65 Miracle Mornings

65MiracleMornings

I totally meant to write this update when I hit 60 Miracle Mornings, but on that day I was on vacation with very limited Internet access.

As a reminder, on January 5, I began The Miracle Morning routine, based on Hal Elrod’s inspiring book. Today marks 65 days in a row of following the routine.

65 days of starting my day with a period of meditation.

65 days of starting my day with affirmations spoken aloud.

65 days of starting my day of visualizing what I want to happen in my day and my life.

65 days of starting my day with 15-20 minutes of yoga.

65 days of starting my day by reading a few pages of personal development books.

65 days of starting my day by journaling about three things I’m grateful for that day.

Results

After 65 days, the internal changes I talked about last time are manifesting physically.

Work

  • The self-discipline and focus I’ve been practicing allowed me to file a record number of freelance assignments in February and invoice double what I earned in a month at my last 9-5 job.
  • A couple of business-related tasks that I’ve put off for ages (hello, taxes) are well on the way to completion.
  • I have a solid amount of work lined up for this month.
  • I finally had a breakthrough with a client project that has been confounding me for months.

Personal

  • Going on vacation with my BFF is something I’ve wanted to do for several years. Normally Liz and I only see each other at Comic Con, but she can’t come this year, so it seemed like a good time to make our BFF retreat happen. After talking about it and visualizing what we wanted, it wasn’t even a week before the whole trip fell into place. We were offered an amazing lodge by Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks – about midway between our two homes – for a very good rate. What a blessing.
  • I’ve had many instances where something I visualized happened within hours after I wrote it down (I’m trying to remember to go back and write “YES!” on visualizations that happen). It’s…a little freaky, yet empowering. Our minds truly are amazing.

Health

  • My mindset continues to be generally positive, anxiety is almost non-existent, and I haven’t had a depressive episode in more than a month.
  • Just yesterday, my therapist said that I’m doing well enough to go from meeting with him every two weeks to meeting with him every three weeks. How great is that?
  • The daily yoga has my joints feeling like someone took an oil can to my body, plus my posture has improved.
  • While the scale hasn’t moved much, my clothes are looser. In fact, I had to dig out a belt to avoid a wardrobe malfunction!
  • I gave up fast food for Lent! I’ve slipped up a couple of times, either due to poor planning or just forgetfulness (on vacation I ate a cookie at McDonald’s while we were using their wi-fi), but for someone who was in the habit of going through the drive-thru daily, this is a significant improvement.

The past month did present a few challenges to sticking with my routine, but I kept the streak alive even when I was sick and every day while I was on vacation. I’m so glad that I did; at this point, I can’t imagine starting my day without my routine.

Books I read: The One Thing by Gary Keller, Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott,  A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle (attempted, did not like)

The Next 30 Days

The time change is challenging me right now, but I know my body will adjust soon, so I’m not stressed about it. Going to bed earlier on a consistent basis is still an area in which I can improve. The “dead zone” between when I finish TMM routine and when I want to sit down at the computer and start working also needs continued tweaks.

I’ll be going through a tutorial/bootcamp to learn how to provide a different type of writing service and working on finding new clients as well. This is an opportunity to expand my client base and realllllllly increase my income potential, and it’s right in line with my writing skills and experience. Exciting!

It’s not all about work in the next month, though. I also have some fun plans to spend time with family and friends, including taking niece Eliana on a little trip for her birthday. She’s turning 3, and I’ve never taken her on a shopping fun day. This must be remedied!

Books I’ll be reading: Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill, The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, The Mindful Brain by Daniel J. Siegel (recommended by my therapist)

I’ll check in again on Day 90!

30 Miracle Mornings

TMM-30
Photo credit: ndl642m

On January 5, I began The Miracle Morning routine, based on Hal Elrod’s inspiring book. Today marks 30 days in a row of following the routine.

30 days of starting my day between 5:30-6:30, even on most weekends.

30 days of starting my day with a period of meditation.

30 days of starting my day with affirmations spoken aloud.

30 days of starting my day of visualizing what I want to happen in my day and my life.

30 days of starting my day with 20 minutes of yoga.

30 days of starting my day by reading a few pages of personal development books.

30 days of starting my day by journaling about three things I’m grateful for that day.

Results

After 30 days, the results are mostly internal. My thoughts are generally positive. I handle stress more easily. I am calmer and happier overall. I went through a depression cycle in mid-January, but it only last a few days and was on the gray end of my scale (gray = milder, black = harsher).

I am taking better care of myself. In January, I hit my workout goal of 12 days of at least 30 minutes of cardio. I’m doing a better job of consistently taking my supplements. I’m eating breakfast regularly.

The discipline required to achieve this milestone is helping me feel confident that I can take control of other areas of my life as well. I feel inspired to continue to grow and achieve and enjoy my life as it is and as it is becoming.

Books I read: The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, Get It Done When You’re Depressed (read about half) by Julie Fast, Happier at Home (reread) by Gretchen Rubin, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

The Next 30 Days

I still have improvements to make as I go along. For example, I need to get to bed earlier on a consistent basis to sustain getting up earlier. There’s also a “dead zone” between when I finish TMM routine and when I want to sit down at the computer and start working that trips me up – either I putter around not doing much or I try to read some more and fall asleep. Over the next 30 days, I will be more intentional about how I spend this time as I pursue non-work-related goals.

Books I’ll be reading: The One Thing by Gary Keller, The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

I’ll check in again on Day 60!

“Let It Go”

let-it-go

Every day for the past week or so, I’ve awakened with the song “Let It Go” playing in my head. Yes, that “Let It Go”.

I don’t mind having that particular earworm; I love this song. But why was it stuck in my head morning after morning? I mentioned this to my bestie Liz a couple of days ago, as a sort of “isn’t that weird” anecdote. She came right back at me with this:

“Based on what you’ve been doing the last few weeks, I’m not surprised. It’s kind of your theme song right now.”

You know what? She’s right!

This was one of the best holiday seasons I can remember as an adult, partially because I made sure to take care of my mental and physical health, but also because I actively, intentionally chose to let some behaviors, thoughts and emotions go.

My therapist, Dr. J, has been working with me on recognizing what is within my control and what is not, particularly with regards to other people. We’ve also been working on avoiding “triangulation,” or being pulled into other people’s drama and conflicts.

Both of these concepts touch deeply rooted behaviors, thoughts, feelings and attitudes within me. I’m going against decades of well-meaning but ultimately detrimental habits. A couple of months ago, however, I had something of a breakthrough and chose to go into the holidays actively practicing NOT doing what came “naturally”.

I’m not gonna lie, sometimes it was tough. I’m so used to being the mediator, the go-to member of the group, the one who fills the gaps of others’ poor planning or poor follow-through. It’s always been easier, in the short term, to take over and do it myself.

But recently, I realized the long-term damage.

Dr. J has encouraged and challenged me to set boundaries and maintain them in all areas of my life. I still have work to do, but now I see why he has been so consistent with this message.

In my first session of 2015, I went in feeling light, buoyant, better than I’ve felt in years. The dark cloud and heavy weight that have been my constant companions, gone. As I shared this with Dr. J, along with the strategies I used during the holiday hubbub of November and December, I was almost giddy with the realization that I’d come through the season with relative ease and was feeling really good heading into what are generally two of my toughest months (winter + S.A.D. = tough).

As I said again how good I felt, Dr. J asked, “Do you know why you feel so much lighter?”

“Because I planned ahead,” I said confidently. “I had my reminders pop up in my calendar, took my supplements, used those strategies when I was around a lot of people…”

“It’s because you didn’t let other people’s drama drag you down,” he answered.

“…”

“When you accept other people’s negativity, when you allow them to drag you into problems that really have nothing to do with you, when you become involved in their unhappiness and conflict, you get stuck. You’re like Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby – other people’s ‘stuff’ is the Tar Baby, and you’re Brer Rabbit. You think you’re helping, but in reality, you’re getting stuck and sucked in and weighed down.”

“… Holy crap.”

“Exactly.”

As the new year has progressed, I’ve begun some new practices and habits focused on both my mental and physical health. I’ll post more about that another time, but part of what’s happening is a continuation of what I began before the holidays: I’ve decided to Let It Go.

A Note to Myself from December 2013

Dear Self,

How are you?

No, really, how are you?

Are you sleeping a lot? Are you withdrawing from people? Are you facing the holidays with dread? Are you trying to force enthusiasm for the season? Are there more gray days than usual? Are your thoughts starting to stray into black territory?

Guess what – you’re going to be OK.

If you aren’t already, start taking your supplements. It’s time to bulk up on those herbs and vitamins. You know it works; do it.

Turn off the TV and turn on music or listen to podcasts while you do something with your hands – scrap, jigsaw puzzle, clean, anything. Do it.

Get outside. Even if it’s freezing, get outside and in the sunshine for at least a few minutes every day. Go to the park, the lake, wherever. Do it.

Pull out your binder and start/continue planning for the next several weeks. Make lists, brainstorm, organize. Do it.

Stop eating junk food. Nourish your body. Do it.

Move. Go for a walk. Take a class at the gym. Pull up videos on You Tube. Do it.

Unfortunately, this is the beginning. It’s going to last another 3-4 months. But you’ve been here before, and you’ve made it through. You can do this.

Remember, depression is a liar.

XO,
Mel

A List: Weird Search Terms

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You guys are weird. And apparently I’m a weirdness enabler.

Yes, I’ve been lax in updating over here, something I hope to remedy soon, but until I have something substantial to post, I have to share this with you. I spent part of this afternoon looking through Google Analytics and sussing out the most popular posts of 2014 on various other websites that I manage. Since I was already there, I decided to see what’s been going on in Melifornia while I’ve been working on other projects.

A selection of search terms that brought people here in 2014:

  • yyy resort
  • shiseido amenity aroma shampoo
  • shiseido flower wind aroma
  • rosehip oil for warts
  • candy crush quotes
  • yyy resort shampoo
  • bump on my hip feels like a seed in it
  • candy crush hate
  • danny o don and robert calyle
  • esophogitis food stuck
  • famous people at comic con 2013
  • gideon
  • robert carlyle et colin o’donoghue
  • i love candy crush
  • i took a 50mg zinc supplement at night and i couldnt sleep
  • rose hips oil remove warts
  • tired and scattered brain

So to sum up: we’re all looking for the shampoo provided at YYY Resort on IE Island and/or want to go there; we have a love-hate relationship with Candy Crush; y’all want more stories about famous people (preferably Robert Carlyle); my nephew’s name is being searched; and we have assorted aches, pains, and weird bumps.

P.S. I actually edited out a bunch of other search terms that involved YYY Resort on IE Island, Candy Crush, and rose hip oil. Those are the top 3 topics bringing people to my blog this year, which is both amusing and a little scary. Clearly I need to write about other things!

P.P.S. And now this post is going to really confuse people who are Googling for any of the above.

The Cove in June

thecove

The Cove is a small pocket of land and water carved out of a fishing lake north of town. Here the lake has forgotten to be sensible and somewhat symmetrical for a minute and ambled off river-like until it met a natural dam. To reach it you must take the first gravel road upon entering the lake’s boundaries and continue forward without fear as the rough, rutted gravel winds and curves left, foregoing other, smoother, more respectable roads branching off to the right.

Evidence of humans daring to travel away from the main body of water persists year-round, although I’ve met other beings only a handful of times in my semi-weekly excursions. (And oh how I groaned and hurled mental insults at the audacity of someone already ensconced; now I had to select another, less secluded location for my afternoon of mental rest.) Charred wood and ashes from camp fires, the occasional unhappy discovery of trash, and once, tangled in the brush attempting to encroach upon the clearing, a lone beach towel presumably blown away by the constant breeze are testaments to those who use the space when I am not there.

Kansas is a windy state – “Kansas” derives from the Kaw word for “land of the south wind” – and away from buildings the breeze is free to do what it wishes with the landscape. In The Cove in June, that means divesting the Cottonwood trees of their namesake downy seedlings. The air is alive with gossamer white puffs gaily swirling and dancing before inevitably ending their journey in the water, destined to be a fish’s supper.

Dragonflies compete with the cottony fluff for air space, zooming hither and yon, dipping and diving in their quest for a water bug feast. Birds snatch mulberries from a tree so laden with fruit that its branches brush the water.

An afternoon in The Cove is a chance to see the water sparkle in the sunlight, to smell the fresh scent of earth and tallgrass on the wind, to listen as frogs exchange the latest gossip in sonorous tones, to bask in the healing peace of being alone in nature, and to suddenly remember that you are 20 minutes from the nearest acceptable restroom facilities.

A List: What I’m Working On Right Now

list

Yesterday I was enjoying a coffee klatsch with my friend Celeste, except neither of us drink coffee so it’s more like italian-soda-and-iced-tea klatsch but that doesn’t have the same ring.

Anyway.

We’re yakking away, covering 11,000 topics as per usual, when I suddenly remembered that I needed to watch and review the special features on the True Blood season 6 DVD set pronto because it hits shelves on June 3. I said that out loud, as a reminder to myself, and Celeste, who had been patiently listening to me describe some other project I was dealing with, looks and me and says, “Wow, you really do have a lot going on.”

And you know what? I do. I have a lot going on and in a lot of different areas of my life. Sometimes, when I my brain feels like it’s trying to keep track of too many different things and I’m approaching overwhelm – or already over the edge into overwhelm – a brain dump is the best way for me to get a grip. I’ve talked about brain dumping before, but I thought I’d give you a taste of what it looks like for me.

Herewith, a list of what I’m working on right now:

  • An article about a company’s outstanding growth in supplier diversity and mentoring small businesses in Latin America;
  • An article about the local high school’s lip dub project;
  • An article about an upcoming conference in Philadelphia;
  • An article about the new owners of an apartment building;
  • A summer TV preview;
  • Watching pilots of the new shows coming this Fall;
  • Building up my freelance clientele;
  • Setting up a new writing/working routine that doesn’t have to work around subbing;
  • A summer bucket list for myself;
  • A summer bucket list for the Munchkins;
  • Sorting the Munchkins’ clothes and pulling out summer clothes, setting aside back-to-school clothes, and finding clothes for the new baby who is due any minute;
  • Looking for a new large picture frame to convert into a white board to keep track freelance assignments;
  • Watching and reviewing the special features on the True Blood season 6 DVD;
  • Organizing a memorial service for my uncle (tentatively planned for the one year anniversary of his death) (it’s complicated);
  • Dealing with a stupid legal issue related to one of my websites;
  • Keeping the baby possum out of my house and away from the cat food (I’ll write about that separately soon);
  • Revamping several websites (including this one);
  • An article outlining how we went from 16,000 Facebook followers to 112,000 Facebook followers in 9 months on our True Blood fan page;
  • Pitching social media services to a local business;
  • Researching how to create a WordPress network for easier administration;
  • Filing;
  • Updating the business accounts;
  • Ordering business cards for some of my writers;
  • Preparing some items for eBay;
  • Helping LilBro with his house renovations;
  • Answering emails;
  • Writing and/or finishing articles for this site;
  • Making muffins and cinnamon rolls to put in the freezer;
  • Taking the Pink Carnation in for a tune-up;
  • Planning for Comic Con (yes, already);
  • Waiting for the mailman because I’m expecting a check for freelance work today and I’d like to get it deposited;
  • Paying bills (just as soon as the above item is accomplished).

That about sums it up. (I didn’t include cleaning the house because that’s a given, right? And laundry and meal planning and all of that?) My brain is already quieter for having put all of that down on virtual paper.

See? Brain dumping totally works. Thanks for joining me.

I think I hear the mailman…

Weekly Wrap-Up + Links

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I need a pithier title for these link round ups. Suggestions?

Hello out there! How was your week? Spring finally arrived in my small town, and I spent as much time as I could either outdoors or with my windows open to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. I’ve also been working on an organization project for BigSIL, went to nephew Gideon’s first peewee soccer game of the season, stretched myself with some work projects that were slightly outside my comfort zone, had “coffee” (read: hot chocolate) with a new-ish friend, wrestled with some server issues, and upgraded my Internet to fiber.

And now, linkage.

You’re following Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls on Facebook, right? They post interesting, generally positive stories without the Upworthy-esque headlines or sensationalism several times every day.

21 clean lunch ideas that can be prepared in less than 10 minutes. I’m trying, you guys!

This New York restaurant Googles its patrons to provide extremely customized service. I can’t decide if that’s creepy or exceptional customer service. Bonus: a glimpse of what happens before the doors open to make the night run smoothly.

Walmart is reviving the Wild Oats brand to bring organic food to the masses.

“Natural and organic is past the fad stage,” Jim Hertel, managing partner at Willard Bishop grocery consulting firm, tells Ewoldt. “What used to be a lifestyle for the best educated and highest incomes is now skewing younger, although it’s still an educated, above-average-income consumer.”

That’s the type of customer Walmart would no doubt like to attract more of. Sinclair said during the call that customers should begin to “think of Walmart as a destination for organic foods.” And while they are there, why not just about anything else.

These fairy tale-esque photos with real, live animals are beautiful!

A coffee shop bans screens, and sees an uptick in sales.

I really liked Anne’s insights into why her house makes her cranky, and what she’s doing about it. I’m currently working on systematically decluttering and reorganizing so my house isn’t a source of crankiness.

I wanted to be happy to be home. We’d been on the road for 5 days, living out of suitcases in small, spare hotel rooms. I wanted to relax in my own space–but I found my own space surprisingly hard to relax in.

And that’s when it hit me. Those hotel rooms were small and sparsely furnished, but they were also impressively clean and–most importantly–clutter-free.

My own house–the one I was so happy to return to–was making me cranky.

Good news for Truebies – the premiere date for the final season of True Blood has been announced!

I’m not usually into wearing yellow, but this dress is calling to me. So are these shoes.

Bad Blogger: I Blame Candy Crush

CandyCrush

You guys…I had every intention of getting back to posting 3-4 times a week this month. For reals and trues. But clearly that didn’t happen.

I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been super busy/productive in other areas of my life, and while I have been keeping busy with my freelance writing and subbing and getting together with friends and celebrating birthdays and spring cleaning my house, the real reason I haven’t written is simple. And embarrassing.

Candy Crush.

I’ve reached level 500-and-something. Aren’t you impressed? Do you know how many hours of mindless game playing that is? I don’t think I want to know, to be honest.

Candy Crush + TV is a combination guaranteed to zap my motivation and productivity. I can’t just play one round. I can’t just watch one show and play until it’s over. Nope, before I know it, we’re into the fourth hour of Frasier/Property Brothers/SVU/Big Bang Theory/whatever’s on the DVR and my To Do list remains undone.

So Monday night, I deleted the app.

Which wasn’t easy because I just unlocked the next level.

*gulp*

But it has to be cold turkey. And I’d much rather achieve real, tangible accomplishments than get another digital pat on the back from that creepy girl in the train.

I don’t know how quickly I’ll get back to a frequent posting schedule here – there are other things demanding attention first like the 5 articles due next week and the 4 days of subbing at the middle school and my oldest niece’s birthday and bookkeeping and finishing my spring cleaning – but it should be sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, learn from me, kids: too much Candy Crush rots your brain.

Weekly Goals: February 24-March 2

 goals

I took a break from sharing my weekly goals here, not because I didn’t have any, but because there was so much to do! I felt like I needed to work out why some things weren’t getting done, do some big picture thinking and planning, and get myself sorted in a few areas. Also, it’s that time of year when I don’t want to talk to anyone (oh, hello SADD).

After a few weeks of introspection and testing of routines and working on self-discipline, I’m ready to get back to public accountability with a reduced list of goals. I’ve also reconnected with some friends who were my support system in the past when I had some major goals to accomplish, and they’re keeping me accountable in some non-public areas. Does that make sense?

With that in mind, here’s my (very trimmed down) list of goals for this week.

  • Take vitamins every day
  • Eat salad at least 4 days this week
  • Workout twice + yoga
  • Declutter spare room (toys, craft supplies, under bed storage)
  • Take donations to Goodwill and/or Shiloh House
  • Stick to cleaning schedule
  • Meet all writing deadlines & prep invoices
  • Create standard questions for writing assignments
  • File state taxes
  • Phone conference with PR client

Not quite as ambitious as what I’ve posted in the past, but more realistic, I think.