A Spa Day

I am going to the doctor on Monday.

I have not been to the doctor in quite a while, and I am feeling very anxious. My fear of doctors started a few years ago after a terrible experience with a mean gynecologists, and has gotten progressively worse. However, I am trying really hard to be a grown up and do the right thing to “heal” and have control over my anxiety so I made the doctor appointment.

I have considered making an appointment all year, but always put it off because I am either sick, tired, pms-ing, on my period, anxious, or busy. I want to be perfectly healthy when I go to the doctor… I realize this is opposite of when most people visit the doctor, but I am trying to make sure I only get good news.

I have a problem…this I know.

To further ensure that I have a good appointment I am doing everything I can to be as healthy and relaxed as possible this week. This is never easy with work and life in general, but I have a plan.

My plan is to get 7 hours of sleep every night, spend some quality time with friends, work out everyday  more often, drinking lots of water, and cut out junk food. ALSO, I am spoiling myself a bit. For example, I went to a spa on Monday.

The Setai Club and Spa Wall Street (that’s a very long name) offered me a day pass to their facilities this week, and I just have to say OMG THAANNNKKKK YOOOUUUU!!!!!!

I did not even realize how much I needed an evening of total relaxation. The Setai Club is this very fancy spa on Wall Street for wealthy fancy people. It is peaceful, dark, luxurious, super clean, and very relaxing.

I arrived a little frazzled from a hectic day with my gym bag full of everything but workout clothes. The friendly guy at the front desk gave me a tour and informed me that they offer free workout shorts, shirts, and socks to their clients. Score! I still didn’t have shoes, but they were understanding enough to allow me in the gym anyways. I just made sure to stay off the treadmills.

My gym bag, FULL of everything but gym clothes.
My gym bag, FULL of everything but gym clothes.

After my workout in a quiet and basically empty gym (thank God no one was around to see me exercise in a borrowed pair of extra large cotton shorts), I decided to relax in the ladies private aqua grotto. This “aqua grotto” consists of a mineral pool Jacuzzi, an aromatherapy steam room and a Finish sauna. I slipped off my clothes and slipped on the complimentary large comfy robe. Then, I had a terrible thought…

What if this isn’t a “naked spa”? What if I walk in and everyone else has on swimsuits??? My only real spa experiences were in Europe…maybe it’s different here!?

I hate asking questions basically anywhere, and I was feeling very vulnerable while naked in my robe, so I decided to check out the grotto, robe on, and look for signs of naked people…

The grotto was empty. Just as I was slipping out of my robe, I began to worry that a fully clothed person would walk in, take one look at me and say, “What the hell are you doing? We wear clothes here!”  So, I sat for a few minutes and built up enough courage to ask the nice ladies’ room attendant for the proper spa etiquette. She, of course, was nowhere to be found. I swear she was standing, waiting to help, until the exact moment I needed her.

Eventually, I went for the towel-wrap option. That way no one really knows if you’re naked. I spent a lot of time in every section of the aqua grotto, and it was amazing. The Setai Club provides free cucumber and lemon water at every corner so I never felt dehydrated or overheated.

I brought my "clean bottle", but I didn't need it much thanks to the free cucumber water.
I brought my “clean bottle”, but I didn’t need it much thanks to the free cucumber water.

Once I finished the grotto I hit the showers. Their showers are phenomenal. They aren’t your average gym showers. They are enormous, very clean, full of all the supplies you will need and complete with an enormous rainfall showerhead. The shower was just as relaxing as the Jacuzzi.

After the shower I sat in the lounge chairs, drank a free glass of wine and read Harry Potter until I started getting sleepy. Upon arrival I was told I can have free wine or champagne, but no one actually offered me any. Again, I had to build up enough courage to walk out (in my robe) and ask for a drink. Everyone was super friendly, but I still hated to ask for anything. Why is that so hard?

Then, I was actually able to blow dry and style my hair in the ladies changing room with their blow dryers and hair products. Amazing! Plus, their shampoo and conditioner made my hair smell like citrusy goodness for two days!

I went home feeling like a million bucks. I was so relaxed that I ignored my to-do list and went straight to bed.

If you live in the area (and make a decent living) this place should be your haven. If you want to treat yourself every once in a while to a facial, massage or something else in that category then I suggest checking out the Setai Spa. It’s worth the splurge every so often (you know you deserve it).

Time for bed!

Cheers!

P.S. I just got home from a little girls night out and I may have been slightly tipsy while writing this so please ignore the many typos and sentences that make little sense. Thanks.

A Few Steps Towards Recovery

Living with high anxiety is not easy for anyone, but simply recognizing and accepting this struggle can make the battle that much easier. When I admitted to myself, and the world, that I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. That weight was heavy with all my secrets, lies, and tears over the years. I cannot explain the feeling; I had to let it all go. Being honest and open is much easier than living under pounds of secrets.

Now that I am less focused on hiding, I am more focused on staying healthy. There are many actions I take each day to keep myself from venturing into the dark-side.

#1 Think positive. I have to constantly remind myself that everything is okay. Because there are so many negative thoughts and scenarios constantly scrolling through my mind, I have to stop them with numerous mantras: “I am happy and healthy.” “I can do this.” “Breath.” “Everything will be okay.” It may sound ridiculous but repeating these thoughts, writing them down, or saving them in my Notes app, helps me everyday.

#2 Exercise. This is just a given. We all know that, “Exercising gives you endorphins.  Endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands!” Wise words from Elle Woods. After the terrible heartache I went through years ago, my doctor suggested I take anti-depressants. I was very leery of this route so he made me promise to do some form of exercise everyday and check in with him every couple of weeks. Done. It did me wonders.

#3 Make time to do things I enjoy. I learned how important this is while living in Albania. It is still a challenge to make time for things like reading, dancing, writing, movie watching, and especially relaxing, but I am so much happier when I do. I tend to feel guilty when I take time for myself, but it gets easier and easier with practice, which is why I have a Weekly Dose of Glamour.

I typically pick one day a week to really relax. This day is usually a no-make-up, pajama kind of day. By 5 pm, Husband is so ready to get out of the apartment that he will do anything I am willing to do. This usually involves Starbucks, a walk, some fancy stores, and maybe an exhibit.

This Sunday we walked a few miles, all around the Upper East Side. We window shopped down Madison for at least an hour and I used my new Aviary app to snap some shots of the beautiful items we spotted. I love this app so much more than Instagram.

I love walking down Madison. There is no better street for window shopping.
I love walking down Madison. There is no better street for window shopping.

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Why, hello beautiful
Why, hello beautiful.

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I walked really fast during our 3 mile window shopping adventure so I counted it as my cardio for the day, and went home to put my pj’s back on….what a great day.

I still have other skills to practice like getting enough sleep and seeing a doctor regularly…I’ll get there. One step at a time.

Cheers!

I’m Still a Brat

Zoey asked me to join her in a group exercise class yesterday, one that I do not love attending. However, I am being positive now, and decided I should go to support Zoey and maybe get some aerobic benefits in the process. Nothing is particularly wrong with this class. It’s actually a great workout, and the teacher is really fun. The only problem is me.

I am a brat.

This class just is not for me; I am too picky, and I need more of a challenge.  I was trying to be positive though, so when we got there I enthusiastically found my spot near the front with plenty of space and a perfect view in the mirror. Zoey found her spot in the back behind a pole. We participate in class very differently.

Before we begin I turn my head to say something to Zoey, and as I turn back to the front there is a girl standing literally one inch in front of me AGAIN. How does one think this is appropriate behavior? Have these ladies never taken a group exercise class before?! We clearly need space to shake our hips and pump our arms up and down.

–deep breaths—stay positive—

I decide to step backwards and let the space thief take my spot. “It’s all yours”, I say, silently, in my head.

Class begins and I shuffle to the left to get a view of myself in the mirror. The thief also shuffles. I smile, no problem, shuffle to right and once again can watch myself perform. The thief then feels the need to also shuffle to the right.

This goes on and on, and I decide it is not so important; I do not have to see myself. I am getting a great workout whether I can see myself or not.  Happy thoughts. Then, I smell it.

The thief is a farter.

She passed gas every 3 minutes for the rest of class. I swear to you, I could taste it. Don’t get me wrong; I understand that farts tend to sneak out during a workout class (especially yoga) but at some point you need to hold it in. I really really tried to find a positive spin to the smelly thief, but I was at a loss at this point. I decided it was best to tough it out and hold my breath.

Towards the end of class the teacher added high kicks to the routine. High kicks are something I pride myself on, and you know I love to show off and get teacher approval during class. I happily and haughtily danced and kicked along to the music, smiling the whole time. All of a sudden the teacher sashays in my direction, a big smile on her face, I can hardly wait for my obvious forthcoming compliment. Unexpectedly, she stops right in front of the stinky farting thief. “Amazing high kicks!” she exclaims, and then continues to high-five the very girl who stole my spot! I only wish someone was there to capture the look of disappointment and shock on my face.

When class was over I was drenched in sweat, my legs felt like jelly and I felt proud for finishing the class. Today, I am super sore. I love to feel sore after I workout, it’s real proof that I worked hard and I am getting stronger. It turns out that I am pretty happy I went to the class, and definitely feel better for it. I’m so glad I stuck it out. Now, I am more motivated to keep working out throughout the week.

Moral of the story: When life farts in your face, hold your breath and keep moving.

Cheers!

What to Do When You are Stuck Inside during a National Disaster

Hurricane Sandy has given a me a few much needed days off work to relax and check a few things off my to-do list. Normally, I’d get out and do something fun and adventurous during a 5-day weekend, but this national disaster has put us all under house arrest. After writing some blogs and lesson plans, cleaning the entire apartment, painting my nails, and working out I had to get a little creative.

Here’s “Hilarie’s list of what to do to keep from getting bored and wishing you could go to work”.

1. Cook something. I made two giant pots of butternut squash and vegetable soup, which was really delicious. (Husband says it’s not okay to compliment my own food, but how else will you know that I managed to successfully make a yummy dinner!?!?)

2. Annoy your dog. I took pictures of Belle and teased her for looking nervous when it hadn’t even started storming yet.

3. Because soup isn’t enough…make cookies!

Halloween funfetti mix with chocolate chips, my own special combo

4. Annoy your dog some more. I took some more pics of Belle being cute and sleeping between our laptops.

5. Leave your house and visit a friend with a better view. When, we got really bored we left and went to a friend’s house to enjoy their rooftop view.

The wind gusts are A LOT stronger from 45 floors up!

6. Find an open restaurant. Hurricanes make me hungry.

You are looking at a fried ravioli stuffed with chocolate and bananas, smothered in berry and grand marnier sauce, and topped off with pumpkin ice cream. Yes, it’s a good as it sounds.

7. Carve a pumpkin! Hello! It’s Halloween!

Draw your pattern.
Rip out it’s guts….
Carve carefully, and tada!!! (That’s a cat and a dog in case you weren’t sure.)

8. Annoy your dog one more time. She could at least pretend to be excited that I just carefully carved her portrait into a pumpkin.

Poor sleepy puppy

9. Play cards. I taught Dad-in-law and Zoey to play Rook (a favorite in my family)

If you play Rook, you know this is a TERRIBLE hand.

10. (Husband’s tip) Play with your camera. Husband’s subjects of choice were my wedding rings.

He’s getting pretty good with that camera.
Highlighting the hidden Mickey

If all of these steps fail then watch a Sex and the City marathon, read a book, drink a few bottles of wine, do some yoga, or take a nap! Work will start again before you know it!

Stay safe NYC, cheers!

The New-To-Us Park

Over the weekend, Husband decided he could limp around well enough, and we planned to spend the day at a brand new-to-us park. We grabbed our little Belle and took 3 trains deep into the heart of Queens to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Flushing Meadows is the second biggest park in New York City, which means it’s bigger than Central Park! It houses the home of the Mets, the home of the US Open, a science museum, an art museum, a theatre, a zoo, a couple lakes, and tons and tons of fields and trees. We were shocked when we arrived to crowds of thousands of people. Turns out the US Open was happening as well as a Mets game. Luckily, the crowds stopped at the stadiums and the rest of the park was free of tourists and full of families.

 

 

I have never ever in my life seen a park with so many picnics and parties. There must have been thousands of families grilling out, playing volleyball, and spending quality time together. It was really nice to watch so many people getting along and being active together. We spotted at least 50 soccer games, 30 volleyball games, 12 baseball games, 8 games of tag, 2 water gun fights, and 1 game of croquet.

 

In the middle of the park are a few giant shallow pools, or fountains maybe, that have been drained. There were soccer games taking place in most of these spaces. We found one empty, and decided to use it as our own private dog park. Our game of fetch became very popular with the kids playing near us, and before we knew it, every child was in on the fun. They had a blast playing with Belle, and Belle was surprisingly not trying to bite their ankles.

 

After everyone was worn out, we went to explore the more popular and cultural parts of the park. I just re-read The Great Gatsby (so different reading it at 27 as opposed to 15). Anyways, there is a great ash heap in Gatsby known as the “Valley of Ashes” AND I recently learned that the “Valley of Ashes” was what Flushing Meadows was built on to create the World Fair in 1939!

 

The World’s Fair was held at Flushing Meadows twice, and several buildings and exhibitions were created for the events.

 

*For all you Disney Fans: This park is where Walt presented the Carousel of Progress during the 1964 World’s Fair!*

We came across a skate park and enjoyed watching the skateboarders, bike riders, roller-bladers, and even unicyclists pull stunts and tricks.

 

After walking past the zoo and through a hundred more family reunions we found a Hispanic woman selling fresh off the grill corn on the cob, slathered in mayonnaise, sprinkle with cheese, and topped of with spices. It was DELICIOUS! We found her just in time too…I was one stomach growl away from crashing someone’s family BBQ.

 

We had so much fun at Flushing Meadows. The temperature was perfect, the scenery was beautiful, and the entertainment was endless. Our Sundays in the park never disappoint!

Cheers!

Fun Day Numero Cuatro

For months now, Husband has been dying to go to Sony Wonder Technology Lab. I had never heard of this, and naturally assumed it was something that would bore me. However, this is our week of fun, and I am happy to let him choose one thing to do this week.

We had to wake up early to get tickets for this exhibit. I have been exhausted from lack of sleep each morning, so got up as late as possible,  threw on a cotton dress, put my hair in a bun, brushed my teeth, and left without even a sip of coffee or stitch of makeup (besides mascara…of course.) We arrived at least a half-hour before anyone else, and THANK GOD there is a café located in the lobby. We had breakfast and coffee and waited for dozens more people to rush in and wait in line for the free tickets.

A half-hour later, a Sony Wonder employee invited us and the one other family in to get our free tickets. She gave us her speech about the lab and ID cards that we were to use at each station. The one other family decided to go eat breakfast before starting their tour, which left the three of us to take on the entire lab by ourselves. Sweet!

This lab turned out to be a technology-filled kid’s science museum. We began by creating a profile that is connected to our ID card, and would be used to sign us in at each game and attraction.

We began our tour by performing heart surgery with a simulator. I almost threw up.

Next was a remote control car/robot exhibit that responds to the rules you give it. For example, one of my rules was that the robot/car would have to dance anytime it saw my favorite color (yellow)….and it did.

A few stations later, Zoey and I put on our own news broadcast, which was then played on giant TV screens for everyone to watch repeatedly until another visitor comes and makes a new broadcast, which hopefully happened soon after we left. Watching myself squint at the teleprompter as I stumbled over a fake news report about recycling with no make-up on and greasy hair was not exactly a self-esteem boost.

We played lots of other fun things like virtual video games, racecar games, created our own music with “Alicia Keys”, and edited our own movie trailer. It was fun, and at the end we were given certificates for completing the lab. I don’t think I’d do the whole exhibit again, but kids will definitely love this place AND it’s free. If you are planning on visiting the city with your family then I would definitely put this on the itinerary.

After lunch, Husband and I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We have a membership here that we have only taken advantage of a handful of times. Considering the MET is only a 15-minute walk away that is a pathetic amount of visits. Plus, neither of us has made it to the roof the museum to the Cloud City exhibit. It’s time we put that annual membership to good use.

isn’t my new phone cover adorable and ridiculous?!

It’s nice to walk around the MET without feeling rushed or worried that I will get to see EVERYTHING. I know I can come back whenever I please…now I just need to actually come back.  Our membership expires this month, but I renewed it with great intentions. So if you are planning to come visit me this year, we ARE going to the MET.

I ended my lovely day with yoga in Bryant Park again. I did not arrive early enough to get my spot in the front, but the back turned out not to be so bad.  I was hanging with the cool kids, like the back of the school bus. I kept my headphones in the whole time so I could listen to Pandora instead of yoga-ese. Then, I skipped most of the relaxing portion so I could snap a few pictures…such a rebel.

Only a few days left to soak in all that’s left of summer. Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Cheers!

Robin Roberts in the Morning

I have never in my life been a morning person. Even as a child, I missed all the Saturday morning cartoons, was habitually late for school (Mom was also a late sleeper), and even slept in on Christmas morning. I was born a night owl. I was always the last one to fall asleep at slumber parties (sorry if I ever froze your panties). At ten years old I managed to stay up so late on Friday night that I was able to catch the Saturday morning cartoons (FINALLY). As an adult, my habits have not really improved. I really really really WANT to be a morning person, until morning actually comes and all I want is 5 extra minutes, again and again and again.

I need motivation to “rise and shine”. Motivation comes in two forms for me: coffee and accountability.

I mentioned in an older post about my mishaps in the kitchen each and every morning. I swear the time from getting out of bed to drinking my coffee is a complete blur to me. The only things I remember are my horrible chirping alarm, Robin Roberts, and the coffee.

Years ago, I used to get up at 4:30am each morning, be at the gym by 5am, and in the shower by 6:30am. I did more before work then some do all day! Now, I did not enjoy getting up at this horrible hour, not one bit. My secret to getting things done each and every day was “the buddy system”. I had a great friend who would call me every morning and tell me I had to get up and meet her at the gym. Each time I would yell “NOOOO!!!!!”, to which she would just respond, “See you there,” and hang-up. I never let her down. Although, the drive to the gym was another blur, and I wouldn’t speak to her the first ten minutes we were there.

However, I ended up moving away, and was never able to find an equivalent workout partner. Recently, I was complaining at work about how much I’d love to get up early and workout before work, but that it is IMPOSSIBLE to do this without a friend. I need someone to hold me accountable, and perhaps make my coffee each morning. My boss overheard me whining, such a snoop, and offered to text me every morning as encouragement. He actually does get up and go to a gym every single morning, all own his own! So, far the last 3 weeks I’ve received text messages like this shortly after my alarm goes off.

Goin’ to the gym.

Go to they gym.

Gym gym gym

Get up and go

Did you get up?

Get up!

It’s awesome. It’s like a mini Shaun T living in my phone and silently screaming at me. I’ve gone to the gym almost every morning. Having someone ask me every single day if I went to the gym is what I need. I feel so guilty if I don’t go, and so proud when I do. I keep asking to get a gold star on my own classroom rewards chart for each day I workout, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Now, since I’ve been getting up extra early I’ve been extra delirious. This morning, like every morning, I allegedly went into the kitchen and started the coffee maker. Then, I sat on the couch and turned on Good Morning America because the first voice I want to hear in the morning is Robin Roberts. I believe that Robin and I are destined to be great friends. She has such a friendly demeanor. No matter who she is interviewing, she makes it appear as if they’re life-long friends.

This particular morning, the first thing I heard from the TV was “Robin Roberts is on vacation”*. I blacked everything else out, and immediately fell back to sleep.  I should have taken her absence as some sort of bad omen.

At some point the smell of coffee woke me and I thought yay! Someone made coffee!

As I entered the kitchen I saw the coffee pot by the sink, not under the coffee maker… hmmm. Weird, I thought, did I already drink coffee? Did I even make coffee? Did someone else drink my coffee? Is this a nightmare?? Is Robin really on a vacation???

I walked to the coffee maker to see if it was empty or not, and stepped in a giant puddle of coffee. Shit.

Someone forgot to put the pot under the filter before starting the coffee.

Cleaning up a giant puddle of fresh coffee off the floor and counter is not what you want to do first thing in the morning, especially without having had any coffee yet. Which is why I made another pot of coffee before cleaning it.

The morning madness continued as I stepped in Belle’s vomit, ripped a whole in my work shirt, and burnt my finger while trying to make an egg. Still, I managed to pull myself together, fix my hair, and put the whole morning behind me before walking out the door for work.

At work, where I do not wear shoes, a toddler pointed out that my socks didn’t match. This is not that rare of an occurrence normally, but this morning I distinctly remember putting on matching socks. I know because I took the extra two minutes it took to dig through my sock drawer to find matching socks, leaving me no time to eat that second cookie I had my eye on.

So, how did this happen?

At least I coordinated the coffee cups with the French Toast…that’s a close match.

What did I learn from this big mess of a morning?

My vacations should coincide with Robin Roberts.

Cheers!

*Robin is not actually on vacation, as they keep saying, but is actually undergoing pre-treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). You can read her story here. Just more proof of how amazing this beautiful lady is.
P.S. Zoey is desperately trying to raise money for disadvantaged Nicaraguan children. If she can raise just $600 she can go volunteer with this great organization for a week. All the money goes to the kids and the organization (you won’t be paying for her flight or her salon visits or anything). You can donate here or here. Thanks, she’ll be oh so grateful! As will I…she is already driving me nuts and it’s only been a day.