The struggle is real. Life is complicated and you’ve got to be kind to yourself. If given the chance I will burn the candle at both ends until I fizzle out. For me, burning out has mostly meant that I live in a van now. The transient life can be full of adventure while also acting as a mobile pit of despair. Lucky me, two-for-one! “If you wear lipstick and heels everyday no one will know you live in a van.” and “If my van with all of my possessions in it breaks down in another state, do I live there now?” are two of my favorite tweets from the time I spent “living” in Seattle. Sure, the joke was on me but I was laughing right along.
Thankfully, the values of home and having stability have finally found me. Lucky you! My family and friends will give all the credit to my boyfriend for settling me down but the credit is ALL MINE. When I shipped back to Lodi from “thinking time” in New Orleans, I was ready to be home. I knew I could make the most of life here and be able to support my growing family in a real way where Skype and phone calls with my nieces didn’t cut it. All that said, moving home and being accessible to the needs of the people in my life was draining. I’d never really developed self-care habits of my own and it was painfully obvious.
Lodi is a great town for slowing down to take a deep breath, especially during these early days of fall. Integrating my environment with a self-care routine was essential to getting used to living like a real person again. Here in Lodi, there are so many great things to appreciate even on a short walk around the block. Here are six activities in my toolbox that have helped me reach equilibrium when I am tipped off balance:
1. Pet Every Cat or Dog on the Street That Will Let You. For most of the summer I was terrified that the cats on my walk to work had been run over. As it turns out, summer in Lodi is too hot for kitties (and me) to be outside long enough for pets. These days the weather is ripe for being outside so get out there and make furry new friends today!
2. Take a Walk Downtown. Our town is over 100 years old. Many of the houses in the downtown area hark back to the early days of Lodi. Take a good look around you. Almost every home is a unique twist on a classic style, just like our wine. You may even get to pet a dog!
3. Greet Your Neighbors. Walking past someone on the sidewalk? SAY HELLO. It is the smallest of social interactions but makes rubbing elbows with strangers much less awkward. Be that bright and shining “Good Morning!” face of your neighborhood. Do it for the old people smiles and the young people who forgot how to live without devices. Make ’em squirm!
4. Keep a Clean House. This is one thing my mother told me that is actually true, not like the time she said my Grandpa got his leg ripped off by a hook in a dramatic bridge-building accident when in reality he had a bone disease and surgical amputation. Keeping your environment tranquil and mostly ignoring my mother is the key to a mind at ease.
5. Get Yourself Some Plants. Even if you’ve already graduated to a dog, cat, or fish, having plants around the house will enrich your life. The aesthetic benefit alone is worth the sad death of many “houseplants” I have “rescued” from cliffsides or the floor of a home improvement megastore. Having plants around can decrease your blood pressure, pain, and anxiety in addition to cleaning the air and helping to boost healing and productivity. It’s science!
6. Get Outta Town. We’re fortunate enough to live within a morning drive of many beautiful places. Do a bit of google mapping and GO. Take a train to San Francisco to visit the Sutro Baths and eat Indian food. An early morning drive to Santa Cruz is a breeze and a Watsonville Motel 6 (which is nice enough and close to Manresa State Beach) runs less than eighty-five dollars per night. Don’t let excuses keep you cooped up. Stretch your legs and your sense of adventure often.
Always Remember. When the tools to cope with life are not readily accessible, just live. Build your life wisely. Whatever you do, keep moving forward.