YAWN….

My Life is Boring and I’m OK With That!

OK, so I don’t actually mean that my life is boring. We still have our fun. We get together with our friends, go out to dinner regularly, and when we are feeling particularly crazy we may venture down town for a night on the town (aka an early dinner and back home before midnight).

So I guess what I am actually saying is that life today is quite different than it was a few years ago. Different how?

Lets just say that I now anxiously await Friday nights so I can have a much needed date night with my couch and my DVR (and my fiance of course). Honestly though, by the time five o’clock rolls around the sweat pants are on. Wine may be involved, but that just ups my chances of passing out before the 10 o’clock news even comes on. I can’t tell you how many times we have tried to watch a movie on a Friday night and end up falling asleep less than halfway through. There are so many movies I have just given up on..

We also tend to eat dinner a lot earlier these days. Sometimes we just barely miss the early bird special. Screw 8 pm or 9 pm dinner times, I want my dinner early so I can get in bed at a reasonable hour. I get cranky if I don’t get my full 8 hours a night.

It is kind of funny to look back on my life, even a year ago, and see how much it has actually changed. No longer will you find trekking home from the bars at 3 am on a weeknight. Shit, you won’t even find me out that late on a weekend.  Honestly, I haven’t even been out to a bar in months. It is so much better waking up on a Saturday or a Sunday not being hungover. I get so much more done!! Did you know that you can actually be productive on the weekends instead of sleeping all day?

Since this post has basically turned into why it is so much better becoming antisocial  staying in instead of going out and getting shit faced all time. Here are some other pros:

  • Don’t have to go through the trouble of deciding what to wear.
  • You don’t have to go through the whole process of getting ready. I am sorry, but showering, drying your hair, putting on makeup, and that whole deal is such a pain in the ass. 
  • Spend less money. Which means you have more for online shopping! 
  • You can catch up on all the shows you missed during the week.
  • You don’t have to make small talk with people you really don’t like anyway. Seriously, small talk is the worst. I don’t want to stand there pretending to be interesting in what some random acquaintance has to say. Especially after working all week! It’s exhausting. 
  • Netflix! So many shows to binge watch.

If none of those reasons convince you, just wait until you get older and start to feel like you are dying the next day after you have been out all night the night before. Trust me eventually you start feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck. A very large truck.

Ooohhhmmm….

Once again life has been extremely crazy. Work is as busy as ever, I’m getting ready to move out of the city, and most recently I got engaged so wedding planning has been added to my never ending to do list. I am beyond thrilled, but I never realized how much went into planning a wedding. (Ecstatic in fact!)

Anyway, last week I was able to escape work to attend a meditation seminar and I thought I would share some information I learned about meditation and a little article I wrote about the seminar. Because why not? Everyone can use some relaxation and rejuvenation. I know I can!

Here are some things I learned from the session:

Life can be extremely stressful. Each day we are met with multiple responsibilities from work, family life, and even social engagements. Week after week we try to cram everything we can into our already jam-packed schedules; leaving us exhausted, worried, and honestly at times, completely overwhelmed. While you can’t quit your job or neglect your family obligations, there are some things you can do to help relieve some of your stress.

One thing that many people have found to be very helpful at stress reduction is meditation. Originally meant to help individuals gain a deeper understanding of life, today meditation is used for relaxation and stress reduction. In fact the practice of regular meditation is linked to many benefits including increased self-awareness, increased focus and discipline, stress and anxiety reduction, increased emotional stability, helps you think more clearly, and helps your overall physical health. When you take a little bit of time out of each day to meditate you can begin to clear your mind from the abundance of information that tends to build up each day and causes us stress.

Through techniques such as meditation,  you learn how to quiet your mind so that you can break free from overwhelming stress and get what you really want out of life.

On Monday February 16, 2015, I attended a meditation session at the Junior League of Chicago (JLC), where we learned about a few different types of meditation. These different types of meditation only take a few minutes of our day, but can do so much for our emotional health and overall well being. The four different types of meditation we covered included breath meditation, guided visualization, mantra or affirmation meditation, and finally yoga nidra, or sleep yoga. Each one is discussed in more detail below.

Breath meditation: The overall purpose of breath meditation is to calm the mind and develop a sense of inner peace. With some simple breathing we are able to change the chemistry of our minds, creating more space and making us think more clearly.

Guided visualization: Based on the concept that the mind and body are connected, this technique uses thoughts and suggestions that guide your mind toward a relaxed, focused state. When you imagine the details of a safe, comfortable place you are able to reach a state of complete relaxation. To help with the visualization it is common to use an instructor, tapes, or scripts.

Mantra or affirmation meditation: In this type of meditation you silently repeat a thought or phrase over and over in your mind to help prevent distracting thoughts. Mantra meditation is more challenging, but it is good for building strength and power in your thoughts.

Yoga Nidra: Also known as sleep yoga, this type of meditation brings about an incredible sense of calmness, quietness, and clarity. It is one of the deepest types of meditation where you go into a deep sleep, past the dreaming state, but still remain awake.

At first you may find that no matter what you do you are unable to keep your mind focus, but the idea is to start small and gradually add more time as you go. You will never be able to completely stop certain thoughts from entering your mind, but with practice you can create more space or focus, giving you more control over your mind.

So if you are looking for a way to focus better, stress less, get better sleep, and be a better partner meditation may just be the answer.

Break from Reality

As I predicted this Monday it was especially hard to get back into my normal work routine, made even more difficult because taking a vacation caused my work load to pile up. Needless to say my to do list was extra long this week and the deadlines were quickly approaching. Hello stress!

Another problem was waking up early (or what was my normal weekly wake up time) because I took full advantage of sleeping in while up in North Carolina. And what is this, no mid day nap?

Anyway, back to the point of my post. When I was on vacation I decided that no matter how busy I am I am going to make a point of taking some time for myself to step back and relax. While I wish I could go on vacation everyday few weeks, that simply isn’t possible so I have to rely on other ways to relax.

Here are some things I do to relax or things that just make me smile and forget about my hectic day, if only for a moment.

Soak in a nice bath with soothing scents and bath oils
Give myself a facial complete with a soothing face mask
Curl up in comfy sweats with a good book
Light a scented candle and just sit enjoying a cup of tea
Sit out on my back porch with some new magazines
Baking something delicious
Going to yoga
Talking a long walk with my dog Winston

These are just a few things that I enjoy that let me step back from my daily responsibilities and allowing me to enjoy some much needed alone time. Another thing I do is buy a bouquet of flowers every week and put it on the dresser in my room. Flowers are so pretty and smell so great that you can’t help but smile. By placing them in my bedroom this way I can wake up every morning and see fresh flowers. Now isn’t that a great start to a day.

What do you do to relax and take time for yourself?

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Fresh flowers

Fresh Air and Relaxation

I just got back from spending 5 days in Boone, North Carolina. While I am glad to be back in my own bed I am sure going to miss the fresh mountain air and the relaxation time. Here are a few pictures from my trip. Enjoy

 

Busting out of here

Busting out of here

He really is a good flyer he just hates his carrying case. Once he’s on the plane he just sleeps on my lap.

Flying buddy

Flying buddy

All comfy on the flight..

Are we finally here?

Are we finally here?

Yay, we have arrived! (Now let me out)

Hello North Carolina

Hello North Carolina

Just look at that sky..

My Backyard for the trip

My Backyard for the trip

Not a bad view for the long weekend.

Ah the view

Ah the view

Even though I was on vacation I took full advantage of the grill. Had jerk chicken one night and grilled beef kabobs another. I love grilling and unfortunately I don’t have one at my apartment. Obviously wine was needed.

Dinning al fresco

Dinning al fresco

Kababs

Kabobs

Fog over mountains

Fog over mountains

Although it rained, it was so relaxing and nothing can beat the smell of fresh rain.

Foggy

Foggy

All in all, even though I mostly lounged around, it was a great trip. I got to catch up on some much needed sleep and me time. However, tomorrow is Monday and then it’s back to my hectic schedule. What I took away from this weekend of solitude is that even though I may not be able to escape on a regular basis I can still set aside time to recharge and take time to myself more often.

Have a great start to the week. I’m off to curl up with a book.

A City Escape

For the past few days I have been hanging out in the mountains in Boone, North Carolina. I haven’t had a vacation in awhile so I thought I would take a long weekend to get away from the city and just relax. I love Chicago, but sometimes I just need a break from it all.

I packed up some books, mud masks, a bunch of comfy clothes, and Winston, then off we went. Other than the smelly teenager who sat next to me on the plane the trip went pretty smoothly. Winston slept the whole flight while I started my vacation off with a good book.

I’ve got to say that this trip was exactly what I needed. I have done practically nothing for the past few days and have not felt the least bit guilty. Usually if I lounge around for a day I feel bad because I think I should be doing something productive.

Not this week!

I have slept in late, taken a few naps, dined outside on the deck in my pj’s while looking at the stars, watched some old movies, and did some reading. Winston is just happy that there is lots of grass up here instead of his typical cement potty area. It has been raining the past two days, but I haven’t even cared. I have just been curling up on the deck on the love seat bundled in a blanket and listening to the rain. It’s so quiet up here. It’s been wonderful to doze in and out while breathing in the fresh air and listening to the rain fall. I have a feeling this Monday is going to be difficult.

Back to napping on the deck, tomorrow I go back to reality. Hope everyone had a good weekend.

Where Did Relaxation Time Go?

I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes I feel like I need a weekend from my weekend. Lately my weekends have been packed with numerous social engagements and errands that I haven’t had time to get to during the week. I shove a ton into two work free days (unless I’m lucky enough to have a lazy Sunday). Then without fail every Monday I wake up exhausted and spend the rest of the day running on empty. Sometimes I feel like the weekends wear me out more than a whole week a work..

You would think that spending time away from the office with friends, sleeping in, and not having to actually do any work would let my mind relax and allow me to wake up refreshed on Monday ready to take on a new week.

NOPE.

Just like every other Monday I woke up late and completely unmotivated. I love my job, but I was just not ready to get out of bed. I could have used another day or two to recuperate. Sunday is simply not enough of a buffer. (Thankfully I have a vacation coming up next week!)

I hope that everyone had a good fourth of July! I know it’s only Monday, but I know exactly what I am doing next weekend:

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!