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Welcome to episode #63 of the Morning Upgrade Podcast. This week I spoke with Catherine Willows, a Functional Medicine coach. She enjoys painting in her free time.

Top Talking Points

  • Morning routines can inspire your creativity and prepare you for difficult parts of your day.
  • The difference between a goal or to-do and an intention.
  • Understanding your own body so you can have a healthier and happier life.

Resources & Links

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Connect With Catherine at Willowscc.com

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Episode Transcript

Ryan 

Hey guys, it’s Ryan real quick. So my mission with the Morning Upgrade blog and podcast is to raise the awareness of morning routines and personal development. And I now have two products that have also helped me with this mission. The first product helps you start a 20 minute morning routine. And the second product is a book that outlines how to use personal development, upgrade your life and business. You can get full details on both products over at morning upgrade.com. Thanks for letting me share. And now on to the show.

Announcer  

Welcome to the Morning Upgrade podcast with Ryan Cote where we feature casual conversations with entrepreneurs about personal development and growth.

Ryan  

Hey, Catherine, welcome to the Morning Upgrade podcast. How are you?

Catherine 

Hi there, Ryan. I’m good. Thank you. Thank you for inviting me to join you. I’m delighted to be here with you.

Ryan 

Yeah, we were just talking pre-recording. And I know you’re very much into morning routines and nighttime routines and habits. So I definitely want to talk to you about that. But first, let’s introduce you to my audience, and who you are, what you do for a living, and then maybe one of your hobbies.

Catherine 

So basically, my purpose is really around helping people become the best version of themselves. And that really focuses on health and well being. I’m an RN, functional medicine coach, and an entrepreneur. I’m also a mom of a grown daughter and two Australian shepherds in terms of hobbies, I really enjoy painting fiber arts, spending time out in nature doing all kinds of things I like gardening and cooking and or making Homemade Herbal SAVs and tinctures and all of that from wildcrafted plants. So those are the things that I’m passionate about.

Ryan 

Those are some nice creative hobbies that must be a nice outlet for relaxing activities. Right? The painting?

Catherine  

Yes. And the outdoors is, I think, great for creative outlets in connection with the outdoors. I feel it’s so important. It just taps us in on another level of joy and contentment that’s really important for hearing.

Ryan 

Absolutely great. Yeah, definitely. Well, let’s talk about how you start your mornings. And I used to give a nighttime routine to I like to talk about habits on the show. So maybe we’ll just let’s start off with your morning routine, then we get to your nighttime routine later, what is your morning look like?

Catherine 

So my morning routine usually starts with making a big pot of homemade chai tea. And I use all kinds of herbs and spices in my tea along with black tea and green tea, just all these polyphenols that are so good for the body. And I also start with some protein in the morning as well. And then I get outside with my dogs and again that connection with nature out in the morning to just see the plants in the sky and what’s happening within the weather patterns. All of that is so vitalizing there’s so much being written now around our circadian rhythms. And people are having a lot of problems with sleep. And one of the recommendations is to get 15 minutes of good sunlight in the morning. And as the light hits the retina of the eye and into the nervous system, it helps to set the circadian rhythm for the day. So I spend time outside. And then I come in and I do about 20-30 minutes of exercise, usually yoga, some melt. And then I do my morning meditation. I work a lot with my clients around meditation because I think it’s, again, such an anchoring point in the day in which connecting with the inner self connects with what’s sacred to us, however, we define that to be and then setting our morning intentions. A lot of people get confused about the distinction between intentions and goals. But goals are those things that we want to achieve in the day or long term for that matter. We also have those short-term goals which are our to-do list of the day. But intentions are why they’re the emotional drivers for why we want to achieve those. And when we’re often doing goals without thinking about our intentions, those goals can feel empty. And sometimes it’s hard for us to really want to achieve them if our motivation can really wane if we don’t have if we’re really not connected to the goals so So setting intentions just brings another level of awareness and I think a deeper meaning to what it is we want to achieve in our day. The other aspect to this I really find that having a morning routine anchors me and that by having a morning routine inspires my creativity and nourishes me to really be able to move into my day, it better helps with any kind of chaos or pop-ups, which we only have, we all have that during the day, right? We have those things that come along with the bumps that come along with life, it just helps you move through those things more easily. If you kind of got yourself set for the day, I think.

Ryan  

Can you give me an example of an attention intention? I don’t think we spoke about that yet in this podcast. So an example might help cement in the minds of my audience.

Catherine 

Sure, you know, I might have an intention to say, I have an email list, I have a blog to write, I have a program to put together, whatever my to-do list is for the day, I’ve got these items on my my list that I want to accomplish, the intention underneath that might be, I want to be able to write with ease. Today, I want to be able to finish my work with a sense of accomplishment, and feel successful at the end of the day. Those are just some examples of sort of the underlying drivers of it’s more of the emotional aspect of what brings meaning to those goals. And I think when I work with people who say they want to lose weight, they want to lose weight, their doctor tells them, they want to lose what they have to lose 20 pounds, and you start asking them about what that means for them. And it boils down to feeling more confident, maybe they want to look better, feel better in their clothes, feel more satisfied with their bodies, and how they feel in their bodies. Those intentions are so vital in terms of motivating people to carry through the actions that they need to do in order to get to that goal.

Ryan  

You seem like a very upbeat, positive person. What fuels that? Like? How do you keep that happiness or fulfillment? Whatever you want to call it? How do you feel that for yourself personally,

Catherine  

I have a lot of different pieces that bring that together. And again, I really utilize my creative outlets to help fuel my joy. Julia Cameron talks about taking time once a week for an artist date, which is just a date that you have for yourself for the purpose of creativity, and creative expression. And I find that when I, I create space like that for myself, and really delve into some, even if it’s something really benign, like, just a nice walk through the woods, and connecting with, you know, looking at the beauty of, of the river or the mountains, that just it fuels me, it brings me greater levels of contentment, particularly when I’m painting Oh, my hands, I lose track of time and I’m just in my mode, it really brings me a lot of joy.

Ryan  

So it sounds like a creative outlet. So I guess this question or that question, really, it’s personalized to the person, you know, we get to find out what makes you happy? And I think like, I think we can say that maybe being outdoors getting sun, that’s probably good for anyone. But they need to find out. I think what you said about the painting is interesting like you feel like you get lost in it. So I think everyone needs to find what is that activity where you lose track of time. And I’m not the first person that’s been said before, but just made me think of it to find out what the activity is that you get lost in doing. And that’s sort of like your happy zone. Would you agree with that? Or?

Catherine  

Oh, absolutely. And everybody’s different in terms of what that piece is, right? That’s the golden stone within and it’s unique to every individual. And it is a discovery process in terms of what brings you to that place where you just lose yourself in the activity and lose yourself in time. And it just takes you down. It just takes you off into your explorations, either within or without. Whenever that might be that it can be very rich and very nourishing.

Ryan  

Let’s go to the business side. I know you have a new company, what gave you the courage and the confidence to take action on that. A lot of people want to start a business but your fear is natural and sometimes fear wins. But you took action. What gave you the confidence and the courage to do that?

Catherine  

You know, Ryan, I’ve been interested in having my own business for a long time. And what really kicked it off for me was this COVID To be quite frank, when COVID hitch there were so many people scrambling and so afraid about their health and witnessing that really it really gave Me the kickstart basically to say, Alright, I’ve got to get my workout here people are neediness, people need information, they need support, they need to know how to take control of their health and move forward with that in a way that really works for them, not just doctor’s orders, but really, to learn how to apply that within their own lives, within their own routine, what’s important to them, really for their own unique needs. And that is really what inspired me to move forward with it.

Ryan  

Sounds like you have a real passion for this. And the mission, that you’re passionate about the mission and that overcame the fear, or the anxiety over it sounds like that’s what you’re saying?

Catherine 

Yeah, it really did it. You know, sometimes when you see a need out there that you know that you have to meet, everything else just falls away to the wayside, and you just go. And that was the case here. By the same token, you know, the other aspects, I have two facets to my work. The other aspect of my work is really around supporting new integrative practices, in moving forward with their practices so that they can do what they need to do efficiently and effectively. And a lot of practitioners are now moving away from the conventional medical model, and really trying to make it a go, again, creating their own businesses in this arena. So my work is also around supporting those practices and being efficient and effective in doing what they do.

Ryan  

In this conversation you’ve given us a lot of great feedback and advice, and just things to think about. But I want to, I want to end with your nighttime routine because it’s not something we talk about a lot. Here we have, we’ve had, have had a few guests talk about the nighttime routine, but love to hear about how you end your night.

Catherine 

Sure, you know, there’s been a fair amount written now around creating a buffer zone at the end of the day between your day and your sleep. And what we’re seeing is a lot of people really struggling with being able to sleep, whether they’re having trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep. A lot of people wake up around three, four in the morning, and they’re not able to go back to sleep. So creating this buffer is really important. And I take time. First of all, I get off screens, I have a deadline that I’m not allowed on the screens after 7:30 pm You know, no matter what I’m doing, and then I take time to really decompress. I get my dogs out for an evening stroll. I shower at night. And then I take quiet time in my room with some herbal teas and, and I read for a while and nothing, nothing intense. But really I read things that are very inspiring to me. And also trigger maybe some thoughts of gratitude for the day to really quiet things down so that I’m able to sleep. 

Ryan

I guess it works. 

Catherine

Yeah, I fall asleep really easily. And, you know, like anyone if I’ve had, if I’ve got too much on my mind from the day, it’ll pick up around two, three in the morning, that most often just by quieting things down. And sometimes, you know, if I feel like I do have a lot on my mind at the end of the day, I’ll write for a bit, just to discharge some of those thoughts on paper. It’s almost like cleaning out the mind in order to really be able to sleep which can be very helpful.

Ryan 

Thanks again, Catherine. This is really great. Really enjoyed speaking with you on the show. If someone wants to connect with you and learn more, what’s the best website? We can send them to?

Catherine  

You can find me at willowscc.com. 

Ryan

Perfect. Thanks, Catherine. 

Catherine

Great to be here with you Ryan. Thanks so much.

Ryan

You’re welcome. Thank you.

Ryan 

Thanks for listening to the Morning Upgrade podcast. Please subscribe and review. And don’t forget to visit us at morningupgrade.com for more content.

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