“It’s a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in this broken world.”
– Mary Oliver
A few weeks ago I had a conversation with our dear, old neighbor on the porch, and our neighborly chatting turned to matters of sleep. I asked him what time he wakes up each morning and he told me quite simply, “When I wake up.” I remember thinking, “Uh, okay. What does that mean exactly? So you just get up when you’re awake?” But I nodded and let him continue. His reply sounded easy enough, but what struck me was the discipline he had to actually move his body no matter the time merely because his eyes were open and his brain was turned on. Maybe this sounds like a no-brainer to you, but not to me. He went on to tell me that sometimes this means getting up at 5 AM, but other times 7 AM when his alarm rings. He does not wake up to do anything per se, but rather wakes up and then decides what he wants to do with that time. He said he sets an alarm and if he wakes up before it, he gets ready for the day no matter hour – presumably, silly hours like anything before 3 AM are off limits.
As someone who frequently wakes up before her alarm, but then rolls around in bed snuggling covers and then spends far too much time scrolling around online, I quite liked the sound of starting my day off like this. It was as if my wise old friend was giving me permission to try on a new way of waking up outside of the way I’ve been doing things for as long as I can remember. I think I have been asking for “just five more minutes” on repeat since I was five! I am a chronic alarm snoozer and lover of sleep. But sometimes I think what I really love is comfort and I actually make myself more tired by not waking up when my body is ready. And sometimes (only sometimes 😉 )I forget that I can form new habits and change things around just because I want to. Do you ever feel trapped and then all of a sudden realize that you are in charge of making decisions to change things? I do. I guess one of the perks of being an adults is that we can do things like this. My neighbor’s gentle confidence and no-nonsence attitude was refreshing to hear and the push I needed to give this new way of waking up a try.
For the past month or so I have been going to bed at a reasonable hour and then getting up when I wake up. Most times it’s before my 7 AM alarm because I truly think I am wired to wake up before the sun, somewhere around the 5:30 – 6 AM mark. I’ve come to view these hours of solitude as a secret little gift just for me. If you have kids, you know that magic feeling of a quiet house before everyone wakes and requests all of the things. Our kids are loud in the morning and when one is up, they are all up! After that, it’s a succession of bottles, cereal, diapers, lunch making, and so on. Waking up before everyone else gives me a moment to pause and clarity to start my day by giving first and foremost to myself. This fills up my cup almost more than a whole night’s worth of sleep, which is an incredible blessing because I am able to ease into my role as mom with patience and gratitude instead of rushing to meet needs and wipe bums, my eyes half awake.
When I wake up, I head downstairs in my fluffy, white robe and make a big pot of coffee. I’ll light a candle, curl up somewhere cozy, and do something for me. I usually read, listen to a podcast, light yoga, or write. My one thing a day is the perfect way to spend this time alone. I try not to view this chunk of time as productive, like let’s get stuff done hours (or minutes, depending), but rather a time to feed my soul and set positive intentions. In fact, I’ve come to see, that this my friends, is productive. The effect this time has on the rest of my day is astounding and is why I have made this a part of my daily rhythm.
If if any of this sounds familiar to you, perhaps I can be that someone who’s nudging you to try something new? They say it takes around 66 days to form a new habit, so set a goal for one month and you’ll have welcomed a new rhythm into your life if this feels like a fit. I know many of us are always on the search for more time and balance, right? Well, the only way to get more time is to make it and this is a beautiful way to honor that. I have the words “One Day?” or “Day One.” written on our chalkboard in the kitchen. We, no one else, get to decide how we start our day, among so many other things. Decide what your morning to to look like, and make tomorrow your “Day One.” period. No questions asked. You so deserve it.