marvelous monday: little oases of rest in a hectic, busy season

Happy Monday, everyone! It’s that time of year … the holidays are upon us. All weekend I’ve been seeing not just Thanksgiving decorations in stores, but Christmas decorations, too! Some houses in my neighborhood have even put up lights and lawn ornaments. {Which I’m admittedly not used to, coming from California, but it does make sense here in Indiana where you want to get the lights up before the first snow hits!} It seems like Christmas season sets upon us earlier and earlier every year … which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for me, a girl who starts playing Pandora Holiday stations in October. I love the warmth and comfort of the holiday season!

Still, the holidays bring with them a lot of busyness — gifts to buy, special meals to cook, cards to send, relatives in town, parties to attend, and just a general hectic pace of life that can be overwhelming. Coupled with the approaching end-of-semester obligations and deadlines: final papers and projects to grade, class presentations, meetings — and for me this year, a completed rough draft of my thesis to turn in — and life can quickly feel out-of-control crazy-busy!

I’ve started doing a brief stretch and deep-breathing routine each morning to get my day off on the right foot, which I’ll share with you later this week. But something else that has helped me keep my sanity and approach the holiday season with a grateful heart {as it is meant to be celebrated, after all!} is to take little breaks throughout the day to slow down, take a breath, and reward myself for the work I have gotten done. Even just ten or fifteen minutes away from my computer or pile of dirty dishes can be enough to clear my head and make me feel worlds happier and more refreshed. Here are some of my “oases”:

  • making a phone call to my friends or family
  • reading a chapter of a good book or a story from a magazine
  • taking a power nap
  • going for a brisk walk around the neighborhood
  • daydreaming with a cup of tea

How do you keep your sanity and stay energized during the crazy-busy holiday season? What are your little daily oases?

marvelous monday: making the most of long car rides

Hi everyone! Hope you had a nice weekend! As I mentioned on Saturday, Mike and I spent the weekend visiting his family, who live in the Chicago suburbs, about a 2.5 hour drive away from us. I miss my family — it is difficult living so far away from them! — but Mike’s family is warm and welcoming and I always love seeing them.

It was a fun weekend! Home cooking, lots of laughter and long conversation, and a visit to the pumpkin patch! Yesterday was a beautiful autumn day in Illinois and we took advantage of it!

If there is one thing I dislike about visiting Mike’s family, it is the long car ride there and back … I am not the biggest car person and five hours in two days feels long to me! I get carsick easily and can’t read or write in the car. I am someone who hates feeling unproductive and I get antsy sitting still in a confined space for so long. But it is obviously worth the drive to get to see Mike’s family, and also I’ve found that by shifting my mindset and implementing some easy car-ride strategies, it has actually become time I look forward to and enjoy! Here are some tips that work for me that I’m hoping might make your next long car ride or even your daily commute more enjoyable:

  • If you have company, savor it! Take the opportunity to have some nice uninterrupted conversations. I love the long, wandering conversations Mike and I have during our car trips together — serious, silly, deep, insightful. It’s quality time we get to spend together, just the two of us, talking. It reminds me of when we first started dating and spent so much time talking-talking-talking, soaking up each other’s stories.
  • Driving solo? Why not take the time to call up a friend or family member for a catch-up chat? {Of course, make sure to use a hands-free headset and drive safe!}
  • Listen to a comedy album. My current fave: the insanely witty Demetri Martin! {You can check out his new album here.} The drive goes by so fast when you are cracking up the whole way there!
  • Listen to an audiobook. I got this idea from my dad, who often runs to audiobooks. {He’s made his way through quite some impressive tomes this way, such as East of Eden and Huckleberry Finn!} Audible.com is a great resource for downloading audiobooks. Or go the free route and check out CDs from the library! When I drove cross-country with my mom to move from California to Indiana for grad school, this is what we did. The CDs are admittedly a little clunkier than your iPod, but they still do the trick.
  • Scan the radio for new-to-you stations. Mike and I found a station that plays Irish-inspired music, which we both love. It felt like a special treat to listen to songs we’d never heard before, and I was scribbling artists’ names down in my notebook to look up later.
  • If you’re not the one driving, spend a little time being productive: pick up any trash that’s found its way onto the floor or between the seats, write checks to pay some bills, etc. One car trip, I organized Mike’s glove box. {Which I will share in a later post!}
  • Do something crafty. I have found long car rides to be an ideal time to knit! I am halfway through a new scarf for Mike right now, thanks to car-ride knitting time.
  • Gaze out the window and daydream. Sometimes we all need some time to reflect and let our minds wander. Tap into your imagination and see where your thoughts take you!

Anyone else have any tips to share? How do you make the most of long car rides or daily commute time?

Have a marvelous week!
-Dallas 🙂