Adventures in Austerity: This is Happening!

Spending Fast Guidelines | Whisper & Howl

Not Spending = Saving, right?

This is happening! I embarked on an Adventure in Austerity (not to be confused with a Spending Fast, which is a trademarked phrase created by the brilliant Anna Newell Jones of And Then We Saved)!

One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to reexamine my spending habits and jump-start my savings. I struggled with the decision to freeze my discretionary spending, because it’s hard. It means spending money only on essentials and exercising a lot of restraint. I realized it would be easier to start if I took a month to prepare by making a list of things I wanted (like new Chelsea boots and a harmonium) and upcoming expenses throughout the year (yoga insurance renewal, contacts). I evaluated the “wants” and chose a few things to purchase, and I planned out the upcoming expenses so I’d remember to budget for them. I think this really helped, and not just because I now have a nice pair of boots that I wear almost every day and a harmonium I play every night. The process of prioritizing and scheduling things out was useful.

Because I’ve been living partially on savings and my (very low interest) credit card for the last 5 months, my bank accounts are basically down to $0. I’m starting from scratch here, but that’s okay. I just got my first paycheck from my new full time job and I am so excited to put a big chunk of it into savings!

It also helped to set goals.

My Savings Goals

  1. Get my Emergency Savings back to $1000. It has pained me to watch this dwindle. I had to dip into it for essentials each month that I was underemployed, and at this point it is down to the minimum account balance requirement: $25. Ouch.
  2. Pay off credit card debt. At the moment, this is at an all-time, scary high of $2100. I didn’t touch the thing in February (another reason my Emergency Savings is gone). In the interest of full disclosure, I might make one final purchase on it before laying it to rest for the next 6 months: $200 plane tickets to Iceland. Which brings me to my next goal…
  3. Save up for birthday trip to Iceland. Yes, my priorities could be better. No, I am not going to reconsider. This, also, is happening.
  4. Build 3-6 months of Emergency Savings. This is 3-6 months of what I would need to live off of if I had absolutely no income. I’m estimating that 3 months would be about $4500.
  5. Build General Savings, or save up for more specific goals (buy a house?! Is that crazy?!).

My PLan

  1. Don’t increase spending just because income has increased. In order to save money, I have to stick only to planned purchases. This means budgeting based on my anticipated needs rather than leaving in extra “just in case” cushioning. Living on less these last few months has helped me to trim some fat from my budget. For instance, I’ve reduced my food budget by nearly half since this time last year. I’ve also cut way back on miscellaneous personal items like toiletries, and I rarely buy clothes or home-goods. Now I have a better idea of what I need to budget for based on my needs, not my desires, and on m
  2. Set saving priorities–and get excited about them! See above for goals.
  3. Set spending priorities. Determine needs v. wants. I use the word “needs” loosely to define things I am not willing to part with, such as sewing club, acupuncture, and Netflix.
  4. Shop with intention. Have a plan! Make lists! Stay on task!
  5. Think before purchasing. Take a moment. Count to 10. Breathe deeply.
  6. Don’t shop when hungry or stressed
  7. Make do and mend, reuse creatively, make things, use what you already have, borrow from friends, and find free things to do!
  8. Think of this as an ADVENTURE!

THIS IS HAPPENING! I started March 1st. I have paid for gas and my sewing classes (needs) but have refrained from buying some fantastic rayon-cotton blend jersey fabric that is on sale and would look gorgeous as a tee shirt dress, but that is categorically not a need. I have plenty of sewing projects lined up to keep me busy for months, and I already own the fabric! It’s the little victories, you guys.

How do you feel about saving? Is it easy or difficult, or have you never considered the fact that you’re 31 and have $40 in your Simple IRA account?!?!

 

 

 

 

 

Give Your Leather Some Love

How to Clean and Polish leather shoes

As an aspiring minimalist, poor-ish person and collector of boots, I have learned to take care of my leather shoes. Otherwise, they will fall apart. Think about it: leather is skin, too. It needs to be cleaned, moisturized and protected in order to stay supple and flexible and to retain its luster. Without regular care, shoes will dry out and crack. I’ve brought dusty, dull shooties back to life with a flannel cloth and some Kiwi soap. I’ve rescued Frye boots from eBay and made them shine with clear polish, and extended their life with a trip to the cobbler. I intend to extend the life of my favorite ankle boots until I can afford an upgrade, and I’d love to show you how.

Before

Before – The clogs wanted some nurturing and the booties were in dire shape.

YOu will need:

  • A soft cloth
  • Kiwi saddle soap
  • A shoe brush (optional)
  • Clear shoe polish (optional)
  • Weatherproofing spray (optional)

instructions:

  1. Clean shoes with a damp cloth.
  2. Pop open the Kiwi soap. Rub the surface of the soap with a wet cloth to create a lather.
  3. Rub this delightful rich later all over your shoes with the cloth. The leather will get darker since it’s wet. Don’t worry, it will lighten back up as it dries. Of course, if the leather is dried out then it will take on a deeper, richer color due to the moisturizing agents in the soap.
  4. Let shoes dry. Repeat the above if you’d like.
  5. Buff dry shoes with a dry, soft cloth. They will start to look buttery and have a delightful sheen.
  6. Optional: protect shoes with weatherproofing spray and/or polish them up. I like to use a clear polish.
  7. Enjoy your beautiful “new” shoes!
Give Your Leather Some Love! How to take care of your shoes to extend their life and make them glow | Whisper & Howl #leather #kiwisoap #saddle #whisperandhowl #whisper&howl #cleaning #shoes

After – Can you tell how much better the clogs look? The booties didn’t really change but the oiled nubuck of the clogs is so much richer! I also scraped off the labels, which had shifted and left sticky residue under my heels.

This process can be done on any of your leather goods. My favorite bag desperately needs some attention.

Do you have any tips for taking care of clothing? 

 

I am Trying to Save Money and It is Hard

Spending Fast | Whisper  Howl  #spendingfast #saving #whisperandhowl #bujo #bulletjournal

In the last couple of years, I’ve realized the utter necessity of saving money. I have kept up a budget for nearly 2 years; have maintained an Emergency Savings fund at around $1000; and I’ve finally got an IRA. These things are all very empowering and have definitely reduced some money-stress. A good witch should be in control of her finances! However, I have not  been able to increase my general savings or save up for any items or experiences I crave, such as an overseas trip or a harmonium. Since my position (and hours, and pay) was reduced to part time in October, I’ve been trying to earn a few extra bucks here and there while searching for full time work in my field. I’ve also been using my credit card much more often than I’d like–I’d love to never use it at all–and utilizing my Emergency Savings fund for Important Things like rent and utilities, when needed.

In December it occurred to me that I should cut way down on my spending, which to be fair was already moderate, and work on building my savings and setting money aside for goals like travel. To that end, I’ve been attempting a Spending Fast. I say attempting because so far, I’m not great at it. Actually, I’m not doing a Spending Fast so much as I am trying to live within my significantly reduced means.

Enter the Spending Fast, created by Anna from And Then We Saved, which as you can imagine is a blog about saving money. She used the system to pay off debt. I just need to get through. I do think, though, that it’s easier to save with a plan (saying “I’m on a Spending Fast!” feels nicer than “I’m broke.”) and that if I can do this then I actually could pay off this new credit card debt and possibly (gasp!) save some money.

The system is simple:

Don’t spend money on anything that you don’t categorize as a Need. If you look at her list, you can see that she used fantastic resolve in eliminating “wants.” My list, however, includes such “needs” as sewing classes, which I love more than anything and refuse to give up (plus I’d lose my spot, which I waited to get for a whole year!) and Netflix (justifiable since it saves me money on going out, I SWEAR). I’m also not giving up acupuncture. Nope.

See why I’m not great at this?

Some things are harder to give up than others. “Specialty food items” could be like, half my grocery budget if you consider my dietary restrictions and my penchant for expensive pickles. Fortunately, I developed a taste for kitchari last summer and lentils are cheap. It’s tough for me to avoid buying art supplies and fabric, but I stocked up on fabrics in advance and people have been giving me their old stashes (thank you!).

I’m basically coming in at the exact amount I’m making without adding anything to my normal budget categories such as “Mad Money” (for miscellaneous things), “Entertainment” and “Miscellaneous Personal” (for cosmetics, toiletries, candles, etc). I’m trying really hard not to buy “Books and Magazines” and to make all my “Gifts” from materials I already have (like that fabric stash). I am really interested, though, in trying to keep to this very low budget once I do find that elusive full time job, or more part time work. When my resources increase, can I apply that extra cash to my debt and savings?

I did an okay job of Fasting in December, but January was harder. I did not do well. I spent a lot of money on eating out and going to bars, which I don’t usually do. I got a new job (!) and bought myself some presents to celebrate (oops). For February, I should make a little more money because of my tax return and some extra babysitting gigs, but I also have a work trip to NYC and I went ahead and budgeted for dining out, which is inevitable, and added a little money to my Entertainment and Mad Money categories. I’d rather be realistic than pretend I’m Fasting and end up way over budget.

My plan now is to really, truly start paying off my credit card debt and building my savings from March 1st onward. I set some goals, which will help. It seems like my astrological forecast for this year has a lot to do with money and resources, too. I’m excited to finally save some money (and maybe take a big trip!). I’m going to buckle down, I swear. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Winter Capsule Wardrobe!

I’m back! I took an unintentionally long break from writing and I have returned to my desk with lots of ideas, my new Bullet Journal, some photos and a cup of Emergen-C (grown-up Koolaid). I intend on posting regularly from now on, starting with my WINTER CAPSULE!

Winter Capsule Wardrobe! on Whisper & Howl #whisper& howl #winter #capsule #wardrobe #fashion

I did the process a little differently this time. I did not fill out the Un-Fancy Wardrobe Planner. I did a little bit of Colette’s Wardrobe Architect, mostly pinning inspirational photos. Actually, I did sort of a hybrid of these 2 tools, which I will develop into a helpful guide for future use. Mostly, though, I just went through my closet and sorted out my cold-weather clothes and pushed the warmer-weather clothes to the back of the closet. There were several dresses in there that I had forgotten about and have worked into my wardrobe. I also have extensive sewing plans, which will add several very wearable pieces. Here’s a list of what I’ve got:

Finally, my Winter Capsule Wardrobe! on Whisper & Howl #whisper&howl #capsule #wardrobe #winter #fashion

This wardrobe developed organically from what I already own. I added 6 sweaters: a long dark green cardigan, a cozy red sweater, a yellow one (my favorite accent color), all new; 2 oversized men’s sweaters from the local thrift store, and a fisherman’s sweater than I bought for my Dad in Ireland years ago and have claimed as my own. I also bought 2 pairs of flannel-lined leggings which I am counting as tights/underwear rather than wardrobe items, but which are really wonderful and snuggly, and some new socks. The socks are Kirkland Signature from Costco, which the internet tells me are made by Wigwam and are an amazing deal.

For silhouettes, I am into skinny jeans with big sweaters, ankle boots and warm socks; shift dresses or fitted skirts with over-sized sweaters, leggings or tights, socks and ankle boots; and circle skirts or fit-and-flare dresses with cropped sweaters or jackets, tights/leggings, socks and ankle boots. I’ve been wearing the same GAP ankle boots every day and they are definitely going to fall apart this year. I will be replacing them with a nicer model in the Fall. I have 2 cropped sweatshirts on my sewing list, which I will talk more about in another post.

Obsessed with my ankle boots | Winter Capsule Wardrobe on Whisper & Howl #winter #capsule #wardrobe #fashion #ankle #boots

I’ll collect some outfit photos as the Winter wears on. I may have to deviate from capsule wardrobe “rules” of only buying items once a season, in order to snag some Bean or duck boots if I can find a good pair on eBay. It’s going to be a wet winter and if I’m going to keep up my ankle boot streak, I will need something sturdier.

So, that’s it! For Spring, I’ll share more of my process. I’m pretty sure I won’t be buying anything, since I got so much new stuff last Spring and since sewing is way more fun than shopping.

Have you started a capsule yet? What are your Winter go-to pieces? 

Years

Goodbye, 2015. You were a great nasty beast of a Teacher. Thank you for all of your lessons.

Hi, 2016. I am so happy to meet you! If you could take it easy on the real heavy shit, that would be nice.

Love to you both!

Full Witch Reading List

Books to blow your Beautiful minds

Full Witch Reading List | Whisper & Howl #readinglist #fullwitch #whisper&howl #self-care #greenbeauty #sacredfeminine #tarot #astrology

Over the years, I’ve amassed a collection of poignant, insightful, lovely and enlightening books that have led me down the Full Witch path. I’ve created a list of some of the best books on topics from sacred feminism to green beauty. I am linking to them on Goodreads rather than Amazon, to encourage you to seek them out in small, local new and used bookstores or your public library. I will continue to update this list as my mind is blown by new reads.

The Sacred Feminine

And of course, sacred feminism.

YOGA and Other Wisdom

Astrology

Self-Care

This is a category that would be called Self-Help if that particular heading didn’t hold strange and sad connotations. These books are manuals for self-love, empowerment, compassion and power. Most follow a format I find incredibly useful: personal stories, examples from clients/friends, tactics and techniques. All have changed my life in a powerful, positive way.

Green Beauty and Natural Health

Tarot and Other Oracles

 

 

DIY Miracle Grains

Treat Yourself to this DIY for soft, radiant skin

Oh, December! I have never had holiday stress until this year, and it is hitting me HARD. This is the first holiday season I’ve had without my Dad. It’s a huge time for my close, loving family, with Thanksgiving (traditionally a feast at our homestead, prepared by Dad), and Dad’s and my littlest sister’s birthdays book-ending Christmas. This season has deepened my sense of loss and heartache even as I am grateful for my family, friends, and the long nights that provide time for the rest I so badly need. It’s also a time when I have spent loads of money on gifts for others and myself as well as on going out with visiting friends. This year, however, I am especially money-poor. I’ve decided to do a Spending Fast at least for December, meaning I spend money on absolutely nothing that isn’t a need (as defined by me–details in a later post).

What this all means is that I am desperate for rest and rejuvenation, preferably of the spa treatment type, and that I must use the resources I already have and be creative with gifts and everything else this month.

So it is a very good thing that I have a cabinet full of ingredients for DIY skincare! I recently had some ladies over to make our own bath products and tried making and using Miracle Grains for the first time. This weekend, treat yourself to an easy at-home facial using this wonderful DIY beauty product. Miracle Grains has only 6 ingredients, is simple to make, and keeps well. It smells wonderful and feels delightfully different. Whip up a big batch and package it in little jars as gifts for friends–or keep it all for yourself!

Miracle Grains DIY | Whisper & Howl #diybeauty #naturalbeauty #diy #spa #whisperandhowl

This recipe will create a batch of dry “grains” that can be mixed with water, honey and/or rosewater to create a facial scrub/cleanser, or left on for several minutes as a face mask. I’ve used it both ways and love it. I recommend mixing the paste in a small bowl, as it is hard to do it in your hands! For an extra luxurious treatment, paint the mixture on your face and leave it to dry. The brush on your face feels magical. As a mask, this would be lovely to use after a steam facial!

Miracle Grains 

(Recipe from Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar)

Ingredients

• 1 cup oats, finely ground
• 2 cups white clay
• 1/4 cup almonds, finely ground
• 1/8 cup lavender flowers, finely ground
• 1/8 cup rose petals, finely ground

1. Combine all the ingredients and mix well. An electric spice or coffee grinder works well for the oats, lavender and rose petals. I had almond meal on hand from Trader Joe’s. For convenience, store a weeks’ worth of the grains in a container next to the sink, but keep the remainder in the refrigerator or other cool place to preserve their freshness.  A spice jar with a shaker top also works well as a storage container.

2. To use, mix 1–2 teaspoons of the cleansing grains with enough water to make a paste. Gently massage onto your face. Rinse off with warm water after washing, or leave on as a mask until dry and then rinse. Follow up with a toner and face cream or moisturizer for radiant, healthy skin.

I’m going on a mini-silent retreat this weekend while I undertake Advanced Yoga Teacher Training. What are your plans for this first weekend in December?

Unpacking Embodiment

Unpacking Embodiment | thoughts on body issues at Whisper & Howl #whisperandhowl #bodyissues #fullwitch #tarot

I did a Tarot spread last night with these questions:

  1. What is coming forth now?
  2. What is trying to come forth?
  3. How can I get out of my own way (so it can come forth)?

I was surprised by the cards I got, which were:

  1. Judgement
  2. 5 of Cups
  3. Knight of Swords

Roughly, this means that ideas/feelings/issues/etc from the past, possibly that have already been “dealt with” are coming forth; that I will feel disappointed and there will be a need for self-forgiveness; and that the energy will be swift, or perhaps that I should just deal with it swiftly.

I had no idea when I went to bed what this meant, but in my dreams (which I can’t really remember), there was something about “unpacking” and I woke up thinking “I need to unpack this,” and then when I really really woke up I thought: BODY ISSUES.

This is me, unpacking.

I’ve said recently I don’t have “body issues,” and that is mostly true (inasmuch as anyone can not have them). Mostly, I just decided that I don’t have time for that shit. I see pictures of myself from times in my life when I actively did not appreciate or like my body or the way I looked, and I always looked fine–or even great!–and I decided that I am not going to waste time or energy feeling shitty because of the way I think that I might appear to others.

Because that’s it, really, isn’t it? It’s not about how we look to ourselves. Generally, outside of badly lit photos, I think I look beautiful. I am more comfortable in my body than ever. I like and feel good in my wardrobe, I don’t much care about sizes, and I’m healthier than I’ve been in a long time. I am more in tune with my body and what it feels and needs than ever before. And yet…

I’ve been feeling lonely lately. When I feel lonely, I think about why I am alone. Now, I truly know in my soul that:

  1. I am not alone. There are many people who love and support me, and who think I am wonderful. I am filled with love for my friends and family and with the love they show me.
  2. There is someone out there for me…we just haven’t met yet. And might not for years. But I know he’s there.
  3. I sincerely don’t have the energy to get involved with anyone right now, even though I would enjoy some flirting and attention and all that comes along with that. I don’t think I’ve kissed anyone in at least a year.

Of course, that is just a disclaimer, because I certainly find myself doing the WHY ME?! What is wrong with ME?! Thing. Mostly I just remember that my astrologer told me I have a “strong relational path,” remind myself that I haven’t met the right person, and go about my lovely life. But I always have the underlying, miserable, nagging thought that I’m just not pretty enough. Or not thin enough. There are other things I can spiral into but this one is just so easy. It’s my go-to self-loathing statement.

Why do I feel this way? I want to say that I am a perfectly average, well-dressed, pretty woman, but that doesn’t matter at all. Everyone deserves love! It is out there for everyone. Saying those things about myself inherently implies that I deserve love because I do fit into a standard of beauty, albeit not the super model standard, or the manic pixie dreamgirl standard, or the bookish hipster standard (all of whom, incidentally, are thin and beautiful and have perfect bangs and work out a lot or don’t need to work out and can eat anything they want and are genetically blessed). I want to say, there are plenty of unattractive people who are happily loved!–but that, too, acknowledges this standard and somehow defends its existence by naming it.

My point, I think, is that I still equate deserving love with fitting a patriarchal standard of beauty and womanhood (or girlhood, if I’m honest. There’s not a lot of room for women in patriarchy.). Even if I know the standard is bullshit. Even if I want to crush the patriarchy. Even if I sincerely believe that every single human on this earth deserves love regardless of any physical factors. Even if I do think I’m pretty swell and look beautiful most of the time and even if I don’t really give a shit what other people think about what I look like because I do have some confidence in my own looks. When the loneliness hits, it needs justification, and “not pretty enough” is it. Also “not thin enough.”

There’s a lot I want to say here about the Divine Feminine and Shakti and embodiment. I don’t know if I can get it all out. I am starting to feel embodied. I don’t think most of us do. I think we have bodies-as-containers, bodies that allow us to get through our days and hold our minds. I don’t think most of us truly inhabit our bodies, these wonderfully creative, active, sensual, loving, feeling vessels for our souls. Instead, we objectify ourselves. We view our bodies as status symbols. Like having a fancy car, important job, expensive clothes, and diamond rings, we use our bodies to fit into a hierarchy. We fulfill the standards of beauty to signify our worth.

Bodies are messy. They get dirty. They are beautiful and magical and challenging and perfect. They are loaded with all of our emotional past, our karma, our shaktis, muscle memory, energetic memory. They hurt because we hurt. I want to be more embodied. I want to truly live, breathe, love, move, create, and BE in my body, with my body. I don’t want to think, “I’m not enough.” I want to know deep in my soul that I am exactly enough, that I always have been and always will be. I’ll meet someone one day who agrees and we can be enough together.

Crush the patriarchy.

 

Have a Full Witch Weekend: November 20-22

We’re experiencing unseasonably warm weather in the Ol’ North State, with highs yesterday in the 70s and today in the 60s. There’s nothing unusual about this but it does make dressing complicated. I remember Thanksgivings past playing touch football in shorts and tshirts, or shivering in wool sweaters and coats. It’s always a toss-up. So, while I won’t put this in my official list below, as that would be redundant, I do want to suggest that you spend lots of time outdoors while this warm spell lasts. Soak up that Vitamin D before it’s too late! It’s a good weekend for raking leaves, hiking, running around with the dogs, throwing a Frisbee, or anything that gets you outside and sweating. Or sitting and reading. Whatever. Just go outside!

Here are a few other things you can do to have a solid weekend:

Follow the Stars | Have a Full Witch Weekend with Whisper & Howl #whisper&howl #weekend #fullwitch #weekend #astrology #stars

Follow the Stars

Dive into astrology this weekend (or dip in a toe) and make a decision based on the stars! The current cosmology is as good a reason as any to set a deadline or start date for a new project, make a date for a solitary ritual or gathering of friends, begin a journey or end a trial. I do this sometimes when I just need a nudge towards creating a deadline or getting a start, or if I need to hold off on making a decision. Sometimes not doing anything is the best decision. My point is, if you need to do or not do something but are having trouble, use the stars as a guide. Many cultures use astrology to determine auspicious dates and schedule around them. Give it a try! I’m not saying you have to make huge life decisions this way, but one little thing. Trust me. It’s fun.

Here are some of my favorite astrology sites:

Chani Nicholas

The Astrotwins

The New Paradigm Astrology Cooperative

 

Support Local Farmers

Is there a Farmers Market in your town? If not, you should probably move. If so, grace it with your presence! The Farmers Market is a great place to connect with the people who tend the earth and provide you and yours with sustenance, energy, beauty and flavor. I usually bring $20-40 in cash and spend it all. Sometimes I don’t have a lot of veggies on my list so I get to buy some flowers, tea, jam, coffee, or plants. I like to walk around and check out the options before I settle on any particular vendor.

The Farmers Market is also a great place to get clean meat. If you’re a meat-eater, you should strongly consider getting as much meat as possible from local, organic farmers who give their animals lots of space and healthy feed. If the beef you eat has eaten corn or soy, you are eating corn or soy. You want to consume meat from animals who have been treated well, in the most natural environment possible. Or, don’t eat meat!

Whatever you do, take some time to talk to the farmers and those who are tending the stalls. Learn about what they do and thank them.

 

Sleep In

I know I will.

Doing anything special this weekend? Anything Thanksgiving-y? 

 

 

 

Becoming a Morning Person: The Hard Choice

Becoming a Morning Person | Whisper & Howl | #whisper&howl #morning #sadhana #habits #willpower

Oh, is that what sunrise is?

I think it’s time to revisit my quest to become a Morning Person. It seems that my problem lies not in establishing a routine, having the right alarm clock, or lack of desire. My issue, which is applies to so many more things that this particular trial, is in making a choice.

I had a really good stretch of waking up at 7:30 and doing some ayurvedic cleansing practices, cooking breakfast, doing yoga and mantra, showering etc etc. It felt really nice to have this extra time to myself and I felt prepared for my day, relaxed and easy rather than already behind schedule, frantic and stressed. Those feelings were nice. I like them. I’d like to have that again.

Then, my Dad died. It has been much harder to get out of bed. This is not because I feel depressed or am overcome by sobbing (although the sobbing and anxiety has definitely popped up and I have taken a few mental health days here and there). I haven’t really analyzed what is driving me to hit the snooze alarm until now.

I spent this past weekend in Advanced Yoga Teacher Training studying the Bhagavad Gita. This is a text about karma, which means action. We discussed (and will continue to discuss, intensively) sadhana, or practice. Sadhana consists of the wonderful things we do in our daily yoga practice, including asana (the physical movement), mantra, self-study, meditation, and more. In order to develop a steady sadhana, one has to do it every day. This is…hard.

It’s hard to do something every day! It’s easy to get excited about a practice, especially one like asana that makes you feel fantastic. It’s tempting to dive into a practice whole-heartedly and with commitment. It is much, much harder to sustain a practice. It gets old. It gets stale, Excuses are made, alternative acts performed. We skip days. The practice falls away.

This is what I see happening time and again with my morning routine (and my sadhana, but that’s a different story). It’s not that I have grand plans for what to do with the extra time each morning. I don’t know if it would help to have a plan. What is hard for me is making the hard decision every day.

I love lazing in bed. I think my bed is divine. It’s soft, cozy, comfortable, and safe. I feel safe and nurtured and warm when I’m in bed. When I leave bed, I feel the rush of time, the pressure of commitments, the weight of emotions. I need nurturing, safety, support and comfort in my life. It is difficult to make the choice to climb out of the sweet womb of my bed into the chilly, harsh world–even on days when I wake up feeling great. Even when I am excited to go wherever it is I have to be. Even when it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

So, how do I make that choice? What will help me?

Here’s what I’m thinking.

1. Just do it

Oh, gods, that sounds terrible.

We talked this weekend about developing will. I’d never really thought of will as something to be developed. I thought, you either have it or you don’t. My willpower is weak, I thought. I’m just not born with the sort of willpower that creates successful, Type A, morning people.

This is not actually true. What I happen to be weaker in is will development, which I may have just made up. Now I’m thinking that I lack the willpower to develop will. That’s just a rabbit hole of thoughts that I am not trying to climb down right now.

Anyway, how do you develop will? By doing the thing you need to do. By doing it every day. By making the hard choice even though it is hard. By making the hard choice because it is hard. The things that are the best for us aren’t always the easiest. I’ve been told these things become easier with the doing. You get used to making the choice and to the wonderful consequences of making that choice. That’s what they say, anyway (“they” being my teachers and maybe also Lord Krishna).

2. find alternative ways to satisfy needs

I was just typing “making a plan doesn’t work for me,” but I think that’s a little lie. Making a plan may very well work wonders for me if I can just make the hard choice. I don’t, however, think that the plan will help me make the choice. I can review my lovely plans for morning time in my head for many minutes while I lie under my comforter and still choose to snooze for 10 minutes (6 times in a row, which really is not very healthy). But…it could also be that I’ve been going about this the wrong way.

Making a plan has been about finding things that I think would be great to do in the morning, like go for a run, do sadhana, and journal. These are, of course, totally great things, but are there better things?

Let’s look at my list of needs: comfort, support, safety, and nurturing. I also need order and relaxation (as opposed to being rushed, scattered and stressed). Some of those needs are satisfied by lounging as long as possible in the morning, but that behavior also helps to create the feelings of rushing and stress and scattered brain which I do not like at all. Are there alternative practices I can do in the morning that make me feel the way I want to (warm, comforted, rested, and safe)? Am I willing to find out if there are, and to create a lovely morning routine that would fulfill my needs? Could I use these practices as further incentive to make the hard choice, knowing that I can continue to feel lovely outside of my down-filled heaven?

I think so. I hope so. I’m going to try.

Do you have habits that required consistent practice in making a hard choice? Is there one in particular that you feel gave you strength to make more hard choices?