Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stop, Drop and Relax

This weekend, aside from throwing Jeff his 30th birthday party, my goal was to relax.  To some, that may seem more like a reward, than a challenge, but to me, taking it easy is anything but easy.

I started on my path to relaxation early, on Thursday, by working from home.  After work, Jeff and I walked to and through my gym/sanctuary and ultimately, my favorite place in New York City, Prospect Park.  Before heading home, we popped into Park Slope's Chiles Y Chocolate, for some tasty chicken enchiladas.  I took a bath when we got home, which is something I haven’t done in many months.   When Jeff poked his head in to make sure I was still alive, I ask him to dim the lights and spritz lavender spray (which, oddly we have).  The bath was so nice, but Jeff, being accidently overzealous with the spray, eventually drove me out of the bathroom dripping wet and gasping for fresh air.

I got home from work and errands around 7:30PM on Friday and put on my slippers, scrubs, and apron (sexy, right?).  In addition to looking good in the process, my favorite thing to do when I get home from work, is make a mess in the kitchen.  Sometimes, such as in this case, I even make a meal in the process.   I baked chicken thighs dusted with Dijon mustard and bread crumbs, garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus with lemon and olive oil.    We ate our classy dinner while watching trashy shows, like Jersey Shore.  I was asleep by midnight. 

Saturday morning I woke up and walked 5 minutes up the block to my small little pilates studio for my 9:15AM hour long class.  Afterwards, I walked back towards our apartment but stopped by my coffee shop, Penny House CafĂ©, for his and her coffee and bagels to enjoy back at home.   I sat at my kitchen table, read Real Simple, enjoyed my breakfast, and soaked in the morning sun until my coffee was cold.   My sister and I agree that this time is the best time of the week and we both look forward to the time when we can share coffee and bagels together, on a regular basis. 

Around noon, I walked a mile, at a steady clip, listening to my iPod, to Atlantic Terminal for some retail therapy.   Usually, shopping at Atlantic Terminal stresses me out, but I was on a mission, and I found exactly what I was looking for right away, and on sale.  Afterwards, I walked another mile or so to my favorite yogurt shop, Yogo Monster, for a not-so balanced lunch.  Then, I headed around the corner to my nail salon, Classy Nails, for a manicure and pedicure for the bargain price of $25.00.  Once home, with a few hours to kill before the party, I took a cat nap, with Zeke on my chest and cucumbers on my eyes.   Total pet therapy.

Sunday morning I woke up and went for a walk/run around the park and picked up some flowers on the way home.   I spent the rest of the day cooking (chicken tortellini soup in the slow-cooker), reorganizing our bathroom and bedroom storage (with the help of our new super-storage bed), all of which I find very cathartic. 

By Sunday night, I felt relaxed, happy, organized and ready for the workweek ahead.  This spring, I hope to have more weekends like this one and I’ll keep this list handy just in case, I forget what it takes to take it easy.

Relaxation Pack Necessities:
Warm bath
Dimmed lights
Lavender spray (one spritz only)
Cucumber slices
Slippers and scrubs
Mindless TV
Shopping (sometimes)
Afternoon nap 
Local joints

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'm Not Anxious, I'm Excited

My original intention was to post a new entry every week.  I started off strong, but recently, I have been struggling to meet that goal. 

For one, the traveling hasn’t let up.   We spent this past weekend in Vermont with good friends; Kacey, Charlie, Sue, Liza and Mike.  The trip started off with a nostalgic and incredibly satisfying meal at Friendly’s (I’m envisioning Brittany, pouting, out of jealousy, as she reads this) en route to Mount Snow.  Once we arrived at the condo, we had a great time snacking on cheese and crackers, sharing homemade meals, drinking and playing old school games, like “Never Have I Ever…” and Circle of Death.  We also spent a majority of the time asking extremely personal questions, more appropriate for couples counseling, than a ski weekend.   Good times.

Secondly, I spent the majority of last week preparing for the keynote presentation at SUNY’s Fashion Institute of Technology EduTech Conference.  I spent most of Tuesday fine-tuning the content and practicing the delivery, out loud, in front of the mirror.  By Wednesday, my throat was sore, and by Thursday, I was so sick of the material, I could barely review my notes without glazing over.

But, before I get any further; let me give you some background information.  

As many people do, I have dealt with anxiety for years.  The worst of it was during college and shortly thereafter.  It’s getting easier to manage, as I get older, more confident and more aware of coping techniques that work for me.   Positive thinking, positive visualization, and controlled breathing are tools I use every day to do things that make me anxious, such as running ½ marathons in August, or any other challenging physical activity, traveling to far and new places like Asia, living in NYC, a big and intimating city, and speaking publicly. 

Not surprisingly, I was so anxious about giving this presentation.   It hit a tipping point on Tuesday night.  

Thoughts on Tuesday: I might pass out or throw up on stage, shake and sweat uncontrollably under the strong lights, plus there’s a good change I’ll forget the entire presentation and run away in embarrassment, and it’s almost guaranteed that I won’t represent myself or my company in the best light.

It was exhausting thinking that way and the next morning I made a conscience decision to only have positive, calming thoughts.  

Thoughts from Wednesday on: I’m not nervous, I’m excited. I can’t wait to share this information with the audience, I’m a rock star, I’ve presented well in the past and I can do it again, I’m smart and a great speaker, I’m going to nail this.

And, I nailed it. I felt like a rock star. Twenty years ago, it would have been worthy of a Cone Head sundae celebration and serious amounts of praise from parents.  Instead, afterwards, I went to BRGR, sat at the counter and read the encouraging texts sent from Jeff and my Dad.  It's nice to know that no matter how old you are, whether or not you fail or succeed, you have fans. Just remember, be your own fan first.