Saturday, October 24, 2015

Miracle Mornings

It's a bloggin' kinda morning. Equipped with Starbucks, I'm camped out in the Toyota delaership, waiting for my car to be repaired (Story #1). I brought my Miracle Morning bag (Story #2) with me to keep me occupied. Fortunately, they have great overhead music piped in and right now it's Led Zepplin's "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You."

So Story #1 began earlier in the month when my key fob button wouldn't unlock my driver's side car door. Resigning myself to going old school and actually unlocking the door with the key (how quickly we become spoiled), I didn't think much about it until one day I couldn't lock the door from the inside. Better take it into the dealership, I thought. It's only a matter of time until it won't lock at all, inside or outside. That appointment resulted in a diagnosis of a faulty door lock actuator which was very expensive to replace. I politely but firmly explained to the service manager that I was very disappointed that a basic safety feature like a door lock couldn't last more than 50K miles, the mileage on my car. He said he would see what he could do and the next day called me to say they would replace it at no charge! Apparently, the higher-ups agreed with me. So here I am, nestled in for the morning. Unlike many people, I don't mind hanging out at the dealership as long as I've come prepared with an arsenal of projects and reading material. I staked out a corner table in the back of the display room and made myself at home! (Background music change -- Bob Dylan is singing "Like a Rolling Stone.")

And that brings me to Story #2. A home improvement blog I frequent led me to another blog and eventually to a post talking about a group of women banning together for goal setting support and a book called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. Here is a man who faced what could be considered insurmountable challenges. At the age of 20, he was the victim of drunk driver in a head-on collision and told he may never walk again. If he can turn every aspect of his life around, I was interested in learning what he's identified as his secrets to success.

What set this book apart to me is the premise that setting goals is not enough to get the job done. We have to become the people we need to be who are capable of consistency in creating and sustaining the successes we want in life. Hmm. That adds another layer.

To do this, Elrod promotes starting your day an hour earlier with time devoted to a little reading, journaling, exercising, affirmations, visualizing, and quiet time. So I created my Miracle Morning bag. Want to see what's inside?
In my bag is a writing tablet, red journal, Franklin Planner, Kindle Fire, a stack of blank index cards, and an index card holder with affirmation cards inside.

By the way, isn't the bag cute? It's from Compact, waterproof, durable, and holds so MUCH!

I'm not sure I'm ambitious enough to do all of these in the same morning, but here are some of the things I do in the morning.

1.  Read. The free "You Version" Bible app has a variety of plans you can subscribe to, including verses and devotions around various topics of your choice. For example, there's a 3-day plan on Hope, 5 days on Your Personal Calling, 7 days on Building a Legacy of Faith, and so forth. These are perfect for a short 5-10 minute reading time, but currently, I'm re-reading "The Purpose Driven Life." As an empty nester, my life focus has shifted. Furthermore, I gave up overseeing a child sponsorship program in Africa a couple of years ago and while it was overwhelming to try to keep it up while working full time, I am feeling a void in my bigger life picture that needs filled.

2. Exercise. Moving in the morning is the least appealing thought for me. I admire those people who can jump right into their running shoes in the morning and take off, but my body just doesn't want to move that fast so soon after waking. So I'm turning to yoga, and saving my longer energy walks for after work. I've taken several yoga classes through my life and have especially appreciated those that end with a few minutes of meditation.

3. Journaling. I keep two journals: one is a notebook divided into two sections: a gratitude journal and a prayer journal. Writing down 3-5 things per day that I'm thankful for is a sure fire method of banishing the blues or putting into place an out of whack attitude. My other journal is a regular diary type journal where I jot down things that happened and things I want to happen. I love the tidy-sized red notebook I'm currently using for this. It was a $5 find at Staples and has smooth lined pages and a spiral binding that allows me to fold it back.

4.  Affirmations. I have many different cards, so decided my best approach is to select a few to focus on for that particular month. In general it seems we all have goals to maintain fitness, home organization, relationships, life purpose, finances, work responsibilities, etc. My cards resemble more of goal cards than affirmation cards, so this is an area I need to read up on.

5.  Visualization. While I've made vision boards just for fun before, I've never glommed on to one as a true focus tool. Instead, I prefer to mentally envision things I need to do and the end result. Visualization is definitely an area I need some practice with.

Elrod also has a great chapter on the phases of creating a habit over 30 days that makes sense. We really do need to give things a full 30 days before chucking a habit as not working for us. Do you have a morning routine that inspires you?

I have a card tucked into my index card holder which is not really an affirmation, but a quote I read when I was going through some difficult times after my husband died. It reminds me of the importance of inner strength and being there for ourselves.
 My car is done and I'm off to lunch with a couple of friends. Have a happy weekend!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Fairy Tale Girl

What a cozy night! The wind has kicked up, sorely needed rain is predicted to begin any time, and it just feels like fall! October has arrived! To sweeten this homey evening, in my mailbox today was the book I'd been waiting for: Susan Branch's "The Fairy Tale Girl."  A perfect book to curl up on the couch with on an autumn's eve.

I don't know if you have ever read any of Susan Branch's books, but they are full of adorable illustrations, wise thoughts, and memories from by-gone days of the 60's and 70's. Year after year, her wall calendars adorn my breakfast nook wall. She is a talented artist and her writing style makes you feel like you're sitting in her living room, feet up, sharing best friend stories. She has written several cookbooks, and more recently I read and then re-read her book, "A Fine Romance." If you have ever traveled to the English countryside, or wanted to, you will thoroughly enjoy this handwritten travel journal, photos, and artist's renderings of her trip there just a few short years ago.

So far I've read about 10 pages of  "The Fairy Tale Girl,", and without thinking my hands reached for my own journal and pen to jot down some reflections on my life. Had to stop and think about where I've been in this crazy life, where I'm going, and how to keep my passions alive.

"Everyone's life is a fairy tale written by God's finger."
        ~ Hans Christian Andersen

Susan included that quote in her book, doesn't it give you pause?

Happy October!