5 Ways to get Motivated to Workout Alone

This mama needs to work out alone.  This is much more of a need than a want.  Every part of me wants training partners and a team to keep me motivated, but this is just not the season I am currently in.  It seems like groups meet either too early or too late.  6 am just does not work for me because I have a sleeping babe and a husband that needs to leave for work even earlier.  Evening groups also are not ideal because Lance is finally home and I want to spend time together as a family.  I also usually have to run with the baby jogger so this makes it so I can’t run on all terrains with ease, nor can I run quite as fast with a jogger in hand.  All this makes it very difficult to run with people.  I think I am not alone here.  It can feel nearly impossible to find even just one person that is at a similar level of fitness and is available to train with you at the same time that works for your schedule.  While it makes working out so much more fun when you have someone to share in the miles and the sweat, the reality is that there are going to be days where working alone is your only option.  And let me tell you, working out alone is 100 times better than not working out at all.  This past month I have had a lot of solo runs and workouts.  And the truth is, I am loving it.  Initially, not so much, but when I am in it and grinding alone, there is something that changes within me.  It is crafting within me a strength and boldness I did not know I had.  I am learning that you really find what you are made of when all eyes and pressure are off.  There is no coach yelling out my splits.  There are no teammates pulling me along.  There is no one.  Just me and my watch.  I could stop.  I could skip an interval.  I could slow down the pace, the time, the effort.  But I don’t.  I grind it out.  And let me tell you, it is a grind.  I run circles and circles around the park by our house.  I sprint, I tempo, I recover.  I am constantly checking my watch to make sure I am on pace.  When you workout alone, you are required to dig deep within yourself.  You no longer can rely on teammates pulling you along.  It is all you.  While I would not recommend doing this all the time, I get something out of my workouts now that I never found in college on the track.  I cannot even name exactly what that something is, but it’s wonderful.  I jog home from an evening workout at the park with a sense of confidence, strength, determination, and passion that I just never got in college.  There is something to this working out alone thing.  It is an exercise not just for my legs, but for my heart.  My pace is not what it was a few years ago, but the effort is.  The passion is.  The heart is.  I might not be as fast, but I don’t think I have ever truly loved running more.  It is real to me in a way that it never was before.  It is more of an old friend.  That is exactly what running is to me now.  It is an old friend.  But I digress.  The whole point here is that working out alone can be a powerful experience, but truth be told, it is not always easy to make that initial push when you don’t have anyone keeping you accountable.  Here are 5 of the best ways that get me out the door even when it is just me:

1. Drop the Excuses 

The excuses never seem to leave.  It is so easy to let the excuses rule your day.  It is raining.  I woke up 5 times last night to be with the baby.  I am sore.  I don’t feel good.  I don’t have time.  I need to do x, y, and z first.  I will do it tomorrow.  And the list goes on.  If you are anything like me, you will never 100% feel like working out.  Every single day I am again faced with the battle.  My bloodshot and tired eyes tell me no.  My aching back tells me no.  My long to-do list that I just never seem to get to tells me no.  The crying babe tells me no.  The rain tells me no.  But, my heart tells me go.  It tells me to run and sweat and try as hard as I can.  It tells me to tune out the millions of no’s I have floating in my head.  This is not a battle that is easy to win, but I think the first step is recognizing the excuses.  Put them on paper.  Then write down your goals.  Choose those goals over all the excuses.  Actively tell yourself that you are ignoring the excuses and taking action to meet whatever goals you have.  It is raining but I am going to get better by doing this long run.  I have slept only a few hours but I will be stronger after running this tempo.  I have a lot to do but this workout matters just as much.  The excuses are so much easier to listen to, especially when you are working out alone, but you need to drop them, or it just is never going to happen.

2. Make a Plan 

This one is especially important when it is just you.  Working out used to be so much easier for me because it was something that was scheduled into my days.  Workouts were every Tuesday and Thursday at 3:30 pm.  There was a van that drove us to the location.  There was a coach that had a plan and would tell us exactly what to do.  There was a whole team that was doing this same exact workout.  These are the perfect conditions and the fact is, even then, I did not always want to do the workout.  I dragged my feet out of the van.  This is just more reason why having a set plan and time to workout is so essential.  Without one, it is nearly impossible to make it happen.  I am not a college athlete anymore.  I am a stay-at-home mom.  No one cares if I workout.  Literally no one.  Except maybe Lance.  The fact is I can just not workout and there are no consequences.  No coach calling me up.  No teammates waiting on me.  Because it is just me, I really need to create a plan that will help me stick to my training and workouts.  Just like in college, I have chosen Tuesdays and Thursdays as workout days.  Just like college, I try to make these workouts non-negotiable.  I literally pen them into my calendar.  I set a time.  I plan to have someone watch Hudson or I plan to workout right when Lance gets home.  I plan whether I am going to drive down to the strand or if I am going to just do loops in the park.  This planning part is so necessary, especially for true workouts.  If you are just going out to run, it can be looser, but for those tough and grinding workouts, you really need to set up a plan to ensure it actually happens.

3. Gear Up Confidently

When I was running in high school and college, I always wore my lucky racing socks come race day.  It is such a small detail, and sure I guess it is a bit in my head, but I am a firm believer that how you clothe yourself matters, especially when it comes to performing well.  Everyone has their thing, for me it was my socks.  For you, maybe it is a headband or your lucky watch.  Whatever it is that makes you feel stronger, faster, better; wear it.  Every. Single. Workout.  This is a new thing of mine, but recently what makes me feel fast are leggings and a visor.  In high school, I always ran in spandex shorts.  After a few years and a baby, there is no way I will ever run in spandex again.  In college, I wore slightly more fabric.  I typically ran in a pair of Lulu shorts.  This style I am linking here was my favorite.  A month or so after Hudson was born, I tried on a pair of these shorts and it was embarrassing.  They technically fit me, but they didn’t feel right anymore.  They felt way shorter and snugger.  That led me to leggings.  I am sure very soon it will start to warm up again and it will be too hot to workout out in pants, but with this weirdly cold California winter we are having, it works.  I have recently been obsessed with the leggings from Gap. They are really great quality, super cute prints, and much less than a pair of Lulu tights.  Here is a pair I have recently been working out a lot in and loving.  I have been loving workouts in these tights for a few reasons.  1. They keep me warmer. 2. They make me feel faster.  3.  They make me feel confident.  While I used to feel confident in my spandex shorts; now I feel best in tights like these.  They just fit me better and they meet me where I am at.  Fast but not that fast.  Serious but not that serious.  Competitive but not that competitive.  Tiny shorts were college days, now it is all about the long tights.  To top my workout outfit off, I grab my visor.  I have never been a visor person or really a hat person in general, but my visor has become a necessity for hard workouts.  I have been loving this Adidas Superlite one.  Again, some of this stuff is all in my head, but I think what is in your head matters, just like what is in your heart.  Wearing a visor makes me feel like a mature and seasoned runner.  It makes me feel serious.  It make me feel fast as I imagine it making me more aerodynamic.  Of course the right shoes matter a whole lot, but that is for another day.  The shoes matter, but the even smaller details of leggings and visors matter too.  Choose gear that gives you confidence.  Choose styles that make you feel faster and stronger and more powerful.  If you invest in good quality stuff, I really believe it is easier to get out the door and get that workout done.

4. Find a Sound that Inspires You

I know a lot of people like to listen to music when working out.  If this is you, create a specific playlist that is especially for those really hard, grinding workouts alone.  Take some time in crafting a really strong and powerful playlist.  Put the songs in there you know will help you push through and not just give up since no one else is watching.  I might be an anomaly, but what really pumps me up is a good podcast.  I love listening to inspiring and motivating interviews.  Granted, if I am in a really tough section of a workout, I might not be really listening to it, but the rambling of words as background can help distract me from the pain.  I tend to listen to interviews by women telling stories of faith, family, and dreams.  My current favorites are the Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey and That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs.  Listening to these podcasts, help me feel like I am not out there alone.  It makes me feel connected.  I know music can do this too.  Maybe for you, you prefer working out unplugged.  That is great too.  Choose a background that will inspire you.  Put the extra effort in and drive to a nearby location that will have more peaceful sounds than car engines.  For workouts, I typically run to the park or drive to be down by the strand.  Location and sounds matter, take the extra time to think this through.

5. Find a Coach 

It is hard when it is just you training for a specific goal.  Even if you are working out alone, you need to have a person that knows your training goals and will help create and tailor training that will get you there.  Thankfully I have a husband that is also the perfect coach.  I am not good at generating my own workouts, but tell me what to do, and I will do it.  And this is exactly what Lance does.  He writes out my workouts and I get them done.  You might not have a person that is able to do this, but there are so many great online resources and apps.  To really feel like you have your own coach, you should check out Freeletics.  You can pay for a membership to get training or there are also free plans.  I am linking to the site here.  Whether it is a virtual coach through an app or website or your spouse, find someone that can guide you and keep you accountable.  One of my favorite parts of working out is talking about the workout after.  I love coming home to Lance and telling him all about the workout and how I felt.  Even though you are technically out there alone, you should not be really alone.  It is essential to have a team behind you that believes in you and pushes you to be your very best.

I know this is turning out to be a long one, but I want to end with this: don’t think working out is just for the real serious athletes.  Also to be clear, “working out” is going to look different for each person.  To me, a workout is anything that really pushes me out of my level of comfort.  For me, a regular run comes relatively easy.  It is calming and meditative.  Therefore, a workout is more than just a run.  It is usually a tempo with a pace at least a minute faster than what I typically run.  Or it is a set of intervals where I am changing my pace based on my goal 10k time.  This is what working out looks like to me, but your workout is likely different.  If going out for a 5 mile run puts you out of your comfort zone, then that is a workout.  If sprinting a 800-meter distance puts you out of your comfort zone (which it should), then that is a workout. If going out for a 2-mile walk puts you out of your comfort zone, then it is a workout.  The point here is that on a weekly basis, you are committing to pushing yourself outside of the normal, comfortable routine you are used to.  Whatever working out looks like for you, I hope these 5 things can be the push you need out the door because let me tell you, it is worth it, even if you are alone.

Routines Pt. 4

The Weekend Routine

To finish up this series on routines, we are ending with my very favorite part of the whole week: the weekend.  We have had some really amazing weekends, but we also have had some really terrible ones. I think the terrible ones are a result of two things. 1. Planning too much into a single weekend. 2. Not being intentional with this allotted time.  The weeks can feel crazy full and busy. It is easy to save tasks and things to do for the weekend. However, when this happens, I almost always end our weekend feeling just as tired as when I began it. This is not a weekend well lived. We should be ending Sunday evenings feeling rested, restored, and ready for the week ahead.  Some of my very favorite weekends are the ones that were empty, white boxes on the calendar. However, I have found the opposite can also result in an unfulfilled weekend. When we are not intentional with our time and do not have any sort of plan with how to use the time, we end of having weekends wasted on shows and laziness. So like everything, it is about finding that balance between the planned and unplanned, the lazy naps and hikes outdoors, the going out and the staying in.  We are still in the process of crafting the perfect weekend, but here are a few of our favorite weekend things. I know this whole month I have been doing lists of 5 things, but weekends are just so good, I made this one a list of 7!

  1. Sleep In

By sleep in, I am referring to 7:00 or 7:30 am.  This is going to vary on preference and lifestyle, but we are not out late on a Friday night, so waking up at 7am feels incredibly restful, especially when your weekday alarm is 5:00 or 6:00 am.  Both Lance and I can’t really sleep in much later than this, but getting out of bed at 7:30 am really does feel special. There is nothing wrong with sleeping in later, but we love Saturday mornings and if you sleep in too late, it can feel like you just lost one of the most precious times of the week.  

  1. Make a Good Breakfast, Not Oatmeal and Toast!

Saturday mornings for us are blueberry pancakes and peppery turkey bacon.  This has become such a routine for us that both Lance and I just seem to know that when Saturday hits we will be eating hot blueberries and crispy bacon.  After a week full of quick sips of coffee and toast thrown into the toaster, there is something so nice about slowing down and really taking the time to put together a good breakfast.  There is also something about the ritual of our Saturday morning breakfast. These motions are becoming second nature. I have always been a recipe type of girl. I think it is just my personality.  Give me the steps and I will follow them to a tee. This blueberry pancake recipe, which I am linking here, is the first recipe that I am beginning to be able to do without even looking at the steps.  I have it basically memorized by heart. 3/4 milk with two tablespoons vinegar. These pancakes are what Saturday mornings are all about.  I think it must have something to do with the vinegar because they are just the perfect amount of fluffiness. Basically every week when I am doing our weekly grocery run, I always pick up the peppered turkey bacon from Trader Joe’s.  This is hands down the best turkey bacon we have ever eaten. It is peppery and crispy. It is the perfect friend of these fluffy blueberry pancakes. Some Saturdays are more hectic than others and we cannot always have this as our breakfast, but we really try to carve out space on Saturday mornings that leaves room for pancakes, peppered bacon, and slow sips of coffee.

  1. Exercise + Take Time Off

Saturdays are long runs by the beach or in the hills of Palos Verdes, and Sundays are days off.  We go long and fast on Saturday, and take it slow and restful on Sunday. For us, this is the perfect weekend balance.  In high school and college running, long runs were always either on a Saturday or Sunday. It took me two years after graduating LMU to realize how reliant I was on these weekend long runs.  Saturday long runs are my favorite run of the week. I think the main reason I love it so much is because even if nothing gets accomplished the rest of the weekend, I know I ran 10 miles. This plus the fact that it starts the weekend off in a place of wellness.  It gives me the chance to breathe, reflect and pray before the day really starts off.

  1. Coffee Out

We have not been to the movies in years.  We don’t go bowling. We don’t go to miniature golf.  We don’t even go out to restaurants much anymore. But, we go out to coffee.  This is our activity of choice. And I am not talking Starbucks. There is nothing wrong with Starbucks and we will definitely end up here on weekends as well, but our favorite thing to do on either a Saturday or Sunday is take a drive and go to either Blue Bottle or Alfred’s.  We will grab our expensive yet delicious coffee and either hike on the bluff trail (right underneath LMU) or go to our favorite spot, Will Roger’s State Park. Sometimes, we will just drive around with our coffee and pretend we live on one of those fancy streets. We drink our coffee, we talk, we listen to a podcast we both agree on (which is a great struggle, but we usually go with Skimm’d on the Couch), we listen to worship music, and sometimes I even read parenting books aloud to Lance.  The point here is you don’t need to spend a ton of money to make a great outing. It is all about the people and the coffee.

  1. Keep Fridge Stocked

This is sort of a random, small detail, but I love making sure the fridge and pantry is all stocked by Friday, so I don’t have to spend that precious weekend time at the store.  I tend to go to the store on Thursdays, either during the day with Hudson or in the evening after dinner. This allows us to have fresh and yummy things to munch on all weekend without needing to face the weekend crowds.  I also plan our meals for Friday and the rest of weekend intentionally. Fridays are typically really easy and basic dinners. Our go-to is pizza using the Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough. Saturdays tend to be a little more special, like rosemary steak and roasted potatoes.  Sundays usually are crockpot soups or stews. By having everything in terms of our food planned, it allows for more space and time to enjoy the weekend together.

  1. Get Together with Good Friends

There is nothing better than getting time with some of our favorite people.  This does not happen every weekend, but we intentionally schedule time with friends at least once a month.  This definitely has become more tricky now that we have baby H, but it still is a priority of ours. It just looks different than before.  It usually means early dinner with friends or hanging out with them in the afternoon in-between naps. Weekends always seem to be extra fun when it involves our people.  While we used to be able to have more spontaneous plans with friends, now things need to be a little more planned. But, that is okay! It makes it even more special when that date we have put on the calendar finally comes.  

  1. Get Out with the Whole Fam (Dogs Included!)

Nala’s life has become pretty boring since the arrival of Hudson.  She has definitely gained some weight as her activity levels have greatly dropped.  She used to spend her weeks at doggy day care or at her grandparents’ house where she would fetch the ball for hours, but now she is stuck with just me.  This entails a lot more naps and watching me focus on Hudson. Because her weeks are less eventful, we do really try to do something she can join in on. This usually means a hike or a walk on the strand or if she is really lucky, a trip to the dog beach.  Sometimes it is even simpler and we will just walk to the park near our house, and Lance will throw her tennis balls and Hudson and I will watch. Whether it simple like this, or a more elaborate day trip, there is nothing better than getting out of the house with all four of us.  It is especially great because when we get home Nala and baby our both exhausted and happy.

This is just a small glimpse at what a typical weekend looks like for us.  Yours will obviously be different, but however you spend it, I hope you can spend it with the people you adore and even if it just for a bit, I hope you can breathe in some fresh air.  

 

Grace in the Kitchen

This mama needs grace in the kitchen.  I am a pretty average cook in the kitchen.  Thankfully I have a husband who is incredibly non-picky and gracious when it comes to my cooking.  He is the type of guy that is happy with a meal made up of quinoa, sweet potatoes, and brussel sprouts. He is not your average steak and potatoes type of guy.  And for that I am thankful! I can do veggies. I can do salads. I can do stir fry. Those are my things. I work well with vegetables. Chicken on the other hand is a different story.  I have a deep fear that I will serve undercooked chicken. I am always amazed when I watch cooking shows and they just seem to know that the chicken is cooked all the way through. I am the type of person that basically ends up cutting the entire breast of chicken before serving it up on plates because I am absolutely terrified there will be that ever-so-slight tinge of pink in the center.  I so wish I could be like those chefs that slide the chicken right onto the platter. I wish I had that type of chicken confidence. “Being a chicken” is typically considered to be the opposite of confident, but for these purposes, chicken confidence is someone who is so trusting in their own skills, they serve the chicken without even cutting into it. I long for this. Because what happens when undercooking chicken is your fear, you end up overcooking it by a long shot.  I never serve undercooked chicken, but I often serve devastatingly dry chicken.  I am not sure which is worse. Well, probably undercooked chicken because salmonella, but dry chicken is pretty depressing.  As I am sitting here thinking about cooking chicken, my memory is flooded with failure. I am brought back to my college apartment when I attempted panko-crusted chicken tenders and they came out of the oven looking strange and rubbery.  I think about cooking chicken on the stovetop and having beautiful golden crusted chicken with a middle that was entirely pink because I was not applying the right amount of heat or patience. I am reminded of battling with a rotisserie chicken uncertain as to how to navigate around all the bones.  Chicken often makes me feel inadequate in the kitchen. Actually there are a lot of elements in the kitchen that make me feel less than the perfect homemaker. Like, tonight, when I was “roasting” vegetables in a cold oven. Right when dinner was to be served, Lance went to take out the pan of veggies and found cold, sad sweet potato, zucchini and mushrooms drowning in olive oil.  Sometimes I forget to turn the oven on and we end up having to wait an extra hour for dinner. Sometimes I burn the quinoa, the rice pilaf, the fill-in-the blank. Sometimes I dry out the chicken. I am an average cook, just like I am a pretty average person. No matter how hard I try, the results of my cooking never seem to look like the images in Bon Appetit.  Just like my face never seems to look like the ones I see on Cover Girl commercials.  Or how my life never seems to look like those perfectly curated squares those bloggers post.  My cooking, my face, and my life are often not magazine worthy. All three of them are quite messy and dry at times.  But here’s the thing, I don’t stop. I keep making the dinners. I keep living our life. Do I burn things? Yes. Do I fall short? All the time.  But I promise you, tonight I will make dinner again and I will try my very hardest to remember to turn on that oven and watch that quinoa better.

The kitchen is just a microcosm for my whole life.  Some days I am going to feel like a Top Chef as I serve our family the perfect berry crisp after a turkey, brown rice dinner we all loved.  As my spoon scoops up hot berries and chisels into perfectly golden crisps, I am going to have those moments of I am killing this mom/wife game.  There will be those berry crisp type of days, but there also will be a whole lot of burned rice pilaf, cold vegetables type of days.  The beautiful thing is that on those burnt out and dried up days, we can rest in the grace of Jesus. He does not care that the chicken is dried up.  He cares about our hearts. When I mess up dinner, I need to remind myself that God does not see a burnt meal, he sees a heart desiring to serve her family well.  This is what matters to Him.

My bible has two ribbon bookmarks in it.  I love this feature because it allows one to be wherever I am currently reading and it allows the other to always remain in Proverbs 31.  For me, this is my grounding chapter that inspires me, but also points me to the main purpose of my life: fearing and serving the Lord. I know these verses have been reprinted on mugs and canvases and quoted often and even criticized at times for putting pressure on women to be a certain way, but the reason I love this chapter so much is because it reminds me that praise does not come from what I produce.  

The Proverbs 31 woman is awesome.  I love her. I love her selflessness.  “She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household” (Proverbs 31:15).  I love her resourcefulness. “She makes and sells linen garments; she delivers belts to the merchants” (Proverbs 31:24).  I love her boldness and decisiveness. “She evaluates a field and buys it; she plants a vineyard with her earnings” (Proverbs 31:16).  She is much more than a good homemaker. She is a business woman. She is smart and adaptable. She loves and serves her family well. While this list of everything she does can feel daunting and make us women feel like we are not doing nearly enough, the reason I love these verses so much is because her praise from the Lord does not come from all that she is doing.  It comes from being in right relationship with Him. “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised” (Proverbs 31:30). To me, this verse so beautifully captures my whole point that the small things in life, aka the chicken and rice pilaf, do not matter, and what really matters is our hearts towards the Lord. There are days where I feel paralyzed to even think about all that the Proverbs 31 woman does.  She rises in the night. I have trouble getting up at 6am. She plants a vineyard with her earnings. I have a dead garden and do not make money. She has everyone in her household doubly clothed. I sometimes forget to pack Hudson an extra jacket and hat. I could go on. But, I fear the Lord. And I love Him with my whole heart. This is what matters. This is what He sees. This is what my children and Lance will see and remember as well.

You might be wondering, how did we go from cooking chicken to Proverbs 31?  Hopefully I have not fully lost you because I think this is important. I think it is important that we are striving for the right things.  I think some (including myself at times) read Proverbs 31 and think well, I could never measure up to that standard.  I think our brains get filled with everything that is listed out that we do not hear verse 30 as strongly as we should.  A woman who fears the Lord will be praised.  It does not say a woman who has it all together and sews and gardens and cooks gourmet meals will be praised.  No. A woman who fears the Lord will be praised.  I can do that.  Not always well, but thankfully He gives so much grace in this area as well.  

All of this to say, I need grace in the kitchen, aka my entire life.  

Routines Pt. 3

The Evening Routine

Just like all the other parts of the day, I think it is so important to be incredibly intentional with the ends of our days because at least for me, there is a greater temptation to use my evenings just to veg.  This almost always leaves me falling asleep wishing I used time wiser.  After a long, full day it is easy to say I deserve to just lie here and watch Hulu and stuff my face with cookies.  While this is the more tempting and easier choice especially when you are exhausted, I do believe that our evenings have the potential to hold so much more for us.  I think there is a way that evenings can be both restful and fulfilling.  For me, as much as I choose it, watching shows on Hulu does not feed my soul in the same way that scrapbooking or spending quality time with husband does.  Some nights, I fail at having a good evening routine.  Actually a lot of evenings I do, but I am learning that if I try to incorporate these 5 things, I end the day right.

1. Leave the Dishes

The last thing I want to do after we eat dinner, is spend more time in the kitchen.  So I don’t!  Lance is always really great about clearing the dishes, so after Hudson and the high chair are cleaned up, I leave the kitchen.  There are always pots in the sink and counters that could use a wipe down, but I intentionally choose to not touch it.  I am sure some of you are thinking how you would never do that.  How you have to have your kitchen spotless before you go to sleep at night.  To each their own, but for me personally, it steals joy when I end my night in the kitchen.  Especially staying at home, I feel like I am constantly in the kitchen.  As much as I can control it, I choose to leave it as soon as dinner is done. I only return to it to find something sweet for dessert! The amazing thing with this is that the world keeps spinning and no one seems to care that the pans do not get cleaned until the morning.  Lance loves me just the same.  Hudson loves me just the same.  It really is crazy how we put these unneeded expectations on ourselves.  Who says the kitchen must be spotless before you sleep?  Why is that a rule?  It shouldn’t be and if it is, I break it.  Will Hudson remember that we had pans in the sink or will he remember the walks we took together as a family after dinner?  Will he remember the crumbs on the countertop or will he remember the laughter and the play that happened after dinner? I think it is all the latter.  Like I always say, the dishes can wait.

2. Wear Real Pajamas 

By 8pm I am in my pjs.  This is one of those very small details but I think putting on a pair of comfy pjs help switch my mindset into resting mode.  With the colder weather, I have been wearing a pair of flannel pjs every night.  These flannel pajamas are like my nighttime uniform.  It is my signal to stop, to rest, and to be satisfied with the work I have accomplished.  So after we do Hudson’s evening routine (I’ll write more on this in future posts), I tiptoe out of the room, put on my flannel pajamas, and get right into evening mode.  I know some moms might use this time right after the little ones go to sleep to do some cleaning up around the house, but I really try to do all this tidying up before Hudson is asleep.  Similarly to my kitchen philosophy, if there are a couple pillows not fully fluffed or a few random toys out, I don’t fret about it.  I know those things will get done the next day during my cleaning cycle.  Similarly to the idea of sabbath, I think it is essential to really carve these evening hours out as sacred time for rest and rejuvenation.  For me, this time of rest starts with the comfort and warmth of flannel and finally getting out of those yoga pants I have been wearing all day.

3. Invest in Yourself

This is going to look different based on your own interests, but for me this typically looks like having a small activity to myself that I enjoy.  This is usually something I do right after Hudson has fallen asleep.  Sometimes I will go in the playroom and continue to work on Hudson’s first year scrapbook.  I typically do not spend a ton of time on this, I might do this for 30 minutes, maybe an hour, but I usually do not produce more than a page of work, but this set apart time of sorting through photos, cutting out shapes, and designing layouts gives me joy.  It makes me feel calm and at peace.  And the thing is, I am not even very good at scrapbooking.  The shapes I cut out are not always the most even, even though I use a stencil.  I have not invested in a lot of extra, fun scrapbooking things, so the pages really just have the images and my own handwriting.  The point here is not perfection.  It is the act of cutting, pasting, creating that brings the joy.  To me, I love the pages I create, not because they are perfect, but because of all the smiles I see of our family on those pages.  Scrapbooking allows me to take a step back and be reflective of all the amazing memories we are already making.  It is proof that while we definitely do not have it all together, we are making memories that will forever be captured in the pages of my less than perfect scrapbook.  This is just one option.  And the reality is that a lot of nights, I don’t always feel like doing this.  It sometimes feels like too much on especially exhausting days.  So, I choose something else.  My other go-to, typically has been picking up a book.  Alongside activities, it is also important to practice self-care during this evening time.  I don’t even know what to write here because honestly I don’t do a good job in this area, but I really want to.  For the past few months, I keep thinking how I should really have an evening skin care routine.  It just seems like one of those things you do when you’re really grown-up.  I still do not have one, but I am determined to develop one soon! Even if it something as simple as putting night cream on every evening, I think this small act of caring for your skin is the perfect way to invest in yourself.  Note to self: buy night cream.  Right after writing this I went down a rabbit hole of watching nighttime skin care routines on Youtube.  And let me tell you, I had no idea you could use that many products just to get “unready.”  I use maybe one or two products just to get ready, or let’s be real, sometimes zero.  Maybe one day, I will have a routine like this, but if you are with me and get overwhelmed in this area, start small, purchase one thing of night cream.  Then, maybe one day I’ll be cool enough to have a whole routine where I roll my face with that roller thing and put on 8 different products.

4. Spend Quality Time With… 

Again this will vary, but for me it is with my husband.  If you’re single, maybe this will look like calling your best friend you haven’t talked to in a while or video chatting with your mom.  However it looks, I think it is important to end the day with connection with someone.  Lance and I like watching shows together in the evening.  This is our thing, but I typically fall asleep, so we are currently in the stages of figuring out better ways to spend quality time together, without me falling asleep.  We both are training for races so we are hoping to better use the time right before bed to stretch, roll out, and talk together.  We also almost always brush our teeth and get ready for bed together.  As much as we can, we try to not be on screens during this time.  I used to be terrible at this, but I have noticed I am so much more present with Lance when I plug my phone in to its charger early and don’t touch it.  Sometimes I need to just leave it in the other room so I do not even have the temptation to touch it.  After Hudson falls asleep and we both have finished up whatever personal activity we were pursuing for that evening, we really do try to spend good time together.  In all honesty, we sometimes really fail in this area because we are so exhausted, but I think we are both learning that this hour to hour and a half we have together is so precious.  We really need to use that time together well.

5. Drink Water, Floss & Pray 

I am a terrible water drinker! I need to get better in this area, but right before bed I always make sure I have at least a few big gulps of water.  I also keep a cup of water in our room so when I get up at night to nurse Hudson, I always make sure I sip water before heading back into bed.  Along with water consumption, I am a terrible flosser.  Every time I go to the dentist, my gums bleed.  I have heard, “You need to floss more,” a countless number of times.  I go through phases.  Sometimes I am all about the flossing and I am super consistent with it.  Others times, I skip it all together.  It is kind of like bed making, which I talked about here.  It feels small, but it is a consistent healthy habit.  Even if you had an evening of tv and cookies, at least you are doing one thing productive and healthy! Plus, your gums will thank you.  Once the water drinking and flossing have ended, Lance and I together always end our days with prayer aloud.  As I wrote in the morning routine post, prayer is an important part of the way I begin my day.  For us, it is also an important way we end it.  I am thankful for this time to hear the prayers and heart of my husband.  Maybe you aren’t the praying type.  I still think having some type of quiet, intentional time before sleeping is a great way to end the day.  Maybe it is a meditation.  Maybe it a moment of gratitude.  Maybe it is a conscious breath in and out.  However you end your day, I hope you can feel like it is enough.  This is a struggle for me.  So much so that I am currently reading A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough by Wayne Muller.  I have just begun so we will see if it helps me with this battle I daily fight of wondering if everything I do is ever enough.  I do not always end my days feeling like it was enough.  I sometimes end with a sad heart.  A tired heart.  A defeated heart.  This is the reality, this is real life.  But, this sad, tired, defeated heart can turn to the Lord and lay down the struggles and triumphs of the day and also the hopes for a better tomorrow.  I am so thankful for this hope!

 

 

To Read

This mama needs to read.  I think a lot of people can relate to this feeling of not feeling like they have time to read.  For me, reading can sometimes feel indulgent.  The act of just sitting down to read a book that is just for enjoyment can sometimes feel too much like vacation mode.  Isn’t it interesting that it is totally fine to read a book for fun on vacation, but when it comes to every day life it feels harder to justify? This is definitely true for me!  It is much easier for me to read a book that feels more practical, like a book on sleep training your baby or a book on church, but those fun memoirs and fiction books feel like the books I need to wait for until I am on vacation.  I have a feeling this is not just me.  I think especially as women, we can feel guilty for taking the time to do the things that fill us up when we know there is plenty of things that need to be done.  I am writing this because my own heart needs to hear it! This is such a lie and we need to take the time to just sit and read a book that is just for fun.  It does not always need to be a practical one or one that is very heavy on theology.  In the past month I have been learning to fall back in love with the act of reading just to read.  As I have mentioned in a previous post, I used to adore reading.  I would stay up past my bed time, reading with my little reading lamp under the covers.  Reading was my thing and it was something I actively thought about during my day.  I looked forward to time alone with a good book.  Since then, life has changed quite a bit.  I am much more tired than I used to be.  My mind is much more busy and anxious.  My to-do list much longer and more complicated.  A lot has changed, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is my desire and love for words.  For a while, I have ignored it, only picking up books when I had to.  I was really only reading the books we were studying in the classes I taught.  Who has time to read books for pure pleasure?  Not me! I am busy! I have more important things to do.  This was my false logic at the time.  I did not realize that by denying this desire to read that has always been there, I was really missing out on something that helps calm my spirit and gives me clarity and creativity.  It was not until this new year that I finally began to really read again.  Since then, I have finished three books that were purely for fun.  How did I do it?  I deleted Instagram.  I truly believe this one act has allowed me to get so much more reading done.  Now, instead of constantly checking my phone, I am opening up pages.  This act is such a small difference, but it has completely shifted my mindset and perspective.  Instead of mindlessly scrolling and feeling jealous and comparative as I see the pretty lives of others, I am giving my mind rejuvenation as I fill it with inspiring stories and words.  I almost always walked away from Instragram feeling down, but when I put down my book, I feel calm and rested and productive.  It is a small change, but it really is changing a lot for me.  For some, Instagram and social media is not an issue, but for me it absolutely is.  I cannot handle it well.  I over-consume it.  For me, it is better to just have it deleted.  For some, books are not the things that fill them up and give them rest, but whatever that act is, I think it is so important to identify that for you and replace it with whatever is tearing you down.

Reading is becoming even more important with a little one in our home.  I know how quickly kids learn to imitate others and I want to do my very best to model being more interested in words and stories found in books, rather than the stories my friends post on social media.  I think one of the best ways to show this to him is by reading as much as we can together.  Even in these early months, I have enjoyed reading books with Hudson.  When was the last time you read a children’s book?  Or The Jesus Storybook Bible?  Even if you don’t have kids, you should really pick one up.  It is amazing how much I learn in children’s books and how touched I am by them.  They get at my heart in a way that adult books don’t.  One of our favorite books to read is a Veggie Tales Book called, God Made You Special.  I so resonate with the pages in that book.  Especially the ones on feeling down and not liking a certain trait of oneself.  This is me basically every day.  Recently, I have been faced with really questioning God as to why he made my personality so shy and unsure at times.  For as long as I can remember, I have always been one of the quieter ones in the room.  I still get nervous to share in group settings.  My heart races when I feel like everyone is looking at me.  I over think before saying a word that by the time I do speak, my words are fragmented and shaky.  I have recently been wondering why God made me this way.  I often look at other people that do not struggle in this area.  I admire their confidence, boldness and outgoing nature.  It is so easy to wish we were made differently.  I know I do.  But this book, this book for children reminds me the truth that my heart so desperately needs to hear: God made you special.  My point in sharing this is to point to the fact that you don’t need to be reading Shakespeare or Hemingway or Austen to be deeply moved.  Sometimes all it takes is some Veggie Tales.  If you are anything like me, you could use less screens and more pages and words and chapters.  So, instead of thinking of it as an indulgent act that you will do if there is time, I would suggest pausing and taking the time to pick up a good book right now.  The dishes can wait.  Reading is more important.

Routines Pt. 2

The Afternoon Routine 

I don’t know about you, but I definitely hit a slump in the afternoon.  It usually hits around 1pm.  The morning energy (aka coffee) has worn off, the realities of the day have begun to set in, and my motivation to get things done is on the decline.  I know in the previous post, I joked about being an afternoon person, but the reality is that I struggle with afternoons as well.  I think it is easier to establish morning and evening routines because often times those hours are more predictable.  Afternoons can be filled with a number of things, so at least for me it has been difficult to establish a good rhythm.  I think this will become easier when I have kids in school, but for now afternoons are a bit tricky for me to figure out.  They are so open that it can be hard to know the right things I should be filling them up with.  I am still working on establishing good afternoon rhythms, but here are 5 tips that help shape my midday and get me out of that dreaded 1pm slump.

1. Get Outside

For me, this is one of the most important aspects of my afternoons.  I need to have at least one outing to get us out of the house.  Some days this will be an actual outing with a plan and time to meet someone and do something.  Other days, the outing will literally be just to walk Nala around the block.  The point here is that there does not need to be pressure to have a big outing every day.  At least in my book, an outing is anything that is getting us out those two front doors.  Sometimes the outing is going to be something really fun, like baby yoga, and it will take a 3-hour time slot.  Other times, it will look more practical, like going to the grocery store.  But Trader Joe’s can even be fun, especially when you get samples and stickers.  With most things, it is all about mindset.  I think it is especially important when Hudson starts to get older that I can model to him that it is a fun and exciting adventure to get out of the house, regardless of what we are doing.  As much as I can, I try to make our afternoon outing include time with people, whether that be our new friends in MOMS Club, old friends I have not seen in a while, or family.  I always leave the outing the most refreshed when I am able to also connect with people.  It is amazing how one trip out of the house can really change your whole day.  It helps me gain perspective when I allow myself to leave the house.  It reminds me that there is more to life than loads of laundry and dirty dishes.  It reminds me that there is in fact life beyond the walls of our home and that it is important to participate in it.  Trust me, getting out is not always easy for me.  I am a homebody through and through, but when I push myself to get out, both Hudson and I are happier.  I also find that my days are overall more productive when we do get out of the house.  I gain energy and motivation to get done the other things on my list.

2. Move

Movement is something I took for granted in high school and college because it was something I had to do.  Once I graduated from college and no longer needed to run, I stopped almost all movement.  It was not until movement in my life ceased that I realized how dependent my body, mind, and soul were on it.  I am finally understanding that when my days lack movement, I fall into a major slump.  I am on edge.  I am grumpy.  I am sad.  I am unmotivated.  I am tired.  It does not always make sense, but going out for a 9-mile run brings me so much energy and joy.  I always battle with the logical side of my brain that tells me: “You are tired; therefore, you should do nothing.” This is such a lie! Even when I physically feel exhausted, pushing myself to move almost always has benefits.  There are very few times I regret running.  I think the only times I have truly regretted it were times I was physically ill and it did not make sense to run.  The fact of the matter is that making time for movement in your day, whether that be a workout in the park or a stroller walk, is not always going to be easy.  Trust me, when it is pouring down rain on a Saturday morning, I don’t actually feel like going out for a long run.  But last Saturday, I did it.  And again did the same thing this morning in the pouring rain. And let me tell you, I was so happy I did.  It was hard and windy and long, but it gave me life.  I came home inspired and motivated and ready to tackle the challenges of the day.  Things feel more possible after you run 9 miles in the pouring rain.  I am learning the importance of movement in my life.  It is a super important part of my days.  But, it does not come naturally to me.  It is something that I definitely need to schedule and prioritize.  A few months back I overheard something at a yoga class that really spoke to me.  A woman told her friend that she treats going to yoga class as a scheduled meeting with a client.  She puts it in her calendar and makes sure she is there.  Just like we would never just skip a meeting because we did not feel like, we should not do the same when it comes to movement and our health.  Ever since I heard this, it has completely changed the way I think about working out.  My runs and yoga classes are now things that I schedule into my calendar.  I don’t cancel them.  I show up.  Movement in your life should not be a thing that only happens if there is time.  Or if the conditions are perfect.  Or if you have the energy to do it.  You have to make time and you have to show up to it like it is a very important meeting with a very important person…you!

3. Clean with Timers 

The fact is I could spend my whole afternoons just cleaning our house.  With a golden retriever that sheds like it is her full-time job and a baby that has toys and activity centers and mats all over the house, cleaning could be happening all. the. time.  I don’t want to be that mom that is so obsessed with keeping the perfect and clean home that she misses out of the joy found in the mess.  I don’t want Hudson to associate me with always being stressed out and cleaning.  I want him to see his mom as someone who is okay stepping aside from the dishes to play with him.  I want him to see someone who does not freak out when another spill happens or things get out of order.  In order to help set boundaries when it comes to cleaning, I have been setting timers.  This has helped me so much!  I do not always get to finish the amount of cleaning I wanted to do in that time, but that is okay.  I can walk away knowing I got a good 15 minutes of cleaning in.  Sometimes, I realize I just need more time so I do sometimes extend it, but try not to extend it by more than 10 minutes.  Cleaning with timers really helps me focus in on what needs to be done.  It also allows me to make cleaning like a game.  I am a very competitive person, so this works well with my personality.  Can I clean the whole kitchen in 15 minutes? Yes I can!

4. Don’t Waste Nap Times 

This is speaking mostly to the moms/dads that have littles at home that are nap takers.  Nap time is sacred time in the Capel home.  For the most part, I try really hard to ensure that we are home for nap time and that it will not be interrupted.  I know this is going to become even more of a challenge when we have kids in school, but for now it works out pretty well.  In the first couple months of Hudson, his naps were also my naps.  I am terrible with actually resting, as I have already alluded to in previous posts, but those first couple months I actually needed those naps to function.  Now I don’t really ever take naps, but I use Hudson’s nap time as a time for me to do work that fills me up.  For a while I was using nap time to get more cleaning and practical things done around the house.  I soon realized that this was causing me to feel even more burnt out by the time Hudson woke up.  Now I rarely clean during Hudson’s naps.  I usually use that time to write, read, or scrapbook.  I am still doing something, but I am intentionally choosing to do things that I am passionate about.  I call this time “active rest.”  These activities truly do fill me up and give me rest, while still allowing me to do something.  I know the nap has a time limit so by being more aware of my time constraints, I am able to get right to the work that fills me up as soon as I walk out of nursery.  It is so important that I don’t waste this time.  There are days where I definitely have wasted precious nap time and I always regret it.  Just like babies need their naps, mamas need their time to do the things they love and were created to do.

5. Eat a Cookie 

So isn’t there a rule that you’re not supposed to eat a lot of sugar before 2pm?  Maybe I am making that up, but I think that is a bad rule.  I am all about having a sweet treat to help with that afternoon slump.  As mentioned earlier on, afternoons can be hard.  It can really help me when I pause in my afternoon schedule and allow for something sweet.  I am not saying go crazy and eat that whole box of cookies (even though sometimes it happens), but have that piece of chocolate at 1pm.  Or that slice of cake.  Or that candy you have stashed in your drawer.  I really look forward to a small treat in the afternoon.  Usually this “treat” is in the form of espresso, but I do occasionally have a leftover cookie from the night before.  I am someone who definitely is extrinsically motivated.  Last week when Lance requested I do the taxes, I asked him if I finished them by that day if I could have In-N-Out for dinner.  It does not take much to motivate me! A hamburger and fries is all it takes to get me to crank out taxes in a few hours.  I do the same thing with sweets in the afternoon.  When you finish folding these loads of laundry, you can have those vegan cookies.  These are the conversations I have with myself throughout the day.  And you know what?  I finished folding the loads of laundry!

Afternoons can be hard.  But I think it can be a real game changer when you view the afternoons as a big 6-hour time window (for me, that is 10-4) that has infinite possibilities.  Afternoons have the potential to be filled with fun and people and new experiences that my morning and evening routines typically do not have.  Thinking of afternoons as these windows of opportunities, alongside giving it guidance by incorporating the 5 elements discussed above, can really give a lot of life to your midday.

To Be Known

This mama needs to be known.  For the past couple months, I have been more consistently going to a particular workout class at the yoga studio I go to.  Just to set the stage, this is one of those classes that always seems to be full.  The teacher is popular and has been teaching classes for ten plus years.  He has built a strong community within his different classes.  His classes are challenging, but also fun.  It reminds me of weight training days in college; it reminds me of being on a team.  There is a definite sense of togetherness, which I have really enjoyed and look forward to.  There is a very personal element to these classes.  A lot of these women have been attending his classes for years.  There is history within the walls of studio 2.  He knows mostly everyone by name.  He calls out, jokes, encourages.  For a while, he did not know my name.  The extent to name calling occurred when he called me LMU because I was wearing a LMU cross-country shirt one day in December.  This all changed when last Wednesday, he called me Kelli.  And with just a simple tap on my shoulder and the sound of my name, I felt known and recognized.  It was not until I heard him say “Kelli” that I fully understood my deep, internal desire to be known.  In my normal, self-reflective nature, I thought about how silly and surface-level this was.  Great! A yoga instructor knows my name!  I am recognized in a fitness class.  Why do I care so much about relatively insignificant things?  Why does so much of my head space go towards worrying about human perception?  I guess the answer to that question is because I am human.  I think it all goes back to a deep human desire to be known.  Not just to be known but to be fully known.  The feeling I had in class when I heard my name called does not even scratch the surface to how we should feel when we recognize that we are fully known by the creator of the universe.  If I am in awe of being recognized by a yoga teacher, my reaction to being fully known by God should be infinite times greater.  It amazes me how I get so excited about earthly recognition.  I internally jump for joy when I get another like on Instragram.  I stand a little taller when someone tells me I am fast, pretty, a good writer.  I constantly am asking “did you like that dinner I made?”  to Lance in hopes that my ego could be fed even more.  I could list out example after example of the way in which I seek approval.  This is such a struggle of mine!  Becoming a mother has only revealed this sin in greater fullness.  It has always been there.  Now, I am just actively aware of it.  Anywhere we got out, I am constantly battling the internal dialogue that is telling me all sorts of lies about what other people are thinking of me.  This is so real and crazy in my head.  As I write it out, I can rationalize it and call it for what it is- lies; but in real time, I am a complete slave to those voices that are so concerned with outward appearance.  Lance knows me so well and can instantly tell when I am beginning to get in my head.  Especially recently, he has had to give me constant reminders that no one cares as much as I think they do.  Almost every time we are out he tells me, “No one is looking at you.  No one cares.”  It brings me sadness to think about how much effort, time, energy, worry, anxiety, and head space is given to the concerns of others.  The creator of everything knows not only my name; He knows every part of me.  He knows my greatest fears and dreams, the ones that I am too scared to even voice aloud.  He knows the worse parts of me and he knows the very best.  Not only does He see me for who I am, but He knows who I will become.  When I really sit in all of this, the moment of hearing my name in yoga class, feels so insignificant.

I think this desire runs deep within all of us.  We want to be known.  That is why we chase after degrees, titles, promotions.  This is why we desire to have all those letters after our name whether that be PhD, J.D., ThD.  It sometimes just feels like a really expensive alphabet.  But, we chase after it.  Each letter we tack on to our real name with pride. Chasing after ambition is not a bad thing, but I do think we need to remind ourselves of our roots.  We must remind ourselves of the parts of us that won’t change, that are not based on degree or fame or marriage status.  The Lord does not see us for the Mrs. or Miss in front of our names.  He does not see us for all those fancy titles that follow our names.  He does not see us for how many times our last name may or may not have changed.  He sees you as His daughter or son.  You are more than your name or your titles.  You are loved by the King.  This knowledge alone is enough.  I say all this, but I struggle in truly believing this at times.  I live my life knowing I am a daughter of His, but there is still such a huge part of both my head and heart space that cares about those other titles and recognitions.  Are you there with me?  Are you also internally jumping up and down when someone calls you by name and sees your worth?  Are you also hoping for more likes on that post?  I sure am.  But I am working on it.  It is a constant battle and a constant place of reminder.  I don’t need to perform or raise my hand or shout out.  I am already fully known by God.  This is enough.  This allows me to let go of every desire and part of myself that cares to be recognized.  I am His regardless if I am just LMU in a yoga class.

Routines Pt. 1

For the month of February, Saturdays will be all about routines.  This will be a four part series exploring ideas for morning, midday, evening, and weekend routines.  I am all about routines, especially recently with baby H.  Are you with me?  Do you love routines too?  Read on, then!  Are you more of a go with the flow type of person and tend to be against routine?  Still, I would say, read on!  I think routines are obviously going to look very different based on lifestyle, but I do believe routines are essential regardless of life status.  We all need them.  From the college student to the SAHM (stay at home mom) to the CEO to the freelance photographer, even to your toddler; routines are for everyone.

The Morning Routine 

I used to believe to my very core that I was a morning person.  I lived for early morning wake up calls.  I loved getting up before everyone else.  I loved the quiet and the early morning coffee time.  Don’t get me wrong, I never leaped out of bed ready for the day (except maybe for a select time in college when I had less responsibility).  I did however, want to get up early and enjoyed it after I was out of bed. Then I had a baby.  I was no longer a morning person, nor was I night owl; I was not really sure what I was.  Maybe an afternoon person.  Is that a thing?  It took a few long months for me to realize that the lack of a morning routine was really messing up my whole day and leaving me feeling cranky, unproductive, and dare I say, mad.  Mad does not look good on me, or really anyone for that matter, but the early days and months of Hudson, I was not as joyful as I should have been.  There are many reasons for this shift in mood and attitude, but I do think a large part of it had to do with not having a good morning routine that put me in the right frame of mind to face whatever that day held for me.  What works for you is likely to be quite different, but here are 5 general tips to start building your morning routine that gets your day started right.

1. Set an Alarm

Trust me, I hate the sound of an alarm going off as much as the next person, but I learned that even when you don’t need to, setting an alarm is one of the best ways to start the day.  Why?  I think part of the reason alarms can be so important to a morning routine is because they help you start your day off demonstrating discipline.  We are faced with thousands of decisions per day, research even concludes that the average adult person makes about 35,000 decision in a day.  That is a lot of opportunities to either demonstrate discipline or not.  By choosing to get out of bed when your alarms rings, you are allowing your first decision making opportunity one in which you are saying yes to your day and no to the comfort of continuing to sleep.  We often focus more on the big decisions in our day like where we are going, what we are doing, and who we are seeing, but tend to not to give as much weight to the smaller ones that fill our days.  These smaller ones are just as important and can make or break a day. All this to say, that setting an alarm is important and actually listening to that alarm is even more important.  I definitely have noticed a difference with my days where I stop or snooze my alarm versus the days I get up right when my alarm sounds.  Set an alarm, get up early, start your day saying yes.

2. Make Your Bed

I have gone in and out of bed making phases.  I sometimes fall in the trap of believing the lie: “I don’t have time to make my bed”.  Time how long it takes to make your bed.  For me, it takes about 1 minute.  Granted, we have a pretty simple bed, you might be fancier with more throw pillows and such, but the reality is that making your bed does not take long at all.  No matter how crazy life can feel, we can always choose to make our beds.  It seems like a small choice, but starting the day by completing a task is extremely satisfying.  In the matter of the first 10 minutes of waking up, I have already made two positive choices.  Gotten out of bed and made it.  When the morning starts rolling and the anxiety begins to creep in that I am a failure of a mom/wife/person and can’t get anything done, I can at least catch a glimpse of our neatly made bed and tell myself, “You made your bed! You’re doing awesome!”.  Also, a point of clarification, when I say make your bed, I don’t mean just pull up the covers.  I mean really make it.  Fold the sheets precisely.  Fluff the pillows. Flatten out all the wrinkles.  Be able to step away, not only feeling like you accomplished something, but that you did it with quality and care.  This makes a difference.  Try it.

3. Get Grounded

After making my bed, I cannot just begin on my to-do list.  I need to first ground myself.  Again this is going to look different from person to person, but the best and only way I know how to truly stay grounded and reminded of my purpose is spending time in the Word.  This will look different depending on the season I am in.  There have been seasons where I honestly was not in the Word.  And this greatly affected me.  Just like taking vitamins every day in the morning, reading scripture is a necessity for me.  I desperately need the Word of God to remind me who I am.  I need scripture to give me a more heavenly perspective.  Sometimes I read just a few verses, sometimes I read a Psalm, sometimes I read multiple chapters.  Regardless of season, the importance is being in the Word.  For me, part of my routine is also avoiding any screens in this early time.  Therefore, I always read scripture in the Bible during this morning time.  Again, this is just a personal choice, but I really enjoy physically opening it up.  About a year ago, Lance gave me the She Reads Truth Bible for a Christmas present.  I love this bible for many reasons.  It is pretty and inviting.  It has excellent devotionals interwoven throughout.  And the CSB translation feels very accessible to me.  Obviously, how your bible looks does not matter.  All that matters is the Truth contained within the cover, but there is nothing wrong in finding a beautiful bible, especially if it helps you get in the Word on a daily basis.  Maybe you are reading this and thinking: “getting grounded sounds great, but I am not religious.  I don’t even own a bible!”.  I could then go on to tell you that as an alternative, you could read a quotation that inspires you.  There is nothing wrong with that, but I feel like I would be remiss in not encouraging you to try reading scripture.  I love literature and I love a good quotation, but the words of an author simply do not compare to reading the living Word of God.   It is amazing how wherever I open up my bible to, I am met right where I am and given the words I so desperately needed to hear.  If this is something you have never done, I think the Psalms  is a great place to start.  Read just one verse, maybe read more.  God will meet you where you are.  He can ground you.

4. Find Your Morning Place

I sit in the same chair every morning.  I light the candle.  I pour my coffee. I sit in my flannel pjs.  Your morning likely will look different.  Maybe for you, you are already dressed in work attire and you are sitting in your car.  Maybe you are out walking on a trail.  Maybe you are lying on a yoga mat.  However you start your morning, I think there is something nice about creating a very similar atmosphere every morning, even if it lasts for just a few moments.  It does not need to get crazy.  It can be simple.  For me, it is a familiar chair, the flicker of a candle, and coffee.  Pick a couple things that will help create a morning environment that brings you peace and calmness.

5. Pray and Plan for Day

If you have just read a couple of posts, I think the fact that I am a woman of prayer and planning has come across.  I hope it has! If not, I am not conveying who I am very well.  My morning routine typically ends with me praying for the day and mapping out in my planner the tentative time schedule for the day.  I always start with gratitude.  I thank the Lord for giving me a new day.  I then pray for the things ahead in the day.  I pray for my attitude.  I pray for people.  And then I always end with love.  I tell the Lord of my love for Him and ask Him to help me better love the people in my life, and ultimately thank him for the love He has given me.  Also, just want to clarify this looks different based on the day.  This is real life.  I don’t want you to falsely get the idea that every morning I have a full block of time where I perfectly get to do everything I outlined above.  I don’t want you to think every morning I am in fervent prayer.  I wish I could tell you I was, but here’s the truth: some mornings, Hudson cries.  Sometimes (actually many times) I am interrupted.  Sometimes I don’t get to sit in quiet and converse with the Lord.  Sometimes my prayer time is simply “Lord, please help me” as I attempt to not break down as I try to console Hudson.  The point here is that, yes, some mornings I get amazing quiet time filled with scripture reading, reflection, and prayer.  Those mornings are great!  But the reality is that those mornings do not happen every day.  They may not even happen for days.  This does not mean that I throw out the whole routine and I hope I can get in good quiet time with the Lord tomorrow.  “Quiet time” does not always have to be quiet.  As I type this, I know that I am still attempting to learn this lesson.  I am learning to be okay with the noise and chaos and being out of control.  If I only prayed in the morning when I had 15-20 minutes of quiet, I would not be praying very much at all.  I hope these words can encourage you to be less focused on finding “quiet time” and more focused on communicating with the Lord regardless of how crazy or calm your morning looks.

Along with prayer, I also try to squeeze in a couple minutes of writing out time blocks for the day.  I am linking to a youtube video that has helped me re-think how I chunk my day.  She has some good insights that I found helpful.  Writing out my time schedule for the day, even if it does not go exactly as planned, helps give me direction and focus for the day.  By writing down what needs to get done, I am so much more likely to actually accomplish it! Also, sometimes I end up doing things that I did not initially write down, I try to record these once I finish them so I can give myself proof that I am in fact being productive, even on days I do not feel like I am.