Popsicles and Pockets of Joy

Enjoy the little things.

Over breakfast my friend Dominique announced everyday is a Monday. Responding to my quizzical expression she filled in the blanks. Dom, a successful entrepreneur, is in the process of growing her second successful business, Escape Room Palm Springs. This venture means hitting it hard in back-to-back seven day work weeks. Understanding the amount of work that goes into a new business enterprise, I tipped my head in an empathetic nod.

My friend continued talking about her busy life and related how one day while listening to a CD, she discovered a way to keep the pace without spiking her stress level. Adhering to the advice of a female combat soldier, Dom cultivated a way to look for, and take advantage of pockets of downtime. For example, when she has the rare 2 hour chunk of time she heads home to soak in her Jacuzzi. An extra thirty minutes may be used in the grocery store with her headphones on. Dom finds strolling the aisles relaxing as she leisurely accomplishes restocking her pantry. For a mere 15 minutes, she can find a quiet corner to sit still and “just be.” If her pets are around, Dom indulges in doggy cuddle time. (Stroking a dog is touted by experts as a healthy form of stress relief.)

Dom and Dog

 

Author and speaker, Amanda Enayati, is in complete agreement with Dom about mastering “the pause” during a demanding day. In a recent interview, Amanda referred to these portions of down time as “pockets of joy.” Enayati, who authored the book, “Seeking Serenity: The Ten New Rules for Health and Happiness in the Age of Anxiety,” discusses a pause as a way to deal with negative stress. The author recommends not over-thinking a pause. Just find a quiet space to rest and renew, or head outdoors to commune with nature.

Free Happy Woman Enjoying Nature. Beauty Girl Outdoor.

Establishing one of these new rules in your life might take a bit practice. Like Dom, you must develop an awareness and capture those precious moments of “me” time. By setting up these buffers, you can minimize and neutralize your stress level. A word of caution here: Don’t fritter it away thinking you should use the time to knock off a few more things on your “to do” list.

Try it with me. This week I’m committing to my pockets of joy by instituting the 80/20 rule. For 20 minutes each day I’ll close my office door, think of nothing and enjoy my 80 calorie cold-brew coffee pop.

Chocolate popsicles on baking paper with scattered nuts and choco topping

Bye, bye toxic stress!

 

 

Sometimes NO is the Right Answer

Enjoy the little things.

Arnie rushed into my office, suit jacket flapping behind him. As he sat down delivering a heavy sigh my client complained of schedule overload. I giggled reminding him that he was retired. In my mind, any calendar overload was self-inflicted. Shrugging his shoulders a serious look crossed his face as he checked an alert from his phone. Rolling his eyes he muttered something about a golf game.

Getting down to business, I soon understood Arnie’s problem. He developed a habit of accepting every social invitation that came along. Although this might not sound like much of a problem, it can lead to a dysfunctional lifestyle. It is sometimes dubbed the “cannot say no syndrome.” I have coached many individuals who fall into this category.

Delving deeper into why the “no” word was missing from Arnie’s vocabulary he admitted there were many times he would rather stay home with Chinese takeout and a good book. He went along because he did not want to offend anyone. I pushed back asserting the multiple polite ways to decline an invitation. It seemed to me there was more to this than a case of overly polite manners. After more discussion, it became evident Arnie’s real issue surrounded the “left behind syndrome.”

Actually his reason for going along with the crowd is not as trite as it sounds.  Social media has penetrated our lives. Sitting home alone observing the partying gang posting’s on Facebook or Instagram, can elicit feelings of being left out, but only if you let it.

Sticky note with social media on hand with blue background.

Whether you are a baby boomer, Gen X’er or millennial, hanging out with yourself should be a satisfying and enjoyable experience. Carving out time from your schedule to spend developing your creative side, going for a solitary run or sitting in silence and quieting your mind is a healthy choice. Solitude does not equate to loneliness. Developing a deep connection with yourself leads to clarity on life choices, and future goals.

About a week later Arnie returned to my office proudly announcing he canceled a social engagement, turned off his smart phone

Smartphone with Stop Sign

and spent time alone puttering in the garage with his playlist softly streaming in the background.  When I inquired how he felt about not going out, Arnie flashed a grin admitting he felt relieved. He chose to do what made him happy and realized he wasn’t bored or feeling left out. In fact, he declared, “I’m a rather cool guy to hang out with.” Agreed. Hanging with Arnie is fun.

How to Turn Back Time

happy girl at sunset
Years ago I lived in Canada for a short time. What I remember most about that period of my life were the long and lazy Sundays. It seemed as if that glorious day went on forever and ever. There was time for worship, a drive out to the country to pick up fresh corn, an invigorating hike with my husband, or a day spent curled up by the fire reading a good book.
Fall fireplace

One of the factors that made Sunday a day of luxurious respite from the hectic day-to-day pace was the community shut-down. The only place open for business was a minute grocery store called “Mac’s Milk.” It served as an emergency outlet in case you needed milk for the kids’ cereal on Monday morning or bread for lunches.

Now if I were to revisit that Canadian town on a Sunday I could shop at the mall, pick up my dry cleaning, drive-through a Starbucks for a non-fat cappuccino
coffee cup and beans
or complete my weekly grocery shopping. These activities are identical to what I could accomplish where I live now, or just about anywhere. After reminiscing about my Canadian experience, I realized somewhere along my life’s journey I overlooked the magic of designating a day to things totally unrelated to my ever increasing “to do” list. I decided it was time to turn back the clock.

It does not take a supreme amount of effort for me to forego a mall visit or a trip to the supermarket for provisions on Sunday. What tends to invade my solitude is the overriding technology connection. Recouping the sanity of a relaxing day with no agenda other than to ponder and dream in blissful peace meant imposing a technology ban. For me it meant no tweeting, no checking in with my Facebook friends, no online shopping, no polishing my LinkedIn profile, or spending time in the blogosphere. I had a serious discussion with myself about shutting off my cell phone and refusing to boot-up my laptop no matter how much it called to me.

I am happy to announce unplugging was pure bliss! During the course of last Sunday I found time to take a brief power nap, do some motivational reading, bake a dozen pumpkin scones, treat my dog to a park visit and putter around the kitchen which I find highly therapeutic.

Want to reclaim your day of rest? Follow suit by powering down and calling it a day off with benefits. Try it and let me know how it goes.