12 Jan

Morning Ritual

Years ago, Christine Kane wrote an article about creating a morning ritual.  I read it at a time when I was so hungry for advice, feeling rather lonely and lost – there was a LOT of self-help in my inbox back then.  This one really stuck with me, though, and I think if it quite often, actually.

What made me want to share it with you today?  Well, if I’m being honest, it’s that 40-day challenge.  I mean – wait – not that the 40 days of writing is getting too hard and I’m giving up on creating my own content ;)  (Okay, it’s a little bit of that, too.)  No – what I mean is, I’ve been thinking again about how that first little piece of your day can make or break the rest of it.  Woo-woo as it is, I firmly believe that every morning, you start telling the universe about what’s important to you.  And the universe listens.  Do you roll over, put on your glasses, and check your email on the smart phone?  That’s sending a message.  (What kind of response are you getting?)

I would like to set the tone for my day with yoga and meditation first, followed by time spent writing – after all, these are practices I value, and habits I set out to create with the 40-day challenge.  I’ve got the first part down, but let me tell you, for the past several nights, I have sat down in front of this computer screen at 9:30 (or later), tired and grouchy about having to come up with something interesting to say to the whole internet.  I fear that you probably inferred this on your own.

So.  Tomorrow: wake up, do yoga and meditate, write, and then get on with the rest of it.  Take a look at Christine’s advice here.  Can changing (or creating) your morning ritual improve your day?

How to Create a Powerful Morning Ritual
by Christine Kane

It is said that your habits create your destiny. 

I’d add that your habits also create your confidence, courage and even your creativity!

In other words, your daily choices, routines, and seemingly insignificant moments make all the difference in your results.

One of the best ways to generate great results is to create amorning ritual. A powerful morning ritual sets the tone for your entire day – and your entire year!

A ritual is personal. A ritual is creative. (Not reactive!) A ritual is what gets YOU on track to create your best day. (And subsequently, your best life!) It can be as simple as a 15-minute routine, or as intense as long-distance running. The important thing is that it becomes a HABIT.

My morning ritual combines a mixture of physical, mental and heart-centered activities to engage each of these human power centers!

Here are some ideas to help you create your own powerful morning ritual.

Hydrate First 

Many Eastern health practitioners recommend chugging down at least a half-liter of filtered room-temperaturewater first thing. (Yes, before your coffee!)

Upon waking, your body has spent hours without hydration. Drinking pure water at this time triggers a series of physiological functions that keep your body super healthy. Some report that this one practice can actually heal many diseases. (I’m not a scientist – but I can attest to the amazing results!)

Get Moving 

Exercise is called “The Number One Form of Preventive Medicine.”

It is also a prescription for happiness and a cure for depression! Getting exercise first thing sets your day off right. You can do a simple stretching routine, yoga or an all-out heart-pounding hour at the gym. Pick something do-able and do it.


Many people don’t meditate because they find it intimidating. I say, start with just 5 minutes. Meditation connects you to your center, and to the deep silence that surpasses any drama that might be happening in the world of your personality. Don’t worry about doing it right. Just allow yourself the time to BE.

Set Intention

“Intention rules the earth,” says Oprah Winfrey.

It’s true! Your intention is a powerful force to engage.

Remembering your intention puts you back on track. You become focused again.

Reflect for a moment on your Word of the Year. Read a goal you’ve written down for yourself. Remind yourself of a financial dream. (If you’re one of my new students in Uplevel Your Business, read the intention you wrote down on the first day of the program!)

You don’t have to know the HOW. You just need to set the intention so your inner GPS can stay on target!

Be Grateful 

Before I get out of bed, I silently create a morning gratitude list. When I begin my day remembering my “gratitudes,” (instead of my “anxieties”) my heart fills with extreme joy and deep awareness. I then bring that energy into everything I do – and to everyone with whom I connect.

Use a Netty Pot 

(This one’s a little weird!)

For years, my acupuncturist told my husband and I to use a Netty Pot. We laughed at him. Then, in the face of acute sinus problems, my husband tried it and became a convert. He converted me.

A Netty Pot uses warm water and a special salt to cleanse your sinuses and clear your breathing. Google it, and let the idea sit with you for a while. (You might be a convert too!)

Eat Creative 

Your choice of breakfast foods can set up your success with other meals as well. Start your day off in the healthiest way possible for you – and make it a ritual, not a chore.

Be Prepared: Create a Not-to-Do List 

Everyone needs a “Not To Do” morning list.

Suggestions here include anything that brings up a “reactive” state: Turning on the local news. Checking email. Answering texts. Answering the phone.

Let these things wait until AFTER your ritual has been completed!

Your Assignment: 

After reading this article, don’t just think, “Wow. Those are some good ideas. I should try one or two.”

Instead, deliberately create your morning ritual now. Take about 20 minutes to think about and write down what your ritual will be each morning. Start simple at first. Choose one or two items from this menu. Or come up with your own. Write out your Ritual in detail.

Begin first thing tomorrow morning, and let your habits create YOUR destiny starting now!


Please do! Just be sure to include this complete blurb with it:

Christine Kane is the Mentor to Women Who are Changing the World. She helps women uplevel their lives, their businesses and their success. Her weekly LiveCreative eZine goes out to over 20,000 subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can sign up for a F.R.E.E. subscription at http://christinekane.com.


See Christine’s blog at ChristineKane.com/blog.

11 Jan

Spring has sprung!

Do you know what’s growing in my front yard right now?  Take a look:

fresh flowers and dead leaves


Can you believe this?  I mean, yes, I live in Texas, but it is still January around here (notice the dead leaves in the background – this is still what most of nature looks like in these parts).  My yard is so confused.  102 degrees all summer long and the grass shuts down for good; we finally get some rain in December and all of the flowers come out.  What can you do?

I love this place.  Love. every. bit of it.

10 Jan

You just never know when someone’s going to want to see your website

I had an awesome chance meeting with another creative business owner this afternoon, something that made me realize it’s time to stop procrastinating on a handful of items relating to my own business.  Some of that is related to this website, so I’ve updated the Retreat Austin page, and I’m working on (re-)creating that dreaded About page.  I would love to hear your feedback on the site.  Seriously: what’s working and what’s… just not?  Let me know in the comments or drop me a line.

Thanks for your patience.  Back to our regularly scheduled 40-day programming tomorrow.

08 Jan

Some women who didn’t give up on writing today (unlike some people)

I am tired, and not drunk but a little tipsy, and still a wee bit grouchy from my Day of Yoga (it’s one of my teacher training weekends, perhaps I will say more about that on another day), so rather than bore you with my I-don’t-have-anything-interesting-to-write-about, perhaps I can direct you to some way better content, and we can both walk away winners.  Deal?

With that, here are my all-time favorite people on the web:

Andrea Scher (SO much inspiration)

Maggie Mason (I think she invented the internet.  Also, life list.)

AB Chao (Decorator extraordinaire, and the woman who said the thing about the bong water.  You decide what’s better.)

Kelly Rae Roberts (creativity and biz sense)

Brene Brown (… especially for the perfectionists out there.  Ahem.  Not that I’d know anything about that.)

Mimi Smartypants (Ha.  Hahahahahaha)

Jen Lee (A writing retreat with Jen almost two years ago just totally changed things for me.)

I hope that counts as a post.  Valuable?  (Ha.  Probably the most valuable thing I’ve written so far.)  Whew.  See you tomorrow.

07 Jan

Snow Day

Can I tell you one of my favorite things about the contract work I do?  Don’t be jealous.  You know how you have downtime at work?  I mean, not like the times when you’re in some kind of slow season, and you feel like you can finally catch your breath and tackle some of the chores that have been on the back burner for a while.  I mean down time.  Like, a power outage or a computer that just went blue screen on you.  If you work in finance, for example, you know there’s always going to be a day – sometime right in the middle of your budget cycle, when you’re really crunching to get things done – when the planning system breaks.  Templates won’t save, models won’t calculate, whatever.  You’re stuck.  And it’s not something that you can fix, rather, you have to wait around for someone who works for the planning software company, or a tech in your own office, to get around to fixing it.  So you wait.  Sometimes there is thumb-twiddling.  By several team members.

Do you know what I do when this happens?  I go home.  Win for my client (she’s not paying me to sit around and wait), win for me (unexpected free time, plus I’m not sitting around and waiting).  It’s like a snow day.

So, as far as weather goes, there certainly wasn’t any snow on the ground – it was almost 70 degrees and sunny around these parts (which made it the BEST SNOW DAY EVER).  But for those of you who hail from a wintry climate, you know what I mean.  I thought I was going to be at work today, so it’s not like I made any other plans (chores, to-do lists, commitments)… and all of a sudden, there’s just this free stretch of time, with which I can do anything I want.

And it was glorious.  I ran a quick errand (returning shoes that I totally did not need, which meant it was also like I was getting paid for the afternoon), then spent the rest of my day doing the raking and hedge-trimming that I haven’t been able to bring myself to tackle for months now.  And that may sound like a to-do list, but here’s the thing.  It was the most beautiful day.  I was already out and about, and planning on working (so there wasn’t that weekend-y temptation to stay in PJs and read).  And I have so wanted to clean up that yard.  At the end of the day, I felt refreshed, rewarded, and a little bit sunburned.

Tomorrow, I’ll start early to make up for the downtime.

06 Jan

I can’t resist putting in a plug for the long-form article. Long live the printed page!

My favorite part of Caitlin Flanagan’s book review of  Joan Didion’s Blue Nights, in this month’s issue of The Atlantic:

I don’t like writers.  I like Carly Simon and Elton John and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  I like getting out of Berkeley altogether, driving through the Caldecott Tunnel and going to the Sunvalley Mall, where they have a food court, a movie theater, birds in cages, a Macy’s, a J. C. Penney, and a Sears.  I am trying to make a life very different from the one I’m growing up in, which is filled with intellectuals and writers and passionate ideas about long-dead people.  I’m growing up with people who take a dim view of America (many who come to dinner parties at our house hate America), but I love America, a place whose principal values and delights are on display at the Sunvalley Mall.‘  (Flanagan, Caitlin.  “The Autumn of Joan Didion.”  The Atlantic Jan/Feb 2012: 95-106.  Print.)

Oh, to grow up in a house like Caitlin’s.

Gin and magazines, the best kind of Thursday night.

04 Jan

New Year’s Meal

Argh.  Do you know how aggravating having your house broken into can be?  I mean, first, there’s the obvious irritation of coming home to find the broken window and the empty space on your desk where your MacBook used to sit (and don’t get me wrong, that part’s really bad).  But then there’s this lingering annoyance when, months later, you go looking for something you haven’t used in a while (like that cord that connects your camera to your computer so you can download the photos you’ve taken), and you know that you always keep this certain thing in the same place, and it’s not there.  So you go looking in the four other places that it just might be, and it’s not in any of those places, either.  And then, even though you’ve been fighting it, you just have to give in and get mad at those robbers (again) because dammit!  It’s like they just keep stealing from me.  And what did they even need with that cord anyway?

So.  Perhaps we have established that we will not be viewing any new photos on cindyscovel.com anytime in the near future.  We’ll see.  I’m still in that state of deciding how much I need to replace and, well, this is probably one of the necessary items (I mean, I’m still taking pictures), but I’m also kind of holding out on the little things (is it possible that I just misplaced it?  Yes, it is).

In any case, I really wanted to start this post with a picture of my New Year’s meal from the other night, because that would be the thing to start out a post with recipes, wouldn’t it?  Instead, you will just have to read the recipes and imagine it.  Or maybe cook them, and then you wouldn’t need the imagining part.  It is probably too late to get in on the good luck and good fortune that comes with these black-eyed peas and cabbage (that’s for January 1, you see – apologies for my delay), but you can still enjoy the deliciousness all year-round.

Here you go…

Spicy Black-Eyed Peas from Paula Deen


  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 (16-ounce) package dried black-eyed peas, washed
  • 1 (12-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups water


In a large saucepan, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon, crumble, and set aside to use as a topping for the peas. Saute the onion in the bacon drippings until tender. Add the peas, diced tomatoes and green chiles, salt, chili powder, pepper and water. Cover and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the peas are tender. Add additional water, if necessary. Serve garnished with crumbled bacon.

A NOTE ABOUT THE PEAS: If you follow the link to this recipe, and check out the comments, you’ll see a lot of discussion about whether or not to soak the peas/beans.  I followed the “quick-soak” method on the pea package (peas + water, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover, wait an hour, rinse and drain), and then PD’s recipe took about an hour to cook.  I also halved the recipe.

Molly’s Recipe for Braised Brussels Sprouts (I’ll explain) from Orangette


1 ¼ lb. Brussels sprouts
3 Tbs unsalted butter
¼ tsp coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice, or more to taste


First, prep the Brussels sprouts. Trim the stem end of each sprout and pull off any ragged or nasty outer leaves. Cut the sprouts in half from stem end to tip, and then cut each half in half again. Ultimately, you want little wedges.

In a large (12-inch) skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are nicely browned in spots, about 5 minutes or so. I like mine to get some good color here, so that they have a sweetly caramelized flavor.

Pour in the cream, stir to mix, and then cover the pot. Reduce the heat to low or medium low: you want to keep the pan at a slow simmer. Braise until the sprouts are tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a paring knife, about 30-35 minutes. The cream will have reduced some and will have taken on a creamy tan color.

Remove the lid, and stir in the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary. Let the pan simmer, uncovered, for a minute or two to thicken the cream to a glaze that loosely coats the sprouts. Serve immediately.

NOTES: First, if you follow the link, you’ll find more headnotes, plus you’ll get a dose of Orangette, which is always good.  Second, this recipe is for brussels sprouts, not cabbage (I know).  I actually follow the recipe for braised cabbage found in Molly’s book, A Homemade Life – a good read, and full of tasty morsels to try.  To prepare cabbage instead of the sprouts, cut a small cabbage into 8 wedges and arrange in the pan.  Turn the wedges after 5-7 minutes in the pan, and add the cream (2/3 c instead of a whole one).  Cover them for 20 min, then flip again and cover for another 20 min.  Follow the instructions for the lemon juice above.  Enjoy some delicious comfort food, and a prosperous New Year!

02 Jan

40 Days

I’ve decided to start off the year with two 40-day commitments.  I’ve done this before, with positive results; along with the habit-forming part of it, I’ve found that it’s a good way to mark a new chapter, to set a new foundation for things to come.  This time, I want to get back to a daily yoga practice (I’ve taken a break due to a sore knee and a bit of burn-out, truth be told) and I’d also like to make writing a bigger priority.  So, with that, my 40-day challenge…

1. Daily Sadhana

Okay, not the 2 1/2 hour kind.  I realize I haven’t said much (if anything) about my Kundalini yoga practice on this site, so might as well just jump in with the crazy and let you decide if you’re into it.   The word sadhana refers to a daily spiritual practice.  Many people follow the Aquarian Sadhana, a practice that takes about 2 1/2 hours, and is usually performed at 4:30 in the morning.  You can read more about sadhana here.

I’ll occasionally practice an Aquarian Sadhana, but it’s typically only for special times of the year – I’m just not ready to commit to the whole enchilada.  Here’s what my daily practice looks like:

– Tune in with the Adi Mantra

– 10-minute warm-up series, which includes stretch pose, a counter-pose where I’m rolled into a ball, and ego eradicator

– 11-minute meditation

I’ll often use the 11 minutes for silent meditation, but this time, I wanted to get back to a prescribed meditation.  I settled on the Sodarshan Chakra Kriya.  Here’s the brief description from 3HO: ‘One of the greatest transformational meditations, the most effective way to clear your subconscious garbage.’  Sounds good, right?  I’ll practice that for 11 minutes, and follow it up with 11 minutes of silent meditation.

Wow.  I had a little more to say about that than I thought I would.

2. Write (here, on this blog) every day

Yes, every day for 40 days.  Huh.  I was going to say, “it’ll be like my own NaBloPoMo, without the ‘Na’,” but apparently we’re doing this every month now.  Who knew?  Okay, well, add that to the list of prompts that will help me along here.  Some of it will be great!  Some of it will not be great!  But like I said, I have some help, which also includes:

No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog, by Margaret Mason

Prompts from the Dream Lab class I took over a year ago (I was a bit delinquent in that one, and have been meaning to get back to this work)

Mondo Beyondo Dream Generator questions, available when you sign up for the mailing list (Am I a Jen Lemen and Andrea Scher superfan?  Yes, I am.)

Prompts from my coach, Rachel W. Cole

So.  That’s all I need, right?  Oh, and um, time, and commitment, the willingness to be vulnerable, and something to say.  Just that.  I’ll be fine.  Can you tell that this is way harder than the yoga thing for me?  And this is precisely why I’m ready for the 40-day challenge.

Okay… go!

01 Jan

New Year’s Resolutions

Planner and goal-setter that I am, I’m not really one for making resolutions.  I think there’s plenty of information out there on the downside of overhauling your life on January 1, so I’ll spare you that discussion here.  I do have a new year’s ritual, though – one that works for me, and maybe one that will work for you, too.

Each year, I take stock of what’s happened over the past 12 months, and I meditate (think/write/talk with friends and family) on what it is I’d like to bring into my life in the year to come.  It’s simple, takes only a couple of hours to do really well, and never involves dieting.  Oh, and it works.

This practice has evolved over several years of collecting advice from people I trust on the matters of personal planning, intention, and success (I’ve linked to my favorite resources at the bottom of this page).  And over these years, I have seen magic happen every time: new friendships, home sales, personal growth, good jobs, … the list goes on and on.

This year, I stuck pretty close to the Mondo Beyondo script – it’s what felt right this time around.  I’ve decided not to share all of it here – for one thing, my list of accomplishments and challenges are probably not that interesting for most of you, and for another, I think the pressure of an audience sometimes takes away from my ability to be totally honest with myself.  I will share the second half, though, since it helps me with accountability, and perhaps it helps you to see an example of how this works.

With that, I wish you a very Happy New Year!

3. What else do you need to say about the year to declare it complete?

2011 was a very good year – better than any in a long time.  Part of it was fun, and part of it was relaxing, part of it was really hard – and almost a full half of it was downright shitty.

What made it so good then?  I took risks.  I listened to my soul more closely than I ever have.  I had to practice this – and a lot of 2011 was about that practice.  I got enough sleep.  I expanded my boundaries.  I challenged my definition of myself.

When I look at the list of things I have to grieve about 2011 [Question 2] – the disappointments, the shortcomings – my first reaction is that it is long.  Immediately, my second reaction is a feeling of guilt because, of course, they are all first-world problems, not a one of them resulting in injury or homelessness.  Still, they are real to me, and I know it’s good to acknowledge what has caused me to stumble throughout the year.  After that – and this is what it’s about – I’m grateful (honestly).  This is a good list to work on.  There are things I did not succeed at this year.  And that’s what next year is for.

Thank you, 2011, for all that you have given me.  I declare you complete!

4. What is your primary intention or theme for 2012?

2012 is my year of FREEDOM.

Freedom to be whatever my soul desires.  Freedom to find new love and new friendships.  Freedom to travel.  Freedom from self-judgment and criticism.  Freedom from material trappings.  Freedom from “what will people think?”.




Mondo Beyondo – Completion Worksheet, Class

Andrea Scher’s thoughts on her word of the year

Chris Guillebeau’s instructions for conducting an annual review

Christine Kane’s Word of the Year Discovery Tool

05 Dec

New home page, with help from Wordle

It’s been a rainy, gray, chilly Sunday here in Austin, and thank goodness for that – I finally found that stretch of time that I’ve needed to make some good progress on this new website.  I’ve been futzing around with the home page for the past hour or so, and I just had to share.  I made this using Wordle:

made with Wordle at www.wordle.net

So fun! And completely free! Thanks to Brene Brown for pointing me in Wordle’s direction. Now go give it a try yourself!