When You Don’t Feel Like It

All day I have been planning on sitting down to get some writing in. It is now nearly 9 pm and these are the first words I am creating all day, minus the numerous text messages I sent out. The thing is I could of easily squeezed in an hour of solid writing, but instead I dilly-dallied, I mindlessly scrolled and consumed social media, and I watched unnecessary drama on the Bachelorette. The task of writing has been in the back of my head all day, but I seemed to put everything ahead of it. The 9 miles, the loads and loads of laundry, the dirty dishes, the grocery list, the dinner, the banana bread, the party planning. I think what I really needed today was to write. I needed quiet. I needed time alone, time to string words together. I needed the steady rhythm of finger tips tapping away. I needed to sort things in my head through. I needed reflection and revision. This is what I needed. But instead, I avoided it. I clicked on Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, Netflix. Anything, but write. I did not feel like it today. I did not want to write another post that only my husband, mother, and a few kind people will read. I did not want to write today, but here I am, at 8:50 pm, writing. And with each passing word, I feel better. That is what I want to talk about today. How do we do the things that are good for us, even on the days or weeks or years when we simply don’t feel like it? That is a loaded question. And to be honest, I don’t really have an answer, but I have a few thoughts.

Right now you could probably name a handful of things you don’t feel like doing. I sure can. Going on a run. Making the bed. Folding all those loads of laundry I previously mentioned. Emptying the dishwasher. Waking up early. Eating healthy. Being kind. Reading a book. Writing. And the list could go on. Those last three might be the most surprising, but if I’m being honest, right now, kindness does not feel natural to me, nor does reading or writing. Here’s the thing, if I lived my days off of my current feelings, not much would get accomplished. I would eat a lot of sugar, watch Grey’s Anatomy, and be alone in my room. That’s the truth. Clearly, my feelings can’t be trusted. Watching endless hours of hospital drama and consuming lots and lots of sugar is not a recipe to a fulfilled life. This is why I have such a problem with the phrase “follow your heart.” Follow my heart? Really? My heart can’t be trusted. It’s broken, sinful, selfish. My heart will lead me astray. Every. Single. Time. Sure, it might feel right in the moment, but long term, the feelings of my heart won’t satisfy. Only Jesus will. I need to follow Him, not my heart. And the thing with Jesus is that He is in the business of people and serving. So following Him, naturally revolves around these two things. For an introvert, this is not always easy. Following Jesus is not always the easy thing to do, it actually rarely is, but it is always the right thing. My heart can’t be trusted, but He certainly can.

So, returning back to that question. How do we do the good things, the things our soul longs for, even when that is not our natural inclination? I think the first part to answering this question, is learning how to differentiate between what our human heart longs for and the calling of Jesus in our lives. This is a good time to mention that I do believe that these two things can and should line up at times. This is the mark of a mature faith that is immersed in the Word. However, I am coming more from a post-vacation mindset. We just got back from a trip to NYC. We had the best time, but I fell completely out of normal rhythms. We squeezed a ton into our few days into the city. We even made a relatively detailed itinerary to ensure we got all the things we wanted to eat, see, and do in. We had full, fun days. We stuffed our faces with lobster rolls and cookies the size of our faces. We rode the subway back and forth, all over the city. We ran along the Hudson River, did loops in Central Park, and walked all over. My Fitbit has never hit such high numbers. We did all the things, but there was a sacrifice. My quiet, morning devotional time. That vanished. We forgot to include that in the itinerary. And if I’m honest, it put me into a bit of a slump. I forget how important some of my daily patterns I place into my life are. I need time alone with God. I need to be in the Word daily. My heart gets weird without this. I become lazy. I desire tv over discipline. Especially as I recover from this post-vacation hangover, my daily patterns and routines become even more important. I need to get back into these rhythms. I need to wake up early, even though I definitely do not feel like it. I need to open my Bible, not Instagram. I need to write, even when the words seems to not be there. I need to run hard, even when I want to just stay in a comfortable pace. And most importantly I need to love. I need to love and serve the people in my life, even though what my heart really desires is to retreat and be alone. There are seasons where everything I listed above comes so much more naturally. I leap out of bed. I enthusiastically open my Bible. The words come easily. The miles do too. And kindness is my attitude of choice. However, again, if I’m honest, there are more days where this is not the case. This is where patterns of discipline become so important. I write a lot about routines and daily rhythms, and the reason is because they keep me on track. They help me to do the good things I need in my life, even when I don’t feel like it.

I know I began by saying I didn’t fully have an answer to the question, but I think this is my answer. Establish daily, weekly, monthly, yearly patterns in your life and stick with them. Do them with a no matter what-ness attitude. The thing that I love about routine is that it takes away some of the thinking and decision making. This could be why I thrived in high school. A lot of my days were determined by a pre-existing bell schedule. The bells have faded away. Now, it is up to me to create the bells, the rhythms, the patterns. All this to say, vacation and stepping away from normal life is a good thing, but if you’re anything like me, it can be harmful to step away from the patterns that keep you grounded and rooted. So, when you don’t feel like doing all the things, check the patterns in your life, check what is taking up your minutes, check what it is you are consuming. Are you taking in Truth or bad television drama? It may seem like a small choice, but it is these little choices that make all the difference. It could be that you need to make just a few small adjustments to get back on track. Or, it could be that you just need to do the thing even when every fiber of your body and mind is fighting against it. This morning, I had a long tempo run I was supposed to do. I have done this tempo run for the past three Wednesday’s, except I missed it this past Wednesday due to travel. This small break in routine, made me really not want to run it today. And along with that deep, internal feeling of dreading something, there were things that happened along the way that made me want to choose the easy thing: skip the tempo. I was very close to choosing this option, but something kept tugging me along. And I did it. I did it even though I lost a contact in one of my eyes, the route I normally do was completely closed off, and my breathing was much harder than normal. And here’s the thing: my pace was slower than previous weeks, my focus was slightly fuzzy (probably due to the fact I had clear vision in only one eye), and I wanted to just stop basically every mile. But, I did it. To me, this tempo was my best so far in training. Again, it was not the fastest one. I actually felt the worst on this one, but I pushed through. I did not let go of my no matter attitude. Outwardly, not the best performance, but inwardly, it required way more focus and discipline than the days where the miles and pace were effortless. The thing I kept thinking about when I was running this morning was about how a lot of people can do the things when it comes easily, but what really allows you to stand out from the crowds is when you do it on the days where every part of you is fighting against it. This is where true character is built.

So, if you’re with me, and don’t feel like doing all the things, especially the things you technically don’t need to do, you should. Run when it’s the last thing you want to. Write even when the words flow as slow as molasses. Just start, and you will find your rhythm, it might just take until mile 9 or the 1,000th word.

The Impossible Task of Cleaning Floors

We all have insecurities. They often manifest in different ways. For me, the floors of our house are more than just floors. They are the status of how good of a wife and mother I am. I know that might sound crazy, but that is just how my mind works. Clean and shiny floors, and I feel pretty good about myself. Nala hair everywhere, baby smeared handprints, and I feel like a failure. The floors of our home represent a deep insecurity for myself. It feels like this impossible task to keep the floors clean. The thing with the floors is no matter how hard I try to keep them clean, they never look that great. I don’t know about you, but the floors act as a pretty good metaphor for my life. I try so hard. I put forth so much effort to be perfect and hold things together with my two, little shaking hands. And the result is always the same. Unsatisfactory floors. I think God laughs at the way I tirelessly sweep our floors. I sweep. I swiffer. I sweep again. Every meal is another sweep. I try to control the mess. I try to bring order to the chaos, but my efforts never seem to be enough. Does this sound familiar to you? It does to me. Love and approval, thankfully, do not come from how tidy the home is and how spotless the floors are. The floors are not the status of how good of a wife I am. The floors, especially with a golden retriever and baby, will never look perfect. Or maybe they will for a few minutes and then meal time will come and there will be puffs and blueberries everywhere. There will be mud tracked paw prints. There will be leaves and twigs. There will be a million little toys strewn everywhere.

This week, we literally have had an inflatable bounce house in the middle of our living room. It was an early birthday present for Hudson. It was a lot of work to get it inflated, so I kept it up for a few days. We also are in the middle of a bathroom remodel, so there is a massive box with our new vanity sitting in our living room. Not to mention, I spilled half a tub of melted vanilla ice cream everywhere last night. Get the picture? Our floors are a chaotic mess over here. I can sweep and organize and shine all I want, but there will be chaos the next day. I guarantee it. So, does that mean we give up? Do we throw away the broom? No, we keep sweeping. But, we sweep without anxiety or stress or need of approval. We sweep to manage the chaos, but thankfully the status of our floors does not represent our status as wives, mothers, Daughters.

Since I am all about creating lists, here are my top 5 ways to manage the floors, without driving yourself insane. The most important thing that is not included in this list is everything I just discussed above. Clean floors are a good thing, but in the whole scheme of life, who really cares that much. I want a clean and pure heart, if my floors are a bit of a mess, I’ll survive.

1. Choose One Day for a Major Clean

Mondays over at the Capel home are for getting things back together. I really don’t do much cleaning at all on the weekends. This is a necessary break and it allows me to be refreshed by Monday to get the house back in order. For us, Monday is the day of the week that I focus on a major clean of our floors. I typically throw all the rugs in the washer, run our Shark Ion Robot (lovingly called Sharky because this robot vacuum makes my life so much easier), and Swiffer afterwards. Truth is, I don’t even spend that much time on this “major” clean. I let the washer and Sharky do their things. The idea here is more about implementing these rhythms so I know the rugs are clean and dust bunnies under the couch are taken care of.

2. Clean Daily for Short Duration

The floors, like the sink and laundry basket, are one of those things that if left even for a day, quickly becomes overwhelming and uncontrolled. Even if I just do a super quick sweep of the floors every evening for 10 minutes, the task of cleaning them becomes more manageable. While the floors are my least favorite things to clean, I have found that the more I can treat them as a daily routine, like making the bed, the easier they become. An hour of cleaning the floors broken up into 5-6 days is so much more enjoyable than a straight 60 minutes of floor cleaning. Break it into daily tasks.

3. Invest in Good Cleaning Products

For a long time we had this terrible vacuum. It was bulky, hard to navigate, and seemed to always leave crumbs. Then, for Christmas, my parents got us the Shark Ion Robot Vacuum, and our carpets have never been cleaner. I run Sharky through all of our carpeted rooms every week. Before, the carpets did not see a vacuum nearly that much. The point here, is the sleeker and easier to use the product, the more likely you will want to clean. Initially, it is a higher investment, but long run it is worth it because you will actually use the product on a regular basis and your house will be cleaner.

4. Pick up Toys Quickly During Naps/Bedtime

It is so easy to get overwhelmed by all the scattered toys that seem to accumulate on a daily basis. It seems so bad with just one baby, I can’t even imagine what it will be like in a few years. I have found the easiest way to manage all the toys, is to do very quick pick-ups when he is asleep. This usually means putting the toys that were out back in the pack ‘n play. Later on, I will go back and organize toys more throughly, but this is a quick way to at least declutter the floors. It is amazing how things already feel cleaner and more organized after just a few minutes of clearing the toys. When he goes down to bed, I am usually exhausted so the idea of cleaning more is never appealing, but I try to consistently take even just 5 minutes to put away all the toys that are out. It is so much nicer to wake up to relatively clean and clear floor.

5. Let it Go

Probably the most important tip of them all. Let. It. Go. My control tendencies have come out in full-force now that we have a kid. I am slowly learning to let go of the little things that I used to lose sleep about. More often than not, my floors are going to look less than perfect. I can guarantee it that Hudson is going to leave the floors a mess every single meal. I can guarantee that Nala is going to shed like it’s her full-time job. I can guarantee that by the end of the day, there will be books, balls, and blocks everywhere. This is just going to happen. We will likely have visitors come at exactly the time where all three of those situations listed above collide at the same time. And I will need to just let it go. I am sure they do not care nearly as much as I do. Remember this: your status as a wife, mom, Christian, women has no basis on how clean your floors are. God is in the heart business, not the floor business.

Why I Wake Up at 5 am as a Stay-At-Home Mom

I wake up around 5 am every day during the week. You might be wondering: why? It is not like I have to get ready and commute to work. My job is right in this home, being mom to sweet Hudson. There is no commute. No need to get dressed. No need to do my hair. Why would I wake up nearly 2 hours before my baby? The short answer: because I have tried sleeping in and waking up when he does and I hate it. I start my day with the sound of crying and serving. Crying and serving is just part of my job description but in order to best handle the crying and to be able to serve and love Hudson the best I can, I need time before he wakes up. Most people would not think twice about the need to be awake at least an hour before starting their job. You can’t roll out of bed and start working and expect to do a quality job. It is easy to apply this to jobs that require you to go into an office or be dressed professionally or in some type of uniform, but for some reason this logic seems to not always be applied to being a SAHM (stay-at-home mom). This mom thing, is the very best job of my life, but it is even more challenging than getting a room full of 14-year olds excited about semi-colons. Just like I needed that hour drive to work to sip coffee, pray for my students, and listen to The Daily podcast; I need that same hour to sip coffee, read my Bible, write down memorable experiences with Hudson from the previous day, and pray. I am not able to do my best job as mom and wife, if I don’t allow myself this time before the sun rises to process, pray, and prepare.

Some of you reading this, may be thinking there is no way I would wake up at 5 am, if I still have sleeping kids and a quiet house. I get it! I never truly want to get out of bed at 5 am either. My brain immediately starts flooding with excuses. You’re tired, sleep a little more, you deserve it, you don’t technically need to wake up right now. Those are usually the first words I hear. And if I’m honest, lots of mornings I listen to that voice. However, the mornings that I choose to ignore those lingering excuses, and actually fully be out of bed right around 5, are so much more balanced and productive. I get nearly a two-hour block of time for myself. Of course this varies, depending on when Hudson wakes up, but if I’m up at least by 5:15, I know I’ll have a solid hour, usually more. This time allows for me to wake up to the day through writing, praying, and planning ahead. I am allowing myself to wake up to my day, rather than it waking me up. I am intentionally saying my job as mom is so important that I need to prep for it just like any other business executive would prep for their all-important job. So here is the thing, we might not need to wake up at 5 am, but if so many successful career people do it, why shouldn’t we moms? They might be getting up at 5 am or earlier to run businesses, countries, worlds, but isn’t raising future generations just as important? I get it, making snacks, park play dates, and library story time does not seem to fully stack up to board meetings, conferences, and emailing important people. But here’s the thing, it might not feel as noteworthy in the present time, but it is. We are raising the future. This is everything. We are changing lives. We are giving them memories and experiences that hopefully one day they will tell their kids’ kids’ about. These are the types of things I think about to motivate me on those hard days where it feels like all I do is change diapers and fold laundry. As a Christian, I view my responsibility as a parent to not only raise my kids well with good heads on their shoulders and kind hearts, but to help point them to the cross and to develop their own personal relationship with God. And from this perspective, our jobs as parents suddenly has eternal implications. We are talking about souls here. I don’t care how successful an empire or brand you build here on earth, what is going to be left afterwards? All this to say, it is easy to get stuck in that earthly perspective, but if we are able to take a heavenly approach to our days and see the snacks, the park, and the library as sanctuaries to build up our children’s characters to one day hopefully choose to follow Christ, well then I think I can get up a bit earlier to prepare for that. Don’t lose sight of your job as a parent. Regardless of what you believe, parenting is such an important job. It should be handled with just as much care as CEOs and presidents. So if they get up at 5 am, maybe we should too.

Sunshine & Simplicity

This mama needs sunshine & simplicity.  This past weekend I was reminded how much I missed the sun.  This has by far been the coldest, rainiest winter Southern California has had in years.  As the coldness is slowly drifting away and the sun is making its way back, I am remembering my love for the sun and summer and the beach.  When the seasons shift, I can really feel it in the air.  It is a subtle change, but I can almost always sense it and the shifting seasons always brings me joy.  Even though I experienced that season just a year ago, I so quickly forget the joys found in it.  I become excited for change in weather, clothes, and activities.  This year, I am even more grateful for sunny days since they have been so few.

I am learning more and more that what makes me happiest is often involved around two things: sun and simplicity.  If we aim to incorporate simple things with sunshine, it is likely everyone will be happier because of it.  Last weekend when we were in San Diego, we had three meals out.  Two of the three were at nicer restaurants.  The other one was at a deli in San Clemente called Billy’s.  Of these three dining experiences, the most enjoyable was at Billy’s, where we ordered veggie sandwiches on squaw bread and sat outside at a table.  It was quiet, peaceful, simple.  And it was one of our very favorite moments of our weekend.  When we were reflecting on our little trip on the drive home, both Lance and I talked about how Billy’s was memorable.  Isn’t that funny how that works?  The most unplanned and simplest part of our entire weekend was the part of the trip that produced the most joy.  I was not stressed about Hudson making a mess or noise.  I was not worried if we were disturbing other people.  I was at peace because we were at Billy’s and we were outside and we had veggie sandwiches and Hudson happily threw puffs everywhere.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a nice restaurant, but there is something to the simple plans, the simple food, and the sunshine that has a way of leaving an impression that the fanciest restaurant just can’t touch.

I was again reminded of this truth when Lance and I had date night this past Saturday.  While we typically drive to a relatively nicer restaurant for dates, we chose to do the very opposite and it was one of my very favorite dates in a while.  Instead of drive, we rode bikes from my parents’ house to the strand.  It was bright and sunny and lots of people were out.  It felt like summer.  It felt like freedom.  I love Hudson to pieces of course, but it felt so fun to ride bikes with my husband and for just a couple hours not worry about diapers or a runny nose.  We rode and talked and laughed.  The second plan to our date was to be spontaneous in choosing a place to eat.  This defies every part of our normal character and routine.  But it felt fun to not have a plan, until we realized we are not very good at being spontaneous.  We walked from overpriced restaurant to the next and read fancy menus, but none of them stood out to us.  We kept walking until I suggested we just get Lemonade and bring it down to the beach.  And this is exactly what we did.  And it was perfect.  We sat by a volleyball court and sipped lemonade, ate poke and curried cauliflower and talked about our weekly rose-bud-thorns of the week.  We did not need cloth tablecloths or overpriced food or waiters or glassed waters.  It turns out those things just don’t matter that much to us.  What actually makes a date is the words exchanged, the setting sun, and the twinkle I can see in my husband’s eyes when he looks at me.  Simplicity.  It is easy to run towards the extravagant, the fancy, the over-planned.  You have to really be intentional about living simply at times, especially with the type of culture we are living in.  The culture that tells us to consume, consume, consume.  Especially on special occasions, like date nights and birthdays, it is easy to fall into the trap of over-elaborate and fancy, but if you can take the simple route, there is something so sweet about it.  Simplicity + sunshine.  Good things come from these two.  Even better things come from these two when they are centered around Jesus.  That is the key of the entire equation.  Whether we are at a fancy Italian restaurant or picnicking at the beach, if our hearts are not centered around Jesus and His love, the experience will end flatly.  We need simple things and the sun, but above all else we need The Son.

So, next time you are left wondering how to fill your day, I have a few suggestions.  I would start with Jesus.  What is he putting on your heart?  I would start with prayer.  What do you have to say to Him?  Then I would add some simple things and sunshine.  I would go outside.  I would grab a book and read outside in the warmth of the sun.  I would eat hummus straight out of the container.  I would slice fruit.  I would call a friend.  I have a strong tendency to overcomplicate, over-plan, overspend.  I believe the lies that more is better.  That a higher price tag is better.  That the more crammed into one day must mean more was accomplished.  I am finally learning that this is simply not true.  Veggie sandwiches eaten in the quiet, cool shade of Billy’s deli beats fancy pasta and stuffy restaurants any day.

 

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.  

 

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.

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.