Some of My New Sanity Rituals

Business has slowed drastically. My inbox is full of COVID-19 update emails instead of “normal” emails, so even “office work” is different. 

My meetings have been postponed and my trips cancelled for the foreseeable future. No trainings, store visits, events, or conferences for days. 

I have been home for 9 days straight. 

This is not my “normal life,” and I must rethink my days and my rituals, to ensure that I don’t think of every day as “day” (instead of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc), which I must admit I am guilty of. 

I am not there yet, but I am trying. Here are some of the things I have implemented (some new, some similar to what I did “before”) to stay sane during these insane times. 

  • Waking up between 4:30 and 5 am on weekdays (my normal wakeup time). 
  • Making a weekly gameplan on Mondays as I usually would, focusing on prioritizing projects I have not had a chance to work on over the past six months. 
  • Listening to Yo Yo Ma daily in the evening (on Instagram). 
  • Skyping weekly with my sisters during the weekends (instead of monthly). 
  • Defining Wednesday as vacuuming day. Given that we brought our cat to Georgetown, my husband just gifted me a new Dyson mini vacuum which is perfect for cat hair. Did I mention how satisfying vacuuming is? 
  • Being super strict about my eating and drinking. I am still not drinking three days per week (although last week I slipped and only made it two days) and am very aware of the “COVID-19” and eating with awareness to avoid gaining weight.  
  • Notwithstanding the above, ordering takeout from my favorite restaurants to support them as best as I can. 
  • Doing 100 sit ups every day. 
  • Taking advantage of the many (free) webinars that many publications and associations are offering to discuss the current crisis and how to do business during such times. 
  • Ensuring that at least two evenings per week involve no “TV.” 
  • Listening to a Master Class per day (so far, I only did this once this week though). 
  • Doing virtual cocktail hours and lunches and dinners with friends (oh friends how I miss thee…).  
  • Reading. I am still finishing The Only Plane in the Sky, the timing of which I can’t decide is scary or fortuitous, following which I plan on reading mostly fiction until “life goes back to normal.” 
  • Reminding myself of all of the things I have to be grateful for, including my husband, my health, my home. 

What are you doing to stay sane? Please share! I need more ideas…

Celebrating International Women’s Month

There are many reasons to love March. The official arrival of Spring. Spring break. St. Patrick’s day. March Madness. And International Women’s Day.

I celebrate women every day (my sisters, my BFFs, my team members), but I celebrate them extra in March. A few years ago I wrote about a few of my amazing innovative girlfriends.  This year, I celebrate this week’s International Women’s Day by highlighting some of my favorite DC-area women-owned businesses.

Bellacara
This Old Town beauty boutique is owned by Angela Sitilides, a former attorney and mother of four boys who decided that entrepreneurship and beauty were a more fulfilling career path. Her store, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month, carries a curated assortment of skin (yes, including Alchimie!), bath & body, hair and makeup brands, along with amazingly delicious-smelling candles.

Betsy Fisher
My favorite clothing boutique in DC, the eponymous Betsy Fisher blends trendy and
conservative, as is necessary in the nation’s capital. Too busy to shop? Betsy will personally choose items she thinks will work for you and have them couriered to your home or place of business.

Hank’s Oyster Bar
An institution in DC, I must confess to having gone to Hank’s Oyster Bar for the first time just a couple of weeks ago, on a Saturday when I woke up craving a seafood tower… and realized that their first location (opened in 2005) is walking distance from my house. I don’t know owner Jamie Leeds, but I am grateful to her for helping with my random craving!

Ninotch, an Urban Retreat
Owner and therapist Tatiana Tchamouroff’s petite size belies her strength. She has been
offering therapeutic treatments and sports massage to the DC sports community for over 20 years, and I can personally attest that her hands are both powerful and magical. With locations in Bethesda and Tyson’s, her spas also offer facials, flotation therapy, and spray tanning. A must for the stressed out among us….

Salt & Sundry
Opened in 2012 in Union Market, this lifestyle boutique carries the most unique goods from independent designers both local and global. This is my go-to source for gifts (especially for that friend who has everything), and a favorite place to receive gifts from (most recently the most amazing gold-rimmed water glasses). Last night, at Moki Media’s Dainty Doesn’t Do It event, I had the privilege of hearing Amanda McClements, the founder of this boutique, moderate a panel – which made me love this boutique all the more!

What are your favorite women-owned brands and businesses?

My 2020 Wellness Plan

I have a business plan. I have a financial plan. I have a reading plan. And now, I have a wellness plan – a plan to help me stay healthy and look and feel my best (both on my 2020 goals list). If you don’t, might I suggest you think about it… 

Weekly: 

  • Three days without alcohol 
  • Two workouts minimum 
  • One 10-hour night of sleep 

Monthly: 

Every other month: 

Two to three times per year: 

Annually: 

  • 21-day cleanse in January (read more about my first one here)
  • Preventative doctors’ appointments (always in July, OB, GP, dentist, eye) 
  • A couple weeks in Greece to rest my mind and soul (yes, this is a key part of wellness) 

And, this year, I am going to add something I have never done before – either micro-needling, PRP, or a Soft Lift… at Forever Institut of course. It’s time…  

Big Apple + Little Sister = Best Day

I go to New York every few weeks, and I write about my visits every few years (including here and here). This week, I had the pleasure of spending a day in the Big Apple with my youngest sister Roxane who was visiting from Switzerland. Here is what our perfect day together looked like.

Mimosas at the Loews Hotel

On Park in mid-town, this is one of the most civilized places in NYC, whether for coffee, lunch, or drinks. I love it for meetings, I love it alone when I need to catch up on emails or write, and I love it for everything in between.

A facial at Heyday Upper West Side

Despite family businesses involving a spa and skin care, Roxane is not a facial aficionado… so I had to gift her a Heyday facial. Not surprisingly, she loved everything about it – the setting, the treatment itself, the post-facial glow, the wonderful team members. No better way to start a day in the city!

A stroll through Nordstrom 57th street

Both of our first times in this gorgeous new store, we were in awe of the beauty offering. Not just the ground floor beauty store (which was packed with shoppers by the way), but also the first floor Beauty Services area. Featuring various “shops in shop” including Heyday (yes, they are in all the right places), Drybar, Face Gym and more, as well as wonderful niche brands, this area gave off a cool, chic, inviting vibe that made you want to shop and treat yourself.

A haircut at Fourteen Jay 

Roxane is addicted to her short haircut, and to Aveda. When she asked me for the best Aveda salon in the City, I had to recommend Fourteen Jay, a project my friend (and celebrity hairstylist) Frank Rizzieri was involved in creating.

Apero at the “new” Pastis

Pastis reopening last year after a five-year hiatus was to me some of the happiest 2019 news. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner there still feels like a party, something utterly “New York” that can’t be replicated anywhere else. A must.

We didn’t have a chance to visit all of the places on my list… here are a few left for her next visit.

The bar at Morandi

Another Keith McNally creation, Morandi in the West Village is on my list of places to try.

An afternoon at Great Jones Spa

One day I will make the time to have a long and perfect massage at this legendary spa, and I will take advantage of their amazing amenities, including the River Rock Sauna, the Chakra Light Steam Room, the Jacuzzi, and the Cold Plunge. One day…

21 Day Cleanse…Was it Worth it?

On January 5th, I started a 21-day cleanse, which I described here. I did it. I did not cheat. I loved it. And while I am glad it is over, I am maintaining many better, healthier habits.

Here are my key takeaways.

    1. I feel better. In my head and in my body. I am thinking more clearly, my belly is more comfortable, my early mornings are more pleasurable.
    2. I need a lot less food than I think I do. My “normal” calorie budget is 1,300 per day (according to my Lose It Apps anyway). On average, over the three weeks, I ate about 1,000 calories per day and I was not hungry except on the days I exercised.
    3. With these new eating and drinking habits, I need less exercise. During the past three weeks, I exercised only twice per week, which seems to be plenty both mentally and physically.
    4. I did lose weight, 8 pounds to be exact, which is a lot for me and hard to do in three weeks.
    5. I did not miss alcohol, but I did miss the rituals. I missed the ritual of a glass of wine during a lunch date with a friend (replaced by non-alcoholic beer) and the ritual of a glass of wine in the evening to wind down (replaced by many cups of all kinds of different teas).
    6. My evening beauty routine has improved. Somehow exfoliating and masking and “retinol-ing” go better with three cups of hot tea than with three glasses of wine.
    7. My skin is clearer. I don’t know if this is from the liters of tea (herbal mostly) I consumed, from my more regular use of my Advanced retinol serum (see above), or from the lack of alcohol, or all of the above, but I am definitely more “glowy.”
    8. I spent a lot less money on food and beverage, partly because going out did lose some of its appeal, and partly because when I did eat out, there was mostly lettuce and certainly no alcohol on my tab.
    9. I went to the grocery store twice in three weeks (versus my average of once every two months…). With these new habits, having the right food at home and in my purse at all times is essential to avoid “mistakes due to hangry emergencies.”
    10. I discovered a love for apples. I have probably eaten an apple a day since January 5th (the only fruit allowed on this cleanse) and I plan to continue. They keep the doctor away, are easy to travel with, and are available in American Airlines lounges!
    11. My new rituals and habits have stuck beyond 21 days. I have not added milk back to my coffee. I have not added carbs or sugar back to my diet. I am still limiting dairy. I did enjoy mimosas with brunch and a great cabernet with dinner this past Sunday, the first day “post cleanse,” but I have not had any alcohol since. I will certainly splurge on date nights and on weekends, but these new healthy habits are here to stay – and that is the best possible outcome of these 21 days.

I cannot think of a better way to have started 2020!

January + Reset + Intentions

In 8 days, we enter the second month of this new decade. Am I almost 1/12th done with what I set out to do this year? I can’t say that I am; yet I can say that I have loved this month so far.

I cleansed. I am 3 days away from the end of my 21-day cleanser (read more here), and I feel lighter, stronger, and healthier than ever (yet also hungry and somewhat unsatisfied…).

I reset. This past weekend was Serious Business, the annual personal and professional development conference ideated by Debra Neill Baker of Neill Corporation. This year’s theme was Reset, particularly applicable to a new decade. My highlight was Neil Pasricha’s admonition that “action creates motivation” (instead of the other way around).

I organized. I handled end of year paperwork, started getting things ready for Aprils’ tax deadline, threw away old bills and bank statements, and purged paper.

I unsubscribed. From so many email newsletters I delete before opening, my inbox feels lighter. And I cancelled magazine and entertainment subscriptions I no longer benefit from.

I recommitted. To my evening skin care routine, and to using my Advanced retinol serum twice weekly. I can’t help but think that there is a correlation between this behavior and recent compliments on my “fresh” and “glowing” look.

I tried something new. My workout rituals involve running and SoulCycle, and have for years. This month, I decided I to add strength training and tried Orange Theory Fitness for the first time. I was mostly in the red, have hardly ever been so sore, yet I have another class booked for this Friday!

Before February arrives, here are some intentions for the next 8 days:

  • Read two more books (which will bring me to one per week)
  • Finalize the Alchimie Forever 2020 budget (yes, I am very late on this)
  • Buy some extra drip colored candles and use some empty wine bottles as candle holders to decorate the mantle (something my parents used to do, which a recent dinner at The Columns in New Orleans reminded me of)