I was not always a morning person, but because rest is a valuable form of sustenance, sleeping in always felt like an act of self-care. In time, I learned to spread the wealth of slumber to other pockets of my life. This has freed up my mornings into something I hold dear.
In the last few years, I have evolved into the morning person I am today. It did not happen overnight, and I am not one of those super cheerful and bubbly “the early bird takes the worm” types of people either. The concept of living a slow life has taken up more space in my head in the last couple of years, and my mornings have become the most significant by-product of this.
Slowness colors the first third of my day—as in suuuper slooooooooow. This is just the way I like it and that is why I try to get up as early as I can. The more time I have to do what I want, the more deliberately I can go about my day.
At a typical 5:30 AM wake-up time, I slowly, and groggily, get up out of bed. It’s still quite dark out, and I quietly tip-toe out of the bedroom because my partner is literally the lightest sleeper pretty much ever. (I often joke that the sudden, tiny-trumpet-toot of an ant passing gas two miles down the road would startle him awake. I am probably not kidding.)
At the bathroom sink, I proceed with my soothing skincare regime and then do a stilted zombie walk downstairs to the kitchen to have a glass of water or two to drink. Being a little more awake, I make zero noise as I head back upstairs to my studio space (which I lovingly call the Asian Lair). Any door I shut or object I place on a surface along the way must be handled with ninja-like precision. I leave all the ruckus to the ant who lives two miles down the road.
Once I enter the Asian Lair, my day starts to fully take form. Since I live in a hollow in the woods, the birdsong outside reaches its climax in the early morning, and my ears cannot help but absorb this whimsical symphony.
I pull out my journal and write a short paragraph about how I want my day to turn out and what I hope will happen. This practice buys me a moment of contemplation before the rest of my day proceeds. I try not to overthink this, and I make an honest effort to visualize how I want my day to unfold and what I can do to make it happen. Maybe I want to finish a big project or have a lighter day instead. Whatever the case, I work it out in my head and write it down.
After my journaling, I make a list of tasks that need to be done as well as review my schedules for the week and the month. Then, I make a time-blocked schedule for the day ahead that allots specific parts of the day for everything on my to-do list. This is, admittedly, the nerdiest part of my morning, but my time is valuable. I treat it accordingly.
Up next, I usually spend a half hour reading a book, followed by an hour of playing music at my keyboard with my headphones on to keep the morning quiet for everyone else. I take up another hour outside for a morning walk before I start on my tasks for the day.
I mostly work remotely from home. This gives me more flexibility with my schedule. Outside of my freelance responsibilities and house chores, I spend a lot of my day listening, being present, and giving kindness to the people in my life, which is exactly what I do exclusively for myself during my early mornings. The gentle quietude of a young, new day grounds me in ways that I cannot explain. The morning light expands with the rising of the sun.
A Note About the Art and Film:
The sketch is a rendering of the morning sun rising above the ridges and hills that surround our home in the woods. The kitten, who belongs to a friend of mine, kept traipsing in front of the camera while I was filming. She did it so much that I decided to make her part of the finished piece. Her name is Ellie.
The music is my own lilting little contemplative piano piece that I have been working on and wandering through over the past few weeks. It is a canon of sorts—with the same progression of chords repeating but varied all over the place. I love how it turned out.