Time.

Have a rough day at work? Change your sheets before going to bed.

Feeling lonely? Change your sheets before going to bed.

Need to be your best tomorrow? Change your sheets before going to bed.

We are programmed to associate cleanliness with good health and/or a sign that things are ‘right’. The act of going to bed in an environment that smells and feels clean, tricks our brain – if only momentarily – to believe that everything is in place – in order – and good to go.

To make the experience as good as it can be, I strongly recommend that we all have at least one set of amazing sheets. While the experts vary in their opinion of thread count, they all seem to agree that Egyptian cotton is by far, the best.  As long as the thread count is at least 200 and European Egyptian, you will be sleeping on some of the most comfortable fabric in the world. An 800 count EE sheet is some of the most luxurious bedding to experience. It compels nudity for an entire sensate experience. Think about it tonight and treat yourself the experience of …

Fresh sheets.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Photo by Chechi Pe on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

When Things Get Tough…

We never committed to one another in a public forum; we don’t have a ‘legal’ union.

So… things have been tough lately. H made it through surgery ok but it was a rough start to recovery. The last ten days have been a heavy-duty wakeup call in understanding the impact that his illness has on our lives.

I vacillate between being deeply heartbroken for him, for us, and for myself. This isn’t how either one of us ever pictured our time together. I am aching to go on a bike ride with him and I know he aches to feel the wind on his face.

I think I have gained every pound he has lost. I wonder if at night, they secretly move from him to me in an effort to avoid contamination by the cancer cells. We eat the same amount of food I think… and yet I am the only one gaining weight. It may be that I still love to eat and he is sometimes only eating because I force it in front of him, sometimes with little compassion and too much energy. I feel afraid when I notice how thin he is becoming.

I try not to notice every time he shudders with the agony of the bone lesions because it stirs in me an urge to scream for him but it never comes out that way. Instead, it emerges as impatience and frustration which is equally infuriating because that is never my intent. I want it to go away so that he can smile again, drink a Mojito, and mow the lawn because those are the things that give him pleasure.

We never committed to one another in a public forum; we don’t have a ‘legal’ union. However, on that beach in Vieques without a stitch of clothing on, in broad daylight, as the waves gently crested across our knees, we promised to trust one another and to tell the truth – no matter what. We didn’t promise to stay together “in sickness and in health, til death do us part” but I am not ready to let go of him. I don’t care that he is sick – I still want to hear the sound of his breath above the roaring fan at night as he snores loud enough to attract the zombie apocalypse. I still want to hold his hand while he man crushes over Pete Nelson or Chip Gaines.

The doctors say that the cancer is managed; the treatment is working but we stay confused about that because in nine months, a lot has changed. Right now, it’s better than it was thirty days ago so we stay hopeful that these last attempts at pain management will continue to mitigate his discomfort. And we dream. We’re making plans as if it was last summer when we hopped on our bicycles to enjoy the sounds and temperatures of early summer evenings. We continue to think about things we’ll do ‘when he feels stronger’ which feels much better than thinking about all the things we may never do again.

And I attempt to do what I tell people to do every day. I deliberately work at self-care. I write. Sometimes it’s for just me and then there are times I have something to say that I know is relatable or helpful and I share. I go on walks. I talk with friends. I read. And apparently, I eat.  Work is a blessing because it allows me to shift my focus; to problem solve, which is of course, my passion.

And I seek inspiration… Here are some thoughts that keep me moving. I hope they do the same for you.

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Six Ways to Cope with Crap

Here are six constructive and helpful ways to manage all that stinky stuff:

“You never really know what’s coming. A small wave, or maybe a big one. All you can really do is hope that when it comes, you can surf over it, instead of drown in its monstrosity.” ― Alysha Speer

We can’t control everything that happens in our life and there are times for all of us that we turn a corner and run full on into crap. For some, we are just getting cleaned off and another pile of dodo drops from the sky like a storm that blows in on a hot summer day without any warning. The kind of crap I am talking about doesn’t distinguish between gender or class, race or religion, age or vocation… it comes slowly and quickly sometimes with notice, other times suddenly and abruptly. At all times, the only part of the crap that we actually can control is how we cope with it. Here are six constructive and helpful ways to manage all that stinky stuff:

ONE: Use the skills you have.

Remember that you’ve made it through every rough day you’ve ever had before. Chances are, the thing you are going through now is not the first load of crap you’ve encountered. Remind yourself of the coping skills you’ve used in the past. Generally speaking, crap causes stress – stress can be mediated by utilizing traditional and somewhat basic coping tools. Meditation, exercise, therapy, social support, writing and the like are fantastic resources that help us deal with stressors both big and small. Use them! Use several of them at once if necessary and use them often.

TWO: Eat right and sleep right.

Both of these are relative ‘no-brainers’ and we all know them intellectually but the first thing that people under stress tell me is that it is preventing them from eating and sleeping. Then we face the bigger problem of how magnified the basic stressor becomes when we haven’t slept and/or we aren’t providing our bodies with the nourishment that makes our brains work. Furthermore, it seems as if the basic stress point births more stressors that in and of themselves, become big and problematic when we allow ourselves to become run down physically.

This isn’t the time to worry about dieting… while I’m not suggesting that we all develop the habit of ‘stress eating’… keeping fruit, nuts, and juices available so that we have something healthy and quick to grab at any time, makes sense. When I know someone is going through a rough time, I take them a big bowl of whole fruits – I know… buzzkill.

Sleeping is difficult when our brains don’t ‘turn off’. You can help by making sure you create an environment conducive to sleeping. Many of us have really bad habits that don’t support healthy sleeping conditions. NO television in the bedroom! NO sleeping on the couch in front of the TV. NO caffeine (including chocolate ice cream and other hidden sources of stimulants – including alcohol). Yes, a single glass of wine can relax you but two may induce less ‘restful’ sleep. More than just a little alcohol of any kind will certainly help you ‘fall’ asleep but your slumber will be restless. Learn progressive relaxation (search in YouTube) and do it as you fall asleep. Use a fan or a white noise machine to help drone out the sound of your thoughts. Technology allows us access to so many helpful tools regarding sleep these days. Lastly, don’t forget to support melatonin production in your body as well.

THREE:  Self-care.

As simple as this sounds, it is the one thing I find goes unnoticed most often. Seemingly, the last thing we think about when we are experiencing a load of crap in life is taking time out for ourselves. I guess it isn’t second nature to stop in the middle of chaos and ‘fuel up’ but let’s think about this… how far does your car go without gas?? Would you let a leak in your roof go indefinitely or would you take time to fix it so it doesn’t get worse?? When I recommend to people that they take some time for themselves, they often tell me they don’t have time but we both know that is an excuse. Learn to look at your life with the intent of carving out small slices that belong to ONLY you. This is the opposite of selfish – the objection most everyone tries to lay out – if you run out of steam, you will be worthless to help anyone! Take five minutes an hour under extreme duress and 30 min. a day otherwise to devote to making sure that YOU are bringing your ‘stress level’ down to its base line. If not, your body will think that it needs an elevated amount of Cortisol in your system to function and a new base will be established – that won’t feel good either!

FOUR: Accept Help

Are you good at asking for or accepting help? I always recommend accepting any type of help that is offered even if you think you may not need it. Someone willing to come mow your lawn will probably be willing to run the kids around instead if you find that more helpful. If someone asks how they can help – don’t say “I’m fine” – ask them “what are you offering?” or “Sure, what did you have in mind?” or better yet, “That would be great! Would you please….”.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to ‘do it all myself’ and it eventually backfires. Asking for help is a sign of STRENGTH – because it unzips your vulnerability. When we ask for or accept help we are making a statement that we can’t do it all ourselves and that is OK!! We are social creatures, not designed to be isolated and alone, or draining every personal resource we have. As a single mom, I had a village – almost literally – neighbors, scout leaders, friends, coaches, and the occasional family member that I depended on because I was only one person and even though I tried – God knows – I couldn’t do it – not successfully. When I made the decision to actually respond affirmatively to people who volunteered their help – my life was instantly better. Those who hadn’t meant it learned a lesson and we probably didn’t remain friends. Those who did, learned that I am a loyal friend who gives back when it is possible.

FIVE: Breathe & Count

At the very least learn how to breathe and count to five. In those few seconds where I take a deep breath and slowly exhale to the count of five, I collect myself and create intention (most of the time anyway). I respond better in conversations that are stressful, to people who are hyper or ultra emotional, and when there is significant chaos or confusion. The time it takes me to breathe and count allows my brain to run through a variety of scenarios where it can choose the best response, or the most logical in that time at least. Sometimes I count to ten if there is room for the extra pause.

SIX: Practice Gratitude

Everywhere you look these days we see reminders to practice gratitude and yet I find that the habits are not yet developed in many people… no worries, start again to make appreciation a part of everything you do. No matter how dense or smelly your pile of crap is – find something in it to appreciate it. I realize that sometimes, this is done in retrospect for the crap as a whole but in your day… there are at least three things that you can be grateful for. Today, I had enough to eat, I hugged three people who love me, and saw a beautiful sunset. If I take some time to really acknowledge those three things, I feel better about my day – at least a little. If you do a gratitude just before bedtime, you’ll have something fresh on your mind that is positive – helping you to sleep more soundly.

 

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