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9.27.2012

A Luxurious Life: Get One!

This post comes on the heels of a few revelations I've had recently, both due to my quitting smoking (yes, I'm still clean!) and spending more time alone. To be honest, I had a real fear of being alone for a long time, but lately things have been changing. Maybe it's part of growing up, but I've begun to enjoy my own company. (That sounds so self-centered!) It's something about being able to hear myself think.

Life is a funny thing. We all have a certain number of hours every day to allocate to particular actions...or non-actions. Growing up with a workaholic father (who is still, at 71, working, traveling, and kickin' ass) led me to believe that happiness lay in sitting in an office for long hours, toiling over projects, and not getting enough sleep. Turns out, that's what makes my father happy. However, I'm starting to get a feeling that this apple was plucked from its tree and hurled into a neighboring state (or even across several states equivalent to an entire country: He's in NY, I'm in LA.) Proving that, in fact, sometimes the apple falls very, very far from the tree.

I've begun to "unplug" as they say. When work hours are over, I step away and spend the rest of my time doing other things. Writing, reading, taking walks with my dog, spending time with my husband. I get enough sleep now and have taken up painting and tap dancing (I promise I'll post more about this later.) I've come to accept that, OMG, there are fulfilling things to do outside of my office job! And, get this, my work is a bazillion times better because I give myself the luxury of what I'll coin "non-work."

So, this post is dedicated to a solid list of 5 things that I enjoy doing while I "non-work" (or "un-work" if you prefer another grammatically wrong version of my concept.) Luxury has nothing to do with money or fame or silk sheets. (Ok, maybe silk sheets.) It has to do with loving life...

These aren't silk sheets, but puppies are just as luxurious as silk sheets.

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Calling All Taskmasters

If you're anything like me, you dislike being unproductive. It makes you feel gloomy and unsuccessful with life...which is really dramatic and totally blown out of proportion, but it still happens. When I promise myself I will get something done and I don't? I hear screeching mind harpies singing songs about how much of a failure I am. What, you don't have mind harpies?

So, decide to take some time (trust me, schedule it) to complete a task. Clean out your closet, re-organize your desk, go buy some plants for your stark and lifeless apartment. Once you get started, you may find it hard to stop until it's done...and when it's done, you'll feel really good about yourself. BAM, you just did something amazing and your reward is a little bit of luxury. Who doesn't like a clean closet & all the things that come with one? (Some choice phrases you may hear yourself saying are "Oh, that's where I put those shoes!" & "I didn't realize I was so into Chambray!")

Don't have a large task? Then write up a handy list of little tasks and plug through it. Make that doctor's appointment, go through your pile of mail, call your mom...cross out the tasks as you go and revel in the fact that you're being so productive. Trust me, people, it's a luxury to make time for yourself to do the little things.

Don't Eat. Taste.

Day-to-Day eating can seem much more like a hurdle than a joy. I, personally, get very crabby or weak when I don't eat, so meals become the procedure to un-bitch myself and an active exercise in un-collapsing. It's all very complicated and takes up too much time. I'm a speed-eater and it's gross. I eat to keep going and, at certain times, if I like how something tastes, I will keep eating until there is nothing left to eat, despite the fact that I may have been full 20 mouthfuls ago. If all of humanity hung on my ability to chew slowly & control my portions, it would Armageddon before my first course.

Lately, I've been trying to make an effort to take my time during, at least, one meal a day. (My success rate hasn't been all that great so far, but I'm trying to have faith in my jaw muscles.)

When I do get around to tasting food instead of just inhaling it, I get to enjoy a plethora of new delights. I can actually hold a conversation while eating. I chew things properly which makes for happier digestion. (Who normally has digestion problems? This girl.) I might actually stop eating when I'm full and not when the plate is empty which, in turn, allows me to keep my jeans buttoned and sit up straight without that creeping feeling that I may regurgitate something if someone makes me laugh. (I know. SO attractive. How do I keep the boys off of me!)

And, really, it doesn't even have to be a meal. I found that eating a Ritz Cracker really slowly can be momentously rewarding. You'll often find me with a stack of 5 Ritz, sitting on the couch, making sure to take at least 5 minutes with each cracker. That's 25 minutes of salty, baked, golden deliciousness!

Anyway, you get it, right? Enjoy your food.

Ha ha ha...Repeat.

We've all heard this one before and there's a really good reason why this piece of advice still holds true.

We need to laugh. Aren't there medical studies based on laughter?!

Mr. Merlin enjoys laughing...and, in turn, has a more fulfilling life.

We're dying the minute we're born, so why not get a few good guffaws in while you're around. (Wow, depressing much?) Instead of sitting around and being angsty or worrying about how smiling will give you wrinkles (if you do, you're officially shallow), rent a comedy or do something ridiculous with a loved one. If you happen to be shallow, remember that laughing is really great for your abs.

Laughing is a great accompaniment to love as well. You can try to love someone for the color of their hair, they're perfect butt, or they're slender wrists, but years will make those things fade, flatten or fatten and all we'll have left to love is a bright smile, dancing eyes, and a good joke. When things are looking down, a fit of laughter brought on by my husband will always turn things around. A tear-inducing laugh-fest amongst friends can lead to some of the best memories.

If humor doesn't work, tickling is the next best option.

Close Your Eyes

Newsflash: Sleep is the epitome of luxury, people.

Sadly, I'm one of those unfortunates who always wakes up ridiculously early. Even on weekends. As much as I would love to lounge around in bed on sun-speckled sheets, cuddling up to my husband and nuzzling my puppy, for the most part I hop out of bed and begin my morning list of neuroses. Wash any dishes in the sink, take a shower, check my emails, organize anything out of place in the apartment, make to-do lists, etc. It's kind of depressing.

I'm also a failed napper. "Nap time!" always magically turns into "man, this apartment could use a vacuuming" or "when was the last time we did laundry?"

So, why is this on my list? Because I want it really badly. I want to learn to lounge around in bed at least one morning each week. I desperately want to master the art of napping. If you don't sleep for a certain number of days, you go insane.

Who doesn't want this?
So, does that mean if you get more sleep, you're more sane?
Personally, I could use some more sanity.

Kill with Kindness...Wait. No. Just Be Kind.

This is something I really enjoy...and you can practice it on most anyone! (Convenient!)

Ok, ready?
Compliment someone at least once a day. It can be anything from a great haircut to a lovely shade of lipstick to the expert ability to make a latte.

Generally speaking, everyone goes about their day in a bubble. Despite meetings, phone calls, yelling at each other in traffic, there isn't much in the way of genuine socializing. Life is laden with goals to achieve. Get the project done. Make the appointment. Get to work on time. Rarely do we stop to appreciate each other...co-workers, friends, family...even strangers.

So, next time you're going about your business and notice something, say it out loud...I think it's obvious, but I'll also mention that you should only say it out loud if it's nice. The last thing anyone wants to hear is, "I just wanted to tell you that I think your pants are really ill-fitting."

Trust me. It'll bring a smile to someone's face and, in turn, will make you smile. Who knows? You may even strike up a conversation instead of awkwardly ignoring each others' existence on line while picking up your coffee in the morning. Guilty as charged.

Isn't knowing you momentarily brightened someone's day satisfying? Am I making you nauseous with my positivity? I hope so!

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So, there it is, folks. Take some time to enjoy the little luxuries in life. I promise they'll make each day a little better. What's your favorite little luxury?

(Note: In retrospect, I'm pretty sure this post was just an elaborate plan to post photos of my dog.)

Photoss: Taken by Nami M. Scott

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