I write about simplicity, health, and capsule wardrobes, and once in a while, I write about my work. I’m really grateful I enjoy what I do because that wasn’t always the case. Here are 4 things you probably didn’t know about me and my work.
1. I started bemorewithless.com with the intention of turning it into the heart of my life’s work.
Some people start a blog as a hobby or creative outlet, others as a way to stay in touch with friends and family. Those are great reasons to blog, but from the moment I started this site almost 8 years ago, I knew it would be my work. I wasn’t sure how, or what it would look like, but I knew why and that was enough.
2. My former employers told me I would never be as successful on my own as I would be working for them.
Oh, how wrong they were. Even if we completely removed money from the equation here, I am so much more successful. When I gave my notice in October 2011, they offered me more money and I declined. Sure I wanted to make money, but I wanted to work for something besides a paycheck too. I wanted to believe in what I was doing, have the flexibility to spend more time with my family and to do things I enjoy, and to have the honor of helping people make time and space for what they really love too.
3. I am very thoughtful when offering you something new.
It usually takes me months, and sometimes years to create something new. I value your time and attention.
You don’t have to fight pop-ups or other advertisements on bemorewithless.com.
I turn down tens of thousands of dollars in advertising requests every year.
I only create, and offer things I believe in.
And, it’s why I don’t mind sharing what I offer or apologize for what I charge. If it’s not for you, don’t buy it. If it is, you can engage knowing you are working with someone who cares about her work and yours.
4. I’m offering private coaching for the first (and maybe last) time in years.
2 years ago, I offered a program called Soul-Centered Business School to a group of 100. I’m currently creating a new version to offer to anyone interested in doing work they love. In the meantime, I’m offering Soul-Centered Business School (the private sessions): private coaching, and an opportunity to work with my team to 12 people. Yep, only 12.
Take one of my courses: I’ve created courses to help you shrink your wardrobe and create work that matters to you. You can learn more on my course page.
Invite me to speak at your next event: You can see my new speaking reel and other information here.
If this is the right time and you decide to work with me, thank you. If this isn’t the right time, thank you for considering. If we’ve worked together before, thank you. If you know someone who might enjoy working with me, thank you for sharing this.
I guess what I’m trying to say is no matter how we work together, I’m grateful for your trust and support.
You know that feeling just before the wheels of a plane touch down on the runway, when you are hovering unsteadily above the ground? That’s how I felt for weeks after returning home from two months of traveling.
I’ve felt good, and things have been going well, but my wheels haven’t quite touched the ground. If this is happening to you too due to travel, time changes, illness, or another personal struggle, I hope this little guide will help you feel more grounded and more at home (in your home, body and life).
1. Find a place for everything.
Unpack your suitcase if you’ve been traveling, start the laundry and find a place for everything. If you’ve been home but struggling with something other than travel, chances are things have gotten cluttered or messy. Take time to clean up, sort things out, and re-set to zero.
2. Dip back into your daily routines.
If your sleep schedule is off, and you’ve completely lost touch with your morning routine or other daily routines don’t expect to jump back in and pick up where you left off. Instead dip back in. For example, if you used to write 3 pages every morning, start with one. If you were going to a local yoga class everyday but it’s been awhile since you’ve been in the studio, dip back with a grounding practice at home.
3. Under -commit.
If you haven’t landed your plane, it’s probably the wrong time to commit to another flight. Edit your calendar if needed and say no. If you have trouble saying no, this will help.
Take a little break from sugar, alcohol, the nightly news, reality tv, complaining or something else you may have been using to soothe or remove yourself from your current situation. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
5. Go overboard on self-care.
Face-masks, long walks, early bedtimes … do what ever it takes to take extra good care of yourself. Not judging your feelings or how long it’s taking to land your plane goes under the self-care category too. Giving yourself permission to feel what you feel is part of the grounding process.
6. Ask for help.
You don’t have to land your plane alone. Doesn’t every pilot have a co-pilot? Create a landing team by asking your family and friends for their patience, getting more professional help if you need it, or other treatments that may be helpful. Consider acupuncture, massage, restorative yoga, or other things to add to your treatment plan.
Move your body, move your breath, move your furniture, move your appointments. When things are up in the air on the inside, they feel up in the air on the outside too. Big intentional breathing and stretching will bring you back to earth. Moving other items, like things in your home or on your calendar will help you feel more grounded on the outside, which in turn, will make you feel more grounded on the inside.
8. Trust that you will land.
I’ve hovered before, and gotten anxious about when I’ll land, what’s next, when things will be clear and when I’ll feel more at home. That anxiety delays the landing, so now when I feel the anxiety bubbling up, I remind myself that I always land.
Over the last two months, I spoke in 13 different cities to more than 2000 people. With the exception of one city, I wore the same outfit to every single event. I wore black leggings, a light weight gray sweater, and black boots. I even wore this outfit during other outings on my trip. I wore the same outfit over and over again.
Because I am a proud member of the outfit repeater’s club, I can think about things that matter more to me than what I’m wearing or what other people may think about what I’m wearing.
In 2010, my first round of minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 changed the way I thought about my clothes, my stuff, and my spending habits. The challenge invited me to embrace the joy and ease of dressing with less.
Wearing only 33 items of clothing including accessories, jewelry, and shoes make me realize …
I need way less than I think to be happy.
The more I had, the more I wanted. It seemed like my clothes needed more clothes. “That sweater would go great with those jeans I have,” I would think. Or, “A new scarf or belt will really pull this look together.” My constant quest for more resulted in frustration, overspending, and discontent. Choosing from a small selection of thirty-three made me feel light, and I almost immediately felt gratitude for what I had instead of thinking about the next thing I needed.
No one cares what I’m wearing.
When I started the challenge, I was working full-time. Between in office sales meetings, client lunches, and community events, I was out and about most of the time, with many of the same people. No one noticed I was wearing the same few things for three months. My colleagues didn’t notice, my clients didn’t notice. I actually received more compliments. I even wore the same dress to every holiday function and event that year.
Deciding what to wear requires mental energy better spent on other things.
Have you ever experienced decision fatigue? I used to spend so much brain power buying things, chasing sales and figuring out what to wear. I remember trying on several outfits getting ready in the morning in hopes of finding the perfect thing. Now, in curating a small capsule wardrobe, there are no daily decisions required. I get to wear my favorite things every day.
Spending less energy being creative in my wardrobe has freed up more creative energy for things I am more interested in.
Instead of planning outfits, shopping for colorful scarves to complete a look, or figuring out what to wear every morning, I use my creative energy for actually creating. Spending less of that energy on my wardrobe means I have more of it for writing, photography, brainstorming and other things that I care about.
A simple closet is the gateway to a simple life.
Once you begin to enjoy the benefits of dressing with less, you’ll get very curious about living with less. Simplicity in the closet seeps into every other area of your home and life. Once I realized how little I needed in the closet not only to get by but to thrive, I wondered what else was holding me back from even more joy and ease. Did I really need all of those spatulas and wire whisks? Was anything in the junk drawer worth holding to? Did I even need a junk drawer?
The challenge was never about clothes or fashion.
Dressing with fewer items didn’t make me more interested in clothes or fashion. Instead I realized that all those times I thought, “I love shopping,” I didn’t really know what I loved. Removing all the more, more, more from my closet helped me figure out what mattered to me, what I was curious about, and how I wanted to live my life.
I’m so glad I decided to trade the excess in my closet and life for more joy and ease.
In the beginning, before making any big changes, and before I simplified my life, I didn’t care about any of that. All I wanted to do was get my health back. I didn’t want to be scared anymore. I just wanted a little peace. Simplicity wasn’t my goal. My focus was on reducing stress, and because thinking about the future or goals or anything bigger than what was right in front of me was stressful, I could only focus on the tiny steps.
Here’s a quick breakdown of my big changes and the tiny steps that made them happen. It’s actually a short list of the tiny steps. There were many more! This isn’t a roadmap for you (although it could be the start of one). Maybe you don’t want to make these changes or do it like I did it. That’s ok. This is simply to demonstrate that big change takes lots of tiny steps and that it takes time. It’s a toast to the tiny steps.
Big: Paid off thousands of dollars in debt (like tens of thousands)
Timeline: 3.5 years to eliminate the debt.
Had gentle conversations with my husband.
Started asking questions that started with “wouldn’t it be crazy if …”
Canceled one credit card at a time resisting the amazing offers for lower interest rates and other bonuses.
Listened to Dave Ramsey on the radio.
Joined Financial Peace University (online).
Saved $1000 for an emergency fund (not all at once).
Created a budget and spent every dollar on paper.
Put any extra money towards our smallest debt.
Let go of the guilt. I already paid enough.
Said no. A lot.
Kept budgeting, having gentle conversations, and putting extra towards smallest debts.
Celebrated when we paid off our first card, first car, next card, loan, second car, student loan.
Big: Created a meaningful morning routine
Timeline: 8 weeks.
Traded one snooze button for 5 minutes of yoga.
A week later, I traded another snooze alarm for 5 minutes of writing.
The following week, I added 5 minutes of meditation.
Every week for the next 5 weeks, I added one minute to each activity
Once I had a 30 minute routine I practiced for 30 minutes whenever I could. On days when I didn’t have the time or energy, I practiced for 5 or 10 minutes.
I keep coming back to the practice.
Big: Got rid of 90% of our stuff
Timeline: 3 years to eliminate the majority of our stuff.
I put a few things in a box that I didn’t care about.
Decluttered and removed the easy things (like duplicates, empty frames, shoes that hurt my feet).
Noticed the space I created.
Felt a little lighter.
Decluttered and removed things that weren’t as easy to let go of (like clothes I spent a lot of money on, small appliances I never used, other decor, furniture).
Noticed the space I created.
Felt a little lighter.
Decluttered the hidden clutter (the boxes in the garage and storage shed, things tucked on high shelves and under beds).
Sold anything worth more than $50, anything less we gave away.
Turned to the harder items like books and sentimental items and let them go too. Not all, but most.
Noticed empty rooms in our house and was ready to let go of that too.
Big: Downsized from 2000 square feet to 750
Timeline: We had our first serious conversation about selling the house in October 2012, listed the house in March 2013 and moved into our apartment in May 2013.
Asked my husband, “wouldn’t it be crazy if we sold our house and lived somewhere else?”
Talked about the pros and cons.
Met with a Realtor in December 2012.
Hired someone to replace the carpeting.
Painted the inside of the house ourselves (but should have hired someone).
Removed the cats and dog anytime there was a showing (ugh, I almost forgot about those afternoons).
Put piles of left over clutter and things that wouldn’t work in our new place in the driveway. Then, we’d take pictures of it and post it online with our address and this caption, “free stuff” – it would be gone in 15 minutes each time.
Discussed what mattered most to us and ignored advice to wait until “the market bounces back” before selling. Money wasn’t driving our decision.
Moved into our 750 square foot apartment with husband, daughter, big dog and two cats.
Celebrated our daughters high school graduation a month later on the community rooftop deck overlooking the mountains.
Knew we made the right decision when my husband woke up one Saturday morning and said, “guess what I’m not doing today?” I’m not raking leaves, mowing the lawn, replacing the roof, or negotiating with neighbors to replace the fence.” Instead, we went for a hike.
Big: Quit my job
Timeline: Started seriously considering quitting in early 2010. Started bemorewithless.com in May, 2010. Gave my notice in October, 2011.
As we began to live with less, I started to wonder if I could leave my job and do something more fulfilling and way less stressful.
Noticed how inspired I was by people blogging about specific topics like travel, simplicity, and health.
I saw that as I eliminated stress in every area of my life, the common thread in each change was simplicity.
Realized the power of blogging after blogging about my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. I started blogging to keep friends and family up to date. One day, I got a message from someone I didn’t know who had MS. She thanked me for one of my recommendations. I helped someone on the internet without even trying.
Started a blog even though I didn’t know how it would become a business.
Mapped out categories I could write about, things I could create and how long I thought it would take to grow.
Even before I made a penny, I created an exit strategy listing the things that would have to happen before I quit my job. I included things like, be debt-free, save 2 months of income so that once I was on my own, I wouldn’t feel desperate to work with clients I didn’t enjoy, or take projects I wasn’t excited about. I also had to see the potential in growing a business online starting with a blog by earning $1.00.
Set a quit date.
Wrote every day, published 3 times a week on my blog and wrote guest articles for other sites.
Started a Twitter account.
Launched Project 333 which got international media attention.
Connected with other bloggers writing about simplicity. Most of them became my friends.
Wrote an ebook.
Moved my quit date. Twice.
Gave my notice and never looked back.
Took my dog for a walk around the lake on the first Monday that was all mine and thought, “Now, this is how to have a weekly meeting.”
All of those big changes and transformations were the result of hundreds of tiny steps and they all count.
So let’s toast to the tiny steps, small progress,
and overnight success that
takes ten years.
Let’s toast to how each tiny step inspires the next.
Let’s toast to the sense of accomplishment
we feel after only 5 minutes of meditation,
adding a tablespoon of greens to breakfast,
and resisting email
in the morning.
Let’s toast to the tiny steps, especially the scary ones,
like pushing publish on your first blog post
or your 500th,
asking someone for help, for a testimonial
or a book review.
Let’s toast to the small daily practices and tiny steps we use
to lean into new habits like reading 1 page a day before committing
to the whole book,
walking 1 block before a mile,
going to sleep 10-minutes early,
or writing 1 thank you note a day.
Let’s toast to the tiny steps and
thank them for helping us to
change our lives.
Write your own toast and list your 100 tiny steps. Raise your glass, or a taco (yes, you can toast with a taco), or ice cream and celebrate these tiny steps that have helped you change your life.
If you haven’t started yet, may your first tiny step be to toast the tiny steps. Now you know that you can start small, move slowly and take all the time you need to figure out what’s best for you.
Spoiler alert: This simplicity journey you are on is not about your countertops. That’s spring cleaning. Certainly decluttering is part of it. When we hear about the benefits of simplicity, we immediately think of organized sock drawers and tidy bookshelves, but it’s much more than that if you want it to be.
The best part about simplifying my outside is that I’ve made space and time to listen to my inside.
In each section there is a chapter called “Put Your Hands on Your Heart.” I included it in each section to share a very simple heart practice and to help close the gap between inspiration and action. Let’s face it, we are over inspired with all of the information delivered in our inboxes, through our social feeds and in our day-to-day lives. Inspirational quotes, great articles, new ideas, transformative stories … they all inspire, but do they move us to take action? Or, are we too overwhelmed, even with the good stuff?
Sometimes it seems like there so many choices, so many things we want to do, but it’s too hard to know where to start, so we choose nothing.
Take a deep breath. This is where we start.
A little challenge to create space for your heart
I used to think there wasn’t a best place to start when it came to making changes in your life. I changed my mind. The best place to start is with you. That’s where everything starts.
If you are on auto-pilot constantly reacting to life’s demands and everything thrown your way, you may have forgotten that. I know I did. I forgot who I was, what I believed, and how to trust myself. I forgot what was best for me.
I forgot my heart. Maybe you forgot yours too.
This challenge is your way back.
Soulful Simplicity Challenge: Put Your Hands on Your Heart
Why: After seeing minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 change closets and lives around the world, I know you love a good challenge. A challenge helps to close the gap between inspiration and action. It offers clear steps to move forward eliminating more decisions and procrastination when it comes to getting started.
When: Right now. 10 days in a row. I’ll add some dates to kick things off below but please start this challenge the moment you feel inspired to re-connect, to remember, to put your hands on your heart.
Where: Anywhere. In your bed, your closet, your bathroom, your car, an airplane seat, on the train … you get the picture. It’s better alone, but you really can do this practice anywhere.
How: Every good challenge needs a few rules, accountability, and a reward. Just like Project 333, you will give most of the rewards (the meaningful ones) to yourself, but I want to add an extra layer of reward too (more on that below).
Create a little sanctuary where you can sit quietly for 5 minutes a day.
This may be as simple as taking a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth (like a really big sigh) to signify the start of your practice. Or, if you have a place in your home you could place a candle, journal, pen and blanket or other comfort items, do that.
Put your hands on your heart.
Choose a time each day for next 10 days where you can sit quietly for 5 minutes. Put it on your calendar. Try the practice in silence, or with soothing music. After a few cleansing breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth (seriously let it all out), close your eyes or turn your gaze down and focus on your breath.
Next, place one hand on your heart, and cover your hand with the other. Feel your heart beating. Feel the warmth of your heart and your hands. Now, while continuing to breath in and out with some intention, simply listen to your heart. Just be there. Only practice for 5 minutes for the 10 day challenge. If you want to go deeper, wait. Just be there.
Share your heart space or heart practice.
This is the accountability part, a chance to win something fun to support your heart practice and a chance to inspire more people to put their hands on their heart. It’s also totally optional.
How to Win a Hands on Heart Care Package
Enter to win once a day between now and March 7th by commenting on this post, “I did it” – you are welcome to add more, but only need to say, “I did it.”
Enter to win once a day between now and March 7th by posting a picture of your heart space, heart practice or something the practice inspired on Instagram and/or Twitter with hashtag #soulfulsimplicity (I’ll be sharing your stories!).
Enter to win once a day between now and March 7th by posting a picture of your heart space, heart practice or something the practice inspired by commenting on this Facebook post with hashtag #soulfulsimplicity.
1. If you are thinking this practice is weird or woo or worthless, ask these two questions …
Wouldn’t it be crazy if putting my hands on my heart helped me to know and trust myself?
What do I have to lose by being open and curious (if nothing else, it’s 50 minutes just for me)?
2. Keep it simple. The most important part of this is that you put your hands on your heart every day for 10 days. Don’t worry about making it pretty or perfect.
P.S. If you are interested, here are two ways to dive deeper into this heart practice and your own soulful simplicity.
As I mentioned here, I’m having the time of my life. What I didn’t mention is that I’m falling behind on a few work things, like email and social media. And, I miss my loves.
Last night, as I did the final prep for my How to Show up for Your Life presentation, I thought about how I could get caught up on my work over the next few days while relaxing with my husband and daughter. They are meeting me this week while I’m traveling for a little getaway. It took me a moment to see the irony, to realize that by catching up on work while we are together, I wouldn’t be really there for them.
How could I do a presentation and recommend showing up for your life when I wasn’t willing to show all the way up for mine?
I had to make a choice.
a. Stay up late and try to schedule a bunch of social media and answer email before they arrive.
b. Save it for the week ahead and do little bits of work in between family time.
c. Let it go.
I chose c. Which means I choose love. I choose love for myself by getting a good night of sleep and I choose to show all the way up for my loves and for my life. For the next few days, the work can wait. I know we can’t always make a decision like this, and for some it may feel completely impossible to choose how we want to spend our time, but there is always a choice.
I’m not recommending you quit your job, or even call in sick but perhaps begin to notice how you are showing up. Are you present at home or is half of your brain still somewhere else? Did you bring your whole heart or are you trying to split your heart space in the name of getting it all done and being there for everyone? Can you be on your phone, tablet or computer and be fully engaged to what’s going on around you (asking for a friend)? Consider small ways you can change to make your efforts less diluted. What can you delegate, postpone or cut out all together?
And maybe it’s not work. Maybe it’s something else that is removing you from your life. Is it Facebook, other internet surfing, alcohol, shopping, perfectionism, comparison, anger, sadness? Identify it and work on it.
What will you choose to show up for today, this week, next month, and this year?
Will you choose to show up for your life and what are you willing to let go of so you can?
I’ve been in eight airports, even more hotel rooms, on two trains, in countless Lyft vehicles and visited lots of places in between over the last 30 days. I’ve done several interviews, spent time with friends, hosted nine Soulful Simplicity Book Tour events and hugged and shaken the hands of close to 1000 people.
It’s flu season.
I’m an introvert.
I have Multiple Sclerosis.
I feel great.
Healthy travel starts long before the traveling begins, and while we can’t always prevent getting run down or catching something along the way, a gentle warrior’s approach to healthy travel has served me well over the last few weeks.
Creating rules or guidelines for how I live and work encourages a healthy, happy lifestyle.
A Gentle Warrior’s Guide to Healthy Travel
The Gentle Warrior’s Guide to Healthy Travel is a list of my non-negotiables for feeling well in flight and on the road. I hope it encourages you to create your own list of healthy habits and other ways to feel great on the road and at home with the heart of a gentle warrior.
1. I will double-down on healthy habits.
Instead of abandoning the things I know are good for me in the name of traveling, I’ll double-down and dig in deeper. I’ll sleep 7-8 hours a night, practice my morning routine daily, and spend more time nourishing my body, heart and soul.
Be a gentle warrior.
Take your healthy habits with you when you travel. You may not have your regular daily routine, but you can bring pieces of it with you to maintain a connection to what fuels you.
2. I will move my body.
Spending more time in vehicles (cars, planes, trains, buses) requires more time spent moving my body; stretching, unwinding and decrunching. I borrow yoga mats from hotel gyms and have been practicing yoga daily with Adrienne Louise, dropping into yoga studios in new cities and walking every single day.
Be a gentle warrior.
Move your body several times a day in a way that feels good to you.
3. I will drink all the water.
My energy levels and moods are directly connected to how hydrated I am. Flying and other travel can be dehydrating so must bump up the water intake on the road.
Be a gentle warrior.
Drink water when you wake up and throughout the day.
4. I will do all the sleeping.
I sleep 7 – 8 hours a night at home so I sleep 7 – 8 hours when I travel too. If there is a late event, I sleep late the next day. If I wake up in the night due to weird hotel noises, I listen to a Headspace sleep meditation and fall asleep before it’s over.
Be a gentle warrior.
It’s tempting to stay out late, watch tv, or surf the internet while traveling but resist. Give your body some good healing team by sleeping well. If you don’t want to be rundown, don’t run your self down.
5. I will supplement consistently.
Even though I try to eat greens at every meal (yep, even breakfast) and steer clear of sugar, alcohol, dairy and grains, I don’t eat as well traveling as I eat at home, so I will add an extra layer of protection by taking the following supplements daily while traveling:
Be a gentle warrior.
Know what your body needs by working with a medical professional you trust and by checking in with yourself on a regular basis. Research and figure out what’s best for you.
6. I will quiet my mind.
It’s noisy out here in the world. To continue to engage and absorb, I have to start with a clean slate. I’m currently working through the Headspace Stress Pack in the mornings and just starting to dip into this beautiful practice.
Even though I don’t feel stressed, I know I’m experiencing more stress than usual just by being away from home. I don’t need to have a melt down before I start taking care of myself.
Be a gentle warrior.
Meditation or not, find a little time each day to sit quietly. Don’t wait for the melt down, or break down.
7. I will fill my heart.
I will call and text my loves every day while I’m on the road. If I’m in a friend’s city, we will spend time together, reconnect and tell each other “I love you” one hundred times. I will fill my heart with other things I love too like photography, writing and reading.
Be a gentle warrior.
Identify what fills your heart and have a plan to incorporate those people or activities on a daily basis during your trip.
8. I will leave lots of white space on my calendar.
I will reject the call to do more without guilt or regret. More in-person connection means less social media connection. I’ll choose mid morning flights over early morning flights. I pass on most early morning media requests, social meet-ups, networking opportunities, and trying to maintain a regular work schedule.
Healthy travel requires flexibility. Healthy travel means trading F.O.M.O. for J.O.M.O. By committing to do less, I am going to miss out on things, but instead of fear, I feel joy. Joy that I have a choice, joy that I am protecting what matters most, and joy because I feel well.
Be a gentle warrior.
Be more. Do less.
9. I will pack lightly.
I won’t check a bag when I fly or bring any “just-in-case” items.
10. I will be grateful.
Even when flights are running late, hotel food kinda sucks, I get lost, or miss home, I will be grateful. So grateful. I love what I do. I have an amazing team of supportive people. I feel well. I’m having the time of my life. How could I be anything but grateful.
Be a gentle warrior.
Start and end each day with gratitude for what you love, what makes you smile, and what makes your life better.
Become a gentle warrior and protect what matters most to you.
Make your own list of non-negotiables. Begin to protect your health, your love, your loves, and your life. Do this with the heart of a gentle warrior and your efforts won’t be selfish or isolating, but instead will allow you to be and give your best self.
I’ll be traveling for a few more days this month for work and play. There are still tickets available for the Soulful Simplicity Book Tour in Dallas and Austin. If you haven’t had a chance to read my new book, please learn more here.
In 2006, I started private yoga classes with this guy. At 5:00 a.m. Neither of us were excited about the start time, but it was the only time I could make it work with my crazy-busy schedule. My yoga practice started before I simplified my life. I wasn’t taking private yoga classes to learn how to do advanced poses, handstands, or anything like that. I wanted to learn how to create my own practice and to understand why it mattered. Even though my practice developed over time, the morning routine effect was almost immediate.
Those 5:00 a.m. classes inspired a five minute practice at home which eventually (over many years) turned into a meaningful morning routine including not just yoga but meditation, walking, writing, and putting my hands on heart. Some days my practice is hours long, and other days only minutes. I know that consistency is more important than intensity and show up even when I only have a few minutes.
The Morning Routine Effect (what to expect)
When you become more intentional about how you start your day, things begin to shift on the inside and the outside. This is the morning routine effect.
I started private yoga classes in search of less stress and more health a few months after my MS diagnosis. I got that and so much more. Here’s what you can expect from a consistent morning routine. (Note: your morning routine doesn’t have to include yoga to be meaningful to you.)
You’ll feel less scattered and more focused all day long when you give yourself time first thing to settle into the day. While it all contributes, the meditation component of my morning routine helps me come back more quickly when I do get distracted.
Not only will you be more creative throughout the day, when you are practicing your morning routine with an open heart and mind, creative ideas seem to drop out of the sky. So much of my book and blog writing starts on the yoga mat or while journaling or walking.
Learning to under-react is one of the best parts of the morning routine effect. You’ll learn to pause, to consider your words and to remember not to believe everything you think.
A morning routine will help you understand what matters and just as important, what doesn’t. You can apply what you are learning to your to-do list, your day and your life.
A meaningful morning routine can fuel your heart, soul, body and brain depending on the activities you choose. You can fuel up with food too by including a healthy breakfast at the end of your morning routine.
Your morning routine will help you become more of the real you. The connection you are making with your own heart will encourage connections with the people you are meant to be with. The more you that you are, the more likely you are to attract the right people for you.
Your morning routine will add a sense of lightness to how you feel and how you see the world. If you practice your morning routine early, you may experience more sunrises too. There is something magical about starting the day with the rising light of the sun.
Morning Routine (How to Get Started)
In my new book, Soulful Simplicity I share the exact steps and time-table I used to start my morning routine to help you implement your own. The steps below (originally shared here) will help you get started.
1. Stop saying you aren’t a morning person.
It’s a great excuse but it doesn’t matter. Start your morning routine whenever your morning starts, even if it’s in the afternoon.
2. Be grateful.
Wake up and write down three things you are grateful for. If you can’t think of anything, remember what made you smile yesterday, the first person you thought of when you woke up, or the last thing that made you laugh.
3. Stretch in bed.
Wiggle your toes. Roll your hips from side to side. Reach your fingers to the ceiling. Stretch your lungs too and take a few deep breaths.
4. Hide your phone.
Do whatever it takes to be digital free until you’ve enjoyed your morning routine. Eventually you may want to use a meditation app or other tool on your phone during your morning routine, but start without it so you aren’t tempted to check email, news, or other apps.
5. Make a list of morning routine activities.
Eliminate the painful process of making decisions when you first wake up. Instead, make a list of what you’d like to include in your morning routine and choose two or three to start with.
7. Put pen and paper nearby.
Journaling is a great way to leave your worries on paper, work through an issue or release some of the excess thoughts clouding your mind.
8. Create accountability.
Challenge a friend to 10 days of practicing a morning routine. Agree to text each other a simple, “I did it” after your practice.
9. Turn on the music.
Quiet background music can help to keep you engaged and present in your morning routine. Create a 5 minute playlist and practice your morning routine for as long as the music lasts for the first week. Add a minute or two to your playlist and routine each week.
10. Show up.
Even if you don’t do anything during your morning routine, show up for it every morning for a week. Dedicate five minutes to getting on your yoga mat, sitting at your kitchen table, on the floor next to your bed, or wherever you’d like to be. Just show up.
The Soulful Simplicity Book Tour begins again next week! Find tickets below. I look forward to spending time with you if you live near one of the following cities.
Some things are easier to let go of than others. The extra measuring cups, worn out sweaters and old sports equipment might not hurt your heart when it goes out the door. But then there are the things that pull on your heart strings. Things like old photographs, the kid’s report cards and items from loved ones.
I’m often asked for strategies to let go of photographs and sentimental items but even with a specific roadmap, it’s still hard. The question most people are really asking is this: Is it possible to let go of photographs and sentimental stuff with more ease and less heartache?
Most of our photographs and sentimental things aren’t bringing us joy. They aren’t helping us appreciate or honor the memories we want to hold on to. Instead they sit in a trunk, box, garage or other storage areas collecting dust. Maybe we sort through the stuff once in a while and wonder what we should do with it, but otherwise, all it does is take up space.
After both of my grandparents died, I remember sorting through so many pictures of them that I rarely looked at while they were alive. I knew after looking at them, I’d put them back in a box and never appreciate them. And because I had so many, none of them felt that important. I found one picture of my grandmother curled up on a chair with my grandfather. They both looked so happy, content and connected. That’s how I wanted to remember them. I turned the photograph into a bookmark so whenever I read a book, I can think of them, honor their memory and smile. I was able to let go of the other photos with less heartache because this one image was enough to fill my heart over and over again.
With photographs and other sentimental stuff, think about how it’s serving you and how you might enjoy all of it if there were less of it. Less doesn’t mean none, so keep what makes you smile.
If you are holding on to pass the meaningful items onto children or other family, don’t assume they want it. Ask them. If they tell you they don’t want it, believe them.
For more of a step-by-step approach, read this. Sometimes we need the “how-tos” but better understanding our “why-tos” will always lead to less heartache and more love.
If you’ve already cheated on your resolutions, given up hope for a different kind of year, or are just mad at the new year already, you are not alone. There is so much pressure to become better versions of ourselves with all of the new year new you hype. Change and growth might be just what we need, but perhaps there is a better approach. Maybe this year, instead of being a new you, just work on being the real you.
10 Simple Ways to Redefine “New You” and Take Back Your New Year
1. Look in.
What’s going on in there? We are so hard on ourselves. Recently I chatted with someone who was going through a really hard time. Someone she loved was sick. And while going through all of that hurt, she was mad at herself because she was struggling to clean out her closet. She said she didn’t know why it was so hard to let go. She told me that while she was working on her closet, her voice inside kept saying mean things like, “What’s wrong with you? You’re a loser. Why can’t you just let go?”
She asked me how to fix that. I think she wanted a strategy, but I just wanted to hug her. I looked for the gentle words, the soft advice, but instead I told her the truth … Our inner critics are bitches. This might not be the right time to let go. Maybe instead it’s time to be really good to yourself.
If your inner critic is holding you back, write down everything she says and ask yourself, “would I be this voice to a good friend? Would I ever treat anyone like this?” If the answer is no, don’t accept it for yourself. It takes practice and your inner critic will keep trying, but if you continually reject her and ask your heart what she thinks … that inner voice will start to sound more like the real you.
2. Change your day.
If you want to change your year, start by changing your day. A little bit every day will make a bigger difference than a lot every once in a while. Consistency over intensity.
3. Let it go.
Whatever happened over the last two weeks to derail your efforts, write it down and let it go. You can’t change it, but if you keep holding on, it may prevent you from moving forward.
4. Change something. Anything.
If you want to make a big change in your life but don’t know where to start, change something. This change can be really small. For instance …
Wake up 5 minutes earlier.
Eat something different for breakfast.
Change the picture on your phone or computer.
Make a new playlist with music you aren’t familiar with.
Take a different route to work.
5. Look out.
While you work on the inside, notice what’s holding you back on the outside? If it’s too crazy out there, quit.
Do it on your own, or join A Simple Year for 12 months of guided simplicity. If you want to figure out what matters, remove everything that doesn’t.
7. Commit to a challenge.
So what if you didn’t start on January 1st. Start today.
Whole30: If you want to learn more about your relationship with food.
Minimalist fashion challenge Project333 or the 30-day Minimalism Game: If you want to learn more about your relationship with clothes and other stuff.
8. Ask for help.
Maybe the new you needs a little guidance or bit of non-biased, outside help to connect to the real you. Ask for it. There are so many options both locally and virtually. Most therapists and counselors offer mini-complimentary sessions or brief phone calls so you can see if you are right for each other. If traditional therapy isn’t for you, consider a yoga class, a self-guided retreat, a long walk, or other things that help you work on you.
9. Be in community.
I love our Be More with Less Community and it inspires me to think about my other communities too. I spend time with friends and family and just rejoined a small yoga group to encourage not only more yoga, but more in person connection. If you live in Salt Lake City, you’ll find my favorite yoga people here.
If you aren’t sure where your people are, look for them. Join different groups or ask friends for recommendations. Show up as you. Don’t try to prove yourself or fit in. The more you that you are, the more likely you are to attract the right people for you. At least that’s been my experience. If there’s one thing sharing my life on the internet has taught me it’s that I’m not right for everyone and it’s nice to figure that out sooner rather than later. It makes more room for the right people. My like-hearted people.
10. Make a resolution to listen to your heart.
There are 4 sections in my new book Soulful Simplicity. The sections represent the areas of my life that I’ve changed including:
Each section has a chapter called “Put Your Hands on Your Heart” that invites you to listen to your heart and to take action, to close the gap between inspiration and action. Because when it’s time, it’s time.
As you read the book, I’d like to invite you to make a resolution to listen to your heart. It’s that time of year when we are supposed to resolve to be better, thinner, more productive and other things that we seem to re-resolve every year. What if this year were different? What if this year we rejected all of the ways the outside world tells us that we are supposed to be and instead, decide for ourselves?
Do whatever it takes to create an environment where you have a little time each day to sit quietly to listen to your heart, to the real you, and trust the answers. Only you can give this to you. You deserve this. It’s your way back to love.
If you are trying to decide if this year-long, deep dive into simplicity is right for you, I’m hosting a program overview and Q & A webinar on January 24th. This won’t be one of those sleezy-salesy webinars where I try to convince you to sign up with slides and graphics and statistics. Instead, we’ll have a gentle conversation about the program and I’ll answer any questions you have. Then you’ll have until January 31st (when registration closes) to decide if this course is right for you. Register for the call here.
If you can’t make the live webinar, email me your questions by responding to this email. Sign up for the webinar here and we’ll send you the replay.
I’ll be in ATLANTA Monday, January 22nd for the Soulful Simplicity Book Tour. You can find tickets here if you live nearby. Find tickets for Atlanta, Seattle, LA, San Diego (almost sold out), Dallas and Austin right here. Every city I’ve visited so far has sold out!