Its been a long while since one of these posts. Therefore, thought it might be time for a slightly fluffier, albeit fun (and hopefully offering readers some inspiration and/or engaging ideas, sweet treats, and activities) type of post. Here are 11 things I am loving at the moment.
1. Dough Bar Donuts. Oh my gosh. I am speaking from personal sampling experience here. Are these babies ever good! Pillowy, lightly sweet, delicious, and clocking in at just 150 calories each. SO yum. Highly recommend ordering a box of these to try out yourself. And at $15 a package, they aren't obscenely priced either.
2. Autumn. Foliage- the trees igniting with vivid flame of color. Tall, supple leather riding boots. Scarves (preferably woolen and plaid). Pumpkin donuts. Cute and cozy coats. Haunted hayrides. Brisk air, though not too frigid. Warm mugs of tea clutched in hand. Holing up in charming cafes to wile away the afternoon in conversation with friend or lover (or, solo, with book in hand and/or writing to be done). The. Best. Season. <3
3. The book, "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." This one has sat firmly at the top of the self help/psychology category of books for years. Its been on my "to read" list for ages for this very reason. Finally, I bought a used copy from Amazon and, after letting it sit on my shelf for some weeks, picked it up, not necessarily expecting to be wowed. Instead, more assuming a semi dry read with a few important insights sprinkled within. Wow, was I wrong.
While about halfway through this book at the moment, already, several of the principles within have already prompted major self reflection for me.
The first of which: The Social Mirror.
Meaning, if the only vision we have of ourselves comes from the social mirror (aka, the opinions, perceptions, and paradigms of the people around us- the ones who do not know us especially well or in real depth), our view of ourselves is like the reflection in the crazy mirror room at a carnival.
"You're never on time."
"Why cant you keep things in order?"
"You must be an artist!"
"You eat like a horse!"
"This is so simple, why cant you understand?"
These visions are disjointed and out of proportion. They are, more often, projections than reflections, projecting the concerns and character weaknesses of the people giving the input rather than accurately reflecting what we are.
The second poignant insight I gleaned: Its incredibly east to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover its leaning against the wrong wall. It is possible to be busy, very busy, without being very effective.
People often find themselves achieving victories that are empty, successes that come at the expense of the very things they suddenly realize are far more important to them. People from every walk of life- doctors, CEOs, engineers, actors, politicians, plumbers, artists- often struggle to achieve a higher income, more recognition, or a certain degree of professional competence, only to find that their drive to achieve their goal actually blurred them to the things that mattered most, and that those very things are now gone.
How different our lives would be, and are, when we really know what is deeply important to us. And by keeping that image prominent and at the very forefront of our minds, this can help to clarify that very knowledge. In keeping a clear picture of "the end" ever at the forefront of our mind (aka, imagining, taking the time to really picture and consider the ending of your life, and how you most want to be remembered), this will help provide a narrowing of focus and a realigning of priorities, as well as can helping to guide and tweak your behavior and daily choices that you might have made differently otherwise.
Every single day, operate with The End in mind. This can help cut through, quickly, a lot of the busy-ness and distractions, to what is truly important and crucial with regards to your deepest values and personal mission in your life.
4. Back Works in Boston, MA. First things first, massage is not an indulgence. Its vital to your continued health and wellbeing, both emotionally and physically. Some studies have shown massage to be beneficial for: anxiety, digestive disorders, headaches, sports injuries, insomnia related to stress, soft tissue strains or injuries, easing symptoms of depression. You get the picture. For more, see photo just above ;-)
I've had several massages within my life and, hands down, the best one was at Backworks in Boston. Specifically with Kim. Its $80 for one hour, which is not on the high end. Its middle range in terms of price. However for your first visit, you get $10 off. I promise if you make an appointment with Kim, it will revolutionize how you think of massages.
5. This Paleo Sweet Potato Lasagna. My, oh my. SO good. I was skeptical of lasagna without noodles. That just isn't lasagna, am I right? That's like...ice cream, without the cream. Not the real thing. Instead, its pseudo ice cream, or pseudo lasagna. However, on sampling vegan ice cream, I was mind blown (FoMu in Boston- go there. It'll change your life ;-)). This experience with Paleo lasagna was no different. I promise. This dish is some of the most homey, tasty, totally yummy comfort food I've had in months. Don't believe me? Give it a try. You wont be disappointed.
You can find the recipe for such here.
6. Many Love: a Memoir. This book. So good. Talk about majorly thought provoking. A fascinating, unconventional, unique, mind-turning look at other ways of loving (and frankly, what love can be) that are just as valid and awesome as the way in which we traditionally tend to approach relationships in our culture together. At the very least, its a really fun, fast paced, juicy read. However, I think for most, it will be more than that. I imagine it'll make you think... :-)
Highly recommend this one.
(While I do not practice a polyamorous lifestyle personally, here is an article I wrote that aligns with the topic of the fact that as humans, we absolutely can love more than one person. That our one track, narrow idea of how romantic love must only be relegated to one person and cannot possibly legitimately be otherwise is not only illogical and nonsensical, its flat out inaccurate. How one chooses to love is their personal preference, and is a valid thing. Even if it differs from the cultural norm. The way our culture has decided on there being only one right way to love (aka monogamous, heterosexual, and married- otherwise, the relationship isn't "truly committed," its not as valid or good as "normal" relationships) is really unfortunate, constricting, and harmful to many people who do not fit into such a mold).
7. These specific quotes. They seem to closely correlate with some major themes of my life currently and/or themes that are fairly pertinent at the moment around me.
8. This Quinoa Chocolate Cake. My, oh, my. SO tasty. Rich, fudgy, moist, totally decadent. Hands down, one of the best chocolate cakes Ive ever made and/or sampled. And the most shocking part, it has zero grains/gluten. Also, its lactose free, and semi low in sugar. Woo hoo!!! Thank god, since Ive demolished something like half of it ;-)
Here is how to make it.
9. STRONG by Zumba Express at C2 Studio in Boston. This class is such fun! Oh how I underestimated it during the initial 15 minutes of class. Thinking, pffffft, this is too easy. Not so fast. SO many jump squats, burpees, running in place, push ups. Man, did my muscles ache the next day. Definitely recommend giving this one a try.
You can find the class schedule here.
And then, here is some information about the concept in general.
10. Flour Bakery, however, specifically the one at 12 Farnsworth Street in Boston. I've been to other locations that were not especially charming, nor were the sweets on offering nearly as enticing and varied. This flour bakery location had both. A plethora of inviting looking sweet treats, and the interior was, for the most part, cozy and charming. Recommend checking this place out for a weekend afternoon meeting spot with a friend.
11. The NY Times column "Modern Love." They also have a podcast, or you can read the column online here. These are essays written by people like you and me which explore the trials, triumphs, and tragedies of love. I've read and listened to several within the last year. Many of those, I found poignant, beautiful, inspiring, thought provoking, deeply moving. A few of which I admit that I found, meh. The majority though, really great.