Celebrating National Love Your Feet Day

HA!  This one made me laugh… Its also National Thrift Shop Day, but the feet thing… I’ll admit it: at first I thought “EW!  Why a whole day to celebrate feet?!?”  And I’m not even squeamish  about feet… but then I thought–you know, some people love feet, and some people can’t stand to look at or even think about feet…

This made me liken this thought to that about weight –I’ve been dealing with weight issues my entire life, but I like to eat, and coming from German and Norwegian stock–I’m f*cked.  So, I gave in and bought fat shorts–if you missed that goals blog, you can laugh with me here!

I then went to write a blog about just enjoying the things you enjoy.  For me, its coffee.  But ultimately, its not just about loving your feet–its loving your whole self for exactly who you are in this moment, you beautiful snowflake!  Revisit one of my all time favorites about loving the skin you’re in right now.

Clare

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Life is too short for bad coffee

If you’ve been reading my goals posts, you’ll know that I’m struggling with my brain not liking my waist–I mean I’m human, so who among us does like our bodies more than three days in a row?

So I’m sitting here this morning, a lovely sunny summer Sunday in NYC, and enjoying my coffee.  There is nowhere I have to be today, I do have a few obligations (phone calls), and errands, but nowhere I have to be.  And I’m taking a lovely sip of my French pressed coffee and as I swallow, I’m realizing for the first time in weeks, I’m actually enjoying my coffee.  Its warmth, its nuttyness, its robust but creamy taste; as the warm and and the caffeine hit my system, I’m slowly awakening into, and becoming a part of the world again.  I’m drinking it out of one of my seven favorite mugs–If you’re an original follower you might remember that I’ve moved six times in three years–so I’ve dwindled down my coffee mug collection, so I have exactly the number of cups (that I LOVE) for the number of days in the week.  I’m drinking out of this beautiful oversized bone china tea cup–I can’t get away from working for three years in a fine china shop–all of my dishes HAVE to be quality!  I’d decided to enjoy my coffee and read a little (my roommate loaned me her copy of Warrior Goddess Training to assist my brain realignment with my body issues) as the sun and the breeze stream into my NYC apartment, and the coffee is bringing me into life and bliss, I’m realizing: this cup of coffee is amazing, and life is too short to drink crappy coffee.


Let me back up a little, and bring you to the pinnacle of why this realization is important.  For the past six weeks or so, I’ve been trying to drink alternative coffee.  As in, I like my coffee lightish and sweetish.  I don’t need it to taste like a Werther’s Original, but I don’t need to suck on coffee grounds, either.  The easy way to deal with this is to buy those presweetened flavored creamers.  Which have a lot of sugar.  I’ve been drinking these for years…. but I decided that a good way to cut my sugar intake was to take the flavored cream out of my life.  So I did.  I tried almond milk.  I tried unsweetened almond milk.  I tried cashew milk.  I tried sugar alternatives.  I tried just milk.  I was so unhappy–I tried to make alternative coffee work… but it just wasn’t the same.  Yeah, yeah, first world problems, I totally know… but its a fine line, isn’t it–the difference between taking care of one’s self well, and what we’ve deemed as a first world problem.  I mean, its one thing to complain about creamer when,  I realize, there are people starving in some countries, and I sit here and complain about finding a creamer that tastes good, but won’t add five pounds to my waist whenever I have a serving.  But this is about me taking care of myself.  Which is also a fine line.  When do we treat ourselves well, or when do we “take care of ourselves”.  


I’ve never been starving–I’ve had an extremely low or a negative amount in my bank account many times.  I’ve lived off of, and stretched food because of poor choices.  However, I also have gone the other direction and found myself eating just to try to make myself happy (aka have been extremely overweight because I was eating because I was depressed).

I’m not the most regimented of people–diets just don’t work for me… I find I become very irritable (aka an extreme bitch) and they never have anywhere close to the results I want (my stomach isn’t much flatter, and my thighs didn’t shrink).  However, I am good at moderation–I’ll happily have a handful of chips and stop.  Or one serving of ice cream.  I’ll have the yummy treat, but then be done.

As I get older, I’m seeing my metabolism slow.  I’m witnessing that 10 extra pounds of happiness each decade.  I’m probably more healthy than I’ve ever been, as living in New York makes me move and climb and walk much more than I’ve ever done in my life.  And yes, I actually go back and re-read my own blog on loving the skin I’m in now every three months or so.  But the voices in my head, will loudly remind me that I’m not as skinny as I could and hope to be.  Most of the time, I can tell those voices that I’m beautiful no matter what size I am.  Like Warrior Goddess Training, and other books like it I’ve read, tell me that its the size in the person not the size OF the person that matters.  In other words, confidence is what is beautiful/sexy/attractive.  Shape and size are all just perspective.


So back to my coffee–I’m reminded to return from my tangents to the original thought that started this blog because I just got myself a refill.  My mom was in town visiting me last week, and I bought flavored creamer for her–as I was finishing out my round of caramel flavored almond milk–still not a winner.  This delicious Hazelnut International Delight creamer was left over… and so coming from a “don’t waste food” home, I’m drinking it.  And for the first time in weeks, I’m enjoying the coffee.  The interesting thing is that it was too sweet and creamy on the first sip, so I watered it down with milk–and ultimately making it a little healthier.  A little.

Maybe my enjoyment comes from the fact that I’m drinking something I really like. Maybe my enjoyment comes from the fact that two weeks ago, I threw up my arms, went out and bought fat shorts and decided not to give a fuck about my weight.  Maybe the realization comes from the conversation I had with my roommate last night about “overweight” being the line of discomfort that you cross, and not the size of your clothing.  Maybe it comes from the price of happiness is worth wearing a size larger shorts this summer (and the understanding that the last two summers I was doing a lot of hiking and walking for my jobs, so I was more active albeit a smaller waist size). Maybe its something entirely different.  But this morning, in my one size larger shorts, I’m enjoying this cup of coffee and not caring about anything else.  And that’s the point of living, isn’t it–to deal with the ups and downs, and to enjoy and revel in as many moments of goodness as you can.

I’m going to finish this cup of coffee.  Let me know what you like to enjoy and revel in!

–Clare

 

 

 

How To Apologize to Yourself

“I told you so” is one of the worst things to hear. Partially because when hearing it, you know that you partially agreed when your friend or relative said it to you, or at least had the knowledge before hand, but you still sojourned into the choice and came out on the other side, as predicted. Hearing “I told you so” from yourself is even worse. Knowing that a situation will not turn out the way you think, want, or need it to, but still going in with the understanding that failure is not only possible but imminent, is tough. Maybe I’m a hopeful dreamer, maybe I’m overly positive, maybe I’m just an idiot, but I have once again found myself on the back side of a situation that I knew what the result would be, as did almost all of my friends, but I tried it anyway. Of course it was a romantic situation. I’d tell you about it, but it’s a pretty generic scenario, and it’s also not the point of this article. I want to talk about forgiveness.

Yeah, forgiveness is one of those topics right now that is bouncing around the personal growth world that exercising forgiveness allows you to grow. And it does. Gabby Bernstein is one of my favorite advocates of this. What all of these other articles and blogs are failing to mention is how hard forgiveness is and that it is a process. Its not like you can just wake up, add water, and poof, the person is forgiven. It takes time, effort, and reliving—not the incident that happened, but reminding yourself that you did, in fact, forgive the person which means that you are no longer allowed to hold the grudge. Harder than forgiving someone else is how you have to forgive yourself—and that is just as, if not more, important than forgiving someone you don’t have to live with 100% of the time.

Because this stream of consciousness comes from a failed romantic experience, I’ve been told by Lesley that this is the last I’m to write about him, so I’ll name him Lazy Musician and if I ever write about him again, you can pelt me with olives. I feel like I talk about the relationship issue over and over and over… anyway… I was given hope that a dead relationship might have a resurrection, and was given a dangling carrot. To try to achieve said carrot, I reached out for it. Picture me, the extremely tall woman that I am, reaching on one tippy-toe with both arms out, fingers flexed, tilted to the side with one leg kicked out keeping me on balance—it’s a very silly, cartoonish vision. And I’m standing like this for 24 hours. That’s not what I was actually doing… but it felt like it, mentally. My friends were telling me not to give any attention to the situation, to walk away completely. By this person, I’d been hurt before. He didn’t deserve me, and I would only be let down. Again. Twenty-four hours pass. Thirty-six hours pass. Here I am at hour forty-two. Awake in my bed on a Saturday morning. Listening to crickets—well, actually, the boom of the bass and the people outside speaking Spanish on my Harlem stoop—but the point is that he has failed, again, to reach out when he said he would. The thing that keeps running over and over in my head is: Clare, you should have known better, I told you so. Like I said, its frustrating to hear that sentence. It’s horrific to say it to yourself.

I’m the type of person that will over analyze everything from what has been to what could have been to what will be. I could lay in bed and over think this non-situation and waste my Saturday. Instead, I sat up. Moved to the edge of the bed pausing before putting my feet on the floor, and told myself I needed to take this moment to wallow. I made myself agree that that after I put my foot on the floor I needed to move on with my day. I took a breath. I took a moment. Then I put my foot on the floor and walked into my day, leaving the angry and disappointed thoughts behind me. I’d love to tell you that I’m so amazingly well adjusted that I stepped foot on my floor I left the whole thing behind me. However, spoiler alert, it was not the case. I made coffee and lasted about an hour before I had to go snuggle with my roommate to get more out it out of my system. I was fine for about an hour until she left for work. After she left, I felt myself sinking again while washing my face. I found myself staring into the mirror. I uttered the horrific words to my image: I told you so.

Ugh. Sinking lower still, I thought that I wanted to talk to someone about the whole thing. But knowing that I’d hear “I told you so,” repeatedly for the next few days from friends and myself when I chose to relive the account to explain my dull mood. Feeling a tear about to fall down my cheek, and not wanting to go back into feeling sorry for myself, I stared into my own eyes with insolence. I realized I needed forgiveness. I needed to forgive myself for taking a chance, reaching out, but getting nothing in return—just like everyone I know said would happen. With unrelenting, fiercely protective friends, I was not about to hear the forgiveness I wanted from them. I was the only one who could give this forgiveness. I squared my shoulders, looked into my own soul and said: I forgive you. I forgive you for making the choice that you know would fail. I forgive you for wanting something you knew you wouldn’t get and that wasn’t good for you. I forgive you.

It felt a bit silly at the time—talking to myself in the mirror. This isn’t the first mirror pep talk I’ve given myself, but add in the “I told you so” and the frustration I felt of sinking back into a situation that I knew better than to sink into, and it was an odd moment. But now, I feel refreshed and I’ve moved on. It was such a free feeling I felt as I walked back into my kitchen to fix breakfast. As I poured more coffee, I thought that this would be a good thing to share with the Live ClareLesley readers. I felt really silly looking at myself in the mirror and telling myself that I forgave myself. Why was this so hard? Was it looking at myself in the mirror—probably not since I do it daily. Was it letting go of the situation that has been plaguing me for the past few weeks? Maybe. If I’m really honest, it’s the forgiving. Moving past the incident and forgiving is not the easiest. If someone has committed an injustice against you, its one thing to get over what happened. Its more difficult to let it go. Its even harder to offer forgiveness and completely move on. All of these steps towards one’s self should be easier, but its not, its harder. Anything for yourself is harder than doing it for someone else. Especially when it comes to mental health and well-being. Its easier to help someone else, even to forgive someone else than it is to be vulnerable. Even to be vulnerable in the confines of one’s own bathroom. To overcome your own ego and forgive is one of the most difficult things to do. We all put up walls, even towards ourselves, for protection and self-preservation. Its an interesting thought trying to protect yourself from yourself. However, it’s a self-taught trait that we all encompass.

The thing is, forgiveness isn’t letting down the protection walls. Its more of the mental version of just releasing unneeded tension and relaxing your shoulders. Why do we hold onto things? Why don’t we forgive more easily? After the forgiveness is the moving on and feeling better; the world seems brighter; breathing seems easy again. Maybe we don’t want to forgive because we don’t want to move on. We don’t want to face Change. Is it really easier to hold onto that wall and self-preserve or is it easier to let go and move on?

Starting to forgive is an easy process. You just have to wake up and start it. Instructions are simple: figure out who you need to forgive and why you need to forgive them. You can start with a mantra to yourself that what the person did, shouldn’t have as high stakes as you are allowing. Then go to that person (or to yourself) and look them in the eye and say the words: I forgive you. You don’t necessarily have to do it out loud—in fact a daily repetition of this might get creepy—but you have to have a repetition of this. Every day, you have to remind yourself that you’re better off having let go and forgiven and moved on. If you don’t have the chance to forgive them in person, or don’t want to face them again—write it out. Write everything they did to you and how they hurt you and how you would love to shove it back in their face. Take the paper, somewhere safe, like a lake or your toilet, and burn it. Let the fire literally take away your feelings. (Again make sure that you’re doing it in a safe place that the ashes will scatter and won’t burn anything to the ground.) Don’t let this person have power over you anymore. That is actually what forgiveness truly does—it takes your power back and makes you the stronger person. Forgiveness is such a powerful thing. Harness that and not the frustrating thoughts you’ve been harboring.

Going back and reliving my moment this morning in the bathroom, I now feel silly about it, but I’m so glad I did it. It hurts to think of the choices I made to get to the point of forgiveness. I also want to think about them and rethink and analyze… but I’ve forgiven and I need to move on. Lazy Musician has no ties to me anymore. I just don’t care, and I’m giving him no more power over me. He doesn’t deserve it. I need to look forward into the future and remember that in a week or a year or five, I won’t remember this day, or any injustice I feel now, because I’ve let it go. In the grand scheme of life, the negative things of today won’t matter, but my letting go and self-forgiveness will. What do you need to forgive yourself for? Until you forgive yourself, you’ll keep reliving the same mistakes. Maybe its time to have a little one on one chat in the mirror.

Clare

Making the Bed and Other Daily Habits That Matter

I’m a Gemini, for better or for worse. I don’t religiously believe in astrology, but there are some irrefutable traits that I have that are totally and completely “Gemini:” I’m fun, out going, happy, creative. But I’m also fickle and I don’t always finish things—I can’t begin to tell you how many projects I have laying around waiting to be finished.

It is really frustrating to me that I don’t finish things. It’s even more frustrating that I seem to not be able to keep healthy habits going. I regularly berate myself for not doing some sort of physical fitness. However, I do have two daily habits: coffee every morning—and an hour of quiet time to myself, when possible; making my bed—every day, without fail. This sounds like something that is just a daily task, without a moral. But its not. I didn’t start making my bed daily until about 8 years ago when I was in my late 20s. I’d love to tell you that there was some lovely dramatic story to this, but there really isn’t. As a kid, my parents encouraged a clean room, but it didn’t always happen, and wasn’t enforced. As a teenager, I just didn’t care if my bed was made or not. In college, I was convinced I could only sleep well if I configured my blankets and pillows in a certain way. This configuration was not to be disturbed, so I NEVER made my bed. After college, I moved into an apartment, got a grown up job while still pursuing my dream on the side. I dated, and had men over. I still didn’t make my bed. It just didn’t matter.

Then one day, it just did. I read something that said if you’re stressed out in your life, you need to organize your living space. To try to channel this, I think I did everything BUT make my bed. I cleaned out my closet, organizing my shoes and putting all items by type, season, and color. I went through my drawers, and organized and refolded everything. I cleaned and organized all surfaces, my desk, my nightstand, the top of my dresser. This overhaul took a few days, and I still didn’t think about making my bed—I think I pulled up the sheets to make a flat surface for organizing, but I didn’t actually make it. Now, in my terms, “making the bed” is straightening sheets and blankets and any flat to be straight and pulled to the edges, sometimes tucked. Pillows are fluffed a bit and sat straightened. Any extraneous blankets are folded neatly at the end of the bed. I have a queen bed. This activity generally takes me no more than five minutes. I rarely do it right when waking up, its usually after I’ve been awake for a bit.

The first week I started to make my bed daily, something interesting started to happen: I was happier. Not from making the bed, but instead from randomly entering my room and seeing that my sleeping space was just waiting for me. And the opposite is very true as well: if I don’t make my bed and I walk back into my room, I’m grumpy and frustrated until I make my bed. Its so bizarre. I’ve also figured out that if I leave things on my bed, taking up its space, I am frustrated when I come back and see the mess on it. I’ve also learned that if I need to remember things, I write myself a note and leave it on my pillow—those things ALWAYS get done. And, if I need to take anything with me for the day, I put it on my bed, I never fail to remember those things.

I wish I had better daily habits. I wish I got up and did yoga, Pilates, stretching, meditation, vocal warm-ups, eating healthily, writing, even brushing my hair, regularly without fail (yeah, sometimes I walk out of the house and haven’t brushed my hair… I’ll confess that. It happens. After having super short hair for over 10 years, I forget to deal with long hair some days. But I digress…) Instead, I have my coffee and bed making. Both make me happy. Both make my day go more smoothly, and thereby make me a better person.

The point I’m trying to make here is that daily habits you have should make you healthier in some way. The gym isn’t a healthy habit, if you find you can’t live without being there for at least three hours daily and aren’t getting paid for it. The coffee intake isn’t the healthiest choice, but the time I spend with those cups (and ultimately myself) is. Taking five minutes to make my bed isn’t a lot of time, but ensures happiness. Yes, I do other things for health and wellness, but nothing else is a daily priority. Truly, I’m ok with it. So, yes, I’m a Gemini. Yes, I’m a creative. Yes, I’m a coffee drinker. Yes, I’m a bed maker. I often bemuse that I don’t have better consistency, but I’m consistent for the things that matter to me; when I need to be consistent with something, I am. What makes you happy, and how can you make it into a habit? Do you have good daily habits? Are they as good for you as you think they are?

-Clare