Dirty Laundry

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I have always worked Saturdays. Always. I have been in the workforce over 20 years & even when I was a social worker with a traditional day job, I was still required to be on call on weekends. I do not mind working Saturdays. I would rather have a weekday off to do things when places are less likely to be crowded.

A few weeks ago, I realized just how stressful Saturdays have been. Especially, when I was working 60+ hour weeks, everything was crammed into Saturday night because that was my only night home. In my efforts to rewind real slow, I had not yet made adjustments to that routine. Until now.

Up until a few weeks ago, Saturdays went pretty much like this: come home from work and immediately start the laundry, as I typically have two loads per week. Then, I had to start preparing a week’s worth of food because when you have multiple food allergies, you can rarely do food on the fly. Then, I would have to sit down and write some paper for school, which in my educational programs have typically been 20 pagers. In fact, I have it down to a science. Once all my background prep work is done and I am ready to start actively writing, I can typically crank out 20 pages in 24 hours. To put the pressure on even more, I was also trying to get to bed at a reasonable hour, due to my Sunday morning long run. Whew. It makes me tired just writing about how it used to be, but is no longer.

Once I identified that this routine was the cause of so much stress, I was not only able to realize that I needed to make a change, but that the stress all started with dirty laundry, literally and figuratively.

While cramming all that stuff into Saturday afternoon was once a necessity due to an over packed schedule, I now have more free time and control over that time.

I no longer do laundry on Saturday. I do it during the week, often one load at a time. Since I am home more, I have the luxury of doing laundry whenever and not trying to cram it into a schedule.

I also no longer need to have monster paper writing sessions in which I am cranking out 20 pages in 24 hours. Unless I have procrastinated ridiculously with my time, I now have several days during the week to work on school.

Making these minor adjustments to my schedule have been hugely significant in lowering my stress levels and increasing my happiness. Dirty laundry is just another reminder that although we may spend 40 hours a week working, what we do with the rest of the time we have is purely our choice.

What areas of your life are you able to identify as creating stress? What routines can you alter or change in order to decrease your stress and save some time?

I have noticed that now when I come home on Saturday and no longer face piles of dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively that my weekend goes much more smoothly.

I still have not yet found the cure for procrastination when it comes to thesis writing, so if you figure that one out, let me know.

What dirty laundry can you change today?

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Ottawa 2008 – #TBT to medal # 2

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In early 2008, I broke both arms at the same time. I have had 10 broken bones total in my life. While this was not the most debilitating injury of my life (I have spent almost a year in a wheelchair), it was certainly an injury from which I learned the most.

My left arm was in a cast from my fingers to my elbow. There were three broken bones in my dominant arm. My right arm just had a broken elbow, and healed faster than the left. When the event first happened, I was in shock. I did not realize anything was broken. I actually got in my car and drove to work. As I was driving, I realized my left arm hurt. Then I realized my right arm hurt. When I got to work, it was fairly certain not only to me but to everyone around me, that they were both broken and I needed medical care. So came the casts.

I had plans to run Ottawa in May 2008. I was just coming off my first race in the fall of 2007. Ottawa would become my second medal.

The first few weeks after my injuries were the most challenging. The pain pills did absolutely nothing, so I stopped taking them. It was very challenging and uncomfortable to sleep at night with two broken arms, so I mostly slept during the day after spending nights crying alone to myself in pain. I could not feed or dress myself. I had to have someone help me every day. It took about 2 to 3 weeks before my fingers could wiggle enough on one hand for me to be able to pull off my own sock.

It was at this point in my life, that you quickly learn who is there for you – and who is not. I went without being bathed for quite awhile because I could not do it myself and no one would assist me. I did find someone to wash my hair in a sink, but had to pay for the service. I had to pay people to help prepare my meals, take me to orthopedic appointments, and clean my house. It was hard.

The doctors overseeing my care knew that I was scheduled to run in Ottawa in the spring. As it was winter, I usually start my planning inside on the treadmill and then move outdoors. Due to my injuries, I was forced indoors. The initial start of my training was delayed by about a month due to my injuries. I was still determined to train for and run the race.

I had numerous conversations with my medical team about training. They were concerned about me running – the bounce, and the pressure that would be put on my bones trying to heal. They regulated how fast I could go on the treadmill. One week they would say my speed could not go above 3.0. The next week they said I could not go above 3.5. It was a constant discussion, struggle, and compromise as I wanted to go faster, and they were concerned about rattling healing bones. The only thing I could think was, “at least it’s not my legs. It’s just my arms. I don’t need my arms to run.”

Running with casts on, even on the treadmill was a challenge in itself. I was weighted down. I was off-balance. Trying to stay on the treadmill without falling off and injuring myself worse or additionally was challenging enough.

I went through my entire training plan for my second race with two casts on.

My recovery really came down to the wire. My right elbow healed before my left arm, but I am left-handed. Towards the end, I could use my right hand, but it was awkward. You try using your weaker side for 3 weeks and see how you do.

Finally, my casts were sawed off and gone on a Tuesday. The race was 5 days later, that following Sunday. I still faced physical therapy for my arms, and was not fully recovered. When the cast came off my left arm particularly, I had a lot of atrophy. I still to this day have not regained full use of my dominant hand due to some nerve damage. I do not have all of my strength back. I have had to intentionally work very diligently to try to “even out” my left and right sides so that my strength is not lop-sided.

On a Sunday at the end of May 2008, I ran in Ottawa, and earned medal # 2. I ran with the Canadian National Army. I may have just has casts sawed off 5 days, prior, but by the second race, I had already caught the bug. I was a runner, and continuously trying to push myself, even coming off an injury.

The race itself was quite challenging. The weather conditions were reminiscent of Chicago 2007 – the year that lives in infamy as every runner’s nightmare when the temperatures hit unprecedented highs, runners died or were hospitalized, and the race was canceled in the middle of the race. The same thing happened that following spring in Ottawa. There were unprecedented and unplanned for highs that made the race that more difficult. The race organizers actually ran out of water and had to water us down with garden hoses not only the last few miles, but also in the runners only area after crossing the finish line. Luckily, the spectators were smart lifesavers. Many of the children had super soaker water guns they were spraying us with and some amazing spectators brought buckets of sponges in water. Running with sponges was a godsend in that race.

What I did not realize at the time I ran Ottawa or even immediately after, was that not only was I able to run Ottawa and obtain my second medal after a challenging injury, but I also ran a Boston qualifying time. Boston qualifying times are only good for two years. I had gotten an email saying that my time was only good for one more year, and that was the first I had heard or realized how well I ran.

I later went on to earn my Boston Athletic Association medal in 2010.

Ottawa taught me very early on in my running career that if you have your heart set on something, you could literally overcome almost anything to accomplish it. This is a lesson that has always stayed with me, and contributed to some other weird and off-the-wall feats in which I have engaged over the years since that race. Ottawa was the race that proved to me that marathon runners really are made in the training, not just one day when you race. It was the race that taught me that what happens in the middle is when you learn the most about yourself. It taught me that start lines are just as important as finish lines.

Your first race shows you that you are able to do the impossible. Only about 1% of the population will ever run a marathon. It is in subsequent races that you learn so much more – about who you are as a person, and what runners and spectators as a community are really all about.

Since overcoming two broken arms to run Ottawa, I have also overcome a knee injury that almost put an end to my running career, I have ran while fighting lymphoma, I have ran while dealing with multiple food allergies, I have ran through death, undergrad, grad school, falling in love, and happy tears. I have overcome so much through my running that Ottawa was really just the beginning.

Today, on Rewind Real Slow, we #TBT to medal # 2.

Whether it’s your first race or your 20th, each race and every runner has a story. Find yours.

The Insanity of Taper Mode

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The last three weeks of every marathoners training plan are not only challenging, but also crucial. Taper mode is that point at which your body is fully trained and prepared to go the distance of 26.2 miles long on race day, but your brain does not agree. To complicate this process, your training plan now says that you are supposed to decrease your mileage, rest, eat, and hydrate well in preparation for race day.

This seems to make total sense until you actually reach the point in the training plan where you enter Taper Mode and your brain screams: “Nooooooo. Noooooo. We’re not ready! We can’t do this! We must run more! I am not ready for the start line!”

To which your body responds: “Chill. We got this. We ready. We trained. Now is time to rest and gather our stores of glycogen and other nutrients to be able to perform.”

Yes, you are, in fact ready to race.

Your brain is not going to hear that. Your brain is not going to believe. Taper mode is called “the insanity of taper mode” because this is the point at which even the most psychologically robust completely loses their mind.

You develop OCD. You tell everyone you live in a bubble and to not touch you.

You’re like the llama in the Emperor’s New Groove telling everyone to not touch you.

The last few weeks before a marathon, you are also at your most vulnerable, immune wise. You sanitize everything like an air lock on a spaceship. Then you sanitize it again. You sanitize so much you should buy stock in soap and baby wipes.

Your training plan for Taper Mode says 6 miles. You cheat. You run 8 miles instead.

You panic. You pray. You make deals with both God and the Devil and anyone else who seems like they may be able to help you in any way. Your brain is on full-out psychotic freak out mode because it just realized you are about to run a MARATHON and that is 26.2 miles long. It’s way different from those Netflix marathons you’ve been doing to try to cope with Taper Mode.

All you need to do is make it to the start line healthy and strong. If you can make it to the start line, your body will do the rest. The start line is just as important as the finish line. In order to complete a marathon, you must cross both.

You start reading inspirational quotes, books, blogs, magazines, and watching inspirational movies to try to get yourself over the hump. You start imagining worst-case scenarios. You mentally prepare for this race better than some cult about to eat the pudding before the Hale Bopp comet. Run, walk, crawl, drag, or if in Philly, IN DRAG, you will cross the finish line. You imagine every single possible way and scenario to finish 26.2 miles because your brain does not think you are ready. You break it up into chunks: it’s a 5k with a 23 mile warm up, it’s a 10k with a 20 mile warm up, and any other chunk you can break down.

Meanwhile, your body is relaxed. Your body knows. Every fiber of every muscle in your body has been trained. The imprint of the 500+ miles you have run in the 5 months it took to prepare for the race are ingrained in your muscles. Your body knows what to do.

Your brain needs to get it together.

Calm down, man.

It doesn’t matter if it is your first time, your 20th, or your 50th, Taper Mode always feels this way. For me, I am going for medal # 14. Taper Mode is always the same. Your body is ready, and your brain is completely freaked out. You have followed the training plan, and the training plan has worked 13 times before. You will be fine.

But honestly, the insanity of taper mode makes the marathon that much more beautiful. When you lace up on race day, cross the start line, and get into the rhythm of the race, you will find that moment where your brain finally agrees with your body and calms down: “We got this.” That moment, when everything clicks into place, you just fly like you are on cruise control, and enjoy the moment for which you have spent a significant amount of your year preparing to do. That is the moment of marathon magic.

So while the insanity of taper mode is sure to be annoying and drive everyone crazy, in some ways it is necessary. Being able to appreciate how far you have come and everything you have OVERcome to get to this point is part of the marathon magic. The miracle is that you had the strength, the discipline, and the fortitude to train for those 5 months. This is for the Sunday morning long runs when you would have much rather stayed in bed and listened to the radio, this is for all the times when you ran in the pouring rain because you had to get the miles in, and a treadmill would have been worse punishment than anything mother nature can muster.

To run a marathon, you have to go a little crazy.

“But I’m not ready,” says brain.

“Yes, we are,” says body.

“We will start and we will finish,” says heart.

The Lead of Love

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This is the monthly Feline Friday post on Rewind Real Slow.

“We die containing the richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead.” – Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

About a week after Kitty’s first birthday, Kip walked into our lives. Literally. I had seen this scrappy little orange kitten running around the neighborhood. At the time in the late 90s, Kitty and I had housing, but it was in one of the most drug and crime ridden neighborhoods in a 60-mile radius. I was on my evening walk and saw this little orange kitten on the side of the road, obviously quite hurt. A car had hit him. I tried to find his owners, but no one seemed to claim him or even to care. Not wanting to be accused of cat napping, I talked to him, and he literally followed me home.

So small that he fit inside of a child’s shoebox, I took him to the animal hospital, where he remained for a week. He had a broken arm with permanent nerve damage resulting, as well as severe internal injuries to his side and kidneys. Even after a week in the hospital, he came home with tubing in his side that required me to keep moist and flush with fluids to remove toxins multiple times daily. Due to his size, I had thought he was only a few weeks old. According to dental analysis done by the veterinarian, he was actually 4 months old, his stature diminished by severe malnourishment and neglect.

I already had a Kitty at home, and I did not want to traumatize the orange treasure by renaming him and instituting an identity crisis. I was searching for something close to Kitty (as almost all cats will respond to kitty) that was not kitty; he needed unique nomenclature to fit his persona. I borrowed a name from one of my favorite movies and novels. Kip Quark Anderson had entered our lives.

What I did not realize at the time was how appropriate this name would be to his place and impact upon our lives. Kip was the apple, the joy, and the love of Kitty’s and my life. We had 14 wonderful, beautiful, glorious years together, many of them spent regulating his resulting chronic kidney condition, before he finally succumbed to pancreatitis a few years ago.

Kip was a happy go lucky, playful cat full of joy. He taught Kitty how to not be so uptight, how to relax, how to play. Everyone who met Kip loved him. Kip was leash trained and quite enjoyed walking on a leash, often emulating a dog. He was a frequent visitor to my preschool classroom, where he never failed to delight, entertain, and draw out even the most shy and precarious child in the class.

He handled his chronic health condition with grace and dignity. The nightmare-ish visions of having to “pill a cat” never happened with Kip. I would set his medication on his plate with his breakfast or dinner, and he would happily eat it the same as his food. Towards the end of his life, he was on 5 different medications daily, one of them by dropper, and he never squirmed or protested when it was time for his medications.

Kip kept both Kitty and I from losing our minds. Life was hard in the late 90s and early 2000s, as we faced bad relationships, and sometimes lived in the car. Kip’s attitude was always upbeat and helped to remind Kitty and I of the brighter side of life, that things do in fact, get better. Of all my kids, Kip is probably the one who most taught me how to adult and forced me to create a stability in my life and theirs that I had never experienced as a child. I made sure that he received all the medical care that he required and that I was home to give him his medications on time. I was even able to keep his medication on schedule during my early grad school years when I had a one-way 6-hour plus commute from Central New York to Boston for school.

I had spent my first three years of college as a physics major; The English Patient movie came out my freshman year of college. I was particularly drawn to the character of Kip, as his profession in the novel and movie was exactly what I was studying to do in college. In many ways, Kip the cat fit his namesake. He was proficient in diffusing many tense situations with his absolute love of life and easy-going personality.

What Kip taught me the most in his 14 short years on this planet was love. He taught Kitty too. He taught me that every experience, no matter how dark or dire, has a small sliver of hope. He taught me that every single person we meet in life changes us in ways we may not even see or understand. He lived a very full and very bright life that was nothing but a lead of love to everyone he met.

This month, for #FelineFriday, we honor the memory of Kip. At times in my life when I was trying to go too fast, when I was trying to accelerate at 100mph, Kip always reminded me to slow down and remember the important things. Each experience in our life changes us and stays with us forever. Kip not only led with love, but he has changed my life in ways that will have repercussions until my dying day. Even as I held him in my arms a few years ago, as he passed away, he still taught me in his final breaths, the meaning of love.

Cheers to the memory of Kip this month on Rewind Real Slow. If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.

The Best Summer

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Despite the still balmy temperatures we have in September, the leaves are starting to turn, the kids have returned to school, and summer is quietly sliding into fall. Summer 2015 is the best summer I have ever had in life. I do not remember a summer like this since 1988. I tried to think about why this is so and to isolate the commonalities that seemingly exist between two so disparate years.

In 1988, I was still a child. This was before I started working at age 14. While my childhood was nothing pretty and everything I have been trying to overcome as an adult, I distinctly remember the summer of 1988 as having a slight respite from the challenges through which I lived in my youth. I remember reading lots of books. I was in Virginia that summer, and the people with whom I was staying had a pool membership. When I was not in the pool, I was next to it reading. Those were the most carefree days of my life. Granted, my tastes have changed. I did not re-read Jurassic Park and all the other Michael Crichton novels this summer, but I actually had time for leisure reading; a rare treat as a grad student.

This summer, I had the gift of time. For the first time in my adult life, I have employment that actually allows me days off. Prior to my current position, I was always working 7 days a week between two or three jobs. The only time I ever got a day off was a holiday. Holidays were not really holidays, they were days to be home and get caught up on school and everything else in the middle of my 60 hour plus survival schedule. My current position gives me at least one day off per week, and often more. I had several days this summer where I had the day off and the freedom to recreate that feeling from 1988 of being free from responsibility and worry. I spent many days this summer at the various parks in the state, on the beaches reading, and doing some light surfing.

Beach days were not relaxing at first. I was so accustomed to the schedule of having to pack school into every free moment due to my work schedule, that my first few beach visits I took my school work with me. Then, as I started to realize my current employment situation allows me privileges I have never before experienced in life, I made a conscious decision that I would not take any schoolwork with me.

That’s where the magic begins.

Beach days became carefree and reminiscent of that childhood summer of 1988. I simply put some food in a cooler, grabbed a towel, a book, and some sunglasses, and off I went. The most “difficult” decision I had to make was which bathing suit to wear, and even that was not hard: wear the dry one that is in the closest reach.

This summer was great because it was probably the first time since I started working at age 14 that I actually had “holidays.” Now I know what the Europeans are talking about. I took off for beach days this summer without school, without work, and without worries. That has never happened for me before.

In some aspects, I feel I was able to reclaim some small portions of my childhood lost due to the difficulties I faced as a child and being forced to grow up way to soon to face them. I felt a little irresponsible “blowing things off” and taking beach days, but in reality, all my work and schoolwork was done, and my bills were paid, so really I was not blowing anything off, I was doing the best thing possible. I was taking care of myself. I was able to experience childhood delight that I never experienced as a child, and able to fully relax and be present in the moment in which I was living. It was one of the best things I have ever done.

As summer slowly changes to fall, I feel I am also losing that feeling. I feel I need to recreate it somehow, so that I do not lose the beauty of my summer beach days. What I am learning, as I rewind real slow, is that peace and relaxation may not necessarily be about your location (although beaches and crashing waves are very helpful), but rather a state of mind that says: “I am here. I am at peace.” Most importantly: “I am enough.”

I have gotten caught up in the whirlwind of fall. The anxiety of back to school (although my grad program runs continuously until its conclusion); it’s that Pavlovian response to the change in season. I find myself trying to jam pack my schedule again.

Then I realized that having the best summer of my life need not be an isolated incident. It is also possible to have the best fall of my life.

Now I’m putting on the breaks.

In the next few weeks, my goal is to refocus myself for a new season not only in weather, but also in life. I am going to remember to enjoy my days off. While I may not be spending them at the beach right now, I need to remember to not fill them with useless and unnecessary things. That beach feeling is something I can recreate in other ways. I just need to figure out how.

Do you get caught up in the fall whirlwind? Is this the time of year you pack your (or your child’s) schedule with activities, meetings, and things to do? Summer is not the only season for relaxing and joy. Fall can have the same feeling of peace if only we know how to find it.

As the breeze blows gently, I am enjoying a fall morning now on my deck with my coffee, and some radio. If this summer has taught me anything, I have learned that it is ok to just sit and be. Doing nothing is not necessarily lazy. Sometimes doing nothing helps to replenish us so that we may fully do something.

What ways are you learning to slow down this fall? Are there things that help you to feel relaxed in the middle of the bustle of back to school and new schedules? Times of transition are often stressful. This is the time when we need to take care of ourselves the most.

Take time to rewind real slow.

36

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36 life lessons from 36 years of camping, running marathons, teaching preschool, and living life.

  1. As we get older, the quality of our friendships is more important than the quantity of them.
  1. Always pee downhill. Not only should you pee downhill, but also not too close to a tree in case some woodland creature decides to exit their home and accidentally gets a shower at the moment you decide to squat.
  1. If a child gives you a rock or some other small treasure, smile, say thank you, and keep it. Children do not have money to buy things. They do not have jobs. The rock/leaf/whatever is probably the only thing they have to give you of value to show that they like you.
  1. No matter how cute they may look, squirrels and chipmunks can be aggressive. This also goes for kittens, puppies, children and other things in small packages.
  1. Always take rain gear, even if there is no rain in the forecast.
  1. No matter which direction the wind is blowing, it will always send campfire smoke in your face, so do yourself a favor and remove your contacts first.
  1. Sneakers melt when kicking logs that are on fire.
  1. Always take time to look at the stars. They remind you of your place in the universe.
  1. A great radio station can totally make your trip.
  1. You can start a good fire with just wood and matches in about 15 minutes. Add empty toilet paper rolls filled with dryer lint, and you can decrease that time to about 5 minutes.
  1. Obtain wood within 50 miles of your campsite to avoid destroying ecosystems by introducing new predators.
  1. Pack light. The bears aren’t going to care if you wear the same pair of shorts two days in a row and it’s less stuff to haul.
  1. Nap time, time outs, and coloring are all for adults.
  1. While the first and last miles of a marathon are very exciting, its what happens in the middle that makes or breaks your race.
  1. Everything you ever wanted to know about yourself, you can learn in 26.2 miles.
  1. Baby wipes solve a lot of problems – even if you don’t have a baby. Keep a pack in the car – you will be amazed at what you use them for.
  1. The best friends are the ones with whom you can go days without talking to them, and then when you do reconnect, able to pick up exactly where you left off.
  1. If someone fails to communicate with you, and then accuses you of making a bad decision, it is not your fault! You made the best choice you could on the information available, and if the other party properly communicated, you would have made a better choice. Don’t beat yourself up for doing the best with what you have.
  1. Do not live like you are dying. We are all dying every day. Live like it is the first day of your life. You will not be this old or this young again.
  1. Always take time for your grandparents and those older than you. You may have “all the time in the world,” but they do not. Let them know how you feel before they are gone and remember that the greatest gift you can give is your time.
  1. Always ask before touching someone. Always. This goes for children, animals, pregnant women, senior citizens, everyone.
  1. The best times in your life are the moments where you were too busy to take a photo, post a status update, or write something down about it.
  1. “Please” and “thank you” never go out of style. They are timeless. Use them.
  1. If you always tell the truth, you don’t have to remember or worry about lies.
  1. At the end of the day, what matters most is that you are able to sleep at night, content in that your words and actions for the day were your best effort.
  1. It is okay to say “no.”
  1. Take time for you. You cannot pour juice from an empty pitcher. Refill your cup, and when it overflows, you are able to give.
  1. Batting averages are based on best 3 of 4. You don’t have to be perfect to be great.
  1. You may spend 40 hours a week working, but what you do with the other hours of your life is up to you.
  1. It is okay to distance yourself from toxic people, relationships, and situations.
  1. It is okay to sit and do nothing every once in awhile. Really.
  1. Run like you are 6 years old again. Rediscover joy.
  1. If you adopt a pet, remember that this is a commitment for life. Your pet may live for 18-20 years. It is like having a child. Are you ready for that type of responsibility? Do not be flippant with this decision.
  1. If you decide to downsize or minimize, you will not miss or remember the things you get rid of. There is too much clutter in our houses and lives. Let it go.
  1. If you love someone, tell them. Tell them before it’s too late. Tell them because people are not mind readers and they may not know. Tell them. Even if it is not reciprocated, it is important for people to know that they are valued.
  1. Always be thankful for something. Every single day, no matter how small, find a piece of gratitude in every day. Life is too short to be miserable.

Finding Peace

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Every year for the past 15 or so years, I take a camping trip for Labor Day weekend. I go completely off the grid to a remote location that has no cell service, no electricity, and no running water. I joke that I have to drive myself to the middle of nowhere to escape my life. The sad part is that it is true.

Part of my journey in simplicity and minimalism is to slow down in my normal, every day life in order to create a life I don’t need to escape. I am hoping to be able to identify pockets of peace in my daily routine so that I do not feel I need to wait for that one, magical time of year for it all to happen.

My camping trip has always been an escape from technology, phones, email, responsibility, problems, my 2 or 3 jobs, and whatever other drama was occurring in my life at the time. Oftentimes, I was so stressed out that I was unable to truly relax, even though I was completely displaced from the stress and in a very beautiful place.

This year, I am hoping that my vacation is a true respite. Each year I return to the same location, no matter what is happening in my life, or what my point of origin. This year, I have so much to be thankful for. Instead of having to worry about paying bills, putting food on the table, or rushing from one job to the next on 4 or 5 hours of sleep, I am thankful that I am finally at a point in my life that I have employment I enjoy, that treats me well, and meets my basic needs.

This is the time of year when I push the reset button and recharge. My goal in slowing down my every day life is to be able to do this in small doses daily, without feeling the need for one huge trip. I will continue to do my camping trip every year, but I am hoping to bring some of that peace to my life daily instead of just annually.

Part of my trip this year is going to be identifying areas of my life in which I can slow down even more. This is a gradual process where I am continually evaluating my priorities and making changes in my life. I don’t feel that there will ever be a point in my life where everything is 100% okay, happy, and stress free every day. Unless you’re on botox or some really good pills, I don’t think that happens for anyone. My hope is to increase my happiness as much as possible.

For me, I find that I attach more easily to places than I do to people. I frequently revisit places that make me feel good. Being able to identify what makes you feel good is helpful in being able to achieve peace and identify what you can do in your daily life to recreate that feeling.

What do you do to feel peaceful? For some people, it is the little things in every day life like a bubble bath, or reading a good book. Sometimes it is having a cup of coffee with a good friend. Part of my goal on my big peace trip this year is to identify more of the small things that bring me peace on a daily basis.

Finding peace is helpful in grounding oneself so that you have an anchor in the storms of life. I have some pretty big life changes coming up, and I want to be sure that my foundations are strong in order to weather those changes. Sometimes you need a moment to regroup and remember why you are doing what you are doing and what is important.

Family, experiences, and love are the important things in life. How can we maximize those positives? Sometimes when you are in a situation, you are so in it, that you need to take a step back to make a decision. Being able to look objectively at life helps you to identify the positives and negatives to work more efficiently towards your goal.

One of the most peaceful aspects of my trip each year is when I sit by the water and the wildlife comes right up to me. I wake up in the morning to the sunrise and the sounds of birds. Not only birds, but ducks. Quite a few years, I have woken up to quaking, unzipped the window in my tent to find a duck looking at me. Being able to reconnect with nature is a great way of centering.

Each year at the holidays, I usually give people a colorful miniature rubber ducky with their holiday card. This causes some confusion, but for those who know about my camping trips, they know that it is the time of year that is most peaceful for me. Holidays are not supposed to be about gifts, they are supposed to be about people, experiences, and peace. I give those duckies each year as a reminder to people to be peaceful, as the ducks remind me of the time of year in which I experience the most peace. It is one of the small ways I have found to recreate that peace I feel on my camping trip each year.

How do you find peace? Do you need to take time to step back and recenter? If you are constantly going from one thing to another, it may be time to slow down and regroup. You cannot give from an empty cup. Stop and recharge.

Rewind real slow.