Becoming an early bird. Sort of.

  Anyone who knows me knows I am not a morning person. I prefer the inky black of night to the multicolored pastels of the morning sky, and, really, I don’t like to say words before 9 a.m.

But I’m an adult with a job that requires my presence at 7:30 in the morning and I have children whose internal clocks seem to be set at 6 a.m. Our days are chock full of school, work, practices, church, meetings, and by the time dinner has been cooked and eaten, I’m exhausted and ready for some quality time with the Netflix machine.

Trouble is, I have goals. I want to practice yoga six days a week. I want to meditate every day. I want to write more. I want to read more. I want to spend more time hanging out with my husband and kids. 
I spent years complaining about these seemingly unattainable goals. At some point, though, I had to accept the harsh truth: because I cannot create more time in the day, if I want to do all the things I want to do, I must wake up earlier. Like 5 a.m. early. This realization may or may not have come with a heavy sigh of defeat.

So, about a month ago, I started setting my clock for 4:45 or 5 a.m., and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the painlessness of my new routine. At 5 a.m., it’s still ink-black outside; the house is silent and I’m not quite awake enough to fret over the day’s tasks. I can wrap myself in a blanket and sit on my meditation cushion for several minutes. My thoughts haven’t quite picked up to their usual anxious pace, and so stilling them isn’t the Herculean task I’d grown used to in evening meditation. On the mornings I practice yoga, my move to the mat is slow and unhurried. My body is still shaking off the elixir of sleep, so my first few minutes of yoga are a bit creaky. Then I melt into a few sun salutations and, to my constant surprise, I awaken and move vigorously through a 45-minute or hourlong practice.

By 6 or 6:30, the mind-fog is mostly clear and I’m present enough to pack lunches and get the kiddos ready and out the door.

Though I’ve settled into this routine for several weeks, I’d say I’m a long ways off from being anything close to “a morning person.” But for the first time in many years, I finally feel like I have enough time in the day (on most days).

If you’re feeling hemmed in by the day, see if you can wake up just 15 minutes earlier. Use that time for unhurried thinking, a luxurious cup of tea, a walk around the block, a short devotional, or a handful of sun salutations. It’s amazing how an extra pocket of time in the morning can make the coming hours more manageable.

Let me know how it goes!


The tank that helps me remember to 1) show up and 2) have fun!

Discipline. You’d think after 13 years of primary and secondary school, 4 years of college, and nearly 9 years of parenting that I would be a master of self-discipline. I’m not. I like sleep. I like down time. I like alternating between the safe zones of laziness and distracted busyness.But I also have goals, many of which remain unattained. And recently, I had to admit that these unreached goals are largely a result of my own lack of discipline.

It boils down to this: if you really want something, you work for it. You don’t wait for lucky breaks or gushing affirmations. You don’t stay up for two hours streaming old Netflix shows. You don’t spend your lunch breaks scrolling through Instagram. You don’t sigh longingly at people living the dream. You don’t make endless plans without following through. You don’t give up because of what people might say. And you definitely don’t blame the people around you for stymying your dreams.
I knew all this intellectually, sure. But when it came to putting this knowledge into practice – let’s just say it took me a while. I needed more discipline.
In December, I decided to discipline myself – not in a self-abusing, self-loathing way, but in a way that would help lead me toward the person I want to be. I resolved to do two things: first, to meditate daily, and second, to practice yoga six days a week. I knew I’d have to wake up between 4:45 and 5:30 a.m. every morning to make that happen — more on that challenge in a future post — but I committed anyway, even though I am the polar opposite of a “morning person.” A yogi I follow on Instagram — Kerri Verna — once said that she makes her daily yoga practice as routine as brushing her teeth: neither routines are optional. This shift in perspective — from grudging obligation to routine — has really helped me muster the discipline to maintain my resolutions.

The resolutions have helped me maintain discipline in other areas as well: I use my time more effectively at work, I bring less work home, I read more for pleasure, and I even write a bit more. The time to do these things has always existed, and yet I’ve never had the discipline to organize my time in a way to make these goals happen. And what I’m finding is that giving myself more structure in certain areas allows me to better enjoy the leisure time I have without fretting about looming to-do lists.

I will not pretend to have this all figured out. I still spend an obscene amount of time on social media, watching silly videos, and worrying about upcoming tasks.

But, it’s all a journey, right? I’m just glad to finally be getting somewhere.