Tag: slow down

Embrace the Gifts of “Snowing” Down

I’ve always been fascinated by what happens where I live when a snowstorm threatens.

Milk, bread, toilet paper, and bottled water are nowhere to be found. The frozen section in the grocery store has been wiped out. And liquor stores enjoy a pre-blizzard bump in business as fears of wine shortages consume our minds. They were so busy, they probably didn’t even check if half their customers were using a fake id (more here). I feel so bad for those who weren’t quick enough and were only left with a choice between ouzo or $50 champagne. I’m so glad I have one of those wine club memberships, I don’t know I could survive the winter period without mulled wine. I also forgot to get my second cousin a Christmas gift so I’ve set one of my bottles of wines from my subscription aside so I can give that to her. This subscription is a lifesaver in more ways than one! I think she’ll love the wine that much that I’m even deciding to look for some personalized wine glasses that I can gift to her next year. Can you think of anything better than drinking some of the best wine in the most beautiful personalized glassware? I can’t. And all of this can be done online, so I don’t have to worry about venturing out into the cold. So, we prepare to hunker down for an indefinite amount of time, not knowing when our cars will be unburied or when the roads will be safe to drive.

But something else happens in the midst of a blizzard.

When Mother Nature decides to dump nearly three feet of snow on us in 24 hours, our chronic busyness, neverending to do lists, and work pressures suddenly become less important.

The weather has a way of causing us to slow down, or, in this case, “snow” down. It gives us time to focus more on what we really want to do and less on what we feel like we have to do.

We take time to think, play, read, explore, unwind, cook, laugh, and spend time with those closest to us. We actually see and talk to our neighbors…and meet new ones.

Over the past 48 hours, I’ve taken time to enjoy the gifts of “snowing” down. I wanted to share them with you to inspire you to make time for the things that matter, even after the threat of snow has subsided and we return to life as it was before.

Play. On Friday night, as Bill and I were preparing to watch what would end up being the complete series of Making a Murderer on Netflix, he asked, “Do you want to pull the mattress out into the living room while we watch TV?” No sooner had he asked then we were dragging our spare mattress, pillows and blankets out onto the living room floor to set up camp for the weekend. A small Nerf gun (yes, they still make them) also made its way into our time together that afternoon. I felt like a kid again doing something so fun and out of the ordinary.

Explore. On Saturday night, once it had stopped snowing, we trekked out into the fluffy white mounds and snow banks, wandering around the streets of Lutherville for over an hour. We walked in the middle of the unplowed road. We made our way to the park near our house, where we trudged knee-deep through the snow to get to the jungle gym and swing set. We slid down the slide into a snow pile, face planted while jumping off the swings, and made snow angels.

I remember staring up at the calm, gray sky, watching the clouds dance over the moon. It was the first time I noticed the beauty of the barren tree branches above my head and the stillness of the night. I thought to myself,

“This is the kind of stuff we’re supposed to notice. These are the moments when we’re fully present and connected to life.”

Read. I love to read and have since I was a kid. Reading gives me the opportunity to grow, learn, think, reflect, and dream. I have a thing for words and am always open to being inspired by them. During the past 48 hours, I finished Ariana Huffington’s Thrive, read most of the The Food-Mood Solution, and breezed through The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I recommend checking out all of them! If you’re thinking of decluttering your home, take a look at these storage sheds in va.

As I was reading through Thrive, I was reminded of the importance of slowing down and being present to what my body needs. Often, it’s rest.

Unwind. When we’re caught up in the frenetic pace of our lives and the feeling that there isn’t enough time to get everything done in a day, we tend to lose sight of the importance of rest. I made time to relax this weekend. I slept in. Sipped a half dozen cups of herbal tea. Took a nap on the couch. Decompressed in a lavender-infused epsom salt bath. Journaled in the comfy chair in my office with essential oils diffusing beside me.

It is so necessary to do this. Taking time to rest and relax is refreshing and helps us reset our body and mind.

Connect. It’s funny how we can live near people (several hundred feet from them) and never talk to them. In today’s world, most of us are coming and going in such a hurried way, we often overlook something as simple as getting to know our neighbors. Despite the fact that we have lived in our house for almost three years, we saw and talked to some of our neighbors more in the past 12 hours as we were shoveling than we had in the past six months. I grew up in a close-knit neighborhood where everyone knew and looked out for each other. I realize now as an adult how rare something like that is today and how I want more of it in my life.

I also reconnected with my web designer, the person who designed my logo (below!) and who will be helping me with the redesign of my website this spring. It had been on my mind to follow up with her for months, but having time this weekend was what I needed to make that phone call happen.

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Disconnect. Aside from Jimmy Fallon, Top Chef and The Voice, I don’t spend much time watching TV. With everything else that inspires and energizes my life, there isn’t much time left for it, but sometimes I just need to zone out. My husband and I binge-watched Netflix – all 10 episodes of Making a Murderer…in less than 18 hours. Quite a feat. (And, yes, it’s as addictive and fascinating as everyone says it is.)

Cook. It goes without saying that I love food, given what I do for a living and why I write this blog, but being cooped up in my house surrounded by food inspired me to get busy in the kitchen.

We made this savory Sweet Potato and Veggie Casserole and this warm and cozy Love In a Bowl White Bean & Fennel Soup

For something sweet, we whipped up Simple Mills chocolate cake topped with this fudgy peanut butter chocolate frosting and some crunchy cacao nibs and these banana oatmeal cookies from Pinterest (I added 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt and about 1/3 cup chopped walnuts).

banana cookies

Release. All of us have a tendency to accumulate stuff. I’m a pile-stacker and sentimental packrat, but there can be so much freedom in taking time to purge stuff we no longer use. When we are forced to slow down and reflect on the space around us, we often start to notice what we need and what we can release.

As I was reading the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and reflecting on my own living space, I was inspired to ask myself the book’s core question to guide the decision about which things to keep in my life and which to discard:

Does this spark joy?

What a simple but profound concept.

I had recently done quite a bit of decluttering, but reading this prompted me to take a few additional steps immediately. I now have several more bags filled with “stuff” that doesn’t spark joy to give away, trash, or recycle. The space I’ve cleared out is now open for something else to enter my life. I’m excited to see what that is.

While it may take a snowstorm to slow us down, let’s continue to give ourselves the gifts we experience and enjoy during times like these.

Whether we’re playing, exploring, reading, unwinding, connecting, zoning out, cooking, or releasing what no longer serves us, let’s reconnect with what sparks joy in our lives and commit to doing more of that.

Let’s continue to embrace the gifts of “snowing” down.

1 Broken Jar + 6 Stitches = 5 Lessons on Life

I’ve been getting around a bit more slowly than usual this week.

But it hasn’t been by choice.

I usually rush through my day, moving from one commitment to the next with few breaks in between. Because I’m so passionate about the work that I do, I tend to say “yes” to a lot of things and am always on the move.

I was abruptly reminded about the need to slooooow down on Monday night.

I was in the kitchen about to make this dessert for a co-worker’s baby shower.

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I grabbed a glass jar of coconut flour from our lazy Susan and was lifting it up by the lid to set it up on the counter top.

Within a matter of seconds, the side of the jar and the edge of the countertop collided in such a way that the bottom of the jar blew out and fell to the ground, lacerating the top of my bare right foot in the process.

I yelled as I realized what happened and started to see blood. Bill came running in to see what was wrong.

He grabbed our kitchen first aid kit and tried to stop the bleeding and after one look, he said “We need to go to Patient First“. With hindsight, I know that I am lucky that I don’t have to worry about the costs of things like urgent care. Many people have to rely on crowdfunding and similar things to cover their bills. But nevertheless, at the time I panicked and complained. Bill calmly wrapped the wound, and I then hopped to the car.

When we arrived, they sat me in a wheelchair, so I didn’t have to put pressure on my foot, and I waited patiently until I could be seen.

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The nurse who initially helped me was the same nurse who saw me last year when I ever so gracefully cut off part of the tip of my finger with a chef’s knife.

“Oh yeah, you’re gonna need stitches,” she said.

GREAT.

I threw a pity party for the next hour or so as Bill held my hand and I texted a few friends about my unfortunate accident.

My friend, Corinne, provided some comic relief (friends are the best!) in the midst of my less than awesome night. Don’t mind some of my misspelled words šŸ™‚

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When the physician’s assistant finally came in to numb me and sew me up, she prefaced what she was about to do with, “When I numb this, it’s going to hurt, burn, sting. You can scream, cuss, or yell, but please don’t hit me.”

Fantastic.

I braced myself.

I had a death grip on Bill’s hand and started DEEP breathing and exhaling while the area was numbed. It’s amazing how much that stuff from yoga, meditation and singing ACTUALLY WORKS. I hardly felt a pinch šŸ™‚

I left with a mini boot so that I could walk more comfortably and keep it protected in the bandage the next day. Super cute, right??

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By the time we got home, it was after 11:00, and I had yet to make the dessert for my co-worker. Bill did it for me, even though he had to wake up early to get to school to set up field day, which is fully in his hands as the phys ed teacher.

As I fell asleep, I was feeling sorry for myself in a big way and was asking, “Why is this happening TO me??”

When I woke up Tuesday morning with a sore foot and spent the morning hopping around the house, I took some time to reflect on what this situation could be teaching me.

Almost immediately, I was reminded of a friend of mine who was injured at work. She had a nasty fall at work and ended up needing to take a significant amount of time off. In the end, after speaking to an attorney she even decided to file a personal injury lawsuit.

If ever you are injured at work and you suspect that the negligent behavior of someone else might have contributed towards your accident, there is a chance that you could be entitled to compensation. That being said, personal injury law can be confusing and so reaching out to a legal expert is always in your best interest.

Ultimately, my accident happened in my kitchen in my own home so I was quite lucky in this respect!

So, what if instead of asking,“Why is this happening TO me?” I asked…

happening for me

As I’ve thought about that over the past three days, here’s what has come to mind for me:

1) SLOOOOW Down

I’ll be honest, with my entrepreneurial spirit and passion, I tend to be running 100 miles per hour most days of the week. I can easily get caught up in all of the ideas, dreams, visions and activities in my life and forget to take a moment to slow down, pause, and check in with myself.

When I was at the urgent care clinic, the physician’s assistant who was treating me made a comment that resonated with me because it’s so true of most of us. Patients come in all the time and say things like:

“I don’t have time to be sick. Give me a pill.”

So many of us tend to do that, don’t we? We “don’t have time” to be inconvenienced or slowed down. But sometimes it takes something like this happening to make us realize we’re rushing through life instead of fully appreciating each day.

2) I’m grateful I can move my body freely in ways that I choose.

Whether I want to go for a morning walk, a jog around the harbor, a hike in the park, or shake what I’ve got in Zumba or Nia, I generally move in ways that make me feel good without thinking about it. I used to force myself to exercise in ways that weren’t fun or enjoyable for me, but I’ve realized life is too short to do that. I’m committed to moving in ways that bring me joy.

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With my friend Lola after taking her Nia class. SO invigorating, freeing and joyful!

This week, my injured foot has felt “tight” and a bit swollen, so I haven’t really been able to exercise. I’m really looking forward to when I can move freely again and know I will appreciate it more than I have in the past.

3) Having needs doesn’t make you “needy.”

We all have needs. Sometimes we give more than we get, but at other times, we get more than we give. Growing up in a home of ambitious, independent, self-starters, I was never very good at asking for help or what I needed or wanted. I didn’t want to be a burden or look like I couldn’t handle something. But then I think of times when people need my help. I don’t think they’re “needy” and I’m more than willing to help them. When I’m in the midst of trying to “do it all” myself, I lose sight of that.

From the guy who held the door open for me and made me laugh on the elevator to my friend Laura coming over to pick up the dessert, Dulaney going to my car to get business cards and Kat helping me carry boxes out to my car, people were more than willing to help me.

I just had to be open to receiving it.

4) The body has an amazing capacity to heal.

The day after my injury, Bill looked at my foot and commented how it was already starting to heal. Isn’t the body amazing? It WANTS to heal. Inside and outside. Most of the time, we just refuse to get out of its way.

Several years ago, I had surgery on my hand and ended up with a scar over the knuckle of my left ring finger. When I first saw the stitches, I was horrified. This was my wedding ring finger.

Ring Finger Scar

It took 3 months of physical therapy to rehab my hand and get it back to where I could use it normally again. I was diligent about massaging the scar and patching it at night, and most of the time I don’t even notice that it’s there.

I’ve been equally nervous about my foot and the 2-inch-long scar that is now very visible just beneath my toe line.

I’m going to be partnering with my friend and mentor, Katie Hussong, to use healing oils to aid my body in its healing process. After all, they were the first form of plant-based medicine we ever had, so I might as well try them! I’ll be reporting back how the healing process goes and am optimistic it will go well!

5) Unconditional love is a wonderful thing.

I’ve been blessed with an incredibly selfless husband who loves me at my worst when I’m acting anything but lovable. I’ve struggled to feel “worthy” of this kind of love. But this is what real love is about – sacrifice, selflessness, patience, kindness, grace and forgiveness.

It’s about saying, “I don’t love how you’re acting, but I still love YOU.”

That’s how I’ve felt this week. And for that, I’m grateful.

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In the midst of our challenges, we can be open to learning lessons we’re often too busy to see when we’re hurrying through life.

I’m thankful for the lessons I’m learning through this one.

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