The Luxury of Time

luxury of timeWe are camping this weekend, and if you know me, you know that this activity has never been a favorite! It’s a compromise (Camping is restorative for Vince.)  As such, it became my sincere desire to have it be more than just a compromise. My goal: How can I actually really enjoy these times away in our “home away from home,” our cozy trailer?

A realization: These days away from regular home are a luxury…a luxury of time. There is nothing but time here. At the camp site, once set-up, the goal is to stay put. The car shouldn’t have to move. We are self-contained in our humble abode on wheels, with many of the amenities of home.  But because we are not home, there are no chores. I can’t do laundry from the campsite, nor can I shop for groceries,mop the floor, dust, pull weeds, and the list goes on!

When preparing to camp, I pack all the items and activities I enjoy: books, journals, coloring book, coffee, wine, and such. I have the luxury of time and none of the preoccupation of what I should be doing if I were home.

To have a weekend to read, write, run, nap, enjoy a cup of coffee or glass of white wine near the lake is truly a gift, one that I greatly appreciate.  Camping is no longer a compromise. Camping is a gift of time. What a luxury!

I’m just wondering if you’ve ever had the opportunity to turn something you perhaps didn’t enjoy at one time into a ray of sunshine.

Slanite! Susan


Sunshine without Scones!

Recently, after some loved celebrations and extra delightful treats, I committed to healthful food choices this week. Then Panera opened. Since I’m drawn to any new place in town I had to check it out.

I made a major commitment on the way–latte only! The treat is getting to see a new place, check out the menu (for later), and enjoy a restorative moment with a latte.

I walked in to find many, many delicious looking pastries, especially scones.  While in Ireland, I found luxury in enjoying tea and scones-almost daily (really, almost daily!).  When I saw three different kinds of scones, immediately I reminisced about the daily tea and scone ritual. Prior to the Irish holiday, I was never interested in scones. Now, they are such a fond memory.

Lots of self-talking was occurring, “Just order the coffee. You committed to just coffee. You’re eating well this week. Didn’t you have enough scones in Ireland for the next two years?”  I was born with quite the sweet tooth, and I fight this urge frequently.

I ordered only the latte, even when the friendly lady at the cash register asked twice if I wanted anything else. While waiting, waiting, waiting and waiting some more for my latte, a manager finally inquired about my order. She explained how sorry she is that the machine is not working.  I had waited for what seemed like a long time, but having past retail experience, I was patient.

This manager seemed so relieved when I under reacted (one of my Life Lines), and offered a drink alternative, PLUS anything I wanted from the pastry counter. NO!!  I had just made a clean break from the scones!  She was insistent that I select something for my trouble. After turning her down several times, she offered me a fruit cup (maybe noting I had my workout clothes on).  I didn’t want that either, so she kindly gave me a regular cup of coffee and returned all of my money with another sincere apology.

Why then is this “sunshine” in my life? I could have had any item for free, and boy did I want the biggest scone in that glass case!  But, I did it. I walked in for a latte, and while I did not get the drink of choice, I also didn’t get the scone!

I will return to Panera. Their latte machine will work. I’m sure at some point I’ll enjoy a scone and reminisce about the Emerald Isle, but today I won! It’s less about the scone, and more that I had enough strength to stay true to a commitment I made to myself.  That is definitely lots of sunshine!

Slanite! Susan

Life Lines: How I Want to Live

Last summer I read the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I took away many useful ideas, so this summer, I’m rereading it. I rarely read a book twice!  Rubin created her “12 Commandments.” In general, the commandments are “rules of thumb” or something engrained in a person to help make all kinds of life decisions (small or grand).  I wanted to create my own, but didn’t want to call them commandments. After consulting with a dear friend, Karen, the title was decided: Life Lines. (Thanks Karen!)

It took a while. I mean, how could I sum up the way I want to live and make decisions with what seemed like a simple list? Did my list need 12 items? What if I needed more-was that wrong? What if I needed fewer-was my life too shallow?

Because the only way to finish is to start, I did both. Started, then finished my personal Life Lines.  I refine them periodically, but can’t ever foresee a total makeover.

My Life Lines (in no particular order)

  • Homemade-usually better than store bought (applies to most items-gifts, food, etc.)
  • Splurge without guilt-food, finances, and time
  • Eat well mostly, (but see “splurge” above)
  • Be active-for energy and especially for health
  • Quality-choose quality (food and other purchases) because it’s worth it! (Local is better when possible.)
  • Under react 
  • Disappointment– I will experience it, try hard not to let it get me down. People don’t generally mean to or want to disappoint, they just do.
  • Home-make it a destination I love
  • Sometimes it’s best to say nothing
  • Peace-find time, people, and activities that cultivate peacefulness in me

I came up with ten, for no specific reason other than these ten seem to work for me. Of the ten, some are things I’ve already been doing, while others I need to practice.  Believe it or not, I do refer to this list (mentally of course) at times of decision making. My splurging guilt free Life Line recently aided me during my birthday celebrations and week of eating. My homemade Life Line rings loudly each time I attempt to purchase a greeting card. (I have a myriad of beautiful craft making supplies at home.) And, I probably call up the be active Life Line the most, especially when I think I’d rather skip a run or cancel a workout.  Grrrr!  Sometimes I can even blame a decision on my Life Lines like when I spend more at the grocery store on wholesome food. I never thought I’d spend $10 on a bag of chia seeds for my morning oatmeal!

Do you have any Life Lines you use in your own life. Maybe they are not written down….yet!

Lobster Fries, Pancakes, and a Chocolate Panini!

Those waves…sometimes we expect them, and they lap gently at the shore. And, sometimes they crash down.

waves defined: any event or circumstance that is outside of your daily life schedule or routine, can be positive or otherwise and requires your focus and attention in a small, medium, or large dose.

Today’s post is about a gentle wave.

Even happy occasions can be a wave. You know I just blew out a large number of candles on my birthday cake, right? Blessed with caring friends, I so enjoyed several celebrations! Did I ever enjoy some lovely food and beverage with people I love! In the midst of what turned into a week long celebration, I also ended up at the state fair where lobster fries (as seen on the Food Network) just so happened to be right under my nose! Other delicious foods I enjoyed during my week of celebrating:  a plateful of pancakes with Liz and Jen, a chocolate panini with Karen, scallops and prawns with Clair, and the largest turkey wing I’ve ever seen, and a decadent chocolate dessert with Vince.

I cherished every minute and relished every bite. Why then do I consider this a wave? It was out of my usual routine and requires some attention on my part, and now I need to settle back into some healthy eating habits! You won’t hear me grumbling about the calories or few gained pounds. I splurge with no regrets. (More on this soon.) Blessed with people who care for me is one of my greatest pleasures.

And, now onto focus on this small wave with shopping list in hand, full of healthy items.  (Still fondly reminiscing about last week’s food!)

Candle Count: 47!

imagePerhaps on birthdays we should better celebrate the people who brought us into this beautiful, sometimes crazy, hectic, and challenging world!  Instead of giving gifts to the birthday girl or boy, we should bestow gifts upon our parents for getting us here in the first place. I was thinking of how those gifts to the parents would change over time and could be funny or serious! To the mom of the active, never sleepy toddler, a set of ear plugs and a pass to the day spa, ha!  Or, when dad becomes a taxi-service to teenage kids, a gasoline gift card would be a practical gift. And how about mothers and fathers in their golden years, the gift of just spending uninterrupted time could be the most appreciated “present” of all.

Today my candle count is 47! And while I don’t believe it, and I surely don’t feel like I’ve been around for nearly a half of a century, my birth certificate proves it. Instead of celebrating this day with me in mind, I will celebrate my folks who are no longer here to open presents.  I wonder what I would give them if I could today. I imagine my mother would want time-time for lunch and a day of shopping.  My father, hmmmm, the best gift I could give him would be spending the day with my mom because she would be happy, and the house would be quiet! (He did especially appreicate See’s Candy too!)

On a recent holiday to Ireland, I spent time with my mother’s middle sister. I learned more about my mom and dad, especially in their earlier years. It was an emotional experience to hear the stories-some funny, some quite sad.  With gratitude I thanked my aunt for giving me a deeper perspective about my folks.  I do understand them better now.

I was a rebellious teenager, and of course I knew it ALL, while my extremely old-fashioned folks knew nothing! At the time, I didn’t have any problem holding back my arguments about their parenting!  Today as I look at the light show on my cake, I can reminisce about my childhood knowing how much I was loved and realize my parents did their absolute best! I didn’t agree as a kid or even a young adult. With 47 candles on the cake, I whole heartedly agree now.

Starting a new tradition today: Celebrating my parents on the date of my birth.

Wise Words Not on my Grocery List!

You know those thoughts that swirl around in your head, your mental to-do list?  Get the car’s oil changed, handwash the two shirts still sitting at the bottom of the laundy basket, complete last year’s DIY project, be active regularly, train for a marathon, have a difficult conversation with a loved one… Some make take a few minutes. Others longer. 

I have a Nike t-shirt that I wear periodically.  Adorned with a pink Nike swoosh, it says, “The only way to finish is to start.”  I bought this shirt when I first started running six years ago, and the message for me at the time was purely running related. I wanted to train for a marathon, and I just didn’t think I was capable.  This shirt was to be the tangible and constant reminder to believe in myself.

While traveling through the grocery store last Tuesday, a kind-looking elderly woman was looking at me, staring in fact. I did the once over-was my zipper down?  Did I have something in my teeth? Was toilet paper trailing from my shoe? I smiled. She smiled.  She gently approached me and explained. “I have been watching you, mostly reading your shirt.”  “Oh,” I quizically replied, wondering if she too had been a runner or better yet, still runs. 

She explained that she knows about Nike and how the message is realted to sports.  But, her  wise words came next. She seemed wisftul as she uttered,  “You know, the message on your shirt applies to so many things in our lives all very unrelated to any kind of sport.” I smiled and nodded to acknowledge her, then she walked away. I had to later wonder what these words meant to her in her long, long life. 

You know, that wise, gentle woman in the grocery store is correct.  What’s on your mental to-do list that just needs to get finished?  Some may be such little matters.  Others may be bigger, take longer, and require some courage. And, the only way to finish, is to start!  How much better would you feel and how much sunshine would you find in your day if you’d start those projects so you can finish? 

P.S. I did complete the first marathon, and keep this shirt as a reminder that sometimes I need to kick myself into gear.   But, I think I prefer the deeper message shared with me from the wise lady at the supermarket! Wise words were not on my grocery list, and I walked away with something better than anything I could buy. 

Yes! Adults Can Color!

“Waves” in your life can be anything that causes discomfort, physically, mentally, or otherwise. I was recently fortunate to vacation in the beautiful and oh-so-very green and friendly country of Ireland. Ten plus hours on a plane was a crashing wave for me, not because of flying but because of claustrophobia.  The plane was enclosed enough, let alone even considering a trip to the bathroom! I was afraid once we landed in Ireland, I would be so afraid of getting back on a long flight that I just wouldn’t!

While wandering through a local bookstore, I stumbled upon  the Mindfulness Coloring Book: Anti-Stress Art Therapy for Busy People (created by Emma Farrarons). I quickly removed it from the shelf and added it to the many items I had packed to keep my mind busy on a long flight. My dear friends and travel mates chuckled when I pulled this book out along with some brightly colored pencils. Indeed, it was part of my roundtrip  success on two loooonng international flights. Thankfully I conquered this wave and was able to fly home.

A week after I returned home, I enthusiastically read an article in Parade Magazine touting that coloring is this summer’s hottest trend for adults. Parade even has some free coloring page downloads here. The experts (I always wonder who they are) agree that coloring engages both sides of your brain and is calming and relaxing.

While looking for those restorative moments in your day, how about a bit of coloring?

Restore yourself-Even just briefly

Another day with an ever-growing list of “things to do.” Yesterday’s list is not completed, nor are many of the previous day’s.

It’s an unusually cool morning here in California, quite a welcome cooler temperature accompanied by unusual gray skies and a bit of rain. Ahhhh, what a relief after numerous days where the temps soared over 100 degrees (F).

Do we have this in common? You leave your bed, your feet hit the ground, then like a machine your wheels start turning as you generate your plan for the day, your plan to get your to-do list completed, knowing full well you have more items to add. (The list is never-ending!)

Indeed, days are busy regardless of how and where you spend each one. It’s just how we are, wanting to be accomplished, with our family, jobs, and well, everything!

Back to my underlying message, to take care of others, you too must be well. Feed your soul with restorative moments throughout each day. Restorative moments can be on a grand scale such as a trip to the Hawaii or a day at the spa. These are not typical for most of us though! Perhaps more importantly, restorative moments can be little hidden gems that you notice throughout the day. A moment that makes you stop, even briefly to appreciate something beautiful or peaceful in the midst of a normal, busy day. It can be a sound, scent, sight, or feeling.

  • Did you savor that first sip of coffee this morning in your favorite mug?
  • Appreciate the peacefulness of the morning before the hustle and bustle begins?
  • Smell the few drops of rain on the ground?
  • Enjoy that you had to put on a light jacket-on a July morning in California?
  • Notice the only blooming gardenia in the garden, then reminisce that it was your mother’s favorite flower?
  • Listen to the birds flutter outside the window?
  • Experience a bit of joy as you walk into your clean kitchen this morning, ever so grateful you washed last night’s dishes?

Every day brings opportunity for restorative moments. Why don’t you look for them today? Even better, jot down a few this evening!

I’d love to know what you consider restorative moments!

Slainte! Susan

Eat Well (Mostly) and Move!

Diet and exercise-a phrase we hear oh so often, conjures up different thoughts for each person who hears it. Uuggh. Grrrr. Yikes. Noooooo As I rapidly approach the age of 47, just three short years from 50, diet and exercise surely doesn’t have the same message now as it did say 10 or even just 5 years ago. Diet and exercise: it’s important. We know it. We try. Sometimes. But, I enjoy eating… I come from an upbringing where food means love. I don’t have time. I work too much. It costs too much to belong to a gym. Healthy food is expensive. All of these comments, may play a factor. They don’t have to. To be sure we are clear, diet doesn’t mean what it used to in bygone years. We used to often hear people begrudgingly remark, “I’m on a diet.” Thankfully we have been educated that diets don’t work, so when we use “diet” we are referring to what your overall meals consist of. Is your diet rich in fruits and vegetables? Sugary snacks? Salty snacks? A healthy balance of what you should be eating with some splurges here and there? Splurges are surely part of my plan. And, exercise! Does the word conjure up bad memories of futile attempts in a gym or skinny ladies with few clothes on a treadmill? Exercise is ensuring your body is strong enough to serve you so that you can pick up those grocery bags, run after your kids or grandkids, enjoy gardening, or traveling. Sure, if you want to train for a marathon or workout with a personal trainer, those work too. But, you have to get moving. Follow the American Heart Association guidelines for activity if you need a starting point. You have to do something.We all know of people, healthy people who always eat nutritious meals and exercise religiously who fall ill. No doubt. We can all name a few. Yet how can we take little care of ourselves then ask for mountains to be moved should we fall ill with a serious illness? I wonder if the doctors ever think, “You punished yourself for 25 years, and now I’m to cure you in a day?” As family people, loving caregivers, we put others in front of our own needs. We were born to love. My kid’s needs come before mine. My husband’s…. my aging parent’s… This is less about looking great on the outside (though that’s a perk) and MORE about taking care of yourself on the inside. It’s less about fitting into that great dress or pair of jeans and more about being strong and healthy enough to be an active participant in staying well. For you to be there, at your best, don’t your loved ones deserve you at your best? You must take care of your health first, foremost; then you can be ready to care for others. There’s no one-size fits all approach. I don’t know your schedule and how you can fit exercise and nutritious eating into your routine. I just know that it’s never been more important. To be clear, we need splurges too.  Holidays, weekends, and celebrations surely call for some of your favorite and perhaps not so healthy treats.  All in moderation! We just can’t ignore our bodies for years then ask for a quick fix treatment to a potential life-threatening illness. Take care of you. Start with small changes. Your life depends on it. And so many others depend on you.

Hello World and Welcome to Sunshine with Waves!

Welcome to a place where I can freely share my thoughts on living a healthy lifestyle. Somedays, it just all comes together. I make positive food choices and get my daily dose of exercise. My mind is clear, open to new ideas, and I feel peaceful. This is the sunshine. Other days, it’s a struggle. I want a donut, not oatmeal, and I’d rather just come home and cuddle up with a great book and skip the exercise.  Negativity creeps in and my thoughts are all over the place. That’s the wave…crashing down on what I know I should be doing, but deciding otherwise.

I hope to balance the waves with strong doses of sunshine. I wish you more bright days and fewer wavy days.

Slainte! Susan