Schedule Your Day with Intention

Squeeze the most out of every day.

Squeeze the most out of every day.

Life is so busy anymore.  From the moment my alarm goes off, I am thinking about what my day entails – who I have to call, what events are going on, feeding the dog, etc. etc…  While I consider myself responsible and one to get my day’s work done, I am also a creative – and I am excellent at wasting discretionary time.  When ever I find myself with “free” or discretionary time, here is what I think to myself: a) I must use that time to clean, I love to clean, or b) Well this time must certainly be available for me to cruise the net and read blogs, recipes, or search for all those things that pop up in my mind throughout the day.  This is a terrible way to spend my time.

Mornings are the best time of the day and this is where most of my quality creative time is lost.  Here is what my mornings have looked like for the past couple years:

4:50am                            Dreaded alarm goes off…sleep for at least 5 more mins…

5-6:00am                        Pick up some heavy stuff (at the gym)

6-7:00am                        Coffee, breakfast, get on the iPad

7-7:30am                        Still on the iPad…

7:30-8am                        Contemplate showering, while on the iPad or cleaning house

8-9:00am                        Shower, get ready, make lunch, feed dog

9:15am                            Head out the door

When I look at this now, I think – wow, that was two solid hours of time not thoughtfully planned at all.  Over the course of a year, that comes out to 520 hours!  31,200 minutes!  Holy cow. I want to live with intention and that means planning my day the way I’d like it to look.  If I can help it, I would like to have more days where I can reflect and be satisfied with the way the day went instead of feeling like I didn’t make the time to enjoy the extracurriculars of life that make it so rich. I decided it was time to overhaul my morning schedule instead of just paying lip service to the idea.

Here is what I came up with and I am sure it will be adjusted, as it has only been one day of trying it.  Today it worked great but I am prepared to be flexible as needed.

4:50am                           Dreaded alarm goes off…

5-6:00am                        Pick up some heavy stuff (at the gym)

6-6:30am                        Quiet time with coffee

6:30-7am                        Write or draw

7-8:00am                        Walk or run for 30 minutes

8-8:30am                        Eat breakfast

8:30-9:30am                   Write or draw

9:30-10:30am                 Shower and get ready

 

You may look at this and think a number of things:

a)     Not all of us have the luxury of starting work at 10:30am.

Response:      True – however even if you only have 15 minutes in the morning, see if you can squeeze in some discretionary time for yourself to relax or exercise before the day turns in to the whirlwind they tend to do.  Perhaps try dragging yourself out of bed a little earlier, (and going to bed a little earlier).

b)    You obviously don’t have children.

Response:      True – I cannot pretend to understand what it is like to have babies and kids to have to get up and get ready in the morning but I would suggest that having a game plan for your morning can still apply and work to your advantage when feeling overwhelmed.

c)     “Meditative time with coffee”?  What kind of woo woo BS is that?!

Response:      Taking 5-15 quiet minutes to yourself first thing in the day can really clear your mind so you go into your day feeling energized and not bogged down by the stresses of life that build up.  We all have different forms of stress and it is important to put those thoughts in check for a small amount of time each day.

d)    Exercise is a pain in the ass.

Response:  Exerting energy (via exercise) is difficult, I won’t disagree, but the payout far exceeds the dread, pain, and lack of motivation.  Working out for me has been a hell of a rollercoaster, but it has been a lifesaver.  You have to take small bites and not beat yourself up when you fall off that wagon.  Doing anything is going to be better than sitting on your duff all day.  I like to get the blood pumping first thing in the morning because it gets me jacked up for the day, I can handle anything!

e)     I don’t draw, but writing is something I could get in to!

Response:  All of us have thoughts and feelings we don’t always get to express.  Writing, and especially first thing in the morning, is a great way to get those feelings down on paper and out of us.  Try it.  Write about whatever comes to mind for 20 minutes and see what happens.  I bet you’ll find satisfaction from it.

Try tweaking just one of your morning rituals and see what happens.

All of these things like with anything – the more you do it, the easier it will become.  Make the time; you’ll be so happy you did.

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On Pushing Yourself & Knowing When to Turn Around

North Fork Skok Trailhead in the Staircase area of Lake Cushman.

North Fork Skok Trailhead in the Staircase area of Lake Cushman.

It was approaching 3:30pm as Nick and I were making what I thought was our final push up to Flap Jack Lakes, which were at 3,900 feet.  The snow was showing no signs of rapidly disappearing (and why would it, we were climbing!) as I secretly hoped, but with an elevation gain of almost 2,500 feet in roughly 3.7 miles, I thought we must be SO close to our destination.  We weren’t – not close enough.

When hiking, I typically choose the safest, most practical path when coming to a fork in the road – if a plan allows for flexibility to decide when we get there.  We had approached that fork, after four flat miles on the North Fork Skokomish River Trail out of Lake Cushman.  Fueled with our staple lunch – a turkey bagel sandwich, I was up for a challenge and wanted to give my legs a good workout.  It was only 1pm and hiking uphill for four miles compared to a meandering two miles seemed like the better choice.

We started up the trail – optimistic.  I was proud of myself for choosing the more challenging route.  The weather was gray, drizzly and mild – not surprising for a Memorial Day weekend in Washington State.  Temperatures so comfortable while on the move, I almost removed my light jacket, welcoming the drizzle to cool off.  It wasn’t long before the first sign presented itself that perhaps Flap Jack Lakes was not a destination we would be getting to – today.

Ready to roll!

Ready to roll!

Photos rarely do nature's beauty justice.

Photos rarely do nature’s beauty justice.

Over the winter, storms create quite a mess in the forest – littering any trees that are either too weak, too old, or crowding others, without any regard for trail use by humans.  A tree blow down across the trail only five minutes in presented a fun obstacle to climb over, reminded me of being a kid.  It was a beautiful trail that allowed for higher views above some of the trees that lined the river to look out into the – fog.  It was a little cloudy but beautiful nonetheless and being up above is pretty exhilarating when the trail is a drop off below and a steep hillside above.  There were many more blow downs to come and not all were so

fun.  Blow downs ranged in size with some being giant 100 year old spruce that smelled like Christmas (the smells were amazing!) to skinny little fir trees with many branches hanging down like arms you had to navigate through hoping they wouldn’t grab you like something out of Oz.

Nick hurdling one of many blow downs.

Nick hurdling one of many blow downs.

Many of the blow downs were crossing the trail and I would simply hug and swing under them, allowing my pack to clear the ground but some were in slightly more precarious positions.  Some were only passable by climbing over them, straddling them, and one of them felt as though I was holding on for dear life because falling down a steep hillside of blow downs was not on my agenda for the day.  We became pros at navigating these obstacles and I thought surely we would reach a point where we could go no further.

We passed three other parties on the trail as they were heading down.  After chatting with one of the couples, they let us know there was snow but that there was camp prior to snow as well so I thought, “Great!”  We trudged on.  At one point, all I could hear was the thunderous sound of snow melt crashing down a creek we were approaching on the trail.  It was a powerful sound, one that easily conveyed its danger if disrespected.  My heart started racing a little as I thought to myself, “Dear God, I hope we do not have to cross this creek.”  Without being able to

see ahead, it was easy to create an assumption in my mind of where the trail might take us.  Would we have to cross a slippery log with treacherous rapids below?   I was able to rest easy as we approached the water source and we took a sharp turn to keep heading up.  By now we were hoofing it up sharp, short switchbacks upwards making what felt like progress.  Snow patches were appearing trailside and soon enough a blanket of old snow was beneath our boots.

For some reason while hiking, I am not a huge fan of snow – unless I am planning a snowshoe trip – in which case

Can you see the path?  Yikes!

Can you see the path? Yikes!

snow is entirely expected.  I trudged through a bit of it, following previous hikers footsteps, despite a scary patch where a fellow hiker had clearly punched through deeper than she’d planned – perhaps three or four feet.  The steps I took seemed stable enough.  That’s the thing about snow though, it’s unpredictable and at any moment, I could have punched through or slipped– and we were on a slope!  Back into the trees and the snow seemed to go away but then returned.  Nick walked out to see what he could see around the bend.  It was unclear as to how recently someone had hiked up here.  I stepped out to see what Nick could see and my gut told me it was time to turn around.  There would only be more snow if we continued.  We headed back where we came from – over and under all those downed trees.

Nature's wrath makes for some dramatic photos.

Nature’s wrath makes for some dramatic photos.

Coming down the trail, I felt immediate relief as if we were out of harms way.  Would we have really been in any danger?  Who knows?  The relationship we have with fear should be one of respect.  You will know when it presents itself to protect you versus to hold you back.  That day my fear was protecting me.

 

 

What fear have you had while hiking?  Do you think it was keeping you out of harm’s way or was it just trying to keep you down?

Crampin’ My Style

WARNING! Read on only if you don’t mind hearing about the not so glamorous side to being a woman…at a certain time of the month.

Last week I was attuned to the fact I was little hypersensitive, looked at the calendar and thought,
“Great!… A week before my period. It all makes sense now.” The last year or two I have really noticed that PMS is real and not something women make up as an excuse to be bitchy. I am working to be more aware, proactive about how I handle this wonderful time, and trying to not take anything like Midol. Speaking of, check out this little gem…ohh Midol how you make me laugh.

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This cycle was interesting…

Sunday I decided to make a juice concoction as my mom is letting me use her juicer. After watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead on Netflix and doing some of my own research, I really do believe in the benefits of micronutrients from juicing. I made the
Mean Green Juice that Joe made in the movie. He is kind of amazing. It consisted of: celery, Granny Smith apples, cucumber, kale, ginger, lemon – and for fun (and because I heard its so great for you and your skin) fresh parsley. Now, what I didn’t know, is that parsley accelerates the onset of your period. Oh joy.

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No signs of my period yet, just that dull aching back pain that crept in during lunch time. My Monday plan was to go to Bikram Yoga. I LOVE it. With my back ache I thought, Yoga would be perfect for today. It is so detoxifying, relaxing, challenging, and MISERABLE when you have cramps! I thought it would alleviate the pain. I went to hot yoga only to half way through the peaceful sweaty workout be wishing I were at home with a stiff drink. I redirected my thoughts to be in the present moment and decided to roll with the pain and work through it. It wasn’t fun, but I made it through. The Fuji apple I had on the way home never tasted so good and quenched my insatiable thirst.

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When I got home, the cramps were not showing any signs of going away. I didn’t want to take any pain relievers because I think all that yoga would have been for not had I done so. And, I am trying to minimize my use of those when I can. I decided to try my mom’s recommended natural apple cider vinegar, baking soda, juice cocktail. Apple cider vinegar has so many health benefits – it lowers inflammation levels and balances the pH levels in our bodies. It is magic really. Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar is the best! Here is the cocktail I made:

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1 oz. Apple Cider Vinegar
.5 tsp baking soda
8 oz. water
Add juice (I used Emergen-C because I had no juice)

To be clear, I do not love the way this tastes…BUT I slept through the night without cramps and it was a natural remedy! I was amazed. I am going to try this next month as well and see if I get similar results!

I know this wasn’t a glamorous post, but it’s part of life and hopefully you or someone you know might try this and benefit from it. What works for you and how do you get through that time of the month?

A Simple “Hi!”

Today was a beautiful day in Seattle!  Running the creek trail in Des Moines was the perfect way to spend my lunch hour. Many people were out on the trail today as most every nice day and it occurred to me, I say hello to all of them.  Now, many would say I am outgoing, but I don’t think I am a natural, nor have I always been that way.  ImageTo me, saying “hello” is a simple gesture and connecting with others is what life is about.  So many of us spend the day plugged in to our cool gadgets anymore, tuned out,  that we forget the basic joy that comes from connecting with a perfect stranger.

By saying hi, I am focused on the present and fully experiencing my run.  I love running to music as much as the next person, but in doing so, you water down your running experience.  It numbs us to our breath, to how our body feels, to the sound of the birds chirping or the creek babbling – and if you run our trail, the lovely smell of the sewage treatment facility.

Today, it would have tuned out this evasive woodpecker that I have heard numerous times on this trail and finally today caught a glimpse of!  Can you spot him?

Can you see him?  Smack dab in the middle shadow.

Can you see him? Smack dab in the middle shadow.

He looked a lot like this guy…SO neat!

by David Kelch

by David Kelch

The next time you are out walking or running, try saying hello to everyone you pass.  It will not only make their day, but yours as well!  How do you feel about this?  Do you say hi to strangers when out and about?

 

 

Stuff Bringing You Down?

Stuff.  We all struggle to some degree with collecting it, cleaning it, maintaining it, caring about it, collecting more of it, and then eventually getting rid of it.  It can be an ugly cycle.  Why is this!?  Let’s be honest, stuff (gadgets, outdoor gear, whatever you’re in to) does bring a lot of joy to our lives when is isn’t so much that we cannot maintain a healthy lifestyle because our stuff has taken over.

Many of us struggle with a balance of just enough stuff.

Make a point to have a balance of just enough stuff so that everything you own is something you really use, love, or display with pride.

My husband and I are limited to our humble 730 sq. foot house and therefore it wouldn’t take much for us to look like a family from an episode of “Hoarders”.  While I used to find this small space very frustrating because I couldn’t collect all the stuff I “needed” to own, I am now so much more content living with only what this house can hold and constantly working toward living with less.  After seeing this video about Tiny Houses, I am even more motivated to live with less.

Today at the gym, a friend of mine and I were discussing why some feel this urge to collect more and more stuff.  Her theory, and I am sure some of it is true, is that much of how many material things someone owns can be traced back to their upbringing – whether they were poor or rich, had cool toys or were not allowed to have any neat things.

An article I read last week from the New York Times had some great insight about living with less stuff.  When one really thinks about stuff – what it means to them, why our society thrives on having the latest thing, and why shopping is a top ‘hobby’ for so many Americans, it can really be depressing.  A I love shopping, so I get it.  But when you consider that houses are now twice as large as they were in the ’50s, with half as many people living in them and yet garages are STILL to full to park a car, there’s a serious problem here.

An interesting way to look at homes in the 21st century.

An interesting way to look at homes in the 21st century.

This weekend I cleaned out my closet to try and purge some of the things I have too many of.  I have 13 jackets, yes THIRTEEN – SICK!  Who needs that many coats!?  No one.  I am trying to pare them down…

What I really want to drive home (and then I will get off my soap box) is that too much stuff just becomes a road block to a life rich with experiences, connections to important people in your life, and opportunities to evolve into the best version of you.  When we let go of material possessions, we open ourselves to life’s awesome opportunities.

I love what Graham Hill said, “My space is small.  My life is big.”  How big is your life?

One way I make my life big is by going on adventures such as this beach backpack trip from 2012.

I try to keep my life big by going on adventures such as this beach backpack trip from 2012.

 

Want to go for a run?

woman-running221

A week ago I decided to pack a backpack with my running gear in it to work.  On my lunch hour, I hit the road and ran for over five miles!  This was pretty exciting to me and I thought, “Why hadn’t I done this sooner?”  I was SO excited about how enjoyable this run was that I emailed all my fellow employees in the city and let them know I would be starting a Midweek Lunch Run Club torun each Wednesday.  Today was the first day and it was so enjoyable to connect with another employee I barely knew.  So why hadn’t I done this sooner?  The answer is pretty simple and I am sure manycan relate.

Running hasn’t always been enjoyable – or even bearable for that matter.  It hasn’t been until recently, within the past month or so (and I have been calling myself a runner/jogger for over a year now, ha!) that I have really begun to enjoy the act of running.  I want to encourage anyone who is even slightly interested in running, to allow yourself time to get over the anxiety, doubt, and self deprecation of thinking you are not meant to be a runner.  I started out as a 5’2″, short legged, far cry from what you would call a naturally athletic physique.  Your body takes time to evolve and learn to lean into the aches and pains that come from this strenuous activity.

Developing into a “runner” is a tricky thing.  Competitor magazine said it best when they said,

“You have to enjoy running to do it regularly and you have to run regularly to be fit enough to enjoy running.”

Funny I recall being frustrated with this catch 22 up until just over a month ago myself!  There are ways to mitigate these feelings so that anyone can become fit enough to enjoy running regularly.

Tip #1: Go at your own pace.  Don’t let any preconceived notions of how fast you should be able to go dictate your pace and certainly do not go with someone who might not be at the same level as you.  Do what you can at a pace that is sustainable.  If that means alternating walking with running, by all means, it’s a start!

Tip #2: Don’t overdo it on your first or your first five times out.  If you are just beginning, you are susceptible to injuries varying from shin splints (very common, I used to get them frequently – ouch!), extreme calf pain, and if you are like me, back pain.  Listen to your body and make your first two to three weeks of running short and go slow.  Slow and steady wins the race here!

Tip #3: Give it time.  What matters most is that you are making steps toward improving your health.  When you can let go of being your biggest critic, thinking you should go faster, be skinnier, and instead embrace how good you feel because you have made wellness a priority, running takes on a whole new meaning.

You will begin to work through the pains, your butt will jiggle a little less and you’ll be able to focus on the fresh air through your lungs a little more.  YOU CAN DO IT!

Living Intentionally

Getting over a head cold today made it rather difficult to find the motivation to go for a run with my husband.  I told him, “I think I’ll just go for a walk while you run the trail.”  

I ended up running.  It was a beautiful overcast day with just enough scattered sprinkles to cool you off without getting saturated.  When I first started on this run, I was thinking about my day, how it was a day of putting out fires, kind of an “off” day (you know the kind), and how great it felt to just be outside to “shake it off”.  

As my run progressed and I approached the part of the trail where I could actually hear the babbling creek that runs along side the majority of the trail, my thoughts began to turn to thinking about my future and what I want my life to look like.  I looked around at the trees on the trail and thought, “Damn, my lifetime is short compared to the life of a tree.”  

I have been thinking a lot lately about shaping my life into exactly what I want it to be.  You see, I grew up when Oprah Winfrey was at her prime and talking to women (when I was 12) about living life with intention.  I understand Oprah doesn’t know it all – but at the age of 12, this was the messaging I was receiving and I think she was on to something with intention – and we all crave being able to do all the things we know we need to do in life.

Life is SO busy!  We are all bombarded with demands from so many people, our jobs, daily routines that we need to consciously focus on slowing down.  Patrick Vlaskovits, author of The Lean Startup mentioned in a recent podcast,

  “Remember that when you are in the rat race of life, you are still a rat.”  

Try and take just 5 minutes out of your day and think about something you have wanted to do, but have been putting it off.  Find a way to do it – TODAY.  Last Friday I put new strings on my Takamine acoustic guitar that I had barely touched in 10 years.  It was so exciting – to learn something new and finally do something I had been putting off. 

This is a journey many of us struggle with and I hope we can all find even small ways to live with more intention!