When I decided to sell all of my things and move to Spain earlier this year, I had envisioned myself traveling for months and live the ex-pat life, having had set up various work-from-home gigs like teaching english and personal accountability coaching. The months leading up to getting rid of all of my things and booking a one-way ticket out of the country, I decided to take a complete leap of faith and be my own guinea pig in an experiment of surrender. My hypothesis sounded something like “If I can surrender control and fully trust in the Universe to guide my path, then I will not have to worry about my next steps, or where my money will come from.” I let the Universe lead the way, with full trust that I would be taken care of, and I opened myself up to opportunities for work, volunteering, etc. With this intention in mind, the beginning of my trip was spent in full wonder and exploration of the new culture, the land, the energies, and the community around me. I gave myself permission to be fully present, experiencing the extent of what I could attract into my life. I made new friends, ate delicious food, made memories, and most importantly discovered new patterns, beliefs and truths about myself. I soaked in the magnificence of manifesting a life I had dreamt of. As the weeks went by, and the excitement of this huge life change began to dissipate, I realized I hadn’t been presented with any ‘magical opportunity’ to make money like I had imagined. Quite the contrary, I had been spending more money than I could afford with the amount of work I was doing, and quickly, my mind begin to buzz.
Ever notice how often our minds are in fear-avoidance mode? It’s constantly trying to present us with scenarios in which we don’t have enough of something, need to protect ourselves from something, or are faced with problems, and immediately tries to come up with a plan to avoid it all. Once I realized that my financial security was at risk, my monkey-mind kicked into high-gear. In the moments between meditation, walking on the beach, grabbing coffee in the city, and weekly kirtan sessions at my homestay, I was experiencing an internal battle of fear, worry, and control. If it weren’t for the mindfulness tools I’ve picked up in the past few years and the support of my guides and loved ones, I probably would’ve given up my experiment right there and then, cancelled the Bali trip, and gone home. But I refused to give up, I knew what I got myself into and was aware of potential roadblocks.
Knowing I had already paid for the Bali retreat and could pay for my airfare on a credit card (not recommended), I was able to relax a bit during my final days in Spain. I had learned how to become hyper-frugal; my internet search history was full of articles and videos on “how to live on a $5 a day,” and similar topics. It was a time, let me tell you! I’m grateful to say that among the moments of fear and unknowing, I still remembered to stop and smell the flowers along the way. I made it a habit out of observing the fear-based thoughts and embracing them, cradling them in my heart, and dissolving them with truthful reminders like “I am safe, I am grounded, I am taken care of, I am abundant, I am grateful for my life.” If you were to take a look inside my mind during those last few days, it’d be hard not to laugh at the spirals of contradicting thoughts on all ends of the spectrum. It was a constant debate of “everything is going to be alright” versus “what the fuck have you done?” What’s even sillier is that I decided to go through this on my own. My friends back home knew a little bit of what was going on with my finances, but the extent of the internal battle I was facing was kept in secret. That’s what felt right to me at the time, I had major resistance to asking for support in the financial sense, partly because that would interfere with my experiment, and partly because I felt it was no ones duty but my own to see this chapter through to the end.
Once I was reunited with my soul sisters in the magic-filled land of Bali with the rush of excitement for the start of the retreat, my mental battle eased up a bit. In embracing each other, catching up, making new connections, sharing stories, and soaking in the mutual excitement for what’s to come, my body relaxed. I was safe, grounded, held, supported, and most of all, I was hopeful again. My faith was re-instilled and I let go of some of the worry. For a little while. That is, until I tried to go to sleep at night. When the conversations had ended, and everyone went to their separate quarters, I was alone with my mind again, and that is when the spirals of control and fear-avoidance made their reappearance. That is why when we came together in the first circle gathering to introduce ourselves and officially begin the retreat, where we were asked to write down one main intention we want to manifest, I wrote ““I release CONTROL.” These three simple words carried a much deeper energy that had consumed me in the past weeks, and I was ready to let go, and let the Universe step in.
Fast-forward to the final day of the retreat, in our closing cacao-ceremony… I had undergone a complete transformation during the 10 days of the retreat; starting with the “death” of the self-limiting, fear-based parts of my being in Gianyar, through the “in-between” stage of play and remembrance of love and beauty in Gili T, finishing off with the “rebirth” in Ubud. The details of my experience through this transformation and that of the other incredible souls I shared it with are mine to keep dear in my heart. But when it came time to close out the experience, during the moments of stillness in between sitting with the medicine of cacao, Bali and the inner work that had been done during the retreat, I observed the shift within me. No longer was I in fear, worried, or unsure of my next steps. I had a deep sense of calmness and ease within me. We were asked to set a final intention for our lives post-retreat, and with this new found inner peace, the intention that came to me was to get closer to God, because deep down, I learned that God has a much bigger plan for me than I can even imagine. The roadblocks and challenges are divinely put in place to redirect me to my higher purpose, and in that moment, I fully surrendered. With that intention in mind, I pulled one final card and asked for a message that would help me remember this when I’m back in the hustle of daily life and what I got was: “Calmness; The Inner Divine is the witness of All, remaining still and quiet- even during the intense turbulence. So take a deep breath, and then say, “Quiet my mind, dear Lord. May your peaceful calm take over.”
Journaling is an incredible tool to help us get clear on what we're feeling over a given time, what we want in life, and the challenges or obstacles that are impeding us from living a life of ease and grace. As humans, we go through a roller coaster of emotions and thoughts every day. If you don't currently have a journaling practice, this is a great place to start! And If you already journal on a daily basis, then you can use these prompts as an additional resource to add to your repertoire. My hope for you is that with time, you may begin to differentiate between thoughts that are ego-based versus those that come from your heart and soul. When we begin to get clear on the desires of our heart and choose to take actions that feed our soul rather than our ego, we begin to notice shifts in our life that help us understand how truly powerful we are in co-creating our reality. I hope these prompts inspire you to begin putting pen to paper so that you may deepen your relationship with yourself and get clear on the true desires of your heart.
Whether you're a complete beginner or have been journaling for years, every entry is an opportunity to discover something new about yourself. The variety of prompts and questions I've included below will guide you to look within yourself in the present, as well as when you were younger to uncover thought patterns, triggers, desires, fears, and memories that be the root cause to the way you feel today. I invite you to allow these prompts to open up a door of self-discovery and contemplation that you can take with you wherever you are. Know that what you write in your journal is for your eyes only, and you need not hold back or hide anything out of fear that anyone will read it.
1. Gratitude Log
Gratitude Log - This is a great place to start if you currently don't have a journaling practice, but is equally beneficial for those with years' of journaling experience. Practicing gratitude calms our nervous system and allows us to shift our focus from worrying about the things we lack or desire to acknowledging how much we already have. Take 5-10 minutes each day, whether it be early in the morning, during your lunch break, before you go to bed, or any other time to write a list of things you're grateful for. Your list can be as short or as long as you want, and can include physical things you appreciate in your life such as a roof over your head, your comfortable bed, the delicious breakfast you made yourself. Or they can be intangible things that make you feel grateful such as the community of people you are surrounded with, the love you feel from/for your family, partner or children, the warm weather or cozy rainy day. Whatever it may be, take a few moments to write a list of things you're grateful for and when you're done, read over each one and allow yourself to deeply feel the emotion of gratitude in your heart and visualize your heart absorbing and growing with each item.
2. DIARY-STYLE OBSERVATION
Diary-Style Observation - This one is simple but very eye-opening. It's a system I've been using the most lately and it's allowed me to uncover some deep-rooted thought patterns and fears that have been with me since my younger years. As you go about your day, observe the inner chatter that goes through your mind. Notice moments in which you feel really happy and grateful, and moments where perhaps you feel anxious, upset, frustrated, or confused. If you have your journal nearby, take it out and start writing, otherwise you can use the notes section in your phone, or even record a voice memo if you're driving or unable to write. Take a few minutes to write down how you're feeling, any triggers that may have caused you to feel that way, whether this is something you've noticed coming up repeatedly for you, and anything else that comes up. Let yourself write freely, don't hold back or refrain from writing something that makes you feel vulnerable. Know that this diary entry is just for you and that no one is going to read it. If it makes you feel uncomfortable to write about your triggers or feelings of anger, jealousy, resentment, etc, you can always rip the page out and burn it or throw it away later. It's amazing how therapeutic it can be to simply write down how you're feeling as if you're venting to a best friend who would never judge you. Allowing yourself to write for as long as you need without limitation is where the clarity begins to pour in. If you were to look at my journal, you'd see many "aha!" moments where I'll write something like "wow, this is the first time I've noticed this about myself" or "woah, I just realized that this is something I've wanted since high school," etc. Once you make these realizations, you can't un-learn them, and they end up carrying on with you on the rest of your day. You begin to notice more patterns in your thoughts and emotions, and question yourself when they first started, what beliefs about yourself are at the root, etc.
3. VISUALIZATION FREE-WRITE
Visualization Free-Write - This one is a fun exercise that you can do whenever you don't have anything in mind that you want to journal about, or are feeling confused about what you want in life. Give yourself a little more time for this one, perhaps 20 minutes - 1 hour. Find a comfortable, quiet space (even if that means putting headphones in while out in public or surrounded by company) and close your eyes for a moment. Envision yourself 10 years from now living your ideal life; don't worry about challenges in your present life that you believe would impede you from achieving that life. In your dream world in your private mind, anything is possible. Take a few moments to visualize a scenario during that time in your life 10 years from now and begin to visualize the details; the location, sights around you, smells, sounds and perhaps people or animals that are in this scenario with you. Next, think about the specific emotions that you would be feeling in this scenario. Would you feel at peace, free, secure, abundant, loved, connected, happy, relaxed or anything else? How would you feel about yourself and the people that you love? Would you be in a career that you enjoy, or perhaps working on your own business that you are excited to launch to the world? Allow yourself to visualize freely. Then open your eyes and start journaling about this scenario and the answer to these questions. As you write, add as much or as little detail as you want, and write in the present tense as if it's happening in real-time. For example here's a little blurb from one of my visualization journal entries: "I am sitting on the ground in a beautiful forest near my house, it's getting close to sunset so the trees are all glowing with the light of the late afternoon sun. I'm having a picnic with some girlfriends and we're chatting about an upcoming retreat that we're hosting together and brainstorming about how we can make it a love-filled experience that will transform the hearts of whoever is attending. We're eating local fruit that we picked off the trees, and veggies grown in our gardens. We're sipping on some fresh-pressed orange juice that one of the ladies brought to share, and I can hear the sounds of birds in the trees, I can feel the warm breeze of the wind on my skin and I can smell the fresh flowers, plants and fruits that are surrounding us. In this moment, I feel blissful, relaxed, loved and connected to nature and myself. Most importantly, I feel grateful that this is the reality I live and that my career allows me to serve the world in a way that considers the highest and best of all."
Your visualization may sound nothing like mine, and that's wonderful. Perhaps you see yourself as a successful artist who is making a living expressing yourself the way you love most and inspiring others through your art. Whatever it may be for you, we all have our own way of showing up in the world and being of service to others, and these journaling prompts will help you get clear on what that is.
You may have noticed a common factor among these prompts; and that is the focus on the root emotions that come up, whether it be in the present, past or future scenario. When we begin to get clear on the root emotions that we want to feel or let go of, we give the Universe an idea of how to align the circumstances in our life with those emotions. Rather than trying to control every situation and know HOW we will achieve the feelings we desire, we surrender the details to the Universe and focus on observing the present moment instead.
I hope these prompts have inspired you to begin journaling so that you can open the door of self-discovery and get some clarity on what you truly want out of this lifetime. Feel free to leave any questions, suggestions or feedback down below. I always read and respond to everything and take into account any suggestions for future blog posts.
Did you know...
I offer personal accountability coaching where through a series of one-on-one calls, we take a deep dive into your current situation and the changes you want to make to align with your purpose. We discuss your current blocks and where you would like to see yourself in the future, and come up with a personalized game-plan to start taking steps towards that. In addition, I provide additional journaling prompts, guided meditations, motivation and accountability exercises, tips on getting organized and so much more on the Members-Only Portal. This is a section of my site that is available to you whenever you want, as soon as you sign up for a coaching session with me. Click the button below to learn more.
Why is it important to have a morning routine? For me, dedicating an hour or so to myself each morning sets me up for my entire day. If I wake up and immediately check my phone, or snooze the alarm five times, I find it much harder to be productive throughout the day. In the past, when I used to wake up at the last possible moment before work, I'd often feel rushed, distracted and a bit anxious about everything I had to do that day. Not every day is perfect, but when I make an effort to do my morning practices that wake up my mind, body and spirit, I feel much more relaxed, centered and ready to take on the day.
1. A mindful morning routine starts the night before. So first, ask yourself if you are more of a morning or night person. If you're a morning person like me, then you normally have more energy in the morning, so I invite you to choose a bedtime that allows you a full 8 hours of sleep, plus at least an hour in the morning to yourself before you have to start work or other obligations. For me, I've found that going to sleep at 9:30pm and waking up at 5:30am gives me enough sleep and time for my morning routine before work around 7am. If you're more of a night person, and normally have more energy and motivation at night, then your morning might start a bit later and depending on what you do for work, you may have less time for a morning routine. That's totally fine too, I would just like to invite you to experiment with sleep and wake times to find what works for you.
2. Welcome gentle stretching and deep breathing before you get out of bed. Assuming you've chosen a bedtime that allows you 8 hours of sleep, you should wake up feeling well-rested. Although you may still want to hit snooze a couple of times, know that your body has gotten enough rest and with a little effort, you should be able to skip the snooze and embrace the new day. After turning off your alarm, I invite you to sit up in bed, lean forward gently over your legs, stretching the back of your neck, and take a couple of deep breaths. This is such a simple stretch but coupling it with deep breathing helps to wake up your body in a relaxed state. This is also a great time to do some neck rolls, maybe stretch your arms over your head, do some gentle seated twists and any other movement that feels good. Then find stillness again, close your eyes for another minute or two and take another 5-6 slow, deep breaths. This is where I like to think about something I'm grateful for this morning, whether it's my comfy bed, another day of life and health, or something specific that I look forward to that day.
3. Take care of bathroom necessities and hydrate. Take your time standing up, walking to and using the bathroom, splashing some water on your face and brushing your teeth, knowing that you're not in a rush to get anywhere. Some people prefer to wait to brush their teeth after breakfast; do whatever works for you. I just find that brushing my teeth (and also tongue-scraping) and splashing water on my face helps to wake me up. If you like to shower first thing in the morning, this is a perfect time to do that too. I prefer to shower at night since I often take a yoga or fitness class during the day. Then, if you have any pets like I do, this is a good time to feed and walk them, depending on the schedule you've established. Also, hydrate! There will be plenty of time for coffee and breakfast later on, but for now just get in some good ole' H20 to rehydrate you.
4. Movement in the morning gets the energy flowing. Next, I invite you to welcome some gentle movement into your body, whatever that looks like for you. For me, that's a slow and delicious yoga flow on my mat that starts with lying on my back, pulling my knees into my chest, twisting to one side then the other, and eventually sitting up and continuing on to flow for about 30 minutes-1 hour. If you prefer to do a more energetic flow or workout early in the morning, that's great too! Whether you like to follow a fitness video at home, or head over to your local gym for a sweat sesh, do whatever feels good to you. Another fantastic idea is to go for a walk or jog in your neighborhood or at a park. In the warmer months, my morning routine definitely includes a walk out in nature, but during the winter, I usually save that for the middle of the day when it's warmest. I've found that moving my body first thing in the morning is super important for getting the energy moving before I have to sit at my desk to work where I'll be sedentary for a few hours.
5. Meditation and deep breathing exercises help us observe what's going on internally. After a bit of movement. I highly recommend finding stillness again before going about your day. It doesn't have to be a long meditation; 5-10 minutes is plenty. It's just a wonderful practice to calm your mind, take some long, deep breaths, observe what emotions are running through your mind, and set an intention for how you want your day to go. There are hundreds of guided meditations on YouTube and on apps such as Insight Timer and Calm, but you may already have a practice and prefer to sit in silence. Depending on how much time I have and what my body and mind are asking for on any given day, I will make my yoga flow longer and meditation shorter, or the other way around. The more you do these practices, the more you begin to hear your intuition speak and the less reactive you become to everyday occurrences like traffic, negativity at work, stressful meetings, etc.
6. Writing our thoughts down gives clarity on what we may be experiencing. Another fantastic practice to incorporate into your morning routine is journaling; writing freely about whatever you want, knowing that no one is going to read it. Maybe you'll write about any feelings or fears that you observed during your meditation, or maybe you had an interesting dream that you want to jot down. Perhaps you may simply want to write about something you look forward to that day, or any feelings of gratitude and love that are coursing through you. There are no rules to this, it's simply a tool for you to begin to deepen your awareness of your internal self.
7. Warm drinks and breakfast to fuel the body. Now that your mind and emotional body have been taken care of, it's time to nourish the physical. This is when I'll head over to the kitchen and make some tea or a warm matcha latte. Rather than starting off with coffee on an empty stomach, which I've noticed gives me jitters and a bit of anxiety, I'll opt for a non-caffeinated drink and save the coffee for later on, if at all. If you work outside the home, this might be when you make breakfast to either eat before you head out, or to take to work. Since I work from home, I personally like to start my workday with just my drink, and after about an hour or so, I'll take a break to make breakfast. I've found that I am more focused and productive on an empty stomach, and I like looking forward to a break for breakfast after getting a little work done.
*Extra tip: Get out of your comfy pajamas, even if you work from home.This has made a big difference for me in signaling to my body that it is time to work, not relax.
**Notice that nowhere in this morning routine practice does it say to pick up your phone and scroll through social media, emails and texts. I can't stress enough how big of a difference it makes to hold off on checking your phone until after you've done your morning practices. It is an act of self-care to choose to put yourself first; taking care of your emotional, spiritual and physical nourishment before checking up on what everyone else is doing with their lives, and what is being expected of you that day. Try it for a week and see how much of a difference it makes in your mental state and reactivity.
I'd love to hear about your morning routine! What are some practices you love to do every morning to set yourself up for a joy-filled and productive day?
I am a firm believer in creating a living environment that is free of clutter and fosters joy, creativity, and inspiration. If you work from home like me, this is even more important for your productivity and mental clarity. I know for me, home has become my favorite place to spend time, and as I prepare for my move to Spain in the next month, I am committed to savoring every last minute I have in this space, and with my furry sweetheart of a roommate, Luna.
When it comes to creating an environment that is conducive to your inspiration and creativity, one woman has found the key! In her book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo introduces the KonMari Method to spark joy in any space. According to her method, you are invited to go through your belongings one-by-one, holding each item in your hand, and observing if it sparks joy in your heart. If it does, great! Find a space to display it where you will see it every day, and if not, thank it for what it has brought to your life, and let it go. This also goes for clothing and non-sentimental items like those in your kitchen, garage, bathroom, etc.
Growing up, my parents raised my brother and I to always keep our rooms clean and free of clutter; so leaving clothes on the ground, dirty dishes in our room, or any other clutter lying around didn't fly in our house. In hindsight, I'm so grateful for that because without recognizing the influence it made on my mental state, I learned from a young age how to create a living environment that is conducive to my joy, productivity and overall well-being. Of course, not every day is perfect, after all I'm human and some days are busier than others. But my dedication to keeping my space looking clean, feeling cozy and sparking joy has made a major impact in my life.
Ideas for decorating your space
Before you go out and start shopping for new things to fill your space, I invite you to go through your belongings, and use the Konmari Method to discover what you can put on display, and what might be better served donated to someone else.
I hope this post has inspired you to put a little more thought into your living space and create an environment that sparks joy in your heart to foster love, creativity, and gratitude for your life. Drop a comment down below and share some of your favorite ways to spark joy in your space.
When you make your workspace something that you enjoy coming to everyday, it makes the task at hand much more enjoyable. I suggest you set up your space in a way that appeals to all of your senses and is free of unnecessary clutter. For instance, I like to have beautiful adornments like crystals and inspirational images to look at when I need to a break from the screen. Otherwise, I make sure to clear my desk of any random belongings that don't have to do with the work I am trying to get done that day. When it comes to smells, I like to burn candles or white sage before I sit down to work which instantly sparks joy in me and helps me relax into my flow. If you're someone who likes to work with music or sound in the background like me, I'd love to suggest my go-to Spotify playlist; "Productive Morning." It's made up of a range of instrumental tunes of various genres that keep my mind alert without the distraction of lyrics. Another great option would be to play some ambient music like rainforest sounds or ocean waves, especially if the work you're doing is creative and self-expressive. So we've covered sights, smells, and sounds...now let's talk touch.
Now I don't know about you, but I have a soft and cozy kitten that loves to take over my workspace as soon as I sit down at my desk. I'd love to say that she is always this quiet and out of the way while I'm working, but in reality, she's usually strutting her stuff (literally) in between me and the laptop trying to get me to pet her, or nonchalantly laying right on my keyboard as if my hands aren't clearly typing on it. Still, how can I be mad at such a sweet little babe? If you don't have a fur baby of your own to pet or caress every now and again, I suggest having something that makes you feel cozy like a warm blanket draped over your chair, a comfy sweater or even a stress-ball that you like to squeeze when you have a mind-block and need a distraction.
Once you have all of your senses tended to and your workspace adorned to your liking, it is time to sit down and make a game-plan for the day. This is when I like to open up my bullet journal and go over the tasks on my to-do list for the week. I'll choose 3-4 tasks that I believe can be done in the matter of 5-7 hours depending on how much time I have that day and I'll add them to my daily to-do list. I'll read over this list while taking some deep breaths and will take a brief moment to give thanks that I get to do these things. Rather than letting my monkey-brain begin to flood with thoughts of overwhelm or stress, I take a mindful moment to remember why I do what I do. I set an intention to accomplish my tasks because they align with my purpose, and that sets me up for a productive work day fueled by intrinsic motivation.
Drop a comment down below of some ways you like to adorn your workspace. I'd love to make this blog post a collaborative space for us to share ideas and inspire one another to align all of our actions with our purpose.