Author Archives: Anna

Nine Ways to Relax When You Can't Go On Vacation

9 Ways to Relax Without Going on Vacation

I recently had the pleasure of going on a vacation. Destination: Idaho. Far away from my Midwestern home.  It was a spectacular break.

The change of scenery was wonderful.  I loved the mountains and the fact that the temperature drops in the evening to a nice cool crisp number after a hot day.  The rural scenery and wild life were interesting.  Even when we didn’t see the elk, the moose, and the bears we were informed about, it was still interesting that we might.

We stayed with a family member who was the epitome of hospitality and we were treated incredibly well by even more family. We were well watered, fed, and loved. We discovered the beauty of daily ‘wine time’ and waking up when your body says it is time instead of the alarm clock.

It was relaxing.

It was exactly what I needed to recharge my batteries and prepare for the stress and chaos of the daily life I was returning to.

Unfortunately, vacations are a matter of time and money.  Both these items are at a premium for me and heavily budgeted. It is hard for me to part with either.  So I started thinking about the ways to get that relaxing feeling and recharge when I can’t go on vacation.

These are some things that work for me.


Meditation has been scientifically proven to aid us in many areas. It can help with stress reduction, concentration, and even easing anxiety.  All of which is helpful for the relaxing and recharging we’ve been discussing.

Start with a micro-meditation. Just 20 breaths. Click To Tweet

There are a lot of ways to meditate and you don’t have start whole hog.  You can start with a micro-meditation.  Take 20 deep breaths. In. Out. Count them.  Concentrate on only those 20 breaths. It will take less than 2 minutes.

It’s amazing what those 20 breaths can do.

I find this meditation particularly helpful when I find myself getting frazzled.  It helps bring me back to a calmer, easier state.

Lunch Breaks

This one was kind of life changing for me. I work from home and it was hard to separate myself from the work.  A lunch break made all the difference in how well my work was going.

Whether you work for someone else or yourself, get in the habit of taking a lunch break.  All work and no play makes Jane a very stressed woman.  The small habit of taking 30-60 minutes to yourself will not only help you dial down the stress but it will actually help you be more productive when you get back to work.

Funny how that works…take a break…be more efficient.  No one starts off their day and decides they are going to spin their wheels.  Yet it is exactly what we do when we don’t take that break.  Turns out that it is good for you and your employer.

Double points if you are self-employed!


Many of us can’t do this on a daily basis (good for you if you can!).  Maybe we can work it in every week or even every once in a while.  Maybe you can do the power nap thing where you just close your eyes for 20 minutes.  Or maybe you do better with a long nap.  Pick what is best for you and indulge when you can.

It is a nice treat to give yourself.  In some instances, you may need to recruit some help.  Maybe a spouse or a friend can remove distractions (usually kids) from your house in order to get a chance to relax.  Then one day you can return the favor.

A Cup of Tea

Maybe for you it is a cup of coffee.  Or a soda.  Or a piece of chocolate.  Whatever poison you choose.  Take the time to drink your beverage or eat your sweet. Do nothing but that.  Mindfully eat or drink for that few minutes and decompress.

A Relaxing Hobby

Whatever it is that relaxes you, do it.  Bird watching.  Reading. Playing Cards. Gardening.  Mine is coloring (I was doing it before it was cool, and still a little ticked at myself that I didn’t think of marketing adult coloring books).

Whatever you choose, make sure it gets you to your ‘zen place’.


Many people enjoy the rush of endorphins that they get from exercising.  Walking will get you a lower level dose but it is a safe form of exercise for most people.  You can even combine some of that walking with meditation and do double duty.  It is also good for your health. You need to get your steps in!

Many benefits have been found to spending time in nature.  The Japanese have a form of therapy known as forest bathing.  Funny name, funny concept but apparently very beneficial. Here again, is another good place to do double duty.

Laid Back time with friends

Being with friends in a laid back atmosphere can also reduce stress and recharge.  I would suggest that if you are trying to go with the vacation type vibe that you pick the right friends.  Invite the ones that make you laugh and have fun.  Avoid the ‘Debbie Downers’ and the ‘one-uppers’ (every group has them).

Once you’ve picked the right friends then choose an activity that’s preferably casual.  Avoid the fancy dinner party and think take out instead.  Beer around the fire or wine on the patio works well too.  You are looking to create an environment where you can all be yourselves.

Do Nothing Day

I am a huge proponent of Do Nothing Day.  I have written about it not once, but twice.  It is a day where you get to disconnect from your daily grind and your overloaded schedule.  In fact, you put it on your schedule so that you don’t forget to do nothing.

It’s like a mini vacation without having to shower or get out of your pajamas.

Day Trip

No, not the illicit substance type trip.  Just a short vacation where you take a day out of your life to take a mini vacation.  No hotel reservations, not too far away, nothing elaborate.  Just a little exploring and dinner somewhere not in your home!

Let people wait on you.  It’s not hard to justify in the interest of self-care.

So now it is your turn to share:  How do you relax when you can’t go on vacation?

Photo Credit:  Jason Cartwright


Three Steps to Writing a Eulogy


This week I had the unfortunate circumstances that required I write a eulogy for my father.  I actually volunteered and even though it was something I wanted to do, it was hard and wrenching. It was also cathartic and healing.

Then once I wrote it I had to deliver it. That was no less wrenching or cathartic than writing it.

I thought it might be a good idea to share how I actually got it done without having a nervous breakdown.  Maybe this advice could help someone in the future. Continue reading

One Year of a Serial Life

What a Difference a Year Makes


A Serial Life is a year old!  Happy blogaversary to me! Thanks for those of you who read it, comment, retweet, and share.

I had a lot of help setting this site up.  A big thank you to Kristin Wong over at who was a great teacher and held my hand through the whole process.  I am a fan of her writing and she continues to inspire me every day.  Please check her out, I’m pretty sure you’ll like her too.

A lot has happened to me over the year like almost dying, working on my fabulous list (bucket list), and working on some pretty great projects.  I feel a little more confident with all this blog stuff but also am still working on that learning curve. Some of what happened over the past year is a direct result of this blog.  I was able to do more writing for others and even managed to get a post featured at

Most of this was good stuff or had a happy ending. It all makes me smile in the end.  I feel blessed.

One of the best parts has been hearing from the readers.  I’ve gotten some questions via email and I thought perhaps everyone might want to hear the answers.

You say that you are a multipotentialite and live a serial life.  What does that actually look like for you?

To start with, if you look at the various careers I have had, there are a few.  Since the time I was 18 I have been an Orthodontic Assistant, Medical Assistant, Apprentice Tapestry Weaver, Day Care Provider, Pastry Chef and Sugar Artist, Teacher, and Writer.  That doesn’t include a lot of the side jobs I’ve had or the jobs that I had as a kid (started at 12 with a paper route).  Now, most times, I was doing two at a time, transitioning from one career to another. These were never “fly by night” vocations.  I think the shortest time I did any of these jobs was the 4 years as a tapestry weaver.

I also tend to diversify and find variety in what I am currently doing.  For example, I have been a Pastry Chef and Sugar Artist for 18 years.  In that time, I have used that experience to create beautiful wedding cakes, dessert buffets, compete in sugar art competitions, participate in edible fashion shows, create and run a cake decorating convention, become a college professor (baking and pastry, of course), participate in product research and development, write course curriculum, and write copy for industry professionals.

Outside of my job I have a lot of other interests as well that include my family, volunteer work, art, reading, DIY projects, and Reiki.  Subjects that pique my interest are personal finance, psychology of personality, meditation, and spirituality.  Even my music playlists are very diversified- American Authors, Bruce Springsteen, Walk the Moon, Owl City, The Black-eyed Peas, Panic at the Disco, Green Day, Tchaikovsky, Twenty-one Pilots and even the sound track for Les Miserables and Rent (ok, I pretty much listen to anything except country).

So, in a nutshell, it looks complicated or crazy depending on your view point.  It is, however, never boring.

Isn’t living a serial life really just relevant to a few on the fringe?

I am going to say that there is more of us than you would think.  While the term multipotentialite is new(link), the concept is not new.  My favorite historical example is Leonardo Davinci.  He had art and science and math and engineering all wrapped up in one tortilla.  He didn’t stick with one thing and he came up with some pretty brilliant stuff.

I think there is a certain population of us who have been finally been given permission to believe it is ok to be curious and fascinated with the world and live our lives accordingly.  In fact, for many young people it has become a necessity in order to make a living.  So maybe I am closer to being like a millennial than a middle aged old fart.

Many people are embracing their different interests and how they go about using them.  In fact, there is a whole website dedicated to those of us who like to branch out like this.  It is  If you are still curious about others living a serial life, or think you may be a multipotentialite yourself, this is a good resource.

How do you manage to do all the things you do and keep all your balls in the air?

I do my best.  And sometimes that just doesn’t work. Sometimes those balls bounce all over the place, sometimes with a direct hit to my head.  I have set up all kinds of systems that are personal to what I do (productivity hacks are a personal thing).  On good days when things are running smoothly it is well planned out and most of the important work is done during my most productive time (6am-10am) and I check things off my to-do list.  Then there are the days when I have overscheduled myself, unexpected obligations get put on me, and my house and/or myself starts falling apart.

When the balls do come crashing down, I take a break for a small meditation and then get my butt up off the floor and work with what I’ve got. There may or may not be a lot of cussing and pity parties and more cussing before that meditation part.  Just sayin’.

Why do you feel the need to have a whole site dedicated to personal development?

I believe we are never done growing and improving.  I can never imagine being at the point in my life where I can say I am perfect or that I have nothing left to learn.  Ironically, the more I learn the more I feel that I need to grow and improve.

I also know that in my sphere of influence most of them feel the same.  So there must be others out there who feel the same and this is the world wide web and I am just hoping to attract those that agree with me and those that just might need to take that next step on their own journey.

Thanks again for being here!

Photo Credit: Bob Maquire

Now it’s your turn: Do you live a serial life and what does yours look like? Anything you’d like to see discussed in the next year?

Paying off debt

The Best Part of Paying Off Debt

[ As part of my serial life, paying off debt was a life changing part of the journey. Today a  fellow blogger is going to share his experience with this.  Jacob Evans paid down $25,000 in student loan debt in just 15 months. He chronicles his journey to financial independence over at Dollar Diligence. You can learn more @DollarDiligence. ]

Like many college graduates, I started my post-graduation life with the burden of student loans. Entering the workforce $25,000 in debt — particularly as a relatively low-paid teacher — tempered a lot of the excitement that I felt about finally getting out into the real world.  Most of my paycheck would be eaten up by my student loan payments — leaving little behind for what I wanted to do with my life. Continue reading

Do Nothing Day: Summer Edition

Do Nothing Day: Summer Edition

Back in December, I posted a little something about how to do nothing.   I wanted to encourage everyone to take a little mental health day after the holidays.  After all the chaos from Thanksgiving til New Years, we need to unwind.

Well, here we are past the half way mark of 2017.  I am realizing that I, along with many of the people I know and love, once again need to schedule a Do Nothing Day.  We have longer days and we are trying to fill them with as much living as we can.  What we call relaxation looks remarkably similar to cramming things into our calendar because we are afraid of missing out. Continue reading


How to Have Fun and Give Back


Philanthropy does not need to be boring.  It can be fun.

I know what you’re thinking.   A rubbery chicken dinner and a basket raffle do not usually a good time make (unless you win the basket and it is full of stuff you really like and would not have purchased for yourself anyway, then all of a sudden it’s a lot more enjoyable).

Would you like to give back and have a little bit of fun along the way?  Would you like to complete the summer having done something a little more epic and make the world a better place at the same time? How about a chance to go on an all-expense paid vacation to somewhere like Hawaii?

I have just the thing. Continue reading