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.

 

 

Coffee

This mama needs coffee.  We have a frame in our kitchen that holds the Pinterest-worthy quotation: “All I need today is a little bit of coffee & a whole lot of Jesus”.  Okay, okay so in reality I don’t truly need that bit of coffee, it is all Jesus, but that is not to say that a few sips of coffee hurt after a night of waking up every hour for your sick babe.  Coffee and prayer are two parts of my morning routine.  They go hand in hand.  Literally.  I have one hand around my bible and the other around hot ceramic.  As I sip and read, I truly wake up to the Word, the Truth.  While of course I do not need that hot cup of coffee in the morning, there is something about sipping coffee, while reading my Bible that allows my mind and heart to really focus in on Jesus.  When Lance and I used to attend church at Reality LA, we both served on the coffee team.  I loved serving on this team.  I loved making the big batches of coffee.  I loved meeting new people and handing them hot coffee or even iced coffee in the summertime.  I still so clearly remember what one of the leaders said in an initial meeting before we joined this team.  They told us the importance of coffee ministry.  They told us that it is more than just pouring out coffee and tea.  Just like with hospitality and opening up your home, there is power in the details.  While it is and always will be centrally about Jesus, that doesn’t mean that a glass of good wine or a latte from a really good coffee shop, can’t be part of the ministry to turn people to Him.  Coffee is not going to bring people to Jesus (that is the Holy Spirit), but as I attended that meeting before serving on the coffee team, I was reminded that everything we do has the power to help bring people closer to knowing the grace and love of God.  It can be as simple as handing someone a cup of coffee and a kind smile.  I don’t know about you, but I definitely seem to think better and be more inspired and more creative and motivated, when I have a pretty mug in my hands.  Again, it is just small details, but I truly believe God made coffee for us to enjoy whether that be alone at 6am with tired eyes or together in a crowded coffee shop.

So do I need coffee?  No.  I survived nine months of pregnancy without it.  I don’t need it, but it does help me get up early even after a night of extremely broken sleep so I can pray and read scripture and be reminded that the Lord is faithful and He sees my weariness.  Just like there is something powerful that happens when people gather around a table with good food and conversation, I think something similar can happen with good coffee.  For Lance and I, coffee shops are important to us.  Before we even began to date, it was a slightly run down coffee shop in Venice that brought us together.  Coffee was the excuse.  Work was the excuse.  Really what we wanted was to better know each other.  So we spent hours at that cafe on Pier Street.  Drinking coffee, talking, working, dreaming.  The coffee at this cafe was not even that great.  It definitely was not like Intelligentsia or Blue Bottle, but for us it was the experience.  There was something charming about the place.  It was not fancy, it was actually quite grungey.  The coffee was served in paper cups.  Everyone inside seemed to either be brilliant or homeless or both.  And it was one of our favorite places.  For us this cafe, was not even about the coffee, but it was through the coffee and the need to work, that our relationship started here.  After a Sunday evening working at this cafe together, Lance drove me home and told me he liked me.  I can remember every detail of it.  I remember his nerves, his Honda Passport, the conversation that began with “So I have been talking to my mom…”.  And I think even  in that moment I knew this was more than just an “I like you” conversation.  This was serious.  This was real.  There was gravity in his words.  This was more of an “I am in it with you for everything” conversation.  Even then, I knew that conversation in the LMU parking garage was the start of our lives together.  You might not believe that, but I truly did have a sense that everything would change from that point forward.  This moment is one of my very favorites with Lance and I think it will forever be linked to the mediocre coffee on Pier Street.

See?  Coffee brings people together!  Actually, Jesus brings people together.  Coffee is just a little detail.  Coffee is good, but Jesus is better.  Much better.  Think of the most expensive, fancy cup of coffee.  Think of that $15 cup of coffee they sell at Blue Bottle.  Obviously that must be good coffee, but Jesus is infinitely better.  Of course He is, you’re thinking.  What a silly comparison to even make, you’re thinking.  But I would question, do our lives always reflect this?  Do we wake up in prayer or do we wake up first grabbing that coffee?  Do we say I am so exhausted I need Jesus? Or is it coffee we ask for? Coffee is good.  Coffee wakes us up. But, Jesus saves.  In my life, I hope to always first chase after the Lord and if I happen to find a good coffee shop on the way, that won’t hurt.

Coffee-Stained Seashells

Sundays are again becoming my very favorite days of the week.  I used to be all about Fridays, especially when I worked.  Fridays were always nights Lance and I went out for dinner and it was the beginning of time away from work and students and stress.  When we had Hudson, Friday night dinners out became less frequent.  We tried to continue with this tradition but it turned out that by Friday we both preferred to stay inside and not deal with the stresses that come with a baby in a nice restaurant.  I still love Fridays, of course, but they lost some of the meaning they once held to me.  Now, Sundays are my favorite.  Maybe part of the reason for that is I no longer have the dread of Monday, but I think it more has to do with the fact that we are more intentional with our Sundays.  Sundays used to feel like catch up days.  It felt like cramming a lot into one day.  Sundays were church plus everything else that did not get done in the week.  Now, they are church plus rest.  This past Sunday embodied this new intention.

I think my favorite part of these days are the fact that church and small group are the only two things on the agenda.  The hours between then can hold anything we want.  This particular Sunday we had less time than others, so we chose to get coffee and walk along the beach in Manhattan.  With coffee in hand, we walked right along the water.  It was low tide.  There was just the right amount of sun. There were people, but not too many because most were watching the football game.  There are moments I have when I feel this deep sense that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.  This was one of those moments. I was present.  I was with my two favorite people (Lance and Hudson).  And I was not worried about producing or accomplishing anything.  All I was focused on were the beautiful seashells before me.  When was the last time you did something not out of obligation or necessity, but just because?  I know for me the answer to that question is not very often.  Walking along the shore, finding the most beautiful shells, collecting them in my empty coffee cup; reminded me that I need to fill my days more with moments like this.  I found so much joy in shuffling through the array of broken shells and misshaped rocks.  It gave my mind and heart pause.  It allowed the constant rolling voice in my head listing out the things that must be done to stop and fade away in the background.  Collecting shells at low tide on a Sunday afternoon might not be quite the thing that fills you up, but my point in writing this is to encourage you to find the thing that does.  Maybe it is going to a cafe to eat breakfast by yourself.  Maybe it is taking a long drive along the coast.  Maybe it is going antique shopping and finding a piece to make your home feel more complete.  It is freeing to allow yourself the permission to do things that do not always result in a measurable outcome.  It is okay to have moments that are simple.  It is okay to give ourselves pause and just focus on the shells.

When we got home, I opened up my Starbucks cup to find the three shells I collected.  There was a small amount of vanilla latte remaining, so the shells were stained with espresso.  The cup held an aroma of sea salt and vanilla.  It sounds slightly silly to put this into words, but opening up that cup and seeing those coffee-stained seashells I collected, brought me so much joy.  I washed them, hoping that some of that coffee scent would still remain.  I then placed them on the dresser in our room.  I laid each one out meticulously, giving space for each shell to shine on its own.  Some of you reading this, probably think I am crazy for doing this or even writing this.  I know it seems relatively insignificant and not fully worthy of even sharing, but I think it is.  I think it shows the importance of the little things.  It shows the value in doing the things that fill you up.  It shows that we do not need to spend a lot of money or do all the fancy things to enjoy our life.  Sometimes all you really need is to go down to the beach, or the park, or whatever quiet environment you choose and find something that bring you joy.  For me on this Sunday, it happened to be shells soaked in coffee.

I now look at these shells every time I am in our bedroom.  They are more than shells.  They are symbols of a life well lived.  Every time I look at these shells, I am now able to transport back to this Sunday afternoon.  Those shells will take me back to the waves crashing, the taste of a warm latte, the curiosity of Hudson as he takes it all in.  Those shells remind me it is okay to just wander.  It is okay to be spontaneous and not have every minute of the day planned out.  It is okay to just be.

Even since this past Sunday afternoon, there have already been multiple times that I have forgotten about the shells and fallen back into the cycle of work and obligation.  This past week was filled with a lot of shoulds.  It was filled with a lot of lists and time obligations.  Unfortunately, there was not a whole lot of seashell collecting that occurred.  And this is okay.  I am human and quite frankly, it takes just a second for me to forget what I really need.  What I truly need is not found on lists or even in the form of a shell.  It can only be found in Jesus.  Just like shells can symbolize baptism, those three coffee-stained shells remind me that through the grace of God, I am made new.  My work will never be enough nor will it ever save me.  I have messed up 10,000 times already this week.  I have yelled at Lance.  I have been impatient with Hudson as I wake up for the 5th time in the middle of the night.  I get frantic as I am trying to feed Hudson and get dinner in the crockpot and get out the door in time for baby yoga.  I have very quickly forgotten about that peaceful Sunday afternoon where I was restful and just looking for pretty shells.  This is how sin operates.  We turn away and focus on our selves in an instant.  Thankfully Jesus offers us abundant grace.  Thankfully those shells do not leave and will be there for us next Sunday to return to.

To Run in the Rain

This mama needs to run in the rain.  

As I learn more about myself, I am realizing I am much introverted than I previously thought.  I like the idea of being around people, but I really thrive off of having time alone in quiet.  This is one of the many reasons why running is so good for me. It gives me the space to be in a quiet rhythm.  It allows me to think, pray, and breathe.  Don’t get me wrong, I love running with others as well and connecting in this way, but every once in a while a solo run does my soul a lot of good.

The rain just kept coming this week.  It rained and rained.  Every time I looked out the window my initial thought was to skip the run.  Stay inside my mind whispered. Even though I have been a runner for over a decade, basically every time I go out for a run, I am again dealing with the internal battle of just staying inside.  I know some people eagerly lace up their shoes and prance out the door to run, but this is just not how I operate.  It would probably fool you when I am actually out running with a smile, but that initial push out the door is so hard for me.  It is especially hard now when I don’t have a coach telling me what to do or a team depending on me to be in shape.  Now, I am the coach.  I am the whole team.  With anything, when it is just you, performing and producing your best becomes even less motivating.

Despite this desire to stay inside, I managed to get out the door twice to run.  And it was two of the best choices I made all week.  Both times felt magical.  The best part of running in the rain is that not a lot of people do it.  The park was empty.  The strand was deserted. All I could hear was the rain rhythmically hitting my visor.  All I could see was waves crashing.  All I could feel was peace.  I was not thinking about other people.  I was not trying to pass the person 100 meters ahead of me.  I was not trying to impress by running as fast as I could.  I was not worried about pace or performance.  I was simply just running in the rain.  Alone.

When all the exterior elements of running are stripped down and you are left with just the raw aspects of movement, breath, and cadence; you can really find the joy in running.  You can find it in its purest form.  I think over the past few years, I got lost in the races, the time trials, the competition.  I think I forgot what it feels like to just run because you can, not because you have to.  When it comes down to it, I really love to run.  I actually have always loved it, but I think somewhere along the way running became something else.  It became pressurized and demanding.  It became solely about performance and pleasing coaches.  The rawness of running: breath, movement, cadence; became lost.

It took having a baby to get me to return to running and fall back in love with the sport.  Once Hudson was born, all expectations of who I was as a runner seemed to dissipate.  It did not matter if I ran for just 20 minutes.  It did not matter if I ran 10 minute pace.  These are things that I would of laughed at a few years ago, but now it was all about getting out the door.  It no longer was about the pace or the mileage.  It was solely about running to clear my head, running to get off the baby weight, running to take a break, running to pray for patience.  It was all about the movement.  I was running because I had a deep down need to move and it turns out running is the best way I know how to do that. I finally was in a place where I could run without the pressure, anxiety, and fear that seemed to plague most of my college running career.  I could run and walk.  I could stop when I felt tired. I could just run a loop around the block and return home.  I finally am learning to run with grace.  And this is making all the difference in my love for running.

Running in the rain last week reminded me why I run.  It reminded me how running is supposed to feel in its purest form.  It reminded me the importance of not waiting until conditions or life is perfect.  If we run like this or if we live like this, we never will run much or really do anything at all.  Sometimes it will rain all week. Sometimes you will have bad days, weeks, months, years.  And sometimes you just have to face it.  You have to tie up those shoes.  Put on your hat.  And start that watch.  And just like running in the rain, through movement and action, you can eventually be reminded of why you do what you do and be at peace with whatever life gives you.

Letter To My 35-Year-Old Self

Last week, I reflected back 10 years, today I look forward 10 years and write down some dreams and thoughts to my future self.  Here it is:

Dear 35-Year-Old Self,

I am writing this with no idea where you will be at 35 or what you will be like, but I have some hopes and dreams for you that I would like to outline for you.  Knowing you, I have a feeling when you read this in 10 years, you might feel a little disappointed if you are not where I imagine you being.  That is perfectly okay.  You might not be where I imagined, but really all I can hope for is that you are following the will of God.  That is all that really matters.

Currently I am in a place of uncertainty.  A place of transition and new territory.  I am just beginning to figure out this new role as mom.  At 35, I have no idea how many children we may have or even what location we will be at, but I hope in 10 years to be more confident as a mom.  I question myself daily.  I question if I am doing enough for Hudson.  Every day I am faced with the doubt that I am not a good enough mother.  I am pretty certain that I will still have these doubts in 10 years, they may be even more significant with the passing of time, but I do hope you have greater confidence in your ability to mother well.  Not only as mother, but I hope your confidence has increased in all areas of your life.  Ultimately I hope you stand on even firmer confidence in Christ, and through this, you may live a life that is bolder and more certain.

Along with confidence, I hope you are not as serious.  I hope in 10 years, you have become more fun and less stressed.  I know in these next few years, life is likely going to get more complicated and more full, but my prayer is that I can increase in maturity to handle it all better than my early twenties.  I hope you can better handle when things fall apart.  I hope there are less anxious tears and more belly laughs.  I hope that you can shake things off quicker and with greater ease.  I hope you can be less frantic and concerned about the things that really do not matter.  Again, I know you and I know that you are likely going to still have these same anxious and stressed out tendencies that I am currently dealing with, but along with all the other hopes I outlined, I ultimately hope you can learn to lean less on yourself and more on the Lord.

Not only do I hope you are more confident and less anxious, I hope you have become better.  I hope you are better in all senses.  I hope you are a better wife.  I hope you love Lance better and are less selfish.  I hope you are a better mother.  I hope you are more patient with Hudson and any future children you may have.  I hope you have become a better sister, daughter, friend, church member, neighbor, woman, and most importantly a better follower of Christ.  This is starting to feel overwhelming, but really all I am hoping for is that by 35 your heart is bigger and fuller and more willing to love the people in your life better.  I know you still have a long way to go, but I really hope you can read this and know that you are absolutely more intentional with the relationships in your life.

At 25, I write this with great optimism.  I really cannot wait to meet you at 35 and see the life that you are living.  I can’t wait to see the growth you have made and I really can’t wait to see Hudson as a 10-year-old.  While I write this with hopeful optimism, I am almost certain that you probably have experienced lost somewhere along these 10 years.  You probably have had some darker seasons.  You may have even gotten a little lost along the way.  I am sure there have been some really hard tears you have cried and some really beautiful laughs.  I write this knowing that there are going to be some difficulties these next 10 years that will likely test me and make me feel uncomfortable.  Whatever has happened, I hope you can look back and through both the pain and the joy, see the hand of God over it all.

Love,

Your 25-year-old self

Chocolate Cake & Blueberries

This mama needs chocolate cake and blueberries.  I am writing this on Sunday afternoon, and right before I sat down to begin writing, I cut myself a generous slice of vegan chocolate cake.  While I normally would not indulge in chocolate cake anytime before 6pm, I figured it is still my birthday weekend so chocolate cake at 3pm is allowed.  To give a little insight as to how my brain works, I chose to top it with a handful of blueberries to balance it out.  Now, blueberries are a perfect topping to cake, but I am more interested in exploring why I tossed those blueberries on.  I honestly did not even feel like eating blueberries.  I really just wanted my leftover vegan cake, but internally that felt too indulgent.  This is a small and silly example, but in a similar vein to my post last week on rest, I too often find myself adding something to what alone is perfectly good and acceptable.  Why is it so hard to just eat the cake?

Reflecting on this further, maybe adding the blueberries is a good thing.  There is something incredibly valuable in balance.  It probably would not be the best to eat cake alone every afternoon, but cake with some antioxidant-filled blueberries every once and a while is a good thing.  I need to start living my days more from this cake and blueberry mindset.  By this I mean that I need to incorporate more balance.  My Mondays and Sundays are in stark contrast.  For me, Mondays are cleaning days.  I spend basically the entire day cleaning.  Sundays are resting days.  Especially recently, I have tried to be much more intentional on the ways we spend our Sundays.  While I don’t think there is anything wrong with having days dedicated to specific things, there needs to be balance.  On Mondays, I usually end the day so burnt out because I spent the majority of my time cleaning.  Continuing with my metaphor, Mondays are all about the blueberries, but even Mondays need a sliver of cake.  Sundays are all about the cake.  No laundry.  Crockpot dinners.  No agenda.  However, a day full of cake is not good for us either.  We need protein.  We need vitamins.  We need color.  As I am currently learning, Sundays also need blueberries.  It can’t just be cake.  Balance is needed on a daily basis, but that balance is going to look different with each day.  Certain days, work will outweigh play and rest; others the rest will be the focus.  I think we can get into ruts when we forget the importance of balancing our days out.  We forget to add the blueberries to the cake.

Will the Sabbath be ruined if we sweep the floors?  Will the Monday cleaning day be ruined if I take a nap? I have a habit of functioning in a black and white mindset that does not leave room for in-betweens.  It is either all or nothing.  I am learning this is not a healthy way to live.  While there is absolutely nothing wrong with occasionally having a big slice of cake on its own,  I hope to better strive at creating my days with greater balance that makes room for both the cake parts of life and also the blueberries elements because the truth is- they both are sweet on their own and even sweeter together.

Letter to My 15-Year Old Self

Yesterday was my 25th birthday.  I am officially a quarter of a century.  I have entered the mid-twenties.  For some reason this year feels significant to me.  I think back to 10 years ago and I am proud of who I am becoming and the family Lance and I have started.  I also hopefully think ahead 10 years to the future and I have so many goals and dreams as to where I would like to be at 35.  In honor of 25 years, I wrote a letter to both my past and future self.  Here is the first letter:

Dear 15-year-old self,

Hi Kelli Sugimoto, this is Kelli Capel writing to you.  In 10 years, a lot is going to change for you.  You will get married, you will have a baby, you will come to truly know Christ.  These are the big ones, but your next ten years will be filled with little moments, little decisions that will change everything.  You are going to feel lost at times and uncertain that you are making the right decisions, but I just wanted to reassure you that you are.  Even the mistakes, led you to the life I am currently living and it really is a beautiful one.  It is so full with family, friends, the sweetest little boy and a man that loves you.  I know what you are dreaming about right now and I am pleased to tell you some of those dreams will happen in just a few short years.

Right now you are probably just in the midst of figuring out that you really love to run.  It is your freshmen year and I know you have no idea what running will become.  You are entering a chapter where running will be everything.  It is going to teach you a lot.  It is going to build within you a determination and a strength you did not even know you were capable of.  It is also going to test you.  It is going to wake you up and make you realize you are much more than just a runner.  It will show that running is a good thing, but it is not the thing.  It will get you places and open doors and give you things.  This is a lot of vagueness, all to say this: keep running, keep chasing dreams, keep getting better, keep putting in the miles and the minutes, keep believing you can.  Running will begin as the everything and it will end as really nothing, but I am learning right now that it will come back to be something really beautiful again; just with a different look.

Along with running, you are also forming some very important friendships.  Some of those friends, you are going to lose touch with and that is okay, but some, specifically a couple, will be your two best friends, 10 years later and beyond.  Enjoy your time with them now.  Things will change very quickly.  Definitely not for the worst, but it will be different.  You will all live in different states and your time together will be limited.  Soak up your time with them now.  These girls will stand by you at your wedding, they will be there for your baby shower, they will drive to see you in Arizona.  They will love you in the good and the hard.  They will be true friends through and through.

As with your friends, spend as much possible time with your family.  As strange as this may sound, you only have about 3 more years of living at home.  You only have 6 more years of being unmarried.  In three years, it will be different.  In six, entirely changed.  Your time at your family home is limited.  Appreciate it as much as you can now.  Thank your mom more for always helping pack lunches and making breakfasts and loving you so well.  Thank your dad more for all his support and believing in you always.  Spend more time with your sister.  Tell her more often all the amazing strong qualities you see in her.  Give more cuddles to your dog, Jack, he will pass in just a couple years. Go and visit grandma as often as you can.  When she tells you to “run along now” stay longer.  Treasure this season with your family.

I know now you are not even really thinking about dating or boys, but just remember the real man will come in the form of a very good friend. He is more than you are even dreaming about.  Therefore, do not take the different heart breaks too seriously.  As dramatic as they feel at the time, God has something infinitely better planned for you.  All the disappointments are one step closer to finding the life He has intended for you.  I don’t want to tell you who your husband will be (some things are better left as surprises), but trust me when I tell you that he is perfect for you.  He will be the man that helps point you back to the cross.  Through your friendship, you will be reintroduced to church and find out what it means to truly be in relationship with Jesus.  Reality LA will be an important church and community for you in the coming years.  I know right now you go to church, but I am so excited for you to fully see what it looks like and feels like to have a personal relationship with God.

Remember how you always dreamed about being a teacher and a mom?  These dreams comes true.  Teaching will be hard at times, but by the time you leave for the next dream to happen, you will have a heart so much fuller than when you began.  You will come to find that you learned more as a teacher than you ever had as a student.  You will realize that teaching is not always about the deliverance of content as it is about the example of love and kindness you can set for your students.  It turns out this is what they will really remember about you; not the proper placement of a semi-colon.

You will leave the classroom for a bit and enter your next dream.  Motherhood.  Your baby boy is more precious than you can even imagine.  He has your nose and his father’s eyes. Even in just the first few months, he is going to teach you a lot about sacrifice, patience, and love.  There is not much else I can tell you on this, considering I am just a few months in, but I am sure my future self will have some good lessons to prepare you for.

I want to leave you with these final words.  You have so much to look forward to.  There is amazing and beautiful things ahead.  A common thread you will be faced with is lack of confidence in your abilities.  Whenever you are in those places of doubt whether it be on the line of a race, in a classroom of students, up late with a sleepless baby; remember that God made you ready for each of these different seasons.  You were made for this.  Don’t ever forget that.

Love,

25-year-old self

 

 

Rest

This mama needs rest.  

Resting is something that does not come naturally to me.  I really wish it did because it is so important, but it doesn’t.  In the moments of my day that actually lend themselves well for rest, I seem to resist real rest in place of what I am calling “pretend rest.”  I think we all have a tendency to do this.  Last night, I had an unexpected window of free time.  This could have been an ideal time for rest.  I could of curled up and read more of my book.  I could have just laid down and turned on a show.  I could of just closed my eyes for a few minutes and prayed.  I could have done all these activities of rest, but instead I chose “pretend rest.”  I chose to fold the laundry, while watching “Tidying Up.”  What I really wanted to do was just lay there and watch Marie Kondo perfectly fold laundry, but that is too restful.  I must do that plus something productive.  Why do we do this?  In my life, I seem to always blend rest with what actually needs to be accomplished, which ultimately results in mediocre rest.  I don’t want mediocre rest. I want real rest.  I want the type of rest where you just nap in the middle of the day, not because you are sick, but just because.  I find the only time I truly grant my body rest is when it is fully in need of it.  When I am hit with terrible body aches and feel sick, then I can just lay there and rest.  However, if I am feeling good, I forget that I am still in need of rest in the middle of my days. I need to better grant myself permission to fully rest, not pretend rest.  Pretend rest looks like folding laundry and watching a show.  It looks like laying down while going through emails.  It looks like emptying the dishwasher while listening to a sermon.  Don’t get me wrong, these things listed above can be great ways to get things done while also relaxing or doing something more fulfilling, but I think the issue is when we deem these things as our true rest.  Rest plus something else cannot equal pure rest. Rest alone equals pure rest.  It is that simple.

I need a lot of grace in this area of my life.  I need to not just rest and turn everything off, I need to rest in the fullness of what God has already accomplished and done for me.  Everything I could do will never be enough.  It will never save me.  I am enough and I am saved solely through the grace of God.  I was reminded of this truth as I read Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:5-8 earlier this week:

“You are saved by grace!  He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift- not from works so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:5-8).

I feel like I can end this here.  There is not much else I can write that is not perfectly captured in those verses from Ephesians.  It is all God.  It is all grace.  And it is all good.  We are so little and are to-do lists are so insignificant to what has already been accomplished.  Therefore, there is no point in filling our time with pretend rest when what we truly need is to fully rest in the goodness of God and his ever-sufficient grace.