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.

Deciding to Go Gray: Is There a Silver Lining?

Going gray can be a beautiful thing!

To go gray, or not to go gray… that is the question. And is there a silver lining to the answer?

“I’ve always said that gray hair looks good on everybody but yourself. To me, it makes me look old.” ~ Kenny Rogers

I have colored my hair since I was in high school. At first it was just for fun: a little Sun-In here, a few highlights there (until Sun-In turned my hair a bright orange… and those goofy caps where the hairdresser had to pull tiny strands through the little holes all over your head became… well, just goofy.) When I started finding gray hairs in my thirties, I used grocery store boxes, lemon juice concoctions and pricey salon services. By my forties, I began all-over coloring in earnest. I liked experimenting with my hair, and seeing what I looked like as a redhead or a brunette, when my natural hair color was a dark blonde.

Now in my fifties, keeping the “skunk stripe” at bay has required a trip to the salon every three weeks! While I don’t think my hair clashes yet with my face, I have grown tired of spending a couple of hours every three weeks essentially trying covering up the person I am becoming. In other words, if being gray is inevitable, is it better to keep fighting it or just learn to accept it and maybe even love it?

“I want to be who I am now. I rock my gray hair because it is a blessing. I colored mine for many years, but I’ve gotten compliments from so many men and women about being brave enough to sport the gray. I even wear it on the cover of my record. I am comfortable in my skin and I want listeners to feel that as well.” ~ Regina Belle

I started planning for this change because I wanted it to be gradual and to not have super-obvious roots. (And all along the way, I have maintained the right to go back to full color if I don’t like it.) But the process I chose has been gradual and easy. I started by lightening my hair to a more platinum shade very gradually for a few months each time I had the roots touched up. At the same time, maybe every other month, my stylist added platinum highlights. Now I could see what it would look like, too, because it was so light in areas that i could imagine it silver. I was getting lots of compliments, and actually began looking forward to the change. Apparently my old color really didn’t match my face as well as I thought it did!

After a couple of months, I stopped using permanent color and started using a platinum toner all over. Then just a purple shampoo to help blend in where the roots have grown out. With about two inches of outgrowth now, it is pretty well blended. I will continue to get highlights ( I think) every three months or so until it is fully grown out. I am excited to see the finished product!

The silver lining to all this? It feels good to just relax into being me. And if I end up looking like the woman in this picture, I will be just as happy, too!

Recipe to try: Le Pain Quotidien Chia & Coconut Pudding

A couple of weeks ago I was in the mood for chia seed pudding, something I had tried in Denver with my youngest daughter (shout out to Molly!) and loved so much that it took on a mythical quality…especially since I could never recreate it at home.  But this day was different.  I found a recipe in the Le Pain Quotidien cookbook by Alain Coumont and Jean-Pierre Gabriel (2013) that was topped with a beautiful passion fruit sauce.  With only four ingredients total, this recipe seemed easy, doable, and delicious.  If it came out anywhere near as yummy as the pudding I’d had in Denver, it would be a keeper!

The pudding was simple:  5 T chia seeds stirred into a 14 oz. can of coconut milk.  My problems with chia seed pudding in the past all had to do with it staying too runny, but this time it started to set immediately.  I poured it into ramekins and popped them in the fridge.  It was completely set in a couple of hours, and even though I did not serve it until the next day, it’s good to know i can be made more quickly (should I be desperate for a little fix…)

There was no passion fruit at the store, though, so that tasting will have to come later.  I replaced the passion fruit with a combination of yellow mango, raspberries, and pomegranate seeds.  The recipe called for the fruit to be added to 4 T agave syrup, brought to a boil and then immediately reduced to a low simmer for 5 minutes.  The combination of the sweet mango with the sharper raspberries and pomegranate was delicious, though I might use fewer pomegranate seeds if I did it again. I think this is one dessert where a wide variety of fruits could be used, with delicious results!

I would definitely make this one again!  Here is a link to the full recipe:

http://www.lepainquotidien.com/recipe/chia-seed-coconut-pudding-recipe/#.WRpdJ9zY-t8