Carving out some ‘me time’ during my staycation

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

It’s a good thing I don’t get bored. For the past week, I’ve been taking a staycation and have found plenty to do. Normally when I take vacation time, I’m traveling and spending most of my time running around to see family and friends. Or I’m entertaining visitors here in St. Pete.

I love traveling and entertaining, but it’s been refreshing to have a little “me time.” We all need this time — to relax, to treat ourselves, to enjoy our own company. Before taking my staycation, I thought of all the things I wanted to do and managed to do most of them:

Holiday shopping. I love shopping for other people, especially when I find something I know they’ll really enjoy. I typically find gifts for people throughout the year, store them on the top shelf of my closet and then watch the pile grow as Christmas nears. Now I just have to find a way to fit all the presents in my suitcase when I fly up to Massachusetts on Christmas Eve!

Eating lunch at a local vegetarian restaurant. On the first day of my staycation, I went out for lunch at a new vegetarian bistro in downtown St. Pete called Meze 119. The restaurant has tasty food and a cute atmosphere. (It’s cozy, and there are booths with colorful pillows!) I hardly ever go out for lunch during the week, so I wanted to make time to go there while I was off. At first I felt a little out of place, just sitting in a restaurant by myself, but I had a book with me and ended up enjoying the experience. It was nice eating on my own time, at my own pace. The following day, I met a friend for lunch at Sophie’s — a sweet little bakery in Hyde Park.

Cooking dinners. I don’t usually like cooking after a long day at work, so it’s been nice having some extra time in the afternoon to prepare meals. I cooked a couple of chicken dishes for my boyfriend, including this Betty Crocker chicken enchilada casserole. Even though I’m a vegetarian, I don’t mind cooking meat dishes. I just close my eyes halfway while handling the meat, let out a little “ew!” and try not to think about what I’m chopping up.

Baking cookies. It’s a holiday tradition. I usually get a recipe from the St. Pete Times’ annual holiday cookie feature, but I decided to go simple this year and make chocolate chip walnut cookies. Yummm. I’ve also been reading my favorite baking blog, Joy the Baker, for ideas and inspiration. (I love her down-to-earth, honest writing style.)

Getting a manicure/pedicure. I couldn’t help but treat myself to a manicure and pedicure. My runners’ feet are now thanking me.

Buying a vacuum. Let’s just say this was long overdue. I cringed at the thought of spending money on a new vacuum, but it was a worthwhile investment. For a long time, I had a vacuum that hardly worked. You can imagine, then, how much cleaner the carpet looked after using a vacuum that actually picks up dirt and cat hair. My apartment feels a lot cleaner now.

Reading. I love reading, but don’t make as much time as I’d like to do it. So this week I looked on my nightstand — where I keep all the books I’ve been wanting to read — and picked up a copy of “Traveling with Pomegranates.” It’s a memoir about a mother and daughter who travel throughout Greece and France together. In doing so, they reconnect and learn that despite their age difference, they face a lot of the same struggles. Now that I’ve started reading it, I can’t put it down. I also started rereading one of my favorite books — “When Food is Love” — and have gotten some ideas for my own personal essays about food.

Going to yoga. My boss recently lent me a copy of “Poser” — a book about yoga (and so much more). The book motivated me to start taking yoga classes again. I used to take classes weekly and had gotten relatively good at it. But then, life got busy and I stopped going. After a two-year hiatus, the thought of taking a class and embarrassing myself by not knowing the moves seemed daunting. So I decided to take a beginners’ class, which involved a lot of stretching and restorative/therapeutic movements. Taking the class reminded me why I like yoga so much; it forces you to find balance, focus on your breathing and listen to what your body needs and wants — something that’s all too easy to lose sight of.

I hope those of you reading this find some time to relax and do something for yourself this holiday season; you deserve it. Happy holidays!

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