Mornings. Oh how they can be so perfect — and so not. I’m happy to include this guest post by writer mama Sara Barry that was inspired by her experience in The Rise and Shine Challenge. I love how she walks us through her morning so eloquently.
As I came down the stairs this morning, the bright pink glow behind the trees stopped me four steps up. It was like a little reward for getting up early.
My real reward, though, is the quiet. Time alone. Time to think. Time to write.
For the past five years, I’ve bristled at the idea of getting up early. It felt impossible.
Even now, I started the Rise and Shine challenge with a lot of hope and a long lists of reasons why it might not work: thin walls, the logistics of waking up without waking everyone else, the fear of kids waking up when I got up, the little girl who’s used to snuggling with me first thing.
I wasn’t sure it would work, but I really wanted it too.
I imagined enjoying a little early morning me time, writing a few pages, finishing my coffee before it got cold.
I didn’t expect calmer days or more energy, but I found those too.
I’ve been waking early for more than two weeks. My kids have yet to notice me creeping down the stairs. My little snuggler crawls in with dad and finds me when she’s ready.
Here I am at my kitchen table, coffee mug warming my hand, the morning light still pale. I look at the flowers on the window sill—the scarlet and orange zinnias, the sunny yellow coreopsis—and ignore the dishes piled up. I turn my focus to my notebook and block out the piles of vacation debris to be unpacked, washed, put away.
I breathe deep.
This is my time.
This is my time, and I choose to write because writing centers me.
Writing slows me down to really notice my world and focus in on a small square of my life. Those brilliant flowers on my window sill. How gangly my daughter’s legs suddenly looked this week as she kicked a soccer ball.
This morning I wrote about camping (During that camping trip, I still woke early, but in the tent I lay still watching the sky, breathing slowly into the day.) I wrote about the three days we just spent at a state park with our kids and about the backpacking trips my husband and I used to take before we had children. I wrote this morning about who I am and who I was.
This reflection grounds me. Early morning wake ups give me the space to reflect.
I write. I take a deep breath. This time for me, doing something I love, fills me.
I’m ready when my girls to come down for snuggles and a chapter of Pippi Longstocking. Or as has happened to empty a fridge on the fritz, help a little girl who peed her pants, tackle the unpacking from a trip.
You’d think I’d be more tired getting up an hour or two before I used to. Instead, I’ve found a new energy because I’ve taken care of myself before anyone needs me.
I’d love to say my mornings unfold with the same calm of these early hours, but they don’t. My girls still squabble. Cheerios spill. “Must dos” crop up and get tacked on to an already packed day. More often than before, I face it with calm.
When I don’t, I remind myself to go to bed on time and get my sleep (still the most challenging part of this new practice for me). I breathe. I try again.
Tomorrow I’ll get up early, look at the sky, listen to the early morning cacophony of birds. I’ll take a deep breath, set my intention, write. And when my girls wake up—a few minutes or an hour after me, I’ll have started my day already and will be ready to start our day together.
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Sara writes and blogs at Sara Barry and offers retreats and coaching to help other moms use writing to tap into their creativity, express themselves, and capture the abundance and beauty in their lives. She has learned since writing this post that flexibility goes a long way in how she approaches a good start to her mornings with her family.