Self Care

December Self-Care for your Sanity

 

Of all the months, December is the least likely for us to relax. There are a hundred things to buy, make, bake, send, or attend but remember, we don’t have to make room for everything.

Instead, make enough space for yourself, your loved ones, and those who could use a little lift.

There are 24 days ahead of us until Christmas–time enough to set a few priorities and boundaries, so we’re not cranky or stressed out.

Pay attention to your body. If you’re too tired, too anxious, too hungry, take care of yourself before you do anything else.

This year I’ve chosen to focus on six areas:

1-Christmas decorations

Decorating the house and tree are NOT my forté. I’ll carry the boxes, put together the tree, and help unpack the items, but the interior design award in our house belongs to my daughter. And I don’t feel guilty.

ornament memories

We have fun reminiscing about the ornaments (Baby’s 1st Christmas ’89), the ones from our travels, the homemade ones, and the decorations that need to retire. Our cat, Heidi, is always in the mix, chasing glitter boxes or sneaking under the tree.

Cedar balsam, cinnamon apple, and cranberry candles are my favorite scents to have around the house. Live decor like Trader Joe’s pine wreaths and Poinsettias bring a little bit of nature into the home.

2. Create a relaxing music playlist or watch a couple of classic holiday movies:

We listen to the oldie Christmas songs: Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Judy Garland when we’re home. Make yourself a list of whatever mellows you out or watch a movie that makes you laugh. My favorite: A Christmas Story (I never tire of Ralphie).

3. Give Christmas to someone else. Participate in a service project in your community or church:

Toys for Tots Campaign

Our church organizes a toy/clothing drive for infants to 16 yrs. old. The Fire Department has the Spark Of Love drive, the Marines Toys for Tots, and many places have the Angel Tree which gives gifts to kids through Prison Ministry. Here’s a list of a few more charities.

A service project doesn’t have to cost money, but time. Volunteer a couple of hours at a hospital, rescue mission, convalescent home, or homeless shelter.

4. Find joy in a peaceful morning at least once per workweek. Okay, you might need to wake up ten minutes earlier, but it’ll be worth it. Make a cup of coffee or tea, sit in your favorite place, warm your hands, and enjoy your drink in quiet solitude (no social media). A ten-minute break can occur at lunchtime or in the evening.

5. Mail a real Christmas card, or two, to an old friend, your parent(s), or someone special. Write a greeting and send the card off before Christmas Eve.

6. Keep a tradition or make a new memory.

Masa harina and chile colorado for Tamales

For our family, Christmas wouldn’t be merry without making tamales. I’ve written a few posts about making tamales of meat, sweet ones, and vegan ones. This is a group effort and gives us time together. You could do the same by baking cookies or buying refrigerated sugar cookies and decorating them with sprinkles.

These are a few tips that I hope will give you something to think about. Put your focus where you want to and start off the month in stride. Only do what you can reasonably do, and don’t guilt yourself or should all over yourself.

Take good care of yourself this month and remember to breathe.

 

 

 

Revision

Peaches and Preparing the Grid to be Ready

Babcock peaches

It started with a peach tree.

My tree is a dwarf second-year tree that I thought wouldn’t give many peaches especially since my mother said I didn’t ‘cull’ the tree months before.

What do I know of culling? I grew up in housing projects of concrete and asphalt for a backyard. We did have one spindly tree in the front shared patch of lawn.

But, Mom knew about culling (thinning the fruit from the tree) because she spent her first sixteen years as a migrant farm worker. Mom taught me more than that though from her hard work.

Culling my pretty peach tree sounded cruel but I found out it was necessary so I wouldn’t have dropped fruit or small peaches like this photo of my tree.

Dwarf peach tree-unculled

This process of culling is a lot like writing and revision.

The tree surprised me with the abundance of white Babcock peaches. So many, I made my first ever peach ‘nice’ cream (vegan ice cream) and two peach cobblers. I still need to work on those recipes though. I got a tasty product but the ‘nice’ cream could have been smoother and the cobbler topping flakier. Hey, again, this is much like writing: revising and rewriting until the piece is right.

Besides my love affair with my peach tree, I also received good news. The anthology which accepted one of my short stories was published. The book is now on tour in Chile, Spain, Argentina, and Mexico. The publisher is the University of Nevada and is not out for general sale, yet.

¡Basta!

I’ve spent most of July revising another manuscript and sending it off to be line edited. After that headache, I haven’t done much writing.

Instead, I’ve spent hours in the garden, visiting museums, working out at the gym, reading, practicing meditation with Deepak Chopra and Oprah (Desire and Destiny, online), and planning my September vacation (London!).

July turned out to be a period of self-care and “preparing the grid.” This means to create a vibrational focus.

My friend, Florencia, quotes Abraham-Hicks on preparing the grid or getting ready. This is similar to manifesting done through meditation. If you don’t know who or what is Abraham-Hicks, click here.

This quote seems to sum up July pretty well.

Your work is to be ready for what’s ready. Abraham Hicks

When I think of the quote I realize that July has been a month of culling, picking, chilling, fun and letting go.

Are you ready?

Health, Inspiration, poetry, Revision, Self Care, Staycations

A Bargain Way to Refresh, Renew, and Revive Yourself

Bridge on Chumash Trail, Santa Barbara

Hello,

I’ve been in the midst of digesting an editorial letter on a manuscript I sent in for editing. The information was a lot to process and there’s a ton of work in front of me. I’ve felt overwhelmed with the task of rewriting and revision.

Feeling overwhelmed happens to all of us. Sometimes it’s the kids, or bills, or relatives, or your job and sometimes it’s a combination of all of the above.

Whenever I feel my mind swamped, I need to step back, for my own sanity.

June is a good month to reinvigorate and revitalize.

Some people can’t take a costly vacation so Staycations are good ways to do something different as well as refresh yourself.

This month, I found a few ways to relax:

One Saturday was Global Wellness Day. The Bacara Resort and Spa in Santa Barbara offered free classes all day:

Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, CA
The Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, CA

Meditation on the bluff, yoga, Tai Chi, and Brazilian Capoeira. Not that I did the Capoeira. A highlight of the day was also receiving a reduced price for the spa day pass to use the pool, sauna, jacuzzi, and serenity room filled with teas, fruit, nuts, and cushy sofas.

Meditation by the beach, Santa Barbara, CA
Meditation by the beach, Santa Barbara, CA

A walk on the beach helped me to further relax.

Matilija Poppies, Santa Barbara, CA
Matilija Poppies, Santa Barbara, CA

Another day, I used a Christmas gift coupon I hadn’t made time for. This is the Salt Caves in Santa Barbara.

Himalayan Salt Caves, Santa Barbara, CA

The caves are made from 45 tons of 250 million-year-old pure Himalayan salt. We took off our shoes, entered the darkened cave and reclined on comfortable chairs. Meditation music is piped in for forty-five minutes. The salt is said to stimulate wellness and healing. Blissful.

The next week, I retired to my backyard and took in the colors of the garden, the sounds of birds, smelled the roses and felt reflective. I jotted down a poem.

statue of boy reading
Reading in the Garden

Hover of beating wings flit between blossoms

Flutters of orange dance above purple sage

Bumblebees disappear into white throats of lilies

Gardens, never silent, ever hopeful

Butterfly Dance in the Garden.

 

yellow poppies
Mariposa poppies

After these mini-retreats I feel uplifted and ready to tackle the edit letter and line edits. My mind is refreshed and I’m “ever hopeful.”

Have you taken a staycation this month?

See you in July!

Travel

A September on Overload, An October to Embrace

chicago-ohare
Hall of Flags, Terminal 3 at Chicago O’Hare Airport

What a month September has been. Amid family crises, personal issues, another birthday and travel to Chicago, I feel like I’ve been on a whirlwind of emotions, back to back.

Now that my mom’s surgery is over and was successful, I can breathe. She was schooling me on her funeral plans and debating her DNR (do not resuscitate) paperwork, all which took a subconscious toll on my mental health.

My son’s car was hit by a police SUV, accidentally, and after realizing he wasn’t significantly hurt, I gave thanks. Sharing my car with him for three weeks, hassling with insurance, and medical visits was troublesome but we made it through.

Getting another year older, seeing more gray hair and another wrinkle, or two, has its own issues, but hey, it’s better than the alternative.

Every week in September I received a rejection notice from some lit agent. File that in pfft.

Last week I got to travel to Chicago. That was a highlight of the month.

Chicago hot dogs (at Portillo’s) and deep dish pizza are every bit as good as the Chicagoans brag about.

Chicago Hot Dog, Portillo's
Chicago Hot Dog, Portillo’s

Now I know why Chicagoans call pizza, a pizza pie and why Giordano’s is in the business of shipping frozen pies to your hometown. Two slices and you’re done for the evening, but the next day you want more.

Giordano's pizza pie-Chicago
Giordano’s pizza pie-Chicago

We enjoyed an architectural and history tour of Chicago via boat-outstanding views of the skyline. The art museum is a gem as is Millennium Park, but what’s up with the crowds at Cloud Gate (The Bean)? This stainless steel sculpture got hordes of attention.

The Cloud Gate or Bean in Millennium Park, Chicago
The Cloud Gate or Bean in Millennium Park, Chicago

I have too many photos to post here, but if you’re interested and ‘do’ Instagram, I’ve just begun posting photos of my travels, art I find interesting, and insightful quotes.

In the meantime, I’m going to stretch and exhale for the next few days. I need to ‘re-center’ myself. Which may be the reason why this photo resonated with me. (By the way, the BMX rider isn’t falling, he’s popping a wheelie).

For more astonishing sports photos, see the Red Bull Illume 2016 Winners.

Here I go into October.

Bicyclist in Germany-Winner of the Illume Image Quest, sports photography.
Bicyclist in Germany-Winner of the Illume Image Quest, sports photography.