Morning and Evening Routines

How do you start and end your day? It’s so easy to snooze a few more minutes, or go to bed staring at a screen. As a counselor, it’s important for me to be present and focused with my clients, and my night and morning routines have a huge impact on my mindset for the day ahead. Let’s try to be more purposeful in the mornings and evenings by starting and ending the day with mindfulness and self-care. Here’s what’s on the schedule:

Morning Routine

Make Your Bed

Brush and Floss

Drink Warm Lemon Water

Morning Yoga Sequence

Meditation & Intention Setting

Healthy Breakfast

Making the bed is the perfect way to start the day off with intention and purpose. It’s also important to stretch and nourish the mind, body, and soul in the morning to feel refreshed and rejuvenated all day long. I love starting my day with a short yoga sequence, walk, or bike ride. Warm lemon water and a good breakfast, such as chia seed pudding, oatmeal, or avocado toast can help maintain focus and energy throughout the morning.

Evening Routine

Shower & Salt Scrub

Journal

Drink Chamomile Tea

Lavender Oil in Diffuser

Bed Yoga

Read

With colder weather on its way, my skin is in constant need of my tea tree lavender scrub. I’ll be using it everyyy night this winter. Journaling and reflecting on the day, warm chamomile tea, and the soothing smell of lavender can help keep the mind calm and quiet at night. As for the body, there are lots of easy, gentle yoga sequences that can be done right before (and in) bed. And rather than trying to relax with the glaring light from a phone, TV, or laptop, how about opting to fall asleep with a good book! The perfect way to end the day. Ahhhhh.

The light within me honors the light within you.

All Hallows’ Eve

Sometimes self-care means taking the time to celebrate. To let go of the day-to-day monotony, to listen to the inner child, and to welcome mystery and spontaneity into life. Samhain, All Hallows’ Eve, reminds us to celebrate, to direct our attention to the darkening days and colder nights, and to welcome the wintery weather with a fresh perspective. This night invites us to look out into the dark sky with wonder rather than fear.

It’s no secret that Halloween is my favorite time of year, and I’ve been celebrating all month with vampiric literature, costume designs, and (finally) carving the pumpkins from our garden.

Carving and Photo: Luke Cord

Here’s a recipe from one of my favorite Halloween traditions:

Happy Halloween!

How are you celebrating?

Mini Moon Journal Tutorial

Interested in starting a moon journal and documenting the effects of the different moon phases on your mind, body and spirit? What about making the journal yourself? I learned this awesome craft in an expressive arts workshop, and today I’m going to share it with you. There’s a new moon tonight, so it’s the perfect time to start.

You will need:

The dimensions for my journal are 10×13 for the cover page and 9×10 for the insert pages. I used “chalkboard” cardstock for the cover and thin cardstock for the (12) insert pages .

Making the Journal:

Measure about an inch space in the middle of your cover page and draw straight lines to indicate the space, which will be your “spine”. Draw a line directly in the middle of the spine, and make an accordion style fold.

Divide your insert pages in half, stack each half and fold pages down the middle, one on top of the other. With the middle arch of your spine facing up, arrange journal pages so that they sit open in the middle of the creases on either side of your spine, and hold in place.

You’ll need 1-2 ft of waxed thread, depending on the size of your journal. Thread your needle, tie a knot at the end of the thread, and carefully push needle and thread through the center of the right side of the middle insert pages, through the spine, and out through the left side of the middle insert pages. Continue pattern (below), pulling tightly, and tie end thread pieces together.

And that’s it!

Get creative with the cover of your mini moon journal! I can’t wait to see them! Comment below if you have any questions 🙂

Home

When do you feel most at home? For me, it’s right around this time of year, no matter where I am. Moving around so much the past five years or so, I associate so many places, and people, with “home”.  When autumn hits, I want to surround myself with people I love, and this year my heart is so full. After my cousin came to stay with us in September, Luke and I visited North Carolina for a wedding. We got to reconnect with friends and family and revisit Asheville, the place where we met, on the same week, two years ago. Autumn makes me feel at home, even when my heart is torn between so many places. Little fall traditions remind me of childhood, of warmth, of magic, of home. This past week was perfect for that, and it was the perfect for my self-care. Revisiting some of my favorite places and people, hanging in our hammocks beneath giant oak trees, hiking and collecting fall wildflowers in the rain, and seeing my rolling Blue Ridge Mountains in their glowing autumnal beauty.

It has been amazing to catch some of the peak colors of Carolina and Colorado, both so unique and beautiful in their own way.

No place like home

On Being Present

My mind has a habit of drifting, wandering, and I find myself carried away. Either into a warm, nostalgic memory, or some vision of the idealized distant future. I love teaching and practicing mindfulness with my clients, but I have to ask myself, how often am I utilizing this technique for my own self-care? During a short visit to the Carolinas this past week, I had an insightful conversation with my grandmother. She asked me a simple question: “are you satisfied with your life?”. A question that I’ve been hesitant to ask myself lately. Living so far away from my birthplace, I was infatuated with this brief homecoming, basking in past memories, taking in the golden, feathery sunsets and lush greenery, gazing up at the massive old trees, comparing it all to the scenery of my new home. As if I were trying to decide which landscape I prefer, which one feels more authentic, which one reflects where I need to “end up”, or “settle down”. Which is why this question seemed so daunting. Am I satisfied? Expending energy hazy with nostalgia or hyper-focused on future plans, will I ever be? Life never turns out quite the way we plan or imagine (although sometimes, it’s even better), and obsessing over that can be self-destructive. In my graduate program, we often discussed a phenomenon called Destination Addiction. It’s the unattainable idea that whenever a certain goal is reached, happiness will automatically follow. We also discussed the theory that we remember events in a better light than when we actually experienced the event. These cognitions are what can keep us disillusioned and distant from the present moment, from current, ongoing happiness. Practicing mindfulness (being present and nonjudgmental in the moment), appreciating the little things that make us feel at home, and focusing on the amazing aspects of everyday life, these are a few basic essentials for self-care and feeling satisfied. Sunsets are beautiful anywhere, but we have to be present in order to appreciate them.

How do you stay present?

San Diego

Well, I fell in love again… with San Diego. An incredible little getaway with breathtaking scenery, perfect weather, and amaaaazing food. Luke and I made an impromptu trip to the west coast for a long weekend. It’s the farthest west we’d ever ventured, and we got to experience it together. We splashed around in the Pacific Ocean for the first time, enjoyed a picnic of street tacos and ice cream on the shore, rode bikes along Mission Beach, snorkeled with wild sea lions at La Jolla Cove, stared in envy at the thriving succulents and lemon trees, and explored the city, as well as some isolated islands and beaches. Soaking up as much sun, sand, and saltwater as we possibly could. We were completely in awe of our surroundings. We didn’t want to leave, but we ended our trip with a perfect dinner date in Little Italy. If you’re planning on visiting, here are some tips on venturing around:

Beaches

We were able to visit Mission and Pacific Beach, Shelter Island, and Point Loma. Shelter Island and Point Loma are smaller and more private, while Mission and Pacific are great for surfing, swimming, and soaking up sun. MB and PB also have restaurants, shops, arcades, etc. It can get pretty crowded, but you can rent a bike for about $10 a day and enjoy a ride along the beach until you find a less populated area.

La Jolla

Rooftop cafes with incredible views, cave swimming, wild sea lions… need I say more? La Jolla Cove was more beautiful than I could have imagined, and it felt so surreal to interact with the sea lions. I sat on a rock about 30 feet from one for a long time, just watching him sleep… with one eye open, on me. You can swim and snorkel with these babies, but don’t get too close. They’re protected, and will definitely bark and defend themselves if their space is invaded.

Nosh

The food in SD. Just. Wow.

We’re always on the lookout for vegan and vegetarian places, especially when we travel, and San Diego is full of them. Donut Bar offers vegan donuts, Civico 1845 offers a full vegan menu, and pretty much anywhere we went had some amazing vegetarian or vegan options.

San Diego is incredible, just beyond words, and I’m so thankful that we were able to go on this adventure.

Travel is necessary. Adventure is vital.

Moon Journal

The moon. La luna. It influences the tides, our bodies, agriculture, sleep cycles. I find the moon presenting itself in a lot of my expressive artwork, and I want to document how it affects me personally.  Last night was the Leo New Moon. I noticed how much it was affecting me, so I started looking more into its meaning, and realized that next month, at the end of this moon cycle, holds a solar eclipse. This is an important lunar cycle to pay attention to. Today, I created a moon journal to document my mind, body, spirit, and sleep for each day and night from the Leo New Moon, through the Full Corn Moon on Monday, August 7th, 2017 until the solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st, 2017.

I would love to hear from and share this experience with anyone wishing to join me on this lunar journey!

Happy Place

Self-care is really about finding your happy place. A state of mind that helps you unwind, destress, and connect with your inner peace. There are countless self-care methods and daily practices out there, some to practice alone, and some to practice and share with others. Traveling and unplugging are huge for my personal self-care. I’ve traveled alone, which is a beautiful experience, but there’s something about sharing an adventure with someone I love that is infinitely valuable. My happy place. I found myself right in the middle of my happy place when we decided to pack up for the weekend and camp out near the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. The weekend started out with a pink, glowing sky, bringing us intentions of love and energy. The sand dunes were breathtaking, but since Molly is getting older and can be somewhat of a timid pup, Luke and I weren’t sure how she would react to the mountainous, rolling dunes. I now believe it’s her new favorite place on Earth. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen her quite so happy, rolling around in the sand and splashing in the stream that runs through the dunes. We were brimming with laughter to see Molly so excited. It was unforgettable. Ever since we moved to Colorado, I’ve been eager to get out and explore, to see more of the state and to venture further west. My list of destinations keeps growing. I was reminded this weekend that the real adventure is right here beside me, and that exploration is so much better with these unplanned shared experiences. We didn’t have an exact plan when we left the house that afternoon, and I never would have guessed that we would get to see Molly acting like a puppy, spot three baby moose, or stumble upon six bighorn sheep during our unpredictable trip, our unforgettable adventure, our happy place.

Photo Credit: Luke Cord

What is your happy place?

Elements

As I sit here writing, I notice the scent of tea tree lingering from my hair, slightly damp from my shower. I breathe in the warmth from the green tea in my favorite mug. I am safe. I am clean. I am comfortable. Unexposed to the elements on this unusually chilly night. I feel cozy tonight, but my mind wanders to a recent camping adventure in which I was almost completely exposed to the elements, at the mercy of Mother Earth. With the promising forecast of clear skies and decent temperatures, five of us headed out with our camping gear, unfazed by the unpredicted grey clouds looming in the distance. A few hours into our trip, tents built and campfire blazing, those clouds opened up and the rain began to pour. We ran into our tent and huddled up together, waiting for it to pass. These unexpected but temporary downpours continued on and off throughout our trip, producing the most beautiful sunset and sunrise. We were exposed to the elements with few options for shelter, nervously hoping that the tent enveloping us would hold up through the periodic storms. It is eye opening to get a glimpse of what so many people are forced to experience on a daily basis, exposed to wind, rain, cold temperatures. However, we were doing this for fun. We chose to wait out the rain and thunder for the joy of camping. There seems to be a common nomadic daydream among many in our generation. The dream of living on the road or off the grid, a form of chosen homelessness. There is something that feels so natural and primal about living in such a way. It feels magical to wake up in a forest, making your breakfast over the fire you’ve built, cooling off in a nearby stream, completely surrounded by nature. I feel that while living our chosen lifestyles, whatever they may be, it is important to remember that we are lucky enough to get to choose that lifestyle. As someone dedicated to a helping profession, I wonder how many ways we can find to reroute our daily activities in order to give back, to waste less, to show compassion? Volunteering, recycling, composting, donating, leaving no trace, etc… I would love to hear your thoughts on this! What aspects of your lifestyle are dedicated to bettering the planet, or what would you like to start doing and learning more about?

In Bloom

The sun wakes me up a couple of hours later than it used to. I’m still astonished every morning to open my eyes and see Pike’s Peak looking down on me from outside the bedroom window. Everything is new.

Newness can feel daunting. It presents challenges, demands acclimation, and evokes uncertainty. It also offers fresh perspective, expanding knowledge, and beautiful, towering surprises. I turn a corner to find mountains before me. Looking up has never been more enthralling, or more often. Although, even in the grasp of change and newness, we still have our rituals, our traditions. Something to help us feel that we are staying the course, still on track. Clouds followed as our dog, Molly, led me through pathways and trails unfamiliar to us. Red rocks, waterfalls, flowers, and even more clouds surrounded as we breathed in our new atmosphere.

I crave exploration. I yearn for adventure. I needed this for my own self-care. Of course I have so many people who are close to my heart, yet now so far in distance. My love for them does not falter based on the location of my freshest footprints. I want to see more. I want to learn. I was drawn to this transition. Maybe it was to show those who are feeling stagnant how realistic such a seemingly drastic change can be. Maybe it’s okay to follow your heart, even if you’re not sure where it’s leading you.

Grow. Blossom. Bloom.