Monday, August 7, 2017

The Art of Self-Care

I've been on a mission to take better care of myself-- my word for this year was bloom, and I've done my best to make sure that I am blooming this year.  There's so many elements of self-care that are specific to each individual, but it's so important to figure out what serves you well in caring for yourself.  I used to think self-care was for people who weren't as busy (LOL) as me, or people who couldn't handle their lives and needed time outs.  Well, it turns out that self-care is important to everyone.  It's essential for your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.  All of us need time outs in the midst of busy lives.  Here's some ways that I've channeled the art of self-care and relaxation in the midst of busy-ness.

1. Drinking more water.  Maybe you're rolling your eyes at this one because you already drink so much water-- but I am not someone who has always selected water as my beverage of choice.  I read recently that instead of just aiming for 64 ounces of water per day, you should really aim for half of your body weight in ounces of water per day.  I'm heavier than I once way and require more than 64 ounces a day to stay well-hydrated.  My hack to drinking more water was choosing a water bottle that I loved and carrying it everywhere with me.  I also write down my water goal at the beginning of each day and mark my progress in a journal that I keep.  Here's the water bottle I love the most.

2. Taking bubble baths.  I have mastered the art of the bubble bath pretty well, and have a myriad of bubble bath supplies that are necessary for a great bubble bath.  From true bubbles to bath salts or bath bombs, I know all the good stuff to use.  It reminds me of an episode of Friends when Chandler walks in on Monica taking a bubble bath and suddenly starts taking them himself-- learning to set the mood, light candles, use the right temperature/bubble combination.  My favorite bath bomb was gifted to me from a friend for my birthday this year but can also be found at Target (see below).  I don't take bubble baths every day but try to take one on my first day off after working a string of long hospital days.  I always do it when my husband isn't home because it's just so much more relaxing when the house is quiet.

Source: Target
The reason I love this so much is because it smells like 
home and the ocean and makes the water turn blue!

3. Journaling.  I wouldn't say I journal like I used to, but I have started a form of bullet journaling that I am really coming to enjoy.  I was inspired by my friend Angela who uses the Panda journal, but there are the essential elements to my journal each day. 
  • A quote for the day (this is the most fun part to me!)
  • Gratitude (expressing gratitude about my life)
  • A sentence about how much water I am going to drink that day
  • A sentence about the exercise I will do that day
  • Three to four items that I MUST accomplish
  • Progress regarding a habit I am working on
  • A list of optional items to do if I get through my MUST list.  
I also try to practice my hand lettering as I write out each thing so that I can work towards being a better calligrapher or handletterer (?).

4. Washing my face.  I try to make it a point to wash my face every day, but I do an even deeper clean of my face using a face mask whenever I take my bubble baths.  My favorite face mask so far is from Lush and stays on for about 15 minutes while I'm soaking and reading a good book.  

Source: Lush

5. Spending time outside.   There's tons of research about how spending time in nature recharges and re-energizes you.  I was never one who loved the outdoors very much, unless you considered lying on the beach to be an outdoor activity.  However, when I started dating my husband, I took an interest in doing the outdoor activities he loves.  I now find comfort and joy in spending time outside and try to go hiking with my husband and dog at least 2-3 times per week.  We have a nearby park with trails that are so beautiful and allow for my anxious dog to run fast and far, and I find that it's soothing for both of us.  

There's so many other things I'm doing for self-care, like writing, reading, disconnecting from social media, decluttering,  waking up earlier, going to bed earlier, eating more vegetables, gardening.  It's so important to take good good care of your mind and body, and I'm learning that it's worth the "time out" from other events on your calendar to do so.  

Hope you're having a good week and finding ways to take care of yourself!


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Morning Pages

One of the authors I love produced a small e-book a few years ago that discussed Julia Cameron's idea of morning pages.  I don't hold true to the real practice of morning pages, but I do enjoy my own little practice of them.  Morning pages is the idea that you wake up early every morning and write, in a stream-of-conscious way, the first 2-3 pages of thoughts you have.  I've been up since 6AM today (praise Jesus-- the past few days I've woken up at 3-4AM--see below on this), so these aren't my first thoughts.  But as I sat down to do homework I felt incredibly antsy and like I needed to write first, so here are my little quips of life lately.

Today is the first day since my wisdom teeth extraction last week when I feel 98% normal.  I thought I was doing pretty well over the weekend but couldn't really eat much.  The past three days I had been having terrible pain that radiated to my ear and head, and I feared that I was developing dry socket.  I tried to "tough it out" but gave in and went to Scott's office yesterday to be seen.  Turns out I was brewing an infection in one of my sockets.  As soon as he cleaned it out, I felt immense relief from the pain.  I'm now irrigating the site with a medicated solution and taking antibiotics for the next few days.  I had been waking up at 3-4AM from pain but was able to "sleep in" until 6 today! Hooray!
I have approximately 1 week left of class for the summer and am looking forward to a two week break from school before things get really crazy for the fall.  Looking at my fall schedule gives me palpitations, and I won't even start stressing about spring yet, but I've heard spring is worse.  But at the end of it all, we will be Greece-bound to de-stress and check out a new part of the world we haven't seen. Can not wait.
Doc is being super anxious today because he was by himself a lot yesterday and hasn't been on a hike in a while (due to previously discussed dental pain).  I'm planning on walking or hiking with him at some point today but in meantime and playing this video for him, which keeps him entertained.
I rode into work with Scott yesterday (~45 minutes from our house) and spent the day at his office after I got evaluated.  I just love his practice and the people there, and I super love the other dentist's wife/office manager.  It is just such a wonderful blessing that he found a great place to work as a dentist. It's also the most fun thing to see the man I've loved since I was 16 doing something he LOVES.  I remember when we met, he actually didn't want a girlfriend because he wanted to focus on getting into dental school.  Fast forward 11 years and he's a real-live dentist and thankfully decided to take me along for the ride.  What a joy it is to see him doing so well and chasing those dreams.
I've been working to lay aside some feelings I have about some missed opportunities for the coming year and am instead trying to focus my efforts on other opportunities ahead. It's tough though, and I'm all kinds of jealous and ugly about certain situations.  I'm working to surrender this, but that's easier said than done sometimes.  Hence, my social media fast.  I wasn't handling anything well while I was pressed against the computer screen looking at what everyone else had going on in their lives.
I miss reading.  I fear that for the next year, my reading will mostly be academic.  I'm so determined to do my best this year and don't think I will have much down time for reading unless it's over holiday breaks, but send your best reading suggestions this way for when I finally find time to read again.
I am anxiously awaiting my favorite season but fear that it will be busier than usual this year.  My one fall joy that I'm looking forward to completely enjoying sans schoolwork is the Kendallville Apple Festival that we attend every year in northern Indiana.  I was scheduled to work that weekend and thankfully found someone to trade weekends with me, so it's something I am SUPER looking forward to.  We also committed a while ago to spending two weekend down in Columbus where Scott works to do some things down there/get to know the town better, so I'm looking forward to that as well.  Columbus is very close to Brown County, and Brown County is my FAVE state park in the fall.  So gorgeous.  It's the essence of fall.

That's all for now, friends.  Thanks for letting me get my antsy writer's energy out in these pseudo-morning pages.  Doc is crying and I must go turn on the "bird videos for cats" for him so I can get some schoolwork done.

Hope you have a great rest of your week!


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

On living the life in front of you

Positano, Italy

"I think about how valuable it is to live the life in front of you, regardless of how tempting it is to press your face to the glass of other people's lives online, even though doing that is so much safer and so entirely addictive." -Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine

If you've known me any amount of time, you likely know that one of my greatest struggles is comparison.  This quote from Shauna Niequist feels like something she is speaking directly to me.  I struggle with living the life in front of me because I am so worried about how it holds up to what everyone around me is doing, what their lives look like.  Social media eats away at me in that way.  Posts about traveling the world, pregnancy, new babies, big houses, new jobs all run together and speak lies to me about how my life isn't valuable.

I have a deep fear that everyone else is moving along at just the right pace and that I am incredibly behind.  And what I'm left with is a shell of a person who can't enjoy the present because she's so worried that her life isn't what it should be.

I'm blessed to be married to a man who doesn't really care what others think of him or his life.  He lives in a bold way, blazing a path ahead of him and making decisions based on what is important to him, rather than what is important to other people or what others will think of his decisions.  I envy him for this, at times.  And I admire him even more for it.  When I first met him, I remember him telling me that one of his favorite quotes was from Ralph Waldo Emerson.  "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."  He embodies that saying in his everyday life in so many wonderful ways.

I, on the other hand, have trouble living the life in front of me.  I think about our student loan debt and wonder how many decades it will be before we climb out of it and can start doing other things with our money.  I look at friends my age with multiple small children and wonder, "When? If? Will we ever be able to afford little children?" I look at our fixer upper of a house compared to the beautiful, Southern Living worthy homes of friends and think, "Should we just burn this whole thing down and sleep in a tent?"

On my worst days, that's where I live.  And on my best days, I am joyous and happy for those around me.  But man, can social media really bring me to a bad place.  A place where I am pressing my face against the glass of other people's beautiful lives, wishing mine were half as Instagram-worthy. I miss my own beautiful life right in front of me-- my snuggly dog, my small but lovely home, my handsome husband.  I'm a tangible, hands-on kind of girl-- I love the smells and feels and sights of all the beauty around me.  Yet I fear that I'm totally missing all of that tangible goodness in my own life because I'm so focused on the 2D filtered images of someone else's.

So I battle this lack of contentment with my own life day in and day out and wonder about the solution.  It's simple, really.  Besides praying for God to change my heart and my attitude, I have to let go of things not meant for me.  I don't think social media is healthy for me.  Instagram doesn't wreak havoc on my inner peace as much as Facebook, but I still feel the pull of wanting what others have in that space some days.  I deleted the Facebook app from my phone forever ago when I noticed what an ugly person Facebook made me.  Yet, I found a way around that-- using Safari to log into Facebook. I deleted Instagram from my phone during a past season of Lent and fasted from that for a good 40 days.  I've started making myself log out of Facebook on my computer because I so mindlessly type "F" into the web address box and click on the first link that pops up-- Facebook-- multiple times an HOUR just to see what else other people are doing.

I need a social media fast, but I'm terrified of missing out on important news or events in someone's life.  How will I know when it's someone's birthday? How will I know that my coworker is pregnant? How will I know that someone got engaged?  How will I find out about overtime needs at work without the Facebook forum? The truth is, the people who really matter in my life will tell me those things face to face.  Or via a phone call, since I live so far from many of my village people.  The people who do life with me day in and day out will reach me through means other than social media.  Social media makes me a really shallow, insecure person.  I need to find contentment and joy in who I am and the life I'm living again.  I need to find peace in Christ and who He made me to be-- living the life He called me to. And I need to stop pressing my face against the glass of other people's lives through social media.

So I'm setting off on an adventure of living without social media for a while.  And I need you to hold me accountable.  Because I am prone to wander and prone to fall back into my old ways.  And I'm prone to get caught right back up in the ugly, self-focused, jealous person I become when I spend too much time on social media.  I need help living the life in front of me.

How do you keep yourself free from the temptation of comparison in your life? What boundaries do you have to set so that you can live the life in front of you? How do you accomplish a healthy relationship with social media?

Would love to hear your thoughts on this.  I'll do my best to keep posting in this space through the next schoolyear but won't be as great about posting new blog posts on Facebook.  Feel free to follow along on here with how things are going.  And thanks for understanding this act of self-care as I chase after the beautiful life right in front of me.

Lots of love,