Monday, September 10, 2012

a new path...

So. Earlier this year I started on a new path...and I've been learning meditation...and about Buddhism. Not that I'm going to *become* Buddhist, organized religion is really not my thing...but I find there are many principles to Buddhist teachings that really resonate with me.

This definition of meditation comes from the website of the center where I've been going for classes: "Meditation is a simple yet profound method to improve the quality of our lives and develop inner peace. Through following very simple, practical instructions we can learn to let go of the causes of our pain and dissatisfaction and to gain the inner peace and clarity we seek."  How can *that* be bad?!? 

I started out taking a half-day meditation "how to" workshop at a center in Manhattan...and immediately felt "yep. this is for me." Everything feels nonjudgmental and gentle. Some of the precepts, while I *get* them, are a little tough to *live.* Which is why I'm continuing to take classes, do workshops, and read anything that seems "meditation for dummies-ish." It's a path I think I would like to follow. Sort of. Ha.

The meditation part has become such a good part of my day. I know I'm not "doing it right" quite yet...getting one's mind to really be still and quiet is *such* a challenge...but just the act of the making the attempt, while sitting with my eyes closed, in stillness, really gives a little respite from the day, and leaves me feeling refreshed and better able to deal with whatever is going on around me. The "meditation" part will get better with time. Now I'm learning how to "set intentions," which I think will actually be easier than trying to just focus on the breath (basic meditation).

Tonight was the first class of a new session. The teacher discussed "our precious human life" and procrastination. All good stuff! I'll share more as I go, but remember, I'm just like a kindergardener at this stage. Still, I'm so pleased to be on the journey.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

last days of summer

it's so hard at this time of year to give up the dream of summer...relaxing in the warm sun, feet buried in the cool damp sand...the occasional dip in the ocean to cool one expects anything of you at the beach. it's just total relaxation and escape from real life. nothing else is quite like it.

these last days are a little bittersweet. the usual crowds are absent. everything's a little quieter and slower...only the die-hards still remain, refusing to let go. enjoying every last drop of summer.

i'm not ready to let go.

Friday, September 7, 2012

take a load off...

We all need a break from time to time. Even if you can't go away on a real vacation, there are still ways to step outside the normal box of your life for a little R&R.

My favorite "get-away" is the beach, even if it's just the local beach. Being in the beach air, listening to the crash of the surf, and bobbing and floating in the water are very relaxing to me, and really take me away from everything "real," even if just for a little while.

Some other cheap and easy "mini-vacations" are:

1. Go to a park you've never been to for a little picnic. Sit on the grass. Enjoy some shade. Go for a walk.
2. Turn off your cell phone and/or internet for the afternoon (or whole day if you can stand it!).
3. Soak in the tub w a book, some music and a nice drink. Stay there for a long time. I like to nap in the tub!
4. Pretend you're not home :-) Stay in your jammies all day, close the curtains, don't answer the phone or doorbell.
5. Take a day-trip by car. Find an interesting location within 100 mile radius of where you live...go and check out the main street, the parks, museums, have a little lunch or dinner...enjoy someone else's town for the day before returning to your own.
6. Meditate. This is something I'm just learning and starting to practice now, and even though I haven't really gotten it down yet, it still leaves me feeling like I've had a little "mind vacation."

Just getting outside your normal environment or shutting yourself off from the world, even for an hour or an afternoon or a day, can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to return to real life.

What do *you* do when you need a little break??

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Happy Birthday to ME!!!


I *LOVE* my birthday. Always have, always will. From an early age and my parents throwing little backyard parties for friends and my teens and early-twenties when close friends and boyfriends would do things to make it my daughter having surprises ready and waiting for me when I got home from a sort of dry spell...daughter had left for college, I'd moved to a new location, didn't have a "significant other" type person, family all far there were a few "pity party" years...but...I have moved along...made new friends, have some lovely people in my life...a whole gaggle of children from one of the classrooms, herded in by their teachers, brought me a bunch of handmade birthday cards - LOVE them!  Too sweet. I'm feeling the love!

A *special friend* took me out for birthday dinner, which was an unexpected but so lovely surprise. Some nice Italian food and red wine over candlelight...a charming and attentive was just the right amount of made me feel special and my *special day* acknowledged.

I took a couple pictures during the day w my cell phone of gifts and cards from work...but realized after I got home last night that I had failed to get "the money shot," which would have been the tiramisu complete w birthday candle. At first I was disappointed, I rarely miss a shot like that, but then I thought...that really shows how good the company was, that my normal "where's the photo opp" mind didn't even *think* of picking up the phone for a picture!

Here's to another year....Happy Birthday to Me. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How to Survive...uhm, ENJOY the First Day Back to Work

  • Wake up half-an-hour earlier than normal and take the dog for a morning walk. Tell yourself you'll do this every day because it's good for the both of you. You won't.
  • Wear something that makes you feel pretty.
  • Treat yourself to store-bought coffee and fancy pastry. It's a splurge but you deserve it. It's The First Day Back to Work.
  • Pretend it's The First Day of a New Job. And everything is new and fresh and untainted with past annoyances. Be on your Best Behavior with your "new" boss and colleagues. 
  • Get the h*ll out of the building at lunchtime. Those "new" people are annoying you already (jk, New People!). 
  • Take ten minutes to meditate. Just...close your eyes and focus on your breath...and try to let everything else slip away. If things sneak in (and they will!), "label" them - "planning," "fretting," "expecting the worst," etc. Be aware of what's interrupting *your* time...and then let it go.
  • Spend the afternoon getting excited and happy about The Really Really Good Thing that you've planned for yourself. Yay. 
  • Don't stay there a second longer than you have to. 
  • Hurry home to Really Really Good Thing. Enjoy IMMENSELY. 
  • Have actual dinner, not just ice cream (even with sprinkles, that's not *really* a real meal).
  • Be a little productive. Not too much. Don't want to burn yourself out the first day.
  • Go to bed early, noting before falling asleep, that you survived. Good for you!
(no pictures today, can you believe it?!?))

Monday, September 3, 2012

How to Enjoy the Last Day of Vacation

  • Turn off the alarm. Sleep til you wake up naturally.
  • Shuck your "plans." This is a day to make up as you go.
  • Talk to a best friend. Get a little people-fix.
  • Go out for your favorite doughnuts. Don't be disappointed when u get there and it's closed. Go somewhere else. When in doubt, try something new! 
  • Go to an outdoor cappuccino cafe so your dog can sit nowhere near you and pretend that everyone else is his *real* family. (ps - Caleb has a new favorite cafe!)
  • When thoughts like, "oh, I was supposed to do this thing over vacation" arise, smoosh them down. Way down. There will be time for them tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that.
  • Go to a dog park and make new dog and people friends. Don't get upset when your dog rolls in the muddy dirt, cuz it makes him so happy. And it makes you happy to see him happy.
  • Walk around your neighborhood. Look around. Enjoy what there is to see. Take pictures of everything.
  • Don't think about tomorrow. At All.
  • Have a yummy sandwich outdoors. Garlic hummus and avocado. I die.
  • Stay off Facebook all most of the day.
  • Bob your head and drum your fingers on the steering wheel when the rap-blasting Escalade pulls up behind you at a red light. Appreciate the fact that you live in a place where anyone can listen to (or say or read or write or paint) whatever they want.
  • Pick up ice cream on your way home. You're going to need it.
  • Don't go home til late afternoon. Open all the windows. Let the curtains flutter. Be quiet. Read. Nap. Enjoy the solitude. 
  • Don't spend more than on hour TOPS on preparation for tomorrow or the week ahead. You've gone to work and sent your kids off to school a million times. Trust me, you could do it in your sleep. Tomorrow, you probably *will* be doing it in your sleep. This is "Last Day of Vacation," NOT "First Day of Living in the Real World."
  • Have ice cream for dinner. With sprinkles. You deserve it. It's The Last Day of Vacation.
  • Take a nice long warm soak in the tub.
  • Have something Really Really Good to look forward to tomorrow.
  • Turn the alarm back on.
  • Go to sleep early, thinking about above-mentioned Really Really Good Thing, and being grateful for how you much you enjoyed The Last Day of Vacation.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

But it's not Fall YET!!!

I saw HALLOWEEN CANDY in the market earlier this week. All around me, blogs are sharing pictures of ways to "cozy up for fall." STOP! It's not fall yet!!! I'm not ready to give up. There WILL BE beach days ahead, still. September can be MAD hot. 

This summer has passed in a blur. I did a lot of fun things - bike rides out east, lots of beach, time spent with my daughter...but there are still things left on my Summer Bucket List - kayaking, uhm...other stuff I can't think of at the moment, but...there's stuff. 

This morning I was looking back through my summer's pictures, and some of the things seem like they happened SO long ago....and they weren't even a month ago. Time, man. It is passing by faster and faster. I'm glad I take pictures to sort of freeze time and help remember things I've done and moments I've had. 

These are some pictures from my summer - both "real" camera and cell phone, "photo shoots" and just casual snapshots. It's sort of a hodge-podge, but it's what my summer looked like.

Promise you won't give up on summer yet, either. PROMISE ME!!!