Tuesday, July 16, 2019

10 Hygge Ideas for Texas Summers

 hyg·ge /ˈh(y)o͞oɡə,ˈho͝oɡə/: quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).

Often bloggers talk about hygge for winter months and ways to embrace the season rather than fight it. The posts are usually about items or activities that help someone focus on the specialness of the season. I happen to LOVE winter and have found it's actually summertime that creates the biggest negative change in my attitude and health. A few bloggers have posted summer hygge ideas too like star-gazing, al fresco dining, or going to a drive-in movie however, I struggle with those because I live in Texas and most of them would put me outside in 100+ weather during the hottest part of our day. That is NOT hygge for me.

Taken during my recent Austin trip - from inside a window because it was too hot and humid!
So I brainstormed with my friend Cristina and we came up with 1o hygee ideas for those hot Texas summers that would be practical. Enjoy! 

1. Create a summer playlist. Fill it with songs from the Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffet or any other artist that has songs that make you think of the beach, summer breezes, and relaxing. 

2. Make homemade ice cream, snow cones, or popsicles (lots of recipes for boozy ones online too). Maybe search for a recipe that's decadent. Be in the moment during the process of making them and eating them.

3. Pamper yourself with a cooling facial mask on extra hot days. The "Best of Tips" website had easy recipes with a yogurt base that I think are worth trying! I like to use Noxzema cold cream more in the summer because it's refreshing.

4. Have a breakfast picnic. Mornings are the coolest part of the day so have a traditional picnic but start early. Just picture a blanket spread out with muffins, OJ/thermos coffee, and fruit with your family and friends around you. Maybe there will be time for a quick frisbee game or kite flying. (still...wear sunblock!)

5. Go to an arboretum and explore. Maybe bring a book along you've been meaning to read. You could also visit a local library to read magazines.

6. Visit a local antique shop, especially one with a tea room. You could have a day of shopping inside where it's cool and have an elegant, light lunch. If any vendors are selling homemade candles, pick up one for your home in a light summer scent.

7. Camp, but inside! Set up a tent or make a pillow fort in your living room for the night. Liz over at "Love + Marriage and a Baby Carriage" pulled together a great list of ideas on her website with her post titled, "16 Indoor Camping Ideas For People Who Hate Nature." LOL

8. Buy a container plant that attracts butterflies and set it outside of a window. Consider counting how many butterflies and bees visit. You could create a hygge like corner by that window with a relaxing chair there to do some reading and butterfly watching.

9. Notice when you hear cicadas. These loud creatures are traditionally known to be announcing the "dog days of summer." Yes, their sound can be annoying but instead reflect on the purpose they serve. It's also just a good mindfulness moment reminder.

10. Finally, one of my favorite ideas. Take a milk bath in flowers or fruit. Here's a link to different types of flowers and their benefits: Flower bathsHere is an idea for a citrus bath too. 

Bonus: From my childhood, running through a sprinkler was totally hygge. Maybe I should do this as an adult? The photo alone to compare side my side would be priceless. Ha!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Writers Block - Working Through My Cat's Passing (RIP Sunny)

I find myself wanting to write. I look for things to inspire me. Why is nothing happening? Well, because the things I need to write about and work through are not subjects I feel I'm ready to delve into at the moment. A large subject is that I just had to make an end of life decision for my beloved cat, Sunny. I need to deal with the heartache, the visions of seeing her being put to sleep, and take time to deal with the guilt I'm feeling instead of the truth that I was being a good, loving pet owner.

So let's walk through it:

1. Heartache. I miss my little one. The Grief Recovery Handbook, which I highly recommend, is a good book about the subject of loss and grief. From going through it before, I know it's okay to miss her. She was special and a part of my life for almost 12 years! That's longer than most friends stay in our life before life moves them on in one way or another.

2. Ugh, my visual memory. This is a nightmare for me because I'm so visual that memories can haunt me. I'm haunted by the memory of the end of life. Although it was peaceful, it hurts my heart. I need to instead, make my mind focus on something different when I have flashbacks. Right after, when my daughter and I were leaving the vet, it began to rain. I found that comforting and freeing. I stood in the rain and took in that moment. My little Sunny cat was free from her suffering. My daughter and I both love it when it rains. It was a short rain shower. In fact, it had stopped by the time we got home and the sun came out but that rain shower was so beautiful that I think that's what I want to focus on visually instead.

3. Guilt. I read that guilt is anger turned inward. Am I mad at myself? Maybe. I'll have to explore that more in time. Right now, since it's only been a month ago this is all I can handle.

When my dog passed away...welp, there it is...returning to #3. I feel guilty because I had to make the decision when instead, I need to view the whole circumstance as her passing away. Not at my hand but because it was truly time. I'm going to have to chew on that one.

Anyway, when my dog passed away, I wrote her a letter sharing what a special dog she was to me. I need to do that for Sunny too.

Dear Sunny aka Sun-bun, 
I have been reviewing our time together and have discovered some things I want to tell you. I apologize for any times I didn't play with you when you needed attention and I apologize for noticing a bit of weight loss prior to my Philly trip but not taking you to the vet right away. I forgive you for the messes on the carpet. They remind me of how sick you were and I wish I could clean them up instead of thinking of you each time. I apologize for thinking that way. I apologize for acting like everything was okay when I was taking you to vet the last time. I wanted you to be peaceful and not worried because I love you. I want you to know you were the best cat and most people's favorite. You were full of life, frisky and affectionate. I want you to know that I love you, miss you and Trickle misses you too. Manna also misses you. I want you to know that the rain storm was beautiful and the kids miss playing with you. Sunny, I want you to know that there is no replacing you and my life was richer having you in it daily. I gotta go now but I love and miss you. Goodbye. Your cat mama Amy

Sunday, July 7, 2019

A Different Kind of Gratitude List

Gentle Reflection

Most of us are continuously on the move. We are looking ahead to the next project, the next trip, or the next event. Today spend some time reflecting instead upon your past. This gentle reflection is not to look over moments you feel you should have made different decisions but to instead celebrate your decisions of courage!

Do you view yourself as courageous? When do we ever pencil in time to celebrate the good choices or thank ourselves for looking at a crossroad and deciding to walk the bolder path? This idea came from the David Whyte event I just attended because he spoke about thanking the ancestor of yourself. Below is an example of my time with this gratitude list.

The practice:

  • Find a quiet moment in your day of at least 30 minutes
  • Spend 5 minutes to reflect and write 5 positive decisions that were life changing 
  • Afterwards, take your list and spend 5 minutes or so reflecting on each great decision/situation then extend yourself some gratitude. Consider writing yourself a little note to make this activity a bit more impacting. 
Example: In my snug, the house is quiet, the kids are gone for a few hours - my list
  1. Returning to college to get my degree
  2. Solo travel to Iceland
  3. Adopting 
  4. Deciding to cling to Jesus
  5. *private decision
Here are two examples of notes I wrote to myself.

Dear me (I used my actual name), Even though you were already working in your career field, you took an opportunity given to you in the form of a pop-up ad and within a week started back as a college student. You finished your BA a few years later. Having a degree made a big difference in your life and really showed that you finish what you start. Thank you for being courageous, for putting in those long hours, and for making it happen. 

Dear me, You go after knocking things off your childhood dream list but that solo trip to Iceland took the cake! You were adventurous, resolute, and came back changed. You made great decisions to move towards self-care and to stop waiting for life to happen. Thank you for not backing out on that trip.

This is a different kind of gratitude list for sure because we don't usually take time to thank ourselves or acknowledge our greatest decisions. I hope you'll consider it though. I found it to be uplifting!