Naps and Other Gifts We Can Give Ourselves

The gifts we give ourselves have an incredible impact on the quality of our lives. More than what others do, what we do for ourselves gives us more confidence and creative energy each day. And so often, this process begins with the simple permission to enjoy what is already available to us.

Little indulgences can seem like luxuries when we are worn out and frazzled, or when the winter blahs set in. Here are ten fun little things you can do for yourself (really it is OK – permission granted!) just to let you know how special you are:

  1. Take a nap. This is a luxury few of us afford ourselves. But by taking the time to rest a little bit – even 15 or 20 minutes is enough – we regain more productivity later. If you are tired, rest. Your body and mind will thank you.
  2. Practice art. Those of us who are not artists probably do not take time on a regular basis to create. We may secretly wish we could paint, knit, draw, or sew, but have never allowed ourselves to experiment or learn. But each of us is creative and making things – playing with art – can be very freeing. It slows down time and allows us to be in the moment.
  3. Dance a little bit. Nothing puts me in a better mood than to put on some fun music and dance a little. Sounds silly? I am sure that it is, but I feel great afterwards, so who cares? Try the songs you danced to in college! It will bring back some happy memories, too.
  4. Meditate. Meditation is a simple act that can calm your mind and spirit and help you let go of worries. If you are not a practitioner, simply sit comfortably, close your eyes and relax. I often picture myself next to a river. As worrisome thoughts come, I gently catch them, place them in the river and watch them float upstream.
  5. Listen to a story. My new go-to when I have chores to do is to listen to a story. We forget as adults how fun it is to be read to! I use Audible, but most libraries also have systems for downloading audio books for free. Cleaning and doing laundry will never be the same!
  6. Go on a treasure hunt. A special treat is to go to an antique or resale shop just to browse for “treasure”. I set a dollar limit and make a short game of it, seeing what special something I can find for that amount. If I don’t want to spend, I simply browse, looking for ideas. Either way, it is fun!
  7. Enjoy a mini-facial. It doesn’t take much to feel pampered. With clean skin, pour hot water and a drop or two of essential oil in a bowl and place a towel over your head to trap the steam. Let your face steam a bit and cleanse and moisturize. You’ll look and feel refreshed!
  8. Watch a foreign movie. Why a foreign movie? Foreign films often offer an entirely different perspective on life, as well as a glimpse of other cultures that can refresh your way of thinking. Think of it as a mini-vacation.
  9. Go for a walk. A walk as short as around the block or as long as on a trail in the nearest forest preserve can do wonders! Fresh air, movement, and time to think is always a luxury.
  10. Write in a gratitude journal. Only have a minute? Use that minute to count your blessings. A gratitude journal can be as detailed or as simple as you like. I like to write five things for which I am grateful at the end of each day, and it always makes me feel content.

Urge to Purge: Simple Strategies for Winter Cleaning

Sorting clothes by color or style helps you easily find the duplicates that can be donated.

Once the holiday decorations are put away, I am always by how much clutter I’ve shoved in drawers and closets. Like many others, as I put things back in order, I have a strong urge to purge. Why wait for spring? These long cold months provide the perfect opportunity for true winter cleaning!

Purging does not have to be as ruthless as Marie Kondo’s “tidying up” can feel, but it should follow the same principles. For example, the reason for doing it should be clear to you. In my case, I look at my winter clean-up from two perspectives: I am giving myself room and space for more good things to come into my life, and I am letting others have what I no longer use or need – I can part with things more easily if I think, “It is someone else’s turn for this now.”

By taking the time to be thoughtful in your approach, a winter clean-up can even be fun! Here are four simple strategies for an easier winter clean-up:

  1. Clean by category – Rather than trying to do your whole closet at once, try just going through one type of clothing. For example, sort through all your jeans or blouses. Pull everything from one category out and lay it on the bed or in a large enough space where you can see it all. It is easy to see the duplicates then and recognize patterns in your shopping that could help prevent clutter later. For example, when I did this recently I found I had 7 or 8 French marine type tops – the white ones with vertical navy blue stripes. Go figure! But now I am much more aware of how I am drawn to this style and can (hopefully) restrain myself when shopping.
  2. Clean by space – One source of embarrassment to me is how completely ridiculous my “junk” drawers are. I have four drawers in the kitchen that hold what some would call “junk”, though I can say that two are probably semi-organized. At least I know when I open them that I’ll be able to close them again, and that what is stored inside is there for a reason. The other two? Both are “catch-alls” – places where things I don’t know what to do with go to die. I have no doubt that there is a better way to organize all this stuff, so I will take all four drawers and empty them on the table, where I can sift through everything and organize it by drawer, and see what can go or be stored somewhere else entirely. My guess is that I’ll gain at least one whole drawer of space this way!
  3. Clean with fresh insight – I realized when I had some work on the house done recently that my most disorganized spaces had one thing in common. When I moved in four years ago, I had put things I didn’t know what to do with into cabinets or drawers wherever, resulting in certain storage areas where nothing could be found easily and nothing made sense. Rather than just reorganize what was there, I pulled it all out, and thought about each item, asking the questions, “Do I really need this? Will I use it? Can I live without it?’ I looked at what remained with fresh eyes and then rearranged it in the same spot or in places that made more sense, and where I was more likely to remember to use it!
  4. Clean with patience – Your home (and mine) did not become disorganized and cluttered overnight, and to expect it to become clean and uncluttered that quickly is to set yourself up for failure. Rather, use the long winter months to really look at your possessions, ask those three questions, make a trip or two to the Container Store for storage solutions that will work for you, and take a break when you need one. Make a game of it – a cup of cocoa, some music, and those junk drawers are waiting!

New Year, New You? A Different Resolution

Woman looking at mountains, making resolutions for her New Year
Let’s make a different sort of resolution this year!

The first weeks of January are filled with articles about New Year’s resolutions, setting goals, and making promises to yourself – all of which will help you start the New Year on the best foot possible. Many of them have the same title as this piece does, in fact! Setting resolutions begins with the premise that there is something lacking in the existing you. By setting the right resolutions, you can become a new and improved version of yourself.

Like most people, I like the idea of starting fresh, of having a clear jumping off point for starting something new. But this year I noticed that when people are asked about their New Year’s resolutions, they often look outside themselves for something to add to their already full repertoire of things to do or be.

But what if we look at ourselves and like what we see? Would looking within at the start of the New Year and just celebrating what we love about ourselves actually make a bigger and better difference in the year to come than setting yet one more resolution that we are likely to break?

So, I’ll start …

I love that I make time each day to take care of myself. I may not always work out hard or skip the sweets, but every day I exercise in some way and eat healthy foods, too.

I smile at myself each day, a habit I got into a while back and that I find really does lift my mood and make me feel optimistic about my future.

I am taking more risks than I ever have before, and finally focusing on what matters most to me – family and friends; meaningful work; and my home as nurturing a place as possible, not only for others, but for me, too.

This year, I am not setting any more resolutions. I already know what to do – I have set the same resolutions for my entire adult life! Instead I am going to focus on what I already do that is good and whole and true, and just try to do more of that each day. I think 2020 will be a very good year for me!