Friday, April 30, 2010

Date Night

“Men always want to be a woman's first love - women like to be a mans last romance.” - Oscar Wild

Ever since Mr Self Care and I entered into empty nest-dom, Date Night has not been a real priority for us. 

We come home from work to a quiet house, slip into comfortable, casual clothes and we just interruptions....just quiet togetherness


We don't go straight home from work.   We stop in at a Mexican restaurant and have a nice meal and conversation...or pop over to a bookstore and browse the racks...or drop by REI to peruse outdoorsy things.  

It seems every night is a Date Night now.

When we were actively parenting, Date Night used to be the second Saturday of every month.    We alternated planning the event and occaisionally adhered to a theme...

Drive-in movie, with burgers, fries and a milkshake...
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon movie at home with Chinese take-out...
Movies under the Moon (a community night time theater) in the park with a picnic dinner...
Ferry ride to Whidbey for Dinner and a movie

Our Date Nights have ranged from extravagant Fine Dining and Theater to the not-so-creative Red Robin and a movie. We have jumped aboard Dinner Trains and have splurged for Winemaker's Dinners, but we have also been known to stay home and plan a vacation, or play board games, or watch DVDs of British comedies we picked up at the library.  

We have always felt that designated "together time" is important, and Date nights...well they are just good self care.

When was the last time you went on a date?   If its been a while, I implore you to grab a sitter and give your sweetie a call...or email...or text...or IM and ask what they are doing tonight. 

If you can't get a sitter, put the kids to bed early and spend some time reconnecting with that person of your dreams.

Here are a 6 very inexpensive Date Night ideas:
  1. Make his/her favorite dinner and then take an evening stroll
  2. Have a picnic - lay out the blanket and dish up some KFC and potato salad.
  3. Light up your fire pit or chimenea, sit outside with a beer or glass of wine and talk
  4. Rent some DVDs and curl up on the couch together
  5. Pull out some board games and serve up some appetizers
  6. Make some big salads and fire up the Wii Fit.
Whatever you do tonight:  Have Fun!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday Wisdom: Joy List

“Enjoy life. This is not a dress rehearsal.”

A joy list is a very personal thing.   Very simply, it is a list of things (in no particular order) that make YOU happy.  

Joy lists are useful for several reasons...

1) It reminds you of things that make you happy
2) It reminds you that there are things to be happy about in the world
3) It is a way of acknowledging and expressing gratitude for the abundance you have in your life.

50 things that make me happy:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The 5 year plan

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” - C.S. Lewis

I have been thinking very seriously about where I would like to be in 5 years. 

A lot can happen in 5 years, certainly.  A new opportunity may present itself, or something unexpected may befall us.      A 5 year plan is definately not to be written in stone.    It should be adaptable to our evolving perspectives and needs.

There is a high correlation between how far people plan into the future, and the level of success they achieve.  If you only live for the moment, you are probably not going to be prepared for those  life changing opportunities when they occur.    If you do not have some sort of destination in mind, you may wander aimlessly and never get anywhere.    (Although, I concede that wandering aimlessly is probably okay and good for you  in very small doses.)   In fact, without taking the time to sit down and come up with a plan, most of us will think about starting and almost none of us will actually take the first step toward making our dream a reality.

A few tips for writing your 5 year plan:
  1. Imagine where you will be in 5 years.   Will your kids be grown?  Will you be retired?
  2. Think about your ideal state.   Is there someplace you would like to see?  Is there something you have always wanted to try?  What skill or shape will you need to have in order to be successful?
  3. Write down your goals.   Then say them out loud to a friend.   (Accountability!)
  4. Break your goals into baby steps.   What will you need to accomplish in the first year?   the second? the third? fourth and fifth?
  5. Begin.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chocolate? Or CHOCOLAT?

Better is the enemy of Good - Voltaire

Earlier this week, my dear Mr Self Care dropped me off at the door of our local candy store, Sweet Indulgence, and instructed me,  "Get in..get out... one box, $20....Go! Go! Go!"   And Operation "Get the girl some chocolate right away" was launched.

If there is a better type of self care than stocking up on chocolates, I seriously do not know what it is.

Salt caramels, rocky road, coconut sticks, Turtles....well, it took no time at all to fill the box, even though my eyes were slightly glazed over and I might have been suppressing drool.

The owner of the shop- no doubt very accustomed to serving women who are in a chocolate frenzy -closed the box calmly and asked cheerfully, "now,  what color ribbon would you like?"

Ribbon?  "Won't the ribbon just impede my access?"  I asked, resisting the urge to grab the box from her and run out the door.   Seriously a $20 box of hand selected chocolates was good enough...I really didn't need a ribbon.

She responded wisely "oh, don't you know...a simple ribbon can turn a box of "chocolates" into... 'CHOCOLAT'!'"

....and with that she grabbed a brilliant pink ribbon and proceeded to expertly tie it into a fancy bow around my box of chocolate treasures.   She handed it to me with a "knowing" smile and sent me on my merry way.

It is true, that without a pretty pink ribbon tied securely around that box...I might not have made it home with all my chocolate in tact.   (And -truthfully, I don't know if  Mr Self Care would willingly drive me back to the chocolate shop for more chocolate after bringing me home from the chocolate shop to get chocolate.)   But that is not the point...

It is true, CHOCOLAT! just tastes 100x better than chocolate.

When I got home, I placed that ribbon tied box on my night stand.   There is something just sacred about it sitting there, so decadent, and sort of special.   Clearly this is not chocolate for devouring, it is CHOCOLAT! for savoring.   A single piece taken slowly...once (or twice) per day is heaven.

There is a wonderful lesson here that I thought would fit well in a Self Care Girl post:

It is good to add a little "pizzazz" to your life whereever you can.  My mother places her dish washing soap in a pretty decorative bottle next to her sink.     Light candles when you take a bubble bath.    Add a few drops of lavendar scent to your pillow when you go to bed at night.   A single fresh flower on the bathroom counter is a great way to say "good morning" to yourself each day.    Find something that you do each day and think of ways to do it fancier!

Sometimes self care is just as simple as adding a pink ribbon.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Great Sleep Quest

'Tis a lesson you should heed, Try, try again.
If at first you don't succeed, Try, try again.
- Thomas H. Palmer

Night 2 of my goal for the week -hereby, affectionately, dubbed "The Great Sleep Quest" -was a resounding fail.

The goal bedtime was 9:30 pm..I was in bed at 11pm. No good excuse. Helped Mr Self Care with a computing issue, then got wrapped up in watching a DVD. I tidied the kitchen, pulled out my clothes for work today, brushed my teeth... before I knew it I was 1.5 hours over my goal.

On a positive note, I feel like I slept pretty well last night, even though I only got about 6 hours of sleep.

Tonight I am just going to try again. I will let you know how it goes.

Take Good Care!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Unplugged - Something New For Sundays

“Technology is fine. . ., but that popular vision of the future, where you plug somebody in and leave them there and they don't get out and interact with actual flesh-and-blood humans -- you know the answer before I say it -- that's not good.” - Dennis Miller

We will call it "deserted island" mode.   

No cell phones...
No computers...
No television...
No motor cars...
Not a single luxury. (Well we won't go that far!)

I easily spend 50 + hours per week "plugged in" to something electronic.    Something in my soul tells me this is probably not good.  

So, today, I am going to work on spending one day per week unplugged.   I challenge you to try it too.

10 things to do when you are unplugged:

1) Read
2) Meditate
3) Exercise
4) Visit with friend over cup of tea
5) Garden
6) Play a board game
7) Engage in a hobby
8) Take a walk
9) Visit a park
10) Go shopping.

Take Good Care!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The "DONE" List

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.   -Fr. Alfred D'Souza

Here we are, again, at the end of another week and I have barely made a dent in the to-do list that I put together last Saturday.

Okay...maybe it was a really, really long and never-ending kind of to-do list....and maybe I was a tad unrealistic to think I could fit so many amazing accomplishments into just 7 days.....and YES,  I probably should have capped the list after Wednesday when I decided to added items #347) Make cookies for my kidlet, #348) Sell a condo and #349) Solve World Hunger.   (Can you guess which one I did actually accomplish?....sold the condo! YES!)

The problem with "to-do" lists is people usually omit those really beneficial tasks like "stay in bed all day and read" and "spent an hour in an adirondak chair getting some Vitamin D"   Important and rejuvinating tasks like (this is for Wanda) "harvest my Farmville crops" and "play a few rounds of Family Feud" never seem to make the "to-do" list cut.

I was thinking about this last night while looking at my current never ending list and it got me wondering how I was possibly going to relax this weekend when I have to item #243) Plant seeds, #287) Clean bird droppings of the back deck and #301) Clean the toilet, blaring at me for completion.

Quite frankly, this list of action items makes me feel bad.   I am overwhelmed with work to do and when I don't make progress I feel somehow inadequate - even when I know that the list is not humanly possible to achieve.

This week I am making two changes:
  1. I am going to limit my to -do list  to 3 major tasks and one of these  3 tasks will be a "relax" task. 
  2. I am also going to create a "DONE" list - and give myself a pat on the back when I complete those 3 tasks!
I will let you know how it goes!

Take Good Care!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Social Fridays: Introducing Mr Self Care...

"A good marriage is better than a fat wallet"- Sgt Clifton L Sutherland, a dear friend of mine who passed away in 2003

This is my husband, Mr Self Care. (Yes, he is so very avatar-like isn't he?)
This was the best cartoon I could come up with, but I am afraid it really doesn't do him justice. The cartoon application has some serious limitations.
You will just have to trust me.  In real life Mr Self Care is totally  gorgeous both inside and out. (***heavy sigh***)

I am introducing him today because he is an important part of my self care exploration. While the goal of self care is to take very good care of yourself, sometimes it is good to have someone around to regularly show you what that means.

Everyone should have someone in their life who loves them unconditionally - someone who cares for you when you aren't doing a very good job of caring for yourself.    Mr Self Care is that someone for me.  

A few thoughts about involving others in your self care journey:
  1. Take a moment and identify the person(s) who love you just the way you are.   (Be sure to give them lots of hugs!)
  2. Surround yourself with people who are positive and encouraging. 
  3. Be kind and supportive to others.
  4. Let others take care of you sometimes too!
  5. Ask for what you need.
Take Good Care!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mental Health Monday: Books Are Good Self Care!

"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. It is wholesome and bracing for the mind to have its faculties kept on the stretch." ~Augustus Hare

I have a stack of books next to my bed that never seems to disappear.   I love historical fiction, but found myself seriously wrapped up in the Twilight series recently.   I also like motivational and educational books- I continuously reference my business text books and have been wanting to re-read a few of the excellent marketing and leadership books that I was only able to skim over while completing my coursework.

Books can be both an escape and an enrichment.  Both pursuits are equally supportive of one's self care.

I have been making a point of taking one evening a week to read and exercise my mind.    We gave up television years ago and while there are some shows I miss,  I think having an evening of reading is one of the gifts that we provided ourselves when we cleared our evenings of mindless channel surfing.

Also, books are so wonderfully portable!  I am always much more content and patient to wait in a line, to wait for my number or name to be called, to wait for my husband to meet me-when I can pull out a book and escape for a few minutes.

A few good reads I have discovered lately:

  1. The Twilight Series - Stephenie Meyer:  If you have not read this series, run (don't walk) to your nearest young adult section and pick up the first book.    You will find these books to be well written with excellent character development and references to classical themes, like Romeo & Juliet and Wuthering Heights.   Most women can relate well to Bella's predicament of having two gorgeous guys vying for her attention (ahem...or at least the fantasy of Bella's predicament....). 
  2. The First 100 days - Brandt, Check & Pedraza:   An excellent book for executives (but I think effective employees will benefit too) This book provides great insight into what to do in the first 100 days of taking a new job.  Good information that will have you hit the ground running and will help you avoid some common pitfalls of transitioning into a new job.   There is also some excellent advice for interview prep as well.  
  3. The Sweet Life In Paris: This is a memoir and cookbook by David Lebovitz which recounts his fabulous experience of living in Paris.   I tried the French Macarons and they were heavenly.   The book provides great insight into the Parisian culture as well.  (And you just never know when you might find yourself on holiday in Paris!)
  4. Total Money Make Over: Dave Ramsey is an amazing person.  I cannot say enough good things about him or his message.  His financial planning advice has had a huge impact on Mr Self Care and I.   (We have followed his plan for the last two years and are debt free except for our mortgage.)  He advocates that couples work together on their finances,  live within their means and stop accumulating debt- especially credit card debt.    Quite simply, Dave makes money make sense and he has a huge heart for people too.

Have you read any good books lately? 

"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." ~Francis Bacon

Take Good Care!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spiritual Sunday: Let Go, Let God.

3 things I am going to let go of today:
  1. The housework.  Housework-when done correctly-can kill you. The fact that it is never really done should be a good indicator of how it should be prioritized. has some great tips for getting and staying on top of the household chores.  I vow to do what I can and not stress out about what doesn't get done.
  2. My young adult son.  He is on his own now and while I am not thrilled with the path he is on, I know I need to accept that he is making his own journey.  He knows that I am here and that I love him. There is a lot he is doing that is very good and right...I have to focus on that and let go of the rest.
  3. My upcoming workweek.  The weekend is never long enough when you aren't getting a lot of satisfaction from your job.   And it definately isn't long enough to waste dwelling on tomorrow.  I need to be in the present today to fully enjoy spending time relaxing with my husband.  I can worry about Monday when Monday arrives.
 How about you?  Is there anything you need to let go of today?  

Accept what you cannot change.  Change what you can.  Be wise enough to know the difference.

Take Good Care!