You’d think the "about" post would be the first post, wouldn’t you? I like to mix things up. Obviously.
For this post, I thought we’d get introduced, for who I am and where I am at this stage in my life. It’s an exciting stage! If we’re just now meeting, I am Caitlin Shea McCoy—my middle name “Shea” being pronounced “Shay”. (All my social media handles tend to incorporate my middle name, and I know it can be tricky seeing it all together. I’ve had people pronounce it “Shee-ah” and I know I tend to avoid pronouncing things in public if I don’t know for sure how they go, so… we’re good now.) I am a writer; I am a photographer; I am a dreamer; I am a mother; I am all the things that I am, and yet none of them really encompass who I really am, you know? It’s all of those things put together, but we’re all complex human beings, that can’t be summed up on paper, much as we try.
I have always been “into” personal development and can’t really remember the first time I thought to myself, hey, I can guide my life—but I’d imagine the idea came to me when I was about 11 years old. I had a super happy, dreamy, loving childhood (throughout all of it), but the biggest change in my life, up to that point, happened when I was 11 and we moved out of the home that my dad had grown up in to move in with my new stepfamily to the bigger town 30 minutes away. I was so happy for my mom, I had always wanted siblings and within two years’ time went from being an only child to having a half-sister (with my dad and stepmom) and five stepbrothers and a stepsister with my mom and stepdad. Plus, being an 11-year-old girl is just its own lesson in changes, isn’t it? I distinctly remember sitting in my new bedroom, though, clipping things out of magazines, dog-earing books, writing things in notebooks about what I wanted to do and feel and be… and really, things aren’t too different now, in that regard.
One of my favorite things to do in my new family unit, as a pre-teen and young teenager, was to go to bookstores (again, not much different now) and the first personal development book I bought was “Kiss My Tiara: How to Rule the World as a SmartMouth Goddess.” It came out in 2001, which means I was 14, which also means it’s the same year that Princess Diaries came out… so, it makes sense that this book stood out to me on the shelf at Borders. It also stood out because things like ruling anything, being “smart-mouthed” or a “goddess” were the antithesis of the way I walked through the world. I had debilitating shyness—most of my classmates at school had never heard me speak. And while this certainly wasn’t an appropriate book choice for a young teenager, it really helped frame my mind at the time that I could make changes, that I didn’t have to let my shyness hold me back, who I wanted to be was flexible, and most importantly, I was the one in charge of my life.
After getting my Journalism degree at the University of Illinois (graduated in May 2009… had my son, Sam, in July 2009…), my small town newspaper closed, and I remember crying my eyes out one night because I couldn’t continue writing for them (covering town meetings and the like) and I could potentially never again, call myself a journalist. Of course that was silly. I’ve had my byline in quite a number of publications, and the sheen wears off after a while. It’s the research and the interviews and the way all the stories come together that’s the fun part.
Anyway, my writing career ‘really’ started at a museum exhibit firm, where I loved the research-intensive nature of it and getting to really foster my bookworm’s heart; I loved taking all the data at hand and weaving a story through it, with a central theme at heart. I was laid off when I was pregnant with my daughter, Sadie (now 5 years old), and went to a marketing agency that was a bad fit all around—but led me to the opportunity to work writing full-time from home, which after a few years led me to the University of Illinois for a writing day job, which has now, again, led to me writing from home, full-time. Whew.
While I’ve always been personal-development-minded, I had a lot of fear surfacing a couple of years ago, and in some ways felt like I had a wonderful, happy life (I did) but it didn’t feel quite right, and I felt very trapped, generally, and stuck. I had been working from home for years and in theory had all the time and flexibility in the world to give myself the space to discover what was next for me, and what I wanted to change that would feel right. But by taking the 9 to 5 job, where I really did have less time and space to think through things, I also had less time to worry—and clarity began coming in droves. In February of 2017, the thought of writing a non-fiction book came to me. And it’s been through several iterations and evolving ever since; in April of this year, I was in the midst of spending my early morning time doing what I love: reading books that speak to me—on a soul level—journaling, feeding my coffee addiction—when the phrase “light-filled mornings” just popped into my head. And I knew I had found what I’d been wanting; and I’m grateful I made the space for it.
ABOUT LIGHT-FILLED MORNINGS
A few years ago, I was obsessed with morning routines. You’ve seen the (many) articles out there—12 things successful people do before breakfast, 8 ways to get ahead by waking up early. A lot of this was because I was also consistently working out for the first time in my life, and so I was trying to create space for things I’d never done before. But a lot of the advice out there was very action-oriented and, well, forceful, for lack of a better word. “Don’t want to get up at 5 a.m.? Too bad, sissy! Important people eat sheer willpower and discipline for breakfast!” I don’t think anyone actually said this in an article, but it often felt that way. If I could just be a little bit harder on myself (which I have a tendency to do anyway), then maybe I could create a morning routine that would fix everything I felt needed fixing about myself and my life.
Light-filled Mornings has nothing to do with willpower and everything to do with joy. Over the past year, that has really clicked with me—allowing over forcing—working with instead of against—perseverance over insistence. I heard once that most of our problems come from us treating ourselves like a badly behaving employee; guilty as charged. It turns out that the things you really love to do (staring out the window while sipping your coffee… journaling to your heart’s content… reading all the books… doing yoga because it’s fun and not because you’re trying to reach a goal) are there because they’re meant for you.
By doing the things that light you up in the morning, over what you feel you’re “supposed” to do, you are in alignment with your true self and able to start your day with a mindset that puts you in the driver’s seat.
Light-filled Mornings is all about being proactive in how you want to feel; not reactive to conditions around you. Light-filled mornings are not another task to get done, but a way of milking the most from your day, the way you'd like to.
From my personal experience as well as studying that of many, many others, I’ve found that light-filled mornings—those truly life-changing, awe-inspiring, I-can-do-anything mornings, simple as they may be—typically fall into three categories: Cozy, Movement, and Inspired. Some mornings (generally my favorite ones) touch all three in some way; other times, I’ll only feel like doing some of the things that would fall into only one category, and that’s ok. With light-filled mornings, there is nothing that *should* be done; only things that you feel like doing that specific morning and making the space for them to happen, in any capacity.
I always like to start my morning by guiding my thoughts for the day when I’m still in bed. I start my day by noticing and appreciating. As soon as I wake up, I’ll think to myself, “I should notice and appreciate,” because I’ve built the habit now, but also usually wake up coming out of a dream so I need a nudge to bring myself into the day. I think about how much I appreciate the fan in my room, and how the oscillating feature makes it so the right amount of air fans my face in the coziest, most wonderful way possible. I think about my king-sized Target blanket and how plush it feels and how great Target is, generally, and that we live in a world that has Target. I think about how well things are going for me (if I truly feel this way, no forcing it) and how excited I am for my coffee downstairs and anything else in the coming hours or days that feels fun or exciting.
So by the time I’m ready to come down and make my coffee, I am in a good mood and good mindset—to where that appreciation keeps going. I have momentum behind it. My coffee addiction runs so deep and public that I have acquaintances sending me coffee memes and my daughter is learning her letters by saying, “C is for Caitlin and Coffee.” I enjoy the process of choosing which coffee beans will be today’s coffee, grinding the beans, choosing which mug is the right mug for the morning, listening to the coffee being brewed, and the steam that rises from it when I set my mug on the table and the light shines through to reveal it.
I have always loved dancing around the house. I was in ballet for a lot of my childhood, and the sashaying around never went away. So after I have my coffee, I’ll likely twirl around to my yoga mat (people, if you weren’t sure that I was silly, here you go, full admission) and then do whatever barre or Pilates or yoga routine (or some mix of all) I feel like doing and have time for. I make my own playlists to play even if I’m watching a video and doing it along with that; but I taught fitness classes for a couple of years and really got into the habit of making my own routines, so it feels creative and fun for me to do that for myself.
Lately, I’ve been wanting to branch out with the change in my own schedule and routine, and have been trying the Sweat app, which I feel is a good switch up to my normal Pilates—and I do love that you can just play your music right in there, and the confetti the app “throws” at you when you complete the workout is super fun.
It took a while, but I’ve learned that I always feel better when I move in the morning, even if it’s a very small amount. Walking, running, getting out the mat, even for fifteen minutes, makes me feel more alive.
Reading has always been such a big part of my life. I have always been an observer, an introvert, and while I love having friends, doing things, and meeting new people, it has to be built on a foundation of quiet, introspective, time to read and process thoughts beforehand or it’s just not sustainable for me. A few years ago, I found The Universe Has Your Back by Gabby Bernstein, and it was the breath of fresh air that I was really seeking at the time. Every morning, I make time to read whatever book it is I’m currently reading (usually four at a time, picked up at any given time based on my mood). As I process things best through writing them out, I am concurrently journaling any passages that speak to me while reading.
Right now, I’m reading Three Magic Words (see the fun way this appeared in my life here), Warrior of the Light, The Power of Now, and Dragonfly In Amber (Outlander series book 2). Three non-fictions to one fiction seems to be my sweet spot. I always choose books to read in the morning that inspire me in one way or another. I don’t push through books that don’t resonate with me anymore just because I “started them.”
Like I said, journaling is also a big part of my morning—I am almost always writing passages and takeaways from the books I’m reading, but will also “vocalize” on paper the appreciative thoughts I had upon waking, and if I have a perceived problem or something I am wondering about, I will write it down and then let it go. Often just having the courage to ask and then giving up trying to figure things out will return the answer to me in record time.
Sometimes I’ll listen to music or podcasts in the morning. Sometimes I’ll watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix. It just depends on the day and what I’m really feeling. And there is no wrong choice.
Light-filled Mornings will be a physical book; with thoughts, practices, and ways to get in touch with your intuition to give yourself permission to find what really lights you up—as far as morning routines and larger life paths go.
I’ve also been thinking of making workout routines and playlists more readily accessible to the world, and expect a lot more video content to be created and shared in the very near future.
And of course I love a good story; so I’ll be sharing many, many more stories of others’ light-filled mornings right here on the blog.
Is there any content you’d like to see? Questions you have? Let me know!