Zen Moments

Last night I did something I haven’t done in years.

I came home after a long day at work and, rather than crashing out on my couch and watching TV or reading, I lit some candles, poured a glass of vino, and drew myself a bath.

This little Tuesday night pampering session wasn’t planned- it just sort of happened.  As backward as it sounds, sometimes I feel too lazy to take the time to really relax.  I frequently come home and just zone out without reflecting on my day or assessing how I am really feeling.  Last night I didn’t even read while I soaked- I just turned up some zen music; closed my eyes; thought about my day, my life, and my feelings; and imagined myself on a beach up north.

I always feel like my most beautiful self in my summer skin.   For me, happiness is those days when I am sun-kissed, with no makeup on, air-dried hair, wearing a summer dress, and no shoes.  I used to think it was a cruel joke that I was born in Michigan and that this is where so many of the people and places I love are- that I should have grown up somewhere sunny and warm.  The older I get the more I realize how skewed that logic is… summer seems magical in Michigan.  If every single day were 75 and sunny, would we truly appreciate the weather?  Although my friends in warm, sunny places may disagree, I think that battling a winter makes summer that much sweeter.  (Note: I am very aware that this winter has been neither cold nor harsh thus far… much to the dismay of my friends who snowboard or ski.)  Still, it can be hard to feel like your best self when you are disconnected from the things that you love, so it is important to give yourself pieces of those happy, zen memories no matter where you are or what is going on in your hectic life.

Lake Michigan Memories- Photo Credit: Allison P.

It is stunning to realize how much taking some time to get to know what makes you feel your best… and actively injecting those things into your life to some degree… can change your mood and perspective.  Once you understand the little things that make you feel good and beautiful, you can strive to set aside a few moments to give yourself a little piece of that beauty each day.

So many of us are people-pleasers and constantly worry about making others happy.  It can be easy to take our own well-being for granted and not make any time for ourselves.  In fact, too many people I know feel guilty when they actually do take some time to focus on their own needs.  This is unfortunate because a bit of pampering can go a long way.  Perhaps you don’t have the time- or the desire- to take an hour to soak in a tub and give yourself a mud mask (honestly, who does?  I was up until almost 2am because of that little treat to myself), but figure out what makes you happy and try to take in those little things throughout each day that make you feel good and bring a smile to your face.

Pick out an outfit that makes you feel more confident in the morning.  Read a chapter from a good book.  Volunteer.  Take the time to cook and enjoy a healthy meal.  Workout.  Don’t just slam that coffee to feel the caffeine buzz… smell it, sip it, and really enjoy the taste of it.  Meditate.  Really take in a piece of artwork.  Listen to music that moves you.  Imagine yourself on a beach, in the snow, in the mountains, or anywhere you want.  Smell both the figurative AND the literal roses.  Or orchids.  Or spices.  Or mint leaves… whatever works for you.

That’s the beautiful thing about beauty: we all experience and appreciate it in different ways.  It is just up to us to recognize that it is all around us and we can make it ours.

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