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Creating A Morning Routine Changed My Life For The Better

A purposeful morning routine truly separates the basics from someone with a boss mentality.

Inspiration

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When I think about successful people, all roads seem to point back to the effectiveness of having a proper morning routine in place. And why shouldn't it? Our mornings literally set the tone for the kind of days we intend to have -- "intend" being the operative word. If you look into any CEO, entrepreneur or business owner, the intention they pour into creating a purposeful morning routine truly seems to be what separates the basics from someone with a boss mentality.

For those of you who aren't familiar with what a morning routine is, it is a set of actions you perform in the morning before you start your day. For those of us with success on the brain, it has become increasingly popular to finetune your mornings in a way that starts you on the right foot, cultivates mindfulness, and helps you to maximize productivity to ensure you are ready to conquer your to-do list when it's officially grind time.

I don't always do my morning routine, however I do notice a distinct difference in my day when I am intentional about completing my routine versus when I'm flying by the seat of my pants and just trying to get things done. During the former, I am at ease, I am happier, there is more of a flow and a sense of effortlessness as I move throughout my day. But the latter? I feel overwhelmed, tense, short with people around me, and chaotic energy charges everything I do or don't get around to doing for that day (or days if slacking off on my mornings is a pattern for a few days at a time).

If you want a glimpse into what a perfect morning looks like for me, routine included, read on below.

Wake Up

Photography by Taylor S. Hunter

An integral part of beginning your day on the right note is waking up well-rested. In a generation that proudly touts how grind season involves "no sleep", let me just say, I'm proud to be a contrarian. Sleep is important for memory, learning, stress relief, immunity, improved mood, better interpersonal relations, and more. While a lack of sleep could potentially prove detrimental to your overall health and well-being. Operating at E isn't a vibe, and certainly shouldn't be a wave for anyone.

Any given night, I aim to sleep for 7-8 hours. As of late, my quality of sleep has been just as important as the quantity of sleep I get. And lately, I have been achieving incredible restful nights of sleep thanks to my new Tuft & Needle mattress (read more about that here). Creating a space that invites sleep is a great foundation for achieving a lot of it. So, if you don't love sleeping, think of ways to make your bedroom more inviting -- be it removing technology, changing your bed frame or buying a new bed, or investing in a new mattress. Your peace of mind will love you for it.

Sidebar: Secure the bag and the mattress by using this link when you purchase your very on Tuft & Needle Mattress. In honor of Cyber Monday, T&N is offering $300 Off T&N Hybrid Mattress, $200 Off Mint Mattress, and 15% Off Furniture & Accessories.

Skincare

After drinking a glass of room temperature water, because hydration is key, I really like to force myself awake once my alarm does its thing. One of the best ways to facilitate that is to go to the bathroom, wash my face, and brush my teeth. There's nothing quite like the wakeup call of a cool splash of water to your skin. And ever since Evelyn From The Internet put me on to the fact that you should wash your face for 60 seconds to allow products to truly do their thing, I've been humming The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song as my official time clock.

I bounce between two cleansers depending on what I feel like any given morning, so sometimes it's Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser and other times it's Mario Badescu's Glycolic Foaming Cleanser. Then, I use Mario Badescu's Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater, followed by Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30 and then some tea tree oil (diluted, of course) if I have any blemishes I want to go away.

Journal

Writing is an important part of my day-to-day but as the managing editor of xoNecole, I don't often get as much time to write personally or creatively. Journaling has become an intersection where my purpose and my passion can meet, and it's great to just write and the only intention being to get closer to self. Admittedly though, I used to have a tricky relationship with journaling. I'd only journal if I had something I was upset about or needed to vent over. In making it a daily practice, I've found it beneficial to do morning pages where I allow streams of consciousness to flow, spill out, and fill three pages at the top of my morning. I learn a lot about myself in those moments and find some of my best ideas.

If morning pages aren't your thing, you can definitely get reflection time in through a gratitude list, writing down your intentions, or just gathering your thoughts for what your to-do list might look like for the day ahead.

Read

I think it was Stephen King who said, "Read a lot, write a lot" and it's a definitely a quote to live by, especially if you're a writer. The writers I respect most tend to have bookshelves upon bookshelves of books and are constantly consuming other people's words to ignite sparks that will allow them to more strongly create their own. I've been on a self-help wave for the past year and have recently peeled open Material Girl, Mystical World: The Now Age Guide to a High-Vibe Life by Ruby Warrington. We're all about the vibes outchea. I try to read at least 1-2 chapters every morning. One of the most satisfying parts of reading for me is being able to highlight the things that resonate with me the most. I find this habit to be incredibly therapeutic.

Set The Vibe

Let me tell you something about aromatherapy, it works. The role that our noses play in terms of scent and which smells trigger and settle which emotions will never be something that ceases to amaze me. Whether it's with my oil diffuser (and some grapefruit oil or lavender oil on deck) or a good-old fashioned candle, the vibe is set by the scent you choose as its signature. Some mornings, I'm known to light some palo santo or sage but most mornings (and days if I'm being perfectly honest), a soy candle stays lit for hours. My most recent favorites have been "Blush Orchid" (pictured above) and "Tea Leaves" by Chesapeake Bay Candle as well as "Calm Down" by Ryan Porter Candle.

Breakfast

I typically start checking the site (xoNecole.com) around this time to make sure everything is running as it should. Are there any posts that I need to update and republish? Are there any new articles that trickled overnight that can get the greenlight to fast-track to being a post set to publish that day? Are there daily news articles that our fabulous Senior Editor Taylor Honore has waiting in the cut for me to review? Are there urgent emails that need returning? So, I spend 15-30 minutes addressing those things before making my way to having my first meal of the day. My favorite breakfast of the moment is either overnight oats with dried cranberries and apple slices, or eggs, spinach, and some sausage. I then prioritize drinking my remainder 1.5 liters of water before noon, as well as consuming my daily supplements by Binto which is a packet of two multivitamins and one probiotic.

After I've done these things, I feel ready to officially start my day and face the whirlwind of my day, well-rested and well-armored by intention and self-care. Now that I've shown you mine, what does your morning routine look like? Share with me in the comments down below.

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Featured image by Taylor S. Hunter

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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