Bring Spring into Your Home and Spirit

Bring Spring into Your Home and Spirit

The calendar says it’s spring today. The heaping mounds of snow sitting outside my window demonstrate differently, but I won’t let that stop me from letting spring into my soul.

By birth, I am a winter baby, but I absolutely hate the cold, dreary days of winter. Nothing brings me greater joy than to sit out on my front porch with a favorite book, a tall glass of ice-cold unsweetened lemon tea, and of course, my Don’t Bug Me spray.  But until the weather decides to catch up with the calendar, I have to bring spring into my home and spirit.

Bringing Spring into Your Home

The first spring steps I take are a little cliche, but it truly helps me to find peace and sanctity: Spring Cleaning. Frank and I go through all of our closets and fill up bags of clothes to donate to our local veterans association.

We do a deep clean of all the nooks and crannies of the house – you know, the parts that go ignored (for us, that’s behind the fridge and the coat closet). We always find an inordinate amount of plastic bags stuffed in the coat closet and we make it our point to repurpose them. We use them as shipping stuffing, a way to store our gloves and hats, whatever we can figure out, but we never throw them into the garbage.

I clean up all of our winter candles and store them away, then bring out the spring candles! My personal spring favorites are Weekend Getaway and After the Rain. I love evoking the scents of freshness and renewal for spring, and those two particular candles remind me of some of my favorite moments.

I try to start changing my diet. With the warmer weather, some of my favorite fruits and vegetables come back into season. I do my best to buy farm-fresh and locally-sourced produce, so I take advantage of this time to stock up on what’s in season.

Bring Spring into Your Spirit

Spring is a time for renewal, so instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I look at this time of year as the time when I actually make commitments to betterment. This year’s goal is to make time for a walk every day. What I’ve learned is to not make lofty goals that I can’t commit to (like five miles a day), but once this snow melts, I will absolutely get out there and walk, especially through nature.

Since I teach English, I am always immersed in books, but they’re usually books I’ve read before but rereading to gain a better perspective on teaching. This spring, why not join me in picking up any book for pure enjoyment? I especially love series because this allows me to get completely enraptured into a new universe and commit myself to characters – I’m open to suggestions!

I like to change up the fragrances of my soap for the spring, as well. What brings me true moments of spring joy are clean, bright scents, such as Balance, and soothing scents, like Cuddly Blankets.

Spring as a State of Mind

In whatever way you choose to embrace and celebrate spring, remember it’s all about your state of mind. That means releasing negative energy, waking up each day with a positive outlook, and reminding yourself to find gratitude. Let go of what you cannot control and work to make small positive changes every day.

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Take a Moment to Slow Down

Take a Moment to Slow Down

I work two full-time jobs and one part-time job. For most of my life, I have thrived on deadlines and pressure. I unintentionally built my reputation around my ability to get-the-job-done. When someone wanted it done precisely and fast, I was called in. I took great pride in this acknowledgment but after nearly twenty years of this pressure, I learned one major lesson: You need to slow it down.

In 2011, I went on a two-week exchange with my students to Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. As I was running around trying to keep itineraries, passports, visas, and everything else organized, I stopped into a Starbucks for a cup of coffee to grab and go. There were no to-go cups. I was initially annoyed, but I looked around and noticed people sipping their coffee and chatting; only one person had a laptop and a few were just reading. Having a cup of coffee in Moscow is not a jolt to get you rushing through your day, it’s a way to bond with your friends or to meditate.

When did we all get so busy? Between work, school, families, and everything in between, it’s easy, but isn’t it a tad ironic that the technologies of today that have made multi-tasking so much easier have somehow made us so much busier? I have to set a reminder on my phone to remind me to slow it down.

What’s key about taking a moment to slow down extends far beyond the physical benefits of reducing stress into mental well-being. As I started to learn to manage my time better, I started adopting new mantras. After a large event, instead of allowing the stress of all the minor issues to overwhelm me, I would simply laugh: “Hey, nobody died.” Success. Before beginning an overflowing to-do list, I ask myself: “What will explode if I don’t get this done today?” Granted, my mantras are a bit maudlin, but you get the point: it’s all about perspective.

There are simple changes you can make in your life to take a moment to slow down. Here are a few ideas to start with:

  • Take your lunch break. It’s included in your day for a moment of respite. Relaxed and rested workers are more effective. You will be better if you give yourself these 30-60 minutes just to eat your lunch.
  • Pick a time to log-off. This means everything from email to social media. Only answer your phone if you have to. Unwind by shutting down.
  • If possible, try walking to work. If not, park a little farther or get off the bus/train a stop earlier and use that walk as some time for just you and your mind.
  • Take an actual coffee break. Follow suit with the Europeans and go sip your coffee in a real mug in a coffee shop.
  • Set a real bedtime and stick to it.
  • Skip out on some activities that feel more like obligations. Saying no is slowing down.

What are some suggestions you have to rest easy and take a moment to slow down?

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Celebrating Women’s History Month: A Short List of Influential Women

March is Women’s History Month and I am especially proud to celebrate this month as a woman entrepreneur. Women have made incredible strides over the course of history, despite the continuous influence of global misogyny and patriarchy. Fighting our way to every career path, showing our strength, intellect, and fortitude, we have not allowed stereotypes to make us culpable. As William Shakespeare (one of my favorite feminists) writes in Much Ado About Nothing, women continue to “have patience and endure.” Yes, we endure because we

Yes, we endure because we have always needed to. We are resilient. I am constantly in awe of the women around me, but that is for a different post in this series of celebrating women. Today’s post is going to focus on women in history who have influenced my growth and perception of women. A list, in no particular order:

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Medusa – While Medusa is a Greek mythological character, I cannot think of a greater example of historical misogyny and misrepresentation. Medusa was originally one of Athena’s virginal high priestesses, blessed with incredible beauty. Poseidon was enamored with her beauty and though Medusa took her virginal vow to Athena, Poseidon raped her anyway, disregarding Medusa’s vow and Athena’s “ownership” of Medusa (Medusa was not a slave; she was a priestess by choice). Athena was incredibly jealous after the rape and punished Medusa by turning her into the monster everyone understands as the Gorgon. Forced into isolation, Medusa was unable to control her ability to turn people to stone as she traveled to isolate herself. Raped because of her beauty, punished for her rape, isolated for her punishment, Medusa is one of the most misunderstood women in (mythological) history.

Henrietta Lacks – Thanks to the incredible scientific memoir by Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksI was able to learn about the invaluable contribution of Henrietta Lacks to the modern scientific community. Now known as the HeLa Cell, Henrietta Lacks’ cancer cells were the only known human cells the actually live and duplicate outside of the human body, allowing for the creation of numerous vaccines and the unveiling of disease. Though she never lived to see her gifts to modern science, she will, as Skloot beautifully phrases it, forever be immortalized through her undying cells.

 

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Billie Holiday – Known for her haunting voice and contribution to the blues, Billie Holiday stands out as an influential woman far more than her gifts to music. She was also a fierce advocate for Black rights, singing the ever-famous song, “Strange Fruit,” which highlights the pain and degradation of the lynchings of the Jim Crow era of a vicious country who refused to accept Civil Rights. Her advocacy came from her personal pain, as her father was hit by a car and left dying in the street because he was a Black man. While she struggled, and eventually could not overcome her own demons, the power of her music and the lyrics still transcend time.

 

 

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J.K. Rowling – The phenomenal author of the Harry Potter series is one of the greatest stories of following your dreams. Always wanting to be an author, and struggling financially, Rowling sold the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, for a meager advance of $3,000 after numerous rejections. Well, as we all know now, there is faith in following your heart, dreams, and literature, as Harry Potter is not only a common household name, but taught in universities worldwide.

This list is truly meager compared to the number of women in history who have influenced me, and I almost feel selfish for needing to publish this post without mentioning at least a few more: Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Walters, Bessie Smith, and Marie Curie. It’s not about politics, but about fervor, dedication, and refusal to allow the stereotype to hold them down.  Cheers to women!

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