Meditating when you’re cold

It’s a well known fact that modern life is stressful. I’ve harped on this a few time before – probably because I don’t like stress and I want to be proactive in reducing it in my life. I can’t always kill off one my characters when I’ve had a really bad day. For starters, it takes forever to fix that, especially if you need that character in the future, like at all. Don’t ask me how many times I’ve resurrected characters that accidentally got dead.

Finding inner peace is one of those things that sounds like a good idea until you try it. For me, I lean on a few methods that work for me, namely journaling and meditation. The benefits of both are measurable in my own life and I feel it when I’ve missed a few days. My meditation practice isn’t a terribly formal thing. I literally do it while waiting in my car for my kid to get out of school – using an app or YouTube when the network isn’t being fussy.

The car is fairly comfortable and I’m assured a few minutes of undisturbed peace. Even better, since I literally can’t do anything else, thoughts of housework don’t haunt me.

There is only one snag. The drive to the school isn’t long enough to let the car heat up and I refuse to idle the engine as I sit there parked. During the winter months it’s cold. Even in a jacket you can’t get away from it. And, because I’ve spent the last few hours madly typing away in my office, I’m already a little chilled to start with.

Let me tell you right now, trying to achieve a state of relaxed contentment is impossible when you’re shivering. There’s no relaxing when your shoulders are huddling around your ears for warmth.

Mr. Pug has the right idea. Snuggle in a blankie.

So why try? If it’s frustrating, then maybe trying to meditate in a car when it’s cold is a bad idea. Maybe I should find a happy alternative involving chocolate and reading a juicy novel. Maybe I’ll do that anyway … wait, sorry. Got distracted.

Hang on, hear me out. A meditation practice is meant to help people find their zen state, even when the conditions aren’t ideal. Someone who regularly spends time doing breathing exercises and finding their inner calm will be able to find that calm much easier when things are frantic.

Meditating when cold isn’t a complete waste of time. Instead, it demonstrates a challenging situation where it’s necessary to adapt. Getting mad at it won’t help, so you have to learn to roll with it. Or wear a warmer coat, and gloves, and a hat.

That said, I’m happy it’s warming up. I’d rather find my inner peace without a challenge. (thankyouverymuch).

How do you cope with stress? Does it include chocolate? Inquiring minds want to know.


Psst! If you’re the type that likes a good indulgence read, grab my free story today. Like the rest of my writing, it’s lovely, dark, and deep. You can also sign up for my mailing list while you’re at it (win!).

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The 100 decisions we make everyday

Hello busy, busy people. I’m glad you made the decision to come hang out with me on my blog today! I’d like to present you with a hypothetical situation. Let’s pretend that you only have 100 decisions you can make everyday. Once you reach 100, you are unable to accomplish do anything else without it being tiring.

You might think that sounds pretty easy. There’s no way you make that many decisions in a day. But, the truth might surprise you. Here are ten decisions that might come up before you even eat breakfast.

  • Should I sleep in?
  • What clothes should I wear?
  • Which shoes should I wear?
  • Do my pajamas need to go in the wash?
  • What do I want to watch/listen to as I get ready?
  • Is today a flossing sort of day?
  • Do I need to make the bed?
  • Is today the day the bathroom needs cleaning?
  • Should I start a load of laundry?
  • Should I check my email?

Anyone feeling a little frantic just reading that list? That, dearest reader, is what we call decision fatigue.

Just looking at this gives me a bit of anxiety.
Photo by Victoriano Izquierdo on Unsplash

My personal journey with decision fatigue

For me, decision fatigue strikes fast and furious and I can clearly feel when I’ve hit the wall and don’t want to have to think any more. Going to a store or to an event is exhausting because there are so many decisions to be considered. Everything from what to wear, to what to talk about with the people I’m with, to what to buy, to what to order, to where to sit, to which class to attend, all stacks up into a huge decision overload.

And just like a pegged out computer, I start processing slower, start lagging and glitching, start making mistakes, and every so often hit the blue screen of death. At this point I either have to call it quits, or hit the reset button and restart.

Having kids hasn’t helped. Take the normal number of decisions you believe to be healthy. If 100 borders on overload, then I’d say around 80 is a safe number. That breaks down to around five decisions per waking hour. Multiply that hourly rate for each kid plus one and you get the decision rate per hour when you’re taking care of kids. For me that number is four (three kids plus me) so when the kids are home from school, I burn through 20 decisions an hour.

Yeah. If I look a little frazzled at the end of the day, that’s why.

No mom, my office doesn’t look like this. Yet.
Photo by Brandon Lopez on Unsplash

Creative decisions don’t carry the same weight

Now, if you are a creative person, there is a whole different batch of decisions that have to be made. For me, I have to decide what my characters are doing, how they are doing it, how they feel about it, where they are, what that looks like, and if there is any external influences, like weather to consider.

Luckily, not all decisions carry the same weight. I enjoy creative decision making so I can run through hundreds of these micro decisions and not feel the strain for hours. But, eventually those story decisions start taking their toll and I hit the wall. Working past that point usually results in bad decision making and it’s best to call it for the day.

Strategies for reducing decision fatigue

Never fear! There is hope out there. There are a few things you can do to reduce the amount of decisions that need to be made on a daily basis. This will free up space for all those creative decisions that you want to be making on whatever project you are working on.

Steve Jobs is famous for always wearing the same outfit. He never has to stop and think what he wants to wear and that frees up head space for the things he wants to think about. There are hundreds of professionals who do the same thing, for the same reason.

Some people eat the same breakfast and lunch everyday. Some create routines around the mundane stuff in their life so they can put it on auto pilot and not have to think about it. Some people buy the same brands for everything they use on a daily basis. Once you realize how much energy you spend on things that don’t really matter, you might want to consider automating the boring stuff in your life as well.

For me, I tend to wear the same thing when I don’t have anywhere to go. It’s usually a t-shirt and leggings. I do like choosing my t-shirts because it brings me joy. I have the same breakfast and same general morning routine. When I’m in the zone, I can whip through my to do list fairly quickly and leave time for all the things I want to do.

What do you do to reduce decision fatigue in your life? Let’s talk about it!


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

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The Satisfaction of Finishing

Back in September I discussed how I use journaling among other things as a productive way to handle stress and also help clear my mind. This practice is sometimes tedious but I’ve found I feel off on the days I skip. Because I do it regularly, it doesn’t make sense to fill up those gorgeous notebooks you see in store windows.

Instead, I use simple composition books and hoard them whenever I see them go on sale. Composition books are perfect for my style of journaling. Since they are so cheap, I don’t feel pressured to find pretty words or clean well formed sentences. In my style of journaling, trying to make things nice, or even correct actually harms the process of letting the mind say what it needs to say. I use it to sweep out the cobwebs and address the issues that take my attention, so the messier the writing, the more free flowing, the better. Composition books themselves are well made. The pages stitched instead of glued so the chances of the book falling apart is impossible.

When I saw I was close to finishing filling and entire book at the end of 2019, I kind of hoped I would finish writing the last page on the last day of the year in a kind gesture thatI was phasing out the old and ushering in the new. With all the holiday unpredictableness, this didn’t happen. I ended up filling in the last sheet this morning. Not perfect, but then again, striving for perfection usually means getting burned out or avoiding a project all together.

Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash

Finishing today held it’s own satisfying perfection. It’s a Friday, the end of the workweek and a day that feels right for finishing things. I get to open a fresh new book on a Monday, a day meant for new starts and new plans. It’s also the tenth, which feels like a complete number. A perfect 10. It also thumbs the nose at all those who have their goals figured out and ready to go long before December ends.

This new book that will stick with me for the next four to five months as my journal is so clean and shiny compared to the one I’ve just finished. It lays flat and well behaved whereas the old one is plump, filled with meandering recountings of frustrations and successes, hard decisions and new projects. Where the old signifies progress, the new encompasses potential.

Here’s to both the satisfying conclusions and the fresh starts that occur in every day life.


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My Winter Self-Care

There is this weird stigma when it comes to the idea of self-care. For most people, the very words summon up visions of eating chocolate, taking bubble baths, and indulging in activities seen as vain and selfish. This viewpoint needs to change. What self-care really means is to do the things that are necessary to lead a happy and productive life.

Everyone’s needs are different. Like me, some people have trouble sleeping at night. Some people might suffer from a lack of energy, especially in the afternoons. Some people might fight cravings for junk food and sweets constantly. Some people might suffer from depression which makes it almost impossible to do everyday tasks. My point is, your needs will not look like everyone else’s needs.

What works wonders for one person might actually make your situation worse. Personally, I find my self-care needs become far more time consuming in the winter than in the summer. The moment the days start getting darker, my energy begins to flag, my anxiety increases, and sleep issues become a more persistent problem. The drive to complete all the things on my various to do lists is just not there.

In the clinical world, this is referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD). You are literally affected by the change in the seasons. It’s mother nature’s way of getting a final jab in before hibernating for the long winter. She’s still irritated at the invention of the light bulb.

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

My self-care routine

Part of my winter self care routine this year stems from the tiny midlife crisis that kicked off a few weeks ago when I turned 40. All of the sudden getting in regular exercise and eating my vegetables seemed so much more important. This is the only body I’m going to get, if I’m not maintaining it in such a way that it runs well for me, then I’m setting myself up for a massive breakdown in the future. Something similar happened when I turned 30 and I realized that if I wanted to do anything with my life other than be a mom, I would need to start doing it.

Starting in early October, I pull out my happy light and use it in the morning while I’m working at my desk. It helps wake me up and simulates the natural sunlight I would have experienced in the summer and makes my brain generate more serotonin during the day and melatonin at night. I also get far more diligent at taking my vitamins. Currently I take a general multivitamin, calcium citrate, B-complex, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin D. All of these are necessary in maintaining healthy brain chemicals and aid in better energy production.

I also aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day. Some of it is while watching Netflix and using an elliptical, or if the weather is nice, going out for a walk. On alternating days I turn on Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. If you are looking for a darling down-to-earth yoga practitioner who excels at making yoga accessible to anyone, check her out.

The other two things I do are regular journaling and meditation. Journaling helps me to analyze things that I would like to find solutions to, while meditation helps calm down the brain chatter and helps me focus on the things that are important and need doing. After exercise, these two practices do more to help me counteract daily stress than anything else.

Does this mean everything in my life is perfect right now? No, it really isn’t. But when I’m diligent at keeping up my self-care, my tools to handle problems are kept sharp and well maintained.

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

A question…

What do you do for self-care? I would love to hear about activities and practices you’ve put in place to help you feel better about yourself.


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Journaling and Long Walks

I know it’s a author stereotype, but yes, I am an introvert with a huge capital “I”. If you’ve seen me out in the wild, like at a conference or convention, the outgoing person you met is me acting in the role of what I’ve interpreted as my public persona. I’ll start conversations, talk to strangers, and even invite people to discuss their favorite things. None of these are things I’m naturally comfortable with.

Like at all.

The cutest, fluffiest ball of suppressed anxiety you’ll ever have the pleasure to meet.

This kind of acting requires both mental and physical energy. When the event is over, I go home exhausted. What’s more, being out in the wild like this, even around people I really enjoy, causes a huge amount of anxiety as well. You can sleep off exhaustion. You need special tools to handle anxiety.

If I’m to be really honest with you, there are plenty of other things that cause anxiety as well that shouldn’t. That’s what anxiety is, unusual fear, worry, or dread about things we don’t have control over. For me, the morning rush to get the kids to school is always a big one. Innocent requests to help with kid’s projects are another. Preparing for family outings, meal planning, shopping for clothes … yeah, those things too.

Throw on top of all that the writing and authoring business stuff and I’ve built myself a lovely anxiety sandwich.

Photo by Youjeen Cho on Unsplash

There are two things I’ve come to use regularly to manage my anxiety, journaling, and walking.

This isn’t run of the mill journaling used to reflect on the events of the day or capture angsty rants and long winded stories. This is a practice called morning pages. Before sitting down to work, I spend 15-20 minutes filling two composition book pages of the words and thoughts that need to spill out of my brain. It’s like Drano for the mental pipes. Sometimes I ask questions that I’ve been meaning to spend time thinking about and sometimes I use it to get a rant out of my system. Regardless of what ends up on the pages, I always feel better after I’ve done it. What’s better, I often get really good ideas while I write.

While journaling takes care of a lot of the built up mental garbage that needs to be taken out, walking works wonders as an emotional reset button. If the morning’s been stressful, taking a walk before diving into the rest of my days often eliminates the accumulated stress of the morning and makes it possible to not bring that stress into the creative space. It also helps me maintain better energy levels during the day, gets my heart pumping, calms my cravings, and I get a change to play Wizards Unite. For me, that’s super motivating.

Yesterday I didn’t get in my walk because I knew it was going to be a busy day. Come afternoon, my anxiety was unmanageably high and I was raiding every shelf of the pantry for something sweet. By early evening I so tired, I ended up watching TV on the couch. By missing a 40 minute walk, I lost several hours of working time – not to mention ate way too much junk food.

Speaking of which … I haven’t done my walk today because of the rain. If it lets up, I better get out there!

What do you do to manage anxiety? Let’s talk about it!


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

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