Self-Care

If you’ve been reading along on this journey with me for a while, I’m sure you know I’ve usually been pretty good at taking care of myself. Even when I was working full-time in a place of stability, I always had the right combination of structure and flexibility to work from home, prep healthy meals, exercise, or make space for impromptu socializing. After becoming a traveling and/or part-time yoga teacher, the self-care opportunities were even more prevalent. I’ve grown accustomed to making my own schedule and taking advantage of all those free yoga classes that you get for being a teacher. Of course, there’s a fine line to toe when your passion is also your job. Sometimes teaching three or four classes a day feels like enough yoga for you—and it often is! Sometimes there isn’t any time to prep that meal, so you’re on your own with takeout options. Sometimes you over-schedule yourself and realize that your body is a machine that needs oiling just as much as any other.

IMG_6807.jpg

This summer, I’ve been pushing that tool to the max. I’ve wanted to work as much as I can to make sure that I can support a big move to another expensive city. Since most of my work is on my feet, I’m realizing that all the hours can take a toll on my feet, my back, and my neck and shoulders. Most nights I come home exhausted at 11:30 and take thirty minutes to wind down on my phone or with a book before I can fall asleep. Some nights I throw in some yoga stretches. Then it’s up early again to reach or work at the gym and I have only a couple hours free for lunch before going back to the restaurant. It’s been a big change from all those hours in LA spent sitting on my butt in traffic! Or when I was getting to take multiple yoga classes a day as part of my advanced teaching certification!

I’m still feeling lucky here. I get to take all the yoga and workout classes I want (and have time for), plus free adjustments from the chiropractor at the gym when he’s on duty. I can order veggies and protein from the restaurant, so it’s ok if I don’t have time to cook. And I’m living rent-free with mom. Hallelujah! Count your blessings!

Pangaea natural foods

But this week, as the tourist-season business dies off, I’ve finally had the opportunity to slow things down and repair my body. I left the island for the first time in weeks for a podiatrist appointment to work on a foot problem that’s been bugging me for three years. I got an impromptu massage which felt AMAZING. You know when you get a massage therapist who just intuitively knows which areas need attention and goes right for them? What a gift! Afterwards, I stopped by the natural foods store and picked up some treats I’ve never tried before and some old favorites.

Barnegat Lighthouse

On Tuesday, I got to work a little bit early and took a breezy walk around the lighthouse. I even saw a surprise pug, which is always a good omen in my book!

Over the weekend, I bought a foam surfboard from the end-of-season sale, and I’ve been pushing myself to get out and work on my “skills”. The first try on my own didn’t go so well, but I saw so many families of dolphins swimming by that it didn’t matter if I fell down in the waves. It still was a truly unbelievable morning on the water!

Surfing LBI

And I’m pretty sure that ice cream is allowed to be a part of any self-care practice. On Sunday, we slipped into the best place right before they shut their doors for the season.

Poppy's Ice cream

What are you doing to take care of your body and soul these days? It becomes especially important to check in and set intentions for our health as we prepare ourselves for the change of seasons. I’m thankful to have the space to do so.

Our Canyon Ranch Vacation, Day 3

Our last full day of fun! I’m not too sad because my regular life is a lot like life at The Ranch, and I’m sure my mom’s is, too. I was nervous to fly back to LA the next day in the midst of all the wildfire crises, but I am lucky enough not to live in the evacuation or danger zone. It feels extremely sad and scary to have a natural disaster hit so close to home. I feel guilty for not being in LA to endure the chaos, but thankful to be somewhere safe and flame-free.

Paella

6:15am We wake up early again. Today is a little easier because mom agreed to turn on the heat in the room last night, so it’s not quite so chilly as we crawl out of bed and out the door.

7:00am Another morning walk. We decide to join the 50 minute power group this time. It ends up being much like the normal paced 40 minute walk because a couple tagged along who didn’t know what they were getting into. I just like walking and being outside, and I don’t wear a watch, so I don’t mind either way.

9:00am Zumba!!! I love taking Zumba and I love that the instructors here give us belly dancing wraps with fancy silver coins hanging from them. We dance and dance and dance.

10:00am I take a yoga class on surfboards. The surfboards are indoors on platforms, so it feels a little silly, but I’m pretending to branch out and try new and different things while still doing what I do every day.

11:00am My mom and I take a TRX fusion class with straps that hang down from the ceiling and heavy kettlebells. I’m a little worried since we’ve already been working out for like 3 hours at this point and it’s marked on the schedule as a Very Difficult class, but we have a good time anyway. The instructor is entertaining, and I appreciate his enthusiasm although we stop giving full effort about halfway through the class.

12:00pm We return to lunch in the main restaurant. This time, there’s a pasta bar plus the usual lunchtime offerings. I again eat everything and end up feeling much too full after. I’m glad there is enough exercise around here to balance out all of the deliciousness.

2:00pm I meet with Leslie the psychic for a Tarot card reading. They really do have everything here! She tells me that I attract narcissistic partners (I’m a blindfolded woman surrounded by swords!) and that my near future will contain a wonderfully sunny period followed by the image of two people leaping from the windows of a burning tower. Things are looking good…

3:00pm I’m back in the room trying to write a book for National Novel Writing Month. I’ve been sticking to the daily word requirements, and I won’t let vacation knock me off track. I will end up getting knocked off track after vacation, but that’s another detail for another time.

4:00pm We make our daily visit to the spa for a quick dip. I bounce back and forth between the cold and hot tubs, and I think I could get used to this. The cold pool is very icy, but I can definitely feel a difference in my muscles the following day.

5:00pm It’s Spanish paella night! We’re excited so we get there too early and end up having some time to kill. We look around to find the “Live Ranch Music” and find that it’s an elderly man playing piano in the lobby. We run back to the room to grab our books to read on the couch by the fireplace. Someone requests that the pianist play “Thanksgiving Songs”, but isn’t sure if there are any or which ones he would like to hear.

6:00pm BINGO time! They’ve moved the game far away into one of the conference rooms, and we walk along the winding paths to get there. The adobe buildings all look similar so it’s easy to get lost here, at least for us, but there are usually signs and friendly employees to point you the right way. We have a nice time playing Bingo for prizes, but neither of us comes close to winning unlike the group of women behind us who each win 2 times in a row!

8:00pm We have to exit Bingo early to get our second round of massages. It’s not a huge loss because our cards are all duds, and getting an immediate massage is a much better prize anyway.

Our Canyon Ranch Vacation, Day 2

Pardon the interruption as I was taking a little Thanksgiving break, but I’ll return to our detailed account of a Canyon Ranch vacay! Day 2 was our first full day of taking advantage of everything the resort had to offer.

6:15am My mom’s alarm goes off and I reconsider my level of interest in the morning walk. It’s cold! And I didn’t sleep well the night before. But I decide to urge myself out of bed so I can see more of the scenery around the ranch.

7:00am We meet in one of the gyms with a group of other walkers to split up into three groups. There are 30, 40, and 50-minute guided walks and the leaders are very peppy for my 7am self. We decide to stick to the middle and head out for a nice walk. I decide to decorate my future home in the color scheme of a Saguaro cactus desert.

8:00am The air warms up on the walk and I see some of my favorite cacti. We’ve worked up an appetite so we head to one of the breakfast options for pretty much anything we could possibly want to eat for breakfast including a fruit/yogurt/oatmeal bar, omelette station, pancakes, waffles, eggs, and other special menu items.

9:00am We take another yoga class, foregoing my promise to try new and different things.

10:00am We stumble upon some kind of cardio class that uses exercise balls and Bosu trainers. I like it and it gives me some new ideas for my own workouts. Then I head back to the room to work on a writing project for a little bit while my mom goes off to join another class.

12:00pm We visit one of the lunch and learn sessions in the demo kitchen where a chef shows you how to make yummy healthy meals while you watch him work and then get to eat whatever he’s making. We learn about brown butter shrimp and winter squash gnocchi, and I’m happy to devour it. I learn that you can make gnocchi much, much more easily by putting the dough into a pastry bag, and then squeezing out a bit and slicing it straight into boiling water. I’ll have to try this at home.

2:00pm Water aerobics! I am not usually a fan of swimming in outdoor pools when it’s below 80 degrees, but the water is heated and I’m trying new things so I join the pool full of eager classmates. It’s not bad, but too cold for me and run-swim-leaping from side to side across the pool is not enough to warm my spirits. I want to quit early but I like the teacher and don’t want her to think it’s because of her. Probably won’t do water aerobics in November again.

3:30pm We stick to our afternoon spa date and enjoy the hot tub(s). I try to master my mind and body by dipping into the cold tub. I turn my back to the clock and try to last a minute, which ends up being the longest 60 seconds of my life. I’m not sure how long you’re supposed to stay in the cold dip so I retreat back to the scalding waters of the hot tub. I think the cold helps my muscles though since I don’t feel sore at all the next day.

5:00pm We return to the room to get ready for dinner, and my mom spots a group of these babies just outside our door:

[ via ]

[via]

6:30pm We eat in the same restaurant as the night before. There’s no need to branch out when the entire menu looks and is so good!

8:00pm My mom booked us massage appointments, which is one of the best ways ever to round out the day. My masseuse is a little heavy on the foot massaging, but I’m thankful for the overall pampering. I fall asleep easily again.