Cleaning Means Letting Go

I blogged early last year about how the Konmari Method has swept through our house. In the early days of that phenomenon here, we gathered and donated bags upon bags of clothing, boxes of books, and recycled half a forest’s worth of paper. In the midst of that, though, I never attacked my business stash. In eleven years, I have purged containers or fragrances that I no longer use, but I hadn’t done a major cleaning up and cleaning out. This week was that week.

It happened last week. I was taking a writing course online and happened to glance back at one of my soap racks. I have two, and one had become used for storage. A lot of storage. It mostly had soaping things on it, but it also had my sewing threads and pins to keep little children and cats out of them. I decided I didn’t need it for business things and that I would gut it and use it for the “domestic arts”: Canning, sewing, and cooking. In preparation, I ordered a sewing box and gathered all the bags of soap scraps (there were SIX of them!) to send down to Orlando to Clean the World. (Click here to see the stash I sent down.) That pretty much took care of the top shelf.

Then came the colorants. Organizing them and putting them where they belong required completely gutting their assigned drawer, cleaning it out, and replacing the colorants. It’s been a long time since that drawer looked that neatly organized!

As I was happily clearing off this rack, it dawned on me that I needed a place for my temperature-sensitive additives to live. My gaze landed on the corner rack. This rack is huge and lives in (you guessed it) the corner of our dinette. It’s where soaps cure and dried herbs live. If I were going to have room for the stuff on the hallway rack, then I needed to clean off the corner rack. You can see how this quickly snowballed.

Soap rack
The corner soap rack getting cleaned off and cleaned up

I wish I had thought to take “before” pictures so you could appreciate the sheer amount of work that went into getting this rack looking this good. I have wrapped over 100 bars of soap since yesterday. I have wiped down all these shelves to get the soap remnants off of them. All the soap at the top is for family use, though I suspect a bunch of smaller soaps will, too, make their way to Orlando to meet Priscilla, the soap press at Clean the World.

All that to get to the point… I’ve thrown stuff away. I’ve thrown things away I never thought I would. I found some bottles of lotions that had been living on the rack for ten years. I normally would’ve dumped the lotion out and washed or recycled the bottles, but I didn’t bother. They went straight into the garbage. Yes, a little bit of my soul died at the idea of throwing away plastic, and I heard my younger daughter chastising me in my head for being a “fish killer.” I did it, anyway.

My heart broke a little when I found some of my old faithful melt & pour soap moulds had yellowed and cracked with time and age. I thought of all the cat-shaped soaps I’ve made in my soapmaking career–soaps I have no need to make anymore. One of those moulds is sitting in the recycle bin. I’m pretty certain more will accompany it.

And if you look on the fourth shelf up, just to the right of my Crazy Ideas inspiration, you’ll see a clear container. It’s hard to make out what’s in it, but it contains the bagillion little product portfolios I had made for my first show. Hundreds of little 2″x2″ squares, each bearing a product picture on the front, its description on the back. None of them represent products I make currently, and the business that went with them has been gone for four years. I kept them for the memories, and now I am ready to let them go.

There comes a point where letting go is part of the cleaning process. Holding on to too much weighs us down, and we have to choose to release that dead weight that’s holding us back. I was exhausted after standing and working, and God only knows (literally!) how many steps I took between the two racks, the sink, and the trashcan. But seeing the rack looking like it does is completely rewarding to me. Knowing the next steps for the hallway rack and what it’ll mean for the rest of our space excites me. If I weren’t willing to part with these bits and pieces of my past soapmaking life, I’d never be able to move forward toward what I envision next for this space.

It Goes Beyond Handwashing

You’ve heard it for over a week: Wash your hands. Wash your hands before you leave places, when you arrive at the next place, and after touching someone. This is, of course, in addition to washing your hands after going to the bathroom and before you eat. If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, then you should use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. It’s old news by now.

Since the days of (1) wash your hands and (2) don’t touch your face, we’ve learned of other ways to reduce transmission of the coronavirus. We are currently in the midst of a recommended (not required) social isolation. It’s recommended that people not gather together in groups of fifty or more. If you think you’ve been exposed to the virus, you should self-quarantine. Blah, blah, blah. We’re only on day three, and if you’re like me, you’re probably beginning to think that Jack Torrence in The Shining (Jack Nicholson’s character in the movie) wasn’t really all that crazy. If nothing else, you can at least understand him better now.

Soap and water are still the best tools to get rid of viruses on your hands.

What does it mean to be socially isolated? It means to stay away from people, to keep at least six feet between you and anyone who doesn’t live in your home. It doesn’t mean you have to stay inside all the time. It doesn’t mean not going places you may need to go. It means to spend most of your time on your own turf. It means to walk in places that aren’t heavily populated. You can take a walk with your dog in your neighborhood. You can even take a walk on the beach. In fact, exercise and sunshine help boost the immune system.

You can go to the store, and you don’t need to personally boost Charmin’s CEO’s yearly bonus. You don’t need to horde everything to the detriment of others who also need those same groceries and hygiene items. Just, when you go, pick times that are slower. Sunday after church time isn’t that time. Neither is senior citizen day – unless you’re a senior.

If we act wisely, we’ll be on the other side of this curve soon. Unfortunately, we’re just on the upward climb, so we’ve got a few or several more weeks of being isolated and inconvenienced. We have weeks more of anxiety and uncertainty, particularly with the rapid declines in the stock market. It has been said, “Keep your head when everyone else is losing theirs.” Those who keep their heads will have the better chance of survival.

How does that happen? Anxiety and worry flood the body with neurotransmitters that compromise the immune system. It’s so hard to keep our heads during trying times like this, but we can if we try. My secret weapon? Mindfulness practice. Mindfulness practice allows the brain to take a rest for a little bit, better enabling it to deal with crisis situations.

To learn more about mindfulness, click here. You can scroll down about a quarter of the way down the page to get steps for mindfulness meditation, but the areas before that and the video provide some excellent and fascinating information on the effects of mindfulness on the brain.

If you need soap for all that handwashing, click here. And don’t forget to pick up some moisturizer to combat the inevitable dry skin.

Stay safe and stay well.

Snack Smart

Last month, I purchased a package of 2- and 4-ounce containers, perfect for holding serving sizes of vegetables, nuts, and so forth. I’d had a bunch of similar containers in these sizes when my daughters were babies; I used them for their homemade baby food, and the four-ouncers were the perfect size for mixing baby cereal.

These small, square containers are just as perfect as their circular Tupperware counterparts for everything we like them for. Not only are they the perfect size, but, being reusable, we don’t have to burn through single-use plastic bags. The 2-ounce containers have been absolutely perfect for taking snacks when I have to sit around the community college while my teen is in class.

I didn’t think I would need a snack. A good breakfast should tie me over to lunch at home, or so I thought on her first class day in January. But by the time my teen started her last class of the day, my breakfast was history and I was getting hangry. Luckily, there was a poptart in the car leftover from the teen’s breakfast, and it took care of the immediate need, but no way could I wisely eat a 200-calorie, low-nutrient snack every day.

Around this same time, we discovered the German grocery chain Lidl with its brand-new, shiny store not far from the places in Wilmington where we often go. The first time we visited, almonds were on sale, so I grabbed some. In accordance with my fitness goals, while almonds aren’t my top snack choice, they fit in perfectly – much better than toaster pastries, that’s for sure!

Two ounces of m&m’s versus two ounces of almonds

I decided to do my own little comparison. Each of these containers holds two ounces. The container on the left is holding two servings of yummy dark chocolate m&m’s, coming in at 280 calories. The container on the right is holding one serving of raw almonds at 190 calories. Sure, those m&m’s look good – and everyone who knows me knows about my recovering m&m addiction. However, nutrition-wise, they’re just not worth the calorie hit. That container of delicious Ms contains 280 calories, 12 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fats, and only 2 grams of protein. Yes, there are carbs and sugars in them, as well, of course, but for the sake of comparison, I’m focusing on the nutrients I want in a snack. The container of almonds, on the other hand, has 190 calories, 17 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat (means the majority of those fats are healthy unsaturated ones), and 7 grams of protein. The almonds pack a healthy little punch. They satisfy me until we get home, and on our long days, those days we’re gone from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., half gets me to lunch and half with a piece of fruit gets me to dinner with a workout in between.

The first take-away I want to share is, plan to be hungry. Expect to get hungry and plan for that with a healthy snack. That first day of classes, I hadn’t planned so I hadn’t prepared. I ended up grabbing a pop tart out of desperation, and while tasty, it is loaded with tons of calories and sugars but not much else to contribute to a balanced diet. That certainly isn’t a long-term option.

The second take-away is, decide ahead of time what you’ll take. Consider portion sizes and nutritional benefits. The Ms are scrumptious (can you tell I’m missing them?), but the carb crash would have me hungry again in under an hour. There are just as many ounces of almonds, but they will hold me for at least two hours.

When making the healthy coastal lifestyle work for you, be mindful of how you snack. Not planning your snack will leave you grabbing the first thing you can grab, and that usually leads to a straight carb hit.

SMART Goal Setting

With 2020 well underway, be honest… How are those resolutions working out for you? If you’re like most people, your resolutions are beginning to fade into memory, and it’s becoming harder and harder to stick with them. Probably you’ve missed that morning work-out, grabbed that carbohydrate-laden snack-on-the-go just this once because you were in a hurry and had forgotten to pack your protein bar, or you’ve slipped and had that one cigarette. You feel like a loser, so now you want to be a quitter. In fact, US News and World Report states that 80% of New Years resolutions fail by February. If you’ve fallen off the wagon, you’re in good company.

Why do so many resolutions go by the wayside? Much has to do with the reasons I cited above. The well-meaning resolution setter slips up just once or loses momentum, and that’s it. Another reason resolutions fail is because the intended goal is just too hard to meet. It takes months to see significant progress on weight loss plans, whether your method is carb reduction or calorie burning. If you’re burning calories at the gym with toning and weight training workouts, you’ll likely see no significant weight loss, even as your clothes are getting looser and baggier. Why? You’re burning fat as you’re building muscle. That pound of fat you’ve lost weighs just as much as the pound of muscle you’ve built, but the fat is much more voluminous. It’s like comparing a pound of feathers to a one-pound brick.

A significant reason resolutions fail, though, is there’s no SMART goal-setting to back them up. So many people think that, were they to chart their resolutions, it’d look like a solid diagonal line going straight up, demonstrating constant improvement. In reality, it looks like the stock market graph for a high-performing stock if you were to look at the graph for the week. While it maintains an upward trend, the truth is, it rises and falls many times while it climbs overall. Meeting goals is just like that, because those dips show us moments when something we were trying failed followed by the growth from taking a different approach.

That said, let’s look at a SMART approach to goal setting, and I’m going to use getting fit as my example goal, since that’s an important part of my life. SMART goals are:


Specific: “I want to get healthy.” That’s not specific enough. What would “healthy” look like to you? Does this pertain just to physical health or does it also include spiritual, mental, emotional, and psychological health?
Better: “I want to drop 4 sizes this year, lower my blood pressure, and lower my cholesterol through dietary changes, exercise, and yoga.”

Measurable: “I want to drop 4 sizes this year.” Or maybe “I want to lose 30 pounds.” “I want to lower my blood pressure to within normal range. I want to lower my cholesterol to be between 100 and 150.” These are all measurable goals. They have a quantitative value and can be objectively assessed.

Attainable: “I want to lose 200 pounds.” Can it be done? Maybe, depending on your starting weight. Can it be done healthily? Maybe. Timing is key here. Be mindful that some plans to lose weight quickly can also lead you to putting it back on just as quickly – and those newly found pounds have an ugly tendency to bring reinforcements, so you’ll actually gain more than you originally lost. If your overall weight loss goal as part of your broader plan to get healthy is to lose 200 pounds, then it’s definitely doable.

Realistic: “I want to lose 100 pounds. Nevermind that I weigh 180 and am 5’6″.” Is 80 pounds on a five-and-a-half-foot frame realistic? No. You’d look like someone who survived a concentration camp. That’s too much weight loss and quite unhealthy. It’s best to stick in the realm of a healthy weight per your frame size, your target BMI number, and your doctor’s guidance.

Timeable: “I want to lose 50 pounds by Valentine’s Day.” This isn’t happening, not in a healthy, sustainable way, anyway. This goal isn’t timeable. If you were to amend this goal to specify 50 pounds in a year, that’s entirely possible to do in a healthy, lifestyle changing way.

If you want to achieve goals of any sort, you need to make sure they are SMART with special emphasis on “realistic.” Reality is, you’re going to slip off the wagon regardless of what you’re trying to accomplish. The difference between a resolution and a goal is, all too often, people feel comfortable quitting on a resolution, but they will stick with goals, despite slip-ups, failures, and mistakes. When people set goals (I know this is true for myself), they tend to treat errors of every kind as the learning opportunities they are and don’t allow them to set them back. They just keep pushing forward.

I’m setting goals month by month for this year and seeing how that works as each new month brings with it new responsibilities and opportunities. For January, my goals are working out at least 45 minutes a hit for at least three days a week and writing a minimum of 500 words toward my book or stories. What goals have you set for this year? Share in the comments below.

You’ll Topple and Poot

It’s no secret that I enjoy yoga and have incorporated it as part of my healthy coastal lifestyle for many reasons – relief from anxiety, flexibility, strength, and balance. As everyone who’s ever practiced yoga knows, other things come out of a yoga practice.

Our adorable little town offers free exercise classes – cardio and yoga practices – and this time of year, especially, people want to explore these classes. While cardio is pretty new user-friendly, yoga is a lot more intimidating. There’s the image of lithe, flexible, young bodies contorting and moving in smooth, fluid ways while incense burns and New Agey music plays in the background. So often, people are scared to try yoga, because they think they’ll be the klutzy elephant in the room full of swans. I was like that one time, too.

One May, I was working an event and happened to be almost right across from the local yoga and wellness booth. During a lag, I scooted across and chatted with the ladies working the booth, and they told me that the classes are friendly for all levels and there are modifications available. Their words gave me the assurance I needed to dare to try the class, and it’s been a good choice ever since.

There was still the fear that I’d make a total fool out of myself. Early on, I toppled over. Another time in my first year of practice, I was coming out of a deep yoga squat and went head-first to the hardwood floor surrounding my mat. People look at you when you fall, but mostly it’s out of concern. I’ve seen far more experienced yogis than I topple over. Once you accept the fact that it’ll happen – that you’ll lose balance and topple over – you’re free to focus only on your flow.

Another thing that makes people give up on yoga is not having consistently perfect practices. It is very common for someone to be able to balance better on one side than the other within the same practice. It is also common for a yogi to balance great on one side but not have that same balance during their next practice. And sometimes, there’s just no balance at all on either side during a practice when you were nailing it perfectly in your previous practice. Being aware that this is normal keeps newbies to yoga from dropping out, thinking they’re failing at yoga. It is called yoga “practice” for a reason.

The other thing that drives new yogis away from practice in fear and embarrassment is the inevitable gas passage. This exchange from Bridget Jones’s Baby sums it up perfectly:

I think of that last line every single time I’m in yoga practice and getting that feeling. The fact of the matter is, sometimes, in certain poses, it’s just impossible to clench your sphincter while holding the pose. Perhaps, though, yoga allows for the body to do what comes naturally to it. With standing twists, sitting twists, and lying twists, the intestines get massaged and the stuff in them moves as it should. One evening, I was just finishing up the final stretching segment of a cardio/pilates workout. We’d been flat on our backs as it ended, and as I rocked up to a seated position… Yep. And it was loud. Thankfully, the workout flush hid my blush, and I apologized. The teacher quipped, “Better out than in.” It’s true, though. While we think of passing gas as uncouth and most definitely not lady-like, our bodies aren’t supposed to hold gas. This is why we come equipped with mechanisms for burping and pooting.

As you ponder your fitness goals for 2020, they may include yoga. In fact, I hope they do. It will improve your physical and psychological health and is a key component of the healthy coastal lifestyle. Remember some key ideas, though. (1) Everyone’s a beginner at some point. (2) Everyone at every level of experience topples over and falls or, at least, loses their balance. (3) Some practices go better than others. (4) Everyone poots during practice. Remember these and give yourself some grace, and you’ll be able to relax completely in the no-judgement-zone that is yoga practice.

Bidding Farewell to a Fellow Maker

It always sad losing someone you know, sadder still when you didn’t get to know someone as well as you’d have liked.

Our artisan community lost a special member yesterday. Denise was a rare talent and a master soapmaker. (She had the certificate to prove it and everything!) She loved blending fragrances to create unique scents and had an exceptional eye for color.

Denise’s history in cake decorating served her well in soap design. Her bars were masterpieces with delicious swirls, lucious frothy-looking tops, and charming little embeds set on top to make soaps that were visual delights.

Denise also rocked body care products. As makers are wont to do, when we sell unneeded supplies for whatever reason, we also have to include some sample goodies, too. We absolutely love it when other makers try our products, and we love trying other makers’ products, too. Denise was helping me master cream soap and using that base for scrubs. She’d sent me a sample of one of her cream soap-based scrubs along with a small pot of this amazing scented body butter. I was touched in a way only a maker can be and I fell in love with that body butter. It truly was Zen. (We won’t talk about what happened to the scrub when my younger daughter discovered it. The little bit I got to use was nice, at least.)

Besides being an exceptional artisan, Denise was a kind soul, too. We got to know each other in the early days of her business as I helped her with new phases and approaches she wanted to try. She had a bright light that perfectly reflected her fun, whimsical soaps and her flair for the dramatically artistic. Simply put, she was a joy to know.

I have only one regret: We never met outside of Facebook. We messaged, were Facebook friends, and were in a few groups together. There’s no great excuse. We only lived about two hours apart. Often, when I’d go to that part of the state to do things – shows, visit people, field trips with my daughters – I’d stay with my parents. I am always reticent about using Mom and Dad’s as “base” merely for the sake of going off and visiting friends who live up there. It seems selfish and ungrateful.

My take-away is this: Make time to get to know people. Friendships are valuable and need to be nourished so they grow. I thought I’d have another “later” to arrange to meet Denise, and now all the laters are gone.

Accomplishing a HUGE Goal

This truly wasn’t one of my goals when I started embracing the healthy coastal lifestyle a little over three years ago. I had no idea at the time that I’d push my body to the lengths I would, trusting it to take me all the way to the finish line.

A little over a week ago, I completed my first 5K. That may not be entirely accurate. I participated in 10Ks when I was a tween/teen for charity, and I took part in the Walk for the Cure 5K fifteen years ago, again for charity. This was my first “official” 5K, complete with bib and medal.

My bib and medal. Hard won!

It was a sultry, humid day in the Bahamas. Our cruise ship had been delayed arriving in port, so we didn’t get as early a start as hoped. We were truly hoping to be done with the walk by 10 before the heat really set in. That didn’t happen. We couldn’t even dock until 9:30. Half the ship’s guests were disembarking down the same gangplank as we were, and then there was the half-mile trek from the ship to the starting line, again amongst hordes of fellow travelers that slowly thinned as we passed each beach spot.

By the time my younger daughter and I got to the starting line, it was nearly 11:00 in the morning and the 5K was already twenty minutes underway. It was a warm and humid 84 degrees with a heat index in the 90s (I didn’t look, because I didn’t want to know). My tween and I were set, right down to the bibs safety-pinned to the backs of our shirts.

The track was mostly sun-exposed with just scant pockets of shade. We were lucky to have intermittent breezes to help cool us down. I had my phone’s fitness app to track my progress. I’ll spare you the details (We passed a pink flower. We passed a sign warning people to stay on the trail, etc…). Although my daughter and I ended up getting separated, I waited beside the trail when my app said we had just under a half mile to go so we could finish together. When we finished, my app didn’t show the 3.1 miles I was expecting for that distance, but instead, 3.4 miles – and this was on top of the half mile or so we’d had to walk to the starting line, not to mention the trek from our room, using the stairs, of course.

At the 2/3 of a mile left (WOOHOO!!!) mark, I announced it to my fellow walkers. One responded, “You sound excited about that.”

“There’s a big, beautiful, blue sea just over there, and it calls me!” I sang the last part from the song from Moana. They’re Disney people, so they got it.

I’d seriously considered finishing the walk, ripping off my shoes, socks, and phone, and plunging, fully dressed, into the Caribbean Sea. I practiced the modicum of restraint required to resist doing that. Instead, we went into the bathroom to change into our bathing suits. This was a feat in balance and coordination. You know how hard it is to put a bathing suit on, anyway? Well, imagine that but add in sweat-dampened skin, a decent-sized bathroom stall, and standing on sport sandals; additionally, being solitary, my daughter and I couldn’t help each other make the necessary adjustments. Once properly changed, we stepped around to the side of the building to the showers and flushed all the sweat and salt off of our skins. The rest of the day was a smorgasbord of delightful flavors and carefree frolics in the sapphire blue sea.

At the finish line. My smile is looking a bit manic here.

I never planned or expected to participate in and finish a 5K. With my knees giving me so much trouble, including having a blood vessel burst behind my right knee the first day of our cruise, I wasn’t sure how the 5K would go. We had been active all week with stair-climbing, swimming, walking, and exploring volcanic caves. Yet, all that activity kept my knees moving. (A body in motion tends to stay in motion. Basic physics.) Even though I found myself wishing I’d heat-trained throughout the summer, I was still proud of my time – under an hour with an average speed of 3.6 mph – and proud of the fact that I did it. Even being a little slack, I’d kept myself in good enough shape to meet this new goal.

Getting Exactly What You Need

I have learned so much in the past year about taking care of myself as I pursue the healthy coastal lifestyle. One of the key things I’ve learned is the importance of making sure I get exactly what I need. What I need may not be what I want or what I think is best, but it’s what my body needs.

This past weekend was my teen’s and my mom/daughter weekend away. We always go to this one beach, stay in the exact same room at the same resort, and eat at the same places both nights. We like the routine, we’ve made our mark in our room (to make it helpful for us and others who stay there), and at no time have we ever been starving on a Saturday evening and playing the “Where do you want to eat? I don’t know. Where do you want to eat?” game. It’s easy, because we can also be flexible in what we do as need be. This past weekend was a miracle in and of itself, because the island had shut down ahead of Hurricane Dorian and just reopened to the public two hours before check-in time.

As a result of the hurricane causing so many to cancel plans, my daughter and I were only two of five people Friday night and into Saturday morning, and throughout the weekend, we had the entire back half of the resort to ourselves. There was no fighting for seats at breakfast or crowded beaches (though the beach usually isn’t bad). The concierge said it could be a little eerie. To us, it was just fun.

The things we did this past weekend were just what we needed. They may not look like “typical” weekend vacationer things, but we’re not typical vacationers. Instead of a heavy dinner Friday night, we were satisfied with a shared appetizer and chowder. We opted for movies in the room when the sun or mosquitoes got to be too much. And in a rare moment, we grabbed late afternoon naps before dinner on Saturday. So many times previously, we would’ve pushed through our fatigue, but we didn’t this time.

We obeyed our bodies. We took hold of exactly what we needed for optimal health. It seems like a silly thing to have learned, but I’m not very good about allowing my body to dictate my activities. I push through, force myself to keep going, to perform, to take care of everyone and everything. However, when my head is pounding from being tired or when the anxiety begins to creep in, I can’t keep going, I can’t perform, and I can’t even take care of myself, let alone others. Because I have started doing this, my teen has been able to give herself permission to do it, too.

My favorite rest moments come in savasana naps. Savasana is final resting pose in a yoga practice, and practitioners are supposed to hold the pose for five minutes per hour of practice. When I grab a savasana nap, I lay down across my bed in savasana, drop my tongue from the roof of my mouth, and focus on something mindless – rain on the roof, the whirl of the ceiling fan, my own breathing. My mind stops thinking, stops racing, and simply rests. After twenty minutes and a good stretch, I feel like I’ve just slept for eight solid hours.

A minor version of this is simple meditation. It allows my mind to rest without going all the way into a nap. Today, for example, I could breathe into the headache pounding away behind my forehead and breathe that discomfort out. I came out of it refreshed, headache-free, and ready to tackle work. A year ago, I would have pushed through the work and the headache, but now I’ve learned that I need these moments to be my healthiest and best.

What are some tricks you’ve picked up to be the healthiest and happiest you can be? Where do you see yourself needing to give yourself permission to take moments for rest? Drop your strategies in the comments.

Hopping Back on the Fitness Wagon

Yoga poses
Yoga has been a constant for me in living the #healthycoastallifestyle.

This blog hasn’t been the only area in my life where I’ve been slacking off in the last few months. It’s like everything I’d been grooving on in my life that I’d been neglecting really gelled in the past few weeks. Whether it’s slaying the cleaning, developing new soap creations, or exercising, I have reclaimed these things for my life with boldness and renewed energy.

The #healthycoastallifestyle has been one area that has suffered the most in the past months, and that has had the most significant impact on my life. Spring should’ve brought gorgeous weather for getting out and walking, but temperatures climbed quickly, as did the humidity. When I went for my annual check-up, my vitamin D levels were low, which is suprising, given how much I’m usually outside. Early summer brought scorching temps, though low humidity levels. It was simply unbearable being outside for more than a few minutes. I kept up with my yoga practices; they’re essential to my physical and mental health.

We spent a lot of time being active as we focused on cleaning. While my phone didn’t acknowledge my progress (it generally stayed on a table), I felt it. This week marked a new energy in my lifestyle. Cooler morning temperatures leave me no excuse for not lacing up first thing in the morning to walk. Yesterday morning I dug out the weights for the first time in months and did some upper and lower body training. Then, yesterday evening, I embraced every masochistic tendency I ever thought of having and did a half-hour core-strengthening pilates workout. I’m pleased to say that I can actually move, laugh, breathe, and bend over.

I am a little achy but I’d forgotten how glorious it feels feeling strong again. When I was at my peak, I moved in confidence and strength, and the months of being lax on my cardio and weight training had taken some of that from me. But now I’m back and it’s back! I felt it this morning as I’ve moved around the house.

In the intervening months, I maintained my weight by watching what I ate and keeping my calorie intake lower than my calorie burn – for the most part. I messed up some days, and that’s OK. There were also many days in there when it digitally looked like my numbers were flipped, but I knew I’d burned way more calories than my fitness app thinks I did.

While it would be so easy to just give up now, to admit defeat, that isn’t a happy place for me to be, and I’m not a quitter. While I may get lax attending to things in my life that are important to me, I never give up on them completely. That mindset and attitude has breathed new life into my healthy coastal lifestyle, my home, and my business.

What do you do when you’ve gotten slack on meeting your life goals? How have your turned your momentum back around?  Let us know in the comments below.

What Did You Learn?

I’ll confess, I have been horrible at keeping up with this blog. Between school and all the girls’ activities, there were other things demanding more focus and more time. In the time I’ve been away, we’ve seen some pretty tremendous milestones in our family, both involving my teen. In the space of two months, she has applied to and been accepted at the local community college to start her dual enrollment process, and she has taken driver’s ed and received her learner’s permit.

Once she got that precious little piece of paper in hand, she has wanted to drive everywhere. Her first day driving was very much a trial by fire as she conquered the interstate and city driving. It was while she was driving in the city that she had her first driving scare. She was trying to execute a lane change on a multi-lane road, needing to go from the right lane to the far left turning lane with traffic and while not disobeying any driving laws (i.e., not changing lanes within 100 feet of an intersection). She had given her signal, checked her mirrors, checked her blindspot and was just executing her lane change when a truck came up out of nowhere, forcing her to retreat back to her lane.

Later that night, she was still ruminating over the “What ifs” and “Ifs.” “If I’d hit that truck, it’d have been my fault.” I could tell her confidence in her newly burgeoning driving abilities had been shaken and was afraid she’d let fear keep her from driving. I told her, “It’s in the past, and you didn’t hit the truck.” Then I asked her, “What did you learn from this experience that’ll make you a better driver?”

Whether we’re operating 2000 pound motor vehicles, parenting, teaching, or making soap, we are going to screw up at some point. I have beaten myself up many times over for neglecting my blogs and my writing in general. I have sighed with frustration at the terrible lag in our Konmari Method tidying quest. (It’s bad to the point that the last bags of clothes have finally made it to my trunk to be dropped off this week!) It would be so easy for me to say, “I haven’t blogged in over three months. Why bother now? Why not just quit?”

What have I learned from this? I have reconnected with the grace I so often need to afford myself. I remember the words of lost frustration of my maker friend Jennifer who was so relieved to know that I also neglected my business last summer. “You mean I wasn’t the only one?” we exclaimed together, relieved.

I’ve learned this is something that happens in seasons. There are simply some times when I find myself completely lacking in inspiration and don’t want to bore you with mindless mutterings. I’ve learned I’m not the only maker who goes through these times. And I’ve learned it’s OK. In the media-quiet space between, I’ve been making soaps and other products. I’ve filled orders and am even getting ready to debut something totally new for a belated anniversary celebration. Stay tuned for that!

What mistakes have you made lately and what did you learn from them? Share in the comments below.