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Yeah…it’s been a while. Again. In my world, “real life” tends to be a huge time suck. Between FT work, FT school, homeschooling the kiddos, family issues, health issues, and general all around “other stuff to do” blogging tends to take a back seat (or in my case, gets shoved in a box in the trunk and buried under the jumper cables and spare tire).

Changing seasons are traditionally difficult for me to deal with. Lately I’ve been snappish, crabby, and heading into my seasonal depression. Something had to change. I left work today in a bit of a funk. This is not unusual-I work in a very emotionally and spiritually draining field and leave work in a funk many days. I was just unwilling to inflict myself on the family in all my cranky glory.

So I did what any girl would do–went out for some pampering. Luckily, my budget had some extra space this month so I could have someone else pamper me for a minute without too much worry. So, I had my “once a quarter when I remember and think to get to the shop” wax. Unfortunately, facial hair is a part of my life, seems to run in the family. There are very few things that make you feel less feminine than a unibrow and ‘stashe. They had to go. Ten minutes and several red, shiny patches later and I’m heading to destination number two.

Now would be a good time to tell you that the word “salon” is not in my vocabulary. Having been broke for so long, I can barely justify a $15 wax job once a quarter. Still, I was in a funk and needed something so off I went to the discount hair cut place. (I’ve been told just venturing through the door makes me uncommonly brave–since my standard response to bad hair is “I can just shave it off”, I’m not sure how true that is). They were having a massive sale on their already cheap services so for very little cash I got a shampoo, light conditioning treatment, and hair cut. Once we were all satisfied with the results, I was off on the next (and final) leg of my journey–home for coloring.

I have never in my life had my hair professionally colored. Generally, Da Man, my little sister, or whatever random person I can grab off the street would dye my hair for me. It was a long process because for the past many years my hair has been down nearly to my waist. It just so happened that there was a box of color and highlight color in my bathroom just begging to be used. Lucky for me Da Man was willing to be impressed into service spot check the color application for me. Even better, he caved to peer pressure helped me place the highlights.

My head feels lighter, my eyes are visible, and I’ve got a shiny new shade going on. Magically my funk disappeared. Apparently, I need to get back to my little bits of luxury on a regular basis. Everyone is grateful for the change in mood, including myself.

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My life: constantly on the go. Always something happening, frequently several somethings happening all at once. Until everything just stops. Or, I get sick. Like most parents, I rarely just get “sick” if I’m getting sick, I’m getting really sick. Can’t get out of bed, can’t lift my own head, my body’s done until whatever it is passes, sick. I spent the majority of last week feeling like I was breathing through a bowl of water. A trip to the Dr. at the beginning of the week confirmed that there was something starting to take hold in my lungs. Great…just what any busy working parent needs–the start of pneumonia.There went all my grand plans for the week.

My family tends toward more natural approaches first. This time, I was coming off 2 work weekends in a row with absolutely NO break on the one day off I had. There just wasn’t enough of anything left to try to fight this off on my own. So, with a prescription for antibiotics and a Dr’s note for two days off work, I tumbled into bed. There I stayed for most of the next 2 days.Luckily, I have a stay at home spouse who can take care of the rest of the family when I just stop and a job that has sick leave. I had the luxury of staying in bed those 2 days while my body worked to heal itself.

Somewhere in between begging the universe to let me rest or just take one tiny breath without coughing for an hour and restless bouts of napping, I came up with the brilliant idea to get something with eucalyptus to help ease my breathing. Better yet, since my back was hurting, why not get something I could use in the bathroom. Maybe a shower steam or something? Hmm….so, late in the evening the day before I had to return to work I made an impromptu run to the local big-box store in search of something with eucalyptus.

What I found was something that not only eased my breathing but also made all my muscles feel totally relaxed in a way that usually only comes at the hands of a masseuse. The name on the bottle read Aches & Pains, I chose it because it contained the Eucalyptus I was looking for. As I poured the salts into the water, I was enveloped in the strong smell of eucalyptus. Adding some bubbles–I love bubbles–from the same line, I just sat for a minute to enjoy the easing sensation I get from the eucalyptus oil. When the tub was full, I grabbed a book and sank into the hot sudsy water.

For the first couple minutes, it was just another bath. Slightly more fragrant than normal (man, that eucalyptus is strong, even when the lid is closed), but still just a regular bath. Then the warming started. I felt it first along the backs of my legs, this gentle warmth that penetrated deeper than just the water. It spread to my back, my belly, my hips. Every sore place on my body that was in contact with the water was warm and tingling and relaxing. Sitting there soaking in the water, I could literally feel the muscles start to relax. The tightness in my chest and back began to ease. I just felt……good and warm and sleepy.

The first rush of air on my wet skin created this penetrating coolness, as relaxing as the warmth. It was all I could do to pour myself out of the water. Wrapped in an absorbant robe, I collapsed into bed. My entire body felt loose, relaxed, and pain-free. My husband was kind enough to rub some lavender oil into my back so the skin wasn’t overly dry and with the combination of relaxed muscles, an eased chest, and the aromatherapy I collapsed into one of the best night’s sleep I have had in a very long time.

One of my favorite things to do for myself is enjoy a nice meal, solo. Yesterday I was given an unexpected last minute chance to head out for dinner by myself. I could have just grabbed something at the drive-thru and been home earlier. Drive-thru is just not my thing.

Instead I headed over to this little lake front Chinese restaurant that I’ve been going to since I was a girl. It’s cold here so I opted out of the window seat, instead getting a cozy booth with a stunning lake view on an inside wall. Before even taking my seat, I was greeted by a breathtakingly beautiful view of the sunset over the lake. When I entered the restaurant it was at that time that was not quite twilight but close.

As I was perusing the menu, the sky was changing from the light blues of afternoon to the darker blues, purples, and oranges of twilight. The snow and ice on the lake were pale and shimmering against the darkening sky. The bright, orange-red sun shone through the large windows. From my seat, I could see the tree in the courtyard still lit up for the holidays and the garden lying dormant, just waiting for spring to come again. I allowed the peace of the evening wash over me. It was a beautiful way to wind down from the day.

By the time my meal arrived, it was full dark outside and the lights were sparkling against the windows. I turned to my meal and my book, enjoying the peace of a nice meal and a good book. My meal finished, the next chapter read, I was able to return home to my family relaxed and refreshed thanks to my unexpected night out.

We are so used to light now. Thanks to electricity we can have our homes be as bright as noontime in the middle of the night. Light is a wonderful thing. Too much bright light…well, that’s another story.

When I want to relax, the last thing I want is bright light. Even the bulb of a lamp can be too much. Sometimes I’ll turn the lights off and open the curtains at twilight. This lets the natural light softly filter in bringing the colors of night with it. There’s something soothing about the deepening blues and purples and red-oranges that signal the day is over.

When the weather will not cooperate, I use candles. Their flickering flames gently light the world around them. I have several candle holders, depending on my mood. My current favorite is stained glass in oranges and greens. I have a plain pillar candle inside and it casts a beautiful colorful glow when it’s lit. I also have a variety of tea light holders–tea lights are a versatile candle. They come with their own little cups making cleanup a breeze. I put them in plain colored glass, arrange them in front of a mirror, or put them in the little “lanterns” my children made for the holidays.

For those who are not comfortable with real flame, there are now a variety of flameless candles. These little wonders flicker like flame and can set a similar mood. Using batteries instead of fire, they are safe to use in areas where normal candles may not be.

There’s just something magical about relaxing by candlelight.

It’s winter here. Not just winter, it’s heading into the coldest part of the year. The time when just breathing the air outside hurts. Just because it’s cold outside, doesn’t mean you can’t be warm and toasty inside.

On days like today, I love my “warm fuzzies” as I call them. My entire family has their own warm fuzzies–for some it’s a blanket, others have a robe, or slippers, or pjs. They are as vital to our wellbeing as the air we breathe.

Personally, I have some yummy pajamas in either soft cotton or fleece. Depending on how cold it is, or how I feel I may also add on a fluffy robe and my favorite blanket. The feel of the fabrics is just as important to me as the warmth. I want to feel the warm softness against my skin. Sometimes just reveling in the sensation of well-broken in cotton, soft, fluffly fleece, or warm brushed flannel is the perfect comfort on a cold winter’s day.

I have a habit of moving frequently. Ever since I was a very small child, it’s been rare for me to be anywhere more than a year or so. Constantly changing environments bring their own stresses as well as their own joys. Though the years I have learned to create some space for myself wherever I happen to be. I make some space in hotel rooms, camp sites, dorm rooms, and in every new home my family finds. It’s second nature by now. Since I am not tied to any geographical location, I have adapted to bring “home” with me. And at the end of the day, wherever I am, my space is where I go first to center, relflect, and often cleanse myself of all the junk the day can bring.

Anyone can create space. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. When I’m moving around frequently or staying out of town, my space is usually some small items of personal meaning that are carried in a small pouch. My last portable space included a cloth, a satin bag filled with stones–some gems, some treasures from my children, some sage and sweetgrass, and a gift from an old friend. What I carry with me depends on my purpose, needs, and how I’m feeling when I pack. It’s not a standard “kit”–it’s something that I can easily tailor to meet my needs.

At home, I have several spots–my desk where I go to think, my tub where I go to relax, and my sacred space, where I can meditate and cleanse myself of all the energy I’ve picked up during the day. I may come in the room, get come comfy clothes on, light a couple candles, burn some incense, turn on some music and just let myself be for a few minutes. I may turn on some different music and burn off some steam. I may just spend some quiet time with my spot and recenter myself.

Everybody should have a spot or two of their own. Somewhere to go when life gets rough, when you are lost in thought, or when you have this great idea that needs to get out. Where do you go when you need to be–to think, to relax, or to create?

Every once in a while a girl just needs a date–with herself! In the day to day rush of work, family, friends, and whatever obligations we balance, many women forget to nurture a very important person–themselves. It’s so easy to get caught up in guilt or the to-do lists that are always miles long. One thing I’ve learned from several women who are wiser than I–it’s very important to make time for you.

This doesn’t have to be an elaborate event–it can be. About once or twice a year I allow myself a nice, unhurried dinner somewhere of my choosing–including a lovely dessert followed by or preceeded by a leisurely walk, movie, whatever I want that day. Most of the time, my self-dates have three essential elements–my Ipod, something to read, and a cuppa something. I’ve had them at home, on my lunch break from work, and out and about. Even just 20 minutes is enough to refresh me.

Personally, I schedule me time at least weekly. Sometimes I’ll take a book and grab some coffee before class. Other times I’ll lock myself in the bathroom with a steaming bath and some music with my book. Sometimes, I’ll take a solo stroll around the mall–maybe grab a pretzel, usually just browsing in the bookstore. Think about what you like to do, what makes you feel grounded and refreshed. Then schedule that activity–this week. Make the time to honor and nurture yourself so you can better handle the rest of your life.

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