Mindfulness who has time? You do and your should!

Mindfulness – 11 easy ways to sneak some into your day. 

The science is piling up. Multiple Studies have shown mindfulness, meditation, personal time, whatever you want to call it, can do amazing things like:

reduce stress1, reduce inflammation in chronic inflammatory conditions 2, reduce anxiety symptoms and improve coping3, help reduce depression symptoms 4, and the list goes on and on. This area of study is exploding as more and more people benefit from taking a bit of time for themselves.

Meditation can seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to have a quiet place and sit with your legs crossed while chanting “Ommmmm” although that is very nice. Many of us have to get to work, pick up kids, grocery shop, doctor’s appointments, zoom calls and all the other things we have to do to keep our life moving along.

Many cultures have known this “secret” for hundreds if not thousands of years. We in the west are a bit slow on the uptake however. But it is never too late! I am here to give you a few sneaky, quick, hacks to get the quiet time you and your brain so desperately need.

I have come up with 11 ways to sneak in some quiet time. These may seem too easy, like they couldn’t really work; but I promise you they will benefit you more than you know. It won’t happen right away, the effect is cumulative so it does take some time. I challenge you to mark your calendar with a quick note on how you are feeling and what may be stressing you out right now, then check back a month later I am guessing you will see the benefits in many aspects of your life.

01

Right now!

Let’s get this party started. You are taking some time to read this so let’s take advantage of that. Just 3 breaths can make a huge difference. Breathe into your belly, not your chest, to get the most benefit. Ready, ok! (not speed reading here)

1. Breathe in to your belly.………..breathe out……..…

2. breathe in ….….breathe out (read more slowly!;-)

3. breathe in ….….breathe out

Ah that’s nice isn’t it? That how simple mindfulness can be!

02

Morning coffee

Most of us need our morning coffee and part of what makes it special is that it is something we do for ourselves. You may think you are a slave to the caffeine but the bigger benefit is giving yourself a treat. Don’t take that cup for granted. Take a moment, smell the aroma, watch the cream swirl in your cup and just breathe. This can be the best way to start your day. Set a timer and give yourself 10 minutes to enjoy that cup of coffee. If you don’t have 10 minutes take 5, surely you can spare 5 minutes for your mental and physical health, right?

03

Walking to or from the car

When you are out running errands or parking for work give yourself some distance. Choose a spot further away from the door or bus than you usually do. Then as you are walking to your destination count your steps, up to ten, then start over. Take your time and walk a bit more slowly than usual. Even if you only count to ten twice you still have slowed down your brain, on purpose, and given it a break.

04

Waiting in line or on hold

Instead of being irritated at how long you are waiting, take a deep breath and welcome the chance to slow down. Again start counting, this time your breaths, in is 1 and out is 2. In 1 out 2, in 3 out 4 and so on. And again only count to 10 then start over with your counting.

05

Stopped at a light or in traffic

Take a deep breath (into the belly) and welcome the short quiet time you have been given.

06

Turn off the radio, music app or podcast

Sorry podcasters everywhere but we are fighting for mental health here. While driving or commuting, even if it is just for a few minutes.  Just turn off the input – radio, music app, pod cast, and enjoy the quiet.  Appreciate the brief respite from your busy day. Again take a deep belly breath and let your shoulders relax as you exhale.

07

Brushing your teeth

I highly recommend the timed electronic toothbrushes for this, as does your dentist 😉 If you don’t have an electronic toothbrush just set a timer on your phone for 2 or 3 minutes. Then brush your teeth just like you normally do. Count your strokes or breaths and again appreciate this small bit of quiet you are giving yourself.

08

Private bathroom time

I won’t go into too much detail here but you know the time I am talking about. Leave your phone off while you are answering the call of nature. You may not want to breathe too deeply but you can count your breaths or visualize you are somewhere else, somewhere peaceful. 

09

Walking the dog or yourself

You are taking time out to nurture your body and or your pet so let’s get a double whammy from it. While you are out walking count your steps up to 10 then start again. Do this for several intervals of 10, take some deep slow breaths and appreciate that you are being kind to yourself in that moment (oh, sorry that sounded a bit woo woo, self-love type thing) Just take some deep breaths and be thankful you get the chance to take a walk.

10

Face mask time

 No not the ones we wear because of Covid19 the other kind. The best excuse ever to pamper yourself. Men don’t think you are excluded from this activity it is fantastic and your partner will be blown away by your silky soft skin. Face masks usually recommend leaving them on for 10 minutes. Take that time to relax, count your breaths, close your eyes and enjoy the quiet. You can play soft music, light a candle, visualize you are at some exotic spa whatever helps you take a break. Make this a weekly thing – Sunday evening before the busy week starts perhaps.

11

Any time

Take 3 deep belly breaths, like we did at the start of this article. Breathe in as slowly as you can and exhale as slowly as you can. Just that little respite can boost your moral and clear your head.

Read

more of my musings

Wine Rhyme don't let the snobs tell you what you like

Wine Rhyme

Wine can be so serious. I feel its main purpose for being is to bring people together and create meals to remember. 

The goal of this poem is to instruct and entertain
Easy to read, remember and stick in your brain
Enjoy wine with friends, make a career or a hobby
I’m hoping this poem will make wine less snobby.

The first rule in wine you should never forget
If you like it, then that’s the one you should get.
Go with what you like no matter the varietal
Because if you don’t like it you won’t drink it at all.

What are acids or mouth-feel, tannins or oak
Can you get a good bottle and not go broke?
What makes the perfect bottle for you yourself
There are so many to choose from on the grocery shelf.
We’ll answer some questions and have some fun
After reading this poem to the wine shop you’ll run!

Hanging out, writing a novel, just got home from work?
Had a hard day at the office or been dealing with a jerk?
A nice glass of wine can make a great end of the day
Crisp white on the deck or a big Cabernet
I think wine will help melt all your troubles away.

The best way to train your palate, also known as your tongue.
Get several bottles to taste all together, old, and young.
Just line them all up and pop the corks
Then pour in the glass, take a sniff like a wine dork
You will see a difference between each wine
Some will smell of fruit, earth, stone or even the vine.
Then taste each one, just a little sip
Let it sit in your mouth from the back to your lip
Lots of flavors, floral, earthy or green
Your mouth won’t believe the flavors its seen.
Then pick your favorite and fill up your glass
Enjoy on the couch, the deck or in the grass.
You have just discovered a new wine, wasn’t that fun?
First step into the world of wine dorkdum.

Local wineries can help in your wine education
We suggest small wineries, you can make it a vacation
They pour in their heart, souls and even tears
This art can take oh so many years
You meet interesting people some with humor and class
And all have worked their tails off to fill up your glass.

Near some wineries? I bet you are
They are popping up all over from near to far.
Go explore, say hello, taste some new wine.
It’s fun and educational and a great use of free time.

You’ll hear stories about harvests, wine names and more.
Buy right from them, you can skip the store.
Wine tastes better knowing the stories and background
Share with your friends the treasures you’ve found.

Not all that serious, don’t need all that wine?
Then just stick to what you like I promise that’s fine.
Take wine seriously, take a class and examine every aspect
Or just enjoy with friends, either way I respect.

Judging wine by the label? It happens all the time,
That’s why there are millions spent for the perfect design
Labels can be colorful, simple, ornate
But will the wine pair well with what’s on your plate?

When wine and food come together you have heaven or hell
But who can you turn to, how can you tell?
Well let’s look at some rules and see what we find
Hopefully, this will give you some peace of mind.

White wines with fish and red wine with meats
Follow this rule and you’ll have good eats
There are reds that are delicate and can pair well with fish
And whites that are hearty and can handle a meat dish.

Confused even more now that I have scrambled the rule?
How on earth do you create a great meal and still look cool?

If it makes your mouth water you have got some good acid
Put acid with acid that’s what all the good chefs did.
Think tomatoes, or citrus with mouth-watering reds or crisp whites
Put these together and the meal turns out just right.

Often when there is spice you can do with some sweet
You don’t need a lot, “off-dry” can be pretty neat.

Off-dry? What the heck am I talking about?
It is when they don’t quite take all the sugar out.
There is a hint of sweet that cuts through the spice
Try a Riesling or Muscat they’re really quite nice.

If you like super sweet there is one simple rule
The wine has to be sweeter than the dessert that makes you drool
If not, the wine is tart and your mouth will hurt
And that simply won’t do when serving dessert.

Enjoying your summer or on the back deck
Rosés are fantastic, try a new one, what the heck?
Some think that Rosés have to be sweet
Not true, some are dry and crisp and quite a treat.
Pick up a bunch, you can get them for cheap
Taste each one then decide which to keep.

Pronouncing varietals can be tricky or bizarre
Try Semillon1, Roussane2 or Pinot Noir3
These can be tongue twisters they can even embarrass
I won’t laugh I promise, this is just between us.

Reees-ling* or Rise-ling, can’t figure it out?
The Germans will tell you it’s Reeesling*, no doubt!
Gewürztraminer4, wanna give it a shot?
How about Merlot, that’s easy, it’s mer-low not mer-lot

There are lots of fun varietals from common to rare
Check out your local wine shop they will all be there.
The most common are Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay
But there are so many others that can make your day.

Will they last in the cellar? Do we really care?
Wines are for enjoying now, so go on and share!

No matter your choice what makes wine taste best
Is sharing with friends, all wine snobs confess.
A cheap bottle of vino, food, friends and laughs
Will beat that high end wine recommended by staff.

Try a Cab Franc, Roussane or even Nebbiolo
These are joy in a glass I promise it is so.
So much wine to taste and so little time
You better get started, stop reading this rhyme!

 

*proper spelling Riesling
(1semi-on, 2roos-on, 3pee-no-no“r” [rhymes with bizarre] 4 ga-vurst-tra-meener)


Taking the snob out of wine-snob! Learn the wine rhyme and have some fun!

More musings here

 

 

So, you think you’re ready?

Things will never be the same…duh!

As your stomach protrudes more and more you will hear this from every parent and non-parent alike:

“Your life will never be the same.” As if you weren’t aware that everything you know about life itself is about to change

But what does that really mean?

Stories – this is the PC way of saying advice, solicited or not!  Parents every where will share cute anecdotes about their kids and experiences as parents.  But what they are really doing is begging for validation.  When you either laugh at the mishaps or follow the same path as sage advice, you are validating their existence as a parent and hopefully telling them they are a good one.  Every parent’s fear is that they are not doing it right, which is true, but please, throw us a bone.  Do what you will with these “stories” just be forewarned that your response could determine the mental well being and self-worth of the story-teller.

Here are a few examples of things that will never be the same….

Crying – baby’s and yours.  Hungry cries, wet diaper cries, tired cries, angry cries, it’s Tuesday cries, sad cries, plain old sobbing, lack of sleep sobbing, lack of chocolate cries, hysterical cries, shrieking, cackling, …oh sorry, I was sharing a flash back.  They say you will come to know the difference between all these different types of cries, and believe it or not you will.  It’s like your first day on the job or at school, it seems like you will never learn your way but you always do.  (The last few cries listed are for your husband to come to learn.  It is imperative that they know the difference and act quickly.)  You will hear, “The trick to telling the difference is…” and the “stories” begin.

Poop – not a subject you probably have given much thought except when frustrated or stubbed your toe.  But then you probably use its other form of $#!T!  Well, you can’t say that anymore.  And that is not what I am talking about anyway.  I am talking about poop, real poop.  From the time your child is born until I don’t know when, you will find yourself discussing defecation with your spouse, friends, if they will listen, and at the grocery store with complete strangers.  Topics such as what color it is.  How often is it?  What consistency is it?  What color did you say it was?  Does it stink – yes the old joke that you think your own $#!T doesn’t stink now moves to the next generation, your kids poop doesn’t stink either!!  No, really, this isn’t a joke you will truly believe your kids shit doesn’t stink!  Oops, did I just say shit, I meant poop or as some fondly call it poo poo, poopy, caa caa or good old #2.

Boobs/breasts – yes yours!  Again, you will find yourself discussing these items like tomatoes at the market.  They will never be the same, or so I am told, I am still holding out hope.  You will discuss all possible topics pertaining to these beauties.  Do they produce milk?  Do they produce enough milk?  How often does the child use them?  Don’t forget to switch sides.  Are you keeping track of which side you use?  Can you believe women pay money to make them bigger!?!  Oh my God they leak!  They what?  And the stories begin.

Sleep – or lack thereof.  You will obsess over this issue like never before.  And everyone else you know will seem to be obsessing about it too.  Is the baby sleeping?  Are you sleeping?  How much is the baby sleeping?  And the advice to let them cry, Oh Lord, never let them cry, put them in a crib, put them in your bed, put them next to your bed… And the stories begin.

In your sleep deprivation you will be convinced that there is money to be made by selling sleep.  You would also be willing to buy some sleep if someone would just start the darn business of selling sleep.  But then why don’t you just start it?  Well, you can’t quite work out the details as your thought process is a bit foggy.  But it will nag at you and nag at you and nag at you – oh, sorry I am sharing a flash back again.  Let’s move on.

Laughter – kids, yours, all.  Your child will make you smile and laugh out loud with all their antics.  You will also laugh at the most ridiculous things; partly out of sleep deprivation and partly because you’re, well, sleep deprived.  Did I say that already?  Well you won’t know the difference, Sleepy.  You will come to understand why clowns are so funny.  Ok, so you may not really understand the whys of it, but you will thoroughly enjoy seeing your kid laugh ‘till-it-hurts at the stupid things clowns do.  You yourself will do the stupid things clowns do!  You would stop at nothing to get your kid to laugh – in the privacy of your own home of course, out in public, sorry kid you have to watch the clowns.

 

Milestones – ahead or behind?  You wouldn’t think this was an issue until your kid(s) are in school, would you?  Well, quite simply, you would be wrong.  It starts the moment they arrive on the planet.  How long is your baby (they aren’t “tall” yet as they just lie there in the first few weeks)?  How old was your child when they first slept through the night?  (See what I mean?  Everyone wants to know about it!)  How much is your baby eating?  How much does your baby weigh?  How much did you say they were eating?  Is he or she sitting up?  Are they crawling yet?  It just goes on and on and on.  And as much as you say to yourself, and eventually out loud, sometimes at the top of your lungs to anyone who will listen “it just doesn’t matter, every kid has their own schedule.”  It will eat at you.  Why isn’t my kid sitting up yet?  Is there something wrong?  You know in your heart that kids don’t crawl off to first grade but you still worry, maybe mine will be the first?  Little Johnny next door was sleeping through the night at 4 weeks!  Eeek, what is wrong with our 5 week old angel??  You don’t want it to bother you but it does.  You find yourself bragging to other parents about milestones, yours and your child’s, as soon as you are able which is, well, as soon as you hold your child for the first time.  This is when you too start telling “stories” in hopes of positive feedback.  I am sending you hugs right now, and laughing “oh my, what sage advice!”

 

Experience – you as a parent.  You will meet new parents who have only had a child for, say two weeks, but they are way ahead of those who have yet to become parents.  The instant you become a parent you are more experienced than those who are not parents.  If you have a six month old you are so much more experienced than the parents of a three month old.  These parents who are less experienced than you will turn to you for advice and guidance (a.k.a. “stories”).  They will turn to you with huge eyes of hope.  Please, guide them well, after all, you know all there is to know and it should be fresh in your brain because you just experienced it, right?  I know it is a lot of pressure but I am sure you will take it in stride as all parents before you have.  The “experienced” parents bask in the glow of being able to tell someone how to do something regarding babies, rather than feeling dumbfounded all the time.  It only lasts for a few seconds as you tell your story, so enjoy it.  These are the moments that keep you going, and of course, there are always more experienced parents than you to turn to when you are lost in the forest of parenthood.

Time – fast and slow.  This is another phenomenon that astounds parents and scientists alike.  How is it that when you have been awake for so many hours in the day, week and month they can still seem to fly by?  Wouldn’t the opposite be true?  I was awake at 12 o’clock, 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, etc. and the night went really, really, really slowly (as you would expect), but the weeks and months zoom past in a blur (not expecting that!).  No one has yet unraveled the mysteries of this time warp/time lost but you experience it minute by minute.  “Before you know it your kids will be driving off to college…” and the stories begin.

Smells – your nose will become friend and foe in this journey known as motherhood.  For some reason the fathers don’t seem to inherit this “gift”.  You may have noticed while you were pregnant that your sense of smell increases to that of a bloodhound or better.  Well, in my experience, it doesn’t seem to subside after the kid arrives.  It seems most moms I have met can identify a poopy diaper from 50 paces and tell you which child the odor is emanating from, or tell you what was spilled on the table earlier that day or what perfume the person five tables away is wearing!  It can be truly amazing.  “Oh I can remember the smell of….” and the stories begin.

Kids – not just yours.  You will never look at another child, or in some cases human being, in the same way, again.  You will now see your own child every where you look.  What you would do in the same way, what you would do differently and so on.  It is an amazing shift that you don’t really notice until you find yourself bursting into tears at the sight of a homeless person because you realize that they too were someone’s baby!  I, ah, have only heard about this, you know second hand…. and the stories begin.

Shopping – well what can I say?  Someone has just entered your life and they are more fun to shop for than even yourself.  You can hardly contain yourself or your money.  All the things you wished you had when you were little will find there way into your home, maybe not into your kid’s room, but definitely into your home.  How could you possibly deny them that super cute thing that they just love when it only costs $7.00?  (It seems many things cost $7; it must be a psychological parental cutoff or something, just over $5 meaning it is not “cheap” but not quite $10 so it is a bargain!)  This does wear off though, well for most folks it does.  I am sure you have met the few who have yet to get their spending under control.  It really gets curbed if and when the second child comes along.

Books – whether you are a reader or not.  These things are everywhere and they cover every topic from Apnea to zebra stripes and all topics in between.  You will rarely find two that agree on a given subject but you won’t be able to stop buying them.  You may even read some although not much stays in your sieve-like, sleep deprived brain – oh sorry referring to myself there.  When the fog lifts and you are sorting through the stacks and stacks of books that have entered your life you will see how books seem to seep into your home.  You purchase them in the hopes of an answer to that burning question.  You think maybe once you will figure it out on your own and won’t have to ask a more “experienced” parent but, alas, you will still turn to the elders for advice and guidance.  It is like a force of nature that you can not deny.

Spouse or Partner – this topic is covered in many books and even more magazines. I think it was in every month’s “Baby Magazine” we received.  This may be the only subject on which books and articles actually agree: take care of this relationship, don’t put it on hold “while the kids are young” or you could be very sorry.  How to do this, of course, is up for debate in all those books and magazines.  What do you do with this person now that you are a family?  You will never look at them the same way because they helped create your new love, your child.  “What we used to do….” and the stories begin.

Parents – you have joined the ranks.  You will become uncomfortably aware of what your parents were talking about all those times you just stared at them in wonderment and pity when you were a kid.  You are a parent, you are the reason your child will be seeking counseling in 15 or so years.  There is no possible way to do this job correctly but you will die trying – literally.  You will be a parent for the rest of your life.  Sorry to get all heavy on you but let’s face the realities, shall we?  This is a monumental journey that you have embarked on and there is no going back now.

You – yes you.  You are a parent now and you are forever changed.  Your view on the world is tainted by that fact and your life path is altered.  Whether you birthed or not your body will never be the same.  It has become a nourisher and a caregiver for ever more.  You mend wounds both real and imaginary, you are a safe place to be held, rocked and generally soothed.  You will be looked up to and imitated whether you want or deserve it.  You are a parent, fully responsible for another human being.  Holy crap where are the books?

I hope you enjoyed this.  Remember my mental wellbeing and self-worth and are in your hands.  🙂

I wish you the best health and sleeping patterns on earth.  I am here for you if you want or need to call.  I can pass along what I have learned with my two kids and maybe be of help.  Whatever I can do just let me know.

Old flame brings new perspective     Old flame brings new perspective    

I am sitting in a coffee shop feeling sorry for myself. I have too much to do – working, being a mom, being a spouse, “balancing everything” and too little time in which to do it. I am going over my list of Family To-Dos while I take this short break. Let’s see, groceries (don’t forget the celery), cookies for my son’s school activity – who has time to bake?

Well, Johnny’s mom seems to have time; geez, how does she do it all? She can bake, makes it to all her kids’ games and still has time to work, keep a beautiful house and a happy husband. Did I just say “keep a beautiful house”? Oh God, what am I turning into? When did I start caring about how people “keep” their houses; probably when mine turned into a perpetual disaster zone! Ok, back to the grocery list…oh and dinner tonight, and that report for work. No, that report goes on the Work To-Do list not the Family To-do list. I will work on the Work To-Do list next. What else? Oh yes, I need to pick up an I-am-sorry-I-insulted-you card for my husband.

Now the work list; let’s see, I have that report for Andrew and the – I catch a glimpse of someone entering the coffee shop, holy smokes is that Gary? My old flame Gary? Oh man was he a good kisser.  What am I thinking? I am happily married for goodness sake. Eek, what does my hair look like (primp, primp)? Who cares how I look? I have way too much work to do to worry about that (but of course it is my first thought). Do I look better than when we dated? Probably not, who looks better at 40 than they did at 20? And what am I wearing? I couldn’t find the shoes I wanted this morning because only one was in my closet; the other was last seen on my two-year old.  Blue sweater! That’s good, it brings out my eyes, and black, slimming pants. Well at least I don’t look too “mom” today.  (All this floods my brain in the time it takes him to walk in the door and get in line.)

Next, I do an inventory on my life. What is the life recap story I am going to tell? What do you tell a once intimate man about your current life and how it turned out years later? Is it good, overbooked, frazzled, crazy? Well yes, but you aren’t going to share that with him. Let’s see… I am happily married to a man I love dearly. Things are good, he loves me, I love him, we crack each other up and the sex has been really great lately. I mean the other night in particular was … wait a minute, I’m not going to tell Gary that – focus! Ok, short and sweet, happily married.

Kids – right, my darling dear angels! No really, I do have two great kids who make me laugh on a regular basis. They drive me nuts on a regular basis too but all in all they are good kids. After work, they say how much they missed me with lots of hugs and kisses. Everyone comments on how nice and polite they are. They both do well in school and have lots of friends. We feel really lucky. Hold on, too much detail. Keep it simple: happily married, kids wonderful.

Ok happily married, great kids, what else? My job: yes, my job is good too. I do like it and I have done well for myself – there I go talking like a person who worries about how others “keep” their houses. “I’ve done well for myself?” which is something my grandmother would say. “Well, he certainly has done well for himself, hasn’t he?” Focus, back to my job. I have advanced and really like my work. It is nothing that I imagined when Gary & I were dating. I have been successful and am well respected in my field. (still sounding a bit grandmotherly there) Ok, I think am ready for the encounter.

Married – yes happily

Kids – fantastic

Job – great

Ready

I primp my hair one more time out of nervousness. I can see his back and those cute buns. I notice how his shirt stretches across his shoulders and how very nice those Levi’s look. It looks like he has been working out. I don’t remember him sporting the Levi’s like that when we were dating…. good for you Gary; way to take care of yourself.  I am getting closer and he is picking up his drink. Focus now, my life is good, husband good, kids good, job good. It is “all good” as they say. I am oh so close; he turns, I smile, lick my lips, and open my mouth to say hello, then blush. I look at my shoes as if I have never seen them before; they are the most fascinating things I have ever seen. I nearly run into him. That’s not Gary! I keep walking as this stranger stares after me as if to say something but doesn’t. I make sure I am not running into anyone as I leave the coffee shop, I don’t need to add any more embarrassment to this situation.

My coffee and I cross the street; I am smiling and almost skipping. My life is good, my job and family are all good.  Just like the t-shirts say “Life is good”.

Did you like Old Flame? Then here are more musings here