Spa Day at Home

This time of year, it becomes increasingly difficult to convince myself to leave the house. Even when the outcome is beneficial, like a stress relieving day at the spa or a much needed fitness class. I just can’t bring myself to do it. Sometimes getting out of the bed is challenging in itself; making leaving the house next to impossible.

I’m trying new things to combat the stress that comes with the changing seasons. One thing that seems to be working is giving myself activities to look forward to inside the house. Maybe it will raise my spirits enough to actually leave the house. Maybe not. At a minimum it gets me out the bed. That’s progress.

Spa days at home are life savers. I spend hours on scented baths, showers, exfoliation, clay masks, facial massage, moisturizing, manicures, and pedicures. When I’m done, I feel a little lighter, a little less stressed, a little more prepared for the outside world. It doesn’t have to be expensive.  It doesn’t have to take hours. Your only moment alone may be the shower. If so, use that time.   Also it doesn’t have to be expensive.  Whether you find products in a department store, drug store, or grocery store doesn’t matter.  What matters is taking out time for you.  Afterall, if you don’t take time out for you you’ll be less able to help others.

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Know When to Let Go

There will be times when reconnecting isn’t everything you had hoped for. Time can change relationships. Interests change. People change. A bond once treasured can evolve into something you are better off without. It happens. It is neither a good thing or bad thing. Sometimes it’s just a thing.

What is most important, I think, is growth. When making a decision to rekindle a relationship that has fizzled, consider growth. Consider how much growth each of you have had. Also consider the directions in which you have gone and are going. In some instances the person you remember is no longer there. In others, you may be able to pick up right where you left off.

Just remember not to accept a connection that can stunt your growth in an attempt to bring back what was. It is okay to remember and appreciate how things were while accepting it is no longer. It is okay to protect your present state.

Winter Essential

I’m just going to say it.  Fleece lined leggings may be one of the best known inventions of man.  Winter is my least favorite season; in fashion and in general.  I love Autumn fashion but that’s another blog post.  Back to Winter, it can be pretty yes but I can do without it.  I would be happy to hibernate until Spring.  I believe I have a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder.  It is still Autumn but the weather is beginning to transition into the next season.  The temperature is warmest first thing in the morning.  It drops throughout the day.

I woke up early this morning and saw that exact forecast on the 5am news.  Temperatures will be dropping throughout the day.  On top of that there will be wind gusts increasing in speed.  I could already hear it.  The wind was whipping past my windows and creating funnels with fallen leaves.  The huge trees surrounding my home were swaying as were the power lines, a disaster waiting to happen.  Who wants to be out in that? Not me.

Something changed though.  I was looking at my recent online purchases which included fleece lined leggings.  I hadn’t worn them out yet.  I had tried them on and was so impressed with the comfort that I ordered more.  Looking at those leggings and listening to that wind prompted me to go outside into the wind gusts.  It seemed silly.  It was still dark but I did it.  Let me tell you…the freedom I felt was indescribable.  It was like a was standing with my arms fully extended with the biggest grin as a camera panned around me, you know that scene in the movies lol.  That was me.  suddenly I wanted to play catch me if you can with the wind.  But really what wind? I couldn’t feel it, at least my legs couldn’t.  All they felt was joy, overwhelming joy!

Now by the time I went back in, my face felt like it had taken a beaten by the wind.  My legs felt like perfection.  Maybe I should look into a fleece lined ski mask.

Baby Steps Back to Good Health

One of the things imperative to my health improving is getting back in the kitchen. I stopped cooking regularly like I once did. The result was almost immediate weight gain and elevated blood pressure. I realize food is not the only issue. It is, however, the first of a few things I will address.   I’m setting small attainable goals so as not to get discouraged.  I will measure results in 30 days.

The day after my doctors appointment I went grocery shopping.  I bought fresh and frozen produce.  I had a plan in mind.  Meal planning is so important.  I bought vegetables that I would use for omelets as well as stir fry dishes.  I also bought nutritional shakes and meal replacement shakes for days when I’m on the road.  My schedule can change in an instant.  I want to avoid the urge to stop for high sodium meals on the go.  Wouldn’t you know it, while I was shopping I got a call for a commercial.  Those shakes came in handy.  I had just enough time to take my groceries home and get on the road. It was a rush but I was prepared. I felt accomplished drinking my shake instead of searching for a drive thru on my way to set.

Two days later and I am sticking to my plan of homemade or shakes.  It is not hard if I plan ahead.  It is the last minute hunger that gets me in trouble.  So far so good.  Follow me on Instagram to see what I cook up. https://www.instagram.com/shirareneebethea/

Next Step – Exercise

My last post addressed my first step back to health; diet. It’s only been a few days but it has been a good few days. I haven’t skipped a meal or done any binge eating. I have also been preparing my meals at home.  Now I am going to add my next step, exercise.

Like some of you, I have a specific room for excercise.  The problem is I don’t actually use it.  Here’s my solution.  I rearranged a room I am always in, my bedroom, to make room for exercise.  I made a space big enough for strength training, flexibility training, and cardio.  No excuses now.  I will see this space every morning and every night.  I figure if nothing else guilt will eventually set in.

Guess what? This morning it worked.  No guilt needed.  I woke up and I wanted to do it.  I pulled out my yoga mat and yoga blocks and did a half hour of flexibility training.  I am so proud of my effort.  I even set a work out plan for tomorrow. Oh and I had oatmeal for breakfast, not instant, rolled oats.  I added vanilla almond milk, cinnamon, raisins, and peanut butter.

Self Care

Today’s trip to the doctor was like being dropped on my head.  There is nothing like having someone hold a mirror to your face and show you how much you have been lacking.  I knew but for whatever reason it wasn’t real until day.

I went for my back pain which has been an issue since I was rear ended in 2010. While I was waiting to be seen I noticed the scale in the hall.  I forgot about that part.  I don’t weigh myself at home.  I measure myself but I stay off the scale.  I knew the scale was going to reflect a number seemingly unhealthy for my height.  I was dreading it.  When it was my turn, I hadn’t quite decided if I would look.  Once I got on the scale, my breasts decided for me lol.  I couldn’t see past them to the number on the scale.  I contorted so I could see.  Then I tried to justify the number.  It can’t be right.  My movement could’ve threw it off.  Plus I was wearing shoes…and layers…

Then it was time for my vitals.  Anxiety hit again.  Would my blood pressure be elevated? Then I start thinking about strokes, heart attacks, medications.  By the time the doctor came in.  I had lost focus on my back and started thinking about everything else.

What was the outcome? Well the short version is, things that once came easy now have to be worked towards. Is that the answer I want? No. However, it is what it is.  If I want to be healthy I have to constantly work towards health. I have to work harder to combat family history.  I cannot neglect self care.

I already know some days will be harder than others.  I also know the payoff will be well worth it.

Love May Be Blind

Love May Be Blind
But It’s Not Deaf Dumb and Stupid
By: Shira Bethea*

You can have all the fun you want with unconditional love but my love for others has conditions. It may seem unkind to you but it is my unconditional self love that allows me to love others with conditions. Does that sound selfish? Let me explain. I have learned to walk away from situations that were detrimental to my well being. I can love you forever, from a distance if need be. When the company of another negatively impacts me spiritually, emotionally, or physically; ties must be broken. I can love someone and still recognize the need to be apart. It is no easy task to part ways with someone you love. There are times though when it is very much necessary.

I don’t know if love ever ends. Part of me thinks a person can only stop loving someone they never truly loved in the first place. I believe in order to truly love another person, you must first love yourself. Spending time alone helped me a great deal. Self examination is powerful. I continue to examine myself daily. It is a never ending process. It allows me to recognize and acknowledge my gifts as well as my flaws. Having that self awareness helps me to recognize others that see the same in me. Oftentimes people end up in relationships with people they “love” but those people don’t even recognize or appreciate their gifts. Equally disappointing is being with someone who only recognizes your flaws.

If you follow my blog, you already know my stance on soul mates. (https://shirareneebethea.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/search-for-soulmates/) Ideally you want to be with someone who recognizes both your gifts and your flaws. Someone who only sees your gifts is likely looking at you with an unrealistic view. That’s fine if you want to be with someone who is out of touch with reality. I don’t. I recognize the flaws in the people I love and they certainly recognize mine. The beauty in it is we continue to love each other despite those flaws. They are not at all deal breakers. In some cases those very flaws make us even more lovable. I don’t believe in looking to another person for completion. If you do not feel whole alone, you may be more likely to settle for hurtful behaviors in someone you believe you love.

Love does not hurt. Love uplifts. Love encourages. Love positively motivates. I will release anyone or anything from my life that emits negative energy. Once a pattern of anything resembling disloyalty or disrespect is displayed, it’s a wrap. Those behaviors are often deliberate. However there may be times when someone is oblivious to their behavior or more so the affects of said behavior. I find in some of those cases resolution is as simple as a conversation. Take a good look at the people you keep in your life. Think about how you met, how you interact, how you contribute to each others betterment. I am a firm believer in hand selecting the people that surround you. A few years ago I took a good look at my surroundings and realized that some of the people in my life were there only because they had always been there; not because I actively selected them. There may be people that come into your life without an invitation and there are people they may have had an invitation at one time but have overstayed or taken advantage and are no longer welcomed. Perhaps you can relate. It could be neighbors, coworkers, or even family members that are in your life simply due to vicinity but if you met the person under different circumstances you likely would not choose to keep in touch.

When selecting those to keep in your inner circle, balance needs to be found between holding someone to an impossible standard and settling for less than what is deserved. You should honestly be able to say that you meet the very standards that you are holding others to. That goes back to self examination. Once you have been able to examine yourself, find your happiness within yourself, and love yourself; identifying people that deserve to be in your life will be easy. It will also become easy to walk away from people that are selfish and self serving; people that do not meet your conditions. I hope this helps you to understand exactly what I mean when I say that my love has conditions. It has nothing to do with displaying kindness. I try my best to display kindness as well as a brotherly/sisterly love to all those that I meet. I just know that everyone that wants to be close to me will not get the opportunity if my standards are not met. Actively selecting those close to me is imperative to my happiness. I will dive deeper into the subject in my next piece entitled “Redirecting Your Focus-Finding Your Happiness.”

*previously published in Formation Magazine