If you’re anything like me, you equate relaxing with a night big fat glass of wine. I mean, who doesn’t? I won’t lie, the mellow buzz that comes from those first few sips of red is blissful. Light some candles, get a little giddy, and let the stresses of the day melt away while you devour a few episodes of the Real Housewives. This was my nightly routine. Until I realized those few glasses of wine were wreaking havoc on my sleep, my skin, my gut health, and my weight.

The first time I realized I needed to cut back on my evening “wine down” time, I panicked. How was I going to shut off after a long day? Could I get tired on my own? Would I sleep? These were all pretty legit thoughts, as I was using red wine as a bit of a tranquilizer at night. I don’t know about you, but I have one of those brains that does not stop. If there’s a thought to think of, I’m thinking of it. Time for bed! Let’s replay every conversation we’ve had over the last month, think about renting vs. buying, mentally plan out our next vacation, and debate over which shoes would look best with that new dress.

I knew I needed to create a new healthy routine at night that would allow me to chill out without alcohol (at least most nights). I started doing a little research and trying some new things out, and here’s what’s been working for me. And for those who are wondering, I still enjoy wine if I go out to dinner, or on the occasional night I’m really in the mood for it, but I try to keep it out of the house. I probably enjoy it, on average, two nights a week these days. And it’s made a big difference.

Bedtime tea. And the one I drink has catnip in it, ya’ll! Yes, CATNIP. But before you envision me sucking on a mouse made of yarn, let me clarify. The catnip herb has relaxation properties in it that also help calm your nerves. It’s soothing and has been known to help you prepare for sleep. I drink Traditional Medicinals Nighty Night. You can grab it in most supermarkets, on Amazon, or on their site. This stuff makes me slightly drowsy and just helps me unwind a bit. Nothing crazy. But it works.

Hot pink bubble bath. Okay, it doesn’t have to be pink. But it helps. I love to take a bath at night and throw in a Lush bath bomb with essential oils. I imagine the stress of the day melting off me as I soak. I take a few minutes to replay the high points of the day in my mind and celebrate everything I accomplished.

Limiting phone/screen time an hour before bed. I used to lay in bed with my phone glued to my hand for at least an hour – sometimes more. Like, really Cara? Do you need to be on Instagram right up until your eyeballs close? I read that separating yourself from the phone and computer about an hour before bedtime really helps you disconnect, so I decided to give it a try. It honestly helps so much. I won’t lie – at first I had to get over the crippling anxiety of not knowing what my very last email of the night was going to be, but I got over it (LOL). I now turn on a mindless show like the Real Housewives of Anywhere, and sip my catnip tea in peace.

Lavender essential oil. Diffused or on my wrists, or both. I love lavender. It’s such a beautiful scent that really helps take the edge off. I dab a few drops on my wrists and do a few inhales as I’m getting ready for bed. When I inhale, I imagine myself breathing in positive thoughts, and when I exhale, I imagine myself breathing out the stress of the day. I sometimes even throw a few drops in my aromatherapy diffuser and let the soothing scent help me drift off as I watch Ramona fight for the best bedroom in Mexico.

Gratitude. As soon as I get in bed, I immediately begin thinking of everything I’m thankful for. I list each thing off in my mind. I am usually out by the time I’m on number 5 or so. It’s honestly such a peaceful and happy ritual and it always puts me at ease. Note: this also works for any situation you may feel anxious in. I do it when I’m about to take off on an airplane, or whenever I experience rough turbulence that makes me nervous (spoiler alert: I’m not the best flyer!)

Visualization. If my gratitude list doesn’t knock me out, I turn to visualization. I imagine, in detail, how I want my next day to look. I think about what I’m wearing, what I want to experience – all happy things. Sometimes I even replay really exciting moments in my life that make me feel good. I just allow myself to get lost in my mind and it feels so good. Remember: your thoughts create your reality. Make sure they are fabulous!

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About a year and a half ago, I was taking a walk in the snow to grab a cup of coffee in my neighborhood. I decided to take a different route and found myself on a block I don’t usually walk up. As I turned to my right, I was stopped in my tracks by the most adorable storefront for rent. It. was. perfect. Big, sunny windows. A wide open space. I immediately had visions of working from this space every day, hosting meet ups, workshops, and champagne happy hours. I needed it.

As much as “the dream” was to work from home when I left my full-time job to pursue my passion, the truth is it gets old. It’s hard to focus when there are dishes to load in the dishwasher, when your couch is 4 feet away from your desk, and when you wake up and wind up working from your pajamas for the entire day without even realizing it. I wanted my very own headquarters. A reason to wake up each day, put on some makeup and a cute pair of shoes, and show up to. A place to invite my local readers to for a champagne guided meditation or a happiness board workshop. A place to sell my own books, and host live talks with inspiring people. It’s isolating to be in your apartment all day, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get up, get out, and also give my community something special.

I called the realtor and saw the space the very next day. I fell head over heels in love with it, and for a solid week, I agonized over whether or not I should try to make it happen. Although I wanted it so badly, and had a crystal clear vision for what I’d do with it, I had to be honest with myself. I was in the midst of a lot of business travel, we were moving apartments, and for more than a few reasons it just wasn’t the right time.

I let it go, but thought about it every single day. Eventually a retailer took over the space, and for the next year I would pass by, imagining how it would have looked as if it were mine. Picturing all the things I’d do in there. Although I felt badly for not jumping on the opportunity, I knew that I had trusted my intuition and that was enough. I called it “my store” and prayed that if it was meant to be, it would come back to me in divine timing.

Although many of my peers had suggested getting a WeWork desk, or utilizing some sort of co-working space, that never felt right to me. I didn’t want to be in a space that resembled a corporate office. And I certainly didn’t want to share. I wanted something out of the box, something unique to me. Something of my very own that I could decorate and create a vibe in. In my mind, there are levels to being a business owner. I had mastered leaving my job and turning my passion into a successful career. But to have my own personal office outside of my home? That was the next frontier. The next step up. The dream. And I wasn’t settling for less.

About a month ago, I was out grabbing coffee and making a run to the UPS store, and I saw the space again. This time, it was empty…

Without hesitation, I called the realtor back. He remembered me, and like magic, everything lined up perfectly. Within days, I was dropping off the signed lease and upon my return from New Orleans, I got the keys to my dream space. If this isn’t an example of the universe moving with you once you’ve made up your mind, I don’t know what is.

I got to share a special toast and mini picnic on the floor with my mom and cousin yesterday afternoon. We drank champagne and ate cupcakes and brainstormed about all the magic that’s going to happen inside those 4 walls. It’s those moments where you feel your hard work, hustle, and faith pay off and it’s truly everything.

I’m spending the next week getting settled in: the space just got a fresh coat of paint and we’re hanging chandeliers tonight. I’ll have wifi and a desk by Thursday and then the decorating begins! I am so excited, so proud of myself, and so ready to move into this next phase of my business. Champagne Diet Headquarters has made it’s home in Brooklyn and I can’t wait to share more with you guys!

Be sure to hang with me on Snapchat (username: GlitterGutsGlam) and on Instagram (@TheChampagneDiet) for tons of behind the scenes, a tour of the new HQ, and more!

Stay tuned!

With love and a new “lease” on my business,

Cara

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I’ve been on quite an affirmation kick over the past week or so. I think it’s because I’ve truly had so much going on, and have had to depend on the power of a healthy mind now more than ever to stay focused, optimistic, and filled with energy.

I wanted to share my personal affirmations I use each morning to get up with a sense of gratitude, inner-peace, and serious ambition. I created these myself, and they work. My suggestion is waking up, making a cup of coffee, lighting a candle, and sitting down to spend at least 5-10 minutes with these. Really give yourself a few dedicated minutes to feel these words as you repeat them. You can read them quietly, or say them out loud. There’s no wrong way to do it! Enjoy!

– Today I wake up filled with gratitude and light

– I am so excited about what this day will bring and all the opportunities I am about to create

– I begin my day with clarity, confidence, and faith

– I feel healthy, sexy, strong, and beautiful in my body

– I get to choose the woman I want to be today

– I feel grounded and centered today

– Today I get to give love and spread positivity to those around me. I get to make people’s lives a little better

– I always make the best decisions and I trust my gut because that bitch knows what’s up!

– I am always guided and I know that what is for me will not pass me

– Today is about to be the best day of my life!

That last one came from a woman in her 90’s that I saw in the Advanced Style documentary. I just live for older, wiser women that know how do life!

I hope you ladies have a powerful, magical, kick-ass day. Please feel free to use these affirmations or even better – create your own!

And remember: Your mind is your best asset. Use her wisely! <3

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Whenever someone finds out that I’ve written and self-published six personal development books, I typically hear an “OMG!” Followed by, “How did you do that?” Aside from a heaping plate of divine inspiration, I can tell you that it takes a lot of hustle and even more heart to see a book to completion.

I often get asked questions about my writing process, so I thought I’d highlight some of my biggest tips for getting inspired when it comes to writing. I believe every woman has a book inside of her and a story to tell. It just takes the perfect storm of inspiration, confidence, and magic to bring it out of her.

Now that I have landed a book deal with Portfolio Books (an imprint of Penguin Random House), I feel even more inclined to share my writing process and tips with aspiring authors to show them that writing really can become a full-time career, and you can absolutely be a successful author. Portfolio has re-relased an updated version of my bestselling book Girl Code, and I’m working on a new book called Like She Owns The Place due out next summer. Exciting stuff!

My books are all about living your best life. They’re about things like vulnerability, self-worth, and self-expression. I write to inspire, but most importantly, to empower women to believe that they can live a life beyond their wildest dreams – and that they can do it all while preserving their inner-peace and expanding their happiness.

So, here we go! My writing process, in detail:

THE BIG IDEA. I write non-fiction. My ideas for my writing generally come from my own life experiences. I live my life with a “teaching lens;” a way of viewing every day and every situation as an opportunity to learn, and then tell a story around it. As a certified master life coach, this has become a way of life for me. I love inspiring my readers and clients to live their lives in the same fashion. I don’t believe in successes or failures, or good or bad days. I believe that every single thing we experience during our time here on this planet is meant to shape us into the woman we’re meant to be. And if we pay close attention, and do the work, we can evolve into our best selves, and live out our biggest and boldest fantasies. This is where my content comes from. This is how I get inspired.

THE WRITING PROCESS. Typically when an idea for a book hits me, I immediately begin scanning my mind for recent experiences that feel relevant to the concept. I also open my mind up to be aware of future circumstances that may apply as well. For example, maybe I’m writing about fear. I’ll think about times in my own life where I had to dig deep to battle my own fears or anxieties, or think back to a time where I helped another woman overcome hers. I will also give myself “assignments” to garner experience. Maybe I’ll step outside of my comfort zone and try a dance class or a new workout class, and then carefully observe how I felt during it. Did this challenge my fear of looking silly? Did this stretch me to do something I wouldn’t normally do? I will document how I felt before and after the experience. Again, viewing every situation with a teaching lens. My end goal is to tell a story, and to inspire.

Once I have my content, I begin my outline. Think of an outline as the “bones” of your book. You’re basically choosing a theme for each chapter. If the idea of a chapter sounds incredibly daunting, think of each one as an expanded blog post. A rule of thumb: you’re going to want to get down around 3,000-5,000 words per chapter if you’re planning to write a standard non-fiction 40-60,000 word book. Of course, you can make your chapters shorter, or longer. But that is what I use to break it down for myself and it really helps.

I try to set a writing schedule and block out any other distractions. I usually put my phone in another room, and close out of all internet browsers. It’s so easy to get sidetracked by answering text messages or checking Facebook. Make sure your MS Word doc (that’s what I write in), or whatever writing app you’re using is the only thing open on your computer. Of course, sometimes I’ll keep a tab open if I need to research something or use a thesaurus, but I stay off social media while I’m writing.

MY WRITING DAY ESSENTIALS. I love writing at home in my apartment in New York City. There are a few things that are essential for me when getting set up to write. The first thing I do is queue up some moody music. I love artists like Stan Getz, so I’ll curate a Pandora station that fits that vibe. I have a few playlists like this one on Spotify that always get me in the zone. Incense is always burning and there are a million candles lit. My space needs to be clean, and clutter-free. I fire up my aromatherapy diffuser and diffuse eucalyptus oil, which invigorates and stimulates the brain. I text those closest to me to let them know that I won’t be answering my phone, so if they need me, now is the time before I dive into my words. When you treat your writing like a job, others will follow suit.

FINAL THOUGHTS. The most important tip I’ll leave you with is this: have fun! Writing is my absolute favorite thing to do. Giving yourself the space and time to be creative is a gift, so treat it as such. Take the pressure off, and do your personal best. Your work can only improve and get better as time goes on, but you’ve got to start somewhere. So start now!

For a more in-depth look at my self-publishing journey, that has now led me to a double book deal with Penguin Random House, check out episode 25 of my top-rated podcast, Style Your Mind, on iTunes. Listen here.

Find all my books here.

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