Using Habits To Uplevel Your Life

Woman in shades of pink walks forward into a canopy of trees

Lately I’ve been thinking about the role of habits in my life. Without habits, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Back at the start of 2016, after extraordinary frustrations with my health, I decided it was time to take things into my own hands. If doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on, and I was still exhausted and uncomfortable, it was time to make a change.

I knew that the one area where I was, without a doubt, not maintaining a healthy lifestyle, was my exercise routine. I loved to dance, and I loved to walk, and I even loved yoga, but between financial limitations, a busy schedule, and just kinda being lazy about it, I never seemed to stick with an exercise routine with any regularity.

I knew that for me to stick with it, for good, I needed to make exercising super simple. So in mid-January, I woke up a half hour earlier than usual, and I did yoga poses and stretches for five minutes. I’d told myself that as long as I did something that qualified as exercising or stretching, it would count.

The next day, I did the same, for five minutes.

The pattern held. Perhaps five days in, on a weekend, I decided I could afford a longer workout. But I kept that five minute minimum in place.

With this simple habit in place, I started experimenting. I’d go for seven minutes, or ten minutes. Over time, since I was already showing up and dressed to exercises, I’d exercise for 15 minutes, and soon a half hour was more of the norm.

Eventually I raised the bar to 15 minutes. And I began waking up even earlier, so that most days, I’d exercise for at least a half hour. I started a Beachbody trial and began experimenting with different workout programs. Later I purchased a favorite one, with strength training, and as I hit the road in an RV, I started a daily walking habit. It stuck. I’ve been doing it ever since.

In early December, after realizing I didn’t even average 5,000 steps anymore (thanks, pandemic!), I decided I wanted to average at least 5,000 steps daily over the course of a week. With that knowledge and a bit of accountability in our Facebook group, I was there, and then averaging 7,500.

Now, in mid-March, I’m averaging more than 10,000 steps a day. I never would have thought it was possible, but the power of habits made it come to life. I made it easy, built on my existing walking habit, and I used a tracker and the accountability of my social media feed and my Facebook group.

Have you ever done this before? Have you successfully established a new habit? It’s something I’ve repeated many times.

I created a habit of batch cooking to help me successfully adapt the auto-immune protocol diet and lifestyle back in 2016, even living in an RV. I used habits to build a morning routine that lights me up in 2018, and over time used habit stacking to make it more and more fun and aligned for me. I’ve used habits to develop an evening routine too. And of course, my habit of making healthy eating choices the majority of the time continues to serve me well – established when I was a kid but improved upon many, many times over my life. (And yes, there’s a place for ice cream in a healthy diet!)

We talk habits in my group, where we focus on a different healthy habit each month. So far this year we’ve tackled “More Steps”, “Decluttering”, and are currently drinking less, or in a dry month, like me.

And in my new course, habits are a very important part of what we study, with an entire week of the eight week course devoted to habits exclusively.

Are you aware of the habits you have? Which ones serve you, and which habits would you like to get rid of? Are you working on any new habits this year?

Leave a comment and let me know – I’d love to hear any tips and support you in any struggles you’re having.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

P.S. If your habits include boondocking (staying in an RV without hookups), now is the time to purchase a Harvest Hosts membership! Support this blog by purchasing yours here, and you’ll enjoy a year full of stays at wineries, farms, museums, and other amazing sites across the U.S. and even into Canada. Some of our favorite stays have been at Harvest Hosts. It’s fun to meet new people, enjoy delicious food and drink or fun things like alpaca farms or ice cream and live music. Harvest Hosts NEW member prices are going up to $99/yr in April, 2021. If you buy a membership now, it’s only $67.15 a year after a 15% discount. This link will lock in this rate forever, regardless of how much the prices increase in the future. Save over $30 off the new price on a whole year of unlimited overnight stays!

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Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums! 
  • Take Ross’ online ukulele course!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
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  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com. 

I’ve Got A Good Habit – Do You?

Woman flosses teeth

Do you ever look at super-successful people and wonder how they manage to do it all? You know, they’ve got kids, successful businesses, hobbies, social lives, travel a lot, maybe they’re caring for a parent or helping a friend too.

Okay, so yes, reality check, if they’re super-rich they might have a nanny and a chef and a chauffeur and a housecleaner. But before they got there, and even with all that help, you know what is likely at the root of all of their success?

Habits.

Good habits do SO MUCH For us. They help us set boundaries. They make tasks easy and without any extra cognition or willpower. They give us the freedom to focus on other things, which means HUGE savings in time and the opportunity to make more money or spend time on what we value most.

This week in my Facebook group, we’ve been talking a lot about habits. Our focus this month has been on walking more throughout the week, but habits are at the backbone of making any healthy change, whether it’s walking, or healthy eating, or adding in meditation or limiting social media use.

What’s your relationship with habits? Do you make them work for you, or do you have bad habits that slow you down? I’d love to hear what this brings up for you in your life. Please comment below and let me know!

P.S. If you’d like support in creating better habits, please join us on Facebook in our free group. And thanks for reading!

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Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums! 
  • Take Ross’ online ukulele course!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com. 

Why I’m Taking A Pause

Sunrise

Taking a pause. It’s something we all do, right? We pause before starting to sing, hearing the intro notes to mark our place. We pause before waiting for our turn to enter a conversation (or waiting for a good time to interrupt). We pause before falling asleep.

But have you built intentional pauses into your day or your week? There’s a reason that professors take sabbaticals, students get a winter or summer break, and at least the white collar desk jobs get vacations. Heck, there’s also a reason our representatives have breaks between sessions, but that’s a whole other story.

Last week I defend the practice of a tea break, but whether that excites you or not, pausing is essential to wholeness and fulfillment.

Yes: taking a pause is essential. If we’re considering a career shift, or feeling like we’ve overcommitted ourselves, or if we’ve been under a ton of stress lately (whether it’s family stress, job stress, health stress, or the state of the world), a pause is what gives us a chance to hear our intuition.

How many times have you noticed that it’s when you’re taking a shower, or walking the dog, or visiting a museum, that you get an idea for a new project or an angle to solve a problem. I get downloads about new courses during yoga, and ideas for blog posts while listening to podcasts.

I hear a lot of people say they don’t have time to pause. They see my life as so different from theirs, whether it’s that I work from home, set my own hours most of the time, or don’t have children. But I’m also a problem-solver (which is also how I created this life), and that means I LOVE a good challenge!

So let me help you find some free time.

Can you wake up ten minutes earlier so you can drink a cup of coffee or tea in silence, or do a few stretches?

If you’ve got young kids, can you designate five or ten or fifteen minutes of a nap time to reading a book, just for you?

If you have a commute, can you spend part of it listening to favorite music, or traveling in silence, or repeating a positive mantra, or even journaling if you’re on public transit?

Can you meditate for ten minutes before bed, or before you start your nightly Netflix show?

If you’re still struggling, leave me a comment with your challenge, and I’ll share my suggestions. And if you have a favorite way to take a pause, please comment and share it with all of us!

Take it easy, and have a great week. And if you’re an aspiring adventurer too, join me in my group, Crafting Your Life Adventure, for tips on taking a pause and for walking tips and inspiration this month.

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Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums! 
  • Take Ross’ online ukulele course!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com. 

In Defense of Tea

Are you a tea drinker? Is it a part of a daily habit or ritual for you?

Okay, so in light of everything going on in the US and around the world, there are certainly larger issues we could tackle this week. But I want to support you in your life journey, so I wanted to take a moment to celebrate an easy and delightful bit of self-care and ritual: tea!

Lots of cultures value tea highly, and drinking it is often a daily norm. But for many of us in the U.S., we come to tea later in life. Who knows – maybe it goes back to the tea party before the Revolutionary War, but for whatever reason, many of us do not grow up drinking tea.

My experience with tea was that it was a thing for “grown ups”. As a young Brownie (a Girl Scout), I attended my first tea party at age six and loved it, but we didn’t drink tea in my home growing up. In college, I had access to tea and housemates who drank it, so I would experiment with a cup of tea sometimes. But it really wasn’t until I was an adult seeking “afternoon tea”, aka a three course meal paired with tea, that I developed my passion for it.

With COVID-19, I found myself seeking additional ways to ground and center myself each day. I had a great morning routine, but I felt it might be getting stale. When Sarah Jenkins suggested adding tea or coffee to our morning routine or sacred start, I knew this was the perfect excuse to up my tea intake and feel like I was truly indulging.

Now, I carve out an extra 10-15 minutes each morning to steep and enjoy some tea. Some days it’s black, some days it’s herbal, some days it has milk or sugar in it. But it always delights. It forces me to pause, to savor. I pair it with a sacred or reflective book and enjoy a slow and beautiful start to my morning before the workday begins.

Tea comes in so many forms, and in so many flavors. You can keep it super healthy or sweeten it up. (This morning I made a candy cane latte…oh my goodness it was good!)

And if you don’t like any teas, you can enjoy a similar ritual, whether it’s coffee or another drink (something warm is ideal for the winter months).

I guess when I’m suggesting you make time for tea, what I’m really suggesting is that you make time for yourself. Finding a few minutes to pause is so therapeutic. You start your day centered instead of off balance, calm instead of rushed. Even if I had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to do, I would make it happen. (In fact, I get up at 4:45 a.m. once a week, but that’s another story.)

Do you drink tea? Why or why not?

P.S. My “More Steps Challenge” continues in our Facebook group, and I’ve been going live and talking to people about their walking goals. Join us there, or grab your copy of The Four Steps To Your Dream Life Blueprint, if you found this helpful.

Three Places To Focus When The World Is Spinning

Gosh, things are challenging right now! Even with all of my blessings and privilege, I’m feeling like it’s tough to stay in the moment and also to stay focused on my goals when the world seems to be falling apart around me.

So here is an update on the three things I’m focusing on right now to keep me going.

Habits

I’ve spent years developing the habits I’ve always wanted to have. It’s been a slow process, adding them in one by one, and a couple I’ve let go or let be flexible as I’ve figured out what’s worked for me. But developing great habits is SO important when things are stressful.

For me, my daily habits include writing in the morning (brain dump, gratitude, journal from the day prior…anything counts, but I write for about 15-20 minutes typically and make sure to at least write something), reading something for my personal development, walking outside, making myself a healthy breakfast, drinking at least 16 ounces of water and taking my vitamins. I’ve also got some personal prep routines in the mix, and lately I do some meditation and yoga in the mix too (I take three live classes currently, 3 days a week, and it’s such a blessing). Habits give you predictability when the world around you feels like a total disaster!

Daily Activism

Black Lives Matter. The state of the world has me panicked, I’m not going to lie. So one way for me to address that is to make sure that every day, I make time to do something to make the world a better place. I stand up for someone who needs it, I sign some petitions, I write my reps or make a phone call. I can’t do it all, but being able to say I’ve done something every day is key to feeling like I’m making a difference and not being complacent as it feels like we’re moving towards fascism. (The news of people being taken off the streets in unmarked vehicles is just the latest, of course. I’m not planning to stop bugging my reps until Trump backs off of that.)

Planning Ahead and Being Prepared

I also take time every day to think about planning ahead and being prepared. Am I well-stocked with food and supplies? Have I taken a few minutes to create a vision for the future of my business? Have I researched the next steps for my career goals? Even when these things seem like a silly distraction, I know that taking a few minutes to do this daily will make sure that when I look back on 2020, I’ll see how I made the best of it rather than how I fell apart.

Bonus: Self-Care

If you’re like me, without kids, white, employed, this list probably makes sense so far. If you’ve got lots of additional issues you’re dealing with right now, whether that’s mental health or sick family or anything else, please prioritize your self-care and give yourself grace when things don’t happen.

And if you’re like me, you probably STILL feel overwhelmed daily. I know I do. So take what works from this list and build your own list that DOES work for you. Take a bath. Have some ice cream. And leave me a comment to let me know how you’re coping during these challenging times.

I’ll also take a couple of sentences to plug Deadbolt Mystery Society – we’ve just completed our third mystery box and it is an absolutely delightful way to spend a few hours! At-home date nights for the win. Use my code to save a little cash. It is seriously the best time we’ve had since quarantine started. Perfect for 1-4 people with access to the internet and a smartphone with a QR code reader.

Sending love and hugs (virus-free) to all of you across the miles. Thanks for reading.

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Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Capital One 360 is one everyone can take advantage of to save money! Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Listen to, subscribe and review our theater comedy podcast, Finishing The Season!
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com.