Pura Vida (pure life)- the idea of being at peace with the universe and not taking life too seriously, is what inspired this blog initially. I mean the world is a tough place to survive in, and most of the time we take things way too seriously. We often get swept up in the storm of rushing around, trying to cram 1,000 things into 24 hours. And if you’re like me that comes with making endless to-do lists (I literally cannot survive a day out without my trusty lists). I just feel like I never get everything done! Which is exactly the point. If I can never get it all done, there will never be any time to take a break and focus on me. It’s simple, aside from the daily grind of work, running errands, managing a home, and planning for tomorrow, we must incorporate into our day, actions that also lead to our well- being.
Below is a list of practices that I have been trying to engage in, with varying degrees of success. Some days I’m really good with my list (another list?), other days I am way too busy (I’m not trying to be perfect here- just honest). But I’ve come to realize that it’s actually on those hectic days that I need to just step back for a minute, calm down and do something just for me.
1. MEDITATE/ PRAY-
Mornings are often the most chaotic time for us. For me, first comes the sheer agony of dragging myself out of bed, then running around crazy trying to get through the door on time (did I mention hitting the snooze button one too many times?). Then comes, sitting in traffic and watching the clock, which in itself is enough to make anyone scream. But I’ve found that on the occasions that I start my day in a peaceful frame of mind it goes a long way towards combatting the challenges that I face throughout the day. Early in the morning before the noise of the world comes rushing in, take a few moments to pray, breathe and read a few inspirational passages. Feel the stillness- let it creep into your soul and tell yourself that you will think only positive things today. I used to literally groan in the mornings when it was time to wake up! But my new frame of mind is to stop, be thankful that I am actually alive and spend a few moments savouring the gift of life that the creator has granted me.
This tip is an extension of praying. Giving thanks to God, the spirit, the universe- whatever you defer to- for the abundance that you have is something that we should try to do daily. When you have done that, don’t forget to thank the persons who have helped you along the way to achieve what you have. None of us is self-made. Acknowledge those who gave you a boost, by simply saying thanks, or by expressing your sentiments in a more tangible manner. A heartfelt “Thank you” is always appreciated and will inspire the giver to replicate the act. And in doing this, don’t forget to give back as well. Giving of your time, money or talent will ensure that you are saying thanks by paying it forward and helping someone too.
3. EAT HEALTHY-
What’s that? I won’t be a hypocrite- I struggle with eating healthy daily. After all, the foods that are bad for our health are oh so enticing! I remember listening to Mutabaruka’s talk show once and hearing him criticize how Jamaicans eat. He mentioned that the food on our plates is often white (rice or dumplings) and brown (meat and gravy). In essence he wanted to know where the other colours come in. What about all of the colourful fruits and vegetables that are so good for us? A simple rule to follow is if it grows out of the ground, consume more of it, and if it’s produced in a factory and comes in a package, eat less of it. You will notice a real improvement in how you look as well as how you feel.
I hate exercising (doesn’t everybody?), but I have come to appreciate its importance. Gone are the days when I could burn calories by simply breathing. So now I try to do some form of work out every day. Apart from the obvious health benefits (that I won’t bother to bore you with), exercise helps to bring out the bombshell in you. No matter what your body type, exercise is one way of helping you to be the best version of yourself. Don’t be fooled into thinking that those well-toned Hollywood stars roll out of bed looking that fit! Oh sure, when the interviewer asks them how they manage to look so toned, they brush off the question and try to make us think they hardly put any effort into looking that gorgeous. All lies! It takes work. Try it today. Break a sweat- even ten minutes- and you will feel rejuvenated, pumped up and ready to take on the world. Now rest, multiply by seven days, and watch your body change.
Am I the only one who used to have a library card? If you are Jamaican, think Tom Redcam Library in Cross Roads on a Saturday (Ah the good old days. OLD DAYS? Was it that long ago?) There is something magical about reading that pulls you into a different world and makes you suspend the effects that comes with too hectic a life. The themes that you can explore are endless- suspense, westerns, self-help, horror, romance or maybe a biography. Whether you decide to get caught up in someone else’s drama for a change or simply read to teach yourself something new, there is a book out there for you. Catch up on some reading, whether it’s a good old paper copy or an e-book. Take yourself on a journey- you won’t regret the trip.
6. LEARN SOMETHING NEW-
Most of us are educated in a neat little sequence that includes some or all of the following steps: basic school –>primary school–>secondary school–>college–>university. Along the way we gain knowledge that helps us to earn a living and achieve our goals. However, outside of formal education we need to keep our brains active by learning about new things that are not necessarily for monetary gain/ job purposes. Do one of the many free courses online, teach yourself a new language (I still have my new French dictionary, grammar book and audio lessons which I hope to dust off and use one day), start a blog, learn to swim or join a salsa group. Ok so those are my interests. But find your own interest and have a go at something new. Otherwise you run the risk of feeling stuck in a rut, and think about it- is that any way to live?
7. DETOX & DECLUTTER-
One of my favorite TV shows is “Hoarders”. I am always amazed at the clutter that some persons accumulate and refuse to let go of. I can totally appreciate that most of these people are sick and need professional help. But it always reminds me that every now and again I need to detox and get rid of the junk that is cluttering my life. Detoxing comes in various forms- It could be getting rid of toxic people/ relationships, dumping that stockpile of papers that you are saving for heaven knows what (that’s one of my transgressions as a teacher!), or clearing out and donating clothes that you haven’t worn in a while. Getting rid of any kind of junk leaves you with space to breathe, think more clearly and maintain a positive state of mind.
8. REST RELAX REJUVINATE RECUPERATE-
We often hear about getting some well needed R&R. I will take it a step further to R, R, R & R. As a mom and a teacher, I am always searching desperately for the 4 R’s. They can be elusive but they are attainable. Every once in a while we need to take a break and rest our minds and bodies. Treat yourself to a spa day, an extra twenty minutes of sleep, or simply let the housework slide for one day (It’s not going anywhere; trust me, it will still be there tomorrow). If we never take some down time, we will not be able to perform at optimum level. And if that’s not enough incentive, just tell yourself- “Hey I deserve this!”.
Which of the above tips do you already incorporate into your daily routine? Or maybe you have your own special things that you do to attain Pura Vida, the pure life. Please share them with me in the comment box below. Gracias.