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My Mornings…

The Better Way to Start the DayMost of you know that I get up at 4:30 in the morning…I know, I know. Most people just stare at me with big eyes when I say that.

I’ve always loved the mornings and been an early riser. When I was young, I remember waiting (rather impatiently) for the rest of the family to wake up so I would have people to play with. At twelve and thirteen, I would wake up before school to go jogging, or read.

As a woman climbing the ranks of the corporate ladder, the mornings became my solitude. My time to run, be alone, and plan the day.

As a new mother, I found myself longing for the days when the early mornings were my own. I grew to love those early mornings with my kids. Well, for the most part. *smile*

Now that the kids are a little bit older and they sleep in, I use the time for me again.

When I was working Marianne Williamson several years ago, she told me she meditates first thing in the morning. She won’t read her e-mail, look at the news or talk to anyone until she’s done that. I remember just looking at her. I’m sure I was giving her the same big-eyed stare that I now get from others…

So she responded with, “Why would I ever let the world have its way with me before I’ve declared how it’s going to go?”

And from that day on, I’ve tried to get up early and set the day in motion the way I like to. With a warm cup of coffee in my hands, a 20 minute meditation and a notebook that I’ve been creating from scratch for two years now.

When people started asking me how I get so much done, or how I got on The Today Show for Better Way to Italy in just nine months, I realized I should probably start sharing what I do!

I use the mornings to positively create my day. It’s the time before I hear, “Mommy, mommy!” or “Sarah! Sarah!” “Ring, ring, buzz, buzz…” etc. In the silent moments before dawn, I can arm myself against the onslaught of coming demands. When I take the time to create my day before the world has had any input, I get to face my day on my own terms. This makes a big difference in how I handle the day.

So, what exactly do I do each morning when I get up early? Well, it varies a little from day to day, but not by too much. Of course I have different projects going on at different times, but for the most part, the highlights below are what makes my mornings such a powerful tool:

Apply Discipline: Oh no. What? Yes, it’s true. In order to get done everything that needs doing in a day, I have apply good old fashioned delayed gratification, scheduling and being “grown up”. Every morning when my alarm goes off, I know I have a choice to fall back asleep or get up and start the day. I’d be a big liar if I said it was always easy, it’s not. But I know this, it’s always worth it. It’s kind of like exercise that way. At the end of the workout, no one ever says, “Wow. I wish I hadn’t done that.”

I meditate: When I miss a morning meditation, I can feel the difference all day long. I’m just, “off”. I think that’s because I let the pull of my day-to-day life get at me before I’ve had a chance to center myself. That’s the best way for me to describe it. I figure that if Oprah can find time to do it twice a day for 20 minutes, then I sure can, too. As mothers, we’re in constant demand all day, and meditation is a powerful tool to help us replenish our own needs before we see to the many (many) needs of those we love.

I Write A Gratitude List: I suggest doing this one right after meditation. What I love about gratitude lists is that they expand my awareness of what’s already in my world. It’s the small things like my cat sitting in my lap, my cup of coffee (seriously, love that coffee), a supportive husband, healthy kids, etc. If I start the day with meditation, and then move on to my gratitude list, I know it’s going to be a productive day.

Practice Self-Appreciation: Wait, what? Sounds funny, right? Yet…kind of cool, too. How many times a day do you feel that people don’t see what you do? Or maybe that it’s taken for granted? This is the exercise I do to set that straight. Whether the appreciation comes from others, or ourselves, the calming and joyful effect this has on our outlook is the same. Every morning I take 2 minutes to write down 3 to 5 things I can acknowledge myself for doing. It’s fun to think through: Do you have a great work ethic? Are you a loving mother and wife? Did you make an incredible dinner last night or kill it in that presentation yesterday? Take a minute to notice it, and appreciate yourself for what you’re doing.

writing_goalsI Brain Dump My To-Do List: One of the things that can get in our way when we have a larger goal that we’re working towards, is where to start. If I take a few minutes after the steps above to write out (yes, write, not type) everything I need to get done, I usually find that there isn’t as much to do as I thought there was. Writing is important because it keeps us attached to what we’re doing. It sounds odd, but it works. If I write out everything that needs to get done I can start to put the tasks in order, schedule them, and most importantly, get that list out of my head. Ah…chaos into order. Yes please.

Of course, like all things, this is so much more fun when I can share it. So I started writing a short inspirational daily e-mail as part of my morning routine, and I would love to add you to the list of recipients. I’ve also created a morning notebook for you, so you can follow the above routine every day, all in the same place. Come and join me! The mornings are just too much fun to miss. *wink*

I wish you a truly happy New Year, and invite you to start each day as if it were January 1st. Pour focus, attention and excitement into your mornings and you’ll be surprised at the results.

Here’s to your 2015. Every day.


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