Why everyone should have a massage

My husband bought me a package of four massages for Christmas.  I have just used the third one. For those of you who have never had a massage, let me tell you…get one! It offers multiple benefits. 

1. It is forced relaxation. You are in a room with no technology, no family, no work. Just a masseuse who is fine to be quiet if you ask him/her to. (My first masseuse was too talkative and pressed too hard)  If you can quiet your brain, you can easily relax or even take a much needed nap.

2. It forces you to think about your body. At the start of a massage, the masseuse will ask you if anything has been bothering you lately. Today I paused and realized that, yes, my legs have been a bit stiff, so she spent extra time on them. Last time my back had been hurting. 

3. It forces you to pamper yourself. So many of us are crazy busy. It is difficult to take time for yourself. Some people “workout” to pamper themselves or take a bath or read. But all of those activities can be interupted by kids, schedules, work, guilt or any number of other excuses. But s massage requires an appointment. Most people will not interfere if you say that you have an appointment to attend to. 

4. It is an inexpensive way to take care of yourself. My massage costs 45.00 plus tip. (It is not at a spa but instead at a muscle therapy and acupuncture place). 45.00 is not much to relieve stress, work the knots out and take time for yourself. It is much healthier than a lavish meal out or drinking. 

Excess

What causes excess in our lives? Do we buy extra stuff to be prepared? Do we buy it out of fear of running out? During this quasi no spend challenge I have been doing, I have been examining the things I use and questioning them. Right now I am doing laundry (fun I know!). As I open my cupboard for detergent and dryer sheets, I notice 3 of each. Why? Well, one detergent was bought on sale. One was bought because I liked the scent and one was bought to wash practice jerseys from my husband’s basketball team. All are about half full. That is silly. We should use up before we buy more. If I wanted a new scent, I should have used up the old one THEN bought the new one. I dont forsee myself having a “laundry emergency” if I was to run out of detergent completely. I live .5 miles from a convenience store that carries some. So I challenge you to look at the items in your house which are in excess. Would your life be different if you used everything up before buying new? Would it save you money? Would it save you from having to “declutter”? I am currently experimenting with laundry detergent and body wash.  I definitely WANT to go buy a new scent but maybe by waiting, I will appreciate the new one even more when it comes time to buy it (which is not right now)! Wish me luck! 

Trying to figure out vacation

Why is it stressful to plan a vacation? There is so much to think about.

1. Budget. Are we spending a lot, a little, a medium amount? 

2. Where are we headed? Are we driving? Flying? 

3. How long will we be gone?

4. What will we do when we are there? 

5. Who will take care of the pets?

6. What will we pack-food and clothing? 

7. Touristy vs simple country?

So my husband and I have been trying to answer these questions for our last vacation of the summer. You would think that since we are teachers and childless, it would be easy. Au contraire. We are making it harder than it has to be but a vacation is such precious time and neither of us want to make a “wrong” choice. We want maximum enjoyment and minimal stress.  Right now we are piecing together the following :

Budget: 500-1000 for everything

Where: Muskegon, Curtis, Paradise, Mackinaw then Traverse City on the way home (all in northern Michigan)

Length: 5-6days

Activities include visiting Pictured Rocks National Park, renting a pontoon boat for a day, a couple rounds of golf, and maybe a hike.

Pets: my mom

Packing : items for S’mores, warm clothes, lots of bug spray

It will be a quiet and simple vacation. We will also be celebrating our 4th wedding Anniversary. We wanted something special for that night so we rented a cabin that overlooks the Mackinaw bridge. Now if we could just guarantee no rain!

Wine tasting

Sometimes I forget how great it is to get together with a group of girls, not talk about work, and just enjoy life. That happened last night. I hosted a wine tasting/ book club. Some of us like to read and others dont so we only discuss the book briefly before drinking and eating 😉 Everyone brought a dish to pass and a bottle of wine. I provided cheeses, bread and about 4 or 5 wines (I have a lot that I have bought over the years) and we just enjoyed life. When I lived in Paris, I learned a very valuable skill from the French people-they LIVE. We plan and organize and stress and diet and plan some more and work and work and work for a retirement or possessions or a bigger house or whatever. The French also work hard but they enjoy the journey. I wish we could do that more. Enjoy the journey and the life that is experienced during the journey. I am challenging myself (and you) to behave a tad more French. LIVE. Live and enjoy the moments. Dont rush past them trying to get to the next event. 

First walk

Why do we put off exercising? I have always been a fan of walking as a form of exercise. When I was younger, I would go for walks all the time and enjoyed the feeling of foot to pavement.  Then I broke my ankle. I am healed but it seems as though I have lost the joy of walking. I tried to get it back last summer by walking more and more each day but it just doesnt spark the same joy in me that it used to…and that makes me sad.  I am not in pain, so I’m not quite sure what the problem is. Tonight I went for my first walk in about a month. It felt great. We had a thunderstorm pass and my husband went outside to hit golf balls so I went for a walk. I want to get that joy back.  I want to feel good when I walk and see results like I used to when I was little. Maybe just take it slow? Maybe not have too many expectations of myself? I feel like my black cat George right now…

The desire of a boutique lifestyle

Why do we buy things? What is our purpose behind our purchases? Popularity? Status? Feeling better about ourselves? Novelty? Trying to create a certain type of life. Have you ever been to a unique shop that sells cute soaps and plates and such? I always want to live the life that  those unique shops portray. I want my life to be a series of boutiques and fancy soaps and cheese plates and cute earrings and candles. I buy clothes because I want to look better. Candles and soaps to smell better. Fun food to eat better. Housing decor to make the house look better. Technology to be connected better. A new car to look better. Is it because it all comes back to the essential human question of not being good enough? So what will happen when I stop buying things? Will I  be “less better”? ( I know this is improper grammar. I’m making a point. ) Will I be uglier? Stinkier? Not as cool or popular? I want to be a better cook, wife, teacher, writer. Why do think I need things to make me this way. Is all that we need to be a better person, within us already? 

I purchase things to make my life better when in reality I’ m starting to think that things make life worse. 

No spend challenge for 2 weeks

If you have been on Pinterest or Googled “frugality”, you have probably seen where people completed a “no spend month”. That seems extremely difficult. So I thought to myself what if I could do 2 weeks? We just returned from vacation and I went a little crazy on vacay. I bought many things that were unnecessary.  So this is similar to a “cleanse” for your diet.  I will post here each day my successes and my failures with this two week challenge. I can buy food, gas, medicine or we can spend on entertainment such as golfing or the movies. (I know that I’m doing this differently than most people, but it is a start and I really think that sometimes we are so hard on ourselves because we didn’t do something “perfectly” when we did do it well and that should be celebrated) . This is an aim at not buying more STUFF.  

So here it goes! Share your “tips” at curbing spending!

Day 1: went golfing (only had to pay cart fees) and bought groceries.  Today was easy because I have spent the day unpacking from the trip and doing laundry.  However, as I sat down to watch TV last night, I was overwhelmed by all the commercials and how effective they were. I wanted to buy a new car, two books and go shopping. Yikes! Might have to go TV free for these two weeks!

Day 2 : today was a little tougher. I kept seeing things ( even at home!) that I should buy. I received 5 emails for shopping sales and saw probably 50 commercials while relaxing to watch TV.  I didnt buy anything but I also didnt leave the house. We have become SUCH A ” STUFF” SOCIETY! It is insane…

Day 3: and fail. Ok. This is kind of a fail. I bought a dress on ebay. Here’s why ( maybe if I justify it, it will be better) Since I have been little, our golf course has a “dinner dance” the first Saturday in August.  This year is the 60th anniversary of the course and they are asking us to dress in costume from 60 years ago. I would be happy to borrow something from someone but I am 6’1 and am a larger girl so all of my friend’s clothes dont fit. If it was a normal dinner dance, I would wear a dress I already have. However, this is a VERY special occasion. I also looked at buying it at the end of these two weeks but it has to be shipped from China and may not even be here in time. ( in that case, I will return it) I spent 33.68. I feel terrible about it. However, I am not buying new shoes. And I am very conscious about this purchase. Isnt that the point of this experiment? 5.00 for icecream. If you remeber, this IS in the rules of my no spend challenge.

Day 4: Today I am heading to the grocery store. I am hosting a wine tasting party in 2 days. Unlike the last time I did this, I did ask the guests to bring a dish to pass and a bottle of wine (last time I provided all wine and food which cost me about 150 dollars) However, I am hosting so I need to provide a few cheeses, some crackers and a few wines. I am hoping to spend less than 50.00. However, this fits into my regulations of food or entertainment so even though I dont want to spend money, it is important to note that I am not buying STUFF. That was the whole point of this experiment.  I am happy to say that I only spent 30.00 and discovered ALDI. Great place for discount foods!

Day 5: today’s want was command hooks. I adore hosting get togethers. But I also like my house to look “just so” when people come over. That means cleaning and some changing of decor. I dont usually go buy anything but instead try to spruce up what I have. So today I decided to work on my husband’s man cave. I bought him a jersey for Christmas and it has been hanging in the closet since then becuase I didnt have the “right display stuff”. So of course I chose today to think about hanging the jerseys. I thought that fancy hangers and command hooks would look nice and cheaper than display cases. Then I stopped myself.  WHAT AM I DOING???? Why is it that one purchase almost always leads to another? So I put nails in the wall and called it good. I think it looks pretty good and I had the nails on hand. That got me to thinking….could I go a whole year without buying stuff? I will continue to contemplate this question while pursuing this two week challenge. I am going to lunch with a friend and picking up prescriptions. Remember…these are allowed 😉 I also bought gas for my car. Necessity!

Day 6 wine and cheese tasting party at my house! I have spent the morning cleaning and preparing. I bought all the food for it the other day and the guests are bringing a dish to pass so it is a 0 dollar day! Yaya! 

Day 7

bought steaks and potatoes for dinner

Day 8

tipped waitress when dad bought my lunch. Wanted to buy a book today but held off. I am really seeing the beauty of this challenge and noticing all the excess stuff in my house that just isn’t necessary

Day 9 went to breakfast at an Amish restaurant. Bought donuts for friends. Started looking at the soaps and such. Then remembered this challenge. I bought a loaf of bread (allowed) and that is all.  We are going to dinner with friends. The next time I do this, I may have to make different food guidelines. 

Day 10 went to breakfast with friends. Also had ice cream. I am starting to see that the “food rule” is making this challenge seem easy.  However, I have also noticed that 10 days of not bringing any new junk into the house or my life has been awesome! At this point, I am definitely considering extending the challenge. 

Day 11: spent nothing. Rewrote resume. 

Day 12 spent nothing. Applied for another job

Day 13 had dinner with Grandma and mother. i am really noticing that I have made an effort to be around more people since doing this challenge. I went to the library yesterday, asked a friend to borrow a skirt, and had a very nice dinner with family. Plus, I have not brought any “stuff” into my house which is great. I have probably saved about 100.00. It isnt a lot but I have eaten out A LOT.  And that is ok per my rules. I dont want to get ahead of myself but I may continue the challenge….

Day 14 I did it! And yet last night at midnight, I almost bought pullows and hairspray on QVC home shopping channel! What is wrong with us? Are we so bombarded with consumerism that we cant even think straight any more? All of these products claming to make life better. Maybe they would. It is like gambling…maybe I will win. But I have tons of pillows in this house…and hairspray! I have promised myself that when I run out of these things, I will keep these certain products in mind. Until then, I’m using up what I have. I think I am going to stick with this for another 14 days. I will keep you posted. Good luck to all of you if you try a challenge like this! 

Stupidity

I am pasty. My grandmother has had skin cancer many times and I was blessed with her pale English skin. My parents, sister, brother in law, and husband all have a deeper, more olive complexion. So when I went to a friend’s pool the other day, I knew I would wear sunscreen. However, I also wanted a bit of a tan…on my legs at least! It is summer! And so I am 4 days removed from said pool time and I have been bathing in aloe and crying at night. I missed spots and I completely neglected my legs. They are lobster like. So in this brief post I urge you all to remember who you are (pasty kid) and to use sunscreen accordingly. A tan is nice, but not worth the pain and suffering that I am currently enduring.