Tag Archives: Rachel Hollis

Effort

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Starting today, October 1st, I’m participating in “The Last 90 Days Challenge.” It’s one more self-improvement strategy cooked up by Rachel Hollis and her company. With best-selling books, wildly popular seminars, blogs and social media, her topics range from building a business to fitness to decorating napkins for a child’s lunch box. I’ve aged beyond the need for much of her advice, but I’m always drawn in by self-improvement.

The purpose of the “last 90 days” is to prepare to start the new year strong. Rather than ending the year on the downside of all the neglected plans and ignored resolutions that were made last January, this is a way to finish with a bang!

The plan has five basic requirements:

  • Hydrate! This one is hard for me, as I’m not much of a water-drinker, but it’s an area that I know I have to improve. Many days I only drink the water I need to take my pills and vitamins! This will be a good time to make an extra effort. They recommend drinking half your body-weight in ounces of water. My personal goal is to increase my intake, and keep track of it.
  • Wake up earlier. One extra hour in the morning, to read, exercise, write or meditate. It’s a good idea; it will be a big challenge.
  • Give up one category of food or drink. I’m doing this in 30-day increments because, you know, Thanksgiving and all. For October, it’s alcohol and candy. There are things that are bigger indulgences, and would do me more good to abstain from, but too bad, I’m starting this way.
  • Move your body at least thirty minutes a day, every day. That’s easy. I have dogs, and already have the habit of walking them morning and night. At least one of those walks is a combination of speed walking and intermittent jogging. I have a job that often requires quite a bit of physical activity, too. I’m going to try to be more regular about other exercise, especially strength training, for the rest of this year.
  • Practice active gratitude. They suggest writing ten things, each day, that you are thankful for. This is also something that I’ve been working to incorporate into my life. Time, now, to be more disciplined about it.

That’s it! In addition, I plan to keep up with my “Morning Pages” every day, and blog posts twice a week. I intend to get my studio organized so that it’s a pleasant place to work again. I have one window to repair before the cold weather sets in, and a couple house painting projects. Outside, the garden has to be readied for winter, and the lawn will need one last mowing. I could make a longer list of things I want to get done, but it would probably lead to disappointment and failure. At this stage, I prefer to keep my expectations in check, and plan for good results from my effort!

Morning Pages

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I try to start each day with “Morning Pages,” as suggested by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way: three pages of stream of consciousness longhand writing, each morning upon awakening. I’ve done it for years, with varying degrees of success.

There have been long stretches of time where I kept up with my morning writing, no matter what else got in the way. At other times, months would go by without a single entry. For one year, I spent most of the three pages writing nothing but inspirational affirmations. That filled the paper, but became very tedious.

Often, I used the pages to write out my complaints and grievances. I told myself that it was a way to get rid of all that negativity first thing in the morning, so that I could go forward with a clear head. Sometimes it did work like that; sometimes it only served to remind me of everything I was disgruntled about. That’s not the best way to start the day!

I’ve become pretty loose with the “three pages” rule. In “complaint-writing mode,” I could easily fill three pages or more. When trying to be more positive, it’s more difficult. Some days, I barely managed a paragraph.

Lately, I’ve been incorporating a method recommended by Rachel Hollis, the popular author of Girl, Stop Apologizing. First, I write down five things I am grateful for. Next, I write ten things I want for myself, as if I already have them. Finally, I write about the one goal I intend to focus on for this day. If I’m short on time, this can all be accomplished in a few short sentences. Other days, it’s fun to flesh out ideas and go into more detail. Then, three pages is a snap.

It’s working out! Gratitude is a good way to start any morning. Writing out ten things I want helps me to focus on what’s important. Day after day, the same goals and ideas show up. For instance:

  • “I am financially secure. I always pay my bills on time. I don’t have to worry about money. I can help my family when they need it.”
  • “I am well-organized. I can always find what I need. I have a place for everything, and keep everything in its place.”
  • “I am an artist. I work every day in my studio. I keep several projects going at any one time, and always have fresh ideas and new inspiration.”
  • “I am a good friend, and I have good friends.”

…and on and on through ten goals, in this way. I wish everything I wrote was true and accurate now, but even when it’s not, it helps me to see where I need to do better. If being a good friend is what I want, well, by god, I should work harder at keeping in touch with my friends. It obviously bothers me when I can’t find things; that’s a cue through the whole day to be more mindful about organization.

Then, lastly, I write down what I want to focus on today. As I tend to be a scatter-brained, easily distracted person, this helps, too. When I glance in to the studio and my attention is pulled toward something there, I can remind myself, “today, your main goal is getting the lawn mowed.” Conversely, when my focus is the studio, it becomes easier to turn a blind eye to the laundry, or other distractions.

Begin with thankfulness, clarify what’s important, end with a plan. That’s how I start my mornings.