[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] You know you’ve been living in a cave your office (with no time to Google around) for too long when your sister mentions something about a potential government shut down and you’re all, Huhhhh? The fact you’re going through three times the normal amount of under-eye concealer is a pretty good tip off, too. After a few weeks of burning the proverbial candle at both proverbial ends (and looking like a house-trained raccoon), I am pleased to report that today is my Friday. Even though it’s only Thursday. That’s right people. This little lady is taking a vacation day tomorrow. Can I get a Hallelujah? Or maybe low five (I don’t have the energy for much more)?
I have a habit of writing out the following day’s To Do list the night before. It helps keep me focused, so I don’t go off the reservation and eat cheese doodles all day. I almost just died of excitement when I finished tomorrow’s list. But instead, I stayed alive. Aren’t you lucky.
1. Burn the candle at only one end.
2. Pack some snacks.
3. Float around (in the tub). And yes, I am wearing a bathing suit. No nudies On Tap, people.
Each morning and evening, so many of my fellow Bostonians find themselves waiting for the T. Since I try to avoid taking public transportation with the common people*, I’m either sitting in traffic, or sitting in my parking garage jamming out to Michael Jackson.
I might be the last known human to make mix tapes (for themselves), but I’ve got to tell you, “The Return to Innocence” followed by “Black and Yellow” followed by “The Man in the Mirror” is sheer genius. But it’s also making me late to work. Because I can’t bear to leave a single song un-jamed to.
Back to the T. I’m not sure what it is about me, but I don’t think I’ve had a single ride on the Orange, Red or Green Lines without being talked to by a stranger (or strangers). I must look friendly. Psssh. Once, a man asked me what white people thought about Obama. I didn’t feel qualified to speak on behalf of all white people, but I said I loved the President. I got a standing ovation… mostly because there were no seats available on that car. Another time, someone told me my shoes were inappropriate. I pretended to be deaf.
Creepers aside, the T usually gets me where I need to go, when I need to go there. Unfortunately, the places I need to go are usually not T accessible (truth be told, I don’t really know how to ride the bus). So I walk, or drive, or try and zap myself there (which never works, and wastes a looot of time). But before I head out the door, I have to wait for the tea.
I've got the stuff.
I’ve successfully survived the first five days of Lent with no Diet Coke, lots of gratitude and lots of running (that’s when I invent my best prayers). I’ve found myself drinking far more tea than usual, perhaps to combat the DC withdrawal. Regardless, I really appreciate the ritual involved in a cup of tea. I brought the stash above to work on Monday of last week– having an electric tea kettle, a mug with an infuser, and my favorite loose teas on hand has been such an office upgrade. Not only does it take a bit of time to boil water, and then brew the actual tea, you need to wait before drinking lest ye burn your taste buddies.
Single-serve loose tea! Woot!
Amidst the go-go-go, every now and then it’s nice to have an excuse to slow down and wait– whether it’s for the T or the tea.
*I am most definitely kidding.
Also On Tap for Today:
Running the Ras 5k and meeting up with some of our Team in Training pals
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] Sometime around 3 or 4 o’clock on Sundays, the dread creeps in. I love what I do in the Real World, but I almost always wish I could extend the weekend. By a weekend or two. This evening, however, I feel primed and ready to take on a new week, the first full one of the year. Why? Welp, our condo is spotless after Nick and I rolled up our proverbial sleeves and did some serious cleaning, took two trips to the storage unit, and packed up three full bags of clothes and shoes to donate.
With nary a dust bunny in sight, I was able to totally relax. Dude. Some of my favorite relaxation rituals are (nearly) free, take but as little or as much time as I’d like, and can be done almost anywhere. I find completing one or two of these rituals puts me in a (slightly) less harried state as the weekend winds down.
In some particular order, I’m sure, my relaxation rituals:
1. Light a candle. Preferably one that smells so good you forget your name. And whenever possible, place that candle next to a vase of simply arranged pink and purple roses.
Tina hosted a bloggers’ Secret Santa, and I was lucky enough to receive this Tahitian vanilla candle (along with some fabulous other goodies) from Jennifer at a Knack for Nutrition. The scent is perfect for warming up a snowy day in Boston. Thanks, Jennifer and Tina!
2. Go for a walk. Or a run. Or a Sunday drive.
Move slowly. Notice the beauty around you (and yes, that is an exposed nipple… and no, that’s not really what I was referring to…). This practice often reminds me of how much I have to be grateful for, not the least of which is living in this incredible city and having a place within its bounds to call home.
During our long training runs each weekend, I’ve seen– like, really noticed– more than I have in years of living in and around Boston. I’ve spent a lot of time on the roads alone (there really isn’t anyone running at my pace, that is to say, there are no snails or tortoises on our team), but I have come to value and enjoy that solitude. Walking, running or strolling with friends (or furballs) is good, too, though.
3. Speaking of furballs, playing with my dog always takes my blood pressure down a notch on a Sunday evening.
It’s a fact: Pets help reduce stress. Plus, they give you a valid excuse to lurk at the dog park, make excessive purchases from the Martha Stewart Pets line at Pet Smart, and walk around with an extra roll of poop bags in your purse. If you don’t have a furry friend of your own, I am renting out Clark by the half hour. Price: 1 bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. Or, you could always volunteer at a local shelter. I’ve heard doing good deeds also helps you relax. Plus, you get to brag about being a humanitarian.
4. Plan ahead.
This year (all two days of it, so far), I am making a concerted effort to cut back on running around like a coo-coo clock each morning, looking for my keys, my sports bra, the lunch I never actually made, six Diet Cokes, and my lip gloss. Packing my bag(s) the night before might be old school (specifically, middle school), but it works.
If you’re worried you might forget your bright red squid thing, heck! Leave that by the door, too.
For me, planning ahead also means creating lists so long I make Tolstoy look like a man of few words. Writing out tomorrow’s To Do list the night before helps me to get focused as soon as I get to my desk in the morning, and ensures that I forgot about only 60% of what I intended to accomplish. My life is a very precise operation.
Another planning obsession? My FitBook. That little wonder helps me plan out both workouts and meals, and is a great tool for tracking goals and establishing incentives. I am hoping to get better at planning meals, and the wipe-off planner Jennifer sent will surely help with that. Do you think she read my mind?
5. And that brings us to my next, and possibly most sacred Sunday night ritual: Reading.
And I don’t mean reading celebrity gossip, or my own blog (though I do totally do that… and laugh both at and with myself. True Life: I am a complete loser). Sometimes I’ll pick up whichever of the six novels I am currently reading, but nearly every evening I thumb through the books and cards above.
Sacred Space is sort of like a daily devotional written by the Irish Jesuits (the only person better than a Jesuit is an Irish Jesuit, I’m pretty sure). Each books includes weekly intentions– something to think and pray about, the daily Gospel, and reflection questions. It’s totally my jam.
Keel’s Simple Diary is great for keeping a daily journal, when you don’t have the time or brain power, let alone actual life excitement, to sit down and bang out a full “Dear Diary” entry. Each page offers a few simple questions– some totally bizarre, some not– and the opportunity to record the high and low points of your day.
Louise Hay’s Power Thought Cards first struck me as touchy feeley mumbo jumbo, and they sort of are, and that’s pretty much totally okay. Because I think that’s how they were intended to be. Each of the 64 cards offers a thought, mantra or meditation. More often than not, the card I draw leaves me feeling uplifted and empowered. And then I have dreams about Harry Potter’s owl delivering mail to one of the trippy, quirky painted figures on the cards. Maybe I should start reading these in the morning instead. Just a thought.
Macrina Wiederkehr’s Seven Sacred Pauses draws on the Benedictine tradition of honoring “the hours.” This little book features prayers from people of all faiths, to be considered at seven different points during the day: the night watch, the awakening hour, the blessing hour, the hour of illumination, the wisdom hour, the twilight hour, and the great silence. So far, I’ve only barely mastered the twilight hour. And it has nothing to do with vampire novels, by the way. Here’s one of my favorite passages:
A soul flare is what happens when someone shines [his or her] light no matter what it is. In a song, a smile, or a well-made soup; they send out a flare of light that inspires others to shine their own. Soul flares make this world better. –Annie O’Shaughnessy
Most of my soul flares end up as burnt out Christmas bulbs. You know, the ones that ruin the whole tree? Welp, better to keep trying than give up, I suppose.
6. And last, but certainly not least, to relax on a Sunday evening, I pour myself a cup of tea.
From my new turquoise tea kettle to this ol’ tea cup I found on Etsy, few things can top this quiet moment. Sometimes even a cup of hot water does it, like when I am feeling especially lazy minimalistic. It’s all about the ritual, dudes and dudettes.
When I’m feeling a bit crazed and caught up in this (kind of) chic, urban, fast-paced, (sort of) young professional life that I live, I call on an old friend and he calms me down.
Technically, John Burroughs and I are not friends… and, welp, he died in 1921. Moreover, he would have found me ridiculous. And annoying. But I do Yahoo him on the reg; his writing calms me down. That’s basically the only true statement I’ve made so far.
Image source: Wikipedia, naturally
Isn’t he cute? He’s like the conservationist version of a Polly Pocket. I just want to scoop him up and carry him around on days like this, when my brain’s about to explode all over my Dell All-In-One piece of crap printer. Messy, I know.
Or last month, when someone on an upper floor threw several stacks of paper (very un-green) and later, a stapler, out the window. This is what John Burroughs has to say on days like that,
The longer I live, the more my mind dwells upon the beauty and wonder of the world.
I have loved the feel of grass under my feet, and the sound of the running streams by my side.
The hum of the wind in the treetops has always been good music to me, and the face of the fields has often comforted me more than the faces of men.
I am in love with this world.. I have tilled its soil, I have gathered its harvest, I have waited upon its seasons, and always have I reaped what I have sown.
I have climbed its mountains, roamed its forests, sailed its waters, crossed its deserts, felt the sting of its frost, the oppression of its heats, the drench of its rains, the fury of its winds, and always have beauty and joy waited upon my comings and goings.
Beautiful, wouldn’t you say? I bet he was a real catch. You know, back when he was alive.
I resolved, just several days ago, to relax. The weekend seemed like a good time to get cracking on that resolution. Thanks in part to the makers of Robitussin Nighttime Cough, I had myself quite a nice, relaxing two days. I should also probably attribute some of the weekend zen to my newly enacted “no Blackberry on the nightstand” rule, which meant I couldn’t read a single work related email at 4 a.m.
I slept a little later than usual on Saturday and then took Clark to see his friends at Dewberry Dogs, so that he would smell less like a dog, and more like an old man. I don’t know much [about the cologne they mist him with], but I know I love it. Does anyone else have Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville singing a duet in their heads right now?
We spent the afternoon hanging out with my younger brother, who’s home on winter break. He and Clark looked like old pals just hanging out, watching football. I am pretty sure this is what “relaxing” looks like:
I also spent plenty of time reading, running, having brunch with Nick at Franklin Cafe and watching him play hockey, baking whole grain apple muffins and not cleaning (whoops). All in all, I would say Operation: Chill the Heck Out is off to a good start. As is Operation: Make Your Own Lunch, Instead of Spending $8 on a Wilted Lettuce Salad.
Speaking of starts, I came across this today. A great way to start each morning, don’t you think?
A PRECIOUS HUMAN LIFE, H.H. The XIV Dalai Lama
“Every day, think as you wake up,
Today I am fortunate to have woken up,
I am alive; I have a precious human life.
I am not going to waste it,
I am going to use all my energies to develop myself.
To expand my heart out to others,
To achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings,
I am going to have kind thoughts towards others,
I am not going to get angry, or think badly about others,
I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
That’s two Mondays in a row that I’ve dazzled you with inspiration (last week it was Wendell Berry). Stay tuned for my next post, where I promise to uninspire.