What’s in my Beach Bag?

Guys, I live near a beach so I got this one down pat. (Ok so it’s not the ocean-only a lake- but it’s still pretty close.) I can’t get enough of the fresh air and sunshine after being cooped up indoors all winter, and apparently people around here feel the same way, because in the summer this place gets packed.

Lucky for me and my dog, we’ve lived here long enough that we know all the best places to steal a quiet moment to contemplate the water, listen to music, read a book, or simply enjoy the feeling of the sun on your skin.

Here’s some of what I take along to make the experience enjoyable:

  1. A large towel to sit on, although you may want to bring a second one in case you decide to go swimming.
  2. I read somewhere once that the majority of the skin’s aging process is largely attributed to sun damage so I never leave the house without sunscreen. Vanity aside, there’s also a history of skin cancer in my family which is exacerbated by my pale, pale skin.
  3. As such, my line of defense also includes a large floppy hat and sunglasses, although the glasses are mostly so I don’t get recognized. (Kidding!)
  4. Hydration is important so I always have two reusable water bottles; one for me and one for my dog.
  5. I practically never leave the house without a book, and if I’m going to the beach it’s almost certainly a guarantee. (I blog about what I’m reading all the time here, if you’re interested.)
  6. I have a little emergency kit that goes everywhere with me in my purse- I just pop it into whatever bag I happen to be carrying that day.
  7. As mentioned in this post, I’m kind of a grazer when it comes to eating, so I usually stash a granola bar or a piece of fruit in case I get too much sun, or feel like my blood sugar is too low.
  8. My beauty routine doesn’t involve too many lotions or potions, but I do enjoy indulging in a face misting spray to throw into my beach bag. It’s good for setting make-up on sweaty skin, a light cleanse after going swimming, or simply helps to cool you off after sitting out in the sun.

I keep my beach bag pretty simple- it’s hard to relax and enjoy yourself if you’ve brought too much to carry, or you constantly have to rummage around to find things.

Of course, depending on your lifestyle the contents of your bag may look a little bit different than mine. Maybe you’ve got some sand toys in there if you’ve got little kids in tow, or maybe you’ve got lots of food and drink for a picnic with friends.

Some of the stuff on my list may change if I have my dog with me. In that case, I’ll bring her water bottle (see above) as well as some treats and maybe a ball or a Frisbee to play with. Honestly, she’s pretty into hanging out on a towel with me which makes her a total beach bum.

The best part of my list, in my opinion, is the fact that I haven’t included any electronics and I don’t really plan to. I’m so attached to my phone that I’ve taken to not bringing it with me on my dog walks so I can enjoy the experience more. I might bring it along with me if I’m planning to meet up with friends and I need to be reachable; other than that, I prefer keeping my beach visits blissfully phone-free.

After all, what’s the point in staring at a screen when you’ve got that beautiful summer weather to breathe in and enjoy all around you?

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I want to know what’s in your beach bag! Are the contents sweet and simple like mine, or do you really go on a big adventure when you make a beach trip? Have you even been to a beach? Let me know! I’m looking forward to your answers below, or in my inbox at keepingbusyb@gmail.com.

For more tip on having more summer fun, I’ve got some ideas here. (As if you needed advice on how to have fun, right?!)

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5 Things I Learned from Being a Bridesmaid

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I’m no Jane in 27 Dresses, but once I did have the pleasure of participating in the wedding of a good friend of mine several years ago. She was one of my first friends to get married and her wedding felt like it was a milestone in my own life, marking that transition from crazy college student to actual adult.

I have to admit at this point that I’m really not a wedding person (although I like wedding movies), but I was wildly excited to help my friend out with hers. I thought I’d be running around helping to schedule dress fittings, sample wedding cakes, and pick out favors. Kind of like in 27 Dresses. (Did I mention I used to be really obsessed with that movie?)

Being a bridesmaid, however, ended up being more like starting a job without reading the employee manual first. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, or that I didn’t have fun at her wedding, but afterwards I wrote a little piece about my experience as a bridesmaid to not only pass on some of my own knowledge to other first-time bridesmaids, but to process my own feelings on the subject.

Years (and many weddings later) I still stand by what I wrote; now that wedding season is fast approaching, I thought I’d share them again here with all of those bridesmaids-to-be that are out there- even those not obsessed with 27 Dresses.

Don’t expect to look attractive. I already knew the dress was horrible on me (as per the tradition of the bridesmaid dress) but I was still shocked when the first photos were posted online. That make-up, that hair, that general pasty awfulness? That I was not expecting.  Try and not let your ego be bruised too much. Your friend’s wedding day is more about her looking good than it is about you looking good. Years down the road, people will look at her wedding photos and forgive you for the hairstyle that makes you look like you have a giant cupcake on the top of your head. (At least, that’s what I’m hoping.)

Bridal showers are super boring. No one loves little sandwiches with the crusts cut off as much as I do, but other than that the bridal shower will more or less consist of you watching your friend open presents for two hours straight. I was happy for her, but it was kind of like spending two hours at your favorite housewares store and not buying anything. (Or maybe you torturing yourself like that!)

The bachelorette party may not be the party of a lifetime. They never show this in any of the movies (well, maybe with the exception of Bridesmaids) but you’d be surprised at how a seemingly innocent night of drinking can rapidly deterioriate into a night of screaming, crying and drama.

You’re not going to know anyone. Literally. After the ceremony you’ll be hanging out at the head table and all sorts of family and friends will be wandering up and congratulating the happy couple. They’ll smile vaguely at you because you were introduced when you entered the hall, but other than that you’ll probably be left to your own devices- and to the bottle of merlot the bride and groom are going to leave untouched because they’re too busy greeting everyone.

It’s going to make you really sad. Don’t get me wrong- I was so ridiculously happy for my friend that I found myself holding back tears several times during the wedding planning, throughout the ceremony and at the reception. No one really tells you what an emotional experience being a bridesmaid can be. It’s lovely and romantic and also bittersweet. Whether you’re decidedly single, or you’ve been married for several years, I don’t think that feeling will ever go away- that realization that you’re watching a person blossom into themselves; the sensation that they’re beginning the rest of their lives. We grow and change and get older, and having the privilege of watching a few select people grow and change along with you is both painful and wonderful all at the same time.

I know the above seems like I’m being all Negative Nancy, but fear not future bridesmaids: when all is said and done, being a bridesmaid can be a wonderful experience that can (hopefully) bring you a little bit closer to the bride-to-be and can help solidify a friendship between two people transitioning into a new phase in their lives. If you get the opportunity to try it sometime, do it!

Just never mind the ugly dress.

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Do you have a horrible bridesmaid story you’d like to share? Or even better, do you have a photo of yourself in your ugly dress that you’d like to share? (We won’t laugh, we promise!) Email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com or comment below with your story and we’ll commiserate.

Filling Up Your Summer Bucket List

KBB_along_the_shoreAaah, summer! How I love thee. Yet, you and I (like so many other people and things that I love) have a complicated relationship. You arrive very late here in Canada. You’re not always that warm. And somehow every year I get so caught up in your splendor, so overwhelmed by the sun and sand and all of the people along the shore, that by the time I pause to take it all in it’s over, and all of the hopes and dreams that I harbored over the winter months have been dashed before I’ve even had a chance to remember what I wanted to do in the first place.

I’m not a big goal-maker, but what I do love is making lists: this year, I’m making a summer bucket list with only the super-fun awesome things that I want to get up this summer. No nasty to-dos allowed! If you want to follow along, your only homework is to enjoy yourself. Take time to relax. Do something that you’ve been putting off, or something that scares you. You don’t even have to take time off or travel to a new place or spend any money or anything. The only rule about filling your bucket list is just that- they have to be things that fill you up with joy, or are fulfilling to your soul.

Here are some of mine so far:

  1. Read, read, read. But that’s a given.
  2. Make the perfect ice cream sandwich. I figure that I’ve already made an ice cream cake; putting ice cream between two cookies can’t be that hard.
  3. Spend one day doing nothing. Seriously. I am a slave to my lists and my type-A habits; it’s hard to remember the last time I didn’t have my day super-scheduled, or the last time I did something truly spontaneous. Or not. I could just spend the day in my pajamas (which for me is practically unheard of!)
  4. Go for a picnic with my sister. There’s one particular spot that I’d love to take her too, and I experienced some health issues last summer that unfortunately caused me to spend a great deal of time indoors. I crave fresh air and sunshine, and I love spending time with my sister.
  5. Wear shorts. This is a weird one, because I have an irrational fear of shorts. Maybe it’s because every year without fail someone comments on my translucent legs. Also, how do you know when your shorts are too short? Where is the line (or in this case, the hem) drawn?

Even if you don’t complete everything you’d like to do on your summer bucket list, it’s a great exercise for the over-worked and the over-stressed to plan ahead for relaxation time. Working through big projects, figuring out tough situations, and pulling long hours all seem easier and worthwhile when we set aside actual quality time for ourselves (no chores or errands please!), and the act of writing down the ways in which you would like to spend your spare time is like a stepping stone to building a life for yourself that’s happier and more fulfilled.

Yes, I’m trying to get you to make another list. You know you want to.

KBwB-BFlower-50I’ve shared mine- now you share yours! Email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com, tweet me at @keepingbusyb, send me a picture on Instagram @b_side317 or comment below and tell me what your plans are for the summer. If all else fails, I’m afraid we’ll have to resort to using a carrier pigeon. Or an owl.