My morning routine: A peek into the first hour of my day

writing.jpgThe New York Times recently published an article by author Benjamin Spall about the morning routines of successful people, which serves as a tease to his newest book, My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired. “Your morning routine helps to ground you, and using it thoughtfully will help to set the tone for the rest of your day,” he wrote.

I agree with Spall. I love having a morning routine! It’s the one thing that sets the tone for my day. It’s the time when I can move slow, spend time in absolute quiet, and focus on where I am now and where I want to go in my life, writing career, faith, and so on.

I touch on this a little in my book, Reclaim Your Creative Soul, stressing the importance about creating a routine that dedicates time toward your craft. At the time that I wrote that, my morning routine included two hours of writing time before I started getting ready for work. Nowadays, I don’t have as much time in the morning for that much writing, and now save it for short evening and long weekend writing sessions. But my morning routine is still a must, and I can’t imagine going through my day without it.

Here’s what it looks like:

No. 62 (Black/Blue/Violet/Blue) 1967 by Bob Law 1934-2004
Picture of me running at 5 a.m. in the dark.

I wake up somewhere between 5 and 5:30 a.m. I refuse to wake up by an alarm clock (unless I absolutely need to wake up earlier), and I’m lucky that my body likes waking up at this time. My coffee is on a timer to start brewing at this time. While it’s brewing, I go for a morning run. If I do this first thing in the morning, I won’t have time to come up with excuses to NOT run—and believe me, I have them. Before I run, I hate running. I don’t want to go. I have to basically put my shoes on and go outside without even thinking about it or I’m just going to talk myself out of it. I remember this one day I got all the way to my front yard and looked up at the starry sky, mesmerized by how bright the stars were and how dark everything else was. It was just enough time to decide I was not going to run, and so I didn’t. Yeah…better to just lace up and start running before my brain starts working. Besides, I LOVE running after I’m done. I’m totally terrible at it, and still only run slowly and short distances, but every time I run I feel strong and know I’m improving.

coffee1By the time I make it back to the house, the coffee is done brewing and I have 30 minutes to 1 hour before I need to start getting ready for work. I drink a glass of water, and then grab my coffee. I diffuse essential oils (my favorite blend is Northern Lights Black Spruce, Lime, and Cedarwood for a tropical rain in the woods scent) and sit in my cozy chaise lounge chair between my desk and bookcase. Here, I start with my morning devotionals, and maybe a chapter in whatever inspirational book I’m reading. I tend to save my spiritual and inspirational books for the morning, and my recreational, fiction books for during the day and in the evening. Yup, that’s right—I’m a polybibliophile.

If something grabs my attention or requires further thought, and if there’s enough time, I’ll meditate/pray and journal. I journal most days, but not every day. If I don’t have time but there’s something I need to address, I’ll jot a few notes in my journal, and then finish that thought on my lunch break. Or I decide my morning routine takes precedence over getting ready for work, which means I take up the half hour I’d normally take to make food for the day. So far, I’ve only been a few minutes late for work, so I’m good.

And that’s it! Basically, before I’m required to be all things for everyone else, I’m all things for ME through exercise, spirituality, and inner reflection.

Do you have a morning routine? If you don’t, I encourage you to start one. Instead of getting up at the absolute last minute and heading straight into your day, try waking up earlier and enjoy quiet time before you have to be busy. Even just fifteen minutes could change your whole outlook. Try it, and then tell me if you notice the difference!

If you DO have a morning routine, tell me about it in the comments!

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The story behind “Reclaim Your Creative Soul”

Last week, I was honored to speak to a group of people from my church about Reclaim Your Creative Soul, the book I published earlier this year about making more time for creativity. I began by telling them about my journey toward that book, and then I shared a quick rundown of the necessary steps to varying types of organization—both body, mind, and the space around them—so that their craft can be a priority.

This book is very personal to me. It shares many of the things I’ve come to know in my journey as a writer. I lay out the details of my writing practice, and the different ways I’ve created order in certain areas of my life to free me from distraction and allow me to focus on my craft. But more than that, it shares the spiritual journey I took toward actually writing this book. I’d like to share that with you here.

In August of 2015, I reached my breaking point. My writing was suffering because I felt like I had no creativity left in the tank. My eating habits were out of control, which resulted in weight gain, lack of energy, and a feeling of gross worthlessness. I felt overextended at my job, which was eating away at me even when I wasn’t on the clock. The successful writing career I thought I was going to have was nowhere to be seen. I actually felt like my desire to be a writer was a curse, because everything I wanted was so out of reach, and I was sure I’d be chained to being a 9-5 worker for the rest of my life.

That August, I reached a point where I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I felt like this huge weight on my chest was consuming me. I knew if I didn’t do anything about it, I was going to go off the deep end. Something needed to change, I just didn’t know HOW. So I did the only thing I could think of doing. I took a day off from everything to focus solely on the three areas of my life that were consuming me the most: my career, my health, and my creativity.

I called this day my “soul retreat.”

During that day, I spent time with God, addressing each area that plagued me and seeking answers on what I could be doing better. I not only came away with these answers, I also received a better understanding of who I was, my worth as God’s creation, and my purpose as a creative person. I gained clarity I was unable to reach before. Most of all, I learned how to breathe again.

(I explain what happened in full detail in my book, and also in an earlier entry of this blog)

At the time, I didn’t know I was going to write this book. But the seeds began to sprout on the day I took my soul retreat. A few months later, I began laying out the bones of Reclaim Your Creative Soul: The Secrets to Organizing Your Life to Make Room for Your Craft. At face value, it was my answer to those around me who wondered how I was able to write books while holding a full-time job, raising a family, and everything else that kept me so busy. But more than that, it was a love letter to myself and those who needed to hear this message: The two biggest obstacles between you and what feeds your soul is fear and a feeling of unworthiness. More than following my guidelines toward structure and organization, my hope is that readers will began to believe they are worthy of contributing their creativity to the world, and that the world NEEDS this creativity.

Don’t get me wrong, the struggle I felt in August is not something that just magically went away . I still reach moments of overwhelm and an inability to focus. Right now, as I’ve rearranged my life to include college courses, I can feel that same weight bearing down on me. But whenever I feel this way, it’s when I know I need to pause and reevaluate where I’m at, where I’m going, and what I need to do to get there. And because of this book, I have a reminder on what needs to happen so that I can keep going.

If you are in a place where your creative life feels out of reach, I encourage you to pick up Reclaim Your Creative Soul and start working the steps toward creative freedom. Writing this book changed my life. I hope reading it changes yours.

Just published ~ Reclaim Your Creative Soul

3 years ago this month (March 16, 2013, to be exact), I published my very first book. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I had big visions of everything I would do with the millions I would be raking in.

Obviously, I am still working on reaching millionaire status. I did, however, accomplish my #1 goal in life—I wrote and published a book.

Today, I have published my 7th book. And I did it while holding a full-time job, raising a family, volunteering with my church and my writing group, and still having a life.

I’m not saying this to brag. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my accomplishments. But more than that, I am adamant that if I can write 7 books in 3 years while carrying on a full-time life, so can you.

Many people have asked how I am able to write books while living such a busy life. I keep hearing, “I hope I can do that someday.”

Why not make someday TODAY?

In Reclaim Your Creative Soul, I share the secrets to adding creativity back into your life, even if you feel more than busy. If you wish you had the time for your art, then know that I wrote this book for you. And because I don’t want anything to stand in your way of reading this book, I am offering a discounted price TODAY ONLY.

Kindle is 99 cents.

Print is $10.95.

Purchase your copy at bit.ly/creativesoulbook.

Thank you! And I’m so excited to hear about all the creative things you’re about to accomplish!

The countdown is on for release day!

Last August, I felt like the walls were caving in on me. I was busier than I had ever been, work was crazy hectic, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. There were days when I’d be driving to work, and the temptation to miss my exit and keep driving was overwhelming. I needed an escape. I wanted to hide. I wished that time would just stop so I could catch up.

What I really needed was a day of rest, a break from all the hectic parts of my life so that I could refocus and figure out where I was going in my life.

I ended up taking a personal soul retreat, which I wrote about here. The result was life-changing. Not only did I come away from this experience with sense of peace and a lot of clarity, I also found the inspiration for a much-needed book I had been wanting to write for a while.

reclaim tableOn Tuesday, March 15, Reclaim Your Creative Soul will be released to the world. In it, I share tips and secrets to creating order to the ordinary parts of life so that artists can find more time for creativity. My hope is that people who lead busy lives — whether full-time employees, parents, or just busy people in general — will find the inspiration they need to place a priority on their creative life, without taking away from the mandatory parts of their life. Basically, I was writing to those artists, writers, and other creative people who can’t quit their day job or their families, but still want to feel fulfilled by their art. I want to help eliminate the excuses leading to why there’s no time for art, and promote empowerment that yes, you can be an artist while leading a full, productive life.

You can pre-order it today, but it’s better to wait until March 15th when I will be offering special pricing for both Print and Kindle.

Before I sign off, I had to brag about the fact that Reclaim Your Creative Soul was mentioned in our local newspaper, the Press Democrat, today. Check it out!

reclaim newspaper.jpg

I know I work there, but that really only makes it harder to be covered in the newspaper. So to have my book mentioned is pretty cool. 🙂

Final note – the beginning of this article mentions the Sonoma County Local Author Showcase. If you’re local to Sonoma County, I invite you to head on over to the Rohnert Park-Cotati Regional Library on April 2. I’ll be there, as well a bunch of other extremely talented local authors. If you go, make sure you stop by my table and say hi!