The Weekly Sip: A New Series

I’ve had a lot of ideas floating and forming in my mind over the last few weeks. That’s the thing about being a creative — there’s always something churning in my head. Sometimes those ideas come to fruition, and other times, they just disappear. It’s a blessing and a curse. But I digress.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been especially struggling with a burning desire to “do something big” with my blog, but not knowing which of my ideas to follow. After a much-needed talk with a trusted coworker, followed by a little soul searching, I realized which direction I needed to take. Isn’t it funny how just verbalizing your thoughts to someone willing to listen can lead you where you need to be?

In addition to having a lot of thoughts and ideas, I drink a ton of coffee, and tea, and other delicious beverages, but mostly coffee. I’ve built a good part of my audience around the Chattanooga food and drink scene and exploring places I haven’t been to yet. As busy as my weeks can be, it’s important to find time to have something to drink and turn my mind off as much as I can, if only for a few minutes. That alone time is key for good self care practices, among other things.

Introducing the Weekly Sip

Our lives are shaped by our stories, and in a way, by those of others. I’ve told mine in bits and pieces, but I think it’s time to go deeper. When we share our most honest and truest selves, we get to the bones of our messages faster and clearer. And that’s when the real magic happens.

weekly sip new series

I’m so excited to launch a new series I’m calling the Weekly Sip! It’s my attempt to share my story and truest message with y’all while sipping on some of the best drinks around town. It’s also a challenge for myself, to be more open and honest on the blog, something I’ve been challenging myself with for the last year. And who knows where else it’ll lead me. Maybe I’ll finally give vlogging a try? But as long as I can share my story and message with y’all and make a difference in your days or lives by doing that, then I’ll be happy.

Of course this is a new venture, and it will evolve as time goes on and I start writing these posts more regularly. But that’s the beauty of something new, to see how it changes and grows over time. Ultimately, though, if my Weekly Sip posts inspire you, comfort you, motivate you, make you feel anything, then I’ve done my job as a writer, blogger and storyteller.

We’re all in this together. If there are any topics or specific stories you would like me to cover, please let me know and I’ll find a way to cover it in a Weekly Sip post moving forward. I’m so excited to see where this goes, and even more excited for y’all to be along for the ride.

Let’s get sipping…? Is that weird? A little bit. Oh well.

My Morning Routine

I’m a morning person and always have been. It’s a blessing and a curse: I’m up early and ready to take on the day, but I’m also asleep by 10:00pm on most nights. I’m the most productive in the mornings, both at home and at work. So I guess being a morning person is more of a blessing than a curse.

One reason I’m so productive in the mornings is that I have a really solid morning routine. It took several years for me to get it down and get comfortable with it. But once I had it down, I’ve been a morning machine ever since.

morning routine

My friends (and some family) usually give me a hard time about being a morning person. In college, I always aimed for earlier classes so I could have the rest of the day to work, study or do whatever else I needed to do.

Everyone should have a morning routine to help make mornings easier.

If you’re not a morning person, and if you’d like to become one, the first step to making that happen is to develop a solid morning routine. If you have a solid routine, then you’re more likely to have a good day. To help you along the way, I’m sharing my morning routine today, as a source of inspiration and guidance.

The Night Before…

First, I lay out my clothes for the next day, especially during the week. It doesn’t take long, but it saves me an extra 10 minutes of valuable sleeping time. I also check my alarm and make sure it’s set to go off when I need it. I recently started using the “sleep” feature on my iPhone as my alarm; it’s much more pleasant than my obnoxious beeping clock.

In the Morning…

Once my alarm goes off, I wash my face and put in my contacts. There’s something really energizing about cleaning my face that helps me wake up even more.

Next is the most essential part of my mornings… coffee. I’m obsessed with my Keurig and my obscene collection of coffee mugs (but obscene in the best possible way, of course). I keep a variety of coffee, and I usually mix it with stevia, flavored cream and a little almond milk.

coffee mug collection

Can y’all tell I like coffee mugs?

Once my coffee is ready, I pack my lunch for work and make breakfast. Sometimes I’ll only pack a couple of snacks and let myself eat lunch out with a coworker, but by bringing my own food, I save money and I eat a bit healthier. My breakfast usually includes berries and a protein or carbohydrate (scrambled eggs or oatmeal), but sometimes I like a good breakfast sandwich.

If I have any posts to schedule or emails to send (that aren’t work-related), I’ll use my breakfast time to get those planned out. It usually doesn’t take that long, and it’s an easy task to cross off my to-do list before I go to my job. This is also a good time to think about what I’ve got on tap for work and make sure I’m prepared for what’s on my calendar.

Oh, and Maggie Kitty eats her breakfast when I eat mine. She’s on her own routine.

After breakfast, I get dressed, fix my hair and makeup and wrap up everything at home. My hair and makeup routine is pretty simple. I don’t do anything fancy with my hair, usually just straighten to tame it from overnight and throw it in a half-up with a barrette. And I think I use 6 makeup products on a daily basis (if you count perfume and hand lotion).

morning routine makeup

If you’re wondering if I make my bed every day, I don’t. Part of the reason is that my bed is situated against my bedroom wall and it’s kind of a pain to make it day in and day out. I usually adjust my blankets so nothing gets overly wrinkled. I don’t mind a messy bed, as long as it’s not too messy!

Before leaving for work, I make sure Maggie Kitty is set for her day: food, water, clean litter box, toys, etc. If she’s a good kitty, I leave a few treats in her food bowl. She doesn’t like long days by herself, but she’s always extra happy when I come home.

The last part of my morning routine is to make a cup of coffee to take with me. I know, I know… all the coffee.

My morning routine is not perfect, and I’m always looking for ways to make it better. I’d love to add some stretching and brief yoga to my mornings, as well as drinking lemon water before my coffee. It’s supposed to be good for you. Maybe it’ll get me to drink less coffee?

What’s your morning routine like? What tips do you have for developing a morning routine?

How to Have a Good Day

Have you had a good day lately? If you have to think about it, then the answer is probably, unfortunately, “no.” I hope you don’t have to think about it.

In my efforts to focus more on self care this year, today’s post is about positivity and having a good day, every day. There will always be some degree of negativity, but we have the power to fight past the negativity and not let it get us down. No one ever said there was “too much positivity and goodness” in the world.

Well, except maybe that one episode of FRIENDS when Phoebe dated that Parker guy. But that’s beside the point. I digress. 

how to have a good day

Last week I shared my 30-Day Self Care Challenge, with one easy task each day to take better care of yourself. Today’s list is a bit more daily focused but the thought is the same. It’s up to you to have a good day, and it doesn’t take much to make that happen.

Here are 15 ways to have a good day, today and every day.

As with self care, it doesn’t have to be any huge task or endeavor. Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference.

15 steps to a good day

  1. Think something positive within a minute of waking up. Start your day on a good note!
  2. Drink lemon water before you drink coffee. It kickstarts your metabolism, aids in digestion, boosts your immune system and so much more.
  3. Eat breakfast, every single day. And not just a granola bar. Eat an actual breakfast. I always eat a bowl of berries with whatever else I eat (scrambled eggs, oatmeal, English muffin, or the occasional breakfast sandwich).
  4. Write down your tasks for the day, either in a planner/agenda or on a to-do list. I bought a new agenda for this year and I swear I’m going to use it.
  5. Include a few “easy” tasks on your to-do list that you can easily cross off. It’ll kick start your productivity for the day.
  6. Stay moving and avoid being overly sedentary. Standing desks are great. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  7. Compliment your coworkers. Say nice things throughout the day. Positivity is contagious.
  8. Tell someone you love him/her. Anyone. A friend, family member, significant other, or heck even your favorite barista.
  9. Drink lots of water throughout the day. If “plain” water bores you, then add some sliced fruit the night before and let it steep. Lemon cucumber and orange blueberry are my favorite combos.
  10. Take a midday break and do something unrelated to your work for 15 minutes. It’ll actually boost your productivity when you go back to your original task.
  11. Go for a walk. Again with the movement.
  12. Plan ahead for the next day. Don’t overwhelm yourself, but having an idea of what’s ahead will help you stay organized so you don’t get behind. I like to set out my clothes for the next day before I go to bed.
  13. Write down one good thing that happened that day. I’m trying to be better about this myself.
  14. Stretch before bed. Y’all know how much I love a good stretch or yoga routine by now.
  15. Tell yourself you’re awesome.

They say that the smallest changes can make the biggest differences, and it’s absolutely true. Even on the hardest days, there’s always a reason to smile and have a good day. And when you have a good day, you can inspire and influence positivity among those around you.

What are some things YOU do to have a good day?

The 30-Day Self Care Challenge

First of all, Happy 2017, y’all! Who’s ready for a fresh start? I’m raising my hand, that’s for sure.

A new year is always full of resolutions and promises to be a better you. “New Year, new you” mantras are everywhere. I make resolutions or set goals every year, and sometimes I’m good about making them happen or sticking to them. Other times, not so much.

Last year, I kicked off 2016 with the Be Bold blogging challenge and linkup. Our first week’s post was about choosing a word of the year and how we were going to focus on that throughout the year. I chose “care” for my word, specifically focusing on self care.

This year, I’m not picking a new word for 2017. I’m sticking with self care as my focus, because I learned just how important it is to take care of yourself first. If you don’t make self care a priority, then you can’t take care of other areas of your life, and grow and succeed as you’d like. It’s all a circle.

30-day self care challenge

It’s easy to say “new year, new me” in January, with the buzz and excitement of a new year and opportunity for a fresh start. But you have to commit to that mindset and keep it going past the first few days of the year.

That’s why I’m doing the 30-Day Self Care Challenge to kick off 2017.

Self care doesn’t have to be a huge effort or big task each day. Just one little thing each day can make a huge difference in taking better care of yourself. Plus, it takes 21 days to develop a habit. So here it is…

The 30-Day Self Care Challenge

  1. Wake up 5 minutes earlier than yesterday.
  2. Look at yourself in the mirror and smile.
  3. Drink a glass of water before you eat or drink anything else.
  4. Stretch for 10 minutes in the morning.
  5. Eat fruit for breakfast.
  6. Listen to your favorite music while getting dressed.
  7. Pause and take 10 deep breaths, at any time during your day.
  8. Use a standing desk for an hour at work. It’s good for your metabolism.
  9. Take a walk during your lunch break.
  10. Drink green tea when the afternoon slump hits. (I personally don’t drink coffee after noon.)
  11. Set up a meeting with a coworker you usually don’t work or talk with.
  12. Take an actual bath instead of a shower.
  13. Do a face mask treatment.
  14. Buy yourself a new book (or something else small to improve your daily routine).
  15. Call a friend.
  16. Call your parent(s).
  17. Call your grandparent(s).
  18. Unfollow or unfriend people who are overly negative and discouraging.
  19. Clean out one drawer in your dresser or nightstand.
  20. Clean out your closet.
  21. Drink a cup of tea at night. Chamomile is great for bedtime.
  22. Write yourself a positive, encouraging note to read first thing the following morning.
  23. Read, watch or listen to something that makes you smile or laugh before you go to bed. Never end your day on a sour note.
  24. Write in a journal at the end of the day. Record at least 5 positive things that happened that day.
  25. Write a letter to someone. An actual letter.
  26. Put away your phone, tablet and/or computer at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. (I should be better about this myself.)
  27. Stretch before you go to bed. Bedtime yoga is a blessing.
  28. Lay out your clothes for the next day. (It saves you a few minutes in the morning.)
  29. Go to bed 5 minutes earlier than yesterday.
  30. Take 10 deep breaths before going to sleep.
Make self care a priority in 2017 with the 30-Day Self Care Challenge Click To Tweet

This doesn’t have to be a “30 days and done” type of challenge. And you don’t even have to cross off each item in order. Do it in whatever sequence works for you. Don’t be afraid to go back to it if you need another fresh start, or feel like you need a reminder to take care of yourself. I called it the “self care challenge” so it isn’t limited to the New Year season or any specific time. Self care is 24/7.

I challenge you to practice self care this year. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in all areas of your life.

What are some ways you practice self care in your life?

The Best of 2016

Well, 2016 was quite the year to remember. It threw almost everything it had at me, pushed me to my limits, introduced me to some pretty wonderful people, and showed me how to pick myself up and keep moving forward. Insert Charles Dickens “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” quote here.

But most importantly, 2016 taught me so much about myself and showed me that I am where I am for a reason, and that I couldn’t be happier with the life I have. I said it would take a lot to top 2015, and 2016 sure brought it.

If you’re curious, you can check out my best of 2015 post here.

the best of 2016

Now 2016 is coming to a close and 2017 is just on the horizon. Let’s take a look back on the last year and celebrate everything wonderful that happened.

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Indie Craft Experience Comes to Chattanooga

One thing I absolutely love about the holidays is the abundance of holiday markets and pop-up shops. They always offer some fantastic items and products that would make awesome gifts for anyone in your family or your friends. And I’m a huge fan of shopping local and supporting local artists and crafters.

Earlier this month, the Indie Craft Experience (ICE) held a Christmas market in downtown Chattanooga. It was ICE’s first visit to Chattanooga, and I think it’s safe to say they’ll be back.

ICE, which started in 2005, is based in Atlanta and brings together the best artists and crafters to produce vintage markets and pop-up shops throughout the year. The debut Chattanooga Christmas market brought 50 vendors to Miller Plaza for attendees to shop for gifts for their friends and families, or even themselves.

Vendors at the Chattanooga market ranged from visual artists, printers and hand-letterers to candle-makers, woodworkers, jewelers and everything in between. For many, their crafts and work are their full-time projects and businesses.

Here are some of the top highlights from the Indie Craft Experience market in Chattanooga!

You can check out a full list of the vendors here.

Luna Leigh Arts brought some of her brightest and most colorful artwork. Many of her pieces were done with acrylic paints and pen.

luna leigh arts ice atlanta [Read more…]