Rest Assured

Stress is a hot topic these days. You read about it in the news, possibly hear about it at the gym and most likely, receive communications speaking to the topic at work. Stress is terrible on all fronts in that not only affects the mind but can also negatively impact one’s health. Anxiety, depression, stomach ailments, acne, ulcers and even heart attacks. The list just goes on. This morning alone, I read a news piece about women, stress and fertility. I don’t know about you, but I am guilty as charged in the arena of getting my knickers in a twist in the stress department. Poster child for Type A personality baby. As I have gotten older, this is something that I am making a concerted effort to control as it is neither productive nor healthy.

For me, I find that yoga has really done wonders in enabling me to simmer down. It is a time when I am alone with the mat and all I am hearing is that of my teacher’s instructions. Honestly, sometimes I tune that out too. If you have not tried yoga, it is a very constructive way by which to get out of your own head. Maybe running works for you, spinning or even taking a long walk. My mind is constantly going a mile a minute and I find that yoga is a time when I can drown everything out. Added bonus is that I am also getting an outstanding workout in to boot. A dear friend of mine emailed me this week citing that she would go out of her mind unless she made it to that evening’s yoga class. This message really resonated with me and so I joined her. I returned home a very sweaty albeit calm and relaxed lady. It should also be noted that I slept like a baby that night.

Also important in the department of stress management is breathing. Deeply and counting to ten, twenty or evening one hundred if you have to. This simple activity enables you to truly be in the moment and live in the now. Don’t catastrophize about the future or ruminate in the past as both are entirely counterproductive. Trust me, I know. Some like to meditate; whatever wets your whistle. Maybe for you, eliminating stress can be as simple as taking a moment to organize your desk or clean the kitchen. Others may sit in a still place and enjoy the quiet time. Jim Valvano encouraged spending time in thought, every day. He also promoted laughter. Laughter is and can be a real medicinal healer. Therapy at its best.  Give yourself a talking to every once in a while. My mother has a marvelous catch phrase I have heard a time or two that goes “pull yourself together”. Talk it out. Get together with a friend and share a laugh. Be optimistic; reflect on what good has come of your day. Stretch out of your comfort zone and do something kind for someone else whether it be opening a door, helping with groceries or even just smiling. Has a stranger ever smiled at you and the small gesture simply made your day? Karma has an interesting way of making the world go round.

Did you know that April is Stress Awareness Month?  It is a fact that we all lead busy, demanding stressful lives pulling us each in a thousand different directions. This said, what a better time than now to take self-inventory and make some changes. In my book, one of the best ways to manage stress is to find something that makes you happy and just do it. Unwind, relax, take a breather, chill out. I find that I am at my best when cooking (although under pressure can be another story), spending quality time with those I love, gallivanting in general and being by the sea. I don’t see my family often so when we do get together, it is time to be savored. I like being with people. An extrovert since birth, this makes me happy. In terms of gallivanting, the best place in the world for this is New York City. Lace up your sneakers (do not wear flip flops as Matthew learned the hard way once) and get lost in the city. Every corner brings a new adventure. Pop into restaurants with careless abandon. A fierce planner who usually arrives with a list outlining reservations (Thursday night dinner at Minetta Tavern, 10.45 seating anyone), we did this in once. While cruising through Nolita, we found a gem on Mulberry Street, Parm. Check out their amazing wallpaper and order a cold Schaefer. Then go to town on their menu..

About three years ago, Matthew introduced me to the beauty and wonders of Pawleys Island, South Carolina where his family has had a place for many years. My family grew up vacationing in Hilton Head Island so this was new to me. I went a time or two in college as one of my bosom pals folks have a place there. On one of these visits, my friend’s Mom told us the creepy story of the ghost of Alice Flagg. Immediately thereafter, we went to the beach in search of her as instructed. Not my cup of tea as a flea has the capacity to scare me but a wonderful memory nonetheless. This same friend has a house in Pawleys now too and we had the opportunity to see her and family on our last visit. We sat on their screened-in porch, listening to the rain fall lightly and catching up over her now famous gin and tonics given life thanks to Fever Tree tonic water. Thanks for the terrific intro Anna! Pawleys is a marvelous beach community that boasts multiple inlets, pristine southern beaches, terrific watering holes and fantastic restaurants. It is the perfect place to sit down, take it all in, relax and stay a while.

A couple of weeks ago, I was experiencing some serious cabin fever and knew a weekend mini-break was in the cards. Matthew had suggested we go to the beach but cautioned that it would not be swimming weather. During the summer, we are notorious for spending eight or more hours on the beach sunning, reading, swimming and sometimes looking out at dolphins in the sea. Who cares I said, the beach is the beach; I will pack a jacket and leave the swimsuit behind. The latter suited me fine as it’s technically not swimsuit season yet. So on our ponies we went. The journey to Pawleys is four hours door to door. Our trip includes back roads so we meander down quiet streets and take in a good deal of scenery as well as small towns on the way. It was on one of these trips that I first came across pickled eggs. Our weekend was just what the doctor ordered. Shaped by chilly temperatures albeit sunshine and blue skies save for one day that brought torrential rain and served as a prime excuse to hit up Red Box and catch up on movies.

On the evening we arrived, we enjoyed a steaming basket of peel and eat shrimp and crisp Sauvignon Blanc overlooking the water at the Hot Fish Club in Murrell’s Inlet, the 'Seafood Capital of South Carolina'. The sun was setting and we could not have asked for a more perfect and picturesque backdrop. The next day, we grabbed coffees and explored the beach. In the evening, we secured a table at our favorite local haunt, Frank’s. As we usually do here, we shared small plates and a pizza from their al fresco grill. If you are in the area, be sure to get a table outside. There was a nip to the air and so we sat near to the fire place and enjoyed the conversation of those around us. One morning, we discovered a superb gourmet grocer, Kudzu Bakery Market, just a stone’s throw from our house. I was tickled to learn that they sell wine from Blauberg in Cape Town, South Africa. Just seeing the bottle took me back to a marvelous breakfast there I shared with my parents and siblings four years ago. At this time, I picked up a case of my favorite wine at a fantastic price, a chicken and walnut salad sandwich on wheat for Matthew that is reputed to be the best in the area and ginger muffins for later. I hear through the grapevine that their seafood pot pie is off the charts.

Later that same day, we had an inventive lunch at Chive Blossom. A first for us and we shall return. A trip to Pawleys is never complete without one drink at the bar of Louis’s at Sanford's. In the evening, we cooked one of my favorite dinners, a low country boil. I am spoiled in that Matthew’s family has their own recipe. In a massive pot of boiling water you cook shrimp, crab legs if you like, smoked sausage, red potatoes, corn, onions and a sachet of spices. An hour later, spread the bounty over newspapers and pick your dinner. Squeeze some lemon on top, a dollop of cocktail sauce, horseradish for those who appreciate a swift kick and you are in business. As Murphy's Law has it, the weather on Sunday was gorgeous. As we washed towels and packed up the car, I admitted that I did not want to leave. I always lament the ending of a good time. I was so relaxed and had not a care in the world. I returned to Charlotte unwound, recharged and ready to tackle the week ahead. With this, I would like to raise a glass. Let’s take a crack at loosening up, chilling out and relishing in the now. Deep breath and bon weekend to all! #LetLoose2014

No comments:

Post a Comment