How to Start the Perfect Bedtime Ritual

You know the saying “laughter is the best medicine”? Sleep might be a close second, if not a tie for first.

After a good night’s sleep I feel like a new person. I’m more alert, creative, and able to take on challenges. It’s such a magical thing, yet I’ve read that Americans are more sleep deprived than ever. Our tired bodies and minds need to rest – and heal.

There’s no time like the present (which also happens to be National Sleep Awareness Week) to look at our sleep habits.

Improving our sleep starts with our bedtime ritual.

I created a little acronym to help us…START >>

{S} Soften the landing

This lovely bedding is from Crane & Canopy. #affiliate

First and foremost, your bed should be the center of attention. Make it as cozy and welcoming as possible so when you enter your bedroom, all you want to do is kick off your shoes and sink down in its soft embrace.

Here are a few ways to make your bed more special:

  • Splurge on your bedding. We {should be} spending at least 8 hours a day here, so it’s worth the investment. Pick out the most beautiful pattern with the softest thread and treat yo’ self.
  • Layer on the softest blankets and pillows so it’s like a cozy nest every time you land.
  • Make the bed every morning so at night it feels like you’re entering a new space.
  • Freshen up your sheets by washing them at least every two weeks. Once a week is ideal.

{T} Take care of your body

Right before bed is the perfect time to check in with yourself. You’re already brushing your teeth and washing your face. What else needs attention? If your muscles are tight, maybe do some gentle stretches. Here are some yoga poses that are wonderful before bed.

If your mind won’t settle, try relaxing in a hot bath with epsom salts. The magnesium in the salts will help lull you to sleep – among plenty of other great benefits. Pair that with a cup of almond milk or camomile tea, and you’ll sleep like a champ.

{A} Adjust the air

The best way to appreciate a warm, cozy bed is to set a cool temperature. In fact, the suggested bedroom temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees to get the best sleep.

Another thing I like to do is make my room smell nice. (You know me and my thing with smells.) I spritz my pillows with fresh lavender water right before bed. The fragrance is so relaxing, and the recipe is super easy. >

  • 2 cups distilled water
  • 1/4 cup Vodka
  • 10 drops of lavender oil
  • Mix all of the ingredients together. Pour into a spray bottle (or two). Store in the refrigerator.

{R} Remove distractions

Your room should be a quiet, calm space that you can retreat to when needed. Clear off your night stand, add fresh flowers to make it pretty, and (…here’s the tough one) put your phone away at least an hour before bed.

This is non-negotiable, though, if you want a more restful night. Research shows spending time with smartphones late at night is contributing to a national epidemic of undersleep. Yikes.

Ideally, we’d leave them in the next room so we’re not tempted to answer texts, emails or Facebook notifications. Since I use my phone as an alarm, I keep it next to the bed – but with the ringer off. It’s still hard to ignore sometimes. #workinprogress

{T} Thank the day

Taking a moment to feel grateful at the end of the day has been a game changer for me. Instead of focusing on what went wrong and playing conversations over and over in my mind like a bad song on replay, I try to shift my focus to what went right.

What did I love about my day? Even if it was a crapper, what redeeming qualities can I dig up? Did I get to hug my kids? Did my dinner taste delicious? Does my bed feel good?

Making a commitment to writing these things down in a journal or on a piece of paper that goes in a gratitude jar can literally change our lives for the better.

That’s a START, anyway. I’d love to know what other bedtime rituals you have.

Until next time, I’m wishing you sweet dreams.



Weeding My Heart and Mind

Pulling weeds isn’t the most exciting part of gardening, but it must be done. Somehow those pesky things manage to grow at a faster pace than the beauty that surrounds them, and if they’re left unattended they’ll completely take over.

So we dig. And we pull.

This little dandelion was rooted deep.

Doesn’t this make an interesting metaphor for our lives?

Negative thoughts are weeds that take root in our hearts and minds. Our focus and attention on them is like sunshine and water. So if we don’t want them growing and crowding out our joy, we must dig and pull.

This idea came to me when I was weeding between rainstorms this week. I quietly hunched over the dirt and thoughts began to pop up like lightning bugs…a nagging thought about an earlier conversation; a worried thought about a friend who has cancer; an anxious thought about my to-do list.

As I knelt and observed, these thoughts felt like seeds that were taking hold and sprouting rather quickly. And they weren’t turning into roses.

I needed to do some weeding.

I dug up each thought, pulled out the meaning and even thanked it for showing up and teaching me something, then let it go. After a few minutes, I was already feeling better and could see the gratitude beginning to flower.

I decided to jot down the five most common weeds we get tangled in, as well as the seeds we could plant in their place. >>

{ONE} Finances

Weeds: Worried about saving enough for college or retirement, paying off credit cards, covering the bills, or making smart investments.

Seeds: Remember you’ve come this far. You’re smart. You’ve survived and found the resources you need. Feel thankful for the abundance you do have in your life – even if it’s just a handful of change at the bottom of your purse – and allow yourself to stay open to the possibility of prosperity.

{TWO} Health

Weeds: Feeling overweight or tired. Frustrated with your eating habits. Afraid of getting sick or maybe you’re dealing with a chronic illness.

Seeds: Notice your breath and allow yourself to feel your heart beating. Be amazed at the fact that you’re alive right now. Even if you’re in the midst of pain, put your attention on something (anything) that feels good. Think about the qualities you love about yourself and throw yourself a high five for a change. Also, find the courage to go to the doctor if you need to.

{THREE} Friendships

Weeds: Feeling lonely or hurt. Not sure who your true friends are. Afraid you said the wrong thing or offended someone you care about.

Seeds: Make a mental list of all of the people you’re thankful for. Who has crossed your path that made you happy, feel special, or even taught you a lesson? Allow all of these memories to fill your heart. Also, remember the times you’ve had to forgive someone on that list. Couldn’t they do the same for you? We’re all human – capable of mistakes and forgiveness.

{FOUR} Career

Weeds: Afraid of failure. Anxious about that promotion. Nervous about a big meeting. Depressed about a job change. Unsure about your purpose overall.

Seeds: Relax and let yourself off the hook for a moment. You’re not responsible for saving the world. Focus on one day, one task, and one conversation at a time. Do your best in each moment. Find the specific actions – think verbs – that excite you, and do those things as much as you can. Fill your days with those verbs. For me it’s writing.

{FIVE} Spirituality

Weeds: Worried if you’re praying enough. Not sure if you’re following the right path. Feeling challenged by friends or people with different beliefs. Wondering why God lets bad things happen in your life.

Seeds: While this is a deeply personal topic, if you’re tangled in questions about your faith, keep praying. Pick up a prayer book, a Bible, a hymnal, or other spiritual book that’s meaningful to you and dive into the messages. I personally believe God is constantly communicating with us. We have to be willing to show up, open our hearts to prayer, and then quiet our minds long enough so we can tune into His station and hear what He has to say.

A final thought…

If you’ve ever done some gardening, you know one of the most satisfying feelings is pulling a weed and getting every last bit of its roots in one swift tug. It means there’s a chance that stinkin’ thing won’t come back. You’ve extracted it from its core. And most importantly, you’ve made room for something more beautiful to grow and take space in your yard.

Here’s hoping we can do this in our lives. Let’s make room for bouquets of joy that we can lovingly share.





How I’m Staying Focused on My Intention

You may remember back in the beginning of this crazy year when I boldly stated my intention is to be more “open.” I promised myself I would…

Open my heart and find the courage to always be myself.

Open my mind to new ideas and possibilities.

Open my arms to anyone who needs me.

Open my eyes to see things that are important and meaningful.

I even created this wallpaper for my phone to help me remember my word.

Checking in

We’re quickly approaching March, and I’m doing a fairly good job remembering to stay open. I’ve had my moments, which have sometimes stretched into days. But I’m not perfect. Thank goodness.

The wallpaper/screensaver phone trick has helped. Anytime I wake the beast, its glowing face shows me the word “open” stretched across a skyline – and I feel grounded again.

Needing more help, though

In a two-part effort: 1) to put my phone down more often, and 2) to keep remembering my “word”, I decided to step up my game and order a bracelet from the MyIntent project. >

{Psst…here’s how mine turned out.}

{And this is a sampling of a few bracelets they’ve made for others.}

I first learned about these bracelets through a clip on the Today Show. Then I saw a link to the offical website and learned more about the company.

The story is fascinating.

I guess this whole company started with a guy making lots of bracelets and giving them away to friends out in L.A. He was creating such interesting conversations with them and was eventually able to work them into the hands of a few stars. Jay Z loved the concept, and soon Rihanna and Beyonce were among the celebrities rocking their intentions.

The next thing he knew, he had a booming business. The cool thing about this company, though, is that it sticks to its mission. It isn’t just a jewelry store selling bracelets and necklaces.

The mission is uplifting.

From the beginning, the bracelets have been less about fashion and a growing enterprise and more about a purpose. In fact, all of the products are very reasonably priced to help make them more accessible.

The results are encouraging.

From a personal standpoint, I feel like wearing a bracelet has been a better, constant reminder of the promise I made to myself. It has also sparked a few interesting conversations – just like it was intended.

Here’s a mini unboxing of my bracelet. The pic below shows the cool canvas pouch that it came in. >

I also loved the fact it was signed by the person who made it. Here’s a closer pic. >

The back of the card encourages you to think further about your word and why it was chosen. >

What’s helpful about this exercise is it helps you think through your intention, so when people ask, you have thoughts about what to share…your talking points.

If you want to give this a try or even give one as a gift, here’s a link to order. (You can even get $5 off as my friend.) #benefits 😉

Whether you get a bracelet, wallpaper your phone, post a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, or any other great trick, here’s to sticking to our intentions…together. Be sure to share your word in the comments, so I can cheer you along.




A Lakota Prayer

I’ve always loved this little Lakota prayer. I first saw it posted online. That was a few years ago, and I still keep it stashed in a folder on my desktop.

Every now and then, it resurfaces. I read it. I fall in love with it all over again. And it makes me want to share it.

I’ve never posted it on the blog before, so I’d love to do so now. >>

Here’s an easier way to read it, or even copy it to your own desktop if you’d like:

Teach me how to trust my heart, my mind, my intuition, my inner knowing, the senses of my body, the blessings of my spirit. Teach me to trust these things so that I may enter my sacred space and love beyond my fear, and thus walk in balance with the passing of each glorious sun.

I read that according to certain tribes, “sacred space” refers to the space between exhalation and inhalation. I also think of it as the quiet space between musical notes…the empty space between the bars of a cage…the pauses between words in a prayer…the darkness of a blink. It’s in these places of nothingness where we can find our fullness.

And in the prayer, to “walk in balance” is to have Heaven (spirituality) and Earth (physically) in harmony with each other. Isn’t that lovely?

Thanks for letting me share this with you. I hope you can find a moment today for space and balance.



Keep It Simple, Sister

When I’m writing, designing or basically making anything, I’m a firm believer in the KISS method. I first learned about it from one of my favorite creative directors of all time, Nick Nicholson. The phrase stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. I prefer Sister, because “stupid” is a bad word in our house.

Nick would encourage us (and even challenge us) to cut the number of words in our copy or even go without any words. Could the story be told in photographs? Or what about a single photo?

Every time I went through this exercise, I was floored by how much stronger the message became. Sometimes showing less, saying less, and not trying so hard was the secret to a more powerful way to communicate. Less can truly = more.

On a grander scale, maybe it’s a more powerful way to be?

What if we were to KISS everything?

If we get overwhelmed by a busy schedule, we could peel away the layers of commitments that aren’t necessary or don’t contribute to our happiness.

If we’re drowning in clutter at home or just in our purses, we could dump all of the things that literally weigh us down.

If we unraveled the sweater of busyness that we knit around ourselves, what would we uncover? What kind of bare and beautiful life could we find?




When in Doubt, Toss a Coin

Have you ever felt stuck trying to make the right decision about something? I sure have. When I get into this predicament, my first resort is to make lists. I’m the queen of pros and cons…exhausting every possible reason I should or shouldn’t do something.

It’s funny because I’ve noticed my kids doing this, too. Avery came home from school yesterday asking if it was a “work day.” I told her it was, and we talked about how sometimes I work from home and other times I go into the office to get things done. She decided to make a list of pros and cons to figure out where she wanted to work one day. (Yes, she’s only 10, and I totally love her planning skills.)

After much thought, she came to the conclusion that working in an office would be better for her because there are less distractions (like stuffed animals, pets and iPods), you get to make new friends and have lunch together, and it’s just fun to get out of the house sometimes. She made a pretty darn good case.

But what do you do if your pros and cons are completely even-steven? Then what?!

I turn to Friends. As in the sitcom from the late 90s – early 2000s. Remember that show?! My real-life friends are incredible and helpful, too! But, in one of my favorite episodes of Friends, this happened…

Rachel took a pregnancy test to see if she was having Ross’ baby. She was so nervous and unsure about the result, that she had one of her BFFs, Phoebe, look at the stick and tell her the news.

At first, Phoebe told her it was negative. No baby. When Rachel felt sad about it, Phoebe told her the real result…positive. And then she explained, “Well, at least you know how you really feel about it now!”

Such a tricky move, but powerful. And it stuck.

As silly as it may sound (that a sitcom gave me advice on life), I still go back to the essence of the lesson. If I’m really not sure about something, I can ask myself how I’d feel without it.

Instead of getting stuck in my head and making logical list after list, I need to stop for a minute, get real with how I feel, and then go with my gut.

And here’s a surefire way to check your gut. Toss a coin.

And I don’t mean because you’ve given up all hope and you’re leaving your decision to pure luck. I mean because of this beautiful exercise…

Kind of like the Rachel moment when she felt sad because of the thought of not having a baby…you can check your emotions with literally the flip of a coin.

Once you have that pure, instinctual answer, don’t waiver. Believe in yourself. Make the choice. Go for it – and don’t look back.




Five Inspiring, Must-Have Books

{More great book quotes here!}

Welcome back! It’s another Friday, although it’s not a typical one with the Presidential inauguration on the schedule. It’s an important day for our nation, and I pray we can find ways to work together in the name of progress and peace.

One way I plan to generate peace in my personal life is to log off social media for a bit. I’m looking forward to a weekend of R&R with my family at Indian Hollow, my brother’s cabin on the creek. I also plan to add another “R” to my list – and that’s “reading.”

I’ve collected a small stack of books on my nightstand, and I can’t wait to dive in. I’ve started reading a little of each book, so I have an appreciation for what I’m about to learn. I’ve also noticed that this particular collection has me feeling energized. They’re all action-oriented and downright inspiring.

They’re the kind of books that light a fire in your belly and challenge you to do something, feel something, be something…and I wanted to share them with you. >>

{ONE} Leading Through The Turn

{You can buy it here.}

This is one of the most special books on my reading list now (and possibly forever). It’s written by Elise Mitchell, who is the founder of Mitchell Communications – among other fascinating and endearing roles.

Mitchell is the agency that led me to Northwest Arkansas, challenged me to build a creative department, and blessed me with lifelong memories and friendships.

While my role with the agency is different today, Mitchell is still very dear to me. And not just because my brother, Michael, was a partner with Elise in the business, but also because of the impactful work and unprecedented growth the agency achieved. I’ve never been part of such an inspiring business story like this before, and it was possible because of Elise.

Elise’s leadership, friendship, and unending inspiration is truly special. Anyone who meets her is immediately impressed with her energy, knowledge, and patience. She credits her accomplishments to her journey…and the willingness to crack open her heart and truly learn along the way. She believes the secret to enjoying life and succeeding in leadership is in how you navigate the inevitable twists and turns.

Her book guides future and current leaders along a path of meaning and significance, which is much more than achieving a title or dollar figure. If you’re looking for inspiration in your career and life, you need to read this book.

PS. Elise plans to connect with all of her readers, so sign up for her emails at!

{TWO} The 52 Lists Project: A Year of Weekly Journaling Inspiration

{You can buy it here.}

I first spotted this book at Sundog Books in Seaside, Florida last spring. I don’t know why I didn’t snag it at the time, but I do know it left an impression. When I saw it displayed on a front table at Barnes & Noble recently, I had to have it. The timing is perfect, too, because now I’m able to start it at the beginning of the year.

This book provides ideas for a year full of list making that’s designed to help us explore our interests, passions, and beliefs. I’m only a few weeks into the book, and this will be one that sits on my nightstand for a full year, so I’m excited to see where it leads me.

Here’s the book’s description on B&N:

“With perfectly timed prompts that meet you where you are throughout the different seasons, this journal will open up new avenues of self-knowledge and help you celebrate, enjoy, and take ownership of your life, as each week of the year becomes more thoughtful and vibrant.”

Let’s do this!

{THREE} Craving Connection

{You can buy it here.}

If you’re not familiar with the robust online community at (in)courage, you should definitely check it out. There are more than 24 women who contribute to this blog, and they discuss just about everything including faith, marriage, parenting, divorce, and death. It’s real life, shared among friends. And the big news for this community is they’ve published a book!

Craving Connection is now available for purchase. It’s a book of devotionals, scripture, and 30 specific challenges for connecting with God and others. Throughout the pages, the (in)courage community invites you to grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and commit to creatively and prayerfully fulfilling your cravings for connection.

How could life be different after prayerfully and intentionally connecting with God, friends, and your community? I hope to find out!

{FOUR} 10 Secrets for Success + Inner Peace

{You can buy it here.}

This book gets filed in the “oldie but goodie” category. My dad introduced me to Dr. Wayne Dyer many years ago. Since that time I think I’ve read most (if not all?) of his books.

Somehow this one, 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace, resurfaced on the side table in our living room. I think my husband pulled it off the bookshelf? It amazes me how books will literally show up when I need them most.

I took the magical appearance of this title to heart and started reading. The first chapter is about being open to everything and attached to nothing. In fact, it’s what inspired my word of the year: Open!

I have since moved the book to my nightstand and plan to keep reading and soaking in the much-needed wisdom.

{FIVE} Gratitude: A Journal

{You can buy it here.}

I realize this isn’t a juicy book to sit down and devour. It’s literally a blank book. But it’s quite possibly the most important one we could own.

Blank pages = hope and encouragement. It’s a reminder we have the power to write our future. It’s also a space where we can document our blessings.

This particular journal is dotted with inspiring quotes that help remind me no matter what experiences come my way, there’s always something to be thankful for. Gratitude is the the light and the way to a more meaningful and fulfilled life. And that’s something I could get used to.

Have a great weekend, dear friends. I hope you can squeeze in some time to rest, relax and read something that empowers your unique soul.





Ditch Your Resolution Day

Did you know Tuesday was officially “ditch your resolution day”? That’s right. It’s a thing. And according to research, 88% of us have given up on our resolutions by now. Sigh.

The silver lining (because I always look for one) is that if you fall into this statistic, you shouldn’t feel bummed out. You’re not alone. It’s not only normal, but also totally okay.

Resolutions can be hard, especially if you set out to make major changes in your life. Realizing this fact should ease some of the self-inflicted disappointment.

But what if you don’t want to give up so easily? What if you honestly want to make some adjustments? How do you muster up the willpower and endurance to make it happen? I turned to the experts and found some insight for us. >>

Start with the Right Questions

The Stanford-educated psychologist Kelly McGonigal (and the one who recently taught me how to embrace stress) wrote an entire book about willpower.

Willpower (or lack thereof) is pretty much the reason we keep (or ditch) our resolutions so quickly. She explains that willpower is not a virtue. It’s a biological function that can be improved through mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, and sleep. So she’s saying there’s a chance.

In this article, Kelly specifically talks about resolutions and graciously offers tips on how to stick to them. She gives credit to our willpower, which is essentially fueled by our desires.

We have to have a solid understanding of what it is we want out of life and what impact we want to have on the world before we can begin making changes of any kind.

Then and only then can the map plotting and goal setting begin. We’re finally in the frame of mind to ask the right questions: How do I get there? What should I do (or stop doing) that will make a difference?

The answers to these questions are where we should be digging up ideas for our goals and resolutions.

It sounds simple, but I think this subtle shift in planning can be transformative. I usually make resolutions asking questions like: What’s wrong with me at the moment? What do I need to fix? So the advice from Kelly was pretty eye opening.

Once we define our “why”, we can be inspired with a determination we’ve never had before.

Find the Olive

I heard a story one time about a major airline saving a million dollars simply by removing a single olive in all of the salads they served in flight. That was during a time when airlines were still serving us fancy meals – and not charging extra. Remember those good ol’ days?

Well, the airline was faced with a budget challenge and needed to find a way to cut costs. Instead of making wholesale changes, such as firing a bunch of pilots or increasing airfares, they looked for something simple.

If you apply this logic to setting resolutions, we can think about our challenges and look for small, simple adjustments.

Let’s assume you’ve asked the right questions and one of your resolutions is to drink more water so you feel better and have more energy when you’re with your kids.

Instead of telling yourself you have to drink 8-10 glasses a day, which sounds like flooding your system, what if you drank a few more sips or one more glass than usual? Then the next week, add another. Over time, this little bit of extra water will add up. You’ll start feeling more refreshed, you may have even lost weight – and you will have found your olive!

Write it Down

I was listening to Joel Osteen in my car the other day, and he talked about the importance of writing down our plans. He said, “Success is intentional, not accidental.”

You don’t accidentally get your closet organized, lose 20 pounds, or finish making that arm-knit scarf you started four weeks ago. You have to write down your plans. Then set aside time to move forward with your olive in hand.

In my last issue of Real Simple, I read that 61% of people who wrote things down for the next four weeks actually accomplished them. Just by writing. them. down. (I guess I’ll be getting a new notebook soon.) Seriously, though, I didn’t realize the importance of this step. Writing = action.

Okay, I don’t know about you, but I feel more armed and ready than ever to re-tackle these things called resolutions. Who cares if it’s not January 1st. Let’s make it an awesome day – and even better tomorrow.




Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

I hope you were able to celebrate a lovely Christmas with your friends and family, and that you’re looking forward to ringing in the year of 2017. I feel like I’m still getting used to writing 2016 on everything, and now it’s time to flip the calendar again!!

I say we grab a glass of our favorite drink and toast to an incredible new year full of adventure, love, laughter, and lessons that we can accept and cherish with grace.

All my love,

-Kate and family

{Special thanks to my sister, Kelly Jo, for sending me this particular picture. It was taken at my mom’s 80th birthday party in November. Such a fun celebration – and I love that we have this picture on our Christmas card. Two very special occasions remembered in one snap!}


All I Want for Christmas…

What am I asking for this year? It’s not a white Christmas or even my two front teeth. (Although, there was a time when our Avery was missing her front teeth at Christmas. We got a lot of mileage out of that joke – and song – that year.)

My list was inspired by a beautiful post that has been showing up on Facebook lately. It outlines exactly what most parents wants for Christmas. I’ve seen it on a few of my friends’ timelines and it warms my heart each time I read it.

I’m sharing it here for two reasons: 1) In case you haven’t seen it, and 2) If you want to copy and paste it on your Facebook page – or just print it and share it with your kids. You can grab it here:

“Each year, my daughter [or son] asks me the same question. After thinking about it, I decided I’d give my real answer:

What do I want for Christmas? I want you. I want you to keep coming around, I want you to bring your kids around, (when you have them, no rush). I want you to ask me questions, ask my advice, tell me your problems, ask for my opinion, ask for my help. I want you to come over and rant about your problems, rant about life, whatever. Tell me about your job, your worries, your spouse, your kids, your fur babies. I want you to continue sharing your life with me. Come over and laugh with me, or laugh at me, I don’t care. Hearing you laugh is music to me.

I spent the better part of my life raising you the best way I knew how, and I’m not bragging, but I did a pretty darn good job. Now, give me time to sit back and admire my work, I’m pretty proud of it.

Raid my refrigerator, help yourself, I really don’t mind. In fact, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I want you to spend your money making a better life for you and your family, I have the things I need. I want to see you happy and healthy. When you ask me what I want for Christmas, I say “nothing” because you’ve already been giving me my gift all year. I want you.

If you feel the same way, feel free to copy and paste… I did!”

How great is that? It makes me want to hug my kids and tell them all of this. Christmas, birthdays, or any other gift-giving holiday, this is how I feel. My kids aren’t even grown up, yet. I have twin tweens and an official teen in the house, but I can still imagine all of this in our future.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and that you get everything you want this year and always.