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Whether it's taking a daily ritual from expected to extraordinary or discovering the wonderment and beauty of anew travel destination, J.R. McCabe elevates the everyday with timeless taste and comfortable confidence.
“What is a week-end?” asked the Dowager Countess during a scene in Downton Abbey after a guest at the table shared that he would have free time only after the regular work week. While comical, the historical accuracy of her remark regales a time when those used to aristocratic living had the means and leisure to go wherever, whenever with no thought to arranging their schedules around days of the week.
For those of us in the modern world, the sixty hours between Friday evening and Monday morning can be at once a relief and yet simultaneously ladened with a long list of personal responsibilities, rushed routine, or even lethargy. Whether we keep running in an attempt to pack things into the two days or completely lounge in an effort to recover — either way, when Sunday night arrives, there is often a feeling of heaviness instead of rejuvenation.
Here are my top three weekend rituals to reset your spirit:
#1 Release from Routine
While bubble baths, binge watching your favorite show, or a night out with friends may feel like a welcome respite after a crazy work week, anything that has “escape” energy surrounding it will only serve as a band-aid and a distraction to that feeling of heaviness. In order to truly find relief, we need an alternative experience all together. Starting Friday night, try turning off your phone, the TV, don’t order take-out, or reach for that bottle of wine. Instead, do the opposite of what you would normally do. Plan ahead by taking care of tasks during the week — grocery shop, answer emails, return texts, pick up supplies — so that you can throw away your routine come Friday night. Give yourself permission to say no to invitations, to put away the to-do list, and do only what is essential all weekend and by essential I mean cook nourishing foods, sit in silence, take a thirty minute walk with a neighbor, open the book you keep meaning to read that is sitting on your end table, put a puzzle together with the kids. Eat, breathe, sleep and repeat. Even if you have to run the kids to practice or pick up a birthday cake you will do it with lightness if everything before and after that moment is different than it is every other weekend.
#2 Practice Self-Remembering
Too often the trappings of the real world take us for such a ride during the work week that it’s tough to step back and get grounded in who we truly are, what we want, and where we’re going. Weeks lead to months that lead to years and we are haunted by unrealized goals, unhealthy habits, and a sense of dissatisfaction with life. All of these are easily remedied by taking the time to “self-remember” every weekend. That means cultivating moments that put you in touch with your heart center and get you out of your head. For me that’s spending five hours on a Saturday listening to Big Band music, ignoring my phone, and cooking a fabulous four course gourmet feast. Or greeting Friday evening yoga with candles and music, followed by meditation before I go to bed. On Sunday it means listening to Baroque, smelling the scent of my essential oil concoction sprinkled through the air, and enjoying tea while I write.
Whatever your practice is — make it a sensory experience. Feel the soft luxury of the throw blanket, listen to the soothing strings of the orchestra, taste the tart lemon and sweet cream, watch the wick flicker or the flames of the fire dance as the snow falls, breathe in the jasmine and vetiver oils wafting through the room. In these quiet, still, beautiful moments you’ll remember where you find alignment and meaning which will lead to a renewed sense of perspective, harmony, and purpose and eclipse anything stirred by the work week.
If you’re stuck as to where to begin, start here: What are the things you consider little luxuries that you never make time for? What are some of your favorite things to do? What is something you can do for hours and never tire of? What activities make your heart happy?
#3 Transform Consumption to Creativity
What if you had a weekend that didn’t involve consumption? No social media, TV, movies, shopping, spending money. Nothing externally driven. What if instead, you focused on creating? What if you carved out time to build the new shed, bake a four tiered cake, curate a gift basket for a friend, reorganize your closet, or plant spring flowers? While it sounds like more work, focusing on creative activities actually helps you shift into neutral and meet the hours with fresh eyes.
Creative endeavors bring a sense of wonderment and adventure to familiar surroundings. For me, spending an hour arranging pretty combinations of vintage stamps for the month’s cards and letters brings such simple delight. Similarly, planning the week’s menus brings sweet anticipation and excitement. Honor your creative time with fun, ease, and inspiration by adding music, wearing something special, or by using totems that represent what you are trying to create. For example, when creating my website I taped images to the wall in front of my computer that evoked all the elements I was trying to create: sophistication, simplicity, elegance, effortless, etc. I knew a woman who was starting a catering business years ago in Massachusetts that would offer a modern twist on classic mid-century recipes like pot roast, casseroles, glazed ham, cobbler and angel food cake — she put on fifties music each time she was in the kitchen and always wore her grandmother’s old aprons and scarves.
Whether you’re building a wall unit or getting lost in a needlepoint pattern — you’ll feel so full after hours of creative time that any assignments that arise during the work week will seem insignificant compared to your new and exciting creations!