Morning rituals: finding a sustainable practice that sustains you

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Sunrise

Let’s talk morning rituals. Over the past year, I’ve read tips on making the most of the initial hours in a day—from “eating the frog” to exercising to avoiding social media to praying or fasting. Although I’ve tried all of the above and more, my focus over the past year and a half has included three top priorities: prayer, purpose and performance. During the first hour of my day, I reconnect to my “source” through devotions and Bible readings. Then, I journal for 15-20 minutes before jumping into that day’s creative pursuits. Finally, I hop on my exercise bike, hit the yoga mat and power walk through my neighborhood or head for the mountain trails. And not only has this morning ritual sustained me during an unsettled 2020 and into the new year, but it also proves to be a sustainable practice that I can adjust as needed.

Visit my new home at chrismadayschmidt.com and let me know what type of practice, morning or otherwise, sustains you?

Crisis of identity: discovering your ‘story’

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I’m smack dab in the middle of an identity crisis. Oh, I know who I am: a middle-aged Christian woman and married mother of an adult child. I work as an editorial and advertising coordinator for a commercial magazine publisher (see About Me). My Facebook profile describes me as a lover of words, kitties, laughter, yoga and animal print. And sparkles. I’m also a published author (see Links) of nonfiction and fiction. However, I’ve been questioning my “identity” over the past few weeks in relation to my “story.” I’ve never understood what that means. Until now. For me, my story translates into what I’m called to write. In “Trusting the process…,” I talk about completing the first draft of a sweet romance. But herein lies the crux of my “crisis.” While preparing to write the second draft, I realized I possess a different story to tell. I shared this revelation with my husband, who said, “Why can’t you write both?” Indeed.

What’s your story—or crisis of identity?

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Do you really need ‘all the things?’

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Always a planner, even as a young girl, this year started no differently. Although, that soon changed as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world. It’s required a shifting—or pivoting—in plans and priorities, goals and mindsets. Some changes have been tough to swallow, while others serve to illustrate that our self-imposed schedules could benefit from extra “white space” for self-care and self-reflection. Personally, I’ve learned I don’t “need” everything I once thought necessary. For example, it turns out I don’t need to practice yoga in a heated room. Although I miss my tribe of Bikram practitioners, I’m content doing my own thing on my own time. And, as much as I coveted my monthly #selfcare of acupuncture and facials, I’ve discovered a coconut mask that, when used weekly, hydrates and brightens. Admittedly, it does require greater discipline for me to continue an at-home #selfcare and exercise regimen, but the time (and money) savings have been worth the effort.

What “luxuries” have you learned to do without?

One size fits all: except when it doesn’t

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One size fits all, a common phrase—whether referring to a hat or a pair of socks—that means to accommodate the varying preferences of most people. But then there are nutrition and fitness plans, haircare and skincare and anti-aging formulas, for example—that each sound life-changing when presented by enthusiasts who’ve experienced positive results in these areas. I’ve heard Keto is the way to nourish our bodies, yoga is the cure-all for whatever ails, apple cider vinegar is a magic elixir and XYZ is the only essential oil I should apply to my skin or hair. Recently, even I couldn’t resist the lure of a book claiming it’s the last “plotting book” ever needed. But guess what? Everyone is different, which means we must conduct our own due diligence—for the latest and greatest trends—and adapt accordingly. And instead of lamenting an overabundance of choices, we should appreciate it’s not the entire wheel we need to reinvent.

What success have you had with a one-size-fits-all approach?

Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Set it and let it go: how to be fully present

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This past week I attended a gong meditation at the yoga studio where I practice. If you’ve never tried a gong “bath,” I highly recommend it—if only for a bit of respite from the outside world. The benefits? I’ve read that the sound of the gong cuts through our mental chatter—the monkey mind—to create a meditative state of deep relaxation to promote healing and stress reduction. Talk about a win-win. Personally speaking, I also experienced an emotional release, including overwhelming gratitude that began in the mountains earlier that day to return full circle on my mat, tears streaming down my face. In addition, I learned that when we set an intention, it’s good to set it and let it: go. Oftentimes we get stuck on the expectation behind our intention, which can lead to disappointment. However, when we practice “setting it and letting it go,” we free ourselves to remain fully present in the moment.

What intention do you need to set and let go?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Mojo with a twist: positive affirmations

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The last day of my 30-Day Reboot Challenge came and went with very little fanfare. Maybe because I got off track at times. Regardless, one of the biggest revelations to me was that the words we speak about ourselves—whether in our own minds or while talking with others—affect not only our psyches (mental and emotional), but also our physicality. I tested the theory of positive affirmations in the hot room one afternoon during yoga: I wore a top that reads “Strong is the new skinny” and I stared at that shirt for the next 90 minutes. This affirmation of strength resonated throughout the following 90 minutes and my body responded with a strong, grounded practice. But it doesn’t end with positivity. We also limit our success with the words (and thoughts) we entertain that devalue or restrict our capabilities (see The Language of Limitation and Hate-Speak). Let’s make a pact today: to speak self-love. And then witness a powerful transformation.

What does your self-speak sound like?

Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

You are stronger than you think you are: kick your obstacles to the curb

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If I plan to do what I’m doing for a long time (see What’s ‘in’ this season…), then I must quit talking about modifying my lifestyle and do it. If I hope to hike, work out, practice yoga and maintain a youthful spirit, these changes need to stick rather than serve as sporadic patches until the seams unravel. My mortality hit home the other night while I watched an eye-opening documentary about sugar, and its adverse effects on our bodies and minds, and realized my addiction to the sweet stuff will either set me up for an early grave or problems I’ve already begun to experience in small doses. I have a plan, however: to become healthier and stronger during the next 17 months, and to reverse any negative effects of poor lifestyle choices. If I am willing to sacrifice my time and effort for others, then I should believe in myself enough to make sacrifices for a greater me.

What is an obstacle you seek to overcome?

What’s ‘in’ this season: new outlook, new you

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This past weekend, I joined another hiker for a six-mile trek through new-to-me desert terrain. As the two of us navigated the dusty trails, we discovered common interests and beliefs despite the decade that separates our birthdays. Recently, my friend quit her job because it interfered with her hikes, her yoga. Her sanity. Although she resides in a different season of her life than me—where her plans lean toward retirement—the outlook she embraces is one I strive for daily. My friend lives and breathes the old adage that there are seven days in a week and Someday isn’t one of them; that we need to do what we can [enjoy] now, so we can do it for years to come. I knew I couldn’t move the mountains ahead of me, but I could kick aside the bad habits and negative chatter that clutters my path and replace them with stepping stones—small, manageable changes—toward success. Regardless of the season.

What does your makeover look like?

 

Wasting time or living life: what’s it going to be?

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wasting-or-living-life

My mind has been stuck in overdrive for weeks. First, I prepped for a long weekend of travel while juggling work, a yoga challenge and writing commitment. Upon my return, I resumed life: working, completing my writing commitment and commencing a new yoga challenge (why not include an ab challenge too, while I’m at it?). I’ve also begun soul searching and deduced I’m wasting my time with this one life I was gifted. Apparently, this epiphany was more than my mind could contemplate, because I ended up with a two-day migraine. Along with that, I suffered bouts of monkey brain, beginning with thoughts at Point M, circling to Point J, then R and ending at Point E. The headache and monkey brain siphoned much of my energy—plus, I have yet to achieve the simple life I desire. Maybe this season is preparing me for just that. In the meantime, I need to quit wasting time and start living.

Are you wasting your time, or living your life?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The fountain of youth

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fountain-of-youth

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.
Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life
is to keep your mind young. ~ Henry Ford

Who would’ve guessed that Henry Ford would not only design the Model T, but also discover the fountain of youth? For years I thought I’d know it all when I hit the mid-century mark. Funny, but it seems there’s no end to what I’m learning. And that, my friends, is the secret to staying young. Because when we stop learning, we essentially stagnate. My acupuncturist recently told me I possess a ‘youthful’ energy. What a compliment, and one I ascribe to my lifestyle—of working out and practicing yoga, taking naps when necessary, participating in writing workshops, devouring books, volunteering and stepping outside of my comfort zone. Laughter is another element that I credit for my youthful energy and which sounds good at any age. Oh, and remember: accessorize with a smile.

How do you remain youthful?

Image courtesy of Keattikorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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