The Best Ships are Friendships

We travel though life with others by our sides for a few days, a few months, a few years. Some people are just passing through while others stick around for a while. We become co-travelers on the same journey, even though we often go in different directions.

A decade ago my life intertwined with the paths of many others, brought together by our desire for change and adventure, by our thirst for life, the sun, and the beach. In the city of L.A., which is known for its fleeting and shallow relationships, we built bonds that have kept us connected through time and space.

Though we are now scattered across the country and find ourselves in different phases of our lives, I recently traveled to reconnect with three of my favorite friends in person, in real time.

After my flight landed and I arrived at baggage claim, seeing D standing in front of me was surreal. We first met at a show in Hollywood. My friend’s band was playing and D was there as a scout for a record label. Until that moment at the airport, it had been 7 years since we last saw each other.

We walked along the falls and river, enjoying the rush of water and lush greenery around us, talking about who we were, who we are, and who we want to be. We both miss the L.A. lifestyle but are finding our way through the unique urban pockets intertwined with suburbia. We wandered around town, stopping at hidden gems along the way, happy in the simplicity that is our friendship. D is in the process of shifting his center of gravity, and he reminds me that life is only as hard as we make it. He reminds me to revel in the things I love and to not waste time on the things I don’t. I told him about my blog, and he told me that he’s proud of me.

Next I arrived at the home of my friend F, her greeting expectedly warm and sincere as she welcomed me inside. I do not remember the moment I first met F; she just seamlessly fit into my existence as if she had always been there, a gem of authenticity and honesty. We used to spend hours playing tennis, bouncing both the ball and our thoughts back and forth to get a handle on the things in our lives that were holding us back or holding us down. She is strong and fearless and never settles for less.

Now F has a family of her own, including a baby. She marches forward with such confidence that you’d never know she is figuring it out as she goes. She refuses to give up the simple pleasures she enjoys, like scrumptious Saturday morning brunch at an overcrowded organic café, just because she has a baby. Her tiny blonde frame hoists the baby carrier in front of her and pushes through the crowd to a table at the back, making no apologizes along the way. She tells me about the big job on which she has set her sights. It’s a huge leap, but she knows she can do it, and she is fighting for it. F is inspiring. She shows me that I can do it, too.

N arrived on a later flight and was waiting patiently for me and F to show up. When she spotted me in the crowd, she practically leaped into my arms with an embrace that lifted my spirits a mile. I remember first meeting N at a backyard party by the beach. She was all glowing smiles and open arms, the same as she is now. She is warm and open and incredibly trusting. After the birth of her first son, almost immediately upon seeing me, she invited me to hold him.

What most defines N is her huge heart. She loves hard and only wishes for love in return. She gives of herself tirelessly to her husband, sons, and rescue dogs. She cares so deeply for the world around her that I think it hurts her sometimes. On our way back from a girls’ night out of dinner and dancing, N. aimed her face out the car window and into wind, staring at the photo of her boys on her phone. She reminds me to love fiercely and whole-heartedly, no matter what.

I wish we all still lived in the same city. Though my wish will never come true, my heart is full of gratitude that they are still part of my life, that we have found a way to stay connected. Life is short and time steals itself away from us. Spend it wisely and intertwine your life with the people you love. Don’t let your friendships float away.

 

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Taking Back Monday: Cures for the Monday Blues

It’s no secret. We despise Mondays. Every weekend when Sunday afternoon rolls around, we think about the week ahead and the feelings of dread being to surface. We start counting down to the end of our free time and to the beginning of a new week laden with obligations and responsibilities.

Research shows that we tend to like Fridays more than Sundays. Friday is a workday and Sunday is a free day, so how is this logical? The answer is in the anticipation of what is to come. We spend Friday working but feel excited that the weekend is just hours away. We spend Sunday doing whatever we like, but we feel deflated in realizing that the start of a new workweek is only hours away.

I grew tired of feeling the dread of Mondays week after week and aimed to make a change. I wanted to feel good about them instead. I tried various remedies for my dilemma and based on what has worked for me, here are some ideas for starting your week on a positive note:

Take back your Sunday. Instead of living in the present, you are fretting about the future and the fact that another Monday morning is just around the corner. You might as well take action and prepare for it. Plan your work attire. Set the timer on the coffee maker. Prep your lunch. Gather up all the items you need to take with you to work. By making preparations on Sunday, you can address what is bothering you and make your Monday morning easier and less stressful.

Then, clear your mind of all things related to tomorrow. Focus on the present and do something you enjoy. Go out to dinner. Watch a movie. Lose yourself in a good book. Sunday afternoon and Sunday evening is still the weekend and you have lots of time to indulge in activities you enjoy and to relax. Take advantage of every free moment you have.

Make Monday a fun day. Plan activities that you enjoy. This is the strategy that has by far worked best for me. Make Monday your Starbucks splurge day and treat yourself to your favorite coffee drink. If social time boosts your mood, schedule lunch with a friend. Don’t7362420650_e4a0b798e2_c wait until Thursday or Friday to go out for happy hour; “Monday margaritas” has a good ring to it. If you prefer some quiet time, spend your lunch break reading. I love Book Riot podcasts and make sure I always have one to listen to on Monday.   I also love music and often download new stuff on weekends. I then create new playlists and listen to them on Mondays. Make Monday the day you indulge in the things you love.

Wake up Sunshine. The Monday morning alarm is the worst. I want nothing more than to sink deeper under the covers and drift back off to sleep. Research says not to hit the Snooze button. Because it throws off your sleep rhythm and can make you feel even more tired. I have not been successful with this and hit the snooze button a lot. I do, however, set my alarm to a song rather than an annoying buzzer. My Monday alarm song is always set to my current favorite and thus causes me to hit snooze fewer times.

Get Moving. I workout every morning, but Monday morning workouts are especially important as they set the standard for the rest of the week. I get a major boost of endorphins from morning workouts. This is a hard habit to create, but you can feel immediate benefits from just a 15-minute yoga session. It gets your blood flowing and makes you feel stronger and more refreshed. I use the Yoga Studio app, but there are many options available.

Remember it’s a fresh start. It is the beginning of a new week, and so many great things can happen! Remind yourself of this. Actively practice changing your thoughts and feelings about Monday. Find or create a motivating mantra you can repeat to yourself as you go through the motions of your morning routine. Also, wear something that makes you feel both comfortable and confident. It will boost your mood and increase your morning motivation as well.

Go easy on yourself. The start of a new workweek is tiring for everyone. Give yourself time to ease back into things. If you can, avoid scheduling meetings on Monday mornings, or at least avoid having them first thing. You need time to settle in, fire up your email, and review your schedule and task list for the week. If you find yourself lacking in energy or motivation, tackle the easier or more interesting tasks first.

Life is too short to feel so much negativity every week over the same thing. We cannot escape from Monday, but we can change our attitude about it. The key: Make your Monday a day to which you look forward in happy anticipation.

Photo by: Al-sadhan ♥ via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Arise

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breath, to think, to enjoy, to love.
-Marcus Aurelius

Most mornings I am rushing around the house, tackling tasks with focused energy, eager to cross things off my to-do list and leave the house on time. Most mornings my dog Cora wanders around the back yard and eventually sits down to take in the dawning of the new day.  She reminds me to revel in the simple fact that I woke up and am breathing, and thus I spend a few moments in the yard with her, just being present.

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In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge
Morning