Blog Post, DIY

Blog Post 4: When Life Works Best Mancala (DIY)

I love listening to podcasts. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love listening to Pearl Jam any chance I get, but podcasts are a great way to mix it up. There are so many to choose from. They range from comedy to money management, news to self-help. There is even a podcast about goats, and surprisingly, it’s not from Portland. Any topic you can think of has its own podcast. I listen while I’m jogging, doing dishes, and commuting. It’s an opportunity for me to learn something new. The podcasts that I enjoy stimulate my brain, make me laugh, and keep me informed on the topics I want to know about. When I listen in the morning on my way to work it gets my head right and focused. On the weekends, if I need to be in the car running errands all day, podcasts help me feel like time well spent.

One of my favorite podcast’s is Trish Blackwell’s “Confidence On The Go” show. She is amazing. You can check out her by visiting I’ve been listening to her show for over three years now. She has been, and continues to be, a major influence on me. She gave me the courage and confidence to start this Self Care is Sexy blog and podcast. Her training and encouragement helped me gain confidence and put myself out there no matter what others might say or think. She taught me that it doesn’t have to be perfect, you just have to take inspired action to achieve your dreams. The “Confidence On The Go” show helped me identify my passion and gave me inspiration to take care of myself, write about it and engage others to do the same.   

In one of her podcast episodes Trish Blackwell shares the “When Life Works Best” (WLWB) list. This is a list that she created to help her to achieve big life goals. Her WLWB list narrows down these large life goals into daily habits. I love this idea. It reminds me of that quote by U.S. Army general Creighton Abrams, When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.” When doing something difficult or big—like trying to achieve a life goal—go slowly, take in a little bit at a time.

You can accomplish any dream you have, it might not be easy, but this idea helps make it simple. You start by breaking that dream down into small manageable daily goals. Create your own WLWB list. You might start by thinking about and reflecting on a time when everything seemed to be going really well for you. Was there a period of life where you felt like luck was on your side, things came easily, life was a joy? Think on that time in your life. Look a little deeper and try to remember and identify the actual daily habits you had at that time. Take some time to journal about it. What did you enjoy about that time in your life? Maybe look through your FaceBook pictures and when you land on one that you look at you think “those were the best days of my life.”  For Bryan Adams that was the summer of 1969. For me, it was the year before I completed my very first marathon.

Write out as many daily habits as you can think of from that time period of your life. Write them down, strive to accomplish them each day, keep track of your progress as feedback, lather, rinse, repeat until you achieve your big life goal. By accomplishing these small daily goals you can eliminate all the internal negative chatter that might pop up telling you that you’ve not accomplished enough today.    

For me I always think about the times I’m training for a marathon. I can’t believe I’ve run 12 marathons. During the training months, I create a consistent routine that is conducive to feeling healthy. Training is a big commitment, and it can get a little overwhelming, so it helps to have a routine. I plucked the best habits from that time and try to implement them consistently into my daily habits.

The WLWB list helps me make myself a priority. When I accomplish the daily small goals, I am happier, I’m not as overwhelmed, and I feel like I am on track. It also helps me to feel okay with not completing my never ending “to-do” list, or “I should” list. It’s also been a good way for me to see what areas of my self-care need more attention. I’ve had some really exciting results from it. Create your own WLWB list. It’s the first step in our DIY project featured on this week’s podcast. To give you an idea, I’ll share my WLWB list as an example.

My daily WLWB list is:

  1. Drink water (4 8oz glasses)
  2. Meals planned (know what I’m eating that day)
  3. Active (30 minutes, at least 3 times a week)
  4. 7.5 hours a sleep a night
  5. Meditate (7 minutes a day)

Making this list has had a profound effect on me. It helped me to narrow down the really, really important daily routine. It took me a long time to prioritize the list down to five, but I kept coming back the above list of items as daily habits I wanted to create in my life. Each of these items is  important to my self-care. When I am active everyday, I am less likely to react poorly to stress. When I get a full night’s sleep, I am better able to handle any crisis. When I take the time each day to meditate, I am more balanced and focused. I took the WLWB concept one step forward and created a visual aid display. It’s a great little check-in tool.

In my home office, where I spend a lot of time, I created my WLWB Mancala. This display helps me remember to actively engage and do the items on my WLWB list. It is a small display of five small glass jars labeled with each of my WLWB items and a centerpiece bowl filled with green marbles and a large rock with the work “Confidence” carved into it. I have a picture of a natural waterfall I saw hiking on Mt. Hood in the background. It is very personalized. Each day if I am able achieve one of the above listed items, I put a little marble in the corresponding glass jar. It’s a visual gauge for me to know that I am creating the daily habits that I know make my life run smoother. It’s a way for me to remind myself that I am taking time for self-care. I am putting myself and my goals first. I know from experience that an interactive tool is more effective than a list because “to-do” lists are easily lost in the shuffle of demands. There is a negative association with having to accomplish something on a list. This display is a softer reminder of what I need to do, to take care of me.  

Write out your WLWB list, then create your own display. Get creative with this. Make it your own. Maybe create a different artistic expressions of this idea. Personalize it! Instructions and supplies list below:


  1. Five small glass containers. For example: mini candle holders from a craft or dollar store, or short shot glasses
  2. Five name tags for the glass containers
  3. A bag of colored marbles/or glass decorative rocks
  4. Center small plate or bowl


  1. Label each of the glass containers with each task from your WLWB list
  2. Display them where you see them every day
  3. Have a holding container near with the extra marbles
  4. As each task is completed, add a marble
  5. At the end of each week reflect on how full each category is to get feedback on which goals need more attention.

Send me a photo of your WLWB display, and tell me how it’s working out for you! Email me at

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