Release Your Beast with A.N.I.M.A.L.S.

In 2019, I completed a coach program through Optimize (now called Heroic) that changed my life dramatically. One of the tools shared in the year-long program was the Miracle Morning, a morning ritual created by Hal Elrod (who is an amazing person, look Miracle Morning up, or listen to my podcast coming out this Saturday).

I started practicing the Miracle Morning as soon as I heard about the Life S.A.V.E.R.S., which stand for Silence (Meditation), Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing (writing). I practiced this routine for two years. Soon, the Life S.A.V.E.R.S. just weren’t giving me the morning umph I needed each day. I needed to revamp them. I turned to my coach program, and remembered we did a BREATHES exercise at the beginning of every coaching call, which I loved and made it my own. I played around with the BREATHES acronym, and came up with a new Optimize version of my Miracle Morning.

  • Bed (make the bed)
  • Read
  • Exercise
  • Animals and Plants (I had two cats, a fish, and a vegetable garden I cared for)
  • Tea (a supplemental tea that provided lots of nutrients, antioxidants, and a start to hydrating my day)
  • Hygiene (not just brushing my teeth, but doing a full body wash and meditation)
  • Exhale (mindfulness practice)
  • Scribe

One of the reasons I loved using BREATHES was because I had a wonderful affirmation mantra I used with the acronym. It was Breathe, Relax, Energize, Allow, Target, Heroic Heart, Eudaimonia (means good soul, a word we discussed a lot in my coach program), and Smile.

  • Breathe: I am grateful for today, my life and everything in it.
  • Relax: Everything I need is coming to me in an easy and relaxed fashion, in a healthy and positive way.
  • Energize: I am healthy, energetic, and filled with vitality.
  • Allow: I experience the world with an open heart and an open mind.
  • Target: I am attuned to my higher purpose, and I step up to the challenges the stoic gods place before me.
  • Heroic Heart: A hero has strength for two; the more I love myself, the more love I have to give to others.
  • Eudaimonia: I am a shining radiant exemplar, doing what I can to make a difference in my life and the world around me.
  • Smile: I love all of myself, including my mind, my body, and all of my feelings.

This practice took me to the next level in self-care. My mornings became sacred to me, and I cherished my time doing each of these activities.

Until recently when we moved to Hawaii and I rejoined the animal care field. My mornings became hectic as I hurried out the door each morning, trying to leave on time to swim or ride my bike to work. My Miracle Morning BREATHES and affirmations fell to the wayside.

Recently, though, I had another storm of inspiration. Same as in 2014 when animals became my main inspiration to get in shape and start my fitness journey, I remembered that the animals were the reason I was getting up in the morning. Could I create a NEW Miracle Morning routine that would reflect my passion, my purpose, and my motivation?

Judgmental Owl says “Probably not…”

Spoiler alert: Yes. Yes I can!

Introducing A.N.I.M.A.L.S.– Affirmations, Nurture Yourself, Imagination, Make the Bed, Activity, Learn, and Silence

I interestingly discovered a new set of affirmations, mantras, and quotes to start my day. They are my ANIMAL affirmations.

  • Animal welfare starts with self-care.
  • Never is it a measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
  • I will make healthy choices today that will work towards my goal so I can feel proud and accomplished.
  • “Man cannot learn what he thinks he already knows” — Epictetus
  • Aristotle tells us “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an act, but a habit.”
  • “Liberty lies in letting go of the things which lie outside our control.” — Epictetus
  • Strive every day to eat as well as the animals in your care.

For Nurturing Myself, I do my hygiene routine, take my supplements, and get a healthy, nutritious breakfast started.

For Imagination, I do a quick 5-minutes (or more if I have time or am inspired) of writing. Most of the time, this is my gratitude journal, or editing my memoir, or making notes for my Zoo-notable podcast.

Make the Bed is simple enough, but WHY is this such a big deal that I included it twice in my morning routine? In his book Make Your Bed, Admiral William H. McRaven tells us about the little things that can make a big difference and change your life. Making your bed is a simple act, but it can ripple into other small acts that create a productive day, one that you can be grateful for and go to bed happy that your bed is already made and ready for you to rock it the next day. But even on horrible, no good, very bad days, you can look at making your bed as something amazing you accomplished. And something for you to be grateful and proud of doing.

Plus, making your bed gives your cat somewhere to lay all day… (Photo Credit: Javier Ezpeleta, Unsplash)

Activity means exercise. But nowadays, I don’t do a full 60-minute (or even 30-minute) workout routine. I am experiencing what some people might call “getting old.” My hips, back, and knees are pretty painful to do hardcore workouts. My activity is usually 5-10 minutes of mobility exercises, stretches, physical therapy, or low key movements that feel good, not necessarily get my heart rate up. Besides, most mornings I either swim or bike, so that counts as exercise, anyways.

Learn is usually reading for me. I do count listening to certain podcasts, listening to audio books, or watching an online class or workshop as my learning session. I do occasionally task-stack by listening to something while I perform my Nurture routine, or as I’m getting ready for work. But it still counts.

Finally, there is Silence (meditation/mindfulness). I think meditation gets an unpleasant reputation, so I typically use the term “mindfulness.” It’s basically practicing bringing my mind back to center whenever I notice it wandering off. I can practice breathing, repeating a mantra, or visualizing my hardest task. And while it’s at the end of my A.N.I.M.A.L.S. I rarely do it last. It’s usually the first thing I practice as soon as I wake up. And I have to say…doing my silence practice first thing has reduced my hitting the snooze button by at least 80%.

So far, with my A.N.I.M.A.L.S., I’ve had more productive mornings than ever before. I wake up refreshed, and leave for work feeling energized, inspired, and ready to take on the day. I do it for the animals. And the animals help me every morning. A wonderful cycle that creates wonderful days.

What acronym can you use to create your own Miracle Morning that takes your day to the next level, providing great self-care and a productive start to your morning? Let me know in the comments. And have a terrific 2024!

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