Restaurants: lunch, Duckfat (local, amazing poutines!), lunch or supper, Central Provisons (Local farm to table, amazing small plates & craft cocktails), supper, Four Street (Local, farm to table, put Portland on the map as a foodie town)|Shops: Bliss (local women’s store) West Elm (not a local store, but great home decor for great prices)| Hotels: Inn by the Sea or The Press Hotel
I hope everyone is having a wondeful weekend! This week has been one of reflection for me. Last weekend was my birthday. So we decided to take a roadie to Portland, Maine with just the four of us (Sadie, Elle, Andrew and I) to celebrate it. We had been to Portland once before and loved all the charming shops and restaurants along the cobblestone streets. Last time we visited, we stayed downtown, but this time we opted for a beautiful seaside inn about 10 minutes from the city.
We hadn’t been away on vacation since New Years, so I was looking forward to some uninterrupted quality time with my little family. Although, I wasn’t sure how relaxing it would be, since it was the first trip we were making without any help with Sadie & Elle. We felt it was important to have the solo family time though and thankfully it couldn’t have went more smooth. Both babes were so well behaved and we were not at all limited activity wise. We explored, ate at great restaurants, shopped and just chilled. It was the perfect way to celebrate, even though my birthday is now mainly a reminder that I’m getting older. With age, comes wisdom though, right?
Well, over the years, that wisdom has opened my eyes to many things, like enjoying the small moments in life; breathing in the fresh air, listening to the birds sing their chirps and smelling the roses (both figuratively and literally). This was something I struggled with in my youth. From as young as I can remember, I was always in a hurry to grow up. When I was in elementary school, I couldn’t wait to get to jr. high school. When I was in Jr. high school, I couldn’t wait to get high school and when I was in high school, I couldn’t wait to get out of high school and go to college.
Perhaps this anxiousness was the product of being the baby in a family of four; always longing for what my siblings were experiencing? Or maybe it’s just a fact of life that comes with being young and naive. Either way, I rushed through each day, focused on the next, missing many “moments” in-between. Over time, however, I evolved in that department and I am so grateful I have reached this level of self-awareness. Now I strive daily to soak up all the beauty that surrounds me and that brings me amazing joy, a sense of fulfillment and peace.
As I sat with my little family, on the balcony of our lovely suite, I found myself wanting to press pause. I know this is impossible to do, so instead I made it a point to be present, absorbing every beautiful sound; Elle saying dada, waves crashing against the rocks, and Sadie dog snoring with her head on my lap. I could sense contentment all around and it was such an incredible feeling. If I could bottle it and sell it, I am sure I’d be rich. Instead, luckily, we are all capable of creating our own bliss, every single day, by simply being present; appreciating all the blessings that surround us in each moment.
The benefits of being present are plentiful. It’s good for the body, mind and spirit. Actually, from a scientific standpoint, it has been proven that those who live in the moment tend to be happier, calmer and more relaxed, and appreciative. I once read that depression lives in the past and anxiety lives in the future. Alternately, calmness and peace of mind live in the present. So, why not strive for that – we can all use more peace and calmness, right? Of course, being present is easier said than done at times. We don’t always have the luxury of being on vacation or surrounded by serenity. We can, however, make it a point to bring these vibes into our daily lives, by doing things that make us happy. Like taking a walk and enjoying nature and its endless beauty or soaking in a warm bath with calming music or creating a delicious beverage and savouring each sip.
Time is a precious commodity. I have come to realize throughout the years that I need not rush today, as tomorrow will get here fast enough on its own. We have no idea what tomorrow holds. We could be here one minute and gone the next. So it’s important to strive to live each day fully. Live it with gratitude, surrounded by those you love, doing what you love.
I’ve been blessed to have experienced some pretty epic birthdays, but this year’s was extra special as it was my first one with Elle Rose. We had some bad news over the course of the weekend. It would have been easy to make that our focus, but we realized it was beyond our control. So we did our best to put it out of our mind and enjoy the precious blessings in front of us. It was my first birthday with our little family and I will cherish the memory forever.
That incredible feeling that left behind an amzing memory, could have been lost, but we chose to be present. Thus I will continue to strive to seek the beauty in every moment; every sunset and every rainfall. Every season has something amazing to offer. Embrace it. Breathe in the air and be thankful for that breath and all the wonderful things God has bestowed on your life. Being present; that’s the sweet spot. That’s the gift where the true happiness lies. Being present; that was the best Birthday present I gave to myself this year.
Ps: sidenote on some recommendations if you’re travelling to Portland! Upon our return, Andrew discovered an article where it was voted best small city in America to spend a weekend! It is definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a foodie! The place we stayed, Inn by the Sea, is super pet friendly. They actually have a dog menu and offer doggie massages at the spa – haha! It was SO lovely and totally exceeded my expectations. Restaurant is yummy and lounge is also dog friendly (make super cocktails too!). If you’re looking for something downtown, The Press Hotel is also really nice! Check out Duckfat for lunch, Central Provisions for lunch or supper and Four Street for something fancier. Lots of great little stores downtown as well! I love West Elm for home decor and the locally owned stores Bliss (women’s fashion) and Cloud (best kid’s store ever). Lots of other great spots too! Those are just some of my faves and I’ve linked them all up top!