Present: A Practice.

My days are looking a whole lot different from six months ago when I was up at the crack of dawn because of pregnancy insomnia. These days – with a toddler, preschooler, and newborn on different sleep schedules – my morning routine has gone out the window. I came across the PRESENT principle in the book Design Your Day, and it turned out to be the best takeaway from that book. PRESENT is an acronym that the author uses for her morning routine – P for Pray (or Pause), R for Read, E for Express, S for Schedule, E for Exercise, N for Nourish, and T for Track (progress). I love this so much that I’ve adopted and adapted it for myself as a daily self-care checklist for this season and the ones to come.

PRESENT over perfect.

PRESENT over perfect.


It’s been a rough year in some respects (and a great year in others – I’m not complaining!), so I’m re-learning how to pray in different ways. The daily Examen is becoming a favorite practice, and I’ve found the Book of Common Prayer to be helpful when I just don’t have the words. Next year, I hope to restart the practice of centering prayer. For the Advent/Christmas season in particular, I love what Sarah Bessey writes.


I usually start out the day reading a book like this one, but basically, I’m reading all day long in bits in pieces (lately: memoirs). Reading is one of my favorite ways to start the day, and the fact that I can both relax and feel productive without leaving the bed is a bonus.


I write the clearest in the morning, but like reading, I write all day long. I journal my feelings, so that I can clear my head. I write down endless lists and braindumps. I write bits and pieces of blog posts and ideas.  Recently, I’ve adopted the practice of spiritual journaling – writing down my prayers, and then copying scripture, and personal or insights from devotional books.


Hands down, the Day Designer has been my best scheduling tool. Even on weekends, I start the day by writing my ideal schedule and calendaring events and appointments.


Ideally, this happens at the beginning of the day because my motivation starts waning as the day progresses. My goal for this season and the upcoming year is to exercise 6 times a week and to do core compressions daily. I’ve had a postpartum healing setback, but my main focus is getting my core and strength back because carrying/chasing after three boys is no joke.


I am 100% a coffee person. Steaming hot coffee or a latte first thing in the morning is one of my favorite rituals, but I’ve found soul care in other places too – talks with sisters/friends, preschool walks with my crew, and allowing myself the gift of resting with my newborn boy sleeping on my chest.


I naturally check my to do list progress at the end of each day, but I’m learning to spend more time reflecting with gratitude on the gifts of the day. Before I go to bed,  I use the Rifle Paper Co. Five Year Journal set to document the highlights of each day along with five specifics for which I am grateful.

What practices or routines are you embracing this season? I’d love to know!

Summer: Rhythm

We’re officially in the throes of summer. When July 1st rolled around, it might as well have been January 1st in my book, with all the excitement of a fresh start for the second half of the year.


I’m deeply grateful for how my year has looked so far. I’m thankful for how I’ve spent my time – from the drawn-out mornings to the nighttime rituals. I’ve accomplished fewer concrete things, but I’ve established better habits, which really, has been the goal all along.

In books that I read and messages that I listen to, I’m reminded over and over to number my days. We have approximately 1,000 weeks with each of our children before they’re grown, and as scary as that sounds – I haven’t even calculated the weeks that have already passed with my littles ones – there’s magic that happens over time, the magic of a “strong, regular, repeated pattern.” Rhythm is the pattern that happens over time, like a house built with bricks laid one on top of the other.

Rhythms change by the season. Summer doesn’t carry with it the allegro of fall or the adagio of winter. It’s speed is just right – a happy andante like the continuous lapping of ocean waves or the steady, circular pedal strokes on a bike.

The rhythm isn’t the color of our days, but the bones. Our habits and routines are the steady drum, the beat that holds constant so that the melody can sing.

In this season, I’ve found that my rhythm looks like this:

Daily, I find that the best mornings are the ones where I’m up an hour or two before my crew, and I have some time to be myself before I’m mom and wife. I try to start the day off with coffee, a few books, Scripture reading, journaling about goals, and 5 minutes or so of centering prayer. This self-care time is so crucial in helping me be fully present and attentive to my family's needs. I aim for at least 40 minutes of creative time like writing or putting together design boards and no more than 30 minutes of personal housekeeping – ordering groceries, scheduling appointments, or checking in on our finances on Mint.

Sunday mornings are my absolute favorite. I try to wake up around 5 or 6 (if I’m not already awake thanks to my pregnancy insomnia) to have the quiet time needed to write out my plans for the week. Practically speaking, I use Moglea’s letterpress notepads and a ultra fine-point Sharpie for my brainstorm list, then transfer the priorities for the week to my Passion Planner. I’ve just started using the Passion Planner (it was gifted), but it seems to be great for connecting the week’s work with the month’s goals and giving space to reflect upon priorities and lessons learned. I’m never without my Day Designer for the day-to-day, and I’ve found their Intentional Living Worksheet and the Goal-Setting Worksheet to be enormously helpful as well.

I make a pot of coffee, and we eat a lazy breakfast at home. We put on music, strip the bed, and tidy the house. It feels so good to start off the new week with a (relatively) clean house. We head to church at 10:30, and then take it easy for the rest of the day.

Weekly, I aim for three workouts a week (Intervals & Arms on the Peloton is my go-to), ideally first thing in the morning before the boys wake up. Planning a date with my husband was on my weekly list for the first half of the year, but I’ve since removed date-planning from my to-do list, and now it’s on Dave’s! Mama has enough extra weight to carry, you know? I bullet out a few meal ideas for the week, usually on Monday, and make sure that the boys’ weekly calendar is populated.

Monthly, I’ve found that the month feels just the right amount of full when it includes a girls’ night, a dinner party, a lunch or coffee date with work friends, a dedicated beach day, and a family adventure day (for July, we’re heading to a butterfly farm!). We make time to stroll the farmer’s market and peruse the library at least a few times a month.

In her latest book, Off the Clock, Laura Vanderkam writes that people who feel like they have enough time “let go expectations of perfection and big results in the short run. Instead, they decide that good enough is good enough, knowing that steady progress over the long run is unstoppable.”

I’m learning that establishing a healthy rhythm takes the burden off of individual days – I can offer myself grace when I sleep in that one day after a few combined late nights and early mornings. I can say yes to rest, knowing that I’m playing the long game. I still pay attention to whether I’ve hit my day’s priorities, but more importantly, I’m moving to my beat.