What’s your morning routine?

I spoted a Mule deer
A mule deer we spotted on our morning walk.

Every morning I glance at my phone to see what time it is when I wake up. I also check the temperature.

This morning an article popped up that caught my eye. “3 morning habits to help you be happier and more productive at work, according to psychologists” by Morgan Smith on CNBC.

I have an established morning routine that I have followed for years. I developed the routine while reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I journal three pages. It’s a brain dump consisting of everything that’s making me anxious, plus a to do list for the upcoming day. Then I use an app called Laudate and either read or listen to daily Bible readings followed by prayer. Last, I go for my morning walk.

It’s a routine that helps me feel grounded. I was curious what the article would say about morning routines and if my morning routine hit their three suggestions to be happier and more productive.

I’m missing the first step.

Set an intention for the day.

Your to-do list might be doing more harm than good, psychologist Jessica Jackson warns. 

Checking your emails, calendar or to-do list soon after you wake up “immediately starts the day off on a stressful note, and tells your brain to go into panic mode,” Jackson, who is also the global clinical diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging manager at Modern Health, tells CNBC Make It

Instead, Jackson recommends all of her clients start their day with an intention meditation: taking a few minutes to sit in silence, take a couple of deep breaths, and choose a single word, or sentence, to be their “north star” for the day. 

“You can tell yourself, ‘My intention for today is to feel successful’ or ‘I want to be comfortable today’ and think about what you can realistically accomplish in the next 24 hours to feel that way,” Jackson explains. “It can also be a single, powerful word like ‘gratitude’ that will guide how you react to and reflect on whatever happens throughout the day.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/12/18/psychologists-morning-habits-to-help-you-be-happier-more-productive.html

Step two I do with my morning pages. The suggestion is to set an offline ritual and stick with it. My morning walks also fit the bill.

Step three is to have fun. I thought I was missing that also, but I play Wordle every morning. That’s my bit of fun. We realize how important recess is for kids at school, the article explained. But what do we do for fun?

What is your morning routine? Do you hit all three of the steps in the CNBC article?

What I missed

A neighbor’s Mexican Fence Post cactus with Santa hats to fight the freezing weather.

It’s been one week since I got a nasty cold with congestion and a cough. I tried really hard to get over it quickly so I went to bed for the weekend. I found once I got out of bed and resumed somewhat normal activities, I’d relapse a bit. I got tired quickly and I’d wake up in the middle of the night with major congestion.

Yesterday I was feeling much better. We went for our morning walk — even though it was in the low 30s! I realized I hadn’t walked in close to a week. That’s after walking practically every day for years!

I missed my morning walks so much while I was recovering from my cold. Normally, I’d push through and walk anyway, but I didn’t want to tire myself out this time.

We went on two walks yesterday and it was gorgeous outside if not cold. I bundled up in a ski parka, stocking cap and gloves. The air was bright and clear. I’m thrilled to be out and about and taking my daily walks. I think the fresh, cold air helped me feel better. I know the beauty did.

Have a great weekend! What are your plans for the last weekend before the holidays? Are you caught up with shopping, decorating, etc.?

It’s a stretch

Olive posing on the casita sofa.

I feel like there is more I need to do for me. A popular term for it is “self care.”

I try to eat right. I take vitamins. I walk seven days a week. I swim. I pray.

But I feel like I’m missing something. Why am I so tired all the time? Why do my knees, hands and feet hurt? Yes I’m getting older. That’s probably why. Arthritis is settling in my joints.

Something else dawned on me. Somewhere along the line, I forgot about stretching.

I used to be religious about my morning stretches and crunches. Then for some unknown reason, I stopped.

I used to take a stretch class followed by ballet. I incorporated the stretches and crunches into my daily life for decades. I think I stopped because I get busy wanting to start my day after my morning walk. Also, it’s harder to get down on the floor than it was years ago!

I need to start stretching again. Visiting my mother and seeing her in skilled nursing because her body is giving out on her has motivated me to “Use it and not lose it.”

Do you have any healthy habits you want to incorporate into your life? What are things you start and stop for no significant reason?

Walking through the weekend

More trash on our trash walk

We saw this styrofoam on our walk. This is on the other side of the road from where we cleaned up last week.

As I wrote last week, we decided to have a quiet weekend without cooking, cleaning and entertaining.

It was lovely. We’ve been entertaining and going out with friends more than introvert me prefers. I don’t know why our neighborhood is so darn social. Maybe it’s the years of being shut down. The newcomers — like us — who moved during the pandemic were looking to end isolation and make new friends.

Anyhow, a weekend alone was much needed and appreciated.

Some of the highlights were our morning and afternoon walks. We decided to double up on walking and although my feet and knees hurt, I think it may be good for me?

Last week, we noticed trash on the side of the road and sidewalk. We picked up several bags and felt good about our good deed. I wrote about that HERE. After this weekend, we are up to eight bags of trash. The side of the road we started on looks wonderful. But then one day we ventured to the other side of the road — and it’s a mess!

As we were headed back to our garbage cans at our house with our stuffed bags and my husband holding random pieces of styrofoam too big for the bags, we ran into neighbors. They said they thought about doing the same thing. The wife asked her husband to take a photo of us holding our trash! She said, “You can put it in the newsletter and maybe it will encourage others to do the same.”

“That’s a great idea,” the husband said snapping our picture. “We’ll put you guys in the newsletter.”

I laughed along with the wife. He obviously didn’t know that I’m the one who writes and lays out the newsletter.

After they left my husband said, “Over my dead body.”

He explained that he likes to pick up trash because it makes the desert cleaner and it gives him a sense of satisfaction. He doesn’t want any recognition or attaboys for it. Thankfully, he doesn’t read my blog!

Another highlight of our afternoon walks, besides listening to the birds, who I can now identify by their calls and songs — thanks to Bird Buddy — was when a neighbor drove up the road and unrolled her window.

“Down across the street is a big bobcat,” she said.

We thanked her and I wanted to turn around. My husband pushed on. “They are afraid of us,” he said.

We walked to the end of the block and a few feet from us was a bobcat — who is much stockier and filled out than the skinny one we see in our yard. He walked nonchalantly across the road. He was in no rush and didn’t give us a glance. My husband tried to snap his picture — for the newsletter of course — but he quickly disappeared in the brush on the other side of the road.

Bobcat in the yard

This is our skinny bobcat on our patio. She passes through for a bird snack from time to time.

Saturday night we watched football. But in two different rooms. I’m a big Utah Utes fan. My husband is rooting for USC and both games were on Saturday night.

USC is already headed to the PAC 12 champs, regardless of what happened Saturday.

Utah had a few hurdles:

They had to beat CO — done 63-21

Oregon State had to beat Oregon — done 38-34

UCLA had to beat CAL — done 35 – 28

Washington had to beat Washington State — done 51 – 33

All the dominoes fell into place. Can you believe it? Our next game is Utah vs. USC for the conference title. I have a feeling we’ll be watching in separate rooms again.

What are some of the simple pleasures you enjoyed this past weekend?

What’s up with trash?

This is the sidewalk outside our development where we walked.

On Saturday, my husband and I walked outside our neighborhood development on a sidewalk that took us two miles to the end of the road. It’s not a very busy road and across the street is the McDowell Sonoran Preserve with 130 miles of hiking trails. It’s a beautiful view looking out across the pristine desert.

But we noticed it wasn’t so pristine. We kept spotting trash. Beer bottles, coke cans, styrofoam cups and eventually a plastic grocery bag. My husband picked up the bag and began to fill it with trash as we walked.

Soon, the trash bag was full. On the way back home, I spotted a full grocery bag on the side of the road. Somebody had picked up trash but left the bag on the ground. I picked that one up and we took the trash back to our garbage can.

The next day, we decided to take the same walk and pick up trash. I wore latex gloves and we each carried a trash bag. We filled up our bags and got most of the trash.

I want to know who litters like that? I’m sure it’s not coming from our neighborhood. Next door is a country club with huge homes. I’m pretty sure it’s not coming from there. The road is a hot spot for cyclists. I’m also convinced it’s not the cyclists tossing trash. Are the litterbugs people driving through or workers like gardeners, repairmen and construction workers? Or is it kids? Who does that?

Do you notice trash where you walk or live? Who do you think litters?

Use it or lose it

This was my lunch at Sushi Oto, where I used to go with my mom.

My mom wasn’t in her room when I arrived at her assisted living facility.

Her name was still on the door. Her things were inside. I took a quick roam around to the dining room and living rooms to see if I could find her.

I stopped at a nurses’ station and was informed that she was upstairs in “Skilled Nursing.”

My brother had told me that they were going to move her there eventually. He fought against it for two years. But I didn’t know they finally moved her. She had fallen several times, she wasn’t walking and she’s incontinent — so she went to the next level of care.

When she first moved in, she was in a two-bedroom apartment on campus that didn’t have help. Then she was moved into a studio room when she need more help with daily tasks.

I found her upstairs in the skilled nursing floor. The rooms are all the same. Two hospital beds with a curtain in between.

Her roommate came out from behind the curtain, wearing nothing but adult diapers. I mean stark naked except for pull ups. She spoke gibberish and my mom dove under her blankets to hide.

I went to the nurses station and said, “The woman in my mother’s room is talking to me and I don’t understand what she needs.”

“Oh, don’t mind her. She has severe Alzheimer’s. I’ll send someone to check on her,” the attendant said.

Two staff members came in and profusely apologized to me as the naked geriatric patient was standing at my side.

“Miss Helen, where are your clothes?” she was asked.

They moved her back to her side of the curtain and got her dressed.

My mom needs physical help, but mentally she is not as far gone as most of the people I saw on the skilled nursing floor. She has trouble with short term memory but enjoys laughing and has a great sense of humor.

During my last visit, we played croquet and I took her out to lunch for sushi. We played cards in the card room, went to Bingo and chair yoga. This visit, she demanded that I take her back to her old room. I told her if she could walk to the elevator, I would take her there. She walked about ten yards with her walker and said, “I can’t do it.”

What a reminder for me to get out and move. I’m heartbroken at how quickly my mom has aged since my last visit.

When our parents age, do you find it heartbreaking too?

Adding to my routine

City of Palm Springs Aquatic Center
I miss our beautiful Palm Springs city pool.

For one week, I’ve gotten in the pool each day to kick. Tuesday I went back to the Y for the first time in months and lap swam.

Why did I stop with the lap swimming? Mostly it was the weather. Summer in the Arizona desert is cloudy with daily thunderstorms and lightening. Not ideal outdoor swimming weather.

If it’s not storming it’s brilliant intense sunshine which I tend to avoid. Before I knew it, I was out of the lap swimming habit.

I’ve been following “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron for years. At least most of her routine of morning pages, prayer and daily walks. The thing I’ve been missing is the “artist’s date.”

My excuse before was COVID shutdowns.

Now I have no excuse. The artist date is to go out — alone — and experience something to feed your muse. Cameron’s suggestions are looking in antique and fabric stores, go anywhere that will fill your senses and spark your creativity.

I’m going to try a once-a-week date with myself. I’ve added two days of lap swimming, and three days of kicking — now an artist’s date. I think that’s quite enough for now!

What is your morning or daily routine? What would you like to add to it?