On this election day, I’m inspired by A Cup of Jo’s post on simple pleasures. After the 2016 election (a night I spent crying in my bathtub with a panic attack), I find it important to balance my hunger for change on a large scale with gratitude for the simple things on a personal level. I vote, I volunteer in my city, I donate to candidates/organizations that represent my values, I work a job that aligns with making the world a better place. I read fluffy novels, cuddle with puppies, spend too long figuring out what color to paint my nails, decorate my house to look like a Christmas elf threw up on it. Today is one of those days when I’ve done what I can for the big things (for this tiny moment in time). And now I wait. And focus on the little things. The small pleasures in life that bring joy and gratitude and remind me that life goes on. That both the big things and the little joys can coexist. Here are my simple pleasures:
When the stars align and I make the perfect cup of David Rio iced chai to taste just like the coffee shop version.
Kissing my dogs behind the ears.
The woods near our home on a cold, misty morning.
Scout carrying a too large stick in her mouth on her morning walk.
Shadow sleeping on my stomach while I watch tv.
Jetlag that causes me to wake up at 5 AM and enjoy dawn.
Finally getting a notification that a much wanted book is available at the library.
Reading about first love.
Finding sweatpants that hide dog fur.
Seeing Lord of the Rings come up on the tv guide.
The smell of cold air after a long, hot summer.
Finding something I thought I lost.
Crossing off items on my to do list (in a journal I bought in London).
Watching videos on Youtube on a lazy Sunday morning.
A truly excellent glazed donut.
“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” – Oscar Wilde
It’s officially fall here in Dallas (it actually feels downright winter like today), which is wonderful considering what a brutal summer we had. I really enjoy coming up with seasonal bucket lists — it allows me to stay present in the season we’re in and milk every ounce of joy out of the fleeting months of cooler weather. With a list handy, there really isn’t the opportunity to ever say, “I’m bored.” So here are the 20 things I’m hoping to do this lovely season.
1. Bake an apple pie from scratch (go to crust recipe)
2. Make a fall sangria (like this or this)
3. Watch Hocus Pocus (for the first time!)
4. Have a Harry Potter marathon (with homemade butterbeer?)
5. Go to the Dallas Arboretum to see the pumpkins
6. Make upside down pumpkin cake as much as possible (especially for Thanksgiving!)
7. Adopt a cool looking pumpkin from the pumpkin patch
8. Rock muted green nails (my color for the season)
9. Go on a hike and see fall leaves
10. Pass out candy on Halloween
11. Go to a football game
12. Thrift a sweater (I’m loving “confetti” sweatshirts; this is the one I snagged! but I also love this. and this.)
13. Make spiced cider in the crockpot
14. Bake Halloween candy cookies
15. Get warm donuts on a weekend morning + enjoy with hot cider
16. Go to an Ocktoberfest event
17. Take pictures of my dogs in Halloween costumes (I doubt they’d stand still for this)
18. Make up my own fall latte so I don’t have to go to Starbucks
19. Visit some place new with fall foliage (just got back from Ireland… travel guide coming soon!)
20. Do a fall clean out of household items and really ask myself if an item is necessary, useful, or beautiful? If not — out it goes.
Read this article the other day about how self care has become associated with spending money to feel good about ourselves. And hey, sometimes, it works. I get a monthly massage to keep my back from falling apart. Expensive? Yep. Worth it? Also yes. I also enjoy skincare and makeup and manicures and all that stuff. I’ve had expensive gym memberships. BUT. At it’s core, self care is not about the stuff. It’s about the less sexy things that are crucial to your mental health. For me, it’s the following:
- Not making too many social plans in one week. As an introvert, I need solid recharge time. 1-2 times a week is great. Having something every other day — not so much. Therefore, I meticulously manage my Google Calendar
- Reading at least an hour every day. Reading is truly therapy for me. I find it to be a meditative experience and I see a major difference when I’m not in the middle of reading a book on a particular day. Therefore, I ALWAYS have a book handy AND more books in the library queue for once I finish the current one.
- Cutting out people who make me feel kinda crappy. There have been once great friends as well as social acquaintances over the years who I’ve hung out with out of a sense of obligation. Even if spending time with these people would leave me feeling drained and unhappy afterwards. I don’t believe that friend or acquaintance breakups need to be A THING. I think it’s obvious when something fizzles out. Self care for me involves letting this happen and to be okay with it.
- Taking my anxiety/depression medication. For me, it’s a need and makes a massive difference in my well being. Nothing to be ashamed of.
- Waking up early and working out at home (no $ required). Even if I don’t want to since I know I always feel great afterwards.
What are your mental health self care must haves?
One of my favorite books is called Daily Rituals: How Artists Work and I LOVE a good routine or ritual. This is especially important for the mornings. Starting the day off in a whirlwind of chaos is just setting you up for an even more chaotic day. A calm, mindful morning where you and your family are put first is important for everyone’s sanity. Over the years, I’ve nailed down the routine that works best for me and sets me up for success. So find what works for you and tell me about your morning routine!
6:30 AM: Get woken up by my 14 year old dog. Take her out and get her fed. Meanwhile, peruse my phone for major news and scan my email/calendar for any pressing to dos to keep in mind for the day. Brush teeth. Make bed.
7:00 AM: Take out our 1 year old dog and go on our daily 1.5 mile walk with my husband in tow. Bonus: this doubles as my daily dose of nature and vitamin D.
7:30 AM: Feed doggo 2 and put up any dishes/pots/pans that have dried overnight.
8:00 AM: 30 minute workout upstairs in our home gym (we have a Bowflex, stationary bike, some free weights, yoga mats, and my old tv from my single days). None of this is necessary for a solid home workout though. Many days, I utilize some really solid workout videos from YouTube (and, of course, Yoga with Adriene). So truly, all you need is a mat and a wifi connection!
8:30 AM: Quick shower and skincare routine. Throw on some comfy clothes. Make an iced chocolate chai (David Rio chai + Trader Joe’s chocolate milk on ice).
9:00 AM: Settle in to my desk for the day and write down a short list of the things I HAVE to get done.
And… there you have it! This routine helps me focus for the day and generally helps me feel like I have my shiz together. What’s the one thing you need to do every morning?