Hey, I’m still here…

This post is months overdue, but it’s been a challenge to find the right words (even for a writer). Recently, I’ve been struggling with some things – both physically and mentally – and I just felt that if I couldn’t get my shit together, how could I possibly offer fitness or lifestyle advice with any semblance of authenticity?

So far my husband and I have had a summer full of beautiful experiences. We’ve traveled to California and Florida, camped in Upstate New York, rode our jet-ski around the Statue of Liberty, and went to the drive-in on at least three different occasions. We installed a hot tub in our backyard, put the final touches on our basement gym, and planned a few future renovations. I also perfected a cookie recipe, developed a matcha addiction, and have read over ten enlightening books since the beginning of May.

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Anyone else think of Full House when you see this?

Most people would think “wow, she’s living the dream!” am I right? Well, even with all of that good stuff, I’ve still felt empty, drained, unhappy, and stressed. I’ve had bouts of anxiety about being 28 years old without any real career direction or goals. I’ve struggled to do simple things like laundry. I’ve failed at so many fitness and nutrition programs. And don’t get me started on being too tired.

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Poolside in Rancho Mirage, CA

You see, there was no way in hell I could encourage someone to spend 2% of their day working out when I couldn’t even spend 1% washing the freakin dishes. I would have told myself off.

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Roughin’ in on a camping trip in Upstate NY

It’s so easy to look at social media and see all of the good things, the fun. When you’re feeling down, it looks like everyone else is having the time of their lives. Meanwhile, the black cloud is following me on every adventure and delightful moment. That, in itself, is so draining. But social media isn’t really meant to show the other side of things. Who really wants to stare at Debbie Downer all day?

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Fresh-squeezed orange juice in Miami, FL

So here I am telling you that nothing is ever going to be perfect. A picture is worth a thousand words, but how many are actually true? If you’re struggling with something too, know you’re not alone. Just keep swimming, keep on keeping on, keep trying to find something good in every day. It will get better.

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Lady Liberty herself. Look – no people!

If you need some extra encouragement, check out the Finding the Balance series I posted earlier in the year.

Look for me on Mondays again – I’ve got some catching up to do.

Peace, Love, Zen
DS

Finding the Balance: Recap

It’s Friday! Seriously, where did the time go this week? I blinked, and it was over. Let’s do a quick recap of the last few weeks.

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Self-Care

I can go on and on about this topic because it’s so important to take care of yourself. Whether you like to color, read, exercise, get crafty, take a bath – or countless other things – take some time out of each day to show yourself a little love.

You can still take care of others and do things for yourself. It doesn’t make you selfish – it makes you a better YOU.

Work

Let’s face it, most of our waking hours are spent at work. There is no such thing as work-life balance. So, if you don’t have a job you’re crazy about – either find a way to get crazy about it or find a way to get out.

Home

Even if you have a stellar job, your home should be a solace – the place you love coming to every day. Many times we get so overwhelmed by chores and *gasp* adult responsibilities. I’m with you on that one. But with little adjustments, we can balance (or even farm out) some of the tasks. Think meal deliveries or a chore chart.

Relationships

All of our relationships are so important – the ones with ourselves, our family, our spouses, and our friends. We need to make time for them, to show them that we care. No one is promised tomorrow.

Zen

The world as we know it is filled with so much stress. It could be bad or good, but it’s still taxing to the body, and so, so important to find time to relax and be happy. It took me a while to find a morning routine that works, but I’ve finally landed on a good mix of prayer and exercise. With a little experimenting, you can find what works for you.

If you have one key takeaway from this balance series, let it be “make time for the people and things that matter.” If you’re interested in reading more, check out each week via the links above.

Peace, Love, Zen

DS

Finding the Balance: Zen

It took me a long time to come up with a morning practice that works. One that I would stick to even on the weekends. I tried journaling, reading fiction, rolling out of bed and pushing play on a workout right away, and what feels like a million other things to have a more productive start to the day. Nothing felt right.

Then one day I decided to focus on two of the things that really matter to me – prayer and workouts. It might seem a little silly because both of these activities are radically different. You have prayer, which is solemn and quiet, and then you have workouts, which are vibrant and loud, but both help put me in the zen zone and set good intentions for the day ahead.

It goes like this…

During the week I wake up around 5 am, stagger into the kitchen with one eye open, shake up my pre-workout, and head down to the basement (gym) to begin my morning ritual. (On the weekends the practice starts a little later – Oh, how I love my sleep!)

I chose 5 am because at that time, I’m the only one awake in the house and have a full two hours to get ready for the day in complete peace. I love talking to God when it’s quiet and the only sounds are vibrations from the furnace. It’s also nice to get my workout done before work so I don’t have to worry about fitting it in after.

Prayer

After chugging my pre-workout, I settle in with a blanket and whatever prayer or meditation book I’m currently reading. Right now it’s The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, which I’m reading with my nanny. It takes about half an hour for the supplement to kick in and give me the buzz I need to power through my hour-long routines.

Then I have about 30 minutes to read and run through a series of prayers for my family, friends, myself, and the world. When time permits, I’ll throw in a meditation or repeat a mantra while counting my mala beads or breaths. This is usually the most relaxed I’ll be all day, and I love starting the morning so focused.

Workouts

I work out for about an hour six mornings each week – usually skipping Saturdays. I’ll do a mix of cardio and resistance – dance, MMA, strength training – really, whatever floats my boat that day. Lately, I’ve been on a dancing kick. It’s just so fun and energizing in the morning and helps me burn a ton of calories.

It helps to stick with routines that I like, so I’m motivated enough to get up and workout before the sun comes up. In the past, I’ve fallen off because I’ve settled for programs that weren’t a good fit.

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Post-workout I enjoy a nice stretch or foam roll and then get ready for the day.

This practice leaves me refreshed and feeling great. In fact, if I miss my routine, my ENTIRE day goes down the toilet.

Creating your own practice

The world as we know it is filled with stress. It could be bad (current politics, being laid off from a job, or an illness) or good (new baby, buying a house, or starting a new job). Regardless, it’s still taxing to the body and so, so important to find time to relax and be happy.

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I love this book that shows you how to meditate without going overboard.

Have yourself a little zen

Perhaps you like waking up at 9am and eating a big breakfast every morning. Maybe you’re a night owl and need an 11pm practice. Whatever it is, you can work it out. Here’s a 5-Step practice to help you find a zen routine that works.

Step 1: Pick a time that will consistently work for you (morning, noon, or evening)

Step 2: Think of all the things you love or find relaxing. (Listening to classical music, reading, weeding the garden)

Step 3: Put a few things together and keep it SIMPLE (You can listen to music while doing another activity or mesh your love of reading and the outdoors by taking a book outside)

Step 4: Test it out. (Listening to classical music as you garden just before sunset each night OR reading a book while swinging in your hammock at lunchtime OR taking a stroll every morning after you wake)

Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4 until you find a good fit. (Listening to classical music while taking a stroll at lunchtime)

Whatever you land on, make sure it’s something that makes you happy!

Check out last week’s post and stay tuned next week for our Finding the Balance Wrap Up!

Peace, Love, Zen

DS