Less Worry, More Wonder

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.
— Corrie ten Boom

A long time ago I had the thought: what would my life look like if I didn’t worry at all? How amazing would that be? I thought about how free I would feel, how easy, how peaceful. I wanted to write a blog post about it, to try to inspire myself and others to do our best to live that way, without worrying…and then of course, life got busy. It was like my head, which had peeked above the clouds for a second and glimpsed another way, sank back down into the murk of my usual stress level, and it just felt hypocritical to write about worrying less when I was actually worrying every day. So I tabled the idea and continued on.

Then one morning last week, I was feeling OK. Despite it being a busy few weeks, everything on the near horizon was under control. And yet, I realized, my mind was actively scanning the future for possible problems and I was beginning to feel stressed. I got PISSED. Here I was feeling fine, with no real reason to be anxious, and yet my mind was trying to find one??

As I considered this, I realized that I do it all the time. It occurred to me that some part of me must think it’s my job to worry constantly. It seems to be my default setting, even after all these years of trying to be more peaceful and positive-minded.

Here’s what happens: I’m always thinking ahead to make sure that I’m prepared for whatever is coming up. I make notes and write stuff on my calendar and figure out what I need to do when, etc. That is fine and actually necessary to make sure our lives run smoothly. And if I stopped there, it would just be a positive, helpful behavior.

But I don’t. Once I’ve made sure that everything in the immediate future is considered and planned for, instead of relaxing and focusing on the present, I keep going. I look further and further ahead to responsibilities down the road, and to potential conflicts and possible problems.

And then, when I think about all of that on top of what is currently going on, I feel overwhelmed and anxious—especially since most of what I’m worrying over is either something I can’t do anything about right now or something that might not even happen. I get either extremely jittery or super tired—but either way I want to run away! Which is not exactly helpful or conducive to managing my current responsibilities, and it feels awful.

So after I got some clarity on this pattern the other morning, I sat down to think about why it might be so. Why would I feel like my job is to constantly think ahead and worry about the future? And why does it feel like if I don’t do this, something terrible will happen? Like I’m shirking my duty?

I thought about my son, who just started high school, and how we’re teaching him to plan ahead so that he gets all his schoolwork done on time. It’s not something that comes naturally to him, and I remembered that it didn’t come naturally to me either when I was his age. In fact, I remembered, I would actually get in trouble for not planning ahead or not thinking about the consequences of my actions, and would often get punished. Boom! Lightbulb moment! When I was younger, if I didn’t think ahead, something terrible WOULD happen! I would get punished! I got the message that I had to always be thinking ahead—and so like any good and obedient girl, that is what I do. Wow.

Once I realized that, I realized I had the power to start retraining myself, and that “less worry, more wonder” might actually be possible for me. I first saw that phrase about five years ago on life coach Carla Robertson’s website and it really appealed to me.  It has been part of my mission on this “joy detective” journey—to feel more open to wonder, and less constrained by worry. Now I think I might have made a breakthrough in how to do that.

Of course I still need to plan ahead, and will always do that—you can’t be a successful adult without that ability. But the key is in stopping myself from going further. Once I am sure that I have thought through what’s important for now, I can rest. It is no longer my job to constantly scan the horizon for potential problems. There is a LOT of trust involved in this, and it’s something I’m going to have to practice over and over. But so far here is what I do:

 I realize I’m worrying about something unnecessarily.  (That’s actually a big first step, to become aware of what I’m doing.) Then I tell my mind that it’s not my job to think about that right now, and that in fact, worrying about the future is harmful to me in the present.

I make a conscious decision to let the worry go, and trust that it will be OK. I’ve even got a mantra to repeat: “I don’t know how it’s going to work out, but I trust that it will all work out for the best.” Some people recommend writing down whatever you are worrying about, putting it in a special box or jar, and giving it over to God or the Universe or whatever higher power you believe in. I’ve done this before with big issues that I had no control over, and it really does help.

Anxiety and fear are so draining. If I can relax about the future, and trust that everything will in fact work out (without my needing to obsess over it constantly), it will free up so much energy! And it will give me an expansive feeling of peace and ease, which is much more conducive to everyday happiness.

So that’s my goal: to go through this process whenever I find myself worrying, and return my thoughts to the present. My hope is that the process will get easier over time, and I will in fact have less worry, which will make room for more wonder. I’ll let you know how it goes! And if you have any tips for worrying less, I’d love to hear them!

IMG_0962.JPG

The Aesthetics of Joy

I recently finished reading Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee—wow! I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it.

Lee delves into the science behind why certain things bring us joy (in a very easy-to-follow way). She identifies ten “aesthetics of joy” that “reveal a distinct connection between the feeling of joy and the tangible qualities of the world around us:

Energy: vibrant color and light

Abundance: lushness, multiplicity, and variety

Freedom: nature, wildness, and open space

Harmony: balance, symmetry, and flow

Play: circles, spheres, and bubbly forms

Surprise: contrast and whimsy

Transcendence: elevation and lightness

Magic: invisible forces and illusions

Celebration: synchrony, sparkle, and bursting shapes

Renewal: blossoming, expansion, and curves”

It’s truly fascinating to learn why things like bright colors, fireworks, bubbles, and confetti can make us happy—and how we can use this information to find more joy in our daily lives. As she says, “You have a whole world of joy right at your fingertips. There’s no method you need to learn, no discipline you need to impose on yourself. The only requirement is what you already have: an openness to discovering the joy that surrounds you.”

After reading the book I checked out her blog The Aesthetics of Joy, which will give you an instant happiness boost from all the beautiful visuals, not to mention the interesting info. I signed up for her email “joyletters,” the most recent of which talks about cultivating a sense of renewal. In it she has some great ideas that I wanted to share with you.

She says, “We are a novelty-obsessed culture, but to me renewal is much more interesting. It doesn't venerate youth and perfection, but embraces the fullness of the experiences we've already lived. It doesn't try to pretend that we can fight the arc of time, but takes advantage of the eddies and whorls in its flow. We don't have to be perfect to be renewed. We just have to begin.

If you're looking to cultivate a greater sense of renewal in your life, here are some ways to start.

Fix something that's been broken a long time. Broken things create a stagnant energy. They are effectively stuck in time. Getting something fixed not only removes the nagging item from your to do list, but also makes a home feel fresh and new again.

Make space. It's hard to feel a sense of renewal when we're weighed down by old obligations and ideas. Clear out your desk, closet, or to be read pile. Make space in your inbox and your calendar. Say no to commitments that are getting in the way of your growth. Allow that space to be empty so something you love can fill it.

Give yourself a makeover. Whenever I'm feeling rundown or lackluster, I paint my nails. It might sound silly, but when my appearance is shabby, it's usually a sign that I've been caring for my mind (or not caring for it) in the same way. A small, external sign of transformation reminds me that change is possible.

Buy yourself flowers. Flowers are one of the most powerful reminders of renewal. One theory holds that we love flowers because flowers indicate the places where fruit would soon be. Those of our ancestors who were attentive to flowers were more likely to notice their location and be able to reach the fruits before they were eaten by other hungry animals.

Move things around. We tend to treat our homes as fixed, but many objects within them are easily moved. Try switching a few pieces of art around, or change the arrangement of your furniture. Seeing the same object from a new perspective is an easy way to make it feel new again.

Reconnect with the Earth's clock. Human time, defined by feeds and messages and new innovations, seems to be constantly accelerating. But the Earth's clock moves in age-old rhythms that far pre-date us. Spending time in nature recalibrates our sense of time and tunes us into the subtle gradients of change that often fade into the background.

Make a seasonal joy list. Too often, a new season comes and goes in a blip, before I get to do any of the things I'm most excited about. But these limited-time-only joys can help us cultivate this sense of renewal. To fight this, make a "joy list" of things you want to this season, whether it's carve a pumpkin, catch a movie on its opening weekend, or do some momijigari (Japanese for leaf-peeping!).

 Plan something to look forward to. Research shows that anticipating something joyful can be almost as joy-inducing as the experience itself. Putting something on your calendar to look forward replicates the joy you find in looking forward to a favorite season or holiday, but is something you can do at any time.

 Forgive someone (or yourself). Letting go of old grievances is a powerful way to make space for renewal. A relationship in the wake of hurt can feel tentative and uncertain, but it also is a space of renewed understanding. And the same is true for your relationship with yourself. If there's something you've been holding onto, imagine what it might be like to forgive yourself and move on.”

I actually made my first seasonal joy list last May—I realized that summer goes by quickly, and I often don’t make time to do things that I love. It definitely helped me enjoy the season more. If it will ever get cool and start feeling like fall here, I will make a fall list as well!

I hope you found some good ideas in this post. Let me know if you try any of them, or if you read (or already have read) Joyful, and what you think!

Joyful book.JPG


 

Join Me at a Magical Creative Retreat!

Give yourself the gift of adventure, and join me for a creative retreat this November at the magical Camp Waldemar on the shores of the Guadeloupe River in the Texas Hill Country.

This five-day art and whole living camp is for women of all ages and all skill levels—total beginners are welcome (and that was definitely me when I first went to Lucky Star three years ago!).

I’ve written before about how amazing and joy-filled this experience is (see my previous post here). You’ll enjoy a wide variety of classes taught by incredibly fun, friendly instructors; unbelievably delicious meals (that you don’t have to prepare or clean up after!); connecting with other women; sharing and laughing; nightly campfires and singalongs; yoga; horseback riding; massages; and more!

I’ll be teaching a class on creating a daily ritual that supports personal transformation by providing space to connect with yourself, discover what you truly want, and visualize how to achieve it. Come play with practices that will refresh and restore you, bring you greater peace and joy, connect you with your inner wisdom, and help you steer your life with purpose!

There are a ton of other cool classes as well, including:

·         Zen Embroidery

·         Fun with Alcohol Inks

·         Abstract Painting

·         Mindful Mandalas

·         Chalkboard Lettering

·         Floral Wreaths That Wow

·         Intro to Jewelry Making

·         Branding + Market Merchandising Mastermind

·         Art Journaling

·         Leather Clutch

·         Oil Pastel Batik

·         Wild Wordings

·         Goddess Gardens

·         Girl Guitar

·         Glee Club

·         Live Your Legacy

·         PMC Pendants

This year’s camp is held from November 6-10. You arrive on Wednesday afternoon in time to get settled, have a delicious dinner, and enjoy music around the campfire. There are class sessions on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning as well as Thursday and Friday afternoon, so you can take up to five different classes (unless you opt for one of the all-day classes). You have free time between the afternoon class and dinner on Thursday and Friday—plus all of Saturday afternoon—to socialize, hang out by the river, get a massage, go horseback riding, or continue with one of your art projects. Other extras include early morning or late afternoon outdoor yoga classes and tomahawk throwing! On Saturday after dinner is the Show + Tell and Market, where you can display things you made plus browse among beautiful crafts for sale, and then the final campfire. On Sunday you have one last breakfast feast, then check out and head home, revitalized and happy!

For more info and to register just visit www.luckystarartcamp.com! I hope to see you there!

Lucky Star square.jpg

One Super-Easy Thing You Can Do to Be Happier

I wanted to share this article I wrote for Thrive Global about one of my favorite things to do each morning—go outside—and how it can wake you up, boost your mood, and improve your sleep!

One of the best things you can do for yourself each day is to go outside in the morning. It’s so simple, but it can have a major positive impact on how you feel.

Getting sunlight first thing makes you more alert and spurs production of both serotonin, which boosts your mood, and vitamin D, which is essential for good health and supports your immune system. Serotonin production is spurred when sunlight enters your eyes, so spend some of your time outside without sunglasses. Spend about five to ten minutes without sunscreen as well, since getting sunlight on your skin is what triggers vitamin D production. (Be sure you’re outside before 10 a.m., as the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.)

Sunlight exposure in the morning also helps regulate your sleep cycle. It does this by reinforcing your body’s circadian clock, which runs many of your biological processes. Our circadian clock revolves around the patterns of the sun; in fact, the word “circadian” is Latin for “around day.” At sunset, our body releases melatonin to help us sleep. At sunrise, melatonin production is decreased to help us wake up. Exposure to sunlight in the morning enhances the suppression of melatonin. This is most effective if you go outside within two hours of waking up.

And if you need another good reason, here you go: nature is a portal to peace. Being outside grounds and centers us. The natural world is soothing; we are animals, after all, and being outdoors feels…well, natural! Simply stepping outside can instantly calm us down when we are stressed. Our breathing slows as we unconsciously mirror the peaceful rhythms of nature. We are taken beyond ourselves as we pay attention to the sights, scents, and sounds around us. We are refreshed and rejuvenated.

Life coach Wendy Battino lives in Alaska, but makes a point of going outside and touching the ground every day, regardless of the weather. She says, “Getting outside is a powerful way to get grounded instantly. No matter where you live, you can find nature—even in the busiest and biggest cities like London, you can find something natural to connect with. … It’s powerful to do something physical to connect to the earth in the morning. I step outside barefoot, regardless of the weather. Even if it’s forty degrees below zero, I can at least stand on the porch for a little bit, or I can scoop up some snow and wash my face with it.”

Ways to get your nature fix:

·         Take your morning coffee or tea into your yard and sip slowly, soaking in the sunshine.

·         Go for a walk and, instead of listening to music or talking on the phone, enjoy the sights and sounds you encounter.

·         Stand barefoot on a patch of grass or dirt and really feel your connection to the earth.

·         Find a “sit spot” on the ground and sit in silence while you breathe deeply and devote your attention to the natural world around you. What do you see—a tiny snail, or a beautiful flower, or puffy white clouds scudding across the sky? What sounds can you hear—birdsong, the wind rustling through the trees, crickets chirping? What scents do you smell—the earthiness of the ground beneath you, freshly cut grass, the perfume of nearby flowers? Feel yourself relaxing as you ease into nature’s slower pace.

In the fascinating book Joyful, Ingrid Fetell Lee says, “Access to nature has been shown to improve sleep quality, decrease blood pressure, and even lengthen lifespans. Large-scale studies … show that people living in greener areas have a lower incidence of anxiety and depression and display an ability to recover more quickly from stressful life events than those in less green areas. One possible reason is that spending time in nature decreases blood flow to a part of the brain … which is associated with the tendency to brood over problems. Natural settings literally make us more carefree.”

Tomorrow morning, try going outside and letting the sunshine and fresh air work their magic on you. Your body and your mind will thank you!

sun through tress.JPG

Session 2 of the Creation Co-op Starts Monday!

Session 2 of the Creation Co-op begins on this Monday, August 26! If you weren’t able to do Session 1, now’s your opportunity to join in the joy of creating just for the pleasure of it, surrounded by a supportive community of women.

New features of this session will include Creative Challenges and Zoom Playdates. The Creative Challenge will be simple and fun. Every two weeks, one of our contributors will invite us to participate in a creative activity of their choice using art or writing, with light structure and easily acquired materials. These challenges are designed to catapult us into the action of creating, without a lot of stress or time involved. The following week, the contributor will invite us to check-in and share our work with one another.

We're excited to create together in this way and look forward to these fun, easy opportunities to get our collective creative juices flowing. By the end of Session 2, we'll have a lovely little portfolio of work to look back on and admire! Participants will even have an opportunity to share their work in our digital magazine, “One Breath” issue 3 (optional, not mandatory).

Our other new feature, Zoom Playdates, will be just like kids’ playdates, except for us! They will be relaxed, unstructured playtime where we gather together virtually to create, share, and connect. There will be three—in September, October, and November—and each will last about 40 minutes (longer if we’re having too much fun to stop!).

This session begins on Monday, August 26 and ends Friday, November 15. Membership will close once we begin, but you may also purchase the session once it’s complete, in December. All content will be delivered via our private Facebook group, so you must have a Facebook profile to participate.

If you’re new to the blog, or didn’t see the post about the first session of the Creation Co-op, here’s what we’re all about:

The Creation Co-op is an online creative support and empowerment group for women. Our community creates together for the Love of Creation, focusing on the joy and delight of our creative experiences, not just on the end result. This is something that is so important, but as I’ve discussed here before, often very difficult to do. I’m thrilled to be part of a group that will help me keep remembering how to find joy in the process and stop judging the product.

As we make time to create, we see creative energies showing up in other areas of our lives. We grow more self-compassion. We receive clarity and insight. We remember who we are and how to trust ourselves. We heal.

Our contributors share their authentic experiences with Creation as well as lead our community in fun engagements like creative challenges, check-ins, and Zoom playdates. They share inspiration and inquiries that help us see the world differently and get to know ourselves better.

Our community of sisters is committed to discovering our truest selves while supporting each other along the way.

Important note: this is not about being an “artist.” Anyone can participate, regardless of what you consider to be your “skill level.” This is about enjoying the creative process, whatever that means for you. It could be “art” but it could also be cooking, gardening, homecare—whatever brings you joy and helps you feel more connected to your authentic self.

Won’t you join us? You can get all the information and register here. Remember, Session 2 starts this Monday, August 26!

cc session 2.jpg

Cultivating a Positive State of Being

As I’ve mentioned before, I receive weekly “Wellness Wednesday” emails from master healer Sonia Sommer, and they’re always full of inspiring insights and practical tools. I wanted to share one of her most recent articles with you because this practice is so easy and simple, yet so potentially powerful. Here it is:

Form Is Content

by Sonia Sommer

I first heard the concept in a parenting book. Kids are sponges for their environment. Not so much the physical things in it, but more importantly, the emotional state of the people around them. The emotional environment.

The idea was, as long as you create a calm, loving state within yourself, what you say and do will be the optimum environment for your child to learn and thrive.

On the flip side, negative states such as anxiousness or anger will send your child into fear and protection mode, which stunts growth and learning, amongst other things.

The form: your state of being, is the content delivered in your life.

Here's the thing, this is true for all of us, all the time.

The primary thing to cultivate is your state of being. This pretty much takes care of everything! Wait that's a bold statement....but, yeah I'm sticking with it.

When you're in an optimal state such as gratitude or the less tangible but uber powerful love, you'll naturally say, do and create optimal things. 

And ... get this ...

So will the people around you. That's nice isn't it? Sustained higher states of being always entrain lower states upwards. (That one I learned in Rolfing school decades ago).

You are effectively, the transmitter and receiver of the content of your life. You create and receive according to your internal state of being. 

This is a huge relief and super awesome I reckon. Because it's much easier to just go internal and cultivate your state than it is to try to figure out exactly what to do in every moment. Especially when shit's hitting the fan, other people are chucking a tantrum or things just aren't flowing.

I invite you to try this experiment today and see what happens

·         First thing in the morning, sit quietly and bring to mind a time when you gave or received love. Think of your kids, parents, pet, good mates, whatever works for you. 

·         Cultivate this state of love with all your senses. What does it feel like in your body, what are the words, sights, smells. Really bathe yourself in this sea of love.

·         Hang here with great focus for 2 - 3 minutes (longer and your mind starts wandering).

·         Enjoy your day.

That's it! 

If you want to boost things, you can set a timer to go off 3 times during the day and repeat the process. I begin all meditations with this process and try to stay with it for the entire time. If you bump into something or someone a bit challenging during the day, go straight to your form. You'll access the full bandwidth of optimal outcomes.

***

What do you think? Sounds so simple, but I can see how it has the potential to change everything. Try it and let me know how it goes!

I’ll be taking some family vacation time in July, so the blog will be on break until the beginning of August. See you then!

IMG_8091.JPG

Making Bad Art Really IS Good for You!

I recently read an article that made me extremely happy. It discussed a study that found that making art can reduce stress levels, whether or not you have any experience.  (You can read the full article here.) A group of 39 people of varying ages, races, genders, and experience making art spent 45 minutes either doing collages, modelling with clay, or drawing with markers. Of the people in the study, 75% of them had lower cortisol levels after the session (cortisol is a biological indicator of stress).

And get this—the levels didn’t differ based on prior experience with art-making! Isn’t that great news? It’s just as I said in my old post, “Making Bad Art Is Good for You”—and now there’s scientific proof that’s true! It really takes the pressure off, doesn’t it?

So, here’s your prescription from Dr. Ashley, lol: Create something! Today, or this week, I invite you to set aside some time to play. Get creative in whatever way makes you happiest, whether that’s doodling, coloring, drawing, painting, collage, sewing, knitting, crocheting, cooking, gardening, decorating your home, photography, clay modeling, making music, arranging shells on the beach—whatever feels the most fun. Let yourself just enjoy the process without judging the result (easier said than done, I know, but try it!

Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t, because you “don’t know how”? There are tons of instructional videos out there. Or you could even—gasp—just play around without any instructions at all! (This makes my inner perfectionist freak out, so I know it’s a good idea!) Go for it! You have nothing to lose and a happier, healthier self to gain!

You can also take classes, which I enjoy because then you’re interacting with other creative souls as well as learning something new. If that appeals to you, you may want to check out the women’s art camp I’ve talked about before (here, here, and here). I’m actually teaching there this year (on creating a restorative daily ritual) and I’m already counting the days! I can’t wait to immerse myself in that magical experience again, connecting with fascinating women and creating our hearts out just for the fun of it! This year’s camp is Wednesday, November 6 through Sunday, November 10 in Hunt, Texas. You can learn more at www.luckystarartcamp.com.

Meanwhile, go play! It’s good for you!

IMG_9414.JPG

Creating a Vision Book

I recently took a fabulous online course called Magical Mornings by Meghan Genge, which I thought was just about creating a morning ritual but turned out to be so much more than that. (I highly recommend the course if you want some really lovely, deep practices to help you “find clarity on who you are, and a sustainable way of creating a life full of wonder”: check it out here.)

Anyway, one of the practices she suggested was a vision book, which is a twist on the vision boarding process. If you’re not familiar with vision boarding, it’s where you go through magazines and cut out pictures that appeal to you—perhaps places you want to visit, or ways you want your home to look, or specific items you’d like to own—and paste them on pieces of cardboard or foamcore. Generally, people create vision boards to represent things that they want in their lives.

Meghan’s idea was more about evoking feelings. She talked about a picture she had found of a tree house overlooking the sea in Scandinavia. The picture called to her not because it was a house she wanted to live in or a place she wanted to visit, but because it made her feel a certain way: “excited, delighted, and slightly squirmy with possibilities.”

In this practice, you choose images because of how they make you feel—whatever feeling feels good, and that you want more of in your life, whether it’s excited, full of potential, happy, intrigued, open, or something else—and cut those out. So instead of a specific car you want, you might choose an image of a woman driving down a coastal highway in a convertible, because you like how free and adventurous it makes you feel. Then you paste the pictures in a journal or sketchbook that you can flip through at any time.

Years ago Kate Spade ran a magazine ad that featured a woman dressed up and smiling—obviously having the time of her life at some sort of elegant party—and the caption was something like: “She had a glass of champagne in her hand and confetti in her hair.” I was completely captivated by that ad and that sentiment, so much so that I tore it out and taped it to the wall. I wanted to feel like that woman more often—carefree, on top of the world, beautiful, fun. That’s the sort of image I’m talking about.

Go through a variety of magazines and cut out any image that appeals to you on that gut level, even if it doesn’t make any logical sense at the moment. Once you have a nice pile, select the ones that really resonate—that make you feel “squirmy with possibilities” or just feel like a deep internal yes. Then put those aside for a day or two. Come back to them after that time, and sit with each one, seeing if it still feels wonderful. If so, paste it into your journal.

Then whenever you want a lift—when you want to connect to those wonderful feelings—pull that journal out and slowly flip through the pages, allowing the images to bring out those feelings in you. You can make this a daily ritual, to plug you into those emotions every day.

Add images as you come across them. And if at some point one or more of the images in your journal no longer feels right, tear it out or paste over it! This journal should be evolving, not static—just as you are. Sound like fun? Try it for a while, and let me know what you think!

journal pic.JPG

6 Short & Sweet Ideas for a Spring Routine Refresh

I wanted to share with you this article I recently wrote for Thrive Global about some easy ways to take care of yourself. Spring is a perfect time to refresh our daily routine and make sure it’s serving us, rather than running us ragged!

Starting your day mindfully improves the rest of the day. Morning rituals are wonderfully beneficial, but when you’re busy, the thought of trying to squeeze something else into your day can be overwhelming. The good news is that your ritual doesn’t have to be complex or time-consuming to be effective. Here are some short and sweet practices that you can easily manage.

1.      Ease into the day.

Instead of jumping out of bed, take a moment to center yourself. After you wake up, lie still and take three deep breaths. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. Breathe in slowly through your nose until you reach maximum capacity, feeling your belly rise. Then slowly release the breath through your mouth, feeling your belly fall. Imagine that you are inhaling peace and exhaling any tension you may have. Repeat two more times. Then stretch your arms and legs, lengthening your body as much as you can. As you get out of bed, pause to feel your feet on the floor. Then get up and on with your day, refreshed and ready!

2.      Replace phone time with something positive.

Instead of checking your phone first thing, which can negatively affect your focus and your mood, do something uplifting for five minutes. Write in a journal, sit in silence, read a few pages of an inspiring book—whatever makes you feel happier.

3.      Shower mindfully.

This practice doesn’t take any extra time at all, so it’s especially great for those super-busy days. Feel the water hitting your head and streaming downward. Imagine that it is washing all negative energy out of you and down the drain. Then imagine the fresh water replenishing you with positive energy for the day.

4.      Get outside.

Sip your morning coffee or tea outdoors for an instant reset, courtesy of nature. Getting sunlight first thing makes you more alert and spurs production of the mood-booster serotonin; it also helps regulate your sleep cycles. Bonus points if you can put your bare feet on the earth for some quick grounding.

5.      Set an intention/visualize/schedule some self-care.

Take a few minutes to sit quietly and think about the day ahead. Check in with yourself and see how you’re feeling. What does your day hold? Is there something important you want to accomplish? Set the intention that you will handle it easily. Visualize it going well. Are you facing a busy day? Set the intention to navigate it with serenity and grace. Visualize a smooth path ahead of you. Feel free to ask for help from whatever higher power you believe in, or simply your own inner self.

You can also use this time to brainstorm ways make your day easier or to treat yourself (having a reward to look forward to can brighten up even the toughest days). For example, is there something you can take off your list or ask someone else to do? Is there a break in the day where you can relax and enjoy a cup of tea or a quiet moment outside? Ask yourself what would make you happy, and see if you can make it happen.

6.      Focus on gratitude.

While you’re getting ready, eating breakfast, or commuting to work, think about what you’re thankful for. Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been shown to have enormous benefits: it enhances physical health, psychological health, mental strength, and self-esteem. Paying attention to what’s good in your life is a wonderful way to start each day with a positive mindset. And the more you appreciate what’s around you, the more you notice things to appreciate.

Beginning your day with one of these simple morning rituals will help center and calm you, empowering you to be your best self. You can also practice them at other times—during lunchtime, for an afternoon break, or in the evening to transition between work and home.

And you can always come back to your breathing to for a mini-break. Close your eyes if possible and just focus on feeling the breath as it enters and exits your nose. Breathe as deeply and slowly as possible. If you’re feeling anxious, try kaki pranayama, or “bird’s beak,” breath: inhale through your nose. Then purse your lips into an O, as if you were drinking from a straw, and exhale slowly. This helps bring about the relaxation response. Repeat until you feel calmer.

A morning ritual refreshes and restores you every day. Even tiny actions can have an enormous positive impact. Try one of the practices above for a week and see how much better you feel!

beach dawn 11.jpg

 

Join Our Creative Community!

I am so excited to announce the launch of the Creation Co-op: an online creative community for women. Over the past year I’ve been part of a wonderful group of women who have been dreaming and scheming together, and now we’re ready to share our vision with you!

The Creation Co-op is a community of women who are committed to reclaiming our full creative power. We believe that creation is our birthright, and that every act of creativity supports us in becoming exactly who we were created to be. As we create, we remember who we are and how to trust ourselves.

Important note: this is not about being an “artist.” Anyone can participate, regardless of what you consider to be your “skill level.” This is about enjoying the creative process, whatever that means for you. It could be “art” but it could also be cooking, gardening, homecare—whatever brings you joy and helps you feel more connected to your authentic self.

We create together “for the Love of Creation”—meaning that we focus on the delight of our creative experiences, not just on the end result. This is something that is so important, but as I’ve discussed here before, often very difficult to do. I’m thrilled to be part of a group that will help me keep remembering how to find joy in the process and stop judging the product.

Our contributors share their authentic experiences with creation through artistic self-expression as well as the practice of consciously creating a meaningful life through healing and self-care. We view life as a beautiful, heartbreaking, non-linear journey of healing that is meant to be traveled in the company of like-minded sisters.

In the first session, “Befriending Ourselves,” we’ve each created videos about our own struggles to do this and the practices/ideas/tools we’ve found that help. Session 1 will be released on May 20. If you register before then, you’ll receive 25% off! Here are all the details.

Purchasing a session enables you to become a member of our Creation Co-op Private Community on Facebook. This is where the magic happens: each week we will share our creations, connect, and have fun together (and we plan to do in-person gatherings in the future!). Information about joining our private community is included in the full PDF package that you will receive on the session’s release date.

If you’re interested in joining this adventure, I’ve got a coupon code for a free pass to Session 1! Just email me and let me know that you want in!

Follow the Creation Co-op on Instagram and Facebook for details, fun videos (including bloopers!), and more opportunities to win! Please feel free to share this info with anyone you think might benefit from it—the more the merrier!

Creation Co-op Logo.jpg