Making Mornings Mindful

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*This is a sponsored post; all opinions are my own.*

I don’t remember a time when my mornings were calm, much less relaxing, centering, refreshing, or any other kind of hippie-awesome (I say that lovingly, I’m definitely a hippie girl in many other ways). And I wish I could say that I’ve figured it out; that I’ve managed to harness my desire for calm with my big girl pants and they’ve together dragged my carcass over the threshold from chaotic mornings to zen and peace. But I’d be lying. And I think the better course is to just be honest, and in that honesty, maybe we can both find some peace and calm together.

So, honesty…

I don’t have my crap together. Not. Even. Close.

But I do have a very happy, healthy, intelligent, and adorable two year old daughter, and I pour pretty much every ounce of energy and attention and love into that girl all day long. And when she goes to bed, I try to keep my remaining brain cells together long enough to maintain my house, write this blog, and love my husband. So when I think about trying to “make time” for myself, I want to laugh, cry, and vomit by turns.

Because being a mom and a wife and a homemaker is HARD. Even if it is the best ever – and it IS – doesn’t make it easy.

I miss having the concentration necessary to study…well, anything. As a Christian, I struggle with feelings of guilt and inadequacy all the time, because I’m told everywhere I look that I should be reading my Bible every single day, preferably studying it in depth. But I open my Bible, and only the simplest concepts stick. And it’s not just the Bible – it’s everything I try to read, for the past two years, and it get’s worse every day (the time of year doesn’t help, but still). For goodness sake, it’s taken me more than two hours to write this post!!

I don’t think it’s a flaw in me – lack of devotion to my relationship with Jesus, or lack of intelligence or ability – I think it’s just motherhood; this phase of life isn’t for the faint of heart.

So I take what I can get when it comes to peace and calm. And when they don’t come naturally – and they don’t – I steal them, even if it means hiding in my bathroom in the dark with my coffee mug so I don’t have to share (yes, I sometimes let her taste coffee – don’t judge me).

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Did I mention my sweet husband bought me a Keurig for our last anniversary??? ? He’s a real keeper – and this thing is a lifesaver. I don’t drink coffee frequently enough to ever warrant brewing a pot in a regular coffee maker, even the little ones – my stomach can’t handle the acid of more than one cup a day. So a single serving coffee maker is exactly what this tired mommy needs, and I’m thrilled my hubby keyed in on that, and came to my rescue.

In my quest for a calming moment at the bottom of a cup that doesn’t contain alcohol, I’ve been trying out different flavors and brands of single serving coffee. I was recently sent a selection of flavors from Coffee Blenders that are supposed to have different effects based on their ingredients. To be totally honest, I can’t really tell the difference between them, but they’re strong, and I appreciate that.

“Lean” contains a green coffee bean extract that’s been shown to aid in weight loss and muscle development in some people. “Focus” contains ginseng, which is shown to improve attention and working memory; I’ve downed several cups of this one and still can’t remember if it improved my ability to focus (ha). “Escape” contains L-Theanine which is shown to have a positive affect on minor or occasional stress without causing drowsiness. All of them are 100% Arabica dark roasted coffee that is obtained through fair trade practices, and roasted in small batches for freshness. I’m honestly not sure if they do what they’re supposed to do, and at almost $20 per 15 cup box it’s a bit pricey for me, but it tastes good, and I definitely approve of their efforts to be ethical and globally conscious in their business practices. If you want to learn more, you can find them on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ve tried a variety of other brands of single serving coffee in my Keurig over the last couple of months, but have yet to settle on one I really love. My favorite cup of coffee is a strong shot or two of espresso with steamed half and half (I think they call it a breve), without any sweetener, and I can’t get my coffee strong enough in this thing, which makes me sad. Maybe an espresso maker would be a better fit?

Anyway, a nice cup of coffee or English breakfast tea always seems like a great mini-break, but in reality I’m usually accosted by my toddler the second I sit down with it (unless I’m hiding in the bathroom, as I previously mentioned – not really all that calming).

One thing I’ve found recently that actually is kinda good at stress-relief is coloring. Yep, coloring, like in the coloring books my daughter loves to mangle on a daily basis. She loves to “let” me “help” her color her books, but since that mostly consists of shoving a colored pencil into my hand and telling me exactly what to color, and changes her mind every few seconds, it’s not the most relaxing experience ever (though it IS cute, and I do it graciously because she loves doing things together).

Thankfully, I discovered that they make coloring books for grown ups, and some of them are even specifically for helping you relax…

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Daily Zen Doodles: 365 Tangle Creations for Inspiration, Relaxation, and Mindfulness is a compact little softcover book filled with restful or inspiring quotes and the beginnings of a doodled drawing on every page. Many of the drawings are just random shapes and lines, which I don’t find particularly inspiring, but there are also a lot of pictures you can color in and expand upon if you choose, which I like better. The quotes are a mix, in my opinion, in terms of usefulness for reflection – remember what I said about not being able to concentrate – but if you like deep thoughts, this book is packed with them. Here are a few gems, including the one pictured above…

“You honor yourself by acting with dignity and composure.”
~ Allan Lokos

“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake.
Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

“Adversity comes not to destroy or punish us, but to help to rouse
the invincibility within our souls.”
~ Sri Daya Mata

“The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.”
~ Kent M. Keith

I like this little book, and pull it out at my desk now and then for a moment of quiet coloring, but honestly, the presence of the quotes is too much for my poor tired mind right now. As soon as I start thinking about what they’re telling me, my calm is blown, and I’m back to racing rabbit-trail thoughts and feeling overwhelmed. I don’t think it’s this book’s fault, though. Just another hazard of this phase of life. And maybe I just really need a mental vacation, I don’t know.

I still love to read, and find it relaxing and enjoyable, but lately when I try I either can’t concentrate or I fall asleep mid-sentence, so I don’t do it much right now. I’ve been reading the same book for three months – something that has NEVER happened to me before (and I read really big books for fun) – and it’s kind of depressing, to be honest. I keep telling myself I’ll get through cold and flu season and the holidays and I’ll be able to read for fun again, and I’m holding onto that hope because if it doesn’t prove to be true, I’m going to be mad.

Music is a BIG help, and I’m finally remembering to actually play some, thanks to Pandora Radio. I’m really digging indie folk rock right now, especially Mumford & Sons. Here’s one of my favorites…

Honestly, here’s what it all comes down to for me right now. I’m really, really tired. I’m stretched way too thin, and I need to take a break from anything and everything that adds to my daily grind and takes away from being present with my family and in my own head. How can I possibly take time for personal refreshment when I can’t keep up with my daily responsibilities? To take that time for myself, I have to take time away from someone or something else.

Making Mornings Mindful | The Homemade Creative

So at the end of this year – a few short weeks from now – I will be taking a break from blogging. I’ve been working really hard to catch up and fulfill outstanding obligations to my sponsors, and I’m almost there, except for books (because, as I said, I’m too tired and stressed out to read right now). Knowing I get to lay down this burden soon is a huge help in getting everything done – and really points to how necessary this break really is, since I hate to ever think of writing as a burden.

As hard as it is to get excited about anything right now, I’m looking forward to being able to turn off my computer. I’m excited about finishing projects like putting up shelves or sewing Serenity’s big girl blanket for her bed, and I’m looking forward to dropping everything to run outside as weather permits without worrying about missing deadlines. I’m excited to be able to consider taking a nap, and to not have to choose between going to bed with my husband at a decent hour, or staying up until after 1am to finish a blog post. I’m relieved that my current hard work means that I will be able to return to writing when I’m ready, without dreading overdue work.

Thanksgiving is in a few short days, and I’m hoping it will be more restful and refreshing than busy or exciting. Despite my recent project, I decided not to decorate for fall this year, because it felt like more work than enjoyment, and even though I’m missing my pretty nick-knacks, I think I made a good decision. In speaking about making mindful decisions in the course of our days, I can’t overstate the importance of choosing your best over your good – sometimes even something fun isn’t worth the added stress.

It’s one in the morning, and I think I’m starting to ramble, darlings. Take some time for yourself, if you can. And if you can’t, figure out why, and fix it. That’s all you can really ask of yourself. And remember – wherever you are in life, it’s a phase, and phases pass. You can’t do it all, so you’d best figure out what matters most where you are right now, and do that.

What phase of life do you find yourself in today?

*I received the coffee and book mentioned in this post free for review consideration; all opinions are my own, and I only recommend products and brands I’m comfortable using with my own family.*

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12 comments on “Making Mornings Mindful”

  1. I am often reminding myself that I need to pick the BEST choices, not just good choices. Especially when it comes to managing time and what i do that day. And I need to remember that taking time for me is one of those best decisions. I love that Daily Zen book.

    1. Managing time is so important, and can be so stressful if not done right. I’ve started writing absolutely everything down – first in pencil, then re-written in pen and checked off as completed – and that’s helped a lot. Taking a few moments at the end of the day to see what’s coming up the next day has taken a lot of stress off of me, even during this time of being massively overbooked.

  2. Krista said:

    I agree with you. It is so hard to get your mornings started off right when you have so much going on!

    1. Yes!! I hope we both figure that one out, and soon!

  3. Jenna Wood said:

    I’d really love the daily zen doodles, I do something similar (Without the book) during my morning coffee, so I think it’s a great idea. It can be hard to reclaim ‘me’ time!

    1. See, I’m more likely to doodle like this without any guidance than if I have to come up with a design based on something someone else started. So i prefer a format that’s either nothing to go on except maybe a quote, or a full design I can just color in as I please. I’m glad you’ve found something to help with ‘me time’!

  4. Daisy said:

    Our mornings are crazy. Having some organized K-Cups like your set up would help!

    1. Isn’t that storage thingy awesome??? Nick got it at the same time as the Keurig, and filled it with really yummy name brand K-cups. I’m pretty spoiled. ? I also really like the drawer organizer that lives under the Keurig. I’m considering getting one to supplement the turn-stile thingy, because I like variety in my coffee selection, so the extras are all jumbled up with my china in the drawers below!

  5. Carlee C said:

    I am actually getting my morning started off right by getting caught up on my favorite shows on demand. CBS- Good Wife and NCIS! 🙂

    1. That’s also a great way to relax! I like to watch mine in the evenings when Serenity goes to bed. Grey’s Anatomy and S.H.I.E.L.D. at the moment.

  6. I can’t overstate the importance of choosing your best over your good – sometimes even something fun isn’t worth the added stress. <— So very true! Sometimes you have to make the right decision over the one that you think others will want you to make. It doesn't mean giving everything up it means deciding what you truly have the time and energy to accomplish and feel good about.

    1. Thank you, Felissa – and exactly. Case in point, this blog is suddenly doing VERY well, and I’ve had a couple of people point out that taking a two month break right as things are starting to hop will likely set me back when I return to writing in March. But…I need to do it. It may not be the decision that makes the most sense on the outside, but it’s the right one for me, at this point in time.

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