Monday Mantra

Monday Mantra: The Art of Tidying Up

Weekend Plans

Although I never read Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” my experience this past weekend was an eye-opener. You never realize how much stuff you have until you go through your home room-by-room and begin to declutter. That’s exactly what I started to do over the weekend, and boy, was it a chore. As if my back didn’t already hurt after a long work week, spending an entire Sunday “tidying up” surely did it no favors.

But I learned an important lesson in the process—I have a lot of (unnecessary) stuff. As I went through clothing I haven’t worn in years, old textbooks from college, and assorted possessions that I had long forgotten about, I thought of Kondo’s book—and how I need to read it so I can simplify my belongings.

While I don’t consider myself a pack-rat by any means, certain articles of clothing have hung around for longer than they should have because they reminded me of a certain time in my life. As I began to go through a dresser filled with things I haven’t worn in years, it made me realize that I could probably learn a thing or two from Kondo’s book.

I am happy to report that after a full day of straightening out, I have made progress in the organizational department. But now I’m left wondering where my weekend went?

*Photo via @letterfolk

Monday Mantra: Take a Digital Detox

Social Media

As someone who spends a lot of time on social media, I’ve started to recognize how important it is to come up for air every once in a while. It’s easy to get into a routine, as I have, of waking up, scrolling through Instagram, browsing your Twitter feed, and perusing Facebook…all before you have even gotten out of bed. What’s worse, is that I have found myself scrolling through Instagram every chance I get—whether that’s in the check-out line at the grocery store or into the wee hours of the night (when I should be sleeping). So what’s a girl to do when you love your social media feeds, but really need to take a timeout? Insert the digital detox.

I’ve read plenty of posts on doing a digital detox, reaping benefits from it, and limiting your social media usage at critical times of the day, like before bed. Since we are bracing for a major snow storm on the East Coast this Tuesday (foiling my plans of having my scan done in New York City this week), I figured this past weekend was a nice time to take a hiatus from social media.

In the past, the idea of being “offline” for a whole weekend would scare me. Just thinking about all the posts and pictures I would miss makes me scream #FOMO. But after blogging for more than three years, I have learned that it’s okay to take a step back. Sometimes you need time for yourself or a little breathing space to feel inspired to post again. And that’s okay.

While I did post on Instagram once during my digital detox, I spent much less time scrolling through content. Rather than feeling like I was missing out all weekend, I felt free. I wasn’t tethered to my iPhone or trying to find the perfect picture to post, but I was able to enjoy my weekend and capture each moment with my own eyes…instead of my iPhone.

Now that my weekend digital detox is over, I am looking forward to jumping back on all of my beloved platforms (especially Instagram!) with a renewed appreciation…and perhaps some self-imposed time limits.

Tell me, have you ever done a digital detox?

*Image via PicLab Studio

Monday Mantra: Enjoy the Quiet

Monday Mantra

I expected this weekend to be a busy one. On Saturday, I followed my usual morning workout routine and in the afternoon I scheduled some unexpected “me” time at Aveda in anticipation of seeing a couple of New York Fashion Week shows on Sunday. Weather reports were showing inclement weather for New York City, but I prepared myself for a fun day in the Big Apple regardless.

But when I awoke on Sunday morning and checked the weather, it was looking dismal. I could hear the freezing rain hitting the windows and the driveway looked like a sheet of ice. I waited it out for another hour and checked the trains for any delays—they were minimal.

I lay in bed for a few more minutes, debating between meeting a fellow blogger and friend for brunch in the City before we hit two fashion shows on the Lower West Side, or staying in bed and going back to sleep. I wondered if I didn’t go, would I regret the decision and have FOMO if the weather improved and I saw everyone having a great time at NYFW on Snapchat and Instagram? And then I thought of how tired and achy I would feel on Monday morning after a busy weekend and lots of walking in the City.

As I listened to the sound of the relentless rain—which was starting to change over from sleet—I decided that the only thing I should listen to is my body. It has been through a lot recently with the thyroid levels still being in limbo and adjusting to healthier eating habits.

Having made my decision not to make the almost two hour trek in to the City, I curled back under the covers and was lulled to sleep by the elements. When I awoke for the second time, it was after 11 am. The weather was the same (and remained so throughout the day) and I found myself feeling thankful to have just stayed put.

Usually, after a whole day in the house I am itching to get out. But on that dreary Sunday, it felt like the best place in the world to be. I tried to limit my time on social media, talking to friends on the phone, and watching television. It was the perfect day to give my body the rest it needed so that I can be fully recharged for the week ahead. Sometimes you need that respite.

Happy Monday!

How do you enjoy the quiet?

*Image via PicLab Studio

Monday Mantra: Take Care

Long Island Sunset

The last few weeks have felt endless. Despite being busy at work—my looming thyroid testing next month has been weighing heavily on me. Since my antithyroglobulin levels began rising in November, the last three months of “watchful waiting” have been especially difficult. It has taken all of my energy to prevent my mind from wandering to worst-case scenario situations. But I finally built up the courage to schedule the appointments for the neck ultrasound and blood work. So now I have to endure these next two weeks before learning my fate.

I’ve tried my best to keep my mind occupied with writing and my body active with kickboxing. But I’ve also felt myself craving more down time—to relax, rest, and recharge. I find myself feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day for “me”. By the time I get home from work, eat something, peruse social media, and take a shower, it’s usually about midnight. But those late nights have caught up with me in the form of a nasty caffeine dependency (caffeine withdrawal is no joke, ya’ll) and just overall exhaustion—irrespective of how much I try to catch up on sleep over the weekend.

While I may not know what the future holds for my health, I do know that I need to slow down in the present. That might mean declining offers I would normally say yes to or skipping a workout here and there. But just like we make schedules for the things we need to get done in our lives, we also need to schedule timeouts for our lives.

How do you take time out of your busy week for yourself?

Monday Mantra: Be Present

December Snow

As we approach the final week before the holidays, and as I have yet to start shopping for gifts (hello, online shopping and overnight delivery), I’m reminded of how special these days ahead are. It’s easy to get wrapped up (no pun intended) in all of the minutia of the holidays: did I get gifts for everyone on my list? Do I have the dinner menu prepped? And even, did I remember to send Christmas cards out? But the most important gift you can ever give is the gift of being present.

Long Island saw its first snow over the weekend, and before the roads got plowed and people started going about their day, I enjoyed the stillness that the weather brought. It was a simple thing, but it was a morning I will be sure to remember.

I always feel like the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas goes by quickly. We are so busy getting things ready for the holidays — and there is plenty to do. But how about we take a few minutes out this week to listen to a Christmas song that brings us joy (for me, that would be “Carol of the Bells”), breathe in the smell of the season (gingerbread cookies, anyone?), and enjoy life at a slower pace. I’m looking forward to spending a day in New York City right before the holidays to see the tree at Rockerfeller Center and to peruse the holiday windows. Experiences like those are what I always remember about this time of year.

How do you slow down and celebrate the season?

Monday Mantra: Inspiration from Instagram

I’ve heard a lot about the comparison game when it comes to blogging and social media. When you’re going through various platforms and you start scrolling through all of the gorgeous images of houses, places, and things, you may start to wonder, “Why doesn’t my life look like that?”

Lately, when I have been scrolling through my feed, I have found myself pausing more — but not to get a better look at a photo. I want to stop and read the text or quote. Often, the words are profound, resonating with me so much that I decided to take a screenshot so they could live on infinitely in my camera roll.

Today I am sharing the words I’ve found while scrolling. I hope these words inspire you on this Monday as much as they did me.

instagram inspiration 2

{Image via @thecompanyinspire}

instagram inspiration 1

{Image via @laurenlearnslife}

worrier pose

{Image via @gemmacorell}

instagram inspiration 4

{Image via @talkthyroid}

instagram inspiration 3

{Image via @calm}

What are some of your favorite inspirational Instagram accounts to follow?

Monday Mantra: Embrace Change

flower

I haven’t written a Monday Mantra post in a while…and after the last few months, which have felt like a whirlwind of commotion, I figured I had the perfect topic for today’s post: change.

Change is a scary word for most people. Including me. I am creature of habit who thrives on having a consistent routine. Routines are like an old friend that comforts and cossets us. Yet these past few months have been nothing short of inconsistent, trying, and well, full of life changes. Between my health, stress level, heck, even a new season, and a soon-to-be change to what I have been driving for the last three years, change has come to be a word I have started to accept — whether intentional or otherwise. But is it really as scary as I thought?

As I have gotten older, it seems that change happens more frequently, or perhaps I am better equipped to accept it. In a couple of months I will be approaching the big 3-0. I know there will be lots of changes in store for me with a new decade, and I feel ready to tackle them.

So are we ever fully prepared for change? Yes and no. Sometimes change is invigorating; it infuses our lives with freshness and new challenges. Sometimes change tells us that our usual routine has become stale and no longer suits us or the times we live in. If nothing else, change can show you how strong you are — especially when you thought otherwise.

How do you handle change?

Monday Mantra: Be Open-Minded

Atlantic Beach, Florida

I’m back from Florida (and to my normal posting schedule this week). Last week was a whirlwind of new experiences for me — from driving two days down to Florida (which I highly recommend doing at least once in your life — you’ll even get to pass by the famous “South of the Border”), to exploring a new City, and finally feeling something I rarely feel when I travel…a desire to extend my stay (indefinitely?). While it’s good to get away, I’m usually excited to come home. But not this time. Have you ever been to Jacksonville? If you have, you know it is a beach lover’s and sun worshiper’s paradise!

I’ll be sharing more about my trip soon, but my time away reminded me of something that I often forget — the importance of being open-minded to new experiences. I like routine — I tend to go to the same places every summer, visit the same beaches, and head to the same events year after year. It’s easy to get complacent in the familiar, but it’s important to incorporate new adventures, which keep life interesting (and not to judge things and places before you see or try them in person). I knew little about Jacksonville before I visited last week. As a beach goer, I figured I would enjoy its proximity to the water. It’s located on the East Coast in Northern Florida, just a short drive over the border after Georgia. The one thing that struck me almost immediately was how friendly the people were and how much there was to do (I highly recommend the St. John’s Town Center, if you’re into shopping).

This trip has encouraged me to think of ways I can be more open-minded in my day-to-day life. Whether it’s a travel destination you never thought of visiting or a coffee shop that just opened that you’ve wanted to try, remember to be receptive to new excursions.

What are some ways that you practice open-mindedness in your own life?

Monday Mantra: Life is a Journey, Not a Destination

Monday Mantra:  Life is a Journey, Not a Destination

Have you ever reflected on your life and wondered how you got to where you are now? Or thought, this isn’t where I’m supposed to be by this point in my life. I know I have. I often think about life choices and how they have brought me to certain places. Some of them have been good and well-thought-out, while others were rash and perhaps led me off course. Then there were those that were completely out of my control.

As humans, we want to be in control in all aspects of our life. For me, I am lost when something is out of my control. But as I start to think about future goals and paths, I’m reminded that life is a journey. There will be setbacks. There will be heartaches. There will be failures. But as long as you have goals that push you, drive you, and force you out of your comfort zone, you will be successful.

It’s easy to be consumed by where you are now, and perhaps you feel stuck in your current routine — like you are on a hamster wheel. We’ve all been there. The great thing about life though, is that it is constantly changing and through change you can find a new perspective.

So the next time you fret about your life’s choices, direction, or progress, remind yourself that life is a journey — and it is one that needs to be enjoyed and experienced with your eyes open.

Monday Mantra: Seeing the Light

West Neck Beach - Long Island

What a difference a month makes. I’ve been keeping a little secret from you, my dear readers. It’s not that I didn’t want to share, but rather I didn’t know how. The last month has been a trying time for me, one filled with feelings I struggled to name.

You see, I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember. And most of the time, I know what triggers it — a math exam, a long flight, a doctor’s appointment. Most of the time, my anxiety seems rational…at least to me. But for the last month, it was anything but. It consumed both my waking and sleeping hours, to the point where there weren’t many hours that I actually slept. I felt like a shell of the person I once was. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t eat. And the slightest thought would send me into tears. My anxiety was completely irrational…even to me.

My mind played tricks on me day and night. My head told my body that something was physically wrong with me. The funny thing about anxiety (is any part of it funny?), is that your mind can actually torture your body — if you let it. And I did.

Late night phone calls, texts, and Skype calls with friends and family helped. But it was only temporary. As soon as I was on my own again, the what-ifs started. No amount of meditation would make them stop. No amount of telling myself they were irrational quieted them. Come morning, I was groggy, and by nightfall I was wide awake. This pattern seemed like it was never going to end. And then, just like flicking a switch, it did. It stopped. Without any further action on my part, my mind gave up. Maybe it got tired. Maybe it thought the battle wasn’t worth it anymore. But nevertheless, it stopped. It quieted. And it went back to doing what the mind normally does — it wandered. It wandered onto better and more pleasant things.

If you’ve ever dealt with anxiety issues, perhaps you can relate to this. If you haven’t, you are lucky. The last month was probably the hardest month I’ve had in a while. Being unable to combat a demon is frightening. Having people not understand what you’re going through is even more terrifying. But the scariest part of the whole experience was how much influence your mind can have over your body. How anxiety can completely envelop your whole life. I had never experienced anything so severe — and I learned that I need to focus more on quieting my mind through meditation.

Over the weekend, I found myself sitting on the beach. As I watched the water, felt the breeze on my skin, and zoned out with the sound of each crashing wave, I saw this beam of light come though the overcast sky. To me, it was not only beautiful, but symbolic. Just as I had started to physically and mentally feel better, this ray of light emerged — almost as if to say this too shall pass. From that moment on, I decided I wouldn’t let anything dim that light.

Why do I tell you all this? Because we all have things that upset us, make us anxious, or keep us up at night. Some of us are better at keeping these feelings in check than others. For the last month I’ve felt as though my brain has had too many tabs open, but unwinding seemed impossible. I found my ten minutes of meditation each night before bed more akin to torture than relaxation. And just when it felt like these feelings would plague me forever, they stopped. I’m not sure why. And I’m not sure how.

For now, I am enjoying feeling like myself again, getting back to a regular sleeping pattern, and easing into a meditation routine. After the experience of the last month, feeling like myself is not something I will ever take for granted.