Starts and stops

saguaro cactus with a full moom
Full moon view from my backyard. The holes in the saguaro are woodpecker nests.

I find myself starting things like my physical therapy, stretching and crunches — and then just as soon as I get a routine going — I stop. It’s such a natural inclination of mine that it takes me weeks to notice.

Why is that? When I know something is good for me, why do I stop it? With New Year’s a week away, is it possible to make some resolutions that I can stick with?

Is it laziness? Forgetfulness? Too busy? What keeps me from doing things that are good for me?

I do have a positive morning routine I’ve followed for years thanks to “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. I religiously write my three morning pages, go for a walk and pray. I should be thankful that I accomplish those things each day.

Do you find yourself starting and stopping on things, too? What have you started and stuck with? What have you stopped?

About the “right way to drink coffee…”

This is a wreath I made several years ago for our Palm Springs home. I found a spot for it on our gate in Arizona. The wreath has nothing to do with this story, but I found it in the garage and we hung it yesterday.

I read about the correct way to drink coffee in the Wall Street Journal and wrote about it HERE. That was a little over two weeks ago and I’ve followed the plan wondering if I could tell the difference or not. I’m surprised to report that it REALLY works for me! Who knew?

I feel better, I’m more alert. I have lost that groggy feeling I’d have when I needed coffee to get out of bed. The trick is that you don’t drink coffee right away, but wait 60 to 90 minutes to allow your body to naturally wake up. Cortisol is the hormone that tells your body to be awake and responsive. Having coffee right away interferes with the natural process.

Instead of my husband bringing me a cup of coffee and placing it on my nightstand — which he has done for the past 36 years — he has converted to bringing me hot water with one quarter of a lemon. The hot lemon water has its own benefits, smells wonderful and is cleansing.

I don’t have my cup of coffee until after I’ve written my morning pages. I’ve adopted my morning routine by following “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. Then I do daily Bible readings, get out of bed and get ready to walk. I’m fully awake and ready to go — and sometimes I forget to have coffee altogether when I return.

I was very skeptical about this and surprised how this small change makes me feel better and more productive.

If you’re a coffee-first-thing-in the-morning person, give this a try. I’d like to hear if it had the same positive effect for you, too. Will you be willing to give it a try?

This was the wreath on our Palm Springs gate.

Day One of NaNoWriMo

Sunrise over pool
Sunrise in my backyard on November 1, the start of NaNoWriMo.

I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. to get a start on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where I attempt to write a novel in 30 days. I was tired, but felt I needed to get up earlier than normal. I have a lengthy morning routine and I’m not going to change it for this writing challenge.

I was treated to a gorgeous sunrise and the views of my morning walk were filled with pink-hued clouds and a violet sky. The world looks entirely different at dawn.

dawn views in the Arizona desert
Walking at dawn gave me a new view of the neighborhood.

My morning routine includes “The Artist’s Way” morning pages, reading a few Bible verses, prayer, a long walk, stretching, crunches, shower and breakfast. I never thought about how long this routine takes, but it’s more than two hours. I never was afforded the luxury of such a routine when I was working in public relations, as a financial advisor — or raising kids. It’s a perk of my empty nest.

I sat down at 8 a.m. and wrote for two solid hours. I decided I needed a break, but first I posted that I had written 2,000 plus words to the NaNoWriMo website and earned my first three badges. To figure out how many words I need to type a day, I divided 50,000 words by 30 days. I decided to write more than the 1,667 words because I may not want to write for 30 days straight. I will definitely take time off while my dad visits for Thanksgiving and I think I need to take an occasional day off from the challenge. After taking a break to read my favorite bloggers’ posts, I returned to writing a bit more and hit 3,030 words.

The website offers a tool to figure out how and when to write. They assumed I work full time so they told me to write two 40-minute sessions Monday through Friday, and fit in six hours on the weekend. I’m not following that schedule because my husband likes to get out and explore on the weekends and I like to go with him. I’m going for it and will write away while I’m enthused and the words are flowing. Why not?

I’m excited with my characters. The story so far is pretty slow. But the advice is not to edit, not to critique — it’s all about getting the words written down. Editing is something I’ll look at later, after this month is over.

Is anyone else taking on this challenge? Or if you’ve done it in the past, what tips can you offer? Remember, it’s not too late to start if you want to join me. If you’ve written a novel, how long did the process take you to write a rough draft? When do you find time to write?

What do you think is the hardest part? For me it’s the “mushy middle.”

Mixing up the morning routine

A view from my morning walk.

My days are getting stuck in a rut. It’s because of the heat. Last week was really, really not. This week is better. It’s barely above 100 degrees. The heat limits my enjoyment of spending time outside.

I start each morning writing my three pages and then going for a walk. I have to go earlier and earlier to avoid the heat. And my walks are getting shorter, because it doesn’t seem to matter if I walk at 5:30 a.m. or 6:30 a.m. It’s still hot.

So, this morning I decided to get adventurous and do my own mini triathlon. I walked, biked and swam — all within my neighborhood. In reality it was more of a stroll, coast and float. 🙂

But it felt good to be on the bike and get a breeze. I was going to drive to the city pool but didn’t feel like the one-hour round trip drive. So I put on my cap and goggles and swam laps in our backyard pool for the first time. Doing all three things is a great way to start the day.

The downside to my mini triathlon is I got really hungry. I ate too much and am ready for a morning nap!

What are your morning routines like? Do you get stuck in a rut or do you mix it up all the time?

Here’s a fun video of Olive watching quail attack our bedroom slider. The glass is reflective on the outside.

Video of Olive watching the quails through the window.