On Reflection: What a Structured Morning Has Done for My Well-being

 

One month ago I attended a wellness weekend here in NYC that was put on by Mejuri. Post-event I was so motivated I sat down and quickly penned a few promises to myself about what my new goals were and how I wanted to implement changes in my life. My overall goal was fairly simple: introduce a few new rituals into my life and use them to amplify a radical, powerful, feminine beauty in me.

I started with cold showers and quickly integrated other aspects into my day to help myself find a stronger, calmer centerline. I now have a list of nine rituals that I do each morning to wake up my body, mind, and settle myself for the day.

In the past two weeks, my body has been waking me up sometime between 5:30-5:45 each morning. No alarm, no groggy-tired eyes, I just snap awake. I wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and launch into my morning that looks a little something like this:

  • 5:40 Wake up, take my basal temperate, and do 3 minutes of cat-cow postures in bed. I do these before I get out of bed to wake up my breath, body, and circulation.
  • 5:45 30 minutes of yoga, typically Ashtanga Primary Series, but occasionally I just flow.
  • 6:15 Take a cold shower. I start with the water a little cooler than lukewarm and finish with a 2 minute, ice-water cold rinse. During this time I furiously rub my arms, legs, and body to boost circulation and practice long deep breathing techniques to keep my mind as calm as possible.
  • 6:30 Oil pulling for 10 minutes as I do my skincare routine. Then I floss & brush my teeth. I keep my skincare routine very basic in the morning, but always include Herbivore’s Lapis Facial oil, jade roller/gua sha, moisturizer & sunscreen.
  • 6:45 Meditate for 10-15 minutes (however long I feel I need that day). I have been using the Kundalini yoga 4 part breath: 4 counts in/4 counts hold/4 counts out/4 counts hold out. For me, it’s helpful to have a breathing technique to focus on to keep my mind still. I also tend to pick one of my crystals, set an intention, and hold it closely throughout the mediation.
  • 7:00 Eat a small breakfast – typically a banana – and take my vitamins & supplements.
  • 7:30 Get dressed, do my make up, and pick out a fragrance for the day.
  • 8:00 Feed the cats a little snack.
  • 8:30 Wake up the cats & start our day together.

 

 

Of course, those times are approximate as I don’t actually count the minutes of each ritual. I do it until I feel full and prepared to move into the next one. Starting the day well-rested and centered is incredibly new for me. Even in 2015 when I was starting each day with a 70-minute Ashtanga practice I still wasn’t feeling the calm that I feel each morning stepping through this routine.

My energy is up, my anxiety is down, I’ve been motivated to eat better, and I’ve been more emotionally still. I’ve always run a little hot-tempered and have a very passionate, fiery streak. In arguments I can be quick to say the most hurtful thing, regretting it immediately. This past month I have been incredibly even-tempered. Even when I get frustrated, get the blues, get thrown a curve ball, I’m able to quickly bring it back, calm myself down, and reflect on the situation. Maybe it’s just part of getting older, but as an Aries Moon & Aries Rising a lot of my ferocity is innate to who I am (regardless of age). I credit my new ability to press pause on these emotions to my morning routine.

 

The purpose of introducing these rituals was to amplify my inner and outer beauty. After one month I can confirm that I feel the effects on the inside and outside. I’ve been better able to handle the squalls of everyday life. I’ve felt more confident and strong as I walk down the street, as if my aura is growing day by day, inch by inch. I’ve had numerous people comment over Instagram and IRL that I look “different” or “really good today”. I can feel it on the inside and it radiates on the outside.

Maybe you don’t need a 2 hour morning routine, maybe you just need one thing, but what I encourage you to do is examine your morning and question if it sets you up for a successful day. Maybe five minutes of mediation will be the game changer for you. Maybe add an extra few minutes into something you already do each morning, like walking your dog, to pause, get still, and appreciate where you are.

Taking an extra few moments for you in the morning can help prevent you from feeling like you are being pulled in a million directions throughout the day.

On Reflection: My First Year Blogging

The past year has been incredibly transformative for both me and the blog. What started as a little project with zero page views has catapulted into a truly amazing space where I get to share all my feelings, tips, and advice with more than 17,500 of you each month.

When I started with Molly I didn’t have a lot, nay any, direction. I knew I wanted to write, connect with a community, and share more than social platforms (IG and Facebook) allow. When choosing a blog topic I went with fashion & style because it was something that I liked to do and I imagined being able to build a blog around. It definitely wasn’t niche or intrinsic to who I am, but I decide to two feet jump in because what is the worst that could happen?

I have a habit of starting projects with a ton of gusto and then letting the fire fizzle and moving on to the next shiny project (s/o to my Aries Rising!). I had started and stopped blogging several times in the past and I was determined to make this time different. After settling on a blog name I purchased the domain withmolly.com for three years. I told myself that if I stuck it out for three years and then wanted to stop that at least I had given it a fair shake and I could move on knowing that I had given 100% of my energy toward something. For some reason having an “out” made me want to stay “in” and in truth, I couldn’t imagine stopping this project any time soon.

 

 

In the beginning…

I wrote tons in my first few months and enlisted a friend to take tons of outfit shots and overall had a pretty good time, but I didn’t feel like I was connecting. I wasn’t reaching into a new audience or finding my own way. I felt incredibly static. In the past, this would have been where I abandoned the project, but I had a deal with myself. I pushed on, posting weekly, and kept my three-year expiration date in mind.

In the Fall of 2018, I decided to branch into a new media and started my Youtube channel, something that had been a goal of mine for a long time. I knew it was going to be scary, I knew I was going to get judged mercilessly, and I just decided to go for it anyway. That was one of the best decisions that I made, not only because it pushed me outside of my comfort zone, but because it was so instrumental in evolving my blog from a style blog to where it is today. It was my mirror.

 

baby’s first YT video

 

When I started making videos I (again) didn’t have a strong direction. I just figured I would make videos similar to ones I had seen other YTers make and go from there. I started with a little intro video (above) and after a few weeks found that the videos I really wanted to make were about skincare, beauty, and makeup. I was actually forcing myself not to make too many of those in order to stay within the lines of a “style blogger” which I had dubbed myself.

 

Where we are now…

By Winter of 2018, I was over “staying in the lines” and decided to start blogging, chatting, etc about whatever I wanted to. I figured that if it resulted in a loss of followers, engagement, etc then so be it (at least I was being true to me and fulfilling my passion!). What’s truly remarkable to me is that this switch toward more inner and outer wellness, skincare, etc has resulted in a 0.4% uptick in my IG engagement rate (which is pretty massive). I’ve learned that the more authentic energy I put out the more people I am able to connect with.

I decided to ignore the lines completely when a new product launch from Glossier came out. I was so excited to share the new products that I had to, had to, had to post about them. Within 6 hours of their new product line launching, I released this video which quickly became the number one result on Google and Youtube. It received over 5K views in the first 24 hours and over 18.5K views in the first month. It felt like I finally had a foothold in the community I had been trying to join for a few months.

 

A little reflection…

One of the questions I get asked a lot is how I am able to feel confident when taking photos and putting myself out there on social media. Paradoxically as it is, social media has been amazing for my self-confidence. It’s forced me not to care about the negative comments or cruel DMs. If I listened to even one of them I would have stopped after my first month. I would have stopped when people I thought were my friends where sub-tweeting about me. I would have stopped when people I had just met scoffed at my dream of taking this full time.

I would have stopped because of someone else.

Where is the logic in that?

This blog has taught me over and over to listen to the little voice inside, to focus on me and my dreams, and to block out everyone else’s noise.

If I had stopped I never would have met some of the amazing bloggers that have become friends in the industry. I never would have worked with La Mer. I never would have found my inner voice. I never would have known how strong I can be.

 

most recent collaboration: La Mer !

 

withMolly.com currently gets 29,000 site hits and 17,500 visitors every month. This is massive growth in the first year and I couldn’t be more thankful to everyone reading this right now. It’s been an incredible year of stretching out in a new field, experiencing this side of marketing, producing content, and constantly evolving my voice. Today my blog is much more holistic and focuses on internal and external beauty and the intersection between the two. It was a long path to get here, but it was a path inward and I couldn’t be more excited to see what the next year holds.

 

xx,

M

2019 Reading List

 

I used to be an avid reader. The type of person that would sit down a cruise a 400 page book in under 6 hours. I absolutely love to read and luckily for most of my life my formal education supported this. Throughout elementary, middle, and high school we had weekly class trips to the school’s library, teacher’s encouraged us to read daily, and there was even class time devoted to my personal favorite SSR (Silent Sustained Reading). In college, there was a shift for me and finding the time to do all my class-required reading was difficult enough, much less time to read all the other books on my list.

This year I’m looking to prioritize reading, and have crafted the below list based on books that I have been interested in reading for months (even years). There are also a few books that I’ve read excerpts of but haven’t been able to dive into whole-heartedly.

Here is my current “to-do” list. Did I miss your favorite? Let me know if there is something I should add!

 

+ What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami An intimate look at writing, running, and the incredible way they intersect, from the incomparable, bestselling author Haruki Murakami. While simply training for New York City Marathon would be enough for most people, Murakami’s decided to write about it as well.

+ The White Album by Joan Didion A 1979 book of essays by Joan Didion. Like her previous book Slouching Towards Bethlehem, The White Album is a collection of works previously published in magazines such as Life and Esquire. The subjects of the essays range widely and represent a mixture of memoir, criticism, and journalism, focusing on the history and politics of California in the late 1960s and early 70s. 

+ Rising Strong by Brené Brown Social scientist Brené Brown has ignited a global conversation on courage, vulnerability, shame, and worthiness. Her pioneering work uncovered a profound truth: Vulnerability—the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome—is the only path to more love, belonging, creativity, and joy. But living a brave life is not always easy: We are, inevitably, going to stumble and fall.

+ The Female Persuasion: A Novel by Meg Wolitzer There’s nothing like a crush – the all-consuming gush of obsession and excitement that shocks the system into euphoria. We often read about romantic infatuation, but in The Female Persuasion, Meg Wolitzer sets her sights on another kind – female friendship and mentorship, and the craving to be heard and admired by the one you admire. It’s a rich and satisfying novel – it will be called timely –about Greer Kadetsky, a young woman coming of age and finding inspiration in feminist icon, Faith Frank, who evolves throughout the novel from abstract celebrity, to boss, confidant and challenger who pushes Greer to confront reality.

+ Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace Consider the Lobster and Other Essays (2005) is a collection of essays by novelist David Foster Wallace. It is also the title of one of the essays, which was published in Gourmet magazine in 2004. I’ve read the essay “Consider the Lobster” but would love to not only reread it but also to read his other essays.

+ It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand by Megan Devine “Megan Devine has captured the grief experience: grief is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be honored. She understands the pain that grieving people carry on top of their actual grief, including the pain of being judged, dismissed, and misunderstood. It’s OK That You’re Not OK is the book I’ve been waiting for for 30 years—the one I can recommend to any newly bereaved parent, widow, widower, or adult grieving a death.” —Donna Schuurman, senior director of advocacy and training at The Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families

+ Friendship: A Novel by Emily Gould Gould’s novel, out this summer, features two thirty-something women who wouldn’t seem out of place on the cast of “Girls.” One’s a Midwesterner who has outgrown her Bohemian lifestyle, and another’s a little too accustomed to privilege.

On Reflection: My Year In Books 2018

 

Try as I did to get back into reading this year I was less than successful. I did manage to sneak a few under my belt throughout 2018 that I truly enjoyed (listed below). The one thing that was very important to me this year, like every year, was to continue my pattern of completing a book before watching the show or movie based on it. Namely, completing Carr’s The Alienist before starting TNT’s show by the same name.

 

+ The Alienist by Caleb Carr

+ White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

+ You are a Badass by Jen Sincero

+ Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff

+ The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro

Checking In: a new look, a new outlook

Hello 🙂

Things here may look a little different than you’ve previously seen on my site. I wouldn’t call this a complete “re-vamp”, but withMolly has definitely seen a few changes over the past several months.

About six months ago I found that using Wix.com was not conducive to my goals for the blog. Contrary to what their enticing Karlie Kloss ads will have you believe there are significant faults within the customization options of their site. And, because it’s built on a “drag-and-drop” model, the CCS and HTML coding is very sloppy which makes adding any custom CSS pretty tricky. This creates a fairly big issue if the customization you are looking for isn’t available through their interface. For example, they do not offer the ability to edit the font size of a blog post. How BASIC does that function seem? I truly despised looking at my blog posts for so long because I felt like the font was that of an “easy-reader” e-book.

So I go to work rebuilding my entire site on a new platform: WordPress.

While doing this I refrained from posting new blog content, which is why it’s been MONTHS since you’ve seen new content. While I wish this hadn’t been a side effect of the Wix > WordPress move it was necessary. Rebuilding and recoding the site took a lot of time, was very frustrating, and seeing content go up on my old Wix site would have driven me up a wall. Why dig deeper into the ditch you’re trying to escape at the same time you’re building a ladder?

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But thankfully we’ve come out the other side! In so many ways this site is similar to my previous blog (I did love the design), but in other ways, it’s very different! The overall design is cleaner with less manual updates required. Of course, there are branding updates (will I ever settle on a logo?) but I’m most excited about the footer – it’s so beautiful! The footer on my OG site was created through Wixes drag and drop features. This new site required actual coding which has taken FOREVER to get right. I’m sure you’ll still see minor tweaks to it in the coming weeks as I learn more about coding, but for now, it’s a huge source of pride for me. 🙂

When thinking up new ideas I knew that I wanted this space to be much more visual and pleasing to view (you all deserve it after that massive font — clearly that’s a sore spot for me!). I also really enjoyed this opportunity to get more into coding and use it to completely customize how everything looks, feels, and interacts with each other. I’m self-taught at coding so it’s been tricky, tough, and frustrating, but absolutely love when it works! (PS: if you have a solid strategy for importing a .JSON file into HTML or PHP please hmu…).

But, I digress … I’m very excited to step forward with this NEW and IMPROVED site 🙂 There are several new surprises coming down the pipeline for you all and I cannot wait to share every piece with you all.

Thank you all and I love each and every one of you!

xx, M

*if you are not seeing the new site please clear your cache and refresh the page!*

Checking In: where we’re going

“Enjoy yourself; that’s what your 20s are for. Your 30s are to learn the lessons. Your 40s are to pay for the drinks.”

Sex and the City

 

Sadly I have to disagree with one of my favorite, fictitious (although she’s quite alive in my mind) characters, Carrie Bradshaw. Your 20s are for more than just enjoying yourself, your 20s are the time to lay a foundation for your career, relationships, morals, and to find where you stand and fit into the larger picture.

I’ve always set massive, 10 y down the line goals for myself. I know that by the time I am 35 I want to be full time devoted to an entrepreneurial project that I have created. I’ve started and stopped so many small projects that I’m taking with Molly one day at a time. No pressure, just enjoying the process.

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I think the realization that in my mid-20s I still know nothing and that I am just waking up to who I am and what I want has been incredibly grounding for me. It’s made me wake up and toss out the “oh me oh my” routine that baby boomers claim plague my millennial generation.

Getting myself to NYC by my birthday (end of October) is a huge goal for myself, and something that I was surprised to see on paper. There are a lot of things that need to happen before I get there. I’m digging myself out of debt, keeping my head above water at work, and planning for a future with my boyfriend. Getting myself to NYC by my birthday…is a huge goal for myself, and something that I was surprised to see on paper.

Digging into my financial life, and seeing where I need to make cuts and adjustments to reach my goal of moving to NYC is something that has put me in the driver’s seat of my own life. I started this project at more than $8K in CC debt. After nearly six weeks of trimming back in every way I can, learning how to not online shop and fill my time with other things, and learning how to skip eating out in order to save $, I have knocked that number down to $3,652. This is a huge success for me and made me that if I want something I have to go for it. Sitting around hoping that my boyfriend will get an NYC job and I can ride to my dream city on his coattails is ridiculous and childish.

It seems like this should be the most obvious, but it wasn’t to me, until now.

Setting a massive goal for myself, to dig out of $8K+ debt, save more than $15K, and move to NYC without a job, just to chase a dream, that’s a new frontier for me. I spent four years of dreaming of New York, taking day trips every chance I could, and focusing on someday instead of taking ownership of the situation and slapping a tangible date on someday.

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Someday isn’t coming. I’m using my 20s to find and kick out all the places in my mind where I focus on an aspiration without working for it. We are surrounded by aspirational marketing every day, through social media, magazines, and more. Trust me, I know, it’s my job.

I thought I would move to the city of my dreams someday, but I decided to determine when someday will be.

On Reflection: My Year In Books 2017

 

I picked up a book for pleasure this year for the first time in years — nearly five — and was reminded of how much I love to read. In the next few years, I want to work on reinvigorating that “reading bug” that I had for all of my childhood. In choosing a reading and writing heavy major [Philosophy] I was slightly robbed of the pleasure of reading and have lost the zeal I used to have in vigorously devouring novels.

A soft list of novels read in 2017, hopefully, one that will grow in the coming years.

 

+ The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

+ Exit West by Mohsin Hamid {I attended one of his readings and was incredibly moved}

+ Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy by Trita Parsi

+ Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

+ Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

On My Mind: Politics

 

Has anyone else seen this bold trend? It’s not stripes, mini skirts, or light denim wash and you won’t find it at fashion week. In an age where gathering information is as easy as logging onto Facebook, a trip to the library, or a few words typed into Google it’s amazing that more people don’t know about current events. Or just basic facts about the world.

It seems to me that most people have settled into this comfortability with ignoring their ignorance. I know that I did.

When I realized I was doing it I just pretended it wasn’t happening, as if that is a mature and reasonable way of creating change.

As someone who used to be at the forefront of social justice issues, participating in numerous environmental rallies, and be loud and proud about my opinions on the issues we face today, I was shocked at myself. I turned 22 recently and I had regressed my maturity and responsibility in the world to that of a 9-year-old. I was contributing nothing.

And that has become a bold and common theme. And I’m tired of it. More people should dive into the news, beyond what appears on their newsfeed. If we don’t, imagine what will happen when the 20-somethings in this world are the voting majority in tomorrow’s.