The Cuke

I looked at my calendar in panic as the seemingly endless list of to-dos smothered the entire month of April – as each week inched closer to the date of our departure the busier my days seemed to get.  Breathe in breathe out.  One day at a time, I told myself – only a few more days and you’ll be there:  in the full glory of everything Europe surrounded by deeply rooted cultures, magnificent architecture, glorious delicious food and art museums galore.  It’s been the trip I’ve been waiting for a lifetime and what better way to enjoy an adventure than with my one true love?

Unfortunately I was inching on border-line panic attacks earlier this week, I felt completely overwhelmed and that two cups of coffee in the morning didn’t seem to help with my anxiety.  My heart was racing, my mind was in a million places and my chest felt alarmingly tight. I would become so immersed in work that I’d often forget to eat only to realize it was 6pm and here I was with a headache and feeling grumpy as all hell.  Tuesday felt like the worst day of my life – for absolutely no reason.  I woke up, felt like a failure, cried for a good 30 minutes on my credibility as an artist and continued to sulk over the piles of papers I was supposed to have organized last week.

I allowed my stress to run completely out of control and as a result it threw my energy into a jumbled, dreadful mess.  The sad part is, it's so easy to get wrapped up in our emotions that we never take the time to  realize the effects that stress has on our bodies.  Some common health problems that are caused and worsened with stress include cardiovascular disease and hypertension, depression and anxiety, sleeplessness and fatigue, memory loss and changes in appetite 1.

Groundbreaking research has revealed the detrimental results that stress can cause on our bodies -- how it can shrink our brains, add fat to our bellies and even unravel our chromosomes. Understanding how stress works can help us figure out ways to combat it and mitigate negative impacts on our health 2. One of the most important things we need to realize is the minute we feel high levels of stress in our every day lives, we need to take the time to step away, calm our nerves, reset our energies and start again.  This can be done through exercising (jogging, yoga, weightlifting), meditation or even a simple 10-minute stretching break.

Today I had a day of rest and meditation.  I woke up and cut vegetables and some flowers from our garden and made a lovely floral arrangement using mustard greens, fotinia and onion flower plus a few sprigs of baby breaths for a touch of softness.  I laid out a mat and sat on our deck and took deep breaths in and out for 30 minutes.  I then fixed lunch for Wells and I and made a hearty sandwich using farm fresh organic eggs, rustic rosemary bread, and peppery mustard greens with a lemony basil mayo.  I wrapped up a few projects and spent the rest of the day testing out this cocktail: The Cuke.  A delightful mixture of lime, fresh mint, cucumber and raw cane sugar muddled with sparkling water and Hendrick’s Gin (I chose to add a handful of Muscato grapes for a little extra sweetness.)

It was bright, refreshing, and crisp with just the right amount of sweetness– the perfect ending to a relaxing day.  We sat outside on the deck after dinner tonight, listening to the birds chatter watching the occasional lightening bug flicker amidst the darkness. I closed my eyes and felt the slight breeze cascade across my face smelling the damp earth and feeling the coolness of the glass trickling down my hand.  Everything felt right again – my eyes could see clearly, my mind felt peaceful and organized, and my heart was back to it’s original beat: slow but strong; calm but driven; open and ready to receive.

Don’t ever let stress ruin your mind, your body, your spirit.  You deserve that time to yourself even if you have to put the World on hold.  Your health should always be first because without it, life suddenly becomes a whole hell of a lot harder.  So take that break, find your moment of silence, center your mind and rejuvenate your body.  Cuke it up this weekend and in the lyrical words of the great Bob Marley Don't worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be all right.” Amen to that.