Mornings Well Spent

For years, I’ve had a morning routine of wishing I had a better morning routine. I’ve always had a loose plan for my early mornings, but too often I end up driving to work, wishing for an extra hour or two. In different seasons, my pre-work timeline has changed. At certain times it has meant exercise, a shower, some reading, and cooking up breakfast. At other times (most recently this year) I was doing pretty well if I had 20 minutes to read and pour a cup of coffee.

Having a more flexible work schedule in Minnesota has afforded me extra time to build in routine, and I can’t help but reflect on why this initial block of our day is so magical.

There is a noticeable correlation between my morning routine and the course of my day. On days that I have an intentional, structured beginning, I am typically more productive, less worried, have a clearer mind, and make healthier choices in my food and drink. I haven’t tested this theory, but I’m pretty sure funding will come in soon and I’ll publish this entry right here.

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I don’t have the complete answer for why focused mornings improve my day (perhaps that’s the funding hold up) but I have a few ideas. It is all too easy to reach for my phone, eyes still squinting to adjust, and pull up social media. It is just as easy to pull up a mental to-do list, combing through all I want to get done and what order is most strategic. Stress, comparison, and laziness can hit us in these drowsy moments before we even notice. But what if we press pause on both media intake and workload planning? What if we get up a little earlier to have moments spent purposefully, setting us up for more good days? Whether you have 15 minutes (hi, moms who are laughing at me right now) or 2 hours, it’s worth putting a little thought into how we can spend our early moments well.

My “ideal morning” has been stripped down to fairly simple elements: a good drink, a great read, and fresh air.

Lately, days often begin with making the bed while my husband grinds fresh coffee beans. We’ve been sticking to americanos very recently, but on special days, it’s an iced miel. He has taken it upon himself to perfect this favorite drink of mine - unsolicited by me. Yes, I am SERIOUS. Do I feel like a queen every time I sip this delicacy from my couch? Yes. Yes I do.

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With said delicacy in hand, we spend time reading or writing prayers. Nothing can focus your mind on what matters like prayer. I take the last caffeinated sips out the door with me, putting on a podcast and heading to walk through the neighborhood park. This park was a treat we discovered after moving and I end up there most days of the week. It’s usually me and every neighborhood dog out on the trail. The alertness and energy is really shared between me and the dogs - I’d call it a draw. I feel so keenly aware than winter is coming and these morning walks may not always be possible - or at least enjoyable. I swear the summer air is twice as sweet up north. I find my way back home, make breakfast, and begin work. Simple and under an hour, these are the elements I’ve tried to integrate lately. Of course not every morning pans out perfectly. Snooze buttons still exist after all. But the thing about mornings? They always come around again. We always have another opportunity to begin our days well. Morning routines can start and restart, shift, change, bend, be full of ambitious exercise one day, nothing but restful reading the next. I don’t even love the word routine for this idea; the word has an air of boredom and legalism to me. Mornings should be anything but - they should be treasured, enjoyed, and free to change at any time.

Maybe it’s less about what the routine looks like - and more about making sure it exists at all.