Spreading Joy

Front Door Spring 2020Have you been inspired by the way communities are coming together during this season? From family zoom trivia nights, to clapping for essential workers, to the community children’s art gallery our sweet neighbor orchestrated – my heart’s been warmed by seeing people band together, even from afar.

So to contribute to the positivity, our little dudes and I created an appreciation front door. We printed messages on colored paper we had on hand and then taped them up to spread some kindness and cheer. We also added a bin outside with water bottles and various granola bars for any and all delivery drivers to take advantage of. I can only imagine how busy they’ve been, and we’re deeply grateful for their service because we’ve been receiving our vitamins, baby food, and other essentials via the mail.

If you join in on the fun, be sure to snap a picture to share it with me on Instagram @mskatehouse. I can’t wait to share in your joy and kindness!

What’s Helping

Holy moly, friends. I don’t know about you, but recently it feels like the world has gone topsy turvy. As I write this, I’ve been home with our boys for 41 days practicing social distancing.

First, let me say how deeply grateful I am to have a home where we feel safe and can ride out the pandemic. That coupled with a steady income and healthy family and friends, all things considered, we’re doing really well.

But, that doesn’t change the fact that our new normal is very different than before and comes with its own new set of challenges (like parenting a 2 year old and 10 month old without any outside help, ha!). Generally speaking, I’ve found this time to be a rollercoaster. Some days I feel like we’ve totally got this, while other days I just feel a little down or overwhelmed. If you’re having a similar experience, I thought I’d share some of the things that have been helping.

Whats helping:

  • Regular texts and phone calls with the people I love. This seems obvious, I’m sure, but it’s so helpful. Stay in contact and love each other well.
  • Getting outside! If you’re fortunate enough to have access to somewhere outside to walk and get fresh air, while practicing safe social distancing, do it up. The days I get outside are always better than the days I don’t.
  • Make your bed. Seriously. Just make it. It’ll help. I promise you. If I’m wrong, you’ll mess it up again at bedtime!
  • Give permission to show yourself grace. I’ve definitely eaten more ice cream and chocolate than normal, but I’m okay with it. I’m being kind to myself and allowing some small comforts that aren’t normally part of my routine.
  • On the flip side, the majority of the time eat foods that bless your body. That make you feel strong, and bright, and full. Not heavy and gross.
  • Prioritize moving your body. It could be doing bodyweight exercises via YouTube or Aaptiv, taking a class with Shiny Happy Yoga, or going for a walk, but make it a priority in your day. There are so many benefits to joyfully moving your body, but for me personally, it’s all about my mental and emotional health. I can process and work through just about anything if I’m given the chance to run or sweat it out.
  • Leave time for fun! My husband recently bought his first new Xbox since he was 16 years old, and at night we’ve really been enjoying what we call “together alone time.” He puts on his gaming headphones and plays Xbox, and I put a show on my phone and sew facemasks, do an Artsyville coloring page, write letters to friends, paint watercolors (Shayda Campbell on YouTube has been really fun to learn from!), you name it. That’s our “me time” to do whatever it is we want or need to do in order to clear our heads and be the best partners and parents we can be.
  • Practice gratitude. My Start Today Journal has never been more important. Counting my blessings each and every day helps immeasurably. And writing down my 10 biggest goals keep me motivated to move forward each day. Better and stronger, day after day.

And finally, and most importantly if you ask me, be diligent about what you feed your mind. Did you hear that? For the people in the back, one more time. Protect what goes into your mind the same way you protect your physical self. Sure, you could watch CNN 24/7, but I can tell you from experience that it doesn’t help. In fact, it might make you feel more anxious and generally freaked out. Instead, stay informed (for the love of all things holy, stay informed and don’t be dumb), but after you’ve digested the amount of news you need – change the channel, put down your phone, just learn what you need and then stop. Switch gears. Put something positive, uplifting, or encouraging on. Here are some places I’ve been finding joy and confidence!

  • Some Good News – Watch it! You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll want to speak in a Boston accent. Trust me. This is time very well spent.
  • Rise Podcast – Let R Money herself speak some fire into your soul, and maybe even join the upcoming Rise LIVE event. All the fire of Rise…in your freaking living room. See you there!
  • Music – ALL THE MUSIC! Feeling stuck? Blast your favorite song and rock out. This Pentatonix remix of Daft Punk has been a favorite in our home this week. I dare you to dance all out and not feel better afterwards. Stop overthinking it. Nobody is watching. Just do it!

Above all, friends, be kind to one another. Lift each other up. Thank all the people in your life who are making a difference. And be grateful for all you have. Give to those in need, whether it’s financially or with your time or expertise. Spread joy. Make someone smile.

I’d love to know what’s been helping you during this season. Drop a comment below to share your insight!

Reflections on having a bad day

Friends, have you ever had a day where you woke up and it felt like Eeyore was your spirit animal?

eeyore

Been there. Done that. In fact, I’ve been there a handful of times the past two months. Our two little boys, my hubby, and I passed cold after cold to each other, and then I topped it all off with my first (and hopefully last) bout of mastitis. It was six long weeks of being out of our regular routine, and it threw me for a loop.

Our normal routine during the week is my morning ritual, breakfast with the boys, going to the gym (where I have a much needed hour to sweat, work through whatever is occupying my mind-space, and not be actively parenting because I love my kids…but #toddlersaretough), lunch, naptime, afternoon outing (errands or something fun!), picking up my hubby from work, and then our dinner and bedtime routines for the boys. We’re in bed not too long after that most nights.

However, between the colds, baby brother getting his first tooth, RSV, and all the aforementioned illnesses, we were completely out of schedule and basically quarantined to the house so we could get better and not spread anything to our friends. And that’s when I realized, my morning ritual and making time every day to sweat is what keeps me sane. It helps me show up as my best self for myself and also for my family. And without it, I was feeling pretty down.

Now friends, there is absolutely a difference between feeling down for a few days and being depressed. I experienced depression during my first pregnancy, and now being on the other side of it I can more easily ascertain the difference between the two for myself. If you’re feeling depressed, please seek the support of a professional. There’s no shame ever in needing help. For the person who needs to hear this I’ll say it again. Ask for help. Do it now while you still feel motivated. Stop reading and schedule an appointment now. I care about you and your health. 3, 2, 1 – go schedule it.

So, what do you do when you’re just plain old having a bad day?

I knew this was a situational bummer for me, and that sometime soon our kids would start sleeping again (which means we’d start sleeping again), we’d get healthy, and our regular routines would be reinstated. But what about in the meantime? Well, friends, that’s where having a list of go-to activities, movies, music, books, whatever, that makes you feel joyful comes in handy!

For me, it looks like:

  • Completing the day’s entry in my Start Today Journal, an absolute must!
  • List everything you’re grateful for. Big or small. Nothing is off limits. Make the list as long as possible and then read it over and over and be reminded of all the bounty that’s in your life.
  • Listening to 2010’s hip hop and singing along very loudly (and now the clean versions given there are little ears always listening!)
  • Rap battling myself to the Hamilton soundtrack (Cabinet Battle #1, anybody?)
  • Cooking from my favorite Cookie and Kate cookbook
  • Cleaning, organizing, and purging what we no longer need (my neighbor joked when I loaded our car up with clothing the boys had outgrown that it’s still too early for spring cleaning, if he only knew!)
  • Spending time caring for all the plants around our home, because nurturing something is good for the soul
  • Watching Julie and Julia or The Count of Monti Cristo
  • Journaling
  • Snuggling my hubby
  • Taking a bath

The majority of the time, one or more of these things will get me feeling better. It puts me in a better place mentally and I feel optimistic about the rest of the day. They serve as a reboot and I can move forward from there.

But what if you give your tried and true feel-better things a go and you still feel crummy? I’m here to say, it’s okay to have a bad day. An off day. A day where you woke up on the wrong side of the bed and maybe it’s just going to feel like that today. Do not, hear me, do not guilt trip yourself for not being able to get out of this funk. It’s okay to feel a little off from time-to-time, but do not let that be an excuse to treat others unkindly. You might even want to warn your family that you’re just feeling meh and that the classic line of “it’s not you, it’s me,” is actually true today. Maybe today you lean into it and then set yourself up for success for the next day with a strong evening routine (take a shower, get to bed early, lay out your workout clothes for the next day, plan what you’ll do for your mourning ritual, you get it!) and just give yourself permission to feel bleh. Because tomorrow is a brand-new day, and it’s amazing what a little self-love, a good night’s sleep, and some coffee in the morning can do.

Resources

Header Image by Gabriele Diwald

Eeyore GIF by Giphy

Morning Ritual – One Week Strong

Hi friends! For those of you following along, I’m exactly one week into having a morning ritual and I thought I’d share with you my takeaways thus far.

  • It’s such a relief to start the day on my own terms. When I wake up with the kids, i.e. to a crying baby or jabbering toddler, my heart rate immediately skyrockets and I start the day in a whirlwind. Now, with my 4:30am (yes, you read that right!) wake up, I get to start the day intentionally. And wow, does that put me in a good headspace and place emotionally to love my boys and myself well.
  • It gets easier. The first few days I needed my hubby (who thankfully already wakes up early) to rouse me from bed. Once he even used Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule to get me up, which I can’t ignore…but I may have had a few choice expletives for him while still in my groggy stupor. I standby my statement to him that I can’t be held responsible for anything I say before coffee – ha!
  • Now that I have a morning ritual, it’s also informed my nighttime habits. In order to wake up well in the AM, I need to go to bed early and start winding down soon after we get our boys to bed. I’ve been incorporating more evening showers, reading (I’m reading Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee and have already started incorporating some of her suggestions into our home – post to come soon!), and even getting laundry ready to go so that I can start the day off with some of our day-to-day chores started (I use the Delay Start function on our washer so that it starts a load at 3:30am, just in time to be moved to the dryer when I’m up!).
  • I’ve really enjoyed my Start Today Journal and stream-of-consciousness journaling time. There’s something empowering about writing down what you’re grateful for and your goals, and then it’s cleansing just journaling about your day or how you’re feeling. It’s as if you shed what’s weighing you down and start fresh. Here’s a journal similar to the one I’ve been using. Just the right size to jot down one page of thoughts a day!
  • And finally, I’ve been meditating for about 5 minutes either during my morning ritual or to wrap up my morning gym sessions. And those few minutes of stillness and purposeful breathing are everything to me.

I’m only a week in and I’m sure I’ll continue to fine-tune my morning ritual, but so far it’s been a resounding success!

A Morning Ritual

Do you have a morning routine?

I’m freshly home after an amazing experience at Rachel Hollis’ Rise Conference in Ft. Myers. Talk about an inspiring and empowering way to kick off not just the new year but an entirely new decade!

Baby Brother joined me at the conference, and the Hollis Co team was SO supportive!

I have lots of takeaways from the three days, but my biggest “aha” moment came when Rachel Hollis and Amy Porterfield sat down and had a conversation about health. One of the things Amy sites as helping her on her path to wellness was establishing a morning ritual.

Did you hear that? Not a routine but a ritual.

I love that distinction. A ritual is something sacred. A ritual is something you don’t compromise on. A ritual is done the same way time, and time, and time again.

And it finally clicked.

I’ve always wanted to be an early morning person and have a morning routine to start my day proactively instead of reactively, but I always fell short and lacked the motivation to get going again. But now, with a ritual, I can’t compromise. I have to show up. Again, and again, and again. Because consistency compounds.

If our boys sleep til when I expect each day, I should have about two hours to myself, which is game-changing. My hubby already wakes up at 4:30am to be at work by 7am, so I’m joining him at that time. So not only do I get quality time for myself but we’ll share time together as well!

And to keep myself accountable, and perhaps give you a few ideas for your own morning ritual, here’s my checklist:

  • 4:30am wake up!
  • Change into comfy workout clothes
  • Yoga with hubs + brief meditation
  • Breakfast and coffee together, prep boys’ breakfast and snacks / drinks for the gym for later in the AM
  • Start my essential oil diffuser
  • Gratitude practice and goal setting with my Start Today Journal
  • Stream of conscious journaling
  • Work on my biz!

And you know what’s just as important as a morning ritual? A schedule for the evening as well to set yourself up for success! But that’s another post for another time 😉

Tell me friends, do you have a morning ritual? If so, what’s your favorite thing you do that you’d recommend I incorporate as well? Frankly, I’m just excited to drink a cup of coffee while it’s still warm, ha!