Weekly Mindset: Appreciate the Simple Things

I’m totally appreciating so many things right now. I took a walk today at lunch, and frolicked (if you will) a little. I even played around on the neighborhood playground and giggled. I realized how that little bit of play brightened my mood pretty significantly.

It brought back memories from childhood when my friends and I used to create obstacle courses on my swing set. It got my heart pumping. The air made me smile. Plus my endorphins were flowing. It was so simple and such a mood booster.

“As the heart flourishes, the mind eases, and so gratitude practice can help to lessen our experience of anxiety and stress, improve the quality of our sleep, and enhance the equanimity we find within ourselves and within our relationships at large.”

mindfulexercises.com

Appreciating simple things has certain benefits, such as improved sleep quality, overall mood improvement and improved emotional regulation.

Author and thought leader Mike Robbins says that there are two things that can help you to appreciate the simple things. They are 1) being easily impressed and 2) being hard to offend. When we are appreciating life’s small miracles, we are opening ourselves up to being grateful and fulfilled.

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This makes me think of a conversation I just had about celebrating birthdays. For one person, a small celebration is an evening outing to the local Top Golf. Whereas for another person, a small celebration is a quick trip to Vegas or a week in Dubai. I would never say that someone shouldn’t treat themselves however they see fit, or that people shouldn’t aim high, but it’s easy to see how one is more attainable than the other. Attainable, simple joys are needed just as much as large scale treats and rewards. But if you only look forward to the large scale events, how do you enjoy your daily life? Every day just will not be a trip overseas. How do you find a reason to smile each day or to feel grateful for the little things that make life wonderful?

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I believe in appreciating the small things, and this week that list includes:

  • the amazing crisp fall air
  • the BEAUTIFUL leaves and all of their awesome colors
  • being able to be a digital nomad
  • a healthy family
  • my health
  • good shows to binge watch
  • amazing friends
  • a healthy relationship
  • stable employment
  • access to modern healthcare
  • a roof over my head
  • safety
  • a neighbor who plays the saxophone (after living next to HORRIBLE, loud, aggressive neighbors)
  • peace

There are so many daily things to appreciate. And the benefits of acknowledging the little things in life are wonderful for your mental and physical well-being. Don’t just save appreciation and gratefulness for the holidays. Do it today, and do it often. I’m going to make it part of my daily routine.

What are you grateful for this week?

A Reflective Moment

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I got some sad news this week about the passing of a high school classmate. The whole thing just hit me in such a weird way. I wasn’t particularly close to this classmate, but I went to such a small school in a small town so everyone in my school knew everyone in some way. Even as a grown-up 25 years after graduation, if you hear a name, you immediately remember the classes you had, or how you went on a class trip, or how you crushed on so-and-so’s older brother, or how you used to play kickball in the cul-de-sac.

So I heard about this classmate, I saw a recent picture of her, and though I could see remnants of the person I remembered, her face in the picture carried the weight of the mental illness that she lived with throughout her adult life. I had no idea. She was a popular girl. A cheerleader. Cute as a button and sweet as can be. Her life was supposed to turn out perfectly. She was supposed to be the one we admired at the reunion because everything turned out as perfectly as you’d expect for the adorable, smart, bubbly cheerleader from high school. She rode on floats and got lifted to the top of pyramids. She was kind. Seeing that picture, with the wrinkles and dark circles, yet with the slight glimmer of the cheerleader from days past that I remember…and reading the family tributes about how things were for her later in life, it all just settled on me so heavily.

Of course your life is more than a picture, and there’s no telling what twists and turns life can throw at anyone over the course of 25 years. You never know what people are dealing with and what demons they battle. You don’t know what trauma they encountered or how that trauma impacted their life. She wasn’t someone I’d keep in touch with but she’s definitely someone I assumed would go on to great things and someone I thought would live well. It threw me for such a complete loop.

It’s all just a weird and sad reminder to be grateful for my health, to not make assumptions about what someone is going through, to live while I can, that life is short and that tomorrow is never promised.

Why do I watch the same things over and over?

I guess, simply put, I find it comforting.

I also don’t have to think…and in my down time, I really enjoy being lazy-brained.

There are some shows that I watch almost on constant repeat. The same episode over and over and over…repeating the lines, and laughing at the same jokes…every single time.

Seinfeld, The Office, King of Queens, Murder She Wrote….,oh that busy-body Jessica… I can watch and laugh all day long as if I’ve never seen them before.

There have been studies and reports that say that watching things over and over can create a sense of familiarity. Because you know what to expect each time you watch it, it actually helps to reduce stress and anxiety.

The funny thing is I only just recently heard about this study, yet in my mind I knew that I felt at ease when I watched things that I had already seen over and over. It’s like my body and mind already knew what relaxed it.

It is really cool that the body will let us know what it needs. When you indulge in repetitive viewing, you are familiar with the characters and the settings. It can feel like you are hearing the voice of an old friend or cozying up in your bestie’s living room. Whether it’s Andy Griffith or Friends, I love the feeling of knowing what’s about to happen without being tense or on edge. I love knowing that a funny part is about to come on.

I love waiting for Sophia’s funny one-liners. I love when George McFly tells Biff to get his damn hands off his future wife. And seeing that Delorean make it up to 1.21 gigawatts just in time to get struck by lightning…it gets me every time!

In addition to knowing what to expect, there is also something very therapeutic about the nostalgia that you feel when you rewatch an episode or a movie.

And there’s something scientific about it too. Here are three benefits to repetitive viewing (and listening):

1. Knowing what’s going to happen before it happens actually puts your mind and nerves at ease. It also tempers your emotions because you know what to expect.

2. Seeing scenes, or even listening to familiar music, can bring back memories, experiences, and feelings. The nostalgia can be pleasant, even if you are recalling a not-so-good emotion.

3. Weaving in new knowledge and experiences while watching familiar scenes can bring about new viewpoints and expanded horizons.

So the next time you sit down to watch Jim ask Pam out on their first date for the 7,000th time, or when you laugh at Aunt Bea for getting drunk off a stranger’s laced elixir, enjoy it without guilt. It’s actually good for you.

Do you watch the same things over and over? What are your go-to’s for repetitive watching? Let me know if I need to add anything to my list.

Airbnb Life: What the CEO Says

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I guess there’s no denying that the workplace as we know it has likely been changed forever. Most offices have been shut down for a year or more, and were forced to figure out how to do 100% remote work on the fly. Some places were well-prepared, others weren’t. And since the day that workers began this remote work over a year ago, many have not been back to their offices. I have not been back to my office since March 2020, not even to so much as grab essentials or clear out food.

With remote work being my indefinite future, my boyfriend and I decided to Airbnb hop, which we have been doing for the last nine months (since December 2020). And apparently we are not the only ones that had this idea.

According to Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky, half of Airbnb rentals these days are for one week or longer. People are no longer rushing back to get home after they take vacations, because the main thing people typically return to is their job. Their job that they can now do pretty much anywhere. For most remote workers, that job is now wherever they want it to be as long as there is wifi.

Mr. Chesky also said that one-fifth of Airbnb rentals these days are for one month or longer. So people REALLY are not rushing back home now. They are renting homes and staying there as long as they feel like it, and taking their laptop along with them. They are vacationing, seeing other cities, spending time with family and friends, and working all at the same time.

Mr. Chesky goes on to say, nowdays, after compensation, the next perk that employees are looking for is flexibility. Everybody is realizing they don’t want to be stuck in the office or stuck in the same city. Some employees feel like the uncertainty of the pandemic makes them want an employer that won’t send them back to the office before they are comfortable doing so. In addition to a good salary, they want freedom and flexibility, they want to make their own decisions about when to be in the office.

This data syncs up perfectly with what we’ve been experiencing on our Airbnb journey. When we first started on this lifestyle, we would go to the Airbnb website and see an abundance of rental options in pretty much any city we searched. Nowdays we are seeing slim pickins. Where we once saw homes with two and three bedrooms in our price range, we are now seeing basement apartments and one-bedroom condos. It has gotten challenging to do our home search. Every time we realize it’s time to look for our next location, we honestly hate it. We used to love looking at homes and exploring our options, but now we just feel like the search will be so daunting that we’re no longer in the mood to do it.

I will be interested in seeing if this uptick will continue now that schools are being held in person and families with children have to go back to their home base. And I definitely look forward to seeing whether this trend continues or whether rental options level off now that it’s fall and school is back in session.

Have you done a long-term Airbnb during the pandemic? What workplace flexibilities would you like to see as a result of current events?

Let me know!

woman working from home

Airbnb Journey: The Alexandria VA Duplex

After spending a month in North Carolina, my boyfriend and I needed to return to the DC area due to appointments and family events coming up. The search for a place in the DMV as we natives call it (DC/Maryland/Virginia area) that fit our requirements as well as our budget was quite difficult. The area can be pretty expensive, and we wanted to make sure we were within a good distance to our appointment locations.

After extensive searching, we booked a duplex in Alexandria, Virginia. Alexandria is a large city in Northern Virginia that borders the nation’s capital. Like most places, the neighborhoods can range from older and more established to new and recently developed.

As soon as we hit the reserve button, we immediately second guessed our decision. It was a new listing, but the owners had several reviews for other properties. So we weren’t concerned about them as hosts, but we realized we didn’t know much about the actual neighborhood, and we also realized we had not seen any pictures of the outside of the house. After our NC bungalow, the visual bar for our homes was set pretty high.

So of course, as soon as we received the address, we immediately did a google map search of the property. And that did not help our concerns. But what’s done is done, we had paid our money, and that would be our home for a month… unless we wanted to cancel and lose our money. Ummm no.

Unlike the first home, the check-in for the Alexandria duplex did not go smoothly. With it being a newly listed property, the owners were working on final touches in the home up until and beyond our check-in time. Our check-in time was delayed so we had to pass the time, which was hard to do when we were still in the midst of pandemic lock-down and stores are limiting entry. But fast forward a couple hours, and we checked into the home.

The home was located in a well-established aka older neighborhood as we suspected, and visually, the home was not as attractive as the NC bungalow. Once inside, the furniture was older, and there were some areas of the home that weren’t completely finished (ie., blue tape on the walls, a chandelier that the owner had to come back and finish hanging, dust that they probably would have swiffered if they had a little extra time, etc.). But…there was a homely charm about the home and I was determined to make the best of it.

THE NOT SO GREAT:

I really gave the owners the benefit of the doubt–sometimes first rentings just don’t go as planned. I know they wanted to have a guidebook prepared, and I’m sure they wanted the space to be Airbnb perfect. Unfortunately it didn’t happen that way, and by the time we arrived and were able to check in, we just wanted to get unpacked and settled. The moment for the cute arrival had passed, and it just wasn’t going to happen.

Some of the things that made the stay less than perfect included the home not having central heating, so with it being the middle of winter, it was quite drafty sometimes. There wasn’t a ton of space for our clothes, so it felt like we were always shuffling things around just to get things from our luggage. There was only one bathroom, and after having two, it was difficult to adjust to one…though we did it, and it was fine. There was only one television in the house and that wasn’t ideal.

THE GOOD:

There were a lot of great things about the home and the location. We were able to see family and friends since we were close to home, so that was really nice. We were able to both have cars so that helped with getting to our appointments and such with no coordination efforts. We took walks quite a bit even though it was snowing a lot of the time, so we were able to get out of the house and get fresh air. The home had a dedicated workspace and multiple rooms to spread out, which we cannot say about some of the other places we’ve stayed. The home had a lot of kitchen amenities so I cooked quite a bit, which was really nice. I also stocked up on my craft supplies and started teaching myself ceramics, and there was enough space to spread out and craft. The home had this really cute loft area, so we liked escaping to that space to think or just have some alone time. It was also perfect when we had meetings and needed personal space for those. The home had some really cool decorative elements and pictures that I thought made such a nice touch. The neighborhood was so quiet, so we slept like babies. And speaking of sleep, the bedding was so comfortable, I had to message the host to ask about the sheets and pillow cases, and I ordered my own!

AT THE END OF THE DAY we were looking for peace, safety, and a space to work, and this home provided just that. We have been out of that home for about six months and I still have moments that I flash back or miss something about it. It really was a unique and cozy vibe, and sometimes you don’t find that in “perfect” homes, or homes that are staged immaculately. Though it wasn’t the prettiest house on the prettiest street, the hosts were awesome, the space was quiet, the home was safe, and I would absolutely stay there again.

Here are some of the cute decorative touches that I really feel made the space unique and cute.

What if something makes a bad first impression for you? How good are you at finding the good in situations? I felt like a month was a long time to not love the space we chose, so I really focused on what I loved about the home. And it turns out, this home actually had a lot to love!