Wake up, drink the coffee, do the things... Right? But what if there was so much more to my morning routine.
I noticed something this school year, that I seriously wish I would've figured out 5 years ago. I started seriously observing and taking note of things that incredibly amazing people do to be.... well, amazing. Their energy, passion and peace that they carried with them through every season inspired me to take inventory of my life. One thing I realized that they all had was some kind of morning routine. Whether it was a green smoothie, a quiet time, absolutely black coffee and yoga... whatever it was, it was unique to them AND working for them. It was the way they kicked off their day in a positive and productive way.
I report to work at 7:15. Like, that's what time they start paying me for my labor. Typically, I get to work around 6:30 or 6:45 because 30 minutes just isn't a lot of time for me to mentally prepare to welcome 25 humans into our space with a happy heart and patience. The idea of waking up an hour before I have to start getting ready PAINED me to my core. 4:00 am. FOUR FREAKING A M. That's too dang early, y'all. And can I just say for a moment, if you do wake up at 4 am, more power to you. I'm proud of you. Tip my hat to you. Give you all the brownie points. I however, just can't. I had to find a way to sacrifice some time so that I could spend an entire hour before I started getting ready to prepare my heart and my mind for the day ahead. So, I stopped getting ready at 5am and moved my getting ready time to 6am. I leave for work, now, at about 6:45-6:50. STRESS. This used to stress me out, until I got into my routine and started to notice how much more energized, productive, and PATIENT I was being in my classroom. Instead of taking 30 minutes when I get to school to prepare my mind for my babes, I spend that time at home preparing my mind for the entirety of the day. When I do get to school, around 7:05, I use my time SO MUCH MORE wisely to prepare for the day. I don't just sit and stare at my wall, because I'm so dang tired! On top of all of this, I've noticed my planning time being 10x more productive, because I know that at 3:45- I'm gonna want to go home, spend time with my pup, or just go live my life.
Sure, you can get to school early or you can stay until the wee hours of the night, but if you're not being productive, what's the point? I can accomplish a million times more in 2 hours, feeling rested and prepared than I can accomplish in 6 hours of feeling overworked and drained. IT'S JUST MY TRUTH! Maybe, it's not yours. Maybe you thrive in working all of the hours at school. But, let me just tell you, I did an entire classroom transformation this week, walls covered and everything, and I still didn't get to school until 7:05 and I left right at 3:45... but I sure as HAIL used my time wisely while I was there. And the thing that saved me was this, my new morning routine. So, whether I've sold you on it or not, here it is. It's what works for me, it involves ZERO exercise (because I like working out in the afternoon, and I'm just as strong and cool because I workout after school as anyone who works out at 2 am before they get ready- sorry... exercise is exercise period ) and a whole lot of drinking a whole cup of hot coffee while I invest in myself.
First, I drink the coffee.
The first thing I do in the morning is drink my coffee hot and how I like it, in my favorite mug. While I drink my coffee, I spend some time reading my Bible and a favorite book of mine. Whether it's self help or a thrilling mystery, I read... for myself. The myth that teachers can't get a hot cup of coffee in needs to be debunked, now. I get it's a joke but the only reason you don't have time for yourself in the morning, is because you're not making it. Whether it's drinking hot coffee or eating your favorite breakfast food, slow down and do SOMETHING, one little thing that makes you happy.
Next, I write a bit...
I have a journal that sits on my coffee table with a pen inside of it. Every morning, for just about 10-15 minutes I write. Most recently, it's been 10 things I'm grateful for. Not big things, small things like how hot my husband is or how rich my coffee tastes at that very moment. Some days, I just write down all of the things I'm thinking, because as someone who battles anxiety, there's a lot and sometimes the best thing I can do is write it down, make the list, or just simply get it out of my racing mind. Also, it helps my penmanship which is something I've really been working on recently. That sounds goofy, but it's true. Take a few minutes to reflect on your life, be grateful, give your cares to the Lord, or just work on your penmanship!
Lastly, I frontload...
I am the type of person who LOVES it when things go exactly as planned. Which is frighteningly ironic because I'm in a profession where things are literally always changing. This doesn't mean I'm not super flexible on the outside. Like, if you could see me in action, you probably wouldn't believe that I'm a control freak, because I can still go with the flow... I just hate it in my mind. I'll be super flexible and fluid in person, then go home and just RIP my husband to shreds for something he didn't even do.... It's a personal flaw, I'm WORKING on it. So, in my morning routine, I've started to "plan" my day. I go through all of the things I have planned. Lessons, meetings, emails I have to respond to, errands I have to run, people I have to meet after school, ect. I predict how those events are going to play out. This doesn't mean I'm a huge pessimist thinking of all of the things that go wrong, I just consider the personalities, the events and possible things that MIGHT not go as planned. Doing this helps me be flexible in situations where things might not go exactly as I anticipated. It also helps me have exponentially more grace for creepy, difficult, or frustrating people. Front load, white MIGHT happen today that could throw me off of my game, and how can I tackle it without looking like a complete a-hole?
Of all of the morning routines I've observed and all of the amazing people I want to be like, mine is completely different. AND THAT'S OKAY, Y'ALL. I know I just spilled the beans about my morning routine, why it works for me and exactly what I do... But the thing is, my morning routine... it might be a disaster for you. I do three things, keep it simple and it makes the rest of my day smooth as butter, for the most part. So, my challenge to you isn't to do what I do. My challenge to you is to pick 3 things in the morning that you do before you get ready, serve the people in your life and walk through your day. If it doesn't work at first, tweak your 3 things. The most important thing is that you're taking the time in the morning to prepare for your day.
I hope this week is filled with all the pumpkin, vanilla and fall scents. I hope SOMEONE makes you smile and giggle a little bit. But most of all, I hope you impact ONE person with your peace, grace and positive outlook about the season you're walking through.
I hate to admit it, but words of affirmation is one of my love languages. I know you're probably wondering WHY it's so hard for me to admit, and I think it's mostly because it just makes me feel really needy and disappointed 90% of the time.
People who encourage and cheer OTHER people on seem to be few and far between these days, it can sometimes feel like you're walking through seasons of life alone or with people who just don't care about your battles or the advances that you're making. September and October is a specifically tricky time for teachers with all of the events, conferences, grades, and such that seem to be piling on. It's just really easy to feel overwhelmed and underappreciated. And if you're anything like me, feel like you're constantly doing something wrong. Yup, if you haven't been here before, general anxiety is something I battle on a daily basis. Not just worry, but the overwhelming sense that I have done something wrong to all the people.
If you follow along on my instagram adventures, I posted a story a few days ago about how it's been a pretty icky place in my mind, lately. For some reason, I interpret other people's stress and frustration into an issue with me, not just a bad day on their end. Funny story though, this used to be 10X worse for me about a year ago. So, if you've been reading this and nodding your head, the preacher in your head is saying "yes!!" or you just feel like, maybe I might have a snippet of wisdom for you, let's figure out how to navigate these seasons without being defeated or disappointed when we're not getting what we need from the people around us.
On your good days, write that stuff down.
Usually, in my mind you can separate my thoughts into 2 categories. Truth and absolutely, 100% overdramatized soap opera. On my hardest days, the latter takes over and makes me feel just absolutely defeated... behind closed doors. One thing that I've found that has helped is on my best days, I'm talking days where I feel like I could take over the world, establish peace with North Korea, or even start a multimillion dollar company, I take the time to write out my truthful thoughts. Some call them affirmations, but honestly, sometimes, they have nothing to do with me. The whole preface of this practice is to be able to have a list of truths to lean on when my mind is trying to be controlled by the lies. When I can go back and read what my past self has written about my life, I'm not searching for affirmation or positivity from other people.
A list of my truths may include:
-There are a lot of people in my circle of influence who have problems, but I am not one of them.
-My students are the reason I deal will half the things I do on a daily basis.
-The world will keep spinning, even if I choose to sulk in untruthful thoughts
-I'm satisfied with the life that I have, right now, at this very moment.
-My husband, parents, dog, siblings, and most of my coworkers are proud of me and cheering me on.
When I can go back and read these things, on my darkest days, it's a game changer. Because, the kryptonite to all the lies, is the truth. Set yourself up for success on those days that you know are coming for your peace.
Stop giving people access to your control panel
One of the things on my list above, that I did not mention was this one.... really... powerful sentence I write down... But I'm not sure you're ready for it. Mostly, because I don't want you to take it the wrong way. Never in my life do I want to be that person who walks around with an "I don't care what people think" mantra and use it to be a jerk to others. The truth is, when it comes to being the best version of myself, I don't care what they think. I get comments all the time of people making fun of me for my battle with my mindset and trying NOT to fall into a life filled with complaining and frustration, that's fine... that's on them. But that's never going to be a free pass for me to treat them poorly, regardless of how they treat me. So, that being said one of the truths I have written down is this. "Sometimes you are the problem. Figure out if it's worth solving, or if they can get over it." There are people in my life who I care deeply about, I would never want to hurt, upset or lose them, but there are also people in my life who just aren't down with my direction. I'm not so close with those people, and I'm having to learn that they're not the people I need in my circle, anyways. Sometimes, it can be really hard to discern whose voice we let in on difficult seasons. One thing that has been made so clear to me is, the last person I want whispering in my ear when I'm going through something hard, is the person who is just going to sit there and tell me how hard things are or how I can't keep this mindset, I can't just be at peace. I'm looking for people who are whispering to me "keep going, keep pushing, it's really freaking hard but it's really freaking worth it, your students need you, your husband needs you, your vision is not going to just happen overnight." I NEED LIFE GIVERS IN MY CORNER, NOT COMPLAINERS. Be mindful of the people you let have a say, that's all I'm sayin.
When your encouragement well runs dry..
I know what you're thinking after reading this far. Okay, Maddie, this sounds great...but, I work with draining people, my house is always a mess, my parents don't understand or agree with my life choices, my friendships are shallow, no one in my life knows how to show me love or appreciation. I get it. I'm there. I know. It is so draining. The majority of my readers are teachers, so forgive me as I take it this direction. We spent a bajillion dollars on a college education that taught us that the basis of teaching is modeling. Right? The whole year we spend modeling a skill or concept for our babes to then practice. Some skills have to be taught explicitly. Like, "this is how we write our heading on notebook paper." While, other skills can just simply be modeled and understood, for example, my students know where my desk area is because I stand there most every day while I take attendance. So, like I said before, words of affirmation is one of my love languages. It's a curse, because it just feels like no one gets it. Just tell me I'm pretty and doing a good job and I'll love you forever. But it's not that easy, so what do we do? Model your love language for the people in your life. If it's words of affirmation, encourage the crap out of other people. If it's acts of service, do things with a happy heart AND acknowledge when other people do things for you. Don't just say "thank you." Try something along the lines of, "man, when you told me that I rocked my lesson and that you were proud of me, it made me want to cry. You were totally speaking to my love language." LET THE PEOPLE KNOW. You can't just expect the people around you to know immediately how you need to be served and loved, that's not fair at all. Somedays you have to be your own affirmation, but some days you need to just open your eyes a little wider and see where it's actually coming from. Tap into that well, and if there's nothing in there, then give what you want and you will get back what you need.
Have a fabulous Monday, sweet friends.
You are powerful humans, capable of more, worthy of love, and too strong to settle for anything less.