welcome ... enjoy yourself

Showing posts with label simple joys. Show all posts
Showing posts with label simple joys. Show all posts

Thursday, October 30, 2014

life lately

Things have been very quiet around here lately, and I have really missed posting.  I've been under the weather lately and life has consisted of working (kind of) and sleeping (a lot).  I've been text complaining to my mom a lot, and to her credit she has been very patient with me.  A little long distance sympathy and smily emoticons are sometimes just what the doctor ordered.  

And because I don't have any good pictures or post worthy topics, here are a few fun things that have happened over the past week or so.  

  • Had a successful garden canning workshop.  This was our second annual workshop, and it was very much enjoyed by the few of us that were there.  We canned homemade apple butter, and it's been a big hit with all my friends who have tried it. 
  • Diego ate our camera memory card and all the canning workshop pictures that were still on it.  (This is not a fun fact, just a fact.)
  • I've rediscovered my love for Harry Potter.  I've watched the third, fifth, and sixth movies (all the ones I own), am reading the seventh book, and listening to the sixth book on tape.  I'm obsessed.  
  • A week after the canning workshop we cleaned up our garden plots for the season.  This was my last season as the garden director, and I was really happy to have a nice event as a mini send off.  
  • Christmas is only 55 days away!!!  I love fall, but I am so ready for Christmas time -- Christmas lights, trees, music -- can't wait!!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

enjoying the season

I'm a big fan of making lists.  It helps me be productive and prioritize what I'd like to do.  Being out of school for a few years now, having goals and check lists helps me feel like I'm accomplishing something and growing.

But sometimes, I need to put aside the to do lists.  I've been reminded of that this fall when I've been pretty worn out most nights when I get home and just can't seem to check off all the things I want to do.

I've been trying to shift my focus from quantity to quality, and I received some inspiration from Peach and Humble's Autumn on Purpose at just the right time.  This week's newsletter included this: 

For the last several years, I have been creating seasonal bucket lists packed with things I wanted to do before the season ended.  They were always fun things like "bake an apple pie" or "go the pumpkin patch" but they were a checklist of tasks, nonetheless.  More things-to-do stacked on top of my already long list of things-to-do.  And even though I wanted to do all of these bucket list items, I noticed I was starting to check off fewer and fewer tasks as the years went on.  Then, without fail, I would feel guilty and as though we had somehow missed the season because we didn't finish our list.

I read that and had an immediate "aha" moment.  I do the same thing every season and inevitably feel the same mixture of guilt and disappointment as each new season approached.  The solution?? Focus on a few simple traditions that you absolutely love to keep around as your seasonal rituals.  

I love taking the focus away from trying to accomplish every single thing you associate with a holiday or time of year and shifting it instead to a few simple traditions that bring you a lot of joy.

I started making a mental list of my favorite fall traditions, and I almost immediately had about ten things.  And I thought -- no -- that's the opposite of what I'm supposed to be doing with this exercise! Remember  -- less is more!!

After some deliberation, I narrowed my special fall traditions list to the following:

- Watch the Great Pumpkin (preferably while snuggling with beagles)
- Bake something delicious
- Enjoy the changing colors (snap pictures as desired) 
- Go apple/pumpkin picking

Everything else is icing on the cake.

In summary, goals and check lists have their place, but if I really want to enjoy a season, I need to allow myself to be fully present in it.  And that means not having a list of goals and expectations.  Wish me luck as I try this out the rest of autumn.

P.S. It's not too late to check out Peach and Humble's Autumn on Purpose series.  Sign up to receive a weekly inspirational newsletter in your inbox. 

What are your favorite fall traditions?  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

things i don't do

If you're a regular reader here, you know that I love writing goal lists.  I've shared a lot of goals over the past two years.  Writing down goals and envisioning new ways to grow and develop has been really healthy for me. 

Conversely though, if I focus too much on what I need to do or "should" do, I can feel overwhelmed.  So today, inspired by Robin Long and the #mindbodymat challenge, I'm sharing a list of things I don't do. 

Here's how Robin explains the "things I don't do" list:

The concept...has become a powerful tool in reminding myself of which things matter and which things don’t. Now that we have glimpses into other people’s lives through social media it can be really easy to compare and think that we need to do all the things that everyone else is doing.  But the good news is, we don’t have to. We get to pick and choose how we spend our time (for the most part). 

It’s a gift to be inspired. But every so often I have to come back to who I am and remind myself of  the things I do and the things I don’t do.  

I'm going to add to that description that my "things I don't do" list is not the same as a "things I should be doing" list.  By putting these things on my list, I'm releasing myself of responsibility for them.  This list is about letting go of things so that I have time for others.  
  • I don't ride my bike regularly.  I like to ride it occasionally, but I don't use it to commute.  
  • I don't make fancy meals.  About once a month I'll make a fancier dessert or food thing that requires a few extra steps.  But I keep my cooking extremely simple.
  • I don't DIY.  Although I admire people who do, I usually prefer to BIM (buy it myself).
  • I don't organize my photos.  They all sit on my computer in the order I uploaded them. 
  • I don't sew or make my own clothes. 
  • I don't return my library books on time. 
  • I don't keep up with painting my nails. 
  • I don't eat healthy all the time.  I like desserts, and I don't see that ever changing.
  • I don't achieve all my goals.  And that is the biggest release I could give myself.
That was one of the harder lists I've made.  I kept wanting to put things on that I don't do but want to do, which would have defeated the whole purpose of the list!  This is something I think I'll need to keep coming back to and reminding myself of when I'm "shoulding" myself too much. 

What would go on your "I don't" list? 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

my health vision

"So often we get stuck in a rut and just keep doing the same things day in and day out regardless of whether or not those things really line up with kind of woman we want to become. We focus on our daily tasks, we focus on our kids, we focus on work…we focus on everything but the future we are creating."
I've been participating in the Mind, Body, Mat challenge from The Balanced Life the past week - the short Pilates workouts and the daily self care challenges.  Today's challenge is to write a health vision of where I want to see myself in five years.  The instructions: "Take 10 minutes to write a health vision for your future.  Create a detailed picture of what kind of woman you want to be in 5 years.  Write in the present tense and dream big!" I'm sharing my health vision here for accountability.  I loved writing it, and I hope I can really live up to my vision for myself! 
Five years from now...
I feel whole and healthy.  The culmination of little efforts and changes over the past five years have resulted in a noticeable change in my overall health.  I was already a relatively healthy person, but I still felt out of shape, ate plenty of processed foods, felt anxious, and generally focused on avoiding sickness instead of building health. 
I started by doing enjoyable exercise, and finding ways to move my body everyday.  Continuing with roller derby taught me to love my body and to build strong muscles by shifting my focus to what those strong muscles would help me do.  Instead of exercising because I "had to," I exercised so that I could become a better skater with better skills.  Balancing out my roller derby workouts with Pilates, stretching, walking, and yoga helped me cross train and heal my body. 
As I exercised more, my body felt better - I stood up straighter, I could enjoy more activities, I had more energy.  And I just wanted more of those feelings.  So I started eating better and paying more attention to what I was putting into my body.  I cut out a lot of processed foods, made more of my own meals from whole foods, and saw foods as having healing potential for my body.  I even learned more about the medicinal qualities of certain foods and herbs and used them to help my body heal naturally.  I've gradually began craving food that is good for me instead of what I used to crave -- sugar, desserts, fats, and any other fatty, greasy foods.
Exercising and eating for health lead naturally to wanting to feel better emotionally and spiritually.  I had already learned a lot about self-care, and with this foundation I became happier and more centered.  My happiness came from feeling calmer and less anxious.  I took breaks from technology, lived more simply, focused on life giving relationships, and prioritized prayer and meditation.  I am so glad that I made the daily effort to get myself to where I am now instead of always thinking I would make time for it "someday."  Because now that someday is today, and I am happy with who I am. 
If you're feeling inspired, let me know what would be in your health vision!!  And take a look at The Balanced Life -- it's my favorite health and fitness website!

Friday, July 25, 2014

happy friday

Happy Friday!!  We made it!!  Today I will be happier than a bumble bee on a bright pink flower.  Hope you all have a great day and a wonderful weekend :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

a relaxing sunday

I've become a person who has a hard time slowing down and relaxing.  I'm almost constantly on the move (usually doing awesome things), and when I have a weekend off I usually fill it with chores, home improvement, and checking goals off lists.  

When a friend suggested spending a whole day (a.whole.day!) porch sitting, I thought it sounded fantastic, but I was also anxious.  Anxious!  About taking time to relax and do nothing!  It was like I thought all the things I had to do were more important than just being present, living and enjoying life.  So I took up the challenge (if you can call it that), and spent most of a day just hanging out.  And what a day it was. 

We allowed ourselves a few hours of productivity in the morning to get necessary things (like laundry) done and off our check lists.  Because the weather is beautiful, the laundry went outside to air dry.  Mmm.  Nothing like air dried, warm weather laundry. 

We chatted, enjoyed some lunch (with lettuce from the garden), ate homemade popsicles, read books, and took naps.  And wouldn't you know it?  The world didn't fall apart because we took several hours to just do things that made us happy.  In fact, I could feel myself slowly easing into the day and less and less worried about the responsibilities I was letting go of for the day.  And it was so nice and so necessary. 

We decided we couldn't change the flow of the day by cooking dinner, so went out to County Claire, one of my favorite restaurants in Milwaukee.

After dinner, we stopped by the community garden and harvested lettuce, baby kale, dill, and other herbs.  I swear the lettuce in this garden is like the loaves and fishes.  We've eaten bags and bags worth of lettuce, and there always seems like there's more left!

I completed my relaxing Sunday with having the first strawberry of the season.  It was perfectly sour and sweet and hit the spot.  

Ironically one of my four simple goals for June was to be present.  So technically I did check a goal off my list this Sunday.  Woops. 

What do you like to do to relax? 

Friday, May 16, 2014

when dreams come true

This morning I reread the post I wrote just after my husband Paul and I moved into our current apartment.  We've been in our new space for about nine months - on our own for the first time as a married couple - and it felt like a nice time to check in on how things have been going.  

I loved rereading my dreams for our apartment/relationship and seeing that it was still right in line with I wanted. I'm also very happy to say that lots of things I had hoped would happen in this apartment are.  

However -- I thought about writing a different post today.  I was going to write about how I've been struggling with one big dream Paul and I have - the one that involves pitter pattering of little feet.  After revisiting my dreams post, I decided to take another approach to today's reflection.

I'm always surprised when my deepest dreams and desires for myself come to fruition.  It's happened so many times for me, but it's still shocking (in an absolutely wonderful way).  Maybe it's only natural to feel nervous about the future and slightly scared that things won't work out the way you hope.  But over and over (and over!), life just seems to work out.  

Unexpected things certainly come up, both pleasant and difficult, but my life overall arcs towards the deepest things I hope for myself and those I love. 

Waiting, joyfully hoping, and practicing patience helps in expanding my view when things take longer than I expect or when my day to day life seems to be mired in not so dreamy things.  Dirty bathrooms, sticking to a budget, silly fights, dog poop, weeding...these are some of those messy details of life that can sometimes be great in their own way.  Especially when they're mixed with all of life's lovely little details: the quiet nights, the  kisses good morning and good bye, the road trips, the visits, the friend dinners, the small gestures of love.  These all help make my life special.  

When I look back at my life, the little details are what make up the big themes: love, family, great friends, community, happiness, growth.  I realize that I'm living the life of my dreams, and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.   

Things work out in in their own time.  And while I'm waiting for future things to work out, I'll be remembering to appreciate all the little details and all the big things that are working out right now.  

Happy Friday!  Hope you all have an excellent weekend!  Check back on Sunday for my new feature: my week in Instagrams.  Thank you for reading today!  Vulnerability and sharing dreams = scary!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

trip to the domes

This weekend I decided to have a "treat yo self" day.  Paul was working all weekend, I had just finished a crummy week, and I needed a nice day all to myself.  But even though I knew I needed some time to just indulge myself, I still felt like I needed permission to blow off housework and whatever else I "should" be doing.  Do you ever have a hard time doing the things you know you need to do to be happy?  I'm getting better about it, especially if the things I'm indulging in are experiences and don't cost much money.  So I got over the shoulds and just had a happy day. 

I think I've mentioned a few (dozen) times how happy flowers make me.  So naturally my treat yo self day included a trip to the Mitchell Domes, the large enclosed gardens in Milwaukee.  A genius planner decided to have a farmer's market there every Saturday in winter, so I was able to walk around the Domes and take pictures to my heart's content - all for free!  I arrived right at the end of the market so all the crowds were gone, but the admission price was still waved.  Sha-wing!!!

The tropical dome had flowers in bloom, running water, and real live birds.  You have no idea how happy it made me to walk around without my coat on and feel almost-real-sunshine on my face. 

I felt more drawn to the desert dome than I usually do.  I think it's because our extreme cold weather has me looking for some extreme heat.  Plus those cactus and succulants...lovely. 

My treat yo self day also included a vanilla rooibos latte from Starbucks, retail therapy at Target, seed shopping, Jimmy John's and checking a few errands off my list.  I know errands don't really seem like a treat, but checking big things off my to do list always makes me feel better and lighter.  I ended my day relaxing in our living room watching TV and movies with Paul while painting my little heart out.  What a fantastic, necessary day. 

What do your treat yo self days include?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

comfort in books

Most days I can find joy in my life very easily.  There's so much I have to be thankful for, and I have so much in my life that I enjoy.  But some days...well some days just suck.  And today is one of those days.  The return of cold weather is affecting me and some recent health problems and harmone swings are not helping.  

Now don't get me wrong.  My life is still great.  But even great lives can have a few annoying days mixed in. 

And on days like this, few things give me greater comfort than curling up with a good book.  There's times when a familiar title will console me like nothing else can.  Last night I came home after a looooong day and fell asleep reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  The night before my wedding (not a bad night by any means, but definitely an emotional, excited one) I read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  Sometimes a book like that, one I've read over and over and practically have memorized, is the only thing that will calm me down.  

Jo says something along these lines in the Little Women movie, that reading her favorite books is like coming home again.  I quite agree.  

Hope you're all holding up well in the end of winter season.  What brings you comfort on hard days?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

a short guide to a happy life

I just finished reading A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen.  It took all of about fifteen minutes to read its 50 short pages (there's lots of pictures and minimal text.  Quindlen summarized my philosophy on life right now better than I would be able to do.  Stated simply: life is meant to be lived and all of its little moments and details are meant to be enjoyed. 

Here's my favorite section.  I thought it was so good that it was worth sharing in its entirety.  
C'mon, let's be honest.  We have an embarassment of riches.  Life is good.

I don't mean in any cosmic way.  I never think of my life, or my world, in any big cosmic way.  I think of it in all its small component parts: the snowdrops, the daffodils; the feeling of one of my kids sitting close beside me on the couch; the way my husband looks when he reads with the lamp behind him; fettucine Alfredo; fudge; Gone with the WindPride and Prejudice.  Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of grey cement.  It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummonded, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won't happen.  We have to teach ourselves how to make room for them, to love them, and to live, really live.
What special moments make your life what it is? 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

a great life

Oh January.  This month is always full of high hopes and freezing cold days and nights.  I love the excitement of starting a new year, and I've done a better job the past couple years of enjoying myself despite the frigid temperatures.  But even though there are many parts of January I find joy in, I can't deny that it can also be a difficult month.  It's the month of realization that winter is really just starting, and we've got another few months of layers and low temps and boots.  

January usually requires a little extra effort to see the good in my life.  There's a reason that December ends with festivals of lights.  You need boosts of hope and good will in the darkest time of the year.  

Tonight it wasn't difficult at all to feel gratitude and be aware of all the love in my life.  

I came home three days this week to special packages - a belated Christmas present, a package of cookies, and a thank you letter with really kind words about my painting.  How did I get so lucky?  So tonight my heart is warm, and I'm watching a little Downton with Paul and our pups.  So simple, so lovely, so homey.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

yarn date

Tis the season for knitting!  It's the perfect time of year to curl up on the couch with a warm blanket, good movie, and a little knitting action to keep you busy.  I caught the knitting fever from my mom, who really knows her way around a pair of knitting needles.  I took some pictures of a few of her projects last year and received a few awesome knitted gifts from her for Christmas.  We went on a yarn date to a shop in St. Louis called Knitoriousand picked out some beautiful yarns for a few projects we'll be working on this winter.  Mom is doing another one of her long multi colored scarves, and I'll be attempting a scarf and blanket - and will be using round needles for the first time.  Wish me luck!  

It was tough to pick my yarns with so many beautiful options!  What are your winter hobbies? 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

remembering to be thankful

Sometimes I can act a little bratty and forget how many wonderful things I have in my life.  I think most of us have been there: seeing our lives with a negative lens instead of a gratitude one.  I see the big hole Diego chewed in my favorite coat -- instead of Paul's reaction to Diego: saying Diego sees himself as "Diego unchained" (inspired by Django Unchained).

There's plenty of other things in my life that I easily overlook because other things get in the way.  Like the bright colors of our dishes and that no matter what combination they're in, they always look great.  Like going to basketball games with Paul and finding free parking three blocks from the arena.  Like talking Thanksgiving menus with my mom (we're in charge of pie!).  Like the little measuring cups from my sister that make baking feel a little whimsical.  Like how easily my social calendar fills up now that we've been in Milwaukee a few years.  Like how lucky I am to go to a great job everyday.  Some things may seem silly or insignificant, but they're the things that make my life unique and mine

I feel more and more that practicing gratitude and culativating an attitude of joy can help reveal all the magic and beauty in everyday life.  It goes a long way to making an average life feel extraordinary.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

life is good

Check out all those beautiful smiles!  And check out that strange rabbi puppet!  That may be what happens when I get together with my awesomely amazing friends.   

I feel like I'm finally getting back on track with feeling genuinely happy.  I've been spending some great time with friends (see above) and have been noticing a little spark entering its way back in my life.  

There has been a lot of laughter around the apartment lately, and I didn't even realize it was missing until it reappeared.  Paul and I are slowly making our way through grieving the loss of a good friend, and though the grief is still present, it doesn't feel quite as heavy as it did a few months ago.  And now that we're living on our own, it feels like we're rediscovering how much we enjoy being together.  Hello second honeymoon!  In the future we'll call this phase in our lives "how Mary and Paul got their groove back." 

We've been sticking to our weekly date nights, hanging out with local friends, making future travel plans, and watching a lot of comedies.  It's been fantastic.  I've said no to watching almost anything that's not a comedy, because there will be plenty of time for watching serious and sad things, but now is not that time.  The happiness and laughter we're sharing are the exact medicine we need right now, and I'm embracing them for all their worth.  Isn't it great how laughing with people you love can make everything feel better?  

Hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

a walk in the park

Our neighborhood is home to an old, beautiful, ginormous park.  The park has a lagoon (above), a concert space, tennis courts, an empty pool, German statues, playgrounds, and an Urban Ecology Center location.  It's the most amazing park to have in our backyard.  I've been enjoying taking Pedro and Diego on walks here when I have a little extra time to spare.  I feel so calm in this park, and the boys love all the smells.  It's easy to forget we're in the city looking at the weeping willows and flocks of geese.  I'm looking forward to getting to know the park in the different seasons.  Fall is my favorite so far, but we'll see what winter and spring bring.  Do you have a favorite park?