learning

My Quest to Find a Morning Routine (Part 1)

I am not a morning person.

Well, I shouldn’t say that. I am not a weekday morning person. I am a weekend morning person—but that’s only because I often get to wake up without an alarm and do anything I want with my day.

Those weekdays though. They are brutal.

Even when I put in the effort to get a good night’s sleep beforehand, when my work alarm goes off, I feel like death—often provoking me to press snooze. And while yes, I know it’s been scientifically proven that pressing snooze is not good for you and ultimately makes you feel more tired, I do it anyway. And when I wake up 15 minutes later feeling 100% more tired than I did before, I press snooze again, and again, until I have left exactly enough time (as long as there are no missteps or tangents) for me to get ready, make my lunch and get to work on time.

It’s a viscous cycle, my friends. One that I’ve been wanting to break for a long time now.

And so, finally, that is what I am setting out to do.

For the month of March, I’ve decided that I am going to try to find a morning routine that will encourage me to break my snoozing habit and start each morning on a better note. I want to find the energy for weekdays that I have on weekends when I wake up with the sun and blast old Marah Carey songs on Spotify. I want Saturday morning Kim to become every day Kim. It is a lofty goal, but I am willing to try.

Before I dive in, I thought it would be helpful to write out the “routine” I have now, so I can get a realistic idea of if/how much time I have to fit in anything new, or if perhaps my real goal should simply be to figure out how I can do what I already do, without pressing snooze and forcing myself to get ready at a near jogging pace.

So, as of now, this is what my average morning routine looks like:

-6:30 a.m. Work alarm goes off.

-Snooze alarm (twice) until 6:55 a.m. (Oops.)

-Make bed

-Brush teeth.

-Wash Face.

-Apply Moisturizer.

-Turn on a podcast.

-Get dressed (I’m just realizing I always put my socks on first, is that weird?)

-Put on makeup and try my best with my hair

-7:20 a.m. (on a GOOD DAY) Head downstairs to make lunch, fill water bottle, take vitamins and grab a breakfast to go.

-7:30 a.m. Leave for work.

Okay, so it’s clear that I consistently leave myself time to do the necessities and absolutely nothing else. Thus, if I even want to have a chance at adding anything new (or making any corrections) I first need to stop snoozing my alarm. This comes as no real surprise, but I was also secretly hoping I would determine I was perfect and call it a day.

I have often tried to correct my snoozing habit by grabbing my phone to scroll through social media (while still laying down), thinking it will wake me up. But this almost always puts me back to sleep—phone in hand—until my alarm goes off again. For the last few months however, I have been using Downtime on my phone (which I mentioned in this favorites post) and that keeps almost all of my apps locked until 7:20 a.m. As a result, with little ability to check anything except my email and the weather, I just hit snooze and go right back to sleep. Then, when I ultimately wake up late, I feel frustrated with myself, and when I follow that up with 30 minutes of frantically getting ready, I don’t really give myself a fair shot at starting the day off right.

Which brings me to the Internet.

I currently have about 10 windows open, each primed with tips on how to perfect your morning routine. In skimming through them, I’ve found that most recommend a combination of the following:

-Eat a good breakfast

-Exercise

-Meditate

-Recite affirmations and/or set intentions

-Connect to gratitude

-Read and/or journal

Of these, I only consistently (read: ever) do two.

I love this overnight oat recipe and almost always have a few made ahead in my refrigerator—making the “grab breakfast on the go” portion of my morning much easier. I also always turn on a podcast to listen to while I’m getting ready. But while the other suggestions are wonderful, and undoubtedly beneficial to some, to be honest, most of them don’t interest me.

To quickly run through them: I personally prefer to exercise in the afternoon and journal/gratitude check at night, I would 100% fall asleep while meditating and/or reading first thing after I woke up, and though intentions and affirmations are wonderful, my brain (especially my weekday brain) needs time to warm up.

Some other suggestions included having a cup of coffee or tea (neither of which I drink) and talking to a friend or loved one (which I sometimes actively avoid first thing in the morning.) So while I’m looking for some advice, I’m also trying to be realistic about what would benefit me and what wouldn’t.

I’m also trying to avoid giving myself a to-do list. As a lover of lists, I know the pressure I would put on myself to complete one, and the regret and devastation I would feel each morning when I didn’t get it done. So instead of giving myself a list of chores to complete, I am really trying to hone in on the word routine. I want to find a routine that feels natural, that flows, makes me feel good, and doesn’t make me yell threatening things at other morning drivers—or, ideally, makes me do this less.

With that in mind, rather than trying to convert my routine into one that is identical to those that are “scientifically backed” or “used by successful billionaires” I only wrote down ideas (especially from this article) that interested me, and I’m going to see if/how they can fit into my already established “routine”.

Here are a few ideas that I liked:

Dream journal: I am prone to strange and vivid dreams, and I have often wanted to keep better track of them, both because I’m curious and because maybe I should be studied.

Stretch: I often feel stiff once I get to work, and then I spend the day sitting at my computer, making me feel more stiff. So I’m thinking a low-key stretch routine that I can do in my pajamas might help start me the day on the right foot.

Review your schedule/to-do list for the day: For this one, it is recommended to write out a schedule or ideal to-list for your day the night before and then review it when you wake up. I like this idea because it takes a little while for my brain to warm up in the morning, and oftentimes I’ll find myself scrambling through my mind for things I may have forgotten. This could serve as my own personal recap, similar to the way television shows replay scenes from the previous week’s episode. Previously on Kim’s thought process…

Do a crossword puzzle: The New York Times app has a small, daily crossword puzzle that I like but often forget about, and I think it could be a good way to get my brain working—as long as I sit up to do it.

Try SmartWake: I often wear my FitBit Versa to bed, and it has a setting called SmartWake that you can turn on with any alarm. Once set, it will wake you up between sleep cycles within a half hour of your desired wake up time, making it less likely for you to wake up groggy and tired.

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So, this is my jumping off point.

Over the next month, I will try out these ideas/strategies and see if/how they affect my morning routine. I will also continue to do research to see what other ideas are out there.

Here’s hoping one of them can get me up without hitting snooze and, finally, let me (at least kind of) take my time in the morning.

I’ll keep you posted.

I Say Sh*t 17 Times in this Post, But it’s Upbeat, I Promise

I recently read the book Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan, which chronicles her year of saying “yes” to things in order to help her step out of her introvert comfort zone. It was a hilarious and relatable book that was full of valuable lessons, but one in particular stood out to me.

As the author puts it: “Being shit at being shit is just shit.”

Or, put more PG: being bad at being bad is just bad.

(Personally, I like the shitty version, but that’s just me.)

Jessica Pan writes this when referring to the tendency of someone who is placed out of their comfort zone to put in minimum effort in order to protect themselves from further embarrassment.

I know I’m guilty of it.

It’s hard to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. It’s hard to step out of your comfort zone and be yourself. Sometimes it feels easier to make it all a big joke, that way, if you fail, you’ll know you weren’t really trying in the first place.

But then again, we also learn, from an outsider’s perspective, that when we see people putting in that minimal effort, it doesn’t make them look “cool”, it doesn’t even protect them from embarrassment. In fact, we notice that lack of effort more than any failure, and it looks far worse.

Because there’s a difference between trying and failing and failing to try.

There’s a difference between “being shit” and being shit at being shit.

And, as previously stated, being shit at being shit is just shit.

So, the lesson here is: just be shit, you know?

Be bad at something.

But don’t be bad at being bad. Strive to be great at it.

Try your hardest and fail your hardest. But try. And don’t try halfway.

Don’t laugh it off or shrug it away. Don’t shrink yourself down. Go out there and suck to your full potential. Because that is what makes you cool. That is what moves you forward. That is what ultimately protects you and fights for you because it gets you out of your head, into the new, and onto the next.

You have to go through the shit to get to the good stuff. And sometimes going through shit requires you yourself to be that shit, and it’s learning to let yourself be the shit at being shit that ultimately gets you through the shit, you know what I mean?

A Nostalgic Lesson on Failure

It took my sister and I all of two days after Disney+ came out to give in and subscribe.

For some people, the draw was the backlog of Marvel movies and shows like The Mandalorian, for us it was easy access to Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century.

Because let’s face it, when it comes to movies made for television (and sweet sweet nostalgia) Disney Channel Original Movies are master class. The stories are simple (and at times ridiculous) but they are wholesome and weirdly empowering and full of iconic one-liners that I will quote until my dying day.

Aside from DCOM’s, Disney+ (who, regardless of how this blog may seem, is not sponsoring me) has also given us access to a variety of other Disney movies, most of which I’d completely forgotten exist.

Take Ice Princess, for example. It stars Michelle Trachtenberg (a.k.a Harriet the Spy), who plays a brainiac that takes up ice skating for a physics project, and ends up eventually pursuing it as a career, all while falling in love with a Zamboni driver named Teddy. This predictable yet undeniably adorable film is what brings me here today.

I’m a firm believer that inspiration can come from anywhere, and I’m not too proud to admit that I found it while watching this movie with my sister at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

About halfway through the movie, as Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg) starts to take ice skating seriously (the decision of which creates backlash from almost everyone around her, most prominently her mom) she confronts controversial ex-skater Tina Harwood (played by Kim Cattrall) and asks her to be her coach. When Tina bluntly states that she doesn’t think Casey has what it takes, Casey replies, “If I fail, I fail, but it will be because I wasn’t good enough, not because I didn’t have the guts.”

This line struck a chord in me, and I immediately wrote it down.

As hard as it is to admit, we are not destined to succeed in everything we do, and we are not always going to be the best, even when we give it absolutely everything we have. But sometimes it’s not about being the best, it’s not about winning, it’s not even about getting exactly what you want. It’s about knowing you did everything you could, gave everything you had, and didn’t let your fears hold you back. It’s about having the guts to try, and when things don’t work out, to try again, maybe in a different way, or maybe on a completely different path.

I know I’ve both put off and completely given up pursuing certain projects or passions solely because I was scared I would fail. But at the end of the day, failing is never going to be the worst thing you can do, and it is never going to hurt more than never knowing what you could do.

So today I’d just like to encourage you to go for it. To try and then to try again. Your win is out there, and it’s waiting for you on the other side of fear. So give it your all, and see where it takes you.

Leaning into FEAR

I was going through my notebook the other day and I found a quote I wrote down a while back. I mentioned it in this post almost a year ago, but it hit me hard when I saw it again and I wanted to share it.

It is from The School of Greatness podcast, episode 721.

“FEAR can be:

Fear Everything And Run,

or Face Everything And Rise.”

I’ve always been a bit of a fearer. I’m afraid of, well, most things, and I have found it very easy over the course of my life to run from those which are particularly scary.

It’s easy to run. Fun too. Running keeps you safe. It carries you away from all that can hurt you, thus ensuring that you can’t be hurt. But running is also quite tiring. It’s exhausting, really. And it gets old. Especially if you’re running in circles.

I don’t know where you are in your life, today or this week or in general, and I don’t know what kind of FEAR you are leaning into. But I want to encourage you, and me, the group of us together really, to stop running. And I don’t mean that solely in the sense that we should stop avoiding hard things or fearing good and vulnerable things. I just think we could all benefit from receiving the permission to stop moving.

We don’t always have to be doing something or achieving something or reaching and reaching and reaching. I think those things are important, and I think setting goals and working towards them is one of the most rewarding things you can do. But it’s not the only thing.

We are still important if we are sitting still. We still hold value if we aren’t setting new records and reaching new heights. We matter, no matter what.

I remember when I first heard this quote I took it as motivation to keep moving up. To rise. To be bigger and better. But I think I underestimated how far you can move forward simply by standing still. For to rise is not simply to ascend, it is also to acknowledge the steps that helped you do so. It is to face the things, good and bad, that have formed you into the person you are, and to accept them as part of your story.

I am who I am because of my story, and you are you because of yours. So let’s appreciate those stories for all that they are, and rise.

Don’t Suffer

A fun fact about me is that I’m cold—all the time.

I have two sweaters on my office chair at work and I almost never leave the house without some sort of extra layer, even in the dead of summer. My friends and family have (mostly) come to accept this—they only mock me half of the time now—and some even go out of their way to let me know when we (meaning only me) should bring a jacket to wherever we’re going.

If I were a teenager, I might try to spin this whole thing as a cute quirk. A way to get the boy to lend me his jacket because I’m just so cold teeheehee. But alas, I’m not 16, and I don’t even think it’s cute. I would love to confidently walk out the front door without wondering if I will catch hypothermia at the movies or grapple over what I should say to convince everyone to sit outside even though it’s hot and we might sweat all of our makeup off.

This past weekend a big group of my family got together at a house on the beach and the moment we pulled in I felt the ocean breeze shiver down my spine.

Shit. I thought. We just got here and I’m already cold.

I paced around a bit, trying to get my blood flowing so I didn’t have to look completely pathetic, but after a few minutes I leaned into my mom and said, “I really think I have to put my sweater on already.”

My mom nodded, nonjudgmental, then put her hand on my arm and said, “Like my yoga teacher says, ‘Don’t suffer.’”

At first I just smiled, thanking her for the words and for not, you know, pointing and laughing at me like I assume everyone should. But as I pulled on my jacket and then walked back around to the kitchen to lean back into the conversation I’d left, the real meaning of the words sunk in deep.

Don’t suffer.

It’s really simple on the surface, isn’t it? But let it sink in for a second.

Don’t suffer.

In the context of yoga, it reminds you not to stay in a pose that causes too much pain.

When you apply it to every day life—like whether or not I should be ashamed to put a sweater on at a family reunion—it acts a reminder to just let yourself be. Maybe that means saying no to party you don’t want to go to, or putting down a book you don’t have any interest in finishing, or taking a nap instead of going to the gym today, or whatever it may be.

Don’t suffer. Especially with the little things. Give yourself the freedom to be comfortable and it will give you the opportunity to thrive.

Needless to say I put the jacket it on, instantly felt better, and wouldn’t you know it, I had an amazing afternoon.

What’s the Point?

Have you ever been so caught up in the monotony of the day-to-day routines and stresses that you found yourself frustrated and exhausted and wondering what are we even doing here? Or, and not necessarily as dark as this sounds, but, what’s the point?

It’s that, is this it? feeling. Is life just alarm snoozing and work and bills and debt and general frustration?

Deep down we know it’s not. We know there’s more. We know this thing has purpose. But some days that truth is a little cloudy, and others it seems downright hidden.

But then there are days or sometimes just moments when it shines bright.

Like when you see someone do something so kind that it makes you want to cry.

Or when you see people look at each other with such unconditional love that you feel it too.

When you stay up late talking to your sister about nothing and everything at the same time.

When you watch the sunset on the beach and that warm glow makes everything slow down.

When you eat something so good it makes you (want to or actually) dance.

When you do something you never thought you could.

When you get butterflies in your stomach because someone or something is so overwhelmingly exciting.

When you tell a friend something you’re struggling with and they lift a little piece of that burden off your shoulders.

When you lose track of time laughing and then trying not to laugh and then after a while laughing just to laugh.

Among millions more.

The way I see it, life is about finding things that make it easier. Easier for you, easier for someone you love, or even easier for someone you’ve never met. It’s about finding people and places and experiences that make you take deep, purposeful breaths. And on the hard days, it’s about believing that ease exists, and working your way forward one step at a time to find it again.

Life is not meant to be easy, but it’s full of impossible ease, and you owe it to yourself to find it. So whether you’re having the best day ever or a cloudy one at best, I encourage you to seek it. Open yourself up to the good things in this life, let them give you breath and breathe breathe breathe.

10 Easy Ways to Learn Something New Every Day

If you are like me, you love learning. You love dropping fun facts and (as subtly as possible) saying look what I can do! And while 12 years of grade school might have given us somewhat of a distaste for the long winded, multiple choice kind of learning, these days it doesn’t take much for us to learn something new. Oftentimes it will just find us in the middle of an average day and that little light will go on in our heads saying, hey, I didn’t know that!

Call me a nerd but that is a rush.

I love that feeling so much that I actively try to learn something new every day—as many times a day as possible. Any little tidbit of new information I can find, I grab it and hold on tight, and then wait for the perfect opportunity to say, “did you know…” to my friends and family.

So, if you can relate to any of that, or if you’re just curious what kind of information I’m consuming on a daily basis in an attempt to turn my brain into its own Mary Poppins’ bag, here are 10 easy ways to learn something new every day:

 

1) Subscribe to a podcast

I went on my podcast app and counted, I am subscribed to 32 podcasts. THIRTY-TWO. Is this extreme? Am I an addict? Don’t answer that. I love all of my podcasts and I listen to (not all of) them every day. They cover just about every topic in the book, making it easy and fun to learn about a little bit of everything. Some of my favorites include: Ear Hustle, Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet, and Heavyweight

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2) Click on the Google logo

You know how Google often has those decorative versions of their logo on their homepage? Did you know that if you click on those you can learn about the historical icon or event they are honoring? Talk about easy access to fun facts.

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3) Subscribe to an e-newsletter

There is so much information on the Internet, both good and bad, so it’s nice to have someone else wade through it and give you the highlights. I’ve bounced around between newsletters, trying to find one that best fits what I’m looking for and right now my favorite is Next Draft. An email is sent every weekday after lunch and it is organized into ten bullet points of both important current information and interesting articles you might not have read otherwise.

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4) Watch a documentary (on Netflix, Hulu, or even YouTube)

I know, I know, we all have good intentions when we scroll through and add documentaries to our queues, and we all promise to watch them next time because we’re just not in the mood right now. But I encourage you to take a chance on one when you’re looking for something to watch. There is so much good stuff out there! Some of my favorites include: Evil Genius on Netflix, Three Identical Strangers on Hulu, and You’re Not Allowed to Die Here on YouTube.

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5) Go outside

I know this sounds obvious, but there’s no denying it. Our houses and apartments and dorms are wonderful and cozy and safe but there is so much to see and learn when we get outside! Just the other day a group of friends and I walked out to look at the moon and someone held their hand up and said, “did you know that if you can cup the moon in your right hand it’s a waxing moon and if you can cup it with your left it’s a waning moon.” No, I did not know that. But will I now drop it in any conversation about the moon? You’re damn right I will.

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6) Look up a new recipe

One of my favorite things to do is cook, and I love looking up recipes that I can put together with things I find in my fridge. Lucky for us, the Internet is CHOCK-FULL of recipes thanks to all of the wonderful food bloggers of the world. From breakfasts to desserts to gluten free tea party recipes, there is something for every occasion, just waiting for you to dive in.

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7) Download a language learning app

Learning a new language, or at the very least becoming familiar with key words in another language can be so valuable, both in every day life and when you travel. There are tons of apps out there that can teach you practically any language you can think of. My favorite is Duolingo, because it’s free, easy, and fun to use. Plus, an adorable owl named Duo sends me cute reminders to do my daily Spanish homework and it excites me.

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8) Take a different way home

If you do a lot of driving for work, either as part of your job or just in commuting to and from, try a new route. Turn one street early, or get off on a different exit. Expand that mental map and see where different roads lead, you never know what you’ll find along the way!

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9) Ask questions

Whenever you think to yourself, “I wonder how…” or “what is that?” or “when was..” pursue those answers. I can’t tell you how often I ask a question out loud and then immediately Google it. Even if they are little, seemingly meaningless answers they are something and you never know when you might need that something in the future.

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10) Listen

This doesn’t just call for putting on your listening ears, as my mom would say. This calls for using all of your senses. Put your phone down. Pick your head up. Look around, listen up and interact with the environment around you.