Art & Mind

The Check-In - This Is What Self-Care Looks Like To Me

Asbury Park Beach on Saturday

Two weeks ago, I asked dear readers, "What Do You Consider Self-Care?" I mentioned that I was planning to gain a little R&R after a particularly hectic week for one of my current revenue streams. And that's exactly what I did ... in my own way.

As you can imagine, working 8-10 hour days, 6 days per week can be a bit of a bear. A proper vacation was long overdue for both of my roles, but a brief holiday from one would have to do. So while juggling assignments for one client, I managed to work in some much deserved fun and frolic, as well as some tough love, during my first proper vacation in a year.

Here's how my 5 days "off" went:

Wednesday --

"A Vicious Circle" by Natalie Ascencious hangs in the dining area of the Algonquin Hotel on W. 44th St.

After responding to some very important emails and sending out some copy editing to my favorite tech editor for Job #1, I made myself look presentable and headed into midtown New York to take advantage of the new summer-long centennial celebration at the Algonquin Hotel.

There, I dined in their exquisite restaurant, eating selections from their delicious "Ten-Year Lunch" prix-fixe menu, drinking a cocktail named after Robert Benchley, and writing in my journal and people watching. After that, I joined "Vicious Circle" aficionado and prolific author Kevin C. Fitzpatrick for a walking tour around the lobby and local area to learn more of the details and forgotten lore of the Algonquin Round Table -- that extraordinary well of literary historical figures that would dominate the arts and culture scene of 1920s New York before dispersing and continuing their legendary exploits elsewhere.

After my slightly soggy tour, I returned home for a long evening of doing very little, sprinkled with me copy editing another article for Job #1 and feeling no regrets.

Thursday --

Our third day of nonstop rain here made it easy to stick to my plans and tackle organizing my home office. But first, I answered a few urgent emails, sent copy edited pieces to my art director, and reviewed my tech editor's notes on previous articles. I got a bit bogged down in my triage of who needed a reply asap versus who could wait. So follow-up took longer than expected, pushing back my office reorganization plans.

But I eventually began the arduous -- and yes, emotionally distressing -- process. Lesson learned: Sometimes it might be better to just cut your losses and trash old files than it is to sort for 6-7 hours straight. Or if I choose to do so again in the future, pick something else to watch while I do it other than news clips of Rachel Maddow and TYT.

And yet, I still found the energy to copy edit one more piece before hitting the hay. It was ... a long day.

Friday --

Manifest opening at Akwaaba
Exhibiting artists gathered for introductions and to address the crowd that turned out for the opening of "Manifest" at the Akwaaba Gallery in Newark's West Ward.

This day was an odd one. I started with a home office still half in chaos (multi-day reorganization projects are like that), and a bit of a ticking clock due to a dentist appointment scheduled for that early afternoon. I once again answered a few emails for Job #1, but never got around to more editing as some unexpected developments required me to pivot for the upcoming August issue.

I managed to finish sorting the rest of my massive collection of receipts, statements, and ephemera, but alas, the actual labeling and filing would have to wait until Sunday. That left me with enough time to get ready to head to the dentist and run errands.

After a painful cleaning from a new dentist with a less-than-stellar bedside manner (I rarely have good luck choosing dental care) and a quick visit to my bank and the store, I came home to relax and change clothes before getting ready to head out to the opening reception at Akwaaba Gallery for the "Manifest" exhibition.

Yes, this busy day involved a little more human interaction with those who knew me from Job #2 and nudged me to partake in the joys my home city has to offer. "Manifest" is a wonderful feast for fans (and non-fans) of abstract art curated by Jo-El Lopez, featuring amazing artists from the local area and beyond. I highly recommend a visit.

While I wish I had stayed to enjoy the show longer, I decided to join a former co-worker and friends for a late evening meal in the Ironbound district. Although I've been to the Ironbound to run errands and to park close-by whenever I planned to travel into NYC for a late night event, I've never actually had a meal there, believe it or not. So this was a first for me. And I owe a warm thank you to my dining companions for inviting me, and to Mi Pequeño Mexico for allowing us to stay and chat well after they started putting the chairs on the tables and mopping the floor. ;-)

Saturday --

Relaxing at the beach

This was the one day I didn't allow myself to even think about either job. It was my much anticipated Beach Day! Despite living in New Jersey for almost 4 years, I've never actually been to the beach here. Yeah, so Saturday was another first for me.

I decided my introduction to New Jersey's shoreline would be Asbury Park -- a mere, 1-hour traffic-filled drive away. Although I had been advised to get there early, the late evening out the night before affected my desire to rise with the sun, and I didn't hit the road until 10am.

Well, it turns out, for the first Saturday of the summer, arriving early wasn't necessary. I found nearby parking for free (got lucky), entered the beach on the far 7th Ave. entrance where dogs are permitted and surfers prefer to roam, and snagged a cozy spot near the shoreline to relax, read and people-watch.

After 2 hours of lazing about, making my way through David Sax's chapter on vinyl records in The Revenge of Analog, I decided food was my friend. I gathered my things, strolled down to the 5th Ave. area, and walked the boardwalk searching for something hearty. I found it at the Silverball Arcade Museum. What? Surely a snack bar serving the finest culinary creations to ever frequent a retro arcade wouldn't disappoint?

No, seriously. I enjoyed my food, and the people-watching that came with it as I sat outside and took in the boardwalk pedestrians and the busier side of the Asbury Park beach. (It was much quieter  down between the 6th and 7th Ave. location.) Then it was time to head home.

My languid evening back at the abode was filled with copious sand removal, a simple dinner, and the chapter on brick-and-mortar bookstores in Sax's book. Not a thought went to work, deadlines or emails. It was a good day.

Sunday --

Often viewed as a day of rest, I thankfully made it restful and productive. This was the one day during my vacation I actually got to sleep in and take it slow. Between reading more of my book and riding my bike in the park, tackling the remainder of my home office filing reorg project was not as excruciating a task as it was on Thursday. That, and I decided to rewatch some of my favorite episodes across 5 seasons of Broad City this time instead of the news. Best decision I could have made.

Yes, I had to resist the urge to check my email for Job #1, and I never got around to washing the dishes, but it wasn't a bad way to wrap up my 5 days of self-care.

And there you have it!

So I return to the grind this week feeling somewhat rejuvenated and more focused. I managed to take some time to review my work/life balance throughout the week, and I came up with a few ideas to improve it as well. Now, I'll just have to see if my client is willing to accept my suggestions.

And in case you're wondering about my list from my previous post, I managed to work in my share of self-care activities alongside my new experiences of dining in historic NYC hotels, hanging out in the Ironbound, and sunbathing at the beach. Here's what I got to check off:




What about you? Have you taken a vacation so far this year? "Half" of a vacation? How do you go about sprinkling self-care throughout your daily life, when a vacation isn't on the horizon?

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