The Circle of Dreams

Hello ladies and dad! I just wanted to pop in here, screw off the top of my brain and hand you a magnifying glass. I do a lot of thinking, reading, planning, praying and talking about my life and my goals. I am the type of person who loves to be working on something. And I’m constantly thinking about my “things” of the moment.

Last August I began my journey of realizing my dreams as a writer. I started this blog, which I love. But somewhere along the way I told myself that if I wasn’t instantly followed by thousands and earning extra cash that I shouldn’t be doing this blog. So I began to drift away from the blog and go back to working on my novel. There is money in publishing, so I thought that it was the road that I needed to follow.

I also have a love/hate relationship with social media. I have convinced myself that I need a large following in order to have women read my blog, but the whole Instagram game is exhausting. There is a constant unfollow/follow game. There is so much advice about creating a beautiful grid; which frankly stresses me out. I can’t take pretty pictures daily. I can’t limit myself to 3 key colors. My life is happening in a variety of colors and textures. I am attempting to learn how to become ok with little to no growth; many of those followers will never read my blog anyway; not unless I publish a novel!!! Do you see what it’s like to be inside of my head?

With growing frustrations with the blog and social media, I set a new batch of goals all related to my novel. I outlined a plan for a non-fiction book as well. I began to work on daily writing. And guess what? I just don’t want to. Not often anyway. At the end of the day I’d much rather curl up in bed with a book to read, instead of curl up with my laptop to write. I like my book. I think it’s off to a great start. I want to publish a book. I want to feel the success of a completed draft. I want people to read it. BUT, I don’t feel like writing it as often as I feel like writing this. I want it to be over, but with the blog I had genuine interest with every week.

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I have had to really talk to myself about this. I enjoy this blog. I think some people enjoy reading it. Every time I get a positive comment my cup is filled. And as a full time working mother of three, I want to enjoy what I am doing in my free time. So I’m circling back around. The novel is a someday. The blog is now. And I don’t have to gain notoriety or earn money in order for the experience to be successful.

Do you need that message in your life? Is there something that you love doing that you have talked yourself out of? Take it from me, who is finally learning this lesson. You don’t have to make money off of something, or become famous at that thing, in order to do it. We should do what brings us joy? My sister-in-law is a master baker. She bakes the cutest-most-delicious cakes and cookies. I used to always tell her that she should start a business. She was never interested. For her turning her love of baking into a business would take away her joy.

I needed to let that sink to heart earlier. Of course I would love to earn an income from writing, but that would just be the bonus. That is not the purpose, and does not determine my worth. Nor should it determine yours. Do you love to paint? Then do it. Do you have a dream to sell needlepoint at craft fairs? Do it; even if you only sell 2. If you want to take an adult ballet class, then do so. Audition for community theater without expecting a Tony Award.

I think these excuses and expectations are just fears. Make a plan to start. Make a plan to continue. Make a plan to finish. Do it for yourself. Chase that dream sister. (and dad.)

That means that you should expect to see my posts weekly again. If you want to follow my blog, I would love it. If you want to share my blog with others I would love that too. But I’m going to keep doing what I love either way.

Thanks for your ear!

Authentically,

Amber

I shall Overcome… Right???

Every year, in early Spring, my mom, my sister and I take our 5 children for a two-day trip to Disneyland and California Adventure. We schedule it months in advance, we buy matching shirts, we talk about it endlessly. It is, needless to say, super important to me – a bringer of complete joy.

This year our trip was scheduled for the beginning of April. About two weeks out from the trip my son developed a hacking cough. No worries, I told myself, we have two weeks. He will be fine. Around the same time Jordan, my oldest, woke up with a double eye infection. Deep breaths, everything will be ok, I assured myself. A few days later the youngest woke with the same double eye infection as the oldest. There’s still a week, we can do this, I calmed my mind. The oldest’s infection cleared, and then returned a few days later. It cleared and returned for a third time. My son continued to cough, with a snotty nose and sore throat. I continued to worry. Would our vacation be ruined? The hotel was nonrefundable. Would we all have to miss out while mom, Missy, Doodle and Moe went on without us? My sensitive heart couldn’t handle even considering that.

On Monday of the big week I woke up completely sick. My head was full of snot, my throat was sore and my voice was scratchy. By noon I was muted; I could not talk at all. And by 5:00 I had all the aches and chills that accompany a major illness. On Tuesday, for fun, my washing machine began to leak. AGAIN. (We went through several bouts of this last year before getting a replacement.) I would have to pay for some unexpected plumbing; always a joy. By Wednesday my voice had not returned and my throat was lined with canker sores. Seriously. 10 canker sores around the rim of my throat. I thought I was dying – my mouth hurt so badly. So so so badly, and the big trip was the next day.

When I awoke on Disney day 1 my throat hurt badly, but my aches and pains were gone, and I could talk in a whisper. The kids seemed to be recovered, so it was a go. Nothing could get in the way of our joy! We piled our suitcases into the old CRV and hit the 22E.

As we approached the Harbor Boulevard exit we heard a loud BANG! What was that, I cried? Of course my passengers, ages 10, 5 and 3, had no clue. We pulled off the freeway and heard the slapping of a popped tire. We were 1.5 miles from our destination, after 2 weeks of health woes, but we just couldn’t quite get there. I pulled over, while my son started crying silent tears, and I tried to calm the major anxiety creeping into my body. I called Honda roadside assistance, was transferred 3 times to the “right department” where I was told that my service had expired. She connected me with Triple A, who said that they could only serve members (which I am not), but that if I told her my location she would suggest a local tow. I said, I’m right by Disneyland. She replied, Like in America??? M’am, I’m in Canada. Oh gee thanks Honda. I decided right then and there to  just drive 5mph down Harbor Boulevard to the hotel, where I could deal with the tire upon our departure. This trip was going to happen!

Those miles were hilarious. Every single pedestrian on Harbor turned to stare, point or laugh at our tire. Jordan shrank lower and lower in her seat, while Jaxon said, Mommy, that guy is taking a picture! I had to laugh to keep from crying. Surely I was now taking out the rim with my tire; but dang it, the castle and churros were waiting!

Fortunately, the rest of the day was good. We made it to the hojo, where my mom and sister were waiting to comfort me and talk me off of the ledge. We loaded the stroller with snacks and headed to California Adventure. I kept my talking and snacking to a minimum, and we had a truly great day. The joy that I had so greatly desired was right there in my hand. (Sidenote: Do you know how hard it is to silently ride Guardians of the Galaxy? It’s really really hard. It’s also really hard to whisper talk all day with your favorite people who you haven’t seen in a couple of months.)

So…… Shia, who is 3, has a truly terrible phobia of going to the restroom in public. She is terrorized by automatic toilets. She is terrorized by the volume of hand-dryer. She doesn’t trust the trick of covering the sensors. She will pee at home, church and school, and that’s about it. (Houses in which we are guests, and hotels are fine too.) In 2018, when we were annual pass holders to Disneyland, she would go in the tiny potty in the childcare center, so I wasn’t too worried. But enough time had passed that for this trip she was no longer about it. This problem has been a major point of anxiety for me. She has held her urine for up to 8 hours before, and has given herself a pretty gnarly UTI. Rewards don’t work. Threats don’t work. I have tried all the tricks. The girl won’t pee. On this day, with my throat full of cankers and my popped tire, I tried to coerce her into using the little potty at DCA. She cried so hard she vomited into my hands. I gave up, knowing that this was so terrible for her health.

That night I snuggled up with Shia in our hotel room. I awoke to her screaming, Help me! Mommy, help me! It was 2 am. I shot up in bed to see what was wrong. She was scrambling to climb onto me. There’s bugs everywhere, she screamed. I turned on a soft light to bring her out of her dream, to show her that she was safe, but she could not be calmed. She took one look at me and screamed, You’re covered in worms! She jumped up and ran to the corner of the room, shaking in fear. I was terrified, as she wouldn’t allow me to hold her. My mom, who was woken in the next bed, called out to her, but when she went to her grandma she immediately recoiled, screaming that she was covered in snails. I grew terrified. This period of terror, mixed with moments of calm; it was so confusing. She could only be calmed when held in a standing position. Was she asleep? Was she just being dramatic? I knew that her fear was real. She was truly shaking and clearly terrified. After AN HOUR of episodes I took her to the hospital. Getting her into the car was scary; she didn’t want me to touch her. But once we were settled she was completely calm. Mommy, do we have to take the freeway? I thought I was losing my mind. I feared that she was truly going crazy.

It turns out that she was most likely experiencing a night terror hangover; which is exacerbated by a strained bladder. She was also running a light fever, because surprise surprise, the eye infection and cough were making a comeback. Those moments of terror over my baby were the booger icing on the poop cake. I would either have a complete meltdown now, or I would overcome.

Mom, do you think God actually hates me? I asked. No, I think he’s giving you a blog post, she answered.

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My sister got me to thinking about perseverance. About overcoming in difficult circumstances. Life, as it is, is messy and hard. There is no way to escape trials in this world. In retrospect, my trials aren’t as tragic as they felt in those moments, a leaky washing machine and popped tired are truly first world problems, as is worrying about Disneyland, but in the moments, I felt like the world was just crumpling around me. My joy was being stolen. “Why” was my word of the week. I did cry a few tears during that week, firstly over the pain of all of those canker sores, and secondly when I thought my baby was losing her mind, but I mostly held it together with a touch of sarcasm.

What I’m thinking about now, looking back, is that our reactions are a choice. When life is hard we each have a choice. I can chose to believe that things can and will get better. I can chose to believe that a trial is not an attack, but an opportunity. I can chose to have a positive attitude. I can chose to build my faith, instead of allowing my trials to wear my faith down.

Sometimes I will chose correctly. Sometimes I will curl up in fetal position and feel sorry for myself. I think that’s normal. As with all things in life, 80% success is my goal. When I’m going through stress I want to teach my kids had to react calmly, to pray out loud for God to see me through. I want to laugh. To model perspective; and all of that boils down to choice.

A month later I am still battling the throat and snot from “The Great Virus of 2019”, but I shall overcome… right? I chose to be grateful for those days, even with the woes.

Authentically,

Amber

Chasing “It”

So, it’s mid/late April. This means that we’ve had three full months and most of another to attack our dreams for the new year. If you are anything like me then you will have celebrated some wins and losses. You may feel your feet dragging. I’m here to cheer you on. There is so much 2019 left; and you can do it.

What is it for you? When this year was brand new I had several goals. In some areas I am all the way up. In some areas I am sitting and staring at a blank wall. And guess what? It’s ok.

If you’ve read me before you know that my word for 2019 is health. In fact I posted about it at the beginning of January, and again at the end of January. Tonight I’m going to write about it again- know why? Because I am still struggling, BUT I haven’t given up.

During this year, I specifically wanted to:

  1. Reclaim my kitchen with joy.
  2. Get my body moving 4-5 times a week.
  3. Commit myself to this blog; posting faithfully every Tuesday.

Until the last fortnight of life, I would have scored myself at a 33.33% I have committed myself to weekly posts. I have submitted myself to other publications. I am working on developing the social media accounts for this blog. I am growing slowly, but plugging away. I have been tempted to throw in the towel. I of course beat myself up mentally when I didn’t immediately get picked up for publication. But thanks to the encouragement of my squad; I’m still going.

But I have been in a slump with this blog the last few weeks. I recently experienced what I am now referring to as the great virus of 2019. I have never in my life been sick for so long. My voice was gone, my throat was covered in canker sores, my body was sore, and I was down and out in so many ways. This health setback also allowed for major mental fatigue. I wasn’t able to wake early for my morning routine. I began to doubt myself and my ability to grow this blog. I began to question if growing this blog is really what I want. Since last August I have posted faithfully once a week, but I have missed the last two posts and it hasn’t even bothered me too much.

I have been spending a lot of time this last week deep in thought. Are the same goals I made in January still relevant for me in April? Do I still want and need the same things? What exactly is it in my life?

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Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

I am passionate about writing, and about sharing my writing in the world, but I am transitioning away from focusing on this blog as my main expression, and getting back into the novel I began several years ago. I wrote the first 100 pages, got stuck, and never went back. But I think those 100 pages are good, and I am working on adding to them. I sat myself down and plotted out parts 2 and 3. I began revising the first 100 pages so that I could get back into the story, and I am committing to writing time 5 days a week. This it feels more me. I feel a lot of pressure to have a thriving social media presence associated with successful blogging. My heart doesn’t race with excitement when it comes to social media. I don’t want to spend the time necessary to growing my following there, so I’m rethinking what it means for me to be a writer today. I am still 100% focused on writing; I’m just allowing myself the flexibility to change the specifics of that goal in my life.

So as far as that focus in my life I am up, HOWEVER, I still suck at cooking. Not to say that I can’t cook, just to say that I don’t do it as much as I’d like to. I am lacking the joy in meal prep that I was really wanting to cultivate. Week after week I intend to plan out the dinner menu, but then Monday at 5:00 creeps up on me and we’re eating tostadas again. (And you guys, my husband really helps in this department. I don’t even want to think about what would be going on over here if I were in charge all 7 nights of the week. String cheese and a piece of toast anyone?)

I’m working out 2-3 times a week, but it’s not the 4-5 that my mind and body are craving. I’ve beat myself up over this as well. This week I discovered a new slew of veins around my knees that really upset me. I had a good cry. I felt like throwing in the towel. I’ll never be as fit as a 22 year old fitness model, so why even try? No one has ever accused me of being super rational. I’m a pretty dramatic person, especially in my mind. But a few days have passed, I’ve hit the gym once, and had three home workouts. I found a 6 minute barre video on Youtube that sets my legs on fire. How could I possibly make an excuse not to do a 6 minute video??? I know that those veins won’t bother me as much if I feel toned. I know that when summer arrives and I cover them with a tan that I won’t be so worried. And guess what? I’m a 40 year old woman with three children! It’s ok to have some veins. I don’t have any calendar shoots coming up. (I’m telling myself what I need to hear.)

So I’m going to keep plugging away. I encourage you to do the same. I am finding that flexibility is key. Here are some things that help me to stay motivated:

  1. A positive crew. My husband, mom, sister and best friends are so good at lifting me up. This week on Monday my friend texted me her goal for the week and asked me mine. I was so pumped by that simple exchange. The accountability and encouragement have kept me going.
  2. Take in positive content: I listen to 4-5 rotating podcasts that are all highly motivational. I read a ton, both fiction and non-fiction. I always have a motivational book in my morning rotation. Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad. Follow accounts that truly inspire you.
  3. My morning time sets a positive tone for the day. The time I spend really affirms me  and encourages me. Read about it on my March 5th post, titled My Morning Routine.
  4. Evaluate and re-word your goals. Life must allow for our flexibility. Instead of “reclaim my kitchen with joy” I am changing my goal to “plan out the week’s meals each Sunday.” Instead of workout 4-5 times each week, my new goal is “to get my body moving 4 times every week.” This can mean I am at the gym, or doing a video off of youTube. When I left my goal as 4-5 and didn’t get in that 5th (which was every week) I felt bad about what I didn’t do, instead of good about what I did do.
  5. Reward yourself! I never earned those side-striped leather Spanx I was drooling after, but now that it’s Spring I changing that carrot to a new pair of white Stan Smith Adidas – which will go perfectly with those Spanx next Fall 😉

 

So whatever it is in your life; know that you can do it. Just be flexible with yourself and realistic. We got this!

Authentically,

Amber

Two Thumbs Up

Perhaps you have recently received a retroactive bonus at work. Maybe you are rolling in tax return dough. Possibly you have recently acquired a second income and aren’t sure what to do with your new pile of cash… If any of those scenarios are speaking to you; don’t worry! I’ve got just the things for your dollars.

During each episode of my current favorite podcast, The Selfie Podcast (which is about self-care, not taking selfies), the cohosts both give two thumbs up to two things that they love: a beauty product, a tv show, a book, a service, etc. I have been swayed on more than one occasion to try their recommendation for myself. And I was inspired to share my own list, because there have been several things in my life lately that I have truly loved and wanted to share with others. I can’t wait to hear what you think.

Here they are in no particular order!

  1. The Naked Bee Restorative Foot Balm. Grossly, my feet have always been at least 34 times more dry than the rest of my body. This balm helps to combat this dry tendency. It comes in a stick, so my hands don’t get messy at all in the process of applying it, and it smells so so so amazing. I get the Orange Blossom Honey scent. It truly smells so good that my son consistently sniffs my feet to see if I have it on, and when I do he comes back for another whiff every few minutes.
  2. The Luau Tacos from Islands. Ok look. I had these tacos on Sunday for the first time and I don’t exaggerate when I say that I would eat them again for the next seven nights if I could. They were delicious. Why? Because they were filled with Kahlua pork, avocado salsa and teriyaki sauce. My son asked for a second bite and I said no. And I don’t feel bad about it. Do yourself a favor and get these tacos in your life asap.
  3. Ole Henriksen The Truth Serum. I tried this serum at the recommendation of a friend, and I am quickly in love. I love the scent, which has a whiff of vitamin C, and I love the way it melts into my skin each night. Most importantly, I am noticing the benefits after two weeks of use. My skin is looking good. I am seriously into preserving the youth of my face, and I think this serum will help me with that.
  4. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty. I whipped through this book in two days. You may be familiar with Moriarty from her past successes, and I loved her most recent book as well. When I joined the waiting list at the library I was number 78 on the list, so I had months and months of build up. I love the cast of characters, the character development, the unexpected twists of plot, and the satisfying conclusion. If you are a fiction reader, join the waiting list:)
  5. Skinny Dipped Almonds in Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter or Dark Chocolate Expresso. When you are in line at Target, as I am frequently, these packaged almonds may have caught your eye. Do yourself a favor and swoop up 50 to 60 bags. I haven’t actually looked at the nutritional value at all, but they are a bag of almonds, so they have to be pretty good for you, and they are so so so so so tasty. They make the perfect snack. I love them, and the kids love them too.
  6. Clinique Pep-Start Pout Restoring Night Mask. I’m a huge fan of chapstick, and I am finding that by using this mask each night I am not having to reapply my Carmex so frequently throughout the day. Additionally my lipstick is going on extra smooth because the mask is reducing the lines on my pout.
  7. World of Dance. Do you want to be inspired? World of Dance is filled with dancers so crazy good that I actually cry at least once per episode. There is an adult category and a youth category, and they are all so amazing. I watch this on Hulu, with the kids and I huddled together in amazement and joy. You don’t have to be a dancer to enjoy an intense dance competition, plus the judges, J-Lo, Neyo and Derek Hough, aren’t annoying at all.
  8. A Message Board. Message board popularity has exploded in this last year. You may have seen them all over the ‘gram. I love having a message board which can be changed up seasonally. I gifted them to my mom and sister, and love to receive texts of what they are currently posting, and I love to keep a humorous rotation. They can also be worked into party decor. Target has a boatload of adorable options in the $15 range.

 

Let me know what you think, and share your two thumbs up with me as well. I love to hear what I’m missing out on.

Authentically,

Amber

Parenting Goal: Responsible Kids

When I was in 4th grade I got my first pig for the fair. And every year until 12th grade I would head out to a pig farm in January to select a hog to grow for the fair. I would feed and walk said hog on a daily basis, and in May I would take that pig to the fair to show and sell at the market auction. The responsibility to care for this 245 pound living being was on me. If I didn’t walk my pig often enough, then it wouldn’t show well. It wouldn’t be in the shape it needed to be to place well; and if it didn’t place well my prospects for profit were low. I loved the fair, and I loved my pigs. I didn’t always love the care that they required, but providing that care taught me to be responsible. (Total side tangent because I know some of you city folk (me now!) will be curious… my first pig was named Rudy, after Rudy Huxtable – my favorite tv character, my favorite pig was a Duroc named Chili who was as docile as a dog, and I once had a jumper: that pig not only jumped out of the trailer on the highway to be rescued by the marina employees and taken to the animal shelter, but later hopped the wash racks at the fair and cut out across the midway!)

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Those pigs were work! My parents instilled a sense of responsibility in me from a young age. I didn’t have to do much when it came to cleaning, but in addition to caring for the hogs and bunnies, I certainly did a boat-load of dishes with my sister. I grew up on a grapefruit ranch, and participated in the installation of the the irrigation system. I helped weed the bank and trim the crepe myrtles on a consistent basis.

What strikes me about all of that is this: all of those tasks were huge chunks of responsibility for someone who was nine and ten – taks that really needed to be done well, but instead of letting me off easy because I might not be the best at something, I was taught how to do each time, and expected to get things right. And I stepped right up. The only job I’ve been fired from at home was the painting of a trellis. That was a paid job that rendered no pay. Sigh.

What strikes me now as a parent is that I am terrible at making my youngest two take responsibility. Yes, they are only 3 and 5, and I do have them pick up their toys and carry their shoes and belongings up to their room, but I don’t make them do much else because I know that they aren’t going to do a very good job. However, Shia wants to help sooooo much. I am learning that instead of saying, No, I got it, I can say yes to her request, and allow her to do more even if I plan on following right behind her to do a better job. In contrast, I may rely on my oldest too much. She’s only ten, but she seems so much older than that, and I expect a lot from her. She helps to clean the house, to take out the trash, to do dishes and unload the dishwasher, to wash and fold the laundry, to entertain her siblings, to go get something for me from upstairs or downstairs, etc. I want to teach her responsibility, but I want to balance that responsibility amongst them all. I think this will be easier when the younger two are old enough to make more of an impact.

I truly think this is important. As a teacher I see the changes over the last decade and a half. Students are less responsible. Parents are doing more, and kids are expecting more. Kids have to be challenged. They have to struggle. They need to do things for themselves. This starts with us as parents. And as you can tell from the paragraphs above, I’m still learning how to walk this out in my daily life.

I have been toying with the idea of a daily chore chart.  On this chart each child will have a chore that must be completed each day. If I enforce the completion of this daily chore, then it will be a great balance to the tasks that need to be done in our home.

I’d love to know your tips for creating responsible kids. Share in the comments:)

Authentically,

Amber

Unsolved Mysteries

This week I got to thinking about all of the mysteries of life; it seems that it is chock full of them. I don’t like to leave so many questions unanswered, so I’m reaching out to you for some answers. Here are some of the conundrums that continue to plague me…

How is it possible that at 6:30am I am fresh faced and made up, but by 9:00am I am wearing no makeup at all, and can fry a fish with the oil on my forehead?

How is it that on weekdays it is near-impossible to wake my offspring up for school at 6:30, and can be likened to getting socks onto a limp spaghetti noodle, but on Saturday and Sunday they are up as early as 6:15 because they just aren’t tired??

How is it possible that after all these years as a teacher I still haven’t figured out how to budget through summer? (I mean, it is no surprise that the paychecks are going to stop. Duh.)

How is it that I used to whip myself into shape by doing two quick workouts and taking  one day off of dessert, but now when I really buckle down and work out 3-4 times a week and reduce most of my sugar it takes infinity days to see any difference???

How is it that an Instagram mom will look so effortlessly cool in a slip dress and trendy sneakers, but I look like a deranged auntie or a commuting woman from 1986????

How is it that everyday at 4:00 it feels as if someone has replaced the blood in my body with pond sludge, and that I will never ever ever make it until bedtime? I’ve been tempted to either nap on the side of the 405 or let my ten-year-old drive us home.

How is it that when I was younger I actually wore a blue-sequined bra to pump gas at a Chevron, because I considered it a shirt (crazy, but true. And also, sorry mom.), but now I can’t seem to find shorts that I find appropriate? I either feel like a Pentecostal woman or a teenage hoochie mama.

How is it that my son, who specializes in moving slowly and destruction, can take 3 goldfish crackers and turn them into 76 pounds of debris in the backseat of my car?

How is it that when I’m sick I can work a full day, take my kids to their activities, fold a load of laundry and arrange for the evening meal, but when the hubby is sick he retires to his chamber and everyone just leaves him alone?

How is it that I am constantly in possession of a full-page Target list? This is true even when I’m loading bags into my car inside the Target parking lot.

How is it that when I attempt to replicate a Pinterest design or craft it looks like it was done by a drunk toddler?

How is it that I can be so hung-ho on a resolution Sunday night, but on Monday afternoon I am buying $20 worth of chili dogs?

How is it that my children can walk up a flight of stairs and pull back the shower curtain to ask me for a snack, while their dad is literally standing at the kitchen counter?

How is it that when my husband is out with his friends the hours pass like eternities, but when I get a few hours with a girlfriend it is over with in 5 minutes?

How is it that I am desperate for a good night’s sleep without a toddler in my spine, but the second I get a night without her I miss her and wish she would wake up and sneak down to our room?

How is it that I could walk around in my body for 40 years and not know how tall am I? (If I knew, I’m assuming every person I meet would not need to tell me. Amirite?)

How is it that I can never ever ever quite get the spacing right on my message board?

How is it that dinner time is still a surprise every night? (What? They want to eat again? How is it possible?)

How is it that…..(fill in the blank!)

I know that I’m not alone here, so I’d love to hear some of your unsolved mysteries. Leave a comment to let me know what you’re still trying to figure out.

Authentically,

Amber

 

 

My Morning Routine

Last summer I began listening to podcasts for the first time, and I quickly fell in love with a plethora of the ideas I was hearing through my earbuds. But my very favorite idea to emerge from this new practice of listening to women share their hearts, was the idea of having a morning routine. A morning routine, for those who aren’t familiar with the phrase, is a time set aside for yourself first thing in the morning, to ground yourself for the day, and devote an hour to just yourself. I heard two women talk about this habit; and both advocated for getting up an hour earlier than you are used to in order to develop this habit.

Understand this- I am coming from a place of fatigue. I have been dead tired every morning of my life for the last 2 decades. So the idea of getting up an hour earlier, like in the 5s (!!!!!!!!) sounded downright ridiculous. I had a saying, and it was something like this: The only good reason to get up when the hour is still at 5 is because I am preparing for an early flight to the Maldives. Still, despite the early wake up time, I was intrigued by the idea of a morning routine, and being a goal oriented person, I decided to go for it.

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Prior to this adventure I was setting my alarm for 6:00 each weekday, and hitting my snooze at least once. I decided to try 5:15, with a zero-tolerance snooze policy. I had high hopes and low faith.

BUT…

After 7 months I am proud to report that I have only skipped my morning routine once! Once! That is amazing accuracy for someone who loves to snooze! I have found that the benefits far outweigh the pain and discomfort of that first moment on my feet in the dark. I love having time to orient myself to the day. I love having time to myself when the rest of the house is asleep and I have zero distractions. I love that I am no longer as frantic when ushering the kids and our stuff out the door every day. The morning routine has truly been a game changer for me.

So what exactly am I doing with that extra 45 minutes to myself?

  1. First things first; I make myself a large cup of piping hot coffee. That first sip is one of my favorite moments of the day. Sick, right? While the coffee is brewing I make my lunch for the day. (I have my kids eat hot lunch at school, and that saves me time and stress.)
  2. I pray. I am especially focusing of prayers of gratitude at this time. I am trying to be intentional about being thankful for different things each and every day.
  3. I read my bible. Usually I read about 2 chapters. I have read through the Bible twice as an adult, and now that I am on my third time through I am finding that the figures and stories of the Old Testament are sticking with me better. I am remembering more than just my favorite verses now.
  4. I check my e-mail and read my daily news summary. I can’t handle too much news; but I want to be informed, so I love reading the morning summary that is delivered to my e-mail. I use the Skimm, and I love the sarcasm and wit with which they deliver the news summary.
  5. I read my morning book. This is different than my evening book. At night I usually read fiction. In the morning I usually read a chapter or two from a non-fiction book; often the book that we are reading for my monthly book club, or another inspirational book that I have heard about on a podcast. I am currently reading Switch on Your Brain, by Dr. Caroline Leaf. I recently finished The Best Yes, by Lysa Terkeust and Start, by Jon Acuff, and I’m gearing up for Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis. What they all have in common is a thread of motivation or the spark for a habit change: thinking positively, guarding my time, reaching for a dream. They are the perfect way to start the day.
  6. Check my Instagram. I end my morning time by responding to any comments that have been left for me on Instagram or Facebook. I try not to get sucked into perusing feeds at this time, and I leave it for last so that I don’t have the time to go down the rabbit hole.

So there you have it! Both Allie Cassaza and Rachel Hollis, whom I learned the morning routine from, have a similar flow for their morning routine, yet they both journal on a daily basis as well. I tried to incorporate daily journal time into my morning routine, but it didn’t stick with me. Even though I’m a writer, it was the piece of my routine that I didn’t really look forward to. I will still squeeze it in if there is something really on my heart and I really feel like writing it out though. I love to make lists, so if I have a list in my head I will jot it down at this time.

I don’t know how I will modify the morning routine when I am on summer vacation. Currently on weekends I do a modified version, but the kids are swarming around me, and it’s not as effective. I can’t truly picture myself waking up at 5:15 when I don’t have to be at work, but I don’t want to have to retrain myself when school starts again. I will have to see how that goes when summer arrives.

What I know for now is that the morning routine has been so good for me, and it has been much easier than I ever ever ever thought it could be. If even a little sliver of your heart is intrigued by this then I encourage and challenge you to try it for a week. You will most likely be hooked by the benefits. If this lazy snoozer can do it, then so can you!

Happy mornings to you all!

Authentically,

Amber