Morning rituals

What is the first thing you do upon waking?

I got into the habit of reaching for my phone. I was so addicted that if I didn’t check my phone after waking, I’d get anxious.

In this impressionable time of day, I witnessed that the news of the day scrambled my thoughts and even soured my mood for the rest of the day.

Recently I’ve reconnected with the value of this liminal space and started reserving my mornings for screen free time.

What do I do instead? Lately I’ve been starting my morning with journaling or meditating. It’s the perfect time of day for such activities in the space between dreams and waking life.

I’ve also started making myself a daily cacao elixir as a ritual. I purchase cacao from a local manufacturer called Firefly Cacao, and add in a variety of mushroom powders and adaptogens from Sun Potion. Finally I add a green or herbal tea and blend it all in the Vitamix. I love starting my day sipping the creamy chocolatey beverage filled with healthy nutrients.

I find that giving myself the extra time to transition into waking life sets me off on a more spacious and thoughtful path for the rest of my day.

What do you do to start your morning?


Are you an artist?

A young man posed this question to me recently in the checkout aisle at the Rock Shop in Fairfield.

The answer came instantly to my lips: No, I am not. My companion, who happens to be a musician, brightly replied Yes I am.

The young man, satisfied with this affirmative answer, replied with a smile that he thought as much. “You look like artists” he said.

Here I am, shopping for crystals by feeling their energy, with a Flower of Life mask and a man bun… I admit that I definitely look like an artist. My earlier answer suddenly stepped into the spotlight for reinspection. Am I an artist?

These past two years have been a period of great reset and personal renewal for me. I’ve been diving inward to get in touch with who I am and what I want in this life.

I’ve undergone a transformation of purpose and self identification that is still unfolding yet feels foundational and future oriented.

My strong and immediate “no” to the young man’s question feels like a vestige of the past. While I’m not prepared to say “yes”, I am prepared to ask the question with newfound curiosity.

How am I an artist today, and how have I always been an artist? What parts of me have yearned for more artistic expression, yet been filtered by layers of doubt, fear, and limiting beliefs?

For the next 30 days, I’m going to explore this question by following the vein of my own creativity. Every day I will create something and post it somewhere online, such as Facebook or Tik Tok, that allows me to dig deeper.

If you identify as an artist, what hurdles did you overcome to get there? If you don’t, how do you embrace artistic expression in your life?


Gamifying Toddler Discipline

I’ve been experimenting with a new parenting technique with the my young kids that has been working well for us. I never liked the idea of negative incentives for kids, because I want them to focus on doing good rather than avoiding punishment.

Many video games reward players with an in-game currency that they can earn for doing certain tasks like completing a puzzle successfully. Players can trade these tokens for in game rewards like a new virtual outfit.

Gamification is the process of adding game-like incentives to something that isn’t a game. So I decided to try gamifying the rewards for my toddlers as a way to incentivize chores and good behavior.

Today, Tetris (4) and Coda (2) earn “tokens” (repurposed poker chips) for completing responsibilities like cleaning up their rooms before breakfast or putting away their toys after they play with them.

Once a task is completed, a token is taken from a “bank” and given to them. They then get to place the tokens in their own “wallet” jar for later spending on rewards. Because the jars are glass, they can see how many tokens they have at any given time.

They can cash the tokens for privileges like having a movie night, eating popsicles, or choosing the music we listen to in the car.

The reason I love this concept is that it decouples the reward from the responsibility. Instead of incentivizing good behavior by telling them that they can watch an hour of TV if they clean their room, I tell them they’ll get a token that they can use however they wish.

Tokens can therefore given at any time, not just when a reward is available or desirable. Just like life, when you put in the hard work, sometimes the reward doesn’t come right away.

My kids love earning tokens and they seem to be a compelling enough reward in and of themselves now that they’ve associated them with good outcomes.

I love that the token system teaches them both about doing their part around the house, as well as the value of currency and planning ahead.

I also think it is valuable to hold yourself to the same standards as you set for your kids, so I’ve set up my own token jar. Of course the responsibilities a bit different (ie making my bed) as are the rewards (ie buying something on Amazon for myself), but I find this technique helps me accomplish my responsibilities as well.

Fortunately the kids haven’t caught onto the fact that formerly free features like popsicles are now locked behind a paywall, so I’m coming up with a longer list of privledges and responsibilities for them, and would love to hear your creative ideas!