1. MAKE YOUR BED: Anybody who knows me, knows I'm a hardcore bedmaker. I've got to give a shout out to my mom for enforcing this habit the first seventeen years of my life. More than once she called me to come home from a friends house to make my bed. After I moved out, I just couldn't stop. I remember when I was on the Idol tour, and we were in a different hotel in a different city everyday, and apparently I had developed a reputation… our security guard knocked on my hotel door to let me know it was time to get on the bus and he peaked his head in my room and said “hey, so I heard that you make your bed in your hotel room… did you know there's room service right?”. Of course I did, but that's not what it's about, it's about the habit. Now I don't mean to toot my bed-making horn, but it's probably one of the only good habits I have maintained through out my life, and the only way to keep a habit is to never stop doing it. My room could be a royal dump, but I find that when the bed is made it allows for a small space of order and clarity that can serve as a head start to get the day going. I know people that say “why would I make my bed when I'm just gonna get back in it”… to that mentality I would say, why bother brushin' those teeth, you're just gonna eat again, why change out of those jammies, just gonna go back to sleep in about 12 hours. Of course everything we do will be undone, frustrating, but Life is made up of repetitive habits. Try it out, just pop out of bed and make it… then stand back and take a look. Feels good right?!
2. NO SCREENS: This newer habit has taken a lot of self discipline to master, still working on it. My old auto pilot was to wake up, squirt some contact solution in my eyes, grab my iphone and start making the rounds. First starting with emails and texts and then instagram, then twitter and probably some facebook, rinse and repeat. Sometimes I would do all this before even saying good morning to my spouse. I even let the baby cry in her crib a little longer than needful just to check a few more things, or “like” just a few more pictures. I can't quite explain the effects of starting my day on the internet, but over time I realized that it left me in a literal daze, I struggled to find motivation to get going with my day, I felt anxious and overwhelmed, scatterbrained and unable to focus, and I tended to do more compulsive repetitive checking of all my social platforms, to the point that I felt like I wasn't even aware that it was happening. Scary. I'll even admit that some of the images, status updates etc. that I saw of people and situations left me feeling bummed out, over analyzing, comparing or feeling like I just couldn't do, have or be enough. It's influence was subtle and seemingly harmless, but little by little I noticed more disconnect in my real day to day life with Dave and London. After reading this amazing quote last month I knew I needed to go on a literal Digital Diet, and create more intentional habits and guidelines for my internet and social media usage. This is especially hard as the majority of my professional pursuits reside on the computer and online. As with any other good habit that we are trying to establish, consistency has been a struggle for me but I just keep trying. For the last few weeks I have made a “no screens” rule for the first hour that I am awake. That includes, phones, computers and tv's. Though many people don't dig mornings, they are a beautiful thing that if taken advantage of can be a time of quiet and peace, and a time to connect with family, God and ourselves. In addition to this rule, I have tried to reserve my social networking to nap times, and no phone during dinner and family times. This topic could be it's own post.
3. AN APPLE A DAY: We've all heard “an apple a day keeps the Dr. away”. I can say I've put it to the test and now I'm a believer and a partaker of the apple daily. When I was breastfeeding London, I was hungry like the wolf the second that I woke up, and so was she. I was unable to make it downstairs to eat a healthy filling breakfast before she awoke, so the night before I would grab and apple and then set it on my nightstand to eat while Loo was doing her first feeding of the day. This morning apple eating ritual went on for nearly 8 months of breastfeeding till I stopped, the breastfeeding that is, the apple eating however, continued. I loved the way I felt, both in energy and health, as well I grew to become a passionate apple connoisseur. I no longer settled for grainy tasteless apples that came in bags, I hand picked them at the market and started trying lots of different apples. I've become partial to Pink Ladies, Jazz, Honeycrisp, and have recently discovered the sweet tango, my favorite! If you follow me on instagram, then you know I'm pretty much the crazy apple lady. There's a lot of apples on my feed. I recently read this super interesting and awesome post on the Free People Blog about the benefits of eating apples. I felt further empowered in my apple eating. But in the words of Lavar Burton, You don't have to take my word for it. Go read it for yourself HERE.
4. GET OUTSIDE: In my post-partum days I also found this one to be a life saver. I went from being a go-go-go kind of gal to spending most of my days at home in my bed (as documented on my instagram) holding and feeding a baby. As happy as the reason for the change of pace, the extreme pendulum swing was a bit of an adjustment, and at times the constant indoor isolation caused me a bit of the blues. I discovered quickly however that the best remedy for my bummers was to GO OUTSIDE! London and I walked everyday. While it was helpful, the purpose of the walk wasn't to loose weight or to see how fast I could go. No, this walk was for my Mind as much as it was for my body. I got out of the house to get out of my head, to breath in fresh air, feel the movement in my frame, to witness my surroundings, the trees, park or houses. I needed to feel sunshine on my skin, to see strangers walking their dogs, and just to have a change of scenery. I have continued this habit almost daily. I notice a big difference in my day when I skip my walk. Cold winter weather can make going outside less inviting, but even if we were just to walk outside our front door, stretch our arms above our heads, take a deep breath and just spend a few quality minutes out of our habitat, we'd tap into a natural energy source that doesn't cost a thing. Regardless of where you are mentally or physically, taking time to be in nature can change our day and our life.
5. WRITE IT DOWN: This summer I felt the impression to pick up an old book that my mom gave to me when I was twenty two, and experiencing a frustrating and depressing bout of writers block. The book is called The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. Have you ever heard of this book? It's quite epic, and it's purpose is to help recover or discover our creative identities through a variety or exercises and “artist dates”. While I am in a vastly different phase of life then the first time I read it, I knew that I was due for a creative tune-up, however felt that this time I wanted to share this experience with others. So I got a group of diverse women together, single, married, moms, creatives, and even a scientist. Once a week we got together to discuss the chapters and the break-throughs we were having, it was so enlightening to learn from each other, and probably the highlight of my summer! While occasionally something in the book didn't align or resonate with me or my personal beliefs, I found the majority of it to be a real life changer. One of the most important and basic requirements of the Artist way is to do what she calls “The Morning pages”. The Morning pages are defined as three pages of stream of consciousness writing, brain drain, or free writing… in the morning, ideally shortly after you wake up, everyday. It's purpose different from that of journal writing, it's not meant to be shared, passed down to posterity, edited or sensor'd. If you want to complain, be grateful, or even write poop a million times if you need, it's all good in the morning pages. While at first the practice of writing three pages at the crack of dawn wasn't easy, over time I started to notice a change. If I woke up with a load of worries on my mind, it went in the morning pages, if I felt overwhelmed with the days tasks, it went in the morning pages, if I felt insecure or social anxiety it went in the morning pages, If I was feeling inspired to start a project it went in the morning pages, even if I was uninspired, that went in the morning pages too. Sometimes I even prayed on the page (another morning habit). Over time, I was carrying around less mental dead weight, I was working my stress out on the page, sorting it out, and freeing up space in my soul to work it out and feel empowered. Much like list-making, writing things down can help us find order, a plan, perhaps even a bit more confidence to do the things we can, and surrender to the things we can't. So set your alarm ten minutes earlier, and when you get up tomorrow, swap out that smart phone (remember no screens) for a pad of paper and start writing it down, be it a sentence, a page or three of anything or a list of to-do's and see how your day unfolds!
Of course I have a few other of my own morning habits, such as get dressed, dance with London to Here Comes the Sun (everyday) and smile… this is a good start. And I am aware that while these work for me in the season of life that I am in, they might not work for you and the season you are in. And let's be honest, I don't do them all perfectly everyday, but strive to do them as often as possible. Are there any particular habits or routines that you do that help you to have a happier day?! We're all ears… or eyes, feel free to share with us below!