If you’re in the Boston area, mark your calendars…

If you’re anywhere near the Whole Foods Market Lynnfield​ just north of Boston next Sunday 4/26 between 11am-1pm, I’ll be there signing copies of LIFE: It Is What It Is. So cummon down and get all your Mother’s Day gifts early!!

The event is FREE, but if you register on Eventbrite that you’re going, you’ll be guaranteed that a drink and a snack will be waiting for you.

Just click on the Eventbrite ticket logo to register!

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The importance of the pick-me-up

By Lisa Sugarman

Let me just say, before we really get rolling here, that I’m not what you’d call a girly girl. On the contrary; I’m actually way closer to the tomboy end of the spectrum than the girly girl side. I’m the girl who’d rather be digging in the garden (no gloves, of course) or running on trails or walking around in a trucker hat. That’s just how I roll.

But even in spite of the fact that I love getting down and dirty and prefer being what I call lumberjack casual most of the time, there are definitely times when I need to feel pretty or polished or together, just for me. And I think there are a lot of women, and men, who feel the same way. Unfortunately, though, we all lead busy lives, filled with husbands and wives and kids and jobs and crazy-long to-do lists, leaving very little time left over to dote on ourselves.rsz_mom-taking-time-for-herself-566x401

Because time in general is a commodity and for most people, free time to pamper yourself is, well, more or less nonexistent.

So while there’s definitely a part of me that would actually love to have a standing appointment to have my nails expertly painted and my hands luxuriously rubbed, the reality is that I just don’t have the time to commit to it every week or even every month. There are just too many other priorities that are higher up on my list. And I think that’s the case for most people.

What I’ve learned, though, is that the older and busier we get, the more important it becomes to indulge ourselves once in a while. And that’s because, the fuller our lives get with friends and family and commitments, the more our focus tends to be on them rather than on ourselves. In other words, we end up shoving ourselves to the very bottom of our own list. Right or wrong, it’s just what most of us do.

But the downside of focusing our energy and attention on everyone else is that our own emotional and physical self ends up neglected and weak. Our roots get gray; our cuticles get overgrown; our muffin tops get poochier; our muscle tone gets flabbier. And that’s just the exterior.shutterstock_128535719-636x310

Chances are good that if you’re letting your exterior go because you’re focused on everyone else, your interior probably isn’t feeling so hot either. And we all know what that feels like—tempers get short, self-confidence shrivels, and critical thinking gets cloudy because you’re so pissed off about all the other stuff going to hell. Vicious, vicious cycle.

So the other day when my daughter Libby dragged me by the hair to get our nails done, I actually forced myself to drop the other forty things I was doing and put myself (and her) first. It was only an hour but it was a long, slow, quiet, lazy hour that culminated with the most exquisite gel manicure I’ve ever had. And let me just say that that hand rub and fresh coat of A Grape Fit elevated my mood and my confidence in ways that I’d forgotten a simple manicure could.059

Funny how powerful doing something for yourself can be, isn’t it? Even something as little and quick as a manicure. I mean, it’s been like a week since I had it done and I still find myself staring at the shininess of the lavender and smiling. Indisputable proof that the little things really do matter. Especially the little things we find the time to do for ourselves.

Now I’m obviously not just talking only about manicures here. I’m talking about carving out the time to do whatever it is that makes you feel a little special or empowered. Maybe it’s treating yourself to highlights or lowlights or buying yourself a new pair of platform heels or a sassy lipstick. Or maybe it’s making a tee time for yourself and a buddy and grabbing a couple of Cohiba Sublimes and playing the back nine.

What I’m talking about here is prioritizing time for yourself. And how important that really is. Even if it’s not something you can swing on a regular basis. All that really matters is that you don’t forget about yourself entirely.

Whether it’s an hour or an afternoon or, if you’ve won the lottery, maybe even a whole day. And it could be for a mani or a pedi, a run or a walk, eighteen holes or a novel and your couch. Or maybe it’s just an aimless walk up and down the shoe aisle with nothing more to show for it than a new pair of pillow-soft insoles. It really doesn’t matter.

The bottom line is that it’s ok to be decadent every once in a while. Really. In fact, it’s highly recommended by me and by other super-credible professionals whose names escape me at this moment, so you’ll just have to trust me.Spa-at-Snowshoe-WV

So put yourself first every once in a while, because, as the great Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” (I’m sure he was talking about NASCAR racing when he said it, but we can pretend it’s more profound than that.)

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItIsWhatItIsColumn. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on Amazon.com and at select Whole Foods stores.

A parting thought on The Winter of 2015

By Lisa Sugarman

You know what I did last week? Something I haven’t done in I don’t remember how long. I opened my windows. Yup, all of them. Around the entire house. And you know why I did it? Because I could. d119303011d27b48c8b8dbf4166d328b

See, those of us who live here in the northeast wondered, for most of this winter, if we’d ever get the chance to do something as simple as crack open our windows ever again. With snow drifts encasing most of our houses since early January, I think the majority of us forgot we even had windows to open. So these last few weeks, when the snow finally melted enough to reveal the world that’s been frozen underneath, the first thing I wanted to do was throw open every window and purge our house of the hermetically sealed air that’s been recirculating between rooms for the last three months.

I mean it was pretty rough, at times. Even in spite of all the cozy nights in front of the fire, you still had this unshakeable feeling that you were living in a Habitrail, shuffling back and forth between the same little compartments day after day like little gerbils. So by the end of March, as much as I love winter and all that winter implies, even I understood the true meaning of cabin fever.

There were actually times when I was convinced I could see the sour air physically floating between the bedrooms—air that no amount of Febreze could purify. Of course I realize now that I was just hallucinating because I’d been confined to the same eight rooms all winter. I guess the stale air had me in some weird delusional state. (I’m clearer now.)

All I can say is that when I finally broke the seal on that first window, I could swear I heard a pop like the kind you hear when you break the seal on an oversized jar of pickles. It’s like all the air in the house was electrified by the sudden and unexpected burst of all the incoming fresh air. And the old, dank air just made an instant break for the open window, to the point where I was momentarily concerned that I’d be sucked out of my dining room window by a massive air undertow.

It was amazing, actually. That influx of spring air made you feel like you were breathing for the first time. Sort of like that sensation you get when you’re snorkeling and you’ve gone down too deep and you struggle to make it back to the surface before your air runs out. It’s just like that first big breath you take when your head finally breaches the surface. (Maybe a little less dramatic than that, but you get my point.)048a41076a94bc62c5a8a4e611b3e629

And the excitement I’m feeling about spring finally reaching the northeast isn’t just limited to the freshness of the air. There’s so much more to be excited about. Like, oh, I don’t know, being reminded that we do, in fact, have a backyard and deck furniture and hydrangeas and a shed. Because to be honest, I had completely forgotten about the Adirondacks on our front porch because they’d been covered over for so long. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

It’s the little things like that that almost brought tears to my eyes when I saw them again. Kind of like when the roads finally cleared and I saw all my runner friends who’ve been struggling to log miles all winter out running on real pavement instead of on treadmills. Not to mention my actual toes when I finally took them out of my Sorels.

But no sign of spring had a more powerful effect on me than when, a few days ago, I heard the sounds of real live starlings chirping in the trees outside our bedroom window. Now I’m no Bird Whisperer, but I felt like if I could translate bird, I was pretty sure that they were all freaking out, wondering what the hell happened while they were all away. Regardless, they were there, chirping and fluttering in the trees, a definitive sign that we were finally closing the door on The Winter of 2015.bhr

Now personally, I wouldn’t put it past Mother Nature to go to the opposite extreme just for the hell of it and give us a heat wave this summer, but I’m hoping she shows a little compassion, and gives us at least a mildly enjoyable summer to offset her sick sense of humor all winter.

Either way, I think we’re finally far enough in the clear that we can bid The Winter of 2015 adieu as we all say, Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. 

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItIsWhatItIsColumn. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is, available on Amazon.com and at select Whole Foods stores.

There’s only one thing worse than being sick…

By Lisa Sugarman

Being sick is just sucky. I think we can all agree on that. And depending on what you’re sick with, the range of suckiness can be very broad. With something like the flu, symptoms can be so intense and overwhelming that most of us just wish we could curl up under our duvets and die quickly. Then again, even the common cold has some serious ass-kicking potential that can create its own unique brand of pain and suffering.

And the list of bugs that can make a grown man hug his knees in the fetal position is endless. But the one sickness that tops them all is the one that takes hold of your child, whatever that sickness might be. Because the only thing worse than being sick yourself is watching your child burn up with fever or wretch over the toilet bowl or, God forbid, suffer with something worse. Watching our kids feel even the mildest measure of pain, in my opinion, is worse than any kind of suffering that we, as adults, could ever endure.o-SICK-KID-facebook

The truth is, most of us are just big fat babies when it comes to being sick. We curl up like twisted little pretzels under our blankies and moan and whimper and pray for salvation. We become useless and pathetic. But the second one of our kids takes sick, all that changes. We offer, sometimes even beg, to take the illness away from them and absorb it ourselves. We become the caregivers and back rubbers, the washcloth soakers and temperature takers. Our only focus becomes beating the crap out of whatever germ or disease or affliction has infected our kid.

Funny how that happens, isn’t it? Our paternal instinct to nurture and heal and protect our kids overrides anything else. We drop everything and hit the drugstore hard, trying to find that one brand of cough syrup or decongestant or throat lozenge that could offer them even a tiny bit of relief. We break all the rules and buy them McDonald’s french fries when they can’t stomach anything else, just to make sure they have at least something in their system. We push popsicles and lollipops and ice cream just to ensure that they stay fortified.Vitals_CoughColdOTCMeds1

And it doesn’t matter how old they are, that instinct to comfort our kids and take their pain away is timeless. When our kids get sick, whether they’re seven or seventeen, they all shrink back down to their original hobbit-sized selves in our minds. That’s just how the mind of a parent works. It’s like the minute that thermometer hits critical mass, our kids start reminding us of Tom Hanks in Big, all vulnerable and helpless, swimming in their dad’s business suit.

See, when we’re the ones who are sick, we know exactly how we feel and what we need, but when it’s one of our kids, especially the little ones who can’t communicate with words, it’s a real feeling of helplessness. And as a parent, that feeling of not being able to take your child’s pain away is one of the worst feelings imaginable.

Because let’s face it, the feeling you get when your child’s weakened voice calls to you from the other room is altogether different from the feeling you get when your husband, incapacitated by a scratchy throat and drippy nose, yells for you to get him the remote off the dresser. No offense, boys, but you know you do it.

The ironic thing is, I’ve found that my desire to take care of my kids when they’re sick has only gotten stronger as they’ve gotten older. And that’s probably because our teenage kids are usually only willing to accept our help (and affection) when they physically can’t help themselves.safe_image

I mean, think about it; every one of us knows the old trick of pretending to check our daughter’s temperature by putting our cheek against their forehead, then gently kissing them while we feign a quick temperature check. Oldest game in the book. A trick most of our kids are hip to but usually let us get away with when they really don’t feel well.

When they’re sick as teenagers, though, it’s like the electric fence most of them keeps buzzing around them temporarily shuts down and we’re allowed access. Limited access, of course, but access is access. It’s when they become needy and dependent that the walls usually come down and we’re just mommy and daddy again. Even for a short time.

It’s weird, I know. But where most of us with kids are concerned, we learn to take whatever we can get in terms of quality time with them. Especially as they get older. And even if that time involves having their fever-soaked head on our shoulder at two in the morning. Because at the end of the day, the only thing that offsets the ache of having a sick kid—for us and for them—is being the only one they want to help nurse them back to health.

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItIsWhatItIsColumn. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is, available on Amazon.com and at select Whole Foods stores.

Win a FREE copy of LIFE: It Is What It Is!

FullSizeRenderWanna win a FREE copy of LIFE: It Is What It Is? Well here’s your chance.

Just click on the image of my book on the right and go to my Amazon Giveaway page where you can enter to win an absolutely FREE copy of your very own. No strings attached. I pay for the book AND the shipping. No purchase necessary. All you have to do is enter. IT’S THAT EASY.

Good luck!