the afternoon ritual: 5 ways I find grace within the "grind"


As creatives, we work hard: we pour ourselves out again and again and again. Starting a business as an entrepreneur, or writing a book, or an album, or creating something entirely new - it all takes patience and effort. Many late nights, many early mornings. It's not a bad thing either, working hard - in fact, I love it. There's a feeling of fullness that comes from a good day's work; tiredness in a good way. Something about it feels so good, and it seems to help us sleep better.

But it's equally important to remember that we need to pause from time to time, whether that be by heading off grid for a trip away from screens and all things digital, or finding little ways to bring peace and mindfulness into your everyday work routine. 

I've personally found that learning to take breaks...well, it takes practice. But it's important and necessary for our creative and physical wellbeing. 

There are many ways to find the grace and stillness within your workday, but one method that has become a particular favorite of mine is developing what I'm going to call an afternoon ritual: something that you do smack in the middle of your day. Something that completely extracts you from the normal patterns of your workday and throws you into an entirely different headspace. I've found this to be an extremely refreshing practice that not only causes me to savor the sweet undertones of each and every day, but also helps me to achieve a greater sense of clarity to carry into the rest of my work.

It can be tricky, especially for creatives, to stop working because we generally love our work...but it's so extremely important that we avoid the trap of becoming so entwined with our work that we begin to associate with it too closely. Taking a break can be a wonderful way to remind yourself that your value as a unique being is not dependent on how much you work, or what you create. Yes, creation is an outpouring of our being...but on days when we make nothing, we are still valuable, loved, and fully alive.

Here are a few ways taking a break in the middle of my workday - finding afternoon rituals - has helped me to remind myself of exactly that. 


#1 - tea
In my family, a cup of tea is much more than a cup of tea. It's a deeply loved and respected afternoon ritual; a warm or iced beverage that goes far beyond flavor and extends an invitation to gather, talk, and commune. This is the nectar shared over the messy manuscripts of my youth, this is the comfort that embraces me on the long, cold, Vermont winter days. Tea is a respite. Making the tea itself is a practice of mindfulness, whether it's organic black tea sweetened with a touch of Vermont maple syrup and almond milk, or if it's brewing a big pot of yogi tea on the stove, the practice itself brings me into the moment: gathering the ingredients I need, smelling them, tasting them. Boiling the water. Or, if I'm making yogi tea, slicing sweet yellow ginger into long, fragrant slices, popping cardamom pods to bring out their earthy flavor, counting out spicy auburn cloves - watching all of these dance together in the swirls of boiling water. Tea is best when shared, and even more delicious when paired with good conversation or accompanied by a good book. Tea is a sweet way to step back and...steep. ;)


#2 - yoga
Yoga brings you fully and completely into the moment. I've practiced yoga for years now, and it would probably take a few very lengthy blog posts to spell out just how much it's done for me and how many positive ways its impacted me. Yoga is not only a great workout and a wonderful way to expand your lung capacity, it's a spectacularly peaceful way to reunite with your innermost being and find a place of stillness, a place where work and everything else is placed into a box and set aside, allowing you to completely and totally clear your mind. There's so much liberation in the practice...in coming back every day to carve out this time and space for you to just...be. To move and breathe in the present moment and forget everything else. It's a wonderful way to pause your day, to take a break from work, recharge and find the energy you need.
 

#3 - learning a language
This is one that I want to coordinate into my afternoons more regularly. According to many studies, learning a second language actually helps your brain to grow, become better at multitasking, and increase memory. In other words, learning a language is like doing a refreshing workout...except for your mind. I've found that studying a language, even if it's just for fifteen to twenty minutes in the afternoon, can be a great way to hit the reset button; it throws my brain into a completely different way of functioning, and it can feel so good to step out of the normal, every day groove and change it up. Not to mention you'll end up fluent in another language eventually, which is pretty cool too.


#4 - getting out of the house
This one's really simple and straightforward: sometimes you just need a change of scenery, and if you work from home, getting out of the house can be a helpful way to force yourself to step back from the desk and take a breather. I highly recommend nature walks. I can't remember the last time the sound of songbirds and the whisper of the wind in the tall, swaying pines didn't inspire me.

#5 - learning martial arts
For me, martial arts is similar to learning a language - and if you attend or ever have attended a dojo, you've probably discovered that there actually are some language learning aspects paired with the physical practice of learning a martial art. Again, this could and eventually will require a post all its own, breaking down just how important a part of my life martial arts is, but for now I will just say that, among the many, many benefits it bestows, there's nothing quite like taking a break from the desk to step outside and do kata barefoot in my driveway with only the sky above to watch, and the trees to help me keep time. I would recommend learning martial arts for a million good reasons, but for the purpose of this post, if you're looking for something that sort of blends the benefits of yoga and language learning, this might be a perfect ritual to adopt for a midday refresh.


So those are a few of my favorite things to take a break for in the middle of the day. Each is special to me, and each helps me to stay charged in different ways. If you're looking for ideas to help you create a practice of carving out some time for yourself and bringing a little grace to your work day, I hope these inspired you to do a little experimenting! 

Now it's your turn - what's your favorite way to take a break? What's something that makes you feel super rejuvenated after doing it? How does it help your creative work? 

Have an inspired weekend and week ahead, sweet soul!



stay stoked,
kate


stop caring


stop caring about what other people think about what you make.
if you're making something
or doing something
just to gain someone's approval?

ditch it.

find your story and tell it: tell the real story that pulsates inside of you.

if you're doing something to make the world a better place and someone doesn't love it, maybe you should just stop listening. maybe, to an extent, you need to stop caring.

caring about what
every
single
person
thinks
of what you make

will do nothing good
for you
for the world
for anyone

as a creator there is only ever
one thing
that you need to do:

get quiet with yourself, ask yourself why you're doing what you're doing:

because you love truth? because you want to make the world a better place? because you have this thing burning inside of you and it HAS to be given a voice?

good. awesome. you're on the right track.


so what does it matter what other people think? be so busy creating that you don't even have time to THINK about the opinions of others. you don't do what you do for them. you don't make what you make for the approval of someone else.

you make what you make because you have to. 
because you have no other choice.

you create because it is an outpouring of your being.

and external opinions
do.
not.
matter.

take what's constructive from those who love you,
take what builds you,
take whatever serves your soul.
and hit the mute button on the rest.


keep making your thing, beautiful creator.
keep speaking,
creating,
keep putting yourself out there even when it's sometimes painful,
even when its hard.

that beautiful thing that you're passionate about creating? you're passionate about it for a reason.
don't let anyone take that light away from you.

take a deep breath, put the ear plugs in, keep your focus out in front
and keep creating.




stay stoked,
kate


tracking my morning routine for a week: what I learned


Waking up is the most important time of day, I think. I believe that when we first open our eyes, stretch, take a deeper breath, and begin a new day, we reach a very pivotal moment; we are starting our day. 

Wow. How often have we taken that for granted? each day, each and every one is a gift. the fact that we get to live and enjoy and move and shape and change - wow. How can we help but be filled with gratitude when we actually slow down and realize this?

How we start our day is often how we're going to live our day. Each day is significant. Each day is important, and should be treated accordingly. 

Lately I've been thinking a lot about this: how I start my day. I've begun to draw back to see the larger image and to ask myself if I'm honestly doing it right: am I launching into each new day with the respect and reverence it deserves, treating it like the exciting new opportunity that it is, or am I just letting today happen to me - merely reacting to whatever happens to come my way?

Morning routines are important, but I don't even like to use the word "routine" because it's so overused and attached to all sorts of other imagery like videos about how to do makeup and what kind of coffee to make. 

Shall we call it mindful, or purposeful actions instead?

It can be a wonderful thing to establish a few things that you can go-to first thing in the morning without having to think about it. Quite a bit of research shows that it takes around thirty days to establish a habit, and whether we realize it or not, we all have morning routines already, be it reaching for your phone to check messages, or turning on the tv without thinking.

But because this is the most pivotal part of our day - the moments that will actually help shape the rest of it - bringing mindfulness into what our immediate actions are after opening our eyes is a lot more critical than we may realize. 

In his commencement speech, Denzel Washington expounds on the importance of starting your day with gratitude, Former Navy SEAL and author Jocko Willink speaks heavily on why he starts his day early in the morning and implements a routine, and just a quick youtube search will yield oversaturated pages of morning routines and ideas.

This is obviously something that a lot of us are drawn to, and I think that's for a purpose. I believe that how we start our day is so important, and as I've began to pull back and analyze this a little more, I've seen quite a few benefits from this in my own life.

In July, I spent a week keeping track of my morning routine - anything and everything I did before I started my workday. By late morning or afternoon, I took stock, made some notes, and looked back on what I did. What I found? One thing was consistent, and we'll unpack that in a minute. First, here's a look at my notes from that week:


Day 1:
- cold shower
- applied essential oils
- meditated
- prepped lemon water and coffee

Day 2:
- cold shower
- applied essential oils
- had coffee and meaningful conversation

Day 3:
- cold shower
- essential oils
- coffee
- meditation

Day 4:
- coffee and quality time

Day 5:
- coffee and quality time
- reading time
- meditation

Day 6:
- cold shower
- essential oils
- coffee
- walk in nature
- meditation

Day 7:
- cold shower
- essential oils
- coffee
- reading time


Looking back on my week, I began to notice that one thing was consistent about my "routine" and that was how much it changed and fluctuated. I expressed my leeriness for the word "routine" earlier, and that's because, as a creative, I personally shy away from routine; for me, doing the same thing every single day, over and over again can often feel boring and even stifling. In the past that dislike played a large part in my failure to stick to any particular routine. I like the unknown - it gets me out of bed in the morning. I like to wake up each morning to a new adventure, not necessarily a planned out schedule.


Whether you are a planner or a "pantser" in life (and both are great!) I think it can be really healthy to establish structure, but also be open for the unknown, the gentle sway of each new day. 

(I wrote an entire post a little while back about rigidity vs structure, and distinguishing the two, and I also made a video about scheduling in time to be, well, unscheduled - and how important that can be for us as creative beings.)

So if you're a creative who finds sticking to a specific routine as tough as I did (I'm right there with ya) this is for you:

it's not so much about doing the same exact things every day as it is identifying the general things that help you to begin your morning the happiest and healthiest.

My point? instead of vowing that you will make and drink a super healthy green smoothy each day, why not simplify that to eating a healthy meal of your choice, and having some fun with what that could be, depending on your mood, and how much time you have?

Or maybe you want to start your day with a workout routine, and you've selected a list of exercises to do each day; perhaps change it up with yoga, or going for a run or walk, and maybe substitute that with stretching and listening to an audiobook on the weekends.

Or maybe you just want to have some peaceful time to yourself: change that up too. Focus on the fact that this is time for YOU instead of the thing itself. Whether you want to read quietly, meditate, or have a long, fulfilling conversation with someone you love over coffee, it's not so much about doing that same thing every day as much as it is respecting this daily practice of carving out time for yourself. I like to call this sacred time. 

So if you've been as intimidated by the word "routine" as I have, or have struggled to stick with doing a particular regime each and every day, try flipping the problem on its head. Remember the purpose of the morning routine in the first place: to help you have a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling day.

Whether it's the need to get active or get quiet, or the desire to set aside time for reading or spending time with family, identify a few things that add fulfillment, value, and clarity to your life, and establish a few things that address those needs, rather than tailoring your day to a specific bullet-point list. And if you're a super scheduled person, changing up your morning like this may be a nice refresher that will help you plan with a greater sense of clarity.

a few things to avoid:
- screens: phones, televisions, computers, etc.
- work. (remember, this is setting the tone for your day: take some time to fill the cup before you dive in)
- any avoidable stress 


And, as always, this all roots back to self respect, self love, and being kind to yourself. How we treat ourselves is important, and I think that first thing in the morning is a very good time to show our minds, bodies, and spirits some love. Not only is it healthy, but it will actually fuel everything you do. Creativity stems from happiness, not the other way around. So go ahead - make a list of things that make your heart absolutely hum! And then build your morning around those things. Let purpose fuel your morning, not bullet points on a list.

Alright, that's enough from me - what about you? Whether you feel like you have a morning routine or not, what are the first three immediate actions you take each morning? Stretching? Picking up your phone? Do you have a routine? I would really enjoy hearing about it + chatting in the comments below! 


stay stoked!
kate