Well hey there friends! Long time no talk…. yup, life happens, doesn’t it!? Speaking of which, it’s the end of 2014 in a couple of days. How do we feel about this? My inbox has been flooded with lots of tips and strategies for moving into the new year with ease and no regrets and ways to stay on track for resolutions, or even forgetting the idea of resolutions all together….. I’ve been inundated (by choice) with enough inspiring information to make my head explode. All of this inspiration has been really helpful, but also very…. how do I say this…. makes me feel embarrassed that I haven’t been inspired enough to sit my ass down and write a single blog post!! Where is my 2-cents? What am I actually doing for myself to move into this new year with ease and grace? How am I looking forward to 2015? What am I doing to stay healthy and happy?
Well…. after getting home from a nice, busy shift (my fourth in a row since vacation) and having already broken a promise to myself not to drink today (sometimes it just happens) I decided to fix myself another cocktail, put on some comfy sweats, have a quick snack and instead of studying like I intended, I listened to myself and am going to indulge in my desire to sit my ass down and write a blog post! This, my friends, is a perfect example of what I have been doing for myself to stay sane during these traditionally crazy holidays…. if what you want to call it is sane…..
So my last post was before Thanksgiving, so I can go ahead and tell you that it was as fabulous a “Friendsgiving” as a girl could possibly ask for. We had about 16 people to our house and were able to feed everyone by 9 and still get them on the bus safely home by 10:30. Good times indeed. I am forever grateful for the wonderful friends in my life and the good times we manage to have. Also grateful for the beautiful place we live, the ways we play, our home, my love, and of course my family. Thanksgiving was a wonderful time of gratitude and happiness. Also the beginning of a ski season that has so far proven to be full of snow! Living in a ski town we yearn for the beginning of this season… for the industry to bring us business and work as well as the pleasure of swooshing down the slopes of white. Everyone is happier when the mountain opens… it’s a fabulous thing. We have had excellent conditions since the beginning of the season and it continues to snow, which means more and more will open and everyone will become happier and happier as the new year arrives. Life is good during the holidays here in Crested Butte.
In the middle of the month, Nate and I visited his family in Florida, until the 23rd (my first shift back to work). When Thanksgiving passed I suddenly realized that we practically needed to have Christmas “taken care of” before we left so the pressure was on. I quickly remembered the way it gets during the holidays working in tourism/restaurants and developed a strategy for survival. Planning was key. Being good to myself was key. Using my time wisely and communicating my needs was key. I realized I now knew the keys to navigating through the holidays with stress and ease! Awesome. Now do it, Rather.
I certainly cannot tell you that I have triumphed over the natural stresses. The holidays are stressful, period. We have obligations to friends, family, work that all need to be tended to. There’s parties to go to/host, gifts to buy/make, meals to eat/cook, visitors to see/visit, joy, love and peace to share! So much to do….. how in the world do I stay on top of this healthy lifestyle I’ve created for myself and not be a Scrooge?
I didn’t exactly float through those weeks on a meditation pillow eating a plate of kale…. wah waaaw. There have been (and will be) many a hiccup from the mocktail/cocktail of my holidays….. and you know what? So be it! We are here to live this one life, not the next, not the past. I’m not preserving my body, mind and soul to flourish in some sort of past life that I don’t get to be a part of. My goal is to be happy in this life, in this body. I am releasing the (somehow instilled) responsibility of apologizing to myself for having fun. I do a lot of good and bad things to my body, as we all do. My hope is that we all strive to find balance in those things and enjoy the journey for all the adventures that it brings.
Land you in the hospital, off-balanced. That far.
The reality is that my body isn’t healed and when faced with the holidays this year I decided to take a balanced approach to my health. Indulgences are inevitable. I can stay away from gluten no problem, abstaining from sugars and dairy will be harder. Alcohol is always a temptation to me yet horrible to my gut, the holidays and reason to celebrate with friends and family makes it even harder. Work is good right now, there’s a lot of people in town and the money is flowing, but working constantly leaves very little time for taking care of one’s self. I’m proud of myself for taking the precautionary measures I now know about. I could be feeling much more stressed and I’m not. So as I pour myself a (now) mocktail I will fill you in on my strategy for not just surviving the holidays….
LISTEN – Listen to yourself. To your body, to your mind. Your body is a beautiful work of art. It is a machine, it runs without you telling it to – day and night. We have lost our sense of intuition along the way and it is time to get it back. Take ownership of yourself. Listen to the cues. Listen to the ailments, they aren’t meant to be masked or destroyed. They are gentle reminders to be good to ourselves. Listen to what your body tells you. Sleep when you need it, eat when you want it, exercise the way it feels good. Listen. Your body will tell you amazing things…..
BREATHE – I’ve learned this 4-7-8 breath. Do you know it? All it takes is 4 breaths…. something like a minute, probably less. Close your eyes, close your mouth, place/press your tongue on the roof of your mouth (yoga breath). Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, then exhale through your mouth – really push the air – for 8 seconds. Repeat. Only do 4 breaths…. (and ok, now that I’ve counted it should be a 20 second breath, so it’s more than a minute) and it may feel silly at first, but try it! Count in your head, not too slow, kind of like a dance rhythm… In-2-3-4, hold-2-3-4-5-6-7, out-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, In-2-3-4….. When you finish the 4 breaths take a little time to get your breath back to normal then open your eyes and get back into whatever it is you were doing. Ideally, 2 times a day. I like to do it before bed and before my morning yoga. Sometimes if I’m just stressed for no particular reason (or for every reason in the world) I do it and it helps tremendously! If you don’t have the time or the place, try just a deep breath. In through the nose and out through the mouth is a great way to release energy – of any kind…. great Aunt Wanda… tiny cousins…. stressed boss/co-worker…. traffic…. you get the picture. It’s the small things. Really.
GREENS – yup, they’re never going away. Eat them. Anything Green with EVERY meal. Seriously. While on vacation I ordered a side of collared greens from a bar that served me my bun-less burger in a paper boat. Get your Greens in!! I recommend those little powdered greens packets you can find at the health food store if you are traveling and have concerns. All you need there is water and you have received the nutrients you need. Breakfast is my favorite time to get them…. sauted in ghee with a fried egg….. mmmmm…. my favorite meal!
SLEEP – Get it. As much of it as you can. I’m usually really good with this one and lately I’ve had trouble and it has really taken me for a ride. This is when our body does it’s best work. It’s when our toxins are gathered and prepared for their (hopeful) exit out the back. It’s when we rejuvinate and replenish. Our eyes rest, our mind rests, our body rests. Aaaahhhh…. I crave it so much right now. Things I use to aid me in sleep: Tea – not too close to bed however, you don’t want it to wake you in the middle of the night! And on that note, I try to consume most of my water in the earlier part of the day also. My favorite is Nighty Night by Traditional Medicinals. Chamomile or Peppermint anything should do the trick. Yoga – again, my girl Tara Stiles has the routine that puts me to sleep (almost) every time. Try just deep breathing in a sitting pose, twisting a couple times and then lying in bed in corpse and focus on your breathing…. if I’m really tired this is all I need. Tuning Out – turn off all your electronics 1/2 an hour before bed. Try it, I know it’s hard. Set your alarm clock, plug it in, then do your bedtime routine. Don’t check it again until you wake up. This allows you time to truely unwind from your day/society and get some good sleep. I don’t know what has happened to me the last few days but even practicing these tips good sleep has escaped my world. I’m hoping that clearing the desire to write to you tonight will help.
MOCKTAILS – yup, the virgin kind. This one is hard, but it’s always on my radar. I can’t say I practice it all the time, but when I do I am so grateful that I’ve added it to my bag of survival tricks. Try to alternate cocktail/mocktail at a party. No one will ever know (unless you tell them – proudly) and you will feel a thousand times better the next day. Drink the same thing – vodka/cranberry? Just cranberry/soda…. Whiskey/ginger? Just ginger…. you’ll sip it the same rate and you’ll have stalled yourself out on that much more of a headache. Boom.
WATER – you knew it would end up in here somewhere. This one never falls out of my world. Going to sea level for vacation was nice, I could drink less and still feel hydrated. Coming back to 9,000 feet has been a struggle. My normal amounts aren’t satisfying and I must drink more (this might have to do with my sleep issues…..?) It’s hard. But I tell you what, try drinking half your body weight in ounces of water a day for a week and just see if you don’t notice a difference. You need more than that, especially those of you at high altitude or high heat…. but start there. You’ll be adicted if you pay attention to it.
SCHEDULE – do your best to make it work for you, then, do your best to make it work for you. I know, we all have to work. Sometimes our schedule is less than what we need, sometimes it’s more than we can handle. If I don’t know this by now I’ve not been paying attention. Learn how to balance the stress of the schedule with the ways to take care of yourself. Ask for help doing chores/errands. Sleep well when you finally get home. Make lots of greens when you get the chance so you can take them with you when you’re in a hurry. Bring a water bottle, keep filling it. Don’t be afraid to say no when you have other commitments and remember to help people out when you can. Spend a little bit of time every single day striving to be where you want to be and you will get there. Challenges, fear and obstacles are all part of the adventure. Find strength and structure in the schedule you have and roll with it. Don’t let it stress you out, let it work for you.
OK, so how have these strategies played out for me this holiday season? Well….. my gut hurts, but it always hurts… right now it’s fairly low on the spectrum so I’d like to think I’ve been doing well since I’ve been home from vacation. There at the end of vacation I was loosing steam… wanting to sleep in, craving junk food, alcohol, feeling sluggish, bags under the eyes. We’re still at the very beginning of the holidays being crazy here in ski town USA, so I feel pretty darn alright for where I am. I made it through Christmas without any major breakdowns… I had gifts, gluten free food and fabulous company to fill my (occasionally spiked) cup to the brim. I can honestly say that making these de-stressing tactics a priority of my holidays has saved me. If I’d been abstaining from everything, living in a hole without friends, parties and family fun I would be very depressed – unhealthy at it’s best. If I’d been indulging to my heart’s desire I’d be in severe pain and also depressed – for failing in my efforts. I feel really good about the happy medium I have teetered on for the last few weeks. It’s not been perfect, but when was I ever perfect?? I’ve enjoyed every single second of it and would do it all over again in a heart beat.
I certainly hope everyone else’s holidays have been as good as mine. If not, I hope you can look forward to the New Year as a time to make the small changes within our individual lives to lead a Happier, Healthier 2015. A massive part of this whole idea is believeing in ourselves and taking responsibility for our own body, mind and soul. We don’t live this life for anyone else and we can’t expect anyone else to fix it or make it any worse. Here is your key… now go do something with it!
Much MUCH love in this Holiday Season as we approach the New Year. May you have so much Peace, Happiness and Health in 2015.
Love in Health and Happiness,