2017-01-02-08-04-06

How I Started My Miracle Morning

About a month and a half ago, I discovered something called the Miracle Morning.  The roundabout way I discovered it is kind of a quirky story, and actually might be something of a miracle in and of itself.

I started this summer with a lot of lofty ambitions, but as the days went by nothing seemed to be happening. I started to look around and realized that I was not doing a lot of the things that I wished I was doing.  Getting up later than I wanted to every morning, spending at least an hour staring at my phone wasting my time, and then talking myself out of going to the gym every single day became my regular routine.  I would set a goal that I would scrapbook, or start my spring cleaning, or do any one of a thousand things I needed to get done, but by the time I went to bed at night I couldn’t even check off a single thing that I had accomplished.

It wasn’t laziness—I think it was a mixture of depression and stress.  There’s nothing like having all your kids leave to slap you in the face, ask you what you’ve done with your life and make you feel like you’re needing some kind of a goal or you might as well start digging your grave.   I was eating my body weight in junk food, wasting a lot of time on Facebook, and watching my days pass before my eyes while I did nothing about it except make excuses.  I knew I needed to change but I didn’t know how.

Leave it to Pinterest to show me the way…

One day as I was sitting, wasting away on the internet as usual, pinning things I would probably never do, I found the answer.  A friend of mine had pinned something about a bullet journal.  Intrigued, I clicked on it and followed the link.  This led to another link, and another, and another.  I spent a whole afternoon reading about bullet journals and knew that this was something I would love.  I’ll save the bullet journal for another time, because it truly does deserve it’s own post, but I did have to mention it because it led me to The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.

The Miracle Morning I read a book review of it on one of the posts about bullet journaling and it peaked my curiosity.  After seeing it pop up a few more times, it felt a little like I needed to investigate further.

I need to point out here that I am not a person that reads self-help books.  Patrick has a plethora of them lining our bookshelves but I have never had any interest in them whatsoever.  So for me to even be curious about this was it’s own miracle.

A few days passed and I kept thinking maybe I needed to read it.  I finally mentioned it to Patrick and (surprise!) he told me he already owns the book and pulled it out of a drawer.  Things were starting to get weird.  I sat down that day and read the entire book cover to cover (before you get too wowed by my feat, I should mention it isn’t a very big book.)

So what is the miracle morning?

It’s actually amazingly simple.  Here’s the plan in a nutshell:

  1. You commit to getting up an hour earlier than you normally do.
  2. The day begins with five minutes of silence. This can be either meditation or prayer, or a bit of both, which is what I choose to do.
  3. Daily affirmations are next. (Anyone in my age range is going to instantly think about Stuart Smalley staring in the mirror saying “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggonit, people like me!”  I think about this on a daily basis.  It’s sad that a hokey Saturday Night Live skit has tainted the idea of daily affirmations for so many of us because it honestly works.)
  4. Five minutes visualizing yourself accomplishing whatever it is you set as your goal. If you don’t have a goal, you make something up until you find one.  It doesn’t have to be all that serious, just something you’d like to accomplish.
  5. Spend at least 20 minutes exercising. It can be yoga or going for a walk—it doesn’t have to be intense.
  6. Read something…anything. I am choosing to use this time for my scripture study first and then another 10-15 minutes reading a personal development book of some kind.
  7. The last step is writing in a journal. This doesn’t have to be a long process–it can be a quick listing in your gratitude journal or a short paragraph in your regular journal.

The idea is to commit to doing these things for at least 30 days, so I made the commitment.  It has been six weeks for me now and I have only missed one day.

Three reasons we all settle for a mediocre life

Hal Elrod describes several reasons on the book why 95% of us tend to settle for mediocre instead of pushing ourselves for something better:

  • Rearview Mirror Syndrome.  Continuing to relive and recreate our past and believing that who we were is who we are and limiting our potential.  We want to do better but we don’t know how to see things other than how they’ve always been.   When faced with adversity we go back to our rearview mirror for guidance on how to respond.
  • Lack of Purpose.  We take one day at a time, focusing on just getting through the day with the path of least resistance.
  • Isolating Incidents. Mistakenly believing that each and every choice we make or action we take only affects that particular moment and has no effect on the larger picture of our lives.

We must realize that the real impact and consequence of each of our choices and actions –and even our thoughts–is monumental, because every single thought, choice, and action is determining who we are becoming, which will ultimately determine the quality of our lives. —Hal Elrod 

How the Miracle Morning changed my life

Yes, I am fully aware that this statement sounds really preachy and self-helpish, so I apologize for that, but it’s actually true…and it wasn’t even hard!  I actually rearranged the order in which I do the suggested activities (and end with exercise) but I am amazed at the difference it has made.  Following Hal’s suggestions, I tell myself before I go to bed each night that I will be able to get out of bed without hesitation and it has totally worked.  I find myself focusing on what I need to get done for the day and actually following through and doing it.  Motivation and energy that I haven’t felt in years has returned.  It truly is…a miracle!

Accountability is key

We all know it’s easier to do something when someone else is counting on you.  It’s why we choose to exercise with a partner or start a diet with a friend.  The same goes if you want to start your own Miracle Morning.  I’d love to hear from anyone that  would like to start (or from anyone else that has already discovered the Miracle Morning).  There is strength in numbers!  Feel free to comment or use the Contact Me form to send an email.

Here is my shameless plug (and affiliate link) for The Miracle Morning. Please know that I may receive compensation if you click on it, but I would never recommend it if I didn’t believe it was worth your time!

 

2017-01-02-08-04-06

Parenting: The Hardest Part is Letting Them Go

Moving On

Oh, boy…I’ve done it now. I’ve become one of those stodgy old women that looks at you smiling when you’re in the grocery store with your screaming toddler.  You’re ready to rip the kid’s head off if they don’t shut up and you hear this quiet little voice that says “Enjoy them while they’re young because before you know it they will be grown and gone.”  In the back of your mind you say, “Yeah…right, lady.” while you smile back on the outside.Parenting Toddlers

I know all too well how this goes because I used to be the one with the toddler.  Now I’m the old lady.  When did this happen?  How often have you thought any of the following:

  • “My life will be so much less hectic when I don’t have so many school programs to attend!”
  • “I can’t wait until the day we are DONE  having to make Valentine’s boxes!”
  • “I’m so tired of chasing toddlers around!  When I don’t have to worry about them getting into things all the time, I will be so relieved!”

The list could go on and on, and I would know, because I have thought all of these things at one point or another.  Please don’t get me wrong, though, I have loved having kids from the moment they arrived to the present.  Not only that, but I have loved every single stage of having kids, including (and maybe even especially) when they were teenagers.  Every single stage of parenting has had it’s ups and downs, the pros and cons, and even though I had those moments when I was exhausted and ready to throw in the towel, I loved them all.  But over the last several years I have discovered the absolute hardest stage of parenting:  letting them go.

“I don’t want my son to leave.”

Around the time that Dylan was graduating from high school and we were getting ready for him to leave on his mission I started to see a change in Patrick.  He became a little withdrawn and quiet.  I was thinking about all the things that had to be done, and he didn’t seem to want to be involved with any of it.

Then one Sunday he told me he had an appointment with the bishop, so I waited for him after church and we rode home together.  He told me in the car that day how distressed he was about having Dylan leave, and those are the words he said to me. “I don’t want my son to leave.” I will never forget them, because in that one sentence he conveyed all the anxiety and heartbreak he was feeling.  It seems he was not able to come to grips with the idea that we were basically done raising Dylan at this point.  He would leave and eventually come home, but things would never be the same again.

Shortly after that, the whole dust-up with Dylan’s mission call happened (a story for another day) and all of Dylan’s plans got put on hold for an entire year.  At the time I tried to tell myself there was something for Dylan to do here before he left, or maybe there was something that needed to take place in the mission field before he needed to be there.  As I look back on it now, I sometimes wonder if his delay didn’t happen because Heavenly Father needed to prepare Patrick for the leaving.  Maybe we all needed the extra time to prepare.

Fortunately or unfortunately, they all leave.

Parenting College StudentsThis last week we moved Savannah off to college.  She is living close to where I lived when I was attending college, so it was kind of fun to remember those days. But as we moved her I was a giant ball of horribly mixed emotions and didn’t really know how to react.  On one hand, I am so excited for her to start this new chapter because my college days were the best ever, and I know she is going to have so much fun.  Then again, I am a little frightened for her too, because I know she will struggle and things will be really difficult at times.  It’s all part of the package–she will learn, grow, struggle and have the time of her life as she figures out who she is and where she is going.

But there is another mixed emotion for me as well–I am sad she is gone, but I am also happy she is gone.  The fact that she is excited to move on with life and feels the confidence it takes to do so tells me that I did something right.  They say that you know you’ve done your job as a parent when your child grows up and no longer needs you.  I hope she still needs me a little bit, but I also hope she has learned a lot of what she needs to know to make good choices and move forward.

Regardless of all of this, I apparently am not done worrying about her night and day just yet.

Her first weekend down there, she started her new job.  She had told me she was scheduled to work from 5 p.m. to midnight, and I was having a hard time with the fact that I would not know whether or not she made it home safely.  I asked her to please text me or call me when she was off so I wouldn’t worry all night.  I then plopped myself on the couch with the TV remote to wait it out.

Midnight came and went.  No messages or calls.  Pretty soon it’s 12:30 and still no phone call.  I start to wonder if maybe her phone is dead, so close to 1 a.m,  I called.  I figured if her phone was dead it would go straight to voice mail, so at least I would know.  It didn’t go to voicemail, but it did prompt her to text me to say she was still working.  I reminded her that I was waiting up and to please not forget to call.

Fast forward two and a half more hours:  I am texting her and she is not responding.  I have not received a phone call.  I am a mother.  These things all combine and form the perfect storm of panic, leaving me shaking and freaking out and crying on the couch.  I was sure that she had forgotten to call, had gone home to a dark scary parking lot alone, had been forced to park a million miles from her apartment, and on the walk in had been nabbed, dragged into the bushes where she was viciously raped and murdered.

While all of this was happening, Patrick was sleeping.  SLEEPING!!!  So not only was I worried about her, I was mad at him.  How can any respectable parent sleep while their only daughter is out being raped and murdered in some dark parking lot, her body just laying there is the dirt, soon to be covered up by the newly falling leaves as the seasons change?  I was ready to put my clothes on and go looking for her, but instead I woke up Patrick by storming around the bedroom throwing something of a mini-tantrum.

I told him I still hadn’t heard from her and finally he joined me in my panic.  He got up and called her phone, again to see if it had died.  This time she answered and she was mad.

“I can’t talk! I’M WORKING!”  That’s all she said.

At 4:06 a.m. I got a text that said “I’m home safe.  I love you guys.  I’ll call you tomorrow when I wake up.”

Apparently I need to work on my apron-string-cutting just a bit.

Train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are grown they will not depart from it.

Growing up in the LDS church, we’ve all heard this about a million times.  Sadly, as much as I want it to be true, sometimes it isn’t that simple. There are times when, despite our best efforts, our kids will choose differently than we wish they would.

I have a child that is struggling to find his way right now, and I know family members and friends that are experiencing similar times.  We ask ourselves often what we did wrong and how do we fix it.  We lose sleep as we try to find the one thing we can say or do that might make a difference and put them back on the path that we want for them.  I know that for me personally,  I have spent countless hours reviewing the past and asking myself what I might have done differently that would have made the difference for today.

Sadly, the truth is,  we all do the best we can, we all make mistakes, and our kids will too.  All we can do is love them and pray for them that they will find their way.  And even though we disagree with their decision, we still have to let them make it.  They will learn and grow and probably suffer a little (or a lot) in the process, and it hurts to watch, but it’s unavoidable.  I certainly don’t have this mastered, so if anyone has good advice on how to get through it, I’m all ears.

Enjoy your kids when they’re young.  Before you know it, you’ll blink and they will be gone and your parenting role will change.

There.  I said it again.  Go ahead and roll your eyes at me if you must, but treasure up every moment, because more good moments are coming, and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather anticipate what’s next than regret what’s over.

 

2017-01-02-08-04-06

When Did I Stop Being Awesome?

 

When Did I Stop Being Awesome?

I just got done cleaning out my storage room.  Good times!  But it had to be done.  I worked my way through endless boxes of all the kids’ schoolwork that I have saved over the years (“saved” being a loose term meaning “toss haphazardly in giant boxes with no organizational system whatsoever”) trying to figure out what I should really  keep vs. what was really a waste of space.    I managed to whittle down the kids’ paperwork to only saving those things that are their actual original work (drawings and things they wrote or created from their own imagination) and got rid of the rest. The interesting thing is, as I went through these boxes, I happened upon the box of MY schoolwork that my mom saved from my childhood. From my box, as I went through it, I learned a few lessons.

  1. I don’t really care about keeping most of this stuff and my kids probably won’t want to keep theirs either. (But I will leave it up to them to make the final decision to throw it away.)
  2. Somewhere along the way in my youth, as I grew older, I started selling myself short.

The first lesson…not all that important, really, unless you’re short on storage space and looking for an excuse to get rid of things.

The second one…well…kind of made me sad.

This year my daughter (the youngest of our four kids) graduated from high school.  Last week we packed her up and moved her off to college.  I have to admit I am a little jealous.  It has made me reminisce about the time I left for college and this along with that lesson I just learned from the box of things from my youth collided in this perfect storm of self-discovery.

Back when I left for college in the good ol’ days of the 1980s I had one really big ambition—I wanted to be a writer.  I loved books, I loved to read, and I loved to write.  I started off my college days as an English major.  Unfortunately, that didn’t last long as I started to doubt my decision.  I started to hear these voices telling me that it was not a feasible idea for me.  Maybe it was better to be an elementary school teacher—it gels well with motherhood because then you have the summers, weekends and holidays off just like your kids.  Or maybe it was better to go into home economics because someday, as a mother, you’ll be running a household and all that stuff will be helpful.  These were the things the voices whispered to me in the dark at night in my college dorm, telling me that maybe, just maybe, all the things I had always believed about myself weren’t true after all and I needed to be “practical”.  Three years and 5000 changes to my major later, I quit school and never graduated.  Sadly, after leaving my English major the first time, I never went back to it.

Now, as I looked through the box of keepsakes from my youth, I discovered all the things I used to write when I was young.  I had stories and poetry that I had written going back into my elementary days when I won first prize in the Reflections contest all the way through my high school days when I was published in the school literary magazine, including things I had written outside of school on my trusty old electric typewriter.  I was actually able to remember my feeling of accomplishment with each piece that I finished.  It feels like a million years ago.

All of this led me to realize that I need to reexamine my life. I’ve been reading a book by Jon Acuff called “Start”.  He talks a lot about the idea of being awesome and how it used to be easy.

When did I stop believing I was awesome?

We all believed we were awesome as kids.  Think about that time you were sitting in elementary school and the teacher had you write or draw something about what you wanted to be when you grew up.  Did any one of us draw a picture of a mediocre life?  Did we dream of growing up to work in a mail room, or sit at a receptionist’s desk answering phones?  Not that there is anything wrong with doing these things (so a quick shout out to all you mail room workers and receptionists—your services are highly valued and appreciated!)  I’m just saying that we dreamed big and thought we could do anything.  Boys shoot hoops and dream of playing in the NBA, girls dance and dream of ending up on Broadway….or write things on their typewriter in their bedroom imagining that one day they will write the next great American novel.

It’s not that we all chose average.  No one aims for that in the beginning.  Nobody says “I’m going to be average for 65 years and then die!”—Jon Acuff, Start

As a parent I have always tried to tell my kids, “You can do anything!”  The question is, when did I stop believing that about myself?  Maybe our beliefs as children were unrealistic, and maybe at some point in time we all had a voice in our heads, either our own or someone else’s that told us our dreams were too big.  I have been telling myself that for decades.  I compare myself to those who’ve done what I wish I could do and say “How did they do that, and why can’t I do it too?”  The better question might be, “Why DON’T I do it too?”

The truth of it is, the dreams we used to dream never died.  They are still there, like ghosts, haunting us in those times when we are alone.  They follow us into the shower or when we are sitting in traffic and any other time that our minds have a chance to wander into the land of what could have been.  Maybe your dream was never about having a career or being famous—maybe you wanted to backpack through Europe, learn to skydive, or be a great photographer.  In the meantime, we tallied up a giant list of excuses for why we never did those things we wanted to do, and we carry them around like a heavy rocks in our pockets, pulling them out to look at them over and over again and telling ourselves that it’s too late now and there is no use thinking about it anymore.

So now I find myself sitting in my quiet house.  My kids are all busy adulting and I have done my best to help them get to where they need to be.  I ask myself, what comes next for me?  My dream to write has not disappeared, and I am thinking maybe it’s time to give it a shot.  That is what has led me to this place and this blog.  The world of writing has changed and there are a lot of opportunities out there that weren’t available to me back in 1985, so I figure it’s time to take advantage.  As Jon Acuff says in the book,

“The road to awesome is still accessible….Regardless of your age or station in life, it all comes down to one simple truth:  you just have to start.”