During this first week of March, I’m thinking about morning rituals. I’m at my very best in the morning. I can sustain my attention, my mood is good unless the vestiges of a bad dream hang around my shoulders, a slight weight of something being not right draped around my shoulders like a shawl. I find since being sick and living this year in the throes of a pandemic that everything I do now is much more intentional and considered. So I’ve been examining what I do in the mornings and researching whether my rituals are those that support vitality or are those that may need to be tweaked.

Take for example my waking time. For a long stretch I was getting up at 7, going to sleep somewhere around 10 PM or 11, and that seemed to suit me fine. Prompted by a spurt of anxiety that I was not being productive enough, I started getting up at 6:00 in the hopes of “doing more”. Whether it was a rebellion against the demand to be more productive or not having enough sleep, my body gave me the signal that I should go back to getting up at 7:00. I ended up procrastinating for the extra hour anyway, so I’ll take the benefit of getting enough sleep. My body is a reliable partner giving me feedback as I experiment with my morning routine,

The first thing I do when I wake up, after a trip to the bathroom, is head downstairs (I have a downstairs now and love that I have to go up and down them), drink a large glass of water, take my vitamins, probiotic and supplements and brew a cup of green tea. I open all the blinds in the plentiful windows throughout my house to let in the light so I can follow its pathway throughout the day.  Ascending the stairs once again, tea in hand, I head to the place that I write and work.

Unconsciously I’ve furnished this room, sitting in the tower in my new house, as a 17th C ladies dressing room. Dressing rooms provided elite women with access to privacy and promised them an autonomy they had yet to experience. The dressing room became a place where women could contemplate, write, entertain, re-imagine and re-fashion themselves without restriction or surveillance. Furnished with the prettiest of tables, the easiest of chairs, inlaid glass-fronted cabinets made pleasant with the bindings of many books and a small desk to write on, clothing was actually a secondary adornment. A dressing room has a more feminine sensibility than the word office: a room that is a place for commercial, professional, or bureaucratic work. How boring and why would you want to go in? I prefer the more fanciful idea that this should be a space, where, like in the past, women are free to daydream and express their intellect and creativity. And so part of my morning ritual is to start my day in this room.

On my desk is a plain craft paper covered journal where I write inspirational things I come across, work out new ideas and hold myself accountable for new practices like having my morning routine and all the other healthy habits I now diligently incorporate into my life. I start essays here, give myself a writing prompt if I feel stuck, and have forced myself to draw despite having no good aptitude for it because it’s good for my brain. I work for a time on my book proposal and then am ready for breakfast. But that’s another post.

What are the very first things you do to start your day?