Discovering what the heck “self care” is: the journey to REALLY making my heart happy

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Ok, first off who is a Parks and Rec fan? Because this was how I shaped my version of “self care”.  I would treat myself.  I had a bad day, let’s pull the plug and order someone online! In my head I would tell myself, “Devin, you are great at self care, can’t wait to see those new clothes girlllll”. (note: I do talk to myself like this, I always have, feel free to judge… I probably would)

As a non-profit executive director I would subscribe to blogs and pinterest hacks on taking care of yourself, these lists always made me chuckle. What could not having lunch at my desk, a ten minute walk, setting limits on work email, doing deep breathing REALLY do to my mental well-being? Spoiler alert,  these are sanity savers for me too don’t get me wrong.

That’s when it dawned on me, all of these lists probably do work for some people, but it is also important to figure out what works best for you. This got me to thinking about the three most important aspects of my own self care…

When Matt and I got married, everyone told us to do the five love languages book and quiz.  My love language is quality time and I started reflecting that this could also be my self-care love language.  This led me to the following three components of my REAL self care.

Eliminate distractions:

I don’t care who you are, how old you are, or what technology you had growing up… it’s nice to take a break.  I used to think that if I wasn’t on my work email I was fine, but there are so many other distractions on social media, netflix binging, etc… (hey, that could be your self care too, but bare with me for a minute). Yet, when I go to the beach or my in-laws, or on vacation where there is limited service or wifi it is uncomfortable for the first few minutes, but everyone always comments how amazing it felt to just take a quick break.  So, for me, heading to the beach with no service forces me to disconnect.  Taking a run or going to gym might be a way for other people to disconnect, or simply turning your phone off at dinner with your loved ones.  Whatever it is you do, disconnect and be mindful about it, and make sure you view it as a treat and not a punishment.

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My little slice of heaven on Boar’s Head walkway in North Hampton, NH. Great place to reflect, bullet journal, or just take in the sights. 

What makes your heart happy?

I love this question and I love asking this question.  My heart is happy when I am breaking out my best dance moves in the kitchen while cleaning or cooking.  While I am cuddled next to Matt or Ruckus, when I am hanging out with my mom, watching my brothers succeed, the look of my nails right after they get done (on the flip side, chipped nails drive me crazy), when I do to bed in a made bed, when I go for a walk with a friend, or try something new — all things that make my heart happy.   Grab a piece of paper and write yours.  One of mine was an easy fix.  I am 2 miles from the beach, I wasn’t going at all when I was stressed out, because I wanted to get other things done.  Yet, when I made time to go to the beach, I was so much more productive when I got home.

How do you start and end your day?

This is a little bit more “traditional” self care.  Do you fall asleep on the couch with all your make up on?  Do you wake up with minutes to spare and start your day in a frenzy?  These things matter. I was doing both for a period of time and boy did I not realize how bad it was for me until I stopped doing them.  The simplest of things like washing my face felt like a chore, but now that I do that I feel so much better getting into bed.  I’m hoping others can relate.  My routines are still FAR from perfect, but making my bed in the morning and putting my clothes away at night before I go to bed have been such big game changers I too wonder what else I can do to keep improving.

Well, that is my quick rant on self care, now that I really understand what it can do to my mind and body. Don’t get me wrong, I will be getting a massage in a few days and doing the golden standard of self care too, but my hearts a little happier now.

 

 

Easy Home Facelift: Window Boxes

As new home owners, Matt and I had a lot of little projects we wanted to do in order to make the home ours.  One of my biggest priorities was to put flowers everywhere, next Spring I will make sure to explain more with pictures of my mom’s beautiful porch she does every year.  Here is a picture of our “blank slate” after we started to mulch the front where it used to be just sand:

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I looked at big box retailers and their big price tags for cedar colored window boxes and felt defeated. We wanted 28″ window boxes and we could only adhear L brackets to make sure they stayed on, so I was feeling defeated. Hubby to the rescue, I had no idea how simple a project this could be!

 

He went to work creating 28″ window boxes with a few planks he got at home depot and drilled a few holes in the bottom and prepped me to stain them.  I used spray stain, yes a stain in a spray paint can in color cedar (Varathane brand), and then water sealed in for good measure with a Varathane exterior wood water sealer. The L brackets were the most expensive bringing this project to to a $60 total, but I will tell you now that I don’t just look at my flowers when I look at my house, but I look at the love that went into the window boxes too.

Here the boxes are in early Spring:

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And here are the boxes in mid-Summer:

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And what they look like now, in Fall:

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Devin Does Mount Major

44708825_2174795646117960_6259213770703241216_nGrowing up in NH, you will find that most schools have a field trip to Mount Major.  It’s a relatively easy hike, friendly for a beginning hiker, with “major” view payoff.  I like to rank hikes based on this equation.  How easy vs. view pay and average the difference. This is an easy 9, it’s hard enough to be rewarding, with fantastic foliage views.

I went to Mount Major on October 21st, starting at 8:30, which I highly recommend. This is a VERY dog friendly hike. In fact, we were joking along the way that we only saw two children and around 100 dogs. Ruckus is an on-leash hiker until we get over our distraction issues (I’m sure he would follow a squirrel to the next state border).  There are many off leash dogs, especially earlier in the morning, but we only met very friendly pups who were excited to enjoy a day out with their humans.

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If you decide to do in October make sure you bring lots of layers.   Ruckus even had a jacket for the top, but the sun made the wind bearable while we took a few pictures and took in the views.

I recently went to a Stay Work Play event, the organizations focuses on keeping under 40 year-olds in NH to Stay, Work, and Play.  Living on the seacoast, it’s easy to do all of those things, but NH really does have so much more to offer… it was great to get to the Lakes Region in the Fall to enjoy what New Hampshire has to offer (hint: it’s a lot).

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I love this last photo of Ruckus with his Aunt Sarah, very bored that we are taking so long.

Chalkboard Art Halloween Decorations

I have always had a hard time decorating for Halloween, it’s so similar to Fall decorations that can last until Christmas (eeeeek!) decorating.  But, this year in a new house I tried some DIY things, including chalkboard art.  I perused Pinterest and had a fun time adding a fun touch to my mud room.

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The supplies I used were a large hobby lobby chalkboard that I painted the frame.  I bought it for my wedding, and have since used it for many chalk projects. I also love the Michael’s chalk pens or amazon. 

Here is the finished project! For $15 I have a piece I can redo for every holiday.

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Devin does Salem, Massachusetts

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Raise your hand if you have watched Hocus Pocus.  I know my hand is raised proudly, which why I had to visit Salem, Massachusetts and explore where the film was shot.  IT is also appropriately nicknames Witch City, with taxi’s adorned with broomsticks on the side and the town bicycle shop even named “Wicked Cycles” with a witch hat logo. It is the place to be for any fan of halloween.  In fact, while I was there I learned later that HERMIONE GRANGER was there… yes, Emma Watson is even a fan of learning more about witch craft.  Or, perhaps she was there to perfect some spells.

I hadn’t been to Salem since a field trip back in Elementary school, so I enlisted my best friend Sarah and Helena and explored Salem.  When we first arrived an older man gave us a parking tip that if you park in the MBTA garage all day parking is $2 and a quick walk to Essex St. where all the tents are set up.  We walked into a lot of shops, many who had lines out the door just to get in.  One of my favorites was the wand store, which was almost just as great as the Universal Studios wand store in Harry Potter World.  We went to lunch at Rockfellas, great food and even better they had Downeast Pumpkin Cider on draft (if you know, you know).

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After lunch, we went and took pictures with a few of the many set up along the streets, they’ll remind you they work for tips.  Got some great insta shots. I think I will go back and do some more haunted things, such as the haunted candle lit stroll through Salem. We wrapped up by going to the Witch History Museum, which was fun, but wanted to be around more mystical places.

It was well worth the quick 45 minute drive down from the Seacoast of New Hampshire to visit.  Matt and I are already planning a night, which I know will be WAY busier, to go to some creeeeepy places and get spooked before Halloween arrives.

Any more ideas from fun places to go to during this time of year? Let me know!

 

 

 

Meet Ruckus

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Ruckus: the cutest wheaten terrier you will ever lay your eyes on. He has more instagram followers than I do, our neighbors all know us as “Awwww, Ruckus’ parents” and he has a much easier time making friends than I anyone I know.  If Ruckus wants to sleep in the middle of the bed, we scootch over, if Ruckus wants the best spot on the couch, we move.  Basically, he lives a very spoiled life.  So spoiled in fact that I gave up my FabFitFun and Birchbox subscriptions, but added Barkbox for him.  Side note, Barkbox is amazing… if your four legged best friend wants one order here and we donate one to our local animal shelter the NHSPCA.

We live down the street from Ruckus’ family, so quite often my newly fenced in yard (Thank you Matt!) has more than one pup running around my garden or eating blueberries off of my bushes.

 

Ruckus recently celebrated his one year birthday and we asked him to let us know his favorite things, he reluctantly gave in and here they are:

  • Creating funny instagram videos
  • Squirrel hunting
  • Going to the 1,000 islands in New York with his dad’s side of the family
  • Ringing his bell at 3AM, just to see if Mom and Dad will wake up
  • Beach walks and runs
  • Daycare, but he’d also rather lounge on the couch with a human at home

 

 

My Wedding Day

What better way to continue getting to know me, than to go into detail about the greatest day of my life. I feel very lucky to have found my soul mate, Matt, when I was 19 years old while we were in college. Our love persevered many things, but most importantly our love grew into something greater than either of us would have ever guessed. I consider myself lucky, a year later I still receive, “I hope your having a good day beautiful” text messages at work and he embodies being a partner through it all. I was engaged in September of 2016 in Rye, NH.  We had dinner at our favorite place, Latitudes at Wentworth by the Sea and then went on a walk by the beach and it was a surprise I will never forget.

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Fast forward past the engagement celebrations, note to the newly engaged: this time is precious, hold on so tight to how it makes you feel, the planning began! At first, I pictured our wedding by the beach, where we live and love to be; but, after some research it was nearly impossible to plan a wedding one year out on the seacoast for the month of September.  It was defeating, but it was not long before my sweet Meme told me about a barn wedding she just attended.  I saw pictures and immediately asked her to see how much and if it was available, since it was a family friends’ property where only family has ever had a wedding. After hearing that they would allow us to have a September 2017 wedding, we quickly put together a knot.com website and feverishly calling vendors.

There are quite a few lessons from vendor finding, but the biggest one would be to get a day of coordinator and have clear consistent timelines with all your vendors. It sounds obvious right? When you are trying to coordinate rented chairs, tables, napkin, food, and also add all your Cricut and DIY projects, you will thank yourself.  Lucky for me I had a full “Bridal Tribe” that helped make all my dreams a reality.  From hanging fabric and lights from the ceiling, to making sure when the food vendors came they knew where to set up. We got lucky, very lucky.

The Big Day 

We got married in a Catholic Church at Lake Winnipesaukee, and hired First Student buses to bring everyone to our Barn Reception a few miles down the road.  Many of our family members rented AirBNB and even a village of cottages at the Cottages of Wolfeboro, so it was nice that it was a destination for many of our family and friends.  The cottages had a main house, where my parents were staying and where we got ready in.  The ceremony was at 1:00, and boy did that time go quickly.  Make sure your bridal party and anyone else you surround yourself with is pumping the positive vibes; I remember the butterflies, but I remember the love even more.

My favorite compliment from everyone who attended the wedding was that they had never seen a couple more in love or had a day filled with so much love than that September day.  There was so much fun in the details making it about us.

So, I took control of the DIY signs, center pieces, and little touches. While Matt built the bar we used for the wedding and made most of my dreams come true.

Aside from the details, because I could go on and on about that here are my top highlights:

  • Nailing our first dance spins that were only ever successfully executed in our apartment’s living room
  • Seeing Matt at the end of the aisle, especially after someone told me as I was getting ready to go down the aisle that he had been out on a boat all day
  • Taking a moment down the hill from the wedding with Matt and watching everyone dancing
  • The hotdog/italian ice vendor who came at the end of the wedding
  • How amazing our food was from Hart’s Turkey Farm catering – WOAH
  • The reassurance my photographer Jessie Wyman, who was filling in for my about-to-give-birth-photographer Carolina Marles Photography, gave me at every step of the wedding (this is way more important than I realized).
  • The end of the night as we were leaving, realizing that I got to be married to my very best friend… oh, and realizing I got to go spend a week in Saint Lucia with him!