52 Lists // Week Seven

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Week Seven: List the things that make you feel healthy: mind, body and soul.
(Photo by Morrea Seal — because there’s no adorable garland like that in my house. Ever.)

Here’s my Week Seven installment of the fun and thought-provoking project from Morrea Seal called the¬†52 Lists Project. It’s so important to identify and embrace that which nurtures you — food, yes. Hugs, of course. But there are so many glorious — and decidedly simple — ways to love ourselves and feel really, really good. Doesn’t have to be expensive. Doesn’t have to be complicated. Just needs to be.
This week’s assignment: list the things that make you feel healthy: mind, body and soul.


  • Laughter — Oh, my stars — it’s the very first thing on my list. I laugh like a wild-eyed voodoo woman every day of my life, and nothing makes me happier than to make other people laugh. Nothing. My very favoritest thing in the whole world. I had to marry a man who makes me laugh, too. No question. Total dealbreaker. Thank God I did.
  • A good night’s sleep — I used to go to bed at 1 am and wake — if you can call it that — at 6 am with my babies. Not healthy. I need rest. I need sleep. I am healthier and happier when I get seven hours. And everyone else in my house is, too — when mommy sleeps and when they sleep.
  • Eating healthy meals and avoiding starchy-starch and sugary-sweet stuff — carbs make me sluggish. My ancestors are rolling in their graves, but no potatoes for me, please. Or white flour. And easy on the sugar. Not always to maintain, but I always feel better when I don’t indulge.
  • Waking with summer sunlight — winter mornings are so yucky and slow. I love the peeks of sunlight dancing under my bedroom window shade. Rise and shine, Kathleen! Come out and play!
  • Exercising — I used to run, but that doesn’t feel as healthy for me anymore. So I kickbox, and walk with friends, and get my silly, middle-aged ass on the elliptical. I’m always glad I worked out, once it’s all over. I still miss that runner’s high, but the kickboxing high is pretty good, too.
  • Being in nature, being outside — I’m a girl from the city and I’ve always been — quite, frankly — terrified of the outdoors. So many snakes. And bugs. And creepy guys from horror movies, just waiting for me in the dark, thick shrubbery. I never feel safer than when I’m in Manhattan. I’m funny that way. But I’m embracing the peacefulness of nature more fully, and finally hearing the secrets that whispering pine trees want to share with me. The bare feet in the grass thing is just delicious. Bare feet ground you to the earth. Try it. You’ll see.
  • Being absolutely nestled and burrowed into my husband in bed at night. (Except for a few nights in July and August.) Safest place in the entire world. Asleep in six seconds. Absolutely crucial for both of us. When we lived in San Francisco, he had to get up for work at 3:30 am, so he went to bed at 8:30 pm. Not a good match for his freelancing, night-owl wife. I watched many episodes of ER by myself while he snored in the next room. It was really lonely for both of us. Separate bedtimes now make me very, very sad. Never again. You can vomit if you like, but I swear it’s one of the most important things for marital health. Aside from active, honest listening. And simple kindness. And a whole lotta sumin’ sumin’, which would also top my list. It’s healthy. Even Dr. Oz says so.
  • Stopping — to breathe, to regroup, to count to ten. I don’t go full-throttle anymore and rage through it. I stop. I wait. I do not react. Healthy for me, and healthy for my children to witness.
  • Being with my children — I love to make them laugh. I love to hear their laughter. I love to be ridiculous with them. I love to kiss their cheeks and bite their toes (I don’t know how much longer I can do that with the boy — stinky-boy feet are coming any day now). For a while. Then I tell them to go outside and play.
  • Working through past problems — We all have them. We all need to address them. We all need to move on. I’m so much healthier because I have.
  • Writing — I can’t not. I always have. Always. I just feel better, freer, more alive, more connected, more me when I do.
  • Saying no — I used to be a “yes” woman. To everyone and everything. Not anymore. No is not a dirty word. It’s beautiful and empowering. I don’t even come up with ridiculous stories as to why the no is leaving my mouth. Just no. Sorry, but no. I can’t. No.
  • Yoga — which I never do anymore, and really, really need to.
  • Spending time outside in the sunshine — Sometimes I just stop and spread my arms and let it warm me.
  • Thinking better of myself — There used to be an endless loop of “Kathleen, you’re such a fucking idiot” that played over and over again in my head. I pulled that tape out the cassette player and threw it in the fucking garbage.
  • Finding time to be with my husband and talk about things other than bills, summer vacation plans, and the kids’ sports schedules. I like him, and I like to talk to him and listen to him.
  • Helping other people, in ways that bring peace to their lives and their souls. Watching kids for frazzled mommies. Cooking. Listening. Running errands. Driving. Covering the tab at dinner. Whatever is needed. Yes.
  • Spending time with friends — Girlfriends, other couples, on Facebook, for coffee. I need connections. Even though I’m an only child and like my alone time, I need to be with other people, too.
  • Staying away from harmful, constant gossip. I like a juicy story as much as the next girl, but when its only purpose is to hurt and divide and villify, I’m outta there, sister.
  • Planning ahead, organizing, making lists. Flying by the seat of my pants is not healthy.
  • Not worrying. Can’t control it, can’t stop it, can’t change it. The unknown is the unknown for a reason.
  • Acknowledging that I can’t do it alone, that I shouldn’t do it alone, and asking others for help. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Makes my husband feel far more superhero-ish when I ask for his help, and when he can do so. Makes my life far less stressful. Makes my children feel capable and independent.
  • De-cluttering the house and keeping only what’s needed. Only what’s important.
  • Getting massages. I used to get them every month in San Francisco, and every part of me glowed. I never get them anymore, even thought I’m a total tactile freak. I’m like a friggin’ rhesus monkey. I’ll give you my car — hell, I’ll give you my kids — if you rub my shoulders and get that awful knot out.
  • Spending time with extended family — I love feeling connected to a clan. I love the old stories, the laughter, the familiarity, the people who know that I’m a nutjob and still tell me to stay for cake and coffee anyway.
  • Speaking my feelings — I tell so many people I love them. So very often. So many more than I used to. Because I do. Because I feel it. Because I’m not afraid of what comes afterwards. The statement is enough. I feel more love than I ever have before in my life. So many blocks and walls gone. So much better.
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