Mornings are a magical time for many. A good start sets a positive tone for the day, and most times, when you have a productive and fulfilling morning, your day will be successful.
But what about the people who find mornings to be hideous? What about the people who will murder if someone dares to address them before coffee?
You have to think about them too.
As I lounge in bed, listening to the first morning showers of the rainy season, enjoying the darkness and the brush of cold air from the air conditioner, I wonder why I’m not more of a morning person. Some of the most pleasant and peaceful times I’ve experienced have been after I woke early to have coffee and take a morning stroll.
Mornings are usually a good time for me, except when they’re not.
When I told my friend Jay what I was doing, he confided that he had already walked four dogs, drank his hot chocolate, and had a Father’s Day breakfast. I felt like I was cheating because I was tucked happily under the blanket in my underwear, not any closer to getting up and having coffee than I was a half-hour before.
I haven’t always been so lazy in the morning. I used to get up early when Zoey had to go to school. I made the rice for breakfast, and sometimes even had eggs and ham on the table when Flora and Zoey woke up. I don’t cook enough because Flora hates it. I don’t know what’s different about the eggs when I cook them, but she asks that I refrain from making the meals most times.
My job in the morning before I sit down to write is to get Zoey ready for school. This past week, I haven’t been able to roll out of bed until 7 am, and Flora has most things done already. I still do have time for what I need to do, but it’s much easier if I get up earlier.
I know the reason I can’t get up is the new regimen of medication that I take. I’m so doped up that it takes an act of mother nature to shake me awake. I stumble up, drool on my face, heavy-lidded eyes staring at nothing. More than likely, I am so drugged up that I injure my toes on the door frame or bed and stand spewing f-bombs in the dark.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of trying to wake up through a haze of psychiatric meds, you don’t know what you’re missing. The strongest coffee doesn’t even make a dent in the stupor in my first hour of the day.
When my doctor feels I have sufficiently moved past my psychotic episode, I may be able to drop the dosage a bit. Then I hope I can have a more productive morning. Until then, I will have to stumble about, fracturing sensitive body parts, trying to make instant coffee with my eyes closed.
The perfect morning
If everything in my life were perfect, I would get up at 5 am every morning, even weekends. I would stand on my porch, drinking coffee, and relishing the cool air coming off the ocean.
Then, I would strap on my walking shoes for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. The times I’ve walked in the morning were wonderful. I felt energized and alert when I finally sat down to write for the day.
Then, I would take a cold, refreshing bucket bath and wash off the sweat and germs. Then, a healthy breakfast, catching up with my family at the table.
I wouldn’t touch my phone until much later, so as not to spoil the serenity of my morning rites.
Then I sit to write for the day, uninterrupted by needs and wants of the family.
Except that’s not how it works.
My actual morning
I wake in a panic with my wife yelling loud enough to echo in the bedroom. She’s not grouchy, that’s just how her voice sounds first thing in the morning. I roll over and grab my phone and stare at notifications and stats until I hear Flora yelling with more urgency.
Ugh, 7:10 am…
I get shakily to my feet and stumble to the bedroom door, catching my finger in the door as I slam it. Yes, that’s blood under my nail. I mumble “good morning” to Flora, who has already been up for an hour and is now making eggs.
I reach for the instant coffee because brewed coffee is way too much trouble, and I’ve learned to adore the taste of freeze-dried. The smell of my Folgers perks me up, but I spill it setting it down on the table anyway.
I try to make sense of my Medium stats while I sip, trying my best not to burn my tongue, but failing. We eat a hurried meal and rush around getting Zoey ready for school. After I drive her to and back, I try to get enough motivation to sit at my desk and create.
I write for 2 hours, interrupted by Flora who can’t ever seem to reach the sugar on the top shelf.
At 10:00 am, I finally take a cold bucket-bath, which immediately does the trick of waking me up. After taking lunch to Zoey, I write for a few hours into the afternoon.
This goes on every day, except when I have to put out fires. There always seems to be a bill that needs paying, or an item needs picking up from the store. There always seems to be things that trump my writing, and I end up skipping the morning writing session.
If I could call my morning routine one thing, I would call it CHAOS.
Have a good morning!
But, this isn’t all about me. I bet as you read my morning follies you are thinking about your own screwed-up morning routine. Life is complicated, and that includes mornings.
I came up with a way that I can change my mornings from crazy to serene, and I wanted to share.
Get a good nights sleep
Are you staying up until 2 am watching Friends on Netflix? Stop it. Go to bed early and get at least 7 hours of sleep. If you’re under a lot of stress during the day, you may need much more.
Sleep is one of the most important things your body needs to reset and recharge, so don’t overlook it because you want to see how Rachel is wearing her hair in the next episode.
Wake up early
My ideal is 5 am, but for you, it may be different. Get up early enough that you can get through your routine at a leisurely pace. Try to have enough time to exercise and move your body, even if it’s only a walk around the block.
Eat something healthy
Some people skip breakfast, but I find that I always feel better when I’ve gotten some protein, carbs, and good fat in my body. My cholesterol is very good, so I make sure I always get eggs with butter, rice, and some kind of meat or other protein.
I don’t believe in low-fat because your body needs protein, carbs, and fat in moderation. You need to balance what you eat, so your mind and body get everything it needs.
Have a routine
You don’t need a checklist that you check off every morning, but some kind of routine is helpful, especially if you feel hazy or foggy in the morning.
Even when I am stumbling around for coffee, I have a list of things I know needs doing before I can do what I want — writing.
Whether you spring out of bed every morning, ready to take on the day, or you fall out of bed late and rush around in a stupor doing everything you need to do, mornings are the most important part of our day.
Having a productive morning will set you up for success. It helps if you can get enough sleep so you can wake up early, get some exercise, and eat a healthy breakfast.
I’m going to keep trying to improve my mornings every day.
What about you?