Morning and Evening Rituals

A morning and evening RITUAL is the perfect way to bookend your day with intention, motivation and self-care!

 

How many of you wake up to an alarm, feeling oh so tired and wishing you had more time in bed?  My guess is that many of you out there in cyber land are nodding your head to this question.  The first thing in your mind as you awaken maybe thoughts of scarcity or not enough: not enough sleep, not enough time in the day etc.  I know this because this was the way I started my day for years and years, even prior to having kids.  I felt like I woke up and was already on someone else’s agenda, until I discovered the art of a morning and evening ritual. 

A morning ritual is a way that you can feel empowered and enlivened when you awake, as you know that first and foremost in your day you are going to be serving yourself in the way that YOU have decided.  Instead of jumping out of bed and making breakfast for others, checking your email, surfing the internet etc.  what if you created a ritual that would allow you to connect with yourself and your needs.  The best thing is that YOU get to design this for yourself.  Okay now I am well versed in the art of sabotage and "yes but" thoughts of the mind and I have a feeling that some of your brains are beginning to start this tape now.  Yes but...I have to get kids ready for school, yes but... I have an early morning meeting, yes but... I just don’t have time in the morning, yes but..I am not a morning person etc.   These yes buts are great ways of keeping us living small and not feeling abundant in our time and space for ourselves.  What if I told you that you can still do all the things you need to do in the morning and FIRST you will do those things you need for you and that quite possibly this may create space, energy and make the rest of your day go smoother!

  A morning routine can be short and sweet or long and elaborate.   I suggest that you create some connection in the following categories: mind, body and spirit. Personally my mornings are busy times with 4 kiddos and all the different places and needs they have.  That is my current season of life AND I still make this a priority.  My morning routine at this season in my life is vitally important to preventing burn out and right now it is a short and sweet.  I lock myself in the bathroom to read my seasonal goals in a loud and bombastic way, write my morning pages, love on my skin as I put my yummy filled lotion on my face (man I can’t tell you how loved I feel when I put it on in an intentional loving way, seriously), and I say my morning prayer.  That’s it!  At some point in my life I would love to expand and include exercise in this part of my day but for now it’s best found elsewhere in the day. 

In the evening I create the same space for myself.  I used to end my day by dragging myself to bed and crashing.  Now I have created a space where I turn off all work, books etc. 30 minutes prior to bedtime.  I go into my bathroom and go over my day as I celebrate how I showed up that day, I write in my gratitude journal and give myself some love in the mirror by saying I love you.  Whoa was that one scary when I first started doing it!  Seriously, I think I laughed my way through for the first few months, and couldn’t even look myself in the eye. 

Confession time here...over the years of doing this ritual I have fallen off the wagon many times, especially during times when I really needed to do this.  My M.O when I mess up used to be to fall into the trap of thinking that it just wasn’t working for me and sometimes even to beat myself up and think of myself as a failure rather than a bump in the road.  Now a days I still have times when I realize that its been a few days and gulp sometimes weeks, since I woke up and made myself a priority and what I do now is get back on it!  It is a journey my friends!  We are all on this together.  Rituals are amazing ways to set yourself up for greater success on this journey and so is being gentle with yourself. 

Journey on!

Check IN or Check OUT?

Here’s the thing, all of us feel exhausted sometimes.  All of us experience feelings of anger, sadness, anxiety, loneliness and boredom.  So here is the question, when those things arise what do you do with them?  Do you check in or do you check out? 

Do you engage in activities that will allow you to feel and move through those feelings, or do you engage in things that allow you to mask and numb them?  No judgment here, just a real question that I ask myself all the time!

Personally, I have found myself numbing out on way to many occasions.  Over the years, as I have become more aware of the effects of numbing on my body, mind and spirit, I have chosen to check in more often.  Here are a few examples. 

Some days I feel cranky and/or sad. We all do.  For a while I was noticing that when those feelings came up I would check out on social media…like a lot! It was a way to numb those feelings.  What I saw was it was actually making it way worse and it was making it last a lot longer.  Feelings come and go.  By checking out I was not acknowledging them or letting them in and so they just kept knocking on the door over, and over, and so I found myself scrolling down the Facebook feed over and over.  So what does checking in look like for me?  I practice self-awareness and notice what is going on inside.  Most of the time I don’t question the trigger or the whys behind it. I just notice the feeling and the urge to check out.  I then go to my bathroom to take some breaths and let it be. Sometimes that is not enough and I have to write, cry or simply sit.  What I have noticed is that I am then able to return to my work, the kids or whatever I am doing and be present again.  I don’t need to check out…I need to check in. 

We all could use some work honoring our feelings and giving ourselves permission to feel them and be with them. They will pass.  I have found that when I put my effort and intention on checking in as part of my daily morning routine, I have so much more energy. And when I recognize I don't have energy, I am able to address it to create more.  I also have found that I am more emotionally up.  When I fall into the traps of checking out and numbing I am much more snappy, grumpy, down and have way less energy. Are you convinced yet? How about this example? 

On days that I stay home with my kiddos, about mid way through the day I put the littles down for their rest time.  So what do I do with this time?  It has evolved over the course of a decade of rest times.  A decade ago, I would use the time to get some housework done and maybe even start dinner so that I could play with my  two kiddos all afternoon. I got a lot done but I felt exhausted all afternoon and I counted down the minutes until bedtime.  So scratch that! So rest time became a time when I could catch up on work that I hadn’t gotten to…and as a self-employed, work from home mom there is ALWAYS work I can be doing.  Again this left me feeling tired and grumpy and often wanting to do more work.  Then I had an idea to reclaim that time for myself. So what did I choose to do?  I checked out Facebook for 30 minutes, surfed the web or watched a show.  Now, how in the world is that ever going to help me have more energy or feel rested?  I don’t know about you but being on the Internet or watching t.v. rarely helps me feel rested.  Which is all well and good but that isn’t really what my goal for rest time was.  So fast-forward to doing something where I check in and serve myself and you will find me writing, stretching, taking a walk (don’t worry the littles aren’t home alone, the homeschooled older kiddo is around), or even taking a nap.  After one of those rest times I feel ready for the rest of the day.  I have energy and excitement to carry me through the witching hour!  This simple shift has helped me thrive in the afternoons, rather than become a snappy mama who counts down the hours until bed time (well most days).  

Here is what I know.  I am not alone in my urge to check out, I noticed people doing it all around me all the time!  There is a lot of really intense, sometimes traumatic issues in our world and in our personal lives;  and it is one response to check out and numb.  It is something that is increasingly easy to do in our gadget filled world.  Here is my disclaimer I build a business online.  I am not saying technology is bad or that I always practice what I preach.  I am on this human journey with you.   

Here is something that you may want to try:

  1. Simply become aware of your habits around checking out.  Write them down for a week if you need to. 
  2. Then decide to take some action in small ways and in areas that you want to create a shift.  What do you want for your day, your energy levels, your moods?  What steps do you take to check in?  These you may need to try out and see what works for you.  Here are some ideas: Take a nap, go outside and feel the Earth on your feet, write in a journal,  color, meditate, pray, create a retreat space in your house.
  3. Start.  Not tomorrow or next month but today!  When you notice you are back on an old habit pattern that doesn’t work get back on that proverbial horse.

 Give yourself gentle nudges to create more presence in your life so that you show up more each day.  As someone who is on this journey I can say that it isn’t always easy!  Especially those really hard days or emotions but the work creates so much more life, happiness and connection!

 

Saying NO Can CHANGE Your Life!

How many of you out there have said yes to something that you really wanted to say no to?  How many of you would like to change this habit in order to create more space for ways you do want to serve others and yourself?  I assume that all of your hands are up because we have all done this at least once in our lives. I was once a serial YES offender!  I by all means am not cured but I am definitely well into recovery.  Do you want to know how I did it?  Follow these 5 easy steps and you to could be on your way….oh wait there are no easy steps, it takes focus and work people!  I can however, offer you some great food for thought and even some tools that have helped others and me!

First of all it is a process my friends!  No one has ever been cured of being a Yes woman over night.  Most of us were brought up in this way; it is ingrained in us.  Here's what I want us all to consider, when we say yes to something we don't want to do we often feel over extended, bitter, or angry and NO ONE wins…truly NO ONE WINS!  Here come the yes but’s…yes but I have to do it, yes but its my responsibility, yes but, yes but, yes but.  Here is the thing I want to make really clear, when we say yes to something we really don’t want to do we are also saying no to things that we really want to do, it's just that simple!  

So how do we begin the path to recovery?  First we must truly want to make the change! I suggest doing this each and every day, maybe as part of your morning routine.  Bringing it to your awareness each day will enable you to change your habit patterns.  In order to change a habit we must create a new habit and that takes dedication and work.  Then we need some tools.  The best tool we have at our disposal is already present in us, self -awareness.  Start with taking stock of all the times in your day/week when you catch yourself saying yes when you really didn’t want to.  Start to become aware of how your body reacts in that moment.  What do you feel in your stomach, throat etc. when you say yes but mean no.  That is your bodies inner guidance system telling you that you don’t want to do this!  Pay attention to your guidance system for a few days, a week or longer to become more aware and friendly with it.  You may feel resistance, just be aware of that.  Next, find yourself a trigger.  What’s a trigger?  It’s something, often an object, that you use to help you remember.  Brene Brown, the author, talks about her own struggle with being a yes woman. She shares that she bought herself a ring that she turns 3 times and says her own self created mantra before saying yes or no.  Her ring allows her the time to check in with herself and see if she really wants to put her energy towards whatever she is being asked to do.  She then has a canned response to saying no.  This canned, rehearsed response will help you feel more powerful when you say no.  You will need to create your own trigger, as well as response.   Ideally your trigger it is something that physically reminds you of your new mission.  Something like these custom temporary tattoos on etsy could be helpful.  It could also be as simple as writing a word on your wrist.  Finally, celebrate your successes and be gentle with your hiccups.  It’s a process, right?!  You will not always say yes when you mean no but you should make sure you keep coming back to it.

If you aren't convinced yet, why the heck not?  Try it for a week and see what shifts!

Has Being Selfish Gotten A Bad Rap?

Who out there has ever thought any variation of following: I can’t possibly take an extra hour to be by myself, to say no when people really need me, to ask my partner to put the kids to bed while I go spend some time with friends.  How many times have you really wanted to do something but didn’t because you thought you were being selfish? 

What does it actually mean to be selfish? 

Technically being selfish means to only care for oneself, regardless of others. So when we take that extra long shower, when we say no to a function that we don’t really want to go to, even though we know it is expected of us, are we being selfish or stay with me here, are we really caring for ourselves and therefore caring for others?  Are we actually creating more life energy to put to good use serving others in ways that we do have energy, talents and excitement for? 

If we don’t want to be selfish, what do we want to be?  Selfless.  Selfless is the opposite of selfish it is concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one's own self.  Based on those definitions it is no wonder that we want to be selfless and not selfish, right?

Where did the strong negative association with being selfish come from ladies? 

On a cultural level being selfless is something that is culturally ascribed to a female.  We receive this message over and over again.  Women are supposed to be selfless; it is part of our nature to serve and in some ways that is actually true.  However, we have taken it on so much that it can cause us to feel bitter, angry, and burn out because all we do is give, give, give.  It becomes this unconscious thing that we do because we are suppose to rather than this beautiful thing that we do because we want to.

We need to examine the messages that we have and continue to receive about women and selfishness. Even as I research images for this blog post I am struck by the images that I have to choose from.  Images of women and mothers that depict being selfish are shown as mothers doing things for themselves and a child left crying in the corner…seriously.  Images depicting selfless involve mothers shown as a bird flying, rain coming down and the mother sheltering the babies and getting sopping wet.  Images of words that say help others, and love is selfless. Basically proving exactly what so many of us have in our heads…in order to be a good mother, wife, daughter etc. we must be selfless and give, give, give.  It we take time for ourselves then our children will be crying in the corner and that is bad.  So it’s time to make some change and that starts with YOU!

Maybe being selfish has gotten a bad rap

Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of actions that warrant a negative connotation to the word but as many things in life humanity has created this all or nothing/black and white idea; we are either selfish or selfless. So imagine here that you have said yes to something that, given where you are at in your life, this is causing you feelings of overwhelm.  You do it anyways because you think it is expected of you and you don’t want to be selfish.  Your might think we all have a full plate so you just have to suck it up and do it.  After you are done with the project you get extra grumpy with your kids and short with your partner.  You stay up way late and the next day you turn in the project feeling bitter and burned out.  Ugh! Now say that you said no to the project.  You were self-aware and knew you had too much on at the moment and this particular project wasn’t in your skill set.  Consciously saying no helped you realize that you were feeling low on energy and so you enacted some strategies to help fill you up.  You DID NOT beat yourself up and knew that you would be able to give at some point just not right now.  The next month when another event comes you have more space and energy so you dive right in, getting the project completed in half the amount of time and twice the amount of joy as you would have if you simply would have said yes the month before.  Sounds easy right?

How can we change this in our lives? 

First we need to figure out our own relationship with the word and idea of selfish.  I suggest doing some journaling around what this term means to you in your life.  What is your history with the term and how does it show up in the now?  Then if you find that this is a major barrier for you create a list of what triggers your thoughts of selfishness.  Become self-aware of what occurs in your mind when these reactions are triggered.  Finally, make a commitment to change and see how it positively affects your life. You can change by becoming more aware and making different choices both internally and externally.  It takes time and effort to change!

Start here and answer the question, how would your life look differently if you lived it from a place of self-awareness to what you can really do and what you want to do in service to others?

Let's do this!