Healing My Heart in Paris

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I began planning a small vacation to Paris in January 2018. One of my dear friends from college was living there, and I wanted to visit her before she moved back to the states. The main point would be to see her, but I would also get to have my last solo getaway before our September wedding. I booked my flight for the end of March and made lists of destinations I wanted to visit. The trip would be a highlight in a lovely year leading up to my nuptials.

But the best-laid plans oft go awry. My fiance was acting odd, and when I prodded them about it, they admitted to me that they wanted to call off the wedding. After learning more, I decided we needed to break-up. It was a whirlwind of heartbreak and I was in utter shock.

The wedding was cancelled five days before my departure flight to Paris. As I struggled to comprehend the events that had just unfolded, I had to decide if I still wanted to go ahead with my travel plans. Was it a good idea to be in the city of love at this moment in time? How could I enjoy such a trip while I was feeling so broken?

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Definitely cried during my layover in Munich

After a lot of contemplation, I decided to go ahead with my trip and even extend it by a few days. Why stay home and pity myself while I could be in one of the most beautiful cities in the world? I couldn’t foretell what I’d be feeling once I was there, but it couldn’t be worse than how miserable I was already. Traveling is an activity that usually gives me joy, so I hoped going to Paris would raise my spirits.

Furthermore, I knew having one of my best friends there would help. I wouldn’t be completely alone when I was feeling so vulnerable, and I looked forward to being able to talk to her about how I was feeling.

It also made sense to go ahead with the trip for a few logistical reasons. My ex-fiance could move out of our apartment that was under my name while I was abroad, and I didn’t have to lose any money if I just forged ahead. I packed my carry-on and had nothing to lose.

I cried at JFK’s international terminal with big, black sunglasses on as I waited for my flight. That’s when I realized this vacation was as a radical act of self-love. After years of putting my wants and needs aside for my ex-fiance, this trip was going to be solely mine. paris selfie eiffel tour grey skies

When I arrived at Charles de Gaulle many hours later, I was feeling pretty shaky. I was happy to see my friend and her fiance, but I felt like my usual traveler confidence was missing. All I could think about was the trauma I had just experienced at home. Had I made a mistake by coming? Would I enjoy any of my nine days there?

Thankfully, my mood began to improve by the end of my second day there, and it’s because Paris is so darn charming. Every building is pretty and the streets are clean. The food is superb and it’s tempting to try one of everything at a patisserie. There are numerous sites, museums, and stores to keep you entertained for years on end. The culture and beauty of Paris was a perfect distraction.

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Sacre Coeur

My friend wined and dined me, and it felt lovely to be pampered. She taught me how to get around on the metro and brought me to less-touristy restaurants and sites. Her fiance ordered for me and showed me how to play poker. With their support and love, my confidence began to come back. I felt a little better with each passing day.

My daily itinerary was full and I felt very accomplished by the end of my trip. I avoided some of the larger sites I had seen on my last trip to Paris and found splendor in simply wandering. I walked at least ten miles on most of the days I spent there, so the dopamine must have been flowing.

Expectedly, the big sunglasses covered my teary eyes more than a few times. Paris wasn’t able to completely distract me, but I’m glad it didn’t. Various places in the city served me well as I processed my feelings. The moments of self-reflection on my trip were powerful. There was something so special about thinking about my ancestors in Notre Dame, writing about the ordeal in a journal while I nibbled on a croissant at a sidewalk cafe, and crying about my trauma as I walked along the Seine. These moments combined with the wonder of traveling all made me feel a lot better.

As I boarded my flight back to the states, I felt proud of myself for saying yes to an experience of a lifetime. Paris became the city of self-love to me. Nine days in Paris didn’t completely heal the hurt of my break-up, but being there reminded me of how beautiful the world could be. I felt so loved by my friend and she helped me more than she will ever realize. My unknown future felt scary and full of possibilities as I watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle after sunset from a river boat.

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Thanks for reading. I’ll be sure to post my favorite sites and more pictures from my magical trip soon.

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Acts of Self-Care to Try at a Coffee Shop

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A cozy corner table in a coffee shop can be oh-so inviting. I can spend hours in The Black Cow or Manhattanville Coffee, and it’s because these spaces make me feel really comfortable. Heck, I wrote this blog post at the Peekskill Coffee House.

Maybe it’s the bustle of the morning customers in need of caffeine, the smell of steamed milk and cinnamon, or the endless stream of tunes that keep me coming back. The combination of these factors make the magical coffee shop a perfect place to practice self-care.

From one coffee-love to another, here are a few acts of self-care to try the next time you visit your local coffee shop.

Allow the Environment to Affect You

Why do I love coffee shops so much? The sights, sounds, smells, and tastes are generally pleasant at the majority of shops. One of the easiest ways to practice self-care is to put yourself in an environment that makes you feel good, and coffee shops just do that for me.

My favorite coffee shops emit warmth, play music to fit the mood, and are full of light. What environmental details matter to you when it comes to feeling good? If your ideal coffee shop has free WiFi, serves sandwiches, and sticks to a jazz playlist, then search for that spot and visit it often. Your coffee shop could become a self-care spot for years to come!

People Watch

This tip is related to allowing your environment affect you but deserves further explanation. I’m not suggesting stalking anyone in particular, but people-watching (and dogspotting) can be a wonderful way to reconnect with humanity and ground yourself. Simply grab a table and take in the fascinating human beings and animals around you while you sip your tea.

Relax, you’re not creepy – everyone people watches! Starting by simply observing the actions and reactions around you that catch your eye. Focus on the occurences that bring you joy and let yourself get lost in someone else’s universe.

Check Tasks Off of your To-Do List

In my opinion, the coffee shop is the perfect environment to complete tasks you’ve been putting off at home. Tax prep, studying, or finally organizing your inbox may be slightly more bearable in the presence of pastries. There’s also a good chance other people will be working around you. Let the atmosphere of productivity inspire you.

Complete that nagging task and take a sip of coffee. I always feel so good when I cross something off my list.

If the background noise becomes too distracting, I suggest listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook while you work. You could try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks or Join Amazon Prime Music and start with a 30-day Free Trial.

Meditate

Some people prefer to meditate in a place that is totally silent, but I actually like to meditate with a bit background noise. Maybe you’ll like meditating in a coffee shop too!

I typically try to meditate alone at a table for a few minutes before tackling that to-do list. I start by focusing on my breath in relation to the various sounds and smells around me. I feel my body touching the chair and my feet resting on the floor. A few minutes of being aware of my environment creates the calmness that allows me to reach that tranquil place.

Order a cup of green tea once you’re done meditating and let the calm vibes flow!

Strike Up a Conversation

If you have extrovert tendencies and social interactions re-charge you, then take advantage of the friendly atmosphere that many coffee shops provide. Connecting with the person at the next table could make you feel really great.

Unsure of how to make that first move? Try respectfully complimenting a stranger, chatting with your favorite barista, petting a dog (with the owner’s permission), or making a silly face if a baby or young child looks at you.

Do you practice acts of self-care at your coffee shop? Share your personal experiences and favorite spots in the comments! 

Tarot Cards & Self-Care

Tarot Cards & Self-Care

Shuffle the deck. Breathe. Pick a card and place it face up. Look at it. Let the name of it sit on your tongue. Pick another card and do the same thing. Then another. Think. Keep breathing.

To me, reading Tarot Cards is similar to thinking out loud in a therapy session. While I’m not suggesting replacing mental health treatments with a deck of cards (always seek help when you need it!), this ancient practice can be help you contemplate and try to understand your circumstances.

Some of you may be skeptical reading this. How could a deck of cards help with self-care? Spiritual rituals like Tarot aren’t exactly scientific, so why continue to keep this tradition alive? 

Personally, I like Tarot Cards because the images encourage self-reflection. To me, it isn’t a spiritual thing as much as it is a analyzation exercise. Exploring the meaning of the cards can help you gain a new perspective on your life.

Tarot readings have been a part of my regular self-care routine since 2017. I usually do a three-card spread every morning as a way to look at the day ahead, but I’ve also done readings at random times of day using alternate layout spreads. There are multiple ways to look at three-card spreads, but I typically do past, present, future or body, mind, spirit. 

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Three-Card Spread: Seven of Wands, Three of Swords, The Tower

Three-card spreads are a great starting point compared to complicated ten-card spreads, as you’ll only have three images to contemplate. It’s best to start simple. Shuffle the deck however you please and lay out three cards.

I spend a lot of time looking at the cards. Doing so feels a bit like meditation if you’re really focused. Try to remember to breathe as you take in each image.

You can easily sense the tone of each card without knowing the classical background of the deck. The numerous symbols, colors, shapes, numbers, and illustrations assemble to create distinct vibes. What does this card make me feel? 

After analyzing the cards on their own, try to examine the placement of the cards and the connections between the cards. Why is this card in this specific spot? Are there any running themes in the cards?

In the spread above, I particularly noticed storms clouds and grey skies in both the Three of Swords and Tower cards. Grey gives off uncertain vibes, so I understood the cards to mean I would be in a shaky, odd place today, tomorrow, and possibly beyond that. The Three of Swords card felt appropriate in the present slot as well, as the aftermath of my breakup continues. Ah, the pain!

You may be wondering if I felt upset or discouraged by this spread. A heart is literally being stabbed by swords and the Tower card looks pretty dangerous. In my opinion, not one of the 78 cards are negative, even the Death card, because nothing in life is strictly good or bad. What really matters is perspective.

The Three of Swords card is about pain, which is generally perceived to be a negative thing. But pain, including the pain of my break-up, will help me grow. I wouldn’t be fully living if I never experienced pain.

I also try not to take the cards too seriously or give the cards too much power. I subscribe to a che sera, sera attitude in life. In Tarot terms, no card placements are permanent and you’ll get different cards all the time. In reality, tarot card are just thick pieces of paper and they only have to occupy as much brain space as I allow them to.

Where do you start if you want to try out Tarot? I suggest having a reading done by an experienced reader if you’ve never done so before. Ask a friend or family member for suggestions of readers they have gone to in the past. Having your cards read for the first time can be a really cool experience!

If you’ve had readings in the past, then I suggest diving in by buying a deck to call your own. Here are a few decks to check out:

Start by simply looking at each card in your deck and writing down your initial reactions before moving on to spreads. Take your time and be patient with yourself. You’ll gain experience and speed as you continue to read your cards. Eventually, you may feel comfortable enough to do readings for other people!

Have an opinion on Tarot Cards? Share your thoughts in the comments below. We’ll have more posts on Tarot in the future, so stay tuned!

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9 Self-Love Quotes to Inspire You

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When I’m feeling down, I love to get inspiration from the wise words of others. Check out nine of my favorite self-love quotes below. Feel free to re-gram these quotes on Instagram, just tag @self.care.season if you do!

tina fay inspirational quote

“Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.” – Tina Fey

rita mae brown self love quote

“I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.” – Rita Mae Brown

oscar wilde self love quote

“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” – Oscar Wilde

“I respect myself and insist upon it from everybody. And because I do it, I then respect everybody, too.” – Maya Angelou

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.” – Diane Von Furstenberg

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball

“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha

 

Want more inspiration? Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks – books are my favorite source for inspiration!

50 Ways to Treat Yourself for Free

 

50 Ways to Treat Yourself for Free

Admit it: there’s nothing better than feeling pampered and unwinding. Treating yourself can be a great way to de-stress, but the price tag associated with more expensive self-care options like vacations, spa visits, and shopping sprees can be an obstacle when you’re trying to save money.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to practice self-care without spending a dime! Here’s a list of fifty free or cheap ways to treat yourself:

  1. Take a walk
  2. Listen to a podcast
  3. Call a friend and have a heart to heart
  4. Lay in the sunshine (with adequate sun-protection, of course!)
  5. Dance around your room
  6. Write in a journal
  7. Look for a free fitness class in your area
  8. Spend quality time with your pets (or find a friend who has pets)
  9. Check out free events in your community
  10. Meditate
  11. Wake up in time to watch the sun rise
  12. Try a new recipe that features your favorite ingredients
  13. Rearrange your furniture and decorations
  14. Play music that makes your heart sing
  15. Take out a new book from your local library
  16. Plan a day off from work
  17. Find a nearby hiking trail you haven’t been to before
  18. Window shop and make a wish list of your favorite finds
  19. Doodle or color
  20. Get dressed up when you feel like it
  21. Stay in your pajamas when you feel like it
  22. Sing
  23. Search for a new mantra
  24. Take a long bath or shower
  25. Snuggle under a blanket with a cup of tea
  26. Volunteer for a cause you care about
  27. Add new things to your bucket list
  28. Dig up old pictures and put your favorites on your fridge
  29. Stretch your body
  30. Watch silly videos online
  31. Use the beauty products hiding in the back of your cabinet
  32. Hug a friend
  33. Strike up a conversation with a stranger
  34. Nap
  35. Write down your favorite inspirational quotes
  36. Take deep, slow breaths
  37. Make a homemade gift or card for someone special
  38. Water the plants
  39. Water yourself
  40. Visit a museum with free admittance
  41. Look up at the stars on a clear night
  42. Try a new (affordable) hobby
  43. Roll down the windows when you’re driving
  44. Masturbate or have sex with a partner you trust
  45. Find a free crossword puzzle to do
  46. Prepare today for an easier tomorrow
  47. Re-read your favorite book
  48. Go to bed early
  49. Visit a garden and smell the flowers
  50. Practice gratitude

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What’s your favorite way to treat yourself on a budget? Let us know in the comments!

Have a little cash and want to treat yourself? Check out 20 Inexpensive Products to Treat Yourself To.