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How I Made Peace with Mornings: Reclaiming My Time

Posted on May 19, 2021 by

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When I moved to Alkmaar last year, something strange happened: I started waking up very early (5 or 6 in the morning), and feeling quite fresh. It must have been the excitement of the new house and the splendid view I have over the sunrise, because never in my adult life have I been a morning person. That’s when I started to reclaim my mornings. I finally felt like I was claiming a part of my life back, after (too) many years of just getting up / preparing to leave the house while still half asleep / taking the public transport or cycling to work, where I could drink my coffee and wake up for real. No more robot life anymore! Now, I’m starting the day on my terms, as Amy Landino would say.

So, what do I do instead of sleeping those sweet hours?

  • Watch the sunrise. I’ll never get bored with seeing the different colours a sunrise can have. It’s different every morning, and starting the day basking in such beauty is energising.
Sunrise 01
Sunrise 02
  • I write my morning pages. This is a habit I took up around 2017, and I found it to be very helpful in putting my thoughts in order before going on with the day. I wake up and I write three pages, longhand; I put some order in those random thoughts and worries that jump at me the moment my brain is awake, and also write down the crazy dreams I had. You’re supposed to do it every day, which I don’t — because I’m not a person of daily habits and because I think that when my writings become too repetitive, they are not helping anymore and a break is needed. I only do it when I feel the need, and it’s still serving me well.

  • Spend quality time with my cat. He likes to go out on a walk in the building, so I let him out, then we do his rituals (like climbing in the sink and waiting for me to turn on the water), or we just watch the birds together from the window for a while, because he likes that.
Eric the cat
  • Sometimes I write ideas for my stories and poems, the ones that came to me before falling asleep but I was too tired to get out of bed and write them right then. I’m not feeling particularly inspired in the morning, so I do little creative writing, but I have to write those ideas before they slip away.
  • I read. Reading in the morning is such a treat! To sit down and read, no rush, as if you have nothing else to do, is a luxury. Still, I try to pick heavier books for the morning, the ones that I’m in no danger of binging through, otherwise it can be hard to put them aside and go on with the day after a while. I normally have a few books started at any given time, so I can always pick the right one in the morning.
  • I go for a walk. In the warmer seasons, I sometimes take my coffee in a thermos and go for a walk in the city, the park, or the polder next to the city. It’s amazing to go out on the streets when the air is fresh and there are only a few other people around. I like to see the city waking up, to watch how the little human bees start their days, and I always think about how each one of them has worries or maybe happy expectations for the day, how some dread the fact they have to go to work or school, some can’t wait to see their crush, and others just go on with the day like zombies. In those moments, I feel detached and as if I’m observing a show I am not part of. But then I go home and I become a little bee buzzing in the hive myself.
Early morning in Alkmaar
Early morning in the polder
  • Last year I was also writing for my blog in these early hours, before having to work for my full-time job. Now my work consists on writing on the blog so I don’t do it early in the morning anymore.
  • When I feel I am ready to start working, I take my planner and have a quick look at what I have to do that day, what I postponed from the previous, and I make a little action plan. I don’t go crazy with the to-do list, I only want to have a clear idea on what are the most important things for the day. For me this is the best approach, otherwise I would put one week’s worth of tasks on my mental to-do list and become overwhelmed.

Starting the day like this feels like I’m having hours of me-time, makes the day seem longer and makes me happier. Waking up naturally, without the alarm, and having the time to take in the world before you start your activities is amazing. I am aware that this might be just a phase, but I hope I won’t go back to the old “not-a-morning-person” me. At least not yet. How do you start your day?

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