My Shield of Sanity

My stress barrier is made of flexible titanium on the outside and soft creamy cashmere on the inside. Its strength knows no match when utilized to its full potential. Strong enough to deflect stress and negative influences, it is, all the while, comforting and soothing. Soft as a flower petal on my skin and scented with the aftermath of an April shower.  It’s my Shield of Sanity and it lives in my brain.

Be difficult, piss me off, step on my toes, I’m prepared to resist. I will close my eyes, take a deep breath and conjure up my Shield. I’ll wrap it around my shoulders and block the stress and unpleasantness hurling towards me.

Like most other weapons of war, my Shield doesn’t solve every problem and slay the enemy for good. It does offer, on demand, the space to relax my brain for a bit, recoup and think in a safe space. It holds stress at bay, erases the negative thoughts of others, and gets me back on track. Peacefulness and clarity of thought are my rewards. Bravo! my Shield of Sanity.

Note to readers: There is no patent protection for Shields of Sanity. Everyone can have one. 

 

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Get Your Summer On!

Spring is the most volatile season – but this year? Off the charts!  Offhand, can’t think of any region that was ‘normal’ volatile. Here in New York, it was gray and cold for way too long. Dreary with some teases of spring here and there. Then Wham! End-of-June/early July heat wave. In the 90’s, high humidity. Ugh! So bad, it put all those keratin hair treatments to the test!

The worst part of not being able to visualize that summer was close? Not getting those secondary summer plans in place. We all plan the July 4th holiday and vacations in advance, but what about the rest of the summer? Weekends, days off, evenings.

Summer. It’s here. Right now. It’s time to make some plans!

So, before too much time passes, put dinners and lunches on the calendar, with friends you haven’t seen for a bit. Just imagine…an al fresco meal, sipping some Rosé or Vino Verde and sitting back and enjoying some good company. Don’t leave it all to chance, people travel, make other plans.

Do a bit of research and make a list of some day trips in your area. On my list? Up to the Cloisters to see the other half of the Metropolitan Museum’s Heavenly Bodies – Fashion and the Catholic Imagination exhibit, a bike ride along the river up to the Lighthouse by the George Washington Bridge, a day exploring Governor’s Island, strolling Central Park, checking out the New South Street Seaport, the new Brooklyn Aquarium, another trip to the Bronx Zoo, and yes, beaches!

Load the Kindle now. There’s nothing worse than finishing a book on a plane or the beach and not having another one or ten ready. My book theme and reading list have been made and started. At least every other book will be a re-read, which I rarely do, and books that are related to some I’ve already read. I enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind four-or-so years ago. Spanish Gothic. Interesting. It was the first in the Cemetery of the Forgotten Book trilogy. Ready to return for the second story, The Angel’s Game.

I read on a Kindle, but especially in good weather, I always make sure the book I’m reading is also on my phone. You never know when you’ll pass a small, quiet park, with an empty bench in the shade. Sit. Read. Relax for a bit. Breathe in. Breathe out. Ahhhh…

Bike rides, walks, tennis, yoga in the park, softball… find someone to team up with and make a date.  Baseball games, soccer matches. Call a fellow fan, get your favorite team’s schedule and nail down some dates.

Winter. Spring. Summer. Fall. All the seasons have the same number of days. And even though we mentally start Summer at Memorial Day, almost a month early, it always seems like the shortest season. Flies by in a flash. That’s why it’s so important to sit back and decide, in advance, how you would like to remember it. Then, make it happen.

Spring — Don’t Stop, It’ll Soon Be Here.

Wish I knew how to imbed music into a post. If I did, Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop would be playing for you right now.

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here.

It’s hard to think ahead to Spring when the weekend brought more snow and the temperature was in the low-20s when I woke up this morning. It’s hard hard hard to keep moving ahead with my spring cleaning prep when it seems like it’ll never happen. My strategy of taking care of little bits at a time helps…as does the right playlist. Don’t Stop — $1.29 on iTunes….worth it.

To help get you started or, for a boost, read about my spring prep strategy – Spring Cleaning Prep – on the evox site (a new favorite of mine). While you’re on the evox site, be sure to see other hints and tips and good common sense about our spring cleaning rituals and a lot of other good stuff….explore, bookmark, register.

Getting Ready to be Ready.

Clocks change-over this weekend and Spring arrives shortly after. I should be starting my Spring routine. Hard to do in the middle of a snow storm. Still, I have to do something to start, to get my head in a new direction, to convince myself that Spring will come and it won’t still be snowing in July.

But what clutter can I attack sitting on the couch in the middle of a snowstorm, which is where I want to be right now? Computer clutter, of course.

Holiday and vacation pictures have been transferred to the hard drive, as have too many pictures of snowy scenes. Winter meals have been documented.  So, my first clutter task is to organize hundreds of pictures, deleting the blurry ones, the dupes (I love burst mode), creating new albums and making sure everything is backed up. It always takes longer than I think it will.

On to clearing out the mail box, reading, saving, deleting, unsubscribing to mails I don’t want anymore. I’ll hit the reading list next, actually reading the articles I’ve saved or deleting them, then move on to the way-too-many bookmarks that have built up in the file. And, though I try to save things electronically (Evernote is my favorite clipper), there are still clippings sitting in a desk drawer. The JotNotPro app is a scanner I can use on my iPhone that is quick and easy and useful. Love it.

For the fun part, on to iTunes. Soon enough I’ll be on the river bike path and new playlists are in order. Spring music…happy, bouncy, full of anticipation.

This start should get my head in the right mindset when Spring does finally appear and bigger jobs will need to be dealt with. But for now, clearing clutter from the couch suits me just fine.

Breakfast in Bed

I love breakfast in bed…actually lunch and dinner too. Bon Appétit recently ran an article about it, so of course I was interested. While I’d be the first to focus on the food, like they did, they missed badly by not going much further.

Like a good restaurant, ambiance is important. Taking notes from my Bed Camp strategy, an uncluttered room is important as are lots of pillows to lean against. A soothing playlist also helps set a relaxing atmosphere.

A good bed tray, big enough to hold the plates, sturdy enough not to tip over and big enough to stand over your legs is an absolute must. I even have a set of plates just for the bedroom. Don’t forget to bring in a carafe of coffee with cream and sugar, to avoid having to get up for refills.

Most important, leave yourself lots of time, to relax and recline after you’ve enjoyed your morning treat. Let the peace and contentment linger as long as you can.

See the article for the Bon Appétit suggested recipes —

http://www.bonappetit.com/entertaining-style/holidays/article/breakfast-in-bed-isnt-cheesy?mbid=nl_02132015_Daily&CNDID=24316568&spMailingID=11628886&spUserID=NzUzOTA3NzU5MjYS1&spJobID=443564364&spReportId=NDQzNTY0MzY0S0

Enjoy Your Snow Day!

Snow on and off for most of the day. Now, just past 11PM and the blizzard is kicking in. New York has been shut down like never before for a winter storm. All traffic off the streets, subway and commuter trains out of service, bridges and tunnels off limits and all parks closed. Unlike other natural disasters, like tornados and earthquakes, we’ve had a few days to plan and prepare.

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This morning, while others were grabbing bread and milk and snow salt off the supermarket’s shelves, I stood in line at the butcher for a big old chicken. Tomorrow morning, after shoveling however much snow falls, I’ll take out the big pot and start the stock.

There’s nothing more calming for me than the flavors of a big pot of stock wafting throughout the house. Yarn, afternoon nap, good book, Netflix…Bed Camp time. Don’t fight it, don’t let it ruffle your feathers. Give in and just enjoy a relaxing, peaceful day at home.

“In it for the long haul….at least for now.”

The words above summarized a good friend’s thoughts about her job, after weighing the pros and cons of her current position. “For the duration…at least for now”.

That phrase stuck in my head for days. The little voice in my head just wouldn’t let it go. It’s the same little voice that urges me to make New Year’s resolutions, which I rarely do. But I’ll admit it got me thinking. What in my life could be described the same way? Was I just coasting with some things, waiting for something better to come along? Was I sticking with easy things, not taking the next steps to make some things more meaningful?

We all get into ruts sometimes, go on auto pilot, don’t spend enough time being conscious and mindful of what we’re doing and why. So, okay little voice, I have a New Year’s resolution this year.

I promise I will explore where I am in my life, prioritize the importance of things I’m doing, make lists and determine what changes have to be made, especially in my ‘at least for now’ column. I am going to give myself more time to think and dream and reflect, and imagine the kind of life I want to live ‘for the duration’.

Happy New Year!