The One Thing You Should Do Every Day

How many motivational speeches or influencers have told you the trick to their success is making their bed every day? Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, considered this a “keystone habit” because it increases productivity, encourages more good behavior, helps you stick to a plan/budget, etc.

I call boohickey.

I’ve never liked making my bed. Yes, I love how it looks when it is made, but the process of making it every morning knowing I’m going to crawl right back into it when I come home seemed like a wasted effort. I’m never in my room when I’m home. I try to keep that as the place where I sleep and get ready and nothing else.

After college, I moved in with my cousin and friend. It was a two bedroom apartment but the master was HUGE. We had two queen beds, two desks, night stands, an incredible pile of clutter, and still had enough floor space to hold a private yoga class. We’ve been close all our lives so sharing a room with my cousin was no biggie. When I first moved in, I’d come home from work and my bed would be made! My cousin loves a clean bed. It was such a sweet gesture and it definitely made the room look a lot neater, but it just wasn’t something I ever cared to do. (She also gave up on making my bed when she realized I’d never do it on my own – sorry, Riss!)

And yet, after all these years, I’ve still wrestled with this. Everyone talks about how they can’t leave the house without a made bed, how they don’t understand how people get anything done if they can’t even make their bed, how stressed out they become when their room is disheveled (I’ll give them that one – if you spend a lot of time in your room). I’ve tried (really really hard) to make it a point to make my bed each morning. But when I’d come home, I wouldn’t even appreciate it. Those three extra minutes yanking the sheets I kicked all the way to the bottom of the bed, bending over 10 times to pick up every throw pillow that fell off throughout the night and hopping from one side to the other (while trying not to knock the contents of my night stand off), was a really exhausting way to start my day.

I decided it wasn’t for me. But the premise of beginning your day with an accomplished task or setting the tone for the rest of the day — now that intrigued me.

Lewis Howes had Bob Proctor on his podcast “The School of Greatness” and he shared his morning routine of writing down five things he’s grateful for. He even went so far to write it with his less dominant hand because it forced him to slow down, think about every letter and put intentionality into his list.

Ed Mylett shares the same theory. Rather than waking up, allowing the bright light from your phone wake up your senses, struggle to see through your crusty eyes and immediately jump into emails or social media, he reserves the first 30 minutes and last 30 minutes of his day to choose what he wants to think about. It could be meditation, prayer, journaling. I had all the praise hands go up when he said, “Why am I going to start my day reacting to other people or what they need FROM me?”

Over the last two weeks, I have spent the first 20-30 minutes of my day in my journal. I set my alarm a bit earlier to allow me to have the time. Turn it off and leave my phone in my room. I head to my dining table where my journal, Bible and a devotional are waiting for me. I start with my devo, write down my prayer and then jot down five things I’m grateful for.

After a few days, you can’t help but feel unoriginal for writing “Waking up. This home. My dogs.” more than once, so it challenges you to think of those small, easy-to-forget moments from the day prior that made a difference. Now I’m writing things like, “Had to buy an expensive gift at Target, but when I got there they had a $30 gift card for that exact item so it really helped. Woke up and realized I forgot blow out a candle from the night before – nothing was damaged! Traffic wasn’t as bad as Waze predicted and I got home 10 minutes earlier than expected. Steven cooked an amazing dinner for me – even though he’d worked almost 12 hours that day. A friend texted me and it made me feel loved.” Now that’s a habit I can get on board with!

Not only does it get easier to make the list, but you start noticing those “in between” moments throughout the day. Whenever something less than great happens, you can see the positive or the way out or the triviality of it before it ruins your day because you already recognize all the other reasons why you’re grateful.

For me, I didn’t want my lists to live on my phone. It’s too great of a temptation. Plus, like Proctor said, when you put pen to paper, you’re that much more mindful of your words. Even when I travel, I’m lugging around this huge journal to keep a running list. I love being able to go back and read previous lists because I forget all too quickly those everyday moments.

  1. Set your alarm for 20 minutes earlier.
  2. Say a prayer and ask for an open heart and mind to recall what you’ve been given.
  3. Journal away from your phone/computer.
  4. Write 5 things you’re grateful for (try to keep it unique and reflective of the day prior).
  5. Go about your day feeling incredibly accomplished blessed.

Bonus: since doing this, I’ve had the greatest sales month of my career (and we’re barely halfway through the month). It was unexpected. May have nothing to do with this daily practice. Or maybe it has everything to do with this daily practice. Regardless, I enter each day feeling more and more renewed and grateful so when blessings come FLOWING down, I can’t help but feel that much more excited for the next day and the next. I’m no longer dreading each day because I have so much to look forward to. I’m in a state of expectation and anticipation because when I fan through my lists, how could I not have total faith that God has so much in store for me?

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Black Friday on a Budget

One year during college (I think it was 2009), a few friends and I decided to experience our first Black Friday madness. We headed out to Cabazon Outlets around 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving and quickly realized we were about 5 hours too late. Parking was non-existent (nearby homes were selling spots on their driveway for $20!); the swarms of pushy people exasperated my anxiety of being in crowded spaces; the lines went out the door and the line we so happened to wait in had people in front of us smoking so many cigarettes that I later threw up from the nausea; and the cherry on top: I walked out with two pairs of jeans that were basically forced purchases to justify our trip out. NEVER.AGAIN.

With the convenience of online sales these days, I think most people can agree that shopping from home in your sweats is way more thrilling than any trip to the mall. Because let’s face it, way less rational thinking goes into clicking “add to cart” than  watching your total skyrocket at the cashier. (Why is it easier for me to say, “Actually, I changed my mind, I’m not going to buy that.” to a human being than convince myself of it when I’m checking out online?!) But when my inbox and Instagram feed started getting filled with teasers and sale announcements last week, I was in a much different mindset. Now that we’re living in a new state and adjusting to this monumental life change, we on a budget.

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You want to know see my wild purchases?

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  • Face wash / BeautyCounter. The lightest, cleanest option I’ve found at a great price point. My beautiful friend Justine Campbell introduced me to it and I’ve loved every product!
  • Foundation / Crunchi. Obviously, another clean, non-toxic product that I’ve used this entire year and it’s ah-mazing. It smells ridiculously good, free of all the cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting, junk AND it works better than any other conventional product I’ve ever tried. (I stopped using my current bottle every day just to stretch it until Black Friday. Mama lookin’ real natural at work these days)
  • Cleaning solution / Branch Basics. I’ve read about how this is the only product you’ll need for any household need — I’ve been itching to try it so the 20% off finally convinced me to try it.
  • A sweater and jumpsuit (okay so that wasn’t a need to have…I’m actually proud that only one blogger I follow influenced me to make a purchase. And how much does that look remind you of Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding?)

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  • Laundry detergent / dropps. If you have a few minutes and want a good laugh, click the link and watch the intro video. I already had a favorite natural, eco-friendly detergent but this video suckered me in and now I love these pods.
  • 10 pack of classes at my favorite barre studio that beat using ClassPass

Exciting stuff, right?! I needed to buy/refill all of these items but figured I should wait to see if BFCM would bring any good deals. So now, eight years later from my first (traumatic) experience, Steven still shudders at the words Black Friday and I try to suppress his PTSD with extra tight snuggles in the warmth of our bed as we drift off to sleep knowing we have all we need. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 

Xo, Tay

A Texan Thanksgiving

A Texan Thanksgiving

I’ve been very blessed with a work schedule that allows for every Friday off. Typically goes like this:

  • Sleep in (8 a.m.)
  • Go workout
  • Walk Amber
  • Clean the house
  • Catch up with a loved one (Dona my first Friday and my Daddy this past Friday)
  • Run some errands

…all before Steven gets home. By Saturday, I’m already feeling at a loss of things to do and always ask Steven, “So what are we doing today?!”. Poor guy works 6 of the 7 days so he certainly does not share the same enthusiasm (but he’s a trooper so he goes along with whatever I come up with).

It was the most beautiful day. The clouds were gone and the sun was beaming down! So we took Amber for a hike through yet another river (I swear we have a completely different dog in Texas) and tried to soak in the sun all morning.

My co-worker/boss, Brittney, texted me asking what we were up to for the day and asked if we wanted to hang out. She starts telling me of all these free events happening around town. Tiny homes + free tacos. Jazz music + free BBQ. We decided to go for it all and have  an afternoon filled with as much free food as we could get our hands on. Our first stop: Lockhart. 20+ miles out of Austin. We get there — no tacos. Just tiny homes and chips. We get our fill, hop back in the car and head back into town to get that free BBQ. We roll in, Steven & Britt go to use the restroom, I make small chat with these two guys who said the BBQ was gone within the first hour of the event and realize we are 0-2. Austin has so many cool events and happenin’s and yet we kept missing each one by a SMIDGE! We decided to cut our losses and go find food that would definitely be available … a restaurant. Britt asks us, “Do y’all like Mexican food?” We pretty much laughed and explained that CA is basically Mexico when it comes to food. She took us to her favorite place, Matt’s El Rancho, where the server asked if we’d like a “bob” to start. Looking absolutely dumbfounded, she explains that it’s basically guac, ground beef and melted cheese. That’s all we needed to hear before we said, “heck yeah!” It did not disappoint! The night went on for hours as we laughed, continued eating and quickly realizing Britt & I were kindred spirits. Steven later told her husband that he hung out with two of me all day. What a lucky guy!

Britt & Grant invited us to their Friendsgiving the following night and I wasn’t sure if Steven would be down for it but he happily agreed. We have two friends here (the Popes who came from Redlands) so we were definitely in need of expanding our friend base. Never have I realized how Californian I was until tonight. With each person who arrived, there was another meat, sausage, queso that I had never seen before. And what did I bring? Spinach (spanakopita). I clearly did not know my audience but they all liked it!

There was “swamp sausage” (basically cajun style rice mixed into the sausage), steak, BBQ chicken, another something sausage with cheese and jalapeños, risotto, green bean casserole, fried turkey that was caught the day prior by the dude who brought it. Oh my goodness – it was amazing. It was like popcorn chicken but with the freshest turkey you’d ever tasted. The Martin’s were amazing hosts and we were so grateful to be included! Back at home, we’d do Friendsgiving every year and I did my best to fight off feelings of loneliness and distance this time around so I was really touched to be in the company of friends — even if there weren’t ours!

Steven and I talked about our first Texan Thanksgiving the whole way home. We would never have known any of this if it weren’t for Britt and absolutely soaked in every second of it! Steven’s ready to go huntin’ with the boys and I…I’m still holding out for some freshly caught fish!