Exactly This:

A final thought from Stephanie via the Brave Girls Club on #VOWestablish:

Dear Sometimes-Stubborn Soul,

There are a few words in our language that carry so much punch, so much power, so much meaning and so much magic that just pondering them can change the course of our lives. One of those words is MAYBE.

Sometimes we are so certain that we are right that we are willing to sacrifice relationships that are important to us to prove or just stand by our position. A good thing to try is to just think of all of the reasons we love someone we disagree with and then start thinking….MAYBE.

Maybe there are things I don’t know for sure.
Maybe I am assuming things about them.
Maybe their life experience has been different than mine.
Maybe they don’t know why I feel and believe the way I do.
Maybe we both have something valuable to contribute to a solution.
Maybe there are lots of ways to be right.
Maybe we are a whole lot more alike than we are not.

We can also use MAYBE for the thoughts running through our own heads that are causing us so much turmoil…

Maybe things are going to work out.
Maybe I really am smart enough to do this.
Maybe it’s not as bad as I am thinking it is.
Maybe this is a step that is necessary for where I really want to be.
Maybe I am going to grow from this.
Maybe I am just the right person for this.

Just try it, friend. First ask “what if?” and then start thinking MAYBE.

Because maybe it will mend some things right now.

You are so very loved.


Repost from the Brave Girls Club February 4th Daily Message

Wake Up and Smell The Routine: Reflecting on ESTABLISH

I’m a gal who really thrives on structure.

In fact, of the skills and talents in which I like to boast, organization is usually at the top of the list. In job interviews to demonstrate how ingrained it is to my personality, I typically discuss how at seven years old I had a space for literally everything in my bedroom. All my toys, art supplies, and stuffed animals had a particular labeled spot. I remember getting one of those old embossing label makers which to-date I regard as one of the best gifts I’d ever received. In college, before I could work on a large paper or project, I would compulsively clean my entire house so I could focus. Even now, I will occasionally find myself adjusting the contents of my refrigerator for optimum visuals.

So yeah. Structure and organization speak to me on a deeply primal level.

And it is because of this desire that I am constantly adjusting and refining my wake-up and wind-down routines.

For those who know me reasonably well, you’re already aware of what a morning person I am not. Waking up is a jolt to my system; one that my body does not take kindly to. When an alarm sounds, it aggressively extracts me from my slumber and dunks me into nausea, headaches, and foggy-brain. For years I couldn’t eat within three hours of rising — perhaps it was the daily morning sickness induced by minty toothpaste that made me decide at an early age I didn’t want my own offspring. When I gained my driver’s licence I also cultivated the ability to get ready in 10 minutes flat.

I’ve always kinda wanted to be a morning person. The ability to function (well) pre-dawn fascinates me. And as much as I like being able to luxuriate in bed, I began seeing lots of articles and videos about people who seemed like they had veritable days before they rolled into work. Something about getting your morning off on the right foot, etc, began to take room in my brain.

So upon moving to Birmingham, I began ESTABLISHing a solid set of morning and night regimens. And I stuck to them for several months, feeling an uptick in my productivity and satisfaction.

Then over consumption, odd hours, and multiple crises (on both a personal and national level) of this past holiday season threw me off my game. To boot, I had a somewhat sketchy interaction while on a 6:00am walk where some dude followed me in a white van, trying to pick me up assuming I was turning early morning tricks. Since I live alone and my neighborhood, while not scary, isn’t exactly not-scary during non-daylight hours, I decided that I ought to halt my morning constitutionals until the sun rose a little earlier.

So this week I dug in my heels to getting back on track, and even made some additions in the hope I’d streamline even further. And call me crazy, but I really love knowing what other people’s life routines look like… I even follow a blog of exactly that.

Morning Routine:

5:30am  —  My beloved Wake Up Light initiates faux sunrise sequence

5:45am  — Wake Up Light steps it up a notch and starts sounding some fake birds. The light and chirps are gentle and oh-so-pleasant. In order to maximize the light filling my room, the alarm is located on the wall opposite the foot of my bed. In order to turn it off, I have to get my ass up out of the covers and punch a series of complicated little hidden buttons. Brilliantly done, Phillips. Usually though, I rather like the soft glow and natural noise so I leave it on until I leave for work.

If I’m having a really hard time emerging from sleep, I will play a few rounds of Best Fiends. For serious, guys, I’m addicted to this game and it, along with Instagram, are on my nighttime blacklist. I figured since it triggers my brain so well at night that I could use it to my advantage when I struggled to be awake. The rule is that I can only do three rounds so I don’t spend all damn morning in bed. While it doesn’t make me proud, it does work.

5:50am  —  Brush teeth, apply deodorant. Best feeling EVAH.

While brushing, walk into the kitchen and click on my electric kettle for either tea or coffee and bump up my apartment temp since I’m an inferno while I sleep and can’t get comfortable unless the room is less than 65 degrees.

5:55am  —  Back in bed! I turn on a podcast or audio book, review my agenda for the day, and fill out the prompts in my Happiness Planner while I sip some tepid water. I mentally plan my menu and decide whether I want to walk, stretch, or wash my hair that morning. Because, yes, washing and drying my hair takes over an hour so I gotta be very intentional to integrate basic personal hygiene.

Current podcastsHow to be AmazingMind Body Musingsand Mortified

Recent audiobooks
Fast GirlThe Girl on the Trainand Yes, Please

6:15am  —  Out of bed, retrieve my warm beverage, and initiate whatever movement I decided upon. My preference is “urban hiking” and now that daybreak is once again striking at this hour, I can resume my strolls. Very happy about this.

Generally I cruise up the hills towards Forest Park, where the houses get bigger and fancier, plus more joggers and fewer creepers in vans. My walks are anywhere between 45 minutes to a little over an hour, depending on my route (aka how lost I get). I continue listening to whatever spoken word I started, unless it’s a Monday and then I’m grooving to my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist.

7:00am  —  As soon as I walk inside I start heating up a pan for my breakfast. I may top off my tea or start a Vietnamese coffee if I need the extra jolt. Quickly I pull my clothes for work and toss them in the dryer if they’re wrinkled. I try to mix up my breakfast but I’ve found for me a large green smoothie, fried eggs, and some protein (usually sausage) keeps me satiated until about 1:00pm.

While the eggs are cooking, I perform a stretch that, when I used to do it at the gym, had people asking if I was injured. I stand feet shoulder-width apart and turned slightly inward, put my arms behind my head and drop my chin to my chest. I then fold slowly down, trying to go one vertebrae at a time until I’m able to put my palms flat on the floor. This kills me every day. Repeat three times and then do one or two minutes of pigeon pose.

7:15am  —  Practice mindful eating and then continue to sip smoothie while I finish getting dressed. If I have enough time I wash my dishes, if not, I embrace slob status and leave them crusting in the sink until my nighttime regimen. I’ve learned if at this point I don’t literally hang my lunchbox on my front door handle then I’ll forget it and have to figure out a sad lunch with whatever snacks I have stockpiled in my office.

7:30am  —  Get dressed and put on makeup if I’m so inclined that day. If it’s humid that day, tame my hair with a curling iron so I look less like Shawn White.

7:45am  —  Clanging bells on my phone yell at me that it’s time to leave.

This week Josh bought me a teeny Mr. Coffee with timer for my bedroom so that I can have fresh coffee without even having to crawl out of bed. Thinking of setting the brewer to activate around 5:30 as well in order to get the sounds and smell rolling at the same time my faux sunrise starts.

I work normal 8:00 to 5:00 hours and I typically eat dinner as soon as I get home from work. I  wash my face as soon as I get home, especially if I wore makeup that day and change clothes immediately to one of two outfits: yoga pants and a Fort Collins brewery tank top or a nightgown (these or these). I try to limit myself to one hour of TV a night and otherwise read, craft, catch up on emails, Skype with friends/family… play a dozen rounds of Best Fiends. For reals, guys, I’m addicted.

I’ve discovered that becoming a morning person makes you super lame at night. Back in my 10-minute-morning days I would go to sleep around midnight. Now, I’m clicking off my light between 9:45 and 10:30.

Evening Routine:

9:15pm  —  My phone gently reminds me to stop watching America’s Next Top Model reruns and prioritize sleep. It also instructs me to add today’s entry into my Happiness Jar Birdcage. I slip in one good thing that happened that day.

9:20pm  —  3 Minute Tidy. I don’t remember where I was introduced to this concept but it’s a fantastic one. I set a timer for three minutes and start addressing whatever odds and ends I can. Sometimes that means putting away dishes, other times it’s hanging up clothes, usually I put devices on their chargers, etc. Rarely is my apartment messy enough that it takes more than that though I do find that if I’ve been putting off a task all night (usually laundry related) once I get started, the three minutes is enough of a start that I’ll finish.

9:23pm  —  Guzzle what’s left of the beverage I’d been enjoying that night (tea, decaf, beer, wine) and fill the glass of water I’ll be drinking the next morning, placing a coaster on top so no buggies find their way in while I sleep. Grind some coffee beans and activate the timer for my auto-drip.

9:25pm  —  Meditation time. Light candles and incense on my meditation alter and turn on the Relax Melodies white noise app (the paid version is soooo worth it).  I will either decide on a guided meditation from YouTube or I’ll take myself through the Six Phase Meditation. Depending on how wired I am, I’ll meditate between 15 to 60 minutes (the hour ones are guided, I’m not that zen).

Bedtime  —  Blow out the candles but leave on the white noise app. I set the sunset function on my light alarm and climb into bed. I complete the day’s prompts on my Happiness Planner and write in one of my many journals. I send my goodnight texts and focus on a deep relaxation exercise to help coax me into rest.

Journal recommendations: Q&A Journal, One Page at a Time, 642 Things to Draw, or this basic lined journal

The act of ritual, for me, is sanity maintenance and ESTABLISH was a good motivator to get reenergized about sticking to these schedules. I don’t hold a lot of sacred space in my day-to-day but self-catering and reflection bookending my days is essential to feeling happy and peaceful.
Things were so, so different when I lived in Colorado and my social life was so booked. It’s a change for sure, but one that feels healthier and somehow more fulfilling. It’ll be interesting to see what shifts when I begin cohabitating later this year, but for now it fits this season (of the year and my life) rather well.

And now it’s time to take things up a notch with ELEVATE…

Lin’s VOW mantra: The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine. 

Lin’s Song of the Week: Foundations by Kate Nash

Be sure to read up on Steph’s post on #VOWestablish

And! If you’re a Spotify listener, check out The Vow Venture’s compilation of our weekly songs.

It’s Official. (#VOWestablish)

I have a boyfriend.

A bonafide, not-just-a-man-I-am-seeing/sleeping with boyfriend.

This is good for two reasons:

1) Before I had a boyfriend, I didn’t have any idea what I was going to write for my #VOWestablish post this week, and

2) I have wanted this man to be my boyfriend for 467 days, approximately.

But he wasn’t. For 467 days he wasn’t.

And we were both quite all right with that, maybe not all the time and maybe not always at the same time, but neither one of us was making a different choice.

Neither of us was using our words; we were choosing to forgo them.

Because words are fucking powerful.

One word—boyfriend—holds within its two syllables a good helping of commitment and a whole lot of choices made.

It’s not to say that using certain words makes us feel things; as Karen Joy Fowler wrote—

“We call them feelings because we feel them. They don’t start in our minds, they arise in our bodies….you can’t help the things you feel, only the things you do.”

And words are something we do.

Boyfriend is something done. It’s not just showing up; it’s stepping into the arena. It’s not just here for Friday nights; it’s up with you at 2 a.m. on Sunday mornings when what was served on Saturday night made you violently ill. It’s not an obligatory title; it’s a battle cry of readiness to defend what you’re certain is worth fighting for.

Yeah, boyfriend got me thinking about words this week. How easy, in theory, words are to say but how difficult it can be to use them and how significantly they can alter our lives when spoken.

Standing outside the arena is a wholly comfortable choice, and it is entirely too easy to be halfway into something. It is entirely too easy to be silent.

But you can establish things with words. You can build them. And I think it’s about time we started using them to see what we can make of this one wild and precious life.

I say, let’s take it up a notch:

Here’s to elevate.


Steph’s WITHDRAW Mantra: “There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” Denis Waitley
Steph’s Song of the Week: You Get What You Give by New Radicals (P.S. We have a playlist for you now; check it out here.)

Be sure to read Lin’s post on #VOWestablish.

Exactly this:

Repost from Leo Babauta’s amazing blog Zen Habits

For me, establishing is frequently about habits and routines — how to form them, how to keep them, how they can help you achieve your highest frequency. Mr. Babauta hit the nail on the head with this post, I feel, and I had to share.


Stepping Out of Old Habits & Deeper Into Mindfulness

DATE : february 2, 2017

Most of our lives are spent following unconscious, habitual patterns.

We wake and start immediately with our usual distractions, fall into regular eating habits, interact with people reactively out of old mental patterns, procrastinate and put off exercise out of old mental habits, are constantly thinking of something other than what we’re doing out of habit …

What if we could step away from those old habitual patterns?

What would it be like to wake up from our daydream, and make more conscious choices in each moment?

That’s what I’m exploring in my new course for my Sea Change Programcalled “Deeper Into Mindfulness” … and I invite you to join me this month.

In this course, we’re looking at:

  • Developing mental concentration and awareness, so that we can become more aware of what our minds are doing and of the present moment.
  • Developing mindfulness more in our daily lives, not just during meditation.
  • Letting go of attachments by seeing the fluid, impermanent, egoless nature of the reality in front of us.
  • Developing heart practices that work hand-in-hand with awareness to help relieve our stresses, be more compassionate in our relationships, and be happier in each moment.

Each week, I share two videos with my Sea Change members who are taking the course, and offer them daily practices they can do to delve deeper into mindfulness and develop these skills.

Each week, there’s a challenge to do these practices every day if possible, and a weekly accountability thread.

And I’m going to do a live webinar on the topic, and answer member questions during the webinar.

I invite you to join me by signing up for Sea Change today. And step out of your old habits, and start becoming more conscious in every beautiful moment.