living intuitively


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ebb and F L O W
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Life is a repeated cycle of getting lost and then finding yourself again. There are many smaller cycles within that cycle where you get lost to a smaller degree and then remember yourself again. Sometimes you do it to yourself on purpose, consciously or unconsciously. Every time you get lost it is so that you can learn something or experience something from a different perspective.
— Jay Woodman

Tell me if you relate to this:

I’ve been going through a funk. I feel…off. Out of touch with others and myself. Not [as] connected to others or myself. Things don’t flow like they usually do.

This isn’t the first funk and it won’t be the last. And that right there…that’s a life lesson I’m continually learning: that life is cyclic. In every way: physically, emotionally, spiritually, biologically, professionally…all of it. There are ebbs and flows in all things. Flow is an operative word in multiple senses. It’s key to remember to go with the flow of life, and not resist it.

Easier said than done, right??

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I may get a few “ME TOOs” from the following statement: I derive much of my value and worth from my accomplishments. Not just the big achievements (awards, degrees, etc) but also my daily doings. I measure the success of my day by my productivity. Not healthy, and something I acknowledge and work on daily.

We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of time and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible in life, as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom.
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Discipline is my default. As I keep learning throughout life, too much discipline can be as detrimental as too little. It’s about BALANCE: physically, mentally, emotionally…all of it. Going 100% all the time ain’t sustainable and ain’t healthy. I consider my drive/discipline my biggest strength(s) and my biggest downfall(s). Being driven + disciplined generates my accomplishments but also causes my issues (physical/spiritual/emotional).

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Let’s take fitness and nutrition for an example (or exampleS, I guess, since they are two areas? You get what I mean!). It’s naturally much easier for me to restrict myself and push myself than it is for me to indulge/relax myself. And before your eyes roll out of the back of your head like, “Gag me! Get over yourself” let me note: This isn’t a humble brag, trust me. Your body needs ebbs and flows to thrive and operate optimally. It doesn’t do well when you’re stuck in one speed, whether that’s fast or slow - or even moderate. My go-to gear is turbo.

Not only that, but I go on kicks with certain foods that last for YEARS, y’all. I shit you not. My body craves the same dang thing(s) day in and out, multiple times a day. For example, I’ve been eating the same salad daily since 2016 (only breaking when I travel - and even then, if I have a kitchen, I grab ingredients to make it). I would have it for every meal (and occasionally do). My body legit craaaaves it. Yes, i’m a weirdo, but I have theories for why I crave it repeatedly: 1. The nutrients are what my body has shown to be deficient in/what my body needs to sustain my current lifestyle; 2. My palate prefers fresh, plant-based ingredients. Before this prompts another eye roll, here’s why: This is partly because I grew up eating healthy, wholesome foods, and partly because I focus on giving my body what it truly needs/wants, allowing me to eat intuitively. It just makes me FEEL better. This may sound obnoxious - I get it. But look: We all have our superpowers. Some can belt it like Beyonce, some can move it like Michael…I genuinely love eating like a bunny. It is what it is.

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Okay, back to cycles and balance regarding fitness and nutrition: My go-to gear is hard and fast (that’s what she said. I HAD TO. I’m sorry. Yes, I’m secretly a 12-year-old boy). I get a high from powering through an insane workout and only eating a certain amount. Part of it is a control issue, sure - that’s a whole other conversation (if I feel frustrated/powerless in other areas of my life, I focus on the areas I can control, blah blah blah). But also: My body and mind both like routine. It'’s easy, it’s energy efficient, and it’s proven in the past to be effective. But just because something was previously effective doesn’t mean it will continue to be effective - and this is true for SO MANY ASPECTS of our lives, including eating and exercising.

If you haven’t been seeing/feeling the results you want, this next part may be your missing key:

Finding one approach and sticking with it ‘til the end of time is not only boring, it’s ineffective. Unrealistic. Life is not static, it’s dynamic, and requires us to be so as well (if we want to thrive and step into our power).

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Nature itself is cyclic (eg seasons), and so therefore are our bodies. I mean, our sleep has cycles, so why wouldn’t our metabolism? No day is truly the same, with our energy input/output, hormone/stress levels, etc. Our energy intake/expenditure must keep pace accordingly. And moreover, our bodies are fascinatingly intelligent. It’ll soon realize it’s receiving a certain number of calories and adjust accordingly. For example, if it’s only getting 1000, it’ll slow down to accommodate. That’s why it’s important to change it up and keep it dynamic and guessing, regarding both content and amount. Same with our fitness regimen, on a macro and micro level. Sure, steady-state cardio (SSC) has its place (walking, for example, can be restorative in multiple ways) but HIIT workouts kick SSC’s booty when it comes to efficacy and efficiency.

Not only that: intense SSC - especially prolonged (for an hour+ without any breaks) - can actually be detrimental! As in it will actually do your body (metabolism) more harm than good. This is good news for your sanity, your size, and your schedule! Sure, movement is the most important thing, but a 15-minute HIIT/Tabata workout will yield faster and better results than going for an hour run at the same pace. Plus it’s more FUN. Way easier to stay engaged. And doing the same workout over and over (even if it’s an interval workout) ain’t good either. Gotta switch up the type, duration, and intensity of workouts. Fitness queen Chalene Johnson covers this on her podcast, The Chalene Johnson Show (Episode #403 Calorie Myths: The Problem with Eating Less and Moving More and Episode 414 Cross-Training Your Nutrition and Getting Honest About The Fitness Industry).

it’s important to work with our bodies and their natural flow. Same goes for our lives. Some of you are good at this. Some - like me - must learn this.

Play and downtime are JUST AS IMPORTANT as go time. Science is continually and progressively proving this. To be at the top of our game in any area, we require recovery. This is the same for our minds and muscles! A truly fit person knows this, and prioritizes recovery. There’s no glory in going hard 24/7 with no breaks. I used to be one of those who took pride in never “needing” a rest day and having a hard time relaxing - whether regarding my workout or my work. But now I know this indicates faulty thinking and unhealed areas. It’s working twice as hard for half the results. NO THANKS.

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Relaxing our mind and body allows our body to restore itself. Letting our imagination run free sparks inspiration and innovation. It’s important to embrace - not resist - the fluctuations. When you’re feeling drained, just allow it. Don’t fight it. Defying it will just make you spin your wheels and delay your recovery. Sure, it can be tricky to know when to nudge yourself and when to back off, but keep at it. Eventually you’ll dial in and know what you need and when you need it.

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One of my tricks is to just remove the pressure from myself. I stop telling myself I HAVE to do something, and tell myself I don’t have to do anything. I get to do what I want. I grant myself grace. And magically, somehow, whenever i remove that impetus, I usually reclaim my motivation. Not always, and when I don’t - that’s when I know I truly need rest.

And you may again get lost in the noise and need to recalibrate, and relearn this lesson of going with the flow. But c’est la vie. This only proves the point that life is cyclic, and we often revisit past lessons, and will continually do so.

Just remember:

For a truly balanced and fulfilled life, the lows are as important as the highs.



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D O it T O it
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Either you run the day or the day runs you.

You and I, we live in a fast-paced world. It doesn't matter if you're a stay-at-home parent running a household or a boss babe (or bro) in a business suit slaying the corporate world, we all have things we need to do; and most of us have a LOT of them. Learning how to manage it all and stay productive is key.

If you're like me, you're alllll 'bout dem to-do lists. Committing to dos to a physical/digital list brings me relief for a few reasons:

  • Eliminates my concern I'll forget them 
    • Especially the future, non-immediate tasks/ideas
  • Allows me to organize and prioritize my plan of attack
  • Tethers them to a structured framework instead of floating around in my head causing anxiety
  • Allows me to focus

I swear, my mind has approximately 167 tabs open at any given time (times two, when I'm trying to fall asleep, ya feel?!), as I'm sure many of you can relate. I have various ventures going on and balls in the air, and my brain is constantly assessing what needs to be done and generating ideas for progression. I mean, CONSTANTLY. In a word, it can be E X H A U S T I N G, but I wouldn't have it any other way. My brain doesn't work in a linear fashion (which can make certain tasks challenging and overwhelming). But it's me, it's the way my brain works, and I've learned how to work with it! Lists are a key element of that. They allow me to compartmentalize my life/to dos and break them down into manageable bites. As they say, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. [Side question: Why elephants? I ain't tryna eat a sweet, gentle elephant. Why can't it just be a really large watermelon? Are we all agreed? Cool.]

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Anyway. Back to lists.

I recently finished reading Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg, an excellent book on management and leadership (he also wrote Power of Habit, which I read prior to diving into Smarter Faster Better and blogged about earlier; both are fantastic). He has a great way of presenting studies and supporting evidence in an easily digestible way through a narrative method. He sprinkles in relevant stories and examples to scaffold his assertions and illustrate his points so it's not so, you know, friggin' dull.

So in his book he advises using stretch goals. These are lofty goals that you have to, you know, stretch for (apt term, right?). This helps you really maximize your potential and evolve, to truly promote productivity and personal growth (all good things). However, having a list of solely stretch goals isn't stellar, because we neeeed bursts of feelings of accomplishment to help us stay focused, committed, and motivated. Quick little high fives and butt slaps to help us feel like we're doing well and progressing. These help fill our tanks to keep us going on our journey to ultimate fulfillment. 

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.
— Stephen Covey

Ideally, our lists will include a series of short-term, achievable proximal goals (not too lofty/out of reach/far off) via the SMART system:

  • S: Specific
  • M: Measurable:
  • A: Achievable
  • R: Realistic
  • T: Time-bound

For example, let's say you aspire to de-clutter your house. Here's how you could incorporate the SMART method:

  • Specific: Focus on one room, e.g. kitchen
  • Measurable: Decrease items/appliances on counter to a certain amount, such as six, and de-junk five kitchen drawers
  • Achievable: Adjust the scope to your *realistic* timeframe, schedule, and energy level. Maybe only focus on just the counters and a couple of drawers. Adjusting the scope will help break it down into doable bites to help you from feeling overwhelmed from the task, and frustrated if you don't complete it within the designated time.
  • Realistic: Don't aim for a complete kitchen makeover in one afternoon. 
  • Time-bound: Set your timer for two hours. This will hold you to a deadline and keep you accountable.
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There’s a huge difference between working on something and working towards something.
— Pat Flynn

Some of Duhigg's advice that was new for me was to avoid listing easy items you can check off right away, just for that feel goodness. As he avers, that signals you're using it for mood repair, not productivity. In other words, by doing so, you're more focused on making yourself feel awesome than actually getting shiz done. I mean, yeah, duh, we all want to feel awesome BUT...we'll feel even MORE awesome by amplifying productivity.

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Focus on being productive instead of busy.
— Tim Ferriss

As Duhigg explains, the problem with many to-do lists is when we write down a series of short-term objectives, we're allowing our brains to seize on the sense of satisfaction each task will deliver. We're encouraging our need for closure and our tendency to freeze on a goal without asking if it's the right aim. The result is we spend hours answering unimportant emails instead of writing a big thoughtful memo - because it feels so satisfying to clean out our box. But then...we still feel the bigger task(s) weighing on us, which we ignored. 

As Peter Drucker notes in The Effective Executive (another superb read): 

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.
— Peter Drucker

In other words, work smarter, not harder! We have limited time each day, so we need to make the most of it. By prioritizing our to-do lists and choosing our tasks with care, we'll maximize our 24 hours and handle our days like the ballers we are.



Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four-hour days.