Self-Care: How It Was and How It’s Going

I came across this little questionnaire by jaquintinwriter and scored really low. Now, I’ve never really been high maintenance or the girly girl type but…5 out of 20? And this would have been a pre-pandemic score. I made a quick review of my self-care habits just to check if I still feel good about my habits lately.

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How It Was (pre-pandemic):

  • Almost daily exercise
  • Weekly Me time mostly consisting of meditation, reading, going for or making myself a nice meal
  • Some regular monthly pampering i.e. mani or pedicure, massage
  • Occasional pampering i.e. hair treatment, facial or some personal shopping
  • Annual medical/physical/dental checkup or treatment as needed.

How It’s Going:

  • Weekly exercise (mostly nature walks instead of gym) + Healthy eating (mostly home-cooked)
  • Me time still there (+writing or art when I’m feeling extra)
  • Monthly pampering scrapped – I still do not feel safe visiting a salon or spa.
  • Occasional pampering still there but more DIY/at-home, personal shopping at a minimum or barely happening (the latter mainly because I’m going for zero to less waste since mid-2020)
  • Annual physical and dental skipped last year (OVERDUE, so will probably try the mobile center options).
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My self-care habits now look very different, even more minimal and cost so much less, but a lot more mindful. Actually, this mindfulness spills over to almost all areas of my life now. Rare are the days when I’m running on autopilot. I still struggle a bit with consistency but motivation comes easier now, a lot lighter on my feet compared to last year.

What does self-care look like for you these days?

How Do You Recover?

I may have made a few mistakes over the weekend. After treating ourselves to a rare sushi and beer (delivery, of course) and feeling good about the week (last week) in general, hubby and I decided to check out the Trump-Biden debate over youtube. We survived but not unscathed. It was…headache-inducing. i feel for my American friends who can’t help but rant about politics every now and then. I’m not an American, but the debate was just a bit much and I caught myself trying to recover with a bunch of SNL/The Late Show clips, standups and armchair travel. Then the news came that Trump and FLOTUS caught the Covid-19 virus. Frankly, I did not have a case of schadenfreude. It put a lot of people at risk of exposure, maybe even Biden and all those who went to the debate.

Let’s go back to the question/title. I find myself having several recovery approaches to stresses, trauma or tragedy that come my way. Especially these days, I find them essential to mental/emotional health. It’s easier to know when recovery is needed physically when you can’t feel your legs after a few laps or a marathon, not so much for other aspects of our health. I intend to explore this in several posts. And I’m curious, how are you dealing with life’s stresses, then and now? What have you learned about yourself in the process? So far, what I’ve learned is that when I don’t prioritize my well-being and let stress go on for too long and unnecessarily so, my physical manifestations can either be hair loss or that one case, bell’s palsy. Although the cause for the latter is largely unknown still, it showed itself up for me while I was going through an extremely stressful time in my life spanning a year. This was back in University almost two decades ago and since then, I’ve made it a point to take care of myself more actively, call it self-care if you will.

Forest bathing is good for your health. Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com
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5 Things – Kitchen Musts

I’ve been in the kitchen a lot more since the quarantines started and working with my hands has brought me joy (some days) or respite on others. Here are 5 things I always stock up on or always reach for in the kitchen these days:

Herbs and Spices

My usual picks are cayenne pepper, paprika, cinnamon, turmeric, basil, tarragon, thyme and rosemary. Even when I wasn’t cooking a lot (or at all), I’d buy spices during trips to remember it by, as a sort of souvenir. Now that I’m in the kitchen a lot, I love experimenting with these. As for herbs, I’ve been trying to grow a few things in pots.

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Condiments

My top picks are relish from chopped veggies, sriracha, mustard, oyster sauce, worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, sesame oil, pesto and the occasional salsa, sweet chili, gochujang or mirin.

Knife

I still prefer this over other food cutting machines.

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Good Cookware and Bakeware

I used to improvise but now, I treat myself to a good set that’s versatile, looks good and can take a beating if needed.

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Cleaning Stuff

I hate leaving the kitchen dirty, disorganized or wet. Even before covid, I’m a little extra with these.

Written for 5 Things You Absolutely Need in Your Kitchen by Dr. Tanya over at Salted Caramel

#5things

5 Things – Beat or Reduce Stress

Dr. Tanya at Salted Caramel made a weekly prompt out of the #5things tag that keeps resurfacing on WordPress.

This week she asks What are the 5 steps you can take to reduce the stress in your life?

Here’s mine (in no particular order or frequency):

Do something I love or enjoy. Lately it’s listening to music, writing or reading blog posts or books, cooking, cleaning (Ha!), playing games (Magic: The Gathering and Township are recent hobbies), watching a movie or series online (Netflix or Amazon).

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Limit exposure to negative/toxic people or environments, if not completely possible to eliminate exposure.

Treat myself to a nice meal or a hot tub.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Learn something new, i.e. recipes, hobbies, online classes etc.

Deal with problems or negative feelings quickly, within your sphere of influence, especially now within your bubble or small circle. This helps with sleeping well among other things.

Let go of things outside your control i.e. those hogging the news.

What’s yours? Feel free to share them in the comments or head over at Dr. Tanya’s post and jump in the conversation.

Remembering Happy Times

This challenge brought a smile to my face. I didn’t have a lot of pictures as a kid but pure, happy times tend to stick around longer. Remember the movie Inside Out?

Memories from Childhood

I enjoyed drawing / designing dresses for a time and bringing paper dolls wherever I went instead of plushies or the bigger ones. Receiving crayons or jars of paint and sorting them out were more preferable to expensive toys I’d receive as gifts.

One of my aunties would bring me to work a lot and she was in concert production for years. This exposed me to music of all kinds, genres and decades. I’ d use money I saved from my allowance or weekend ‘work’ to buy cassette tapes back then (Thank God for Spotify nowadays).

I remember writing a horror/suspense story after reading my first few horror novels (not exactly by choice, just my brother’s books lying around). This started a pile of notebooks from a few years of journaling.

I realized a lot of the stuff I enjoyed like reading comics, assembling toy robots and wrestling were more because I spent time enjoying them with my brother or friends more than anything else.

Working on the weekends was also a lot of fun as this helped me earn some coins for my piggy bank.

Back in University, languages (Spanish and Japanese) put me right or at least took away the stress from STEM coursework or extra-curriculars.

Some weekend classes are for creating.
They say working with your hands is good for the brain. Duh.

Someone said it is never too late to have a happy childhood. I luckily have some memories of a happy childhood, albeit a short one. Pre-covid, exploring/ slow traveling (as part of self-discovery, growth/soul work, looking outward) and self-education healed me from some painful or hurtful experiences in adulthood and some part of childhood. These efforts paid off and helped me rediscover or restore my joy. Nowadays writing, reading and cooking brings me joy, or at least calms me down. Not everything can be right all the time but looking inward and working on my self help me cope with challenging times and whatever chaos there is around me.

One spring in Japan
I like flowers on trees than on pots or vases.
Trying local food in a new place may not always satisfy taste but can always satiate in other ways.

Written for Cee’s On the Hunt for Joy Challenge

A Xennial’s Take on Masks

Response to 24hr Blog Question by A Guy Called Bloke

1] Are you currently wearing face masks when you go out into public wherever you are in the world

I always wear a mask whenever I go out the door. These days it’s mostly just the weekly or bi-monthly grocery trips or errands for work or home. Most of the time it’s a surgical mask. Sometimes I put on a face shield especially in potentially ‘crowded’ areas.

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2] what type of masks are you wearing? [As in practical or stylish?]

Most days I just wear the surgical mask. I put on a face shield as needed. I have an unused cloth mask with filter from a local company, a few surgical masks in stock, and an N95 mask (a staff from a pharmacy in Auckland made effort to find me one when she learned I was flying out in a few days, this was back in Feb, bless her). I value function over form but won’t say no if a stylish one is on hand or readily available. The face shield is a bit on the stylish side.

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How do you feel about the wearing of masks? Do you see it as a protection or an infringement on your civil rights?

I see wearing face covering i.e. mask, face shield as protection not just for me but especially for those around me. I’m fairly healthy and young (elder millennial or xennial bracket or whatever they call us these days) and won’t be able to bear it on my conscience if I inadvertently infected an elderly or immunocompromised someone out there. It’s a very minor inconvenience with a big impact for others.

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Suggested readings:

Undecided whether to wear a mask outside? This article might help you out.

Some ideas on how to approach others not wearing a mask when they should here.

Retrospective

aeroplane air travel aircraft airplane
Photo by Digital Buggu on Pexels.com

Goodbyes are tough…for most people.  But not for me.  It’s always been easy for me to up and go, reflect on events and even tragedies, pick up my lessons, and move on.  Maybe I take after my mom or guardian, or it runs in the family.  Who knows, really.

dawn dusk light macro
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

But there was a time when it was tough.  I think only by getting used to it did it become easy.  Certainly, moving more than a couple of times, leaving friends behind, and letting go of ‘stuff’ to lighten the load made it easier along the way.  The downside is the value and meaning of people and things fade, or at least take longer to mean something.  After all, deepening roots and being invested in anything don’t happen instantly, anything worthwhile does take some time.

But I still think it’s worth taking back.  After all, learning to value, appreciate and love are correlated to REALLY living.  A wake-up call was when I tried to look back at the last 5 years of my life in my early 20s and nothing memorable came to mind.  That’s when I knew I had to change things up a bit.

Pretty early on I’ve also come to realize that at least 3 lessons enable maturity, that is, learning to forgive, to let go and to love.  The latter speeds up the growing up process but the former two are just as important to adulting.  Staring death in the face (thrice) early in life made this crystal clear.  In the face of my biological mom in her deathbed who had too many regrets in life, to another who succumbed to cancer peacefully, and then with my best friend  passing so soon in life, I became forever changed.  At that moment, I think having purpose suddenly became important.  Nothing is to be taken for granted.

On a (slightly) lighter note, I’ve learned that happiness is a choice.  Whether or not the choice entails leaving a relationship, a toxic environment or even your past behind, or staying knowing or not if there’s hope for change, boils down to a decision.  Only after this conscious step can there come peace, acceptance, or at least, resignation.

How about you, what are your biggest life lessons so far?

via Daily Prompt: Retrospective (final)

New to Succulents

succ_getting started

Acting more on my desire to lessen my carbon footprint, increase my ecological handprint, and indulging the environmentalist in me, I’ve been attempting to grow some of my own veggies and trying to be a successful plant parent.  It’s been hit or miss so far; I was able to grow some arugula and some low maintenance, air filtering plants but failing to propagate them.  And so, rather than spending more time doing trial and error gardening, I tried attending a workshop hoping this particular weakness of mine will be addressed.  I’m sharing some learnings here to hopefully help another plant parent out there from going crazier (crazy plant parents are totally acceptable 🙂 ) and also to document tips and tricks for this particular forgetful newbie gardener.  Here goes:

Prep the soil.  They say loam soil is the ideal garden soil, but for purposes of the workshop, we used an equal mix of loam soil, small pebbles for draining, and something close to clay.  We added a teeny amount of fertilizer (not too much to not burn the roots) and mixed these in a container.  Had fun shaking the mix.

succ_soil etc

succ_prep soil
Shake, shake, shake

 

Choose your plants/succulents.  3-4 will do depending on how big your pot is.  Try not to make your dish garden too crowded to allow your succulents to grow and spread.

succ_choosing succ

succ_flatlay
My workshop kit

 

Fill your pot halfway then plan on the placement of your succulents/plants in before filling it up all the way with all your succulents and soil mix in it.

Add some toppers for a nice touch.  Once your dish garden/pot is filled and styled to your liking, add some perlite, pebbles or vermiculite for a nice touch and to help in either drainage, airflow or moisture retention.

succ_topper

Voila!    You’ve got yourself a new baby!:)

succ_fin prod

Some good tips I learned are about drainage, water and sun requirement.  Choose a pot or container with a drain, that way you don’t have to skimp on water.  But don’t overwater to prevent root rot.  Last but not the least, know more about succulents; some require medium light but can thrive on low light etc.  That way you can pick and choose the ones according to your preference and level of commitment.  For the ones I chose, they can survive indoors with indirect sunlight, will require watering every 3-4 days and possibly repotting every 6 months.   Yup, I can deal with that.

Hope this helps to encourage you to try your hand at this.  It is definitely therapeutic 😉

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