Simple Summer Pleasures

Simple Summer Pleasures

When I first got to Massachusetts ten years ago (how did that happen?), I was so enamored with spring and fall because all my life they had been novel, abstract concepts. Growing up in Hawaii, I loved grey, cool, rainy days. I loved any opportunity to wear a sweater (usually because of air conditioning). I loved reading books where characters took long walks with autumn leaves underfoot and ate hot things out of checkered thermoses.

Fall is still a special time—we got married in the fall, we go to Vermont in the fall, and now I even host a small blogger event in the fall—but over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate summer more and more. I used to be confused about why James was reticent about welcoming fall. He’d say, “It’s because winter is right behind it.” And, for some reason, at the time, winter didn’t bother me that much. But now, after the crazy winters we’ve had, I understand.

When I was little, my mom read us the Little House on the Prarie books, in which Laura Ingalls Wilder talks about their long, hard winters. She would probably scoff at my idea of a “hard” winter, which includes heat at the flick of a switch, four wheel drive, and my idea of “hard decisions” like whether to make pot roast or chicken noodle soup (with ingredients simply plucked from shelves and refrigerators). But winters are still very long. So long, in fact, that I’ve begun to worship summer like a true New Englander!

Simple Summer Pleasures

If we learned anything from the French while we were in Paris, it was how to take the time to enjoy simple pleasures. Summer in New England is abundant with these. It’s because of winter that even the mere act of opening the windows seems luxurious.

One of the simple things that I indulge in is podcasts, and my favorite is Happier with Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project) and her sister Elizabeth Kraft. I loved their recent “Try This At Home” tip, which suggested that listeners take advantage of the “amenities” of their homes. So often, people buy homes because of their great screened in porches, swimming pools, or man caves, but in the busyness of everyday life, they forget to use them. For us, it’s our balcony.

We’ve long thought of our balcony as a bit of a joke because it’s so narrow. To fit on it, normal-sized people have to sit sideways. Kona takes advantage of our balcony all year long–in the wintertime, when she gets hot, she paws at the door so that she can go out and tromp around in the snow (her favorite!). But the humans of this household almost never go out there. I’m a lounger, so buying a bistro set never really appealed to me. But then it came to me: a hammock!

Our contractor/handyman will come and put in the hooks for us this week (our building is made up of metal and wood studs, so it seemed safer not to DIY this time). In the meantime, Kona and I have been hanging out on the balcony, armed with pillows, library books, and blankets. In fact, as I write this, she’s curled up by my feet, breathing in the cool June morning air and occasionally lifting her head to look at our neighbors walking by below. I’m drinking my coffee. For me, there is so much pleasure to be found in not being rushed.

Simple Summer Pleasures

What simple pleasures are you finding in your summer days?

Love, Joy

P.S. Registration is open for The Hello Sessions! It’s a full day of workshops, where you’ll learn about the steps you need to take to make your small business thrive, how to make great videos (without a ton of equipment or video know-how), and how to grow your social media audience through authenticity. Come learn with us in Portland this October!

Flux

Flux

Change is the name of the game these days. While we’re still in flux I’m going to be a bit tight-lipped, but suffice it to say that life has surprised us a little lately. Nothing like last summer, though.

Today is my father-in-law’s birthday–he’s turning 83–and also the one year anniversary of the day we rushed him to the hospital after he collapsed at breakfast. We later discovered that he had contracted a rare brain virus (brain injury #1). We came very close to losing him, and then, by Thanksgiving, he was nearly back to normal. Then he slipped on a patch of ice and hit his head on the concrete, leading to brain injury #2.

And today, August of 2015, he’s nearly himself again. Amazingly. Miraculously. Making bad jokes and threatening to put the cat out into the woods if he doesn’t stop shedding (and then letting the cat sleep on his shoulders). Each time we’ve visited, he’s been a little better, his memory a little more in tact. In June, I watched as he installed an air conditioner, and I could almost see the brain plasticity at work as he sorted through the steps of something he’s done every summer for years and years. The air conditioner is still working and hasn’t yet fallen out of the window, so it’s safe to say that it’s a success!

And while he doesn’t seem terribly interested in hearing it, he’s taught us about resilience–that it might seem like it’s too late to turn things around, when really, it’s just the signal of another beginning.

Love, Joy

Life Update: I Have a New Job!

Frock Files: I Have a New Job!

When we came back from Hawaii a few weeks ago, things had changed. Yes, we were browner and more relaxed and a few pounds heavier, but there was one other thing, too. While we were traveling, I received a job offer that was so good and exciting and wonderful that there was no way I could walk away. So I said yes. Yes, yes, yes.

Leaving my current role at the university isn’t easy because I have loved working there. I’ve formed awesome relationships with my coworkers and our award-winning team. They’re just the best, smartest, most talented people around. I’ve nurtured the school’s social media presence–we call it my baby, which is what it feels like. And I have great pride in the university, which has risen up from its underdog days to become an awesome research institution. I’ll miss it, and I’ll be forever grateful that my team gave me the chance to prove myself there. We have done incredible things together.

All that said, I’m so ridiculously excited about what’s ahead in my new role. I’ll be handling social media and community engagement for a company that helps people to find their dream jobs, to negotiate better, to essentially become better, more confident versions of themselves. For years, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life but their materials helped me to figure it out and even to land my job at the university! I have to admit, it was a little odd to interview with the company that taught me how to interview. But because the materials are all about being an authentic, high performing individual, the impact is universal. I’m thrilled that I’ll get to be part of this impressive, growing team of rock stars.

My new job is completely remote, which means I’ll be spending a lot more time here in my home office. Way back when, I painted it dark grey, and while I’ve enjoyed my little cave, I’m beginning to feel like it might not do for 40+ hours each week. So another change is on the way–a white washed, sunny office (to match our white washed, sunny bedroom!).

If you see me and I have paint splatters all over myself, it’s because it’s going to take a LOT of primer to cover up my previous paint job. But I know that once it’s done, it will feel like a fresh start. Like spring.

 

Burning Out; Burning Bright

Burnt Out; Burning Bright

Contrary to evidence otherwise, I haven’t slipped out the back door of this blog never to appear again. Life just got incredibly full for awhile–the kind of full that results from blizzard after blizzard pushing plans this way and that until they all have to happen in a much more rapid succession than anyone planned. There have been great highs, unexpected lows–but mostly, it’s just been ridiculously busy.

Finally, I’m catching my breath.

As I write this, I’m sitting in a cottage on the east side of Oahu, the island on which I grew up. Trade winds are pushing their way through the Ti leaf plants and then past the curtains. The clouds are threatening rain, which, at this point, is a little like an adorable child trying (unsuccessfully) to be frightening. We love the fat, warm raindrops and the rainbows that come afterward. I love that someone is mowing their grass right now–how many days have passed since the last time I heard that sound?

This is the third year James has come home with me, and for the first time we aren’t skidding across the island, trying to cram in visits with friends and family. After the year of hospital stays, Lyme disease, huge projects, a gigantic office move (for James), and storm after storm, we made the decision to actually do in Hawaii what normal people do: relax.

I have big news to share with you in a few days, but for the time being I’ll be hanging out with my favorite people–my family–eating delicious things, hanging out on the beach, and generally remembering what it’s like to breathe again.

Love, Joy

P.S. Some of my favorite places on Oahu.

Why I Use Self-Hypnosis

Tried and True: Hypnosis to ease anxiety and to promote better sleep

A few weeks ago, I was faced with a big decision–the teeth-grinding, jaw-locking (literally) kind of decision that I wrestled with on so many levels. On the outside, it looked like the perfect opportunity; I fell in love with it the way that you fall in love with a pair of shoes that would be perfect if it weren’t for the fact that they were a size too small.

As I wrestled with the decision, I think my subconscious mind knew exactly what to do. Every once in awhile–standing at the kitchen sink, sitting in the car, in the inky blackness before sleep–I’d burst out saying, “I don’t think this is going to work.” It was loud and clear, but my conscious mind kept trying to shoot it down.

The subconscious carries incredible power, not just to tell you when you’re about to do something you’ll regret later (that “gut reaction”), but also to put you on the right path. During the period I was struggling with this decision I woke up with lockjaw five or six nights in a row. I noticed that I was hungry all the time. I wasn’t sleeping well. When I finally paid attention to my subconscious screaming at me, I remembered that hypnosis had gotten me through similar situations in the past, and I turned back to it for relief.

It worked.

What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a deep state of relaxation, similar to that state just before you fall asleep, when you can still hear dogs barking in the distance or people speaking in another room. Unlike depictions in the media, you’re aware of your surroundings and actions while under hypnosis. Hypnosis is useful for changing habits or starting new ones; things like beginning an exercise program, calming anxiety, or becoming more productive. For those who can be hypnotized, it’s also an excellent way to manage pain.

Hypnotherapist Dr. John Ryder does a better job of explaining it:

“Do you remember getting lost in thought? The most common example is when you are in a car, bus, or train, thinking about something until you get surprised, catching yourself reaching your stop or exit and you return to the normal alert state of awareness. That is a typical example of a trance, your mind being in two places at the same time.”

How to Hypnotize Yourself

Self-hypnosis can be as simple as becoming very relaxed and repeating a mantra to yourself, but since I have a busy mind, I turn to a series of apps which use recordings and something called a “Hypnotic Booster” (a white noise that makes me feel like I’m floating in the ocean).

You can use hypnosis at any time of day but I do it at night, and it never fails to help me fall asleep. Here are the steps:

  1. Get very comfortable. Lie down or sit in a recliner.
  2. Put on headphones or ear buds. Turn off your ringer, text alerts, etc. Turn on the recording.
  3. Relax! Listen to the recording, which will take you through some breathing and visualization exercises. It’s not necessary to listen intently; think of it as background noise. You may fall asleep. That’s great! In fact, that’s my favorite part.

I’ve had success with the recordings from Surf City Apps (which has a huge range, including relief from migraines, smoking cessation, and enjoyment of exercise recordings), as well as the Happy App.

The older I get, the more I find that alternatives to traditional medicine generally work best for the treatment of these kinds of small, nagging problems. Have you ever tried hypnosis with any success? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

 

 

 

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