You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2014.

I decided this week would be good.

This was a week where I intended to see the good in everything.  And the week delivered.  These were days full of friends, flowers and food, with a little basketball thrown in for good measure.

Day 20:  Those of you who have followed this blog for some time know that I see signs of love everywhere.  I started seeing them last summer, though I do wonder if perhaps they were always there and I only recently opened my eyes—and my heart—to them.

One thing I’ve learned is that love is contagious.  My friends send me emails and texts with the signs of love they have seen.

I love this.  Sometimes self care is about letting other people show you the love.

Like this breakfast heart of coffee, from my friend Erica…

Erica's Coffee Heart

…and this wall of love from Corey.

Corey's Heart Wall

Signs of love are everywhere.

Day 21:  A bouquet of flowers is a beautiful way to brighten up a room.  For me, bouquet of flowers is pure happiness.

So I bought one.

IMG_1028

Day 22:  Meeting up with a couple of my friends after work, we ate dinner at BondSt, an old standby for them though I’d never been.  We caught up…and laughed, and laughed.

Laughter is self care.

And the food was clean and delicious, like this hamachi dish.

Bond St's Hamachi

After dinner, we made our way to the art studio of an artist we all love, which happens to be in the basement of a wine store/event space in Tribeca.  We walked into the middle of a dinner party and passed by this chef—with the most adorable dimples—who was finishing off some Baked Alaskas with a blowtorch.

New York Vinters Party Baked Alaska

How cool is that?  One of the reasons why I love New York is that you never know where you are going to end up or what you are going to see.

Day 23:  Some nights, you just want some comfort food.  This was the day I needed a burger and fries.  (Okay, so I took off the bun, but it still did the trick.)

The Shake Shack, and their new fresh-cut french fries, never fails to comfort when the need for it comes calling.

Processed with VSCOcam

Day 24: Two words always make me a little giddy with anticipation—March Madness.  I’ve loved college basketball ever since I fell in deep love with my team when I was a freshman. We were terrible, but I loved going to the games anyway.

Ending the work week with some of the most exciting games I’ve seen in the last couple of years was perfect and exciting.  Doing what you love is self care.

Day 25:  Oh, the weather.  The East Coast, along with much of the country, suffered through a long cold and snowy winter.  Now spring has been ushered in with its unpredictable temperatures and lots of rain.

I’m doing my best to embrace the day, no matter what the weather forecast.  On this day, it rained steadily and turned out to be colder than forecast.  So I Mary Poppins’d it, pulled out a winter hat and gloves out of my bag, then bundled up and took myself on a very long walk.  The streets were fairly quiet, so I had the chance to walk and clear my head in solitude.

It was awesome.

Day in the Rain

Day 26:  March Madness continues—it was a weekend of nail-biting games—along with a lot of cooking, which is probably my favorite thing to do even though I don’t always make the time for it.   I’d planned to clean out my closet, but self care beckoned and it send me to the kitchen instead.  Cooking brings me back to myself.

More than halfway through my 40 Days of Self Care, I’m developing an appreciation for the act of deliberately doing something good for myself every day. Some days that good is as simple as a point of view, but that can be as filled with grace as any dinner out.

I hope you find the good for yourself in the coming week.

xo, with goodness and grace.

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Let me just say this: self care can be hard.  There was not one day this week when I didn’t want to stay in bed, all warm and cozy.  But still I got up and I showed up. Because, that too is self care.

Day 13: I left the office at a reasonable hour to see some friends I don’t see that often, including one who lives in another city and was in town for a few days. Getting to see girlfriends always means a fun night out.

The cocktails weren’t bad either.  A Manhattan always makes me feel so grown up.

Skylark Manhattan

And, it was St. Patrick’s Day.  The Empire State Building celebrated along with us. How lucky I am to get to see a view like that.

Empire Statue Bldg on St Patrick's Day

Day 14:  This day was just plain hard.  I wanted to do anything but what I was supposed to be doing.

I wanted to be frolicking on a beach with cute cabana boys bringing me lobster salads.  I wanted to be at the spa, knots untangled and mind de-stressed.  I wanted someone to send me on a private plane to Paris, and when we landed, I would start with a gluten, butter and cream-filled eating binge and end with a shopping spree at every designer store—and someone else would pay for it all.

Instead, I was at my desk needing to get through my massively long to-do list.  So I ate chocolate instead.   At 11:30 in the morning.

And it was good.

Marzipan Chocolate

Day 15:  This was the day that I said, I got nothing.  I felt like I had nothing left to give, even to myself.

And then I felt loved.  (Please see the previous post, Grace: Abundance.)

You are Beautiful

Day 16:  The princess in me wanted to sleep in, but instead I got up before the sun rose and I got on the bike.

I also sweat like I’d never sweated before.  It felt good to work out everything I’d been carrying all week.

SoulCycle

Day 17:  Going home and cleaning out the DVR and catching up on what happened in the world that week may sound like a self care fail.  But sometimes it’s all you need.

Day 18:  This was the day I took a three-hour nap.  Finally, I let myself get some much needed rest.

But, before I put myself down for nap time, I was moved to see a block in my neighborhood covered in inspiration written in sidewalk chalk.

Amazing

Beautiful

It was extraordinary to fall asleep with this inspiration for my dreams.

Day 19:  Sometimes it’s a challenge to make time for the things that interest me, but this day was spent, happily, at a food styling course.  I learned some fascinating tricks that I hope to use on this blog in future posts.

Afterwards, I took myself to ABC Cocina, one of my favorite places in Manhattan. Everything I’ve eaten there has been heavenly, especially this shaved brussels sprouts salad with a flurry of cheese and Marcona almonds.  This would convert anyone who thinks they hate brussels sprouts.

Brussels Sprout Salad-ABC Cocina

And these short rib tacos with habanero relish—they were savory, succulent, and scrumptious.

Short Rib Tacos-ABC Cocina

A perfect way to end the week.  Here’s to the next 7 days of caring well for ourselves.

xo, with goodness & grace.

A simply abundant world awaits.

— Sarah Ban Breathnach

Bobby was my first friend in New York.

We didn’t so much become friends as he claimed me.  We bonded over parents who were successful in their respective fields.

“So, we have something in common,” he said to me in the hallway of our office.  And that was that.  We were friends.

Years later, I went to a small dinner party thrown at his new apartment with his new wife.  It was a time of newness for all of us at the dinner.  Me, I’d just bought an apartment.  As a new homeowner I had very new expenses, coupled with a very newly depleted bank account.  It was one of times where I didn’t know if I would have enough money to make it through the week until my next paycheck.

It was the first time in my life I’d been worried about having enough to eat. Determined not to have to go to my parents—who to this day would give me anything that I needed—I decided that somehow I’d figure out take care of myself.

For the dinner party Bobby’s wife—a diminutively sweet and nurturing, but no pushover—made an abundance of delicious food.  It was the kind of meal that made me feel as comforted as if I’d been with my own family, and as if I’d known her for ages.  She made so much that they sent us all home with a bag of to-go containers.

Looking out of the window on the bus on my way home, exhausted from laughing with my friends and slouched in my seat from being so full, I sat up with a start.  I suddenly realized that I’d spent the last few days worrying about money and food and whether or not I’d have enough—and there next to me was a bag full of lovingly prepared food that would last me the better part of a week.  They’d given me their abundance as an offering of friendship.

I sat on the dirty city bus deeply moved, brushing away the tears running down my face.

It was the very first time that I understood the power of trusting that there is enough.

But I forget.  So often, if you are like me, it just seems there isn’t enough.  Enough time.  Enough daylight.  Enough sleep.  Enough food.  It can be exhausting, all this worry of lack.

I was reminded about that ride on the bus as I read my mail earlier this week.

Fresh off a night of sleep, I scrolled through my emails, as I do every morning before getting on with the daily ritual of going to work.  I subscribe to a few inspirational newsletters that are sent out in the pre-dawn hours and I read them while I’m still in that state between sleep and wakefulness.  It starts my day with words of wisdom.  On this morning, multiple emails, one after the other, had a similar message: life is all about love.  It is everywhere, in everything, and as one so eloquently said, we “are bathed in it.”

I thought about this as I was walking out the door, about to begin my working day. Then I sighed and said to no one, if love is everywhere, then can I feel it?  Can I really FEEL it?  Can I feel the love?

And then I went off to my day.

Two interactions stood out in my mind that day.

The barista in Starbucks who made my drink, different than usual, called my name and said, “You didn’t want the sugar-free vanilla?”  I’m always surprised when people remember me, and she remembered something that I’d ordered the week before.  It touched me.

An old friend said that I’d inspired her to do something pretty awesome.  Hearing that someone was inspired by me was humbling.

These were small moments where I felt seen.  Perhaps that was enough.  Perhaps that was the love.

The next day, I came home from a long day at work, checked my mail and saw a card with no return address—usually a telltale sign of junk mail.  The handwriting looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite make it out.  I turned the envelope over and saw this sticker.

You are Beautiful

It stopped me, and immediately I felt happier.  Whether it was junk mail or not, it made me smile.

I went into my apartment and I opened the card.  It was from my aunt.   She wrote to say she was thinking of me and of what a wonderful woman I was. And, she wanted to tell me that she loved me.

There it was.  There was the love.

I sat on my sofa floored, moved, in awe.  I asked, and I received.  And I felt it, deeply.

The world is an abundantly beautiful place.

Maybe there is abundance just waiting for us to be open, to be the vessel to receive it, I thought.  Maybe there really is enough.

My 40 days dedicated to self care continues through a week of schizophrenic  temperatures as a lead up to spring.  Here’s what happened, in pictures.

Day 6:  Ever come home from work with no idea what to eat for dinner?  And maybe you are so tired that you aren’t all that hungry anyway?  And, really, all you want is chocolate.

There are times when a girl has got to do what a girl has to do.

Chocolate

PS – See that Mo’s Cinnamon & Sugar Bar from Vosges?  It is outrageously delicious. I didn’t think that chocolate could be transformative, but if you ever have a worry, just eat a square of this and all will be right in the world again.  I’m just saying.

Day 7: In the midst of wintry cold days, this particular afternoon held the promise of warmth—happiness was in the air. I went for a long walk at lunchtime and saw that spring was about to sprout.

Spring Coming

Day 8: For me, a big part of self care is feeding myself well. But when I get busy, this is one of the first areas where I fall short.  This week, I did my best to nourish myself with home cooked meals.  On this day, as I began making a warm kale and brussels sprouts salad (topped with a poached egg!), the olive oil in the pan pooled into a heart.

Signs of love are everywhere, even in the kitchen.

Heart of Oil

Day 9: This week my heavy workload made me anxious and uptight, so I buckled down and stayed in the office late to get a handle on everything, with a goal of relieving my stress.  And honestly, I wanted to sleep well again.

These pigeons reminded me that when the work is done, you need to remember to find your flock and just hang.

Pigeons on a Wire

Day 10:  A day of work and a Friday night blow out at the hair salon behind me, and a weekend ahead of me, I walked through midtown.  Always remembering to look up, I loved the sight of the nearly full moon snuggled up to the Chrysler Building.

Full Moon Next to Chrysler

Day 11: Last October, I wrote about a Manifestation Yoga workshop I attended, led by the incomparable Jennifer Pastiloff. (If you don’t know her inspirational work, please check out her awesome blog here. )  I loved it so much that I signed up for another, held on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

I took it as a sign that I was exactly where I was supposed to be as I walked towards the yoga studio and walked past this on the sidewalk. Because happiness—and community and connection—certainly lay ahead of me that afternoon.

The Way to Happy

Throughout the workshop, I marveled at how different I felt from the previous one. Then, it was as if I’d unearthed gigantic oceans of emotions I didn’t even know were crashing against the shoreline of my life.  It took some time to process that, and in some respects, I still haven’t grasped it all, at least consciously.

This time I felt lighter, different, changed somehow.

This year, I’d intended to finally allow myself to be the woman I’d always wanted to be.  This was the year I’d stop with the what-if and what could have been.  This year, I’d stop playing small.  I’d decided let love in, and that afternoon I was surprised to see that maybe, if only little by little, it was working.

Maybe I don’t have to try to be the woman I’d always wanted to be.  Maybe I’ve been her all along and I just didn’t know it.

Day 12: I am fortunate to have a close relationship with my parents.  We try to meet at least once a week over a meal.  This time, we went to Stella 34, a year-old restaurant in Macy’s Herald Square.  I don’t always expect much from department store restaurants, but this was an unexpected surprise.

When I told our server about my gluten sensitivity, he helpfully pointed out what dishes I could eat.  And when he offered us bread for the table, he also said he would bring rice crackers just for me.

Instead of saying, “I wish I had something to give you,” as I’ve gotten used to hearing, this server—this restaurant—actually did have something to give me.  I don’t expect every restaurant to have alternatives for every food allergy, but when one does have options, it makes me feel as if my needs matter.

I was also able to order gluten-free pasta.  After almost a year without pasta, this was a delicious reunion with an old friend.

Pasta

When you begin to take care of yourself, oftentimes, the world will reach out to care for you as well.

That is grace.  My wish is that you feel cared for this week as well.

xo, with goodness and grace.

Every year around this time I commit to giving something up in the spirit of Lent. I am not particularly religious, but I like the idea of ritual and of committing to something bigger than myself.  (For those who don’t know, Lent is the 40-day period prior to Easter where Christians give something up as a means of reflecting on and honoring Jesus.)

This year I struggled with what to give up.  Should it be cheese?  Sugar?  Potatoes? It all felt frivolous and not at all meaningful—and one more thing to beat myself up about.  Then, as I was out with some friends on the first day, I decided that I was going to be dedicated to taking care of myself, whatever that meant.

I started by posting a picture on Instagram of the pomegranate margarita I’d ordered with the hashtag #40daysofselfcare.  Because sometimes self care means having a cocktail with your friends.

Pomegranate Margarita

An old friend saw my picture and sent it to a radio station he works with in Charlotte, North Carolina.  They loved the idea so much that they wanted to talk to me on air about the rationale behind my 40 days of self care.  I hesitated on the inside, but said yes anyway, because self care sometimes means pushing yourself outside of the comfort zone.  The DJs were fun, kind and genuinely interested in what I had to say.  It was five minutes of fun, and I’m glad I did what I wouldn’t normally do.

Self care breaks through the boundaries you’ve set for yourself.

Day 2: I came home exhausted. PJs on and a snuggle with my pillows while I watched Scandal was all my tired self needed to feel cared for.  (By the way – are you guys watching Scandal?  If not, you must jump on the gladiator bus immediately!)

Day 3: I’m lucky enough to live in New York City, and every day I walk by some of the most majestic sites that people travel halfway across the globe to see.  Sometimes I don’t see them because I’m so focused on my thoughts.  And then I turn a corner and something snaps me out of my head and commands my attention.

Grand Central Terminal in all her full glory.  Self care is stopping and taking a moment to just look at the beauty around the corner.

GCT

Day 4: Taking photographs is something I’ve loved for as long as I can remember, but I rarely give myself the opportunity to spend the day snapping away.  I spent the early afternoon in the New York Public Library, which is not only a peaceful oasis in the middle of midtown Manhattan madness, but is stunningly grand in its architecture.

I found myself mesmerized by this ceiling in one of the rooms, full of beautiful chandeliers, bronze moldings and breathtaking murals.

NYPL Ceiling

As I sat and looked up, I remembered how important it is to fill yourself up with beauty and take in what’s around you.  I can’t wait to go back.

On Day 5, I rested.  And that was enough.

Join me in doing one nice thing for yourself every day.  Share below what you do to care for yourselves!

xo, with goodness and grace.

I find myself regularly saying how busy I am.  There’s a whole school of thought that’s debated in our culture lately, about how we hide behind our busy-ness and wear it as a badge of courage.  The truth is I actually am very busy, busier than I’d like to be, often doing things that I’d rather not be doing.

This is what I was thinking about as I spent a good chunk of my weekend dealing with a work issue.  As I walked through Grand Central Terminal on my way to the subway, en route to the office, I saw a couple in front of me holding hands.  It was enough to divert my thoughts and soften my breathing.  To my right, I saw another couple locked in an embrace.

And farther to my right, I saw this.

Grand Central Bride & Groom

I saw this couple and it stopped me.  Because, really, this is what life is all about.  It isn’t about whether the flight was cancelled or the tickets were refundable or someone was being uncooperative.  Those may have been at the forefront of my mind, but by no means is that what my life is about.  Life is so much bigger than the little things that can throw a day off.

This was the perfect reminder to remember what is real.

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