It was an absolutely lovely, refreshing weekend. With no plans other than to relax, read, and spend Easter Sunday with one of my girl friends, I settled into my cozy apartment and made a cup of black coffee.
As the Saturday sunshine filled my room, I got ready for the day and headed into Boston to run a few errands, enjoy a stroll by the harbor, and snap a some photos. There’s nothing I love more than exploring the city, coffee in hand, with music in my earbuds as the soundtrack to my solo adventure.
Those are the days I get the most inspiration.
It’s no secret I’m an introvert, but some of my very best weekends are the ones I spend by myself. I never leave home without a notebook, pens, and a fully charged phone- it’s important to always be prepared!
Sipping my coffee while window shopping, a sketch of the Boston skyline caught my eye. Although the picture was in black and white, I thought, “why not paint the town gold?”
It’s been nearly a year since I started painting gold canvases, yet Saturday was the very first time I had ever thought to draw scenery. Now that I am nearly finished with my first skyline piece, I’m wondering, “what next?!” Whether it’s an uplifting phrase or positive word, it’s helpful to have little reminders throughout your space to symbolize things that make you smile.
Although I don’t have to go far to get inspired, it’s nice to bring a little bit of the city home with me. Whether in black and white or gold, I’m grateful to live in such a beautiful place.
“I want peace. I want to see if somewhere there isn’t something left in life of charm and grace.” -Margaret Mitchell
Life sure is funny. Just when I was beginning to feel strong standing on my own two feet, the universe threw me a curve ball to test (and strengthen) my skills and strength.
This past weekend was challenging. Despite the joy I was experiencing, the wonderful community I have found and my own practice of self care, outside forces triggered past pain and emotions- and this scared me. Instead of self destructing as I have in the past, I took a deep breath, sat on a bench and called a friend.
Setting healthy boundaries has been a huge part of my own happiness and recovery, as I have experienced insecurities, pain and fear due to the messages I have received throughout my life. This includes family members, teachers, peers, boyfriends and even public figures. I have consistently questioned my worth, second guessed myself and backed down when I began to achieve some form of success. I had no confidence- if what I was doing wasn’t “perfect” it wasn’t worth doing. My self esteem and foundation were always a bit rocky, but old feelings of fear crept up on me when someone’s criticism and judgment set me off out of nowhere.
The defensive Kristin came back- and it was extremely uncomfortable.
I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder toward people who try to dominate me, thus acting out and being overly defensive and aggressive. I have held on tightly to this defense mechanism through the years, only to realize how awful it made me feel. I remembered traumatic experiences- bullying, sexist messages, abandonment and physical abuse. I have kept all of this inside for years. Had I been acting out for decades without realizing it? Yes, I had. It just took me thirty-some years to learn it.
After speaking with friends about traumas I suppressed (and failed to recognize as abuse- I thought it was all my fault), I am grateful for these triggers. Old feelings of shame came to the forefront, and I was able to meditate on these uneasy feelings. So, as always, I walked to the water for solace.
Water brings me such peace. It is the closest way for me to connect with my higher power, so on Sunday I meditated on a rock and prayed for the courage and grace to get through the day.
I received just that- strength and hope. I faced the day with grace, not aggression, and everything worked out just fine. I tried not to let the negative messages affect my mood, so after leaving the pond I turned my negative energy into productivity. Since art and writing has always brought me peace, I decided to stock up on art supplies to paint inspirational messages for my friends. I’ve received endless love, compassion and hope from the friends I have made in Boston, so instead of living in my one-woman pity party, I decided to give the love back to those who have helped me.
As I go about my Monday, I will remember the feeling of peace and serenity I experienced by Spy Pond. When I walk with grace, the world is a little lighter, a little freer. If you’re also experiencing some aggravation, try a meditation to bring you back to center. Remember, your true home is within you- everything outside of yourself is not in your control- but you can control how you react. Once you’re able to manage outside factors with grace, not aggression, you will feel better- I promise.
It finally feels like Spring is around the corner! It has been a beautiful New England weekend; birds are chirping, the sun is out and the snow is melting.
Since it was so lovely outside, I went on a little excursion yesterday to explore the city. I did a little thrift shopping in Davis Square, grabbed a coffee and took the train to Kendall / MIT to walk along the Charles River. I decided to head across the bridge for some views and new angles of Boston and Cambridge.
Walking south across the bridge is picture-perfect with its views of Beacon Hill, the Back Bay and Cambridge. It’s an easy .3 mile stroll (1,767 feet) and great for running, biking, walking and photo opportunities.
After making it across the Longfellow Bridge I approached Beacon Hill, a beautiful neighborhood with historic brick homes on steep hills, old lamp posts and true New England feel. I walked along the Charles Street shopping district and window shopped, admiring the boutiques, architecture and historic charm.
Boston Common / Public Garden
Charles Street ends right at the entrance of Boston Common, which was the first public park in the United States. It’s beautiful during the winter, with a frozen-over pond where swan boats float during summer months. I can’t wait for warm days in the park!
Newbury Street / Back Bay
In every city I have lived, there’s always that one street the captures my heart; from its Victorian-style buildings to its upscale shops, Newbury Street reminds me of the other neighborhoods I love (San Francisco’s Union and Chestnut Streets, Chicago’s Armitage Ave in Lincoln Park, New York’s Greenwich Village) and flock to for its shopping, cafes and architecture. My favorite shops on Newbury are Tiffany’s (window shopping only, for now!), Kate Spade, Nordstrom Rack and Alex and Ani.
Now that the weather is warming up, I’ve been much more motivated to go on weekend adventures, get outside and finally learn new areas of the city. I put in over six miles yesterday, and it feels great to finally get back on track and out of the winter hibernation funk!
Happy Friday! Another week has come to an end, so it’s time to rejuvenate and relax. Self-care is crucial to our everyday health and happiness, but many of us push it to the side as we maneuver through our busy schedules.
It’s important to spend time to reflect on how your week was, consciously recognize how you’re feeling and what you need to do to have a productive week ahead.
Each weekend I put aside time to myself to do the things I enjoy and make me feel good about me. Whether it’s yoga, writing, going for a long walk, enjoying a homemade breakfast or sipping coffee with a good book, my alone time is imperative to my self-care and overall mood.
Instead of feeling like I have to be “on the go” all of the time, I balance my time between self-care and social interactions. It makes me appreciate my friends and family much more when I have a balance; I can easily get burned out if I don’t take some time to myself (typical introvert, of course).
You can’t be unhappy and grateful at the same time! Documenting my daily gratitudes have helped me immensely when I’m stuck in my own head or feeling down. Start a special journal and write down a few things each day that you’re grateful for. It’s wonderful to look back on them when you’re in a funk, too! It’s also a great way to get into journaling (which has been proven to increase happiness and improve health).
Whether it’s the gym, a sport or taking a class, get out there and exercise! The weekend is a perfect time to burn off energy from your busy schedule and prepare for the week ahead. Although I’m not a fan of the gym, I walk at least five miles a day, take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator, attend yoga class and love outdoor activities. Find what works for you!
Drawing, painting, crafts and coloring can be very therapeutic and are wonderful activities for mindfulness. I like to keep a coloring book and pencils with me for when I’m stressed, killing time or commuting. It’s amazing how a little creativity can elevate your mood! Inspirational coloring pages are my favorite- here are a few of my favorites for you to print.
Thinking about picking up a pizza and living off leftovers for the next day? That’s fun every now and then, but try to be more conscious of what you put in your body when you have that extra time to prepare your meals and think about what you’re consuming. Saturday morning is my favorite time to grocery shop- I used to buy my produce that day and prepare juices for the weekend and pack lunch for the days ahead. Take this time to learn a new recipe, too! I am a big fan of Jessica Seinfeld’s recipes (yes, she is married to Jerry); they’re perfect for the person who claims they can’t cook or are nervous to try.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No.”
Feeling burned out? Listen to your body! Just because you have the spare time doesn’t mean you need to fill every second. Don’t fall victim to FOMO! Enjoy the peace and quiet, take care of the things you need to do and remember to take care of you!