You may or may not have noticed that I didn’t publish a blog post this past Sunday.
While I was on my bike on Sunday, it became clear to me that I needed to take some pressure off myself. This is proving to be a very challenging season of parenting. Between that and working way too many hours in my full-time job, I felt like I was reaching a breaking point.
There is so much I want to share about creating mind-body synergy in our lives and about living powerfully from that place, and writing has always been joyful and energizing for me. It still is, but everything else is just too much right now.
The saying that we teach what we need to learn probably applies here. Although the practices that I teach and use make a significant, positive difference for me—and, I believe, for others—the pressures of the rest of my life are wearing me down.
I have written nearly 60,000 words of my book, and I am teaching the final week of the Spring into Action Move for Your Mind class. There is so much more I want to share, but I recognize the need to give myself some grace right now.
So, I am taking a self-care break from blogging, coaching and pursuing a book deal. I’m not quitting those things. I’ll pick them up when the time feels right.
This was a choice that I didn’t want to make, but I felt a sense of peace on my bike on Sunday when I suddenly knew this was the right thing to do to take care of myself. My bike is where I have my best ideas and make my best decisions. I trust the insight and inspiration I receive there.
I don’t know how long this break will be. I sincerely hope that life feels better soon. I have some things to figure out and some decisions to make, but, for now, I will take this pause and try to keep listening for insight on my bike and in my meditation. Take care of yourselves! We have to do that before we can be of any useful service to our world.
However, around a decade ago, I read that echinacea was good for the immune system. I had been getting a lot of colds and laryngitis, so I added a daily cup of Traditional Medicinals Echinacea Plus tea to my regimen. I noticed a dramatic improvement in my immunity and became a believer. I have continued that practice every day, and I have recommended it to friends and family, who have also found it to be a beneficial addition to their self-care practices. To be fair, results are mixed in scientific trials of echinacea for immunity, but my experience has demonstrated that it makes a difference for me.
Over the years, the tea shelf in my cabinet has become fuller and fuller, as I have learned more about the potential uses of herbs and spices for health. I decided to share some of my current favorites here.
Traditional Medicinals has continued to be my brand of choice. I have no affiliation with that brand, but it is where I started, and years ago, I read about potential contamination risks with some tea brands. Traditional Medicinals got a clean report, and that stuck with me.
In additional to Echinacea Plus, other teas that have helped me with mind and body include:
Ginger Aid: Ginger is great for settling the stomach and for reducing inflammation. If I ever have digestion issues, I drink a cup of Ginger Aid, and it helps. I also use this tea to help with body aches or headaches. I have found it to be highly effective for these purposes.
Peppermint: Peppermint tea can also help with tummy troubles, in particular with bloating and intestinal discomfort. It is fragrant and soothing.
Cup of Sunshine: I have been needing a mood boost lately. My bike is the best boost, but I am working really long hours at the moment and can’t get out on my bike in the middle of a long, challenging day. Cup of Sunshine contains kanna and honeybush. I was familiar with neither when I purchased this tea, but the name gave me hope. It has proven to be a good choice. It’s a subtle lift, not agitating, but I notice that it does help to brighten my mood.
Stress Ease: This has also been a recent addition to my cabinet. Containing skullcap, cinnamon bark and licorice root, this does take the edge off anxiety for me. I can feel the butterflies in my stomach settle down with a cup of Stress Ease.
There are other teas I use on a regular basis, including assorted green tea blends. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants and is so good for us that Dr. Michael Greger recommends drinking three cups a day in How Not to Diet.
I hope this short post gives you some easy ways to enhance your well-being with tea. I am neither an expert nor a connoisseur, but Traditional Medicinals tea has helped me, and I wanted to share those benefits with you.
No matter what kind of growth or change we desire to create in our lives, it is necessary to step outside our comfort zones—whether dipping a toe outside that cozy space or plunging all the way into the scary unknown with a swan dive or cannonball. Today we are treated to a guest post by my good friend Dianne Waltner. Dianne published her first book Evolving into Wholeness: A Journey of Compassion last month. In it she highlights her own dips and plunges outside her comfort zone as she followed her heart and the voice within to evolve into a life of authenticity, sharing her journey in order to help others find courage to live into their own whole selves. We are privileged today to learn from her reflections on stepping out of our comfort zones. Enjoy!Sheri
“The comfort zone is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, at ease, and secure. You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ― Roy T. Bennett
Growing up as a bullied child, I seldom felt comfortable around others and preferred to spend time alone. I often sought refuge in my room, surrounded by books, which were my comfort. I didn’t want to be seen or heard. I never wanted to stand out or to call attention to myself. I just wanted to blend in, to conform, to hide in the shadows. I certainly never wanted to make a scene or cause conflict.
As a highly introverted adult, interacting with others was often draining and difficult. I never wanted to make waves or challenge the status quo. I would have liked to stay in my comfort zone. Until that itself became uncomfortable.
At various times in my life, I’ve become too uncomfortable to stay where I’m at; times when I’ve felt the calling to change, sometimes for personal health and wellbeing, sometimes out of concern for others.
Going vegetarian (and eventually vegan), quitting smoking (and eventually quitting drinking), and publishing (and promoting) a book all required me to do things I didn’t initially feel comfortable doing. They all involved big steps outside of my comfort zone. Each time, I tried to ignore the inner voice that was encouraging me to make changes or to speak out. But I couldn’t shake it. And it forced me to make some of the very best and most important decisions of my life – decisions which helped me become a better person.
Living in alignment with one’s values often involves stepping out of one’s comfort zone. That was certainly the case for me. It was difficult going against societal norms. However, I found that, once I gave in and listened to that inner voice, I felt a profound sense of inner peace and joy. Although uncomfortable, I knew that I was doing the right thing.
“To be compassionate, you have to forget your own comfort zone and live well because you live beyond yourself.” ― Sunday Adelaja, The Mountain of Ignorance
I knew that I could never make the difference I wanted to make by playing it safe and staying comfortable. I needed to be willing to be vulnerable and follow my heart. It’s not always easy, and I make plenty of mistakes.
Over the years, I’ve learned several important lessons about leaving our safe place and taking risks.
It’s important to be gentle with ourselves, to forgive our mistakes as we learn, knowing that we’re doing the best we can.
We can give ourselves permission to not be perfect. We can be proud of ourselves for being willing to step out of our comfort zones. We can celebrate our successes and our willingness to take chances. And it’s so important to be compassionate with ourselves. We can become our own best friends.
And remember – “At the end of your comfort zone is where adventure begins and life dances with trembling joy.” ― Debasish Mridha
I had a different post planned for today, but there was a request for this information in my Spring into Action Move for Your Mind 30-Day Kickstart Class. (It’s not too late to join. We just started yesterday. Click here. It’s free.) I decided it was a useful topic for everyone.
Strength training is important for all of us, not just those who want to build massive muscles or to be able to flip a tractor tire. We start losing muscle mass in our 30s, and doing what we can to maintain it is important for quality of life as we age. It can affect our ability to take care of ourselves, to walk up and down stairs and to maintain a healthy weight. Weight-bearing exercise is a crucial component in preserving our bone density—a major factor in healthy longevity.
You can add strength training to your home fitness routine or spice up the strength training you already do without spending a fortune or taking up a lot of space. Here are three great options:
Resistance Bands: These are highly portable and take up minimal space. They are suitable for all ages and come in a range of resistance levels, so you can progress as you get stronger and so you can use appropriate resistance for each muscle group. Here is a good basic starter set.This set has loops, which add some versatility. If you want something with handles and the ability to close it in a door for a fixed point, this is a great set.Here is a terrific 20-minute full-body TheraBand™ routine demonstrated by a former Wichita State University volleyball player and student of mine, Jackie Church. Although she is using a version of TheraBand™ with loops, these exercises could be done with a basic band, as well.
Kettlebells: Kettlebells are a fun and effective way to add weight to your training program without taking up a lot of space. The set I use is no longer available, but here is a good basic set that is appropriate for beginners, but also allows for progression. Kettlebells are terrific for developing core strength and stability and are a lot more versatile than they may look. Here is a nice article with 22 exercise options. You could get started by choosing 5 or 6 of them.
Power Yoga: Body weight can be an effective strength-building tool. My very favorite online yoga teacher is Kassandra Reinhardt. This is her YouTube channel. When I am using yoga specifically for strength, I do one of her Power Yoga practices. I also love her Hatha, Yin and Vinyasa practices. Scroll down on her channel to find Power Yoga, and try out the other styles as well for flexibility, restoration and release.
Strive to include strength training at least twice a week. Be sure to take at least a day off in between unless you are more advanced and breaking your training into separate muscle groups on different days. For someone training for overall fitness and functional strength, the full-body strategies I have linked in this post can be very effective.
If you would like some extra support and motivation, join my FREE Spring into Action Move for Your Mind 30-Day Kickstart Class. You set your own movement goal, and I provide weekly lessons in mind-body synergy, visualizations, journaling exercises and other support, within myJustWind Community.
There’s a lot of talk about morning routines these day. And with good reason.
I developed my own “morning routine” instinctively long before I ever heard the term. I like order and structure (my own), and a morning routine sets a tranquil tone for the day. My routine has evolved over the years, and it varies a bit, depending on the day or time of year, but there are several elements that are always there.
In case you are not familiar with the idea, a morning routine is a set of habits that we perform in the morning before moving into the responsibilities—work, school, family, etc.—of the day. Some authors and influencers recommend getting up extra early and/or at the same time every day in order to ensure that your morning routine happens. Ultimately, we all have to find our own best way to reap the benefits of a morning routine.
So, what are those benefits?
A morning routine is grounding. Engaging in positive, familiar practices helps orient us to the new day. It imposes the order of knowing what to expect and controlling our first actions over the chaos of indecision and lack of direction. Once our morning routine is established, we don’t have to make choices or decide if we are going to take certain actions or not. It is our routine, so we do it, saving precious mental energy. The peaceful feeling that brings centers us and allows us to take on the day from a more powerful internal position.
A morning routine contributes to the cultivation of an internal locus of control. Our locus of control is a continuum from external to internal. One end of the spectrum is not necessarily better than the other, but an internal locus of control may mean that we are more likely to take constructive action in our lives, simply because we believe that it will matter. The farther we toward the external end of the locus-of-control continuum, the less we believe that our actions influence outcomes in life. Instead, we assign control and, sometimes, blame to outside forces, whether that is God, government, the system or fate. Clearly, reality falls somewhere between the two extremes. We can’t control everything, but we can control some things. Acknowledging that positions us to help ourselves more effectively in life. By taking deliberate, meaningful actions every morning, we reinforce that what we choose to do makes a difference in the results we achieve, making it more likely that we will eat nourishing food, move our bodies and act in ways that improve our chances for health, happiness and success.
A morning routine allows us to begin with intention. One of the most potent techniques we can use in our lives is the pause. Pausing before we act—whether on the day or in the moment—can help us live in better alignment with our values and our highest aspirations. A morning routine is a form of pause, allowing us to start the day with, as Stephen Covey would say, “with the end in mind.”
A morning routine creates opportunities for success from the very start. Although life makes no guarantees, we are more likely to accomplish the things we want to accomplish in a given day if we start it on the right foot. We can set a pattern for success by starting the day with habits and actions that align with our values and goals. That feels good! Our early success helps fuel our sense of self-efficacy so we can build on that success throughout the day.
What counts as a morning routine? There are no “rules” about what constitutes a morning routine. It is what you need it to be to start your day in a positive way. That looks different for everyone, but a solid morning routine will generally encompass these elements:
It creates a sense of peace. Starting the day with activities that promote inner peace increase the likelihood of living the day in equanimity—remaining calm and grounded even if the world feels frantic around us.
It connects mind, body and spirit. Ideally, a morning routine addresses and integrates all three realms, honoring our nature as complex beings. A great example of this is physical activity that affords the opportunity to go inward. For me, this is best accomplished in a solo (or at least quiet) form of exercise, like yoga, cycling, walking or running—something with time and space to think and to listen for inspiration.
It generates self-satisfaction. Put simply, we feel good about ourselves when we do it. It feels like success, no matter how big or how small. There is truly freedom in discipline. When we have the discipline of a morning routine, we experience the freedom of doing those things that we truly want to do—the things that are aligned with our highest selves—rather than starting the day from a place of disappointment in ourselves for failing to live up to our aspirations, instead hitting the snooze button repeatedly and finally rolling out of bed to grab a donut or other non-nourishing excuse for breakfast.
It promotes mental and physical well-being. It may go without saying, but beneficial morning routines should include healthful behaviors, rather than activities that undermine our wellness.
How do you establish a morning routine? The best way to establish a morning routine is to think about what you want it to accomplish for yourself and to consider how much time you intend to give it. Some people have their morning routines broken down into strict segments—say, 20 minutes for each activity—or they have specific times for doing certain things. That is certainly one way to do it, but not the only way. You may just have a time to rise and an order of activities within an allotted time frame.
If your mornings are currently unstructured, I recommend starting small and building the pieces of your routine gradually, so that it is manageable and feels like a natural progression. There is nothing to be gained by taking on too much and becoming overwhelmed, so that you decide to scrap the whole idea.
Plan ahead. Think about what needs to be in place for your morning routine to be successful and take the necessary steps before you go to bed. This might include making your breakfast, so it is easy to eat nourishing foods in the morning. It could include setting out your exercise clothes, so you don’t have to spend time or energy thinking about what to wear and gathering them in the morning. It may include determining an order for your activities. The most important thing is not to leave your morning routine to chance. Elevate it to a place of honor and hold it sacred by making the preparations to ensure that it happens.
I will share the basic components of my morning routine, not as a prescription, because what works for me won’t necessarily work for you, but as inspiration and example to get you thinking about what you would like to include in your own.
As I mentioned above, my morning routine has evolved and changed as I have moved in and out of various seasons of life, and I expect it to continue to do so. While some elements will likely remain constant, others may give way to something new.
For many years, I got up at 5 a.m. every single day of the week. In some ways that routine was healthier because it also meant that all my evenings (including weekends) ended earlier. Those are good sleep habits. But, the needs of my family have changed. We are going through a challenging season right now. Having a teenager in the household has introduced different stressors than we have previously experienced. It also means that our evenings look different—admittedly, not always with the evening habits I would choose if I were on my own. Kenny and I often need distraction these days. He’s a ruminator—out loud. That stresses me out. To stop his speculation and catastrophizing around Logan’s activities, watching a movie at night often works best. This means I don’t always set my alarm for 5 a.m. on weekend mornings. I may allow myself to awaken naturally. This is never late, but, if I am lucky (Insomnia is another side effect of parenting a teenager, I am finding.), it is somewhat after 5 a.m.
On weekday mornings, I still arise at 5 a.m., and my mornings follow this basic pattern:
Turn off my alarm.
Find a quote in the volumes of self-collected quote books that are my bedtime companions. Using my booklight, I randomly select a quote to give me something positive to contemplate right off the bat. If the first one I choose doesn’t speak to me in that particular moment, I open to a different one, until something resonates.
Think of three things to which I am looking forward in the day. Although I am tempted on some mornings, I don’t allow myself to get away with saying, “Not much.” It may be a warm shower, my yoga practice, a bike ride, time alone or the book I am reading—sometimes seemingly mundane things—but I identify three positive things awaiting me before I get out of bed.
Make my bed. Easy. Quick. Done. Order and structure.
On weekday mornings when I am not riding my bike after work, I get up and change into my waiting exercise clothing.
Choose another quote to ponder while I am exercising.
Do a breathing exercise to put myself in the right mindset to move my body.
Set my intention for my workout.
Move my body with yoga, strength training, indoor cycle trainer, a walk or foundation training.
Eat the breakfast I made the previous night. This is usually a smoothie filled with foods that nourish my body—some of which I include every day. (See a future post for more about that.) I generally drink/eat my smoothie, my water and my tea while I am getting Logan’s lunch (which I packed the previous night) and water bottle ready and washing and putting away dishes in the kitchen (usually left from Logan’s late-night feeding frenzies). If I am alone in the kitchen, I listen to an inspiring and/or educational podcast. This has the dual benefit of feeding my mind and spirit while I feed my body and preventing my mind from going places I don’t want it to go.
Occasionally, I will have time to do some creative work, like writing or posting to my business Facebook page, while I am supervising Logan’s morning activities (which are far less structured and orderly than mine 😊).
Once I get Logan off to school, I take my shower and move into the next phase of my day.
Weekends look a bit different, although every day includes some form of exercise, meditation, quotes, intention setting and a nourishing breakfast.
The bottom line is this—Consider adding a morning routine to your life if you don’t have one. It is a way to make good things happen for yourself before you face whatever the day will throw at you. We can’t control how our days unfold, but when we take initiative to start the day in an intentional way, we position ourselves for success and positivity, and we are better equipped to handle disruptions and stressors with a greater level of equanimity. There are no guarantees, and I haven’t perfected it. But, I shudder to think how I would be handling my current level of parenting (and other) stress if I didn’t have a reliable, secure practice in place to reground, realign and start fresh each day.
“All things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation of all things. You have to make sure that the blueprint, the first creation, is really what you want, that you’ve thought everything through. Then you put it into bricks and mortar. Each day you go to the construction shed and pull out the blueprint to get marching orders for the day. You begin with the end in mind.”