Monday, March 20, 2017

A Lovely, Lazy Empty-Nest Morning

I'm obsessed with people's daily routines - the little habits, preferences and practices that add up to define a person's way of life. In fact, I just binged on the New York Times Sunday Routine section which details the way notable New Yorkers spend their day off.

I'm especially interested in the way people spend their mornings. Now that I'm an empty-nesting, marriage-commuting, freelance-writing, pet-free gal, my weekday mornings are often open. As a result, I have been able to create the most enjoyable, liberating routine for myself - both in Chicago and Iowa -  and it goes like this.

6:00am Coffee in Bed
I love my morning routine so much I get up early for it. If Liam's around he wakes me by bringing me a strong cup of coffee with a splash of milk on his way to the gym. If I'm solo I'll set my alarm then stagger into the kitchen to fetch my own. Either way, I enjoy that first cup of coffee in bed, often in the dark, and I keep it warm with a nifty little Brookstone cup heater on my bedside table. The key to maximum enjoyment is to set up the coffee pot the night before.

6:10am Read Something Inspiring
I used to dive right into the headlines,  but since the election and its aftermath, reading the news makes me feel desperate or angry, which I've decided is a rotten way to kick off the day.  My new policy is to make the first thoughts I put in my head positive and motivating. My latest inspirational reads have been The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer, The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I'll read a chapter or two, highlighting what resonates.

6:30am Meditate a Little
I meditate almost every morning, but I'm not very disciplined in how I go about it. (I just realized I'm not very disciplined about much!) To help me concentrate, I use an idea that's come up during my reading as a starting point. I sit crosslegged in bed or on a comfy chair, place my hands palm up in my lap, close my eyes, focus on my chosen concept for a moment, then try to clear my mind while taking long, deep breaths. I do this for 10 to 15 minutes. The experience is pretty uneventful, really. Once I get into it I often see swirling clouds of purple, but other than that, I'm not struck with any huge epiphanies or receive any mystical messages. Meditating just clears my mind and makes me feel centered and more me.

6:45am Journal
After I meditate, I write in my journal. I've been keeping one since I was 15 years old and I still have each and every volume. They'll probably be used to blackmail me someday, and trust me, I'll pay up. I don't use my journal to record life events, it's my way to make sense of the world and my place in it. Reading my journal would be horribly boring for you, but for me writing is a way to solve problems, sort through my feelings and generally fire up. I whine, brag, worry, argue, and joke. I come up with brilliant ideas, I make lists of all the things I'm grateful for,  I plan errands and record calories. My journal is a mashed-up, hodge-podgy dumping ground and I rarely start a day without it.

7:15am Take in the View
I never considered "look out the window" to be a legit activity, but our new homes both have mesmerizing views. In Chicago I watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan and the jets line up over the water to land at Midway. I see the traffic build on Lake Shore Drive and the huge cranes swing into action on the construction site of the new skyscraper being built across the river.  In Iowa I look west out over rolling prairie hillsides and a golf course with a pond and a stream that's bursting with wildlife - I've never seen so many types of birds. Liam and I are obsessed with our views. In both places we have armchairs placed to face out the windows and binoculars within arm's reach.

7:30am Get Dressed, Eat 
Getting dressed entails pulling on yoga pants and slipping a bra under the t-shirt I woke up in.  I brush my teeth if I haven't already. I wear my glasses - contacts come later after all the reading is done, which it isn't. Breakfast is something like tuna salad and crackers, peanut butter
and banana toast, or cereal with almond milk and berries (carbs, yum.) I don't like to cook in the morning - I'm not that hungry and it's too much hassle.  I chug a couple glasses of water to combat the dehydrating effect of all the coffee.

7:45 am More Reading, More Coffee
Ah, this is where my morning gets really good. I'm up, I'm perky, I'm motivated and it's still early! Now I read my NY Times daily briefing and scan the Chicago Tribune and google things I'm curious about. I usually do a social media sweep to see if my kids have posted anything new (yes, I stalk them.) Gradually, I tune into what's going on in the world beyond my window, and start thinking about my own writing.

8:30am Feel like a Slacker
About this time, my inner critic shows up. "Hey, Marjie," she hisses, "The successful people of the world are out launching their tech start-ups and writing screenplays and teaching pilates and delivering meals on wheels! You're just lounging around in your pajamas, for god's sake!" And it's true,  I haven't moved a muscle or done anything productive other than simply enjoy myself for the last two and half hours. I guess it's time to wrap my morning routine up. But first, one more splash of coffee.

What about you? 
What are your routines during your favorite time of day? I would simply love to know.

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