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

Finding the Balance: Self Care

To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to start out this series. There are so many great topics on finding the balance that they almost compete with each other. Then it hit me. Like a ton of bricks in my intestines.

This morning I woke up at 5 am, changed into my gym clothes, got some water, and headed down to the basement to bust out my 61-minute workout. Everything was going great until about 10 minutes in when I started to feel queasy. I pressed pause. Tried again. Tapped out at 16 minutes.

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This. Never. Happens. This is how I know I’m sick. So, after much internal debate, I called out for the first time in almost two years at my job. Time for a little self-care.

Feeling Stressed

I’ve been feeling very stressed lately – at home and work. Its never ending – there is ALWAYS something to be worried or uneasy about. Even when I’m having a good time on the weekend, I’m reminded of what’s to come on Monday.

If you’ve read any of my Sugar Detox posts, you know that I haven’t been feeling well since I started cutting the crap out of my diet – ironic, right? Even after two months, nothing has leveled out. I went through extensive allergy and blood testing that cost over $800 and I’m no closer to finding out the cause of my discomfort. Talk about frustration.

Last week I talked about not having the time to fit it all in. Well, I think I peaked yesterday. It got to a point where I just couldn’t manage – it was like someone dropped all my marbles and I couldn’t pick them up fast enough before they rolled off into the unknown. Before bed, my mind was dissecting the day, and I went to sleep pretty sick to my stomach about all of my tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities. Not good.

Fun Ways to Self-Care

How often do you stop and do things for yourself? I think the only two things I consistently do for myself are read, work out, and pray/meditate each morning. And oddly enough, working out stresses my body out more.

Here are a few ideas – they are by no means a complete list – but they can help get you started finding the balance in your everyday.

Color

Adult coloring books are so fun! I thought it was great when they first became popular because here I was finishing up my old Disney or Barbie books, when I could have been fancying up a page of curse words. Bull shit, am I right? If that’s not your cup of tea, there are mild versions of flowers, landscapes, houses, cats – you name it. Just get yourself a pack of crayons, markers, or colored pencils and have at it. You don’t even have to stay in the lines πŸ˜‰

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Read

Okay, so maybe reading isn’t fun for everyone, but I read over 50 books last year, so it’s definitely entertaining for me. The thing is, you could read about ANYTHING. If you can think it, someone has probably written about it. I’m a crime fiction or PD girl, usually, but I also enjoy a little chick lit – Sophie Kinsella, Jodi Picoult, and Liane Moriarty. Curl up with a book, a cuppa, (I read a lot of Aussie lit!), a blanket, and get lost in another world. Somehow Sophie’s books always make me feel better about myself. Win!

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This is a must-read for EVERYONE.

Exercise

Now, I don’t expect everyone to wake up before the sun and bang out an hour-long workout. I won’t impose my antics on you. Exercise comes in many forms – long walks on the beach, chasing a toddler on a mission, trip to the dog park, line dancing, club dancing, watching dirty dancing (kidding) – you get the idea. It doesn’t have to feel like work, but exercise is shown to make people happy, so why wouldn’t you at least try? Don’t believe me? Take a lesson from Elle Woods.

Craft

Do you crochet? Bake? Needlepoint? Arrange flowers? Sew buttons? If it relaxes you, find time to do it every day. If you get upset that your version doesn’t look like the Pinterest version, this one might not be for you. Shop on Etsy instead.

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My happy place is in the kitchen. These are Pinterest inspired.

Bathe

Hot tub. Pool. Beach. Bathtub. Pick the one that interests you and take a trip – even if it’s just ten paces away to the next room. Nothing beats a good soak, especially if there are BUBBLES! Pour yourself a glass of wine (or sparkling juice!), play some soothing tunes, and light a candle. As an added bonus, throw in some Epsom salts, essential oils, or a fun bath bomb. Ahhh the relaxation.

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Halloween Special bubble bar from LUSH. So many suds!

Uh, note: I wouldn’t recommend any of the above for anything but a tub πŸ˜‰

Take a Happiness Challenge

I’m on day 99 of my second #100HappyDaysΒ Challenge. The main idea is to post a picture on social media of something that makes you happy each day for 100 days. Is it possible? Well, I can attest that all days won’t be happy. In fact, some will be downright miserable. But, if you can find something good – just one little thing – in each day, your life will be a little bit brighter. I’d recommend you at least try it. Its fun to look for a piece of happiness each day and it’s nice to look back on those moments after the challenge has ended.

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My inspiration.

Do Yoga / Meditate / Pray

This really could be its own topic. Matter of fact, it might be (Gucci Mane voice). I’ll leave the good stuff for another day, but if you’re into quiet time, you might want to investigate the power of prayer, meditation, and yoga. They do wonders for the body and soul.

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Don’t lose sight of you

You can still take care of others and do things for yourself. It doesn’t make you selfish. Quite the opposite, actually. It helps you do everything a little bit better because you’re you at your best. I feel like I should start reciting a Dr. Seuss poem right now!

How do you relax? How do you take care of yourself? I want to know!

Check out the first post and stay tuned next week to learn about finding the balance at work.

Peace, Love, Zen

DS

Finding the Balance

To me, peace is sitting in the dim light with a cup of tea, a book, and a nice fuzzy blanket. I enjoy silence above many things. It’s so calming to sit with oneself and read, meditate, or pray. In fact, I’ve worked this quiet time into my daily routine each morning. After I rise and before I press play on my workout, I spend a little time on my yoga mat praying, journaling, and setting my intentions for the day. The only noise I hear is the rumbling of the furnace when it kicks on and off. I am at complete peace.

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A rare lunch break reading sesh.

Lately, though, I’ve been having trouble finding the balance between many things outside of this brief morning routine. Typically the topic of balance comes into focus when talking about work-life balance. Everyone wants more weekend, vacation time, PTO. I think I just need more day.

I struggle with the fact that five days a week I work a 9-hour day (with a lunch in between, sometimes) and come home with a depleted energy supply. It leaves little time to spend with my husband (why can’t we both work from home?), crochet (I’m working on an Etsy shop), write (one day I’ll finish a book), cook (do we really have to eat dinner every night?), read (there are so many books on my list), study Spanish (I want to be fluent by December), as well as the countless other things I want to do.

You may be thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot!” Yes, I have a very FULL life. It’s full of many wonderful people, things, hobbies – you name it. But it’s also overflowing with stress and anxiety when I can’t fit in ALL THE THINGS. Most days I overextend myself until around 11 pm when I can barely keep my eyes open. Then I wake up at 5 am the next day to do it all again.

What ends up happening is that I crave vacations to escape my everyday life. Everything is blissful while I’m away – no qualms about waking up just before noon, no deadlines to meet, and the biggest worry is whether to order a Pina Colada or Angry Orchard at the poolside bar. Then, when I come back to reality, it’s almost as if a deep depression settles in. I feel worse than before I left. The peace I sometimes feel melts into a despair that’s hard to break out of.

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Isn’t this heavenly?

I just experienced the cycle this week after I came back from a long weekend in Canada. I realized that I end up surviving – not living – until my next break. I can tell you that there are exactly 57 days until I board the plane for California – a place I have been dying to visit for about two decades. After that, there are two months until we drive to Florida for our annual vacation.

This is clearly not a healthy way to think, live, or rationalize. And I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way. So, I’ve decided to create a six-week Finding the Balance series, where I’ll share ideas to combat stress, live in the moment, and find a little zen in every day. We only get one life, so why not choose to be happy?

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A friend sent me this beautiful card. It inspired me to complete a second 100 Happy Days challenge.

Check back every Friday for the next six weeks. Let’s make this year our happiest yet!

Peace, Love, Zen

DS