I have this vision of myself in the morning. I get up long before everyone else in my house and do all of the mindful, intentional, important morning routine things. I pour a cup of coffee (that should probably be herbal tea), then I journal (and plan my day or write about gratitude things or write whatever a mantra is), read a book (nonfiction of course because this is a serious time for adulting), and obviously I also have to do the gold standard, bomb diggity of all routine-type things and: Meditate. Sometimes doing self-guided yoga even slips in there somehow.
In my fantasy-morning-routine vision, my imagination usually jumps to some distant location with a gorgeous view and a beautiful sunrise in a lovely outdoor space in which to practice said routine. It’s not my real life in any actual way— the location is even pretend. I can’t even imagine doing this kind of thing in my real house. And yet, I often tell myself that this is exactly what I should be doing every morning.
This vision really has nothing to do with me or what I actually want to be doing or am really even capable of or good at. It is basically a hybrid of all the articles I’ve ever read about morning routines. Or daily routines. Or routines of any kind. There is a lot of that out there these days and instead of inspiring me, it usually just makes me feel guilty.
But I’ve found myself thinking lately, that what if instead of trying to be that girl who drinks hot tea and meditates, that I just leaned more fully into that girl who makes breakfast for her kids and puts a lot of sugar and half & half in her coffee. Instead of trying to make my morning something from the pages out of a spiritual retreat pamphlet, I just did my own thing and that became the gold standard. Or maybe just a normal standard. And normal seems like a good choice… especially if it can involve cream and sugar.
I have read one hundred articles about insanely successful people who run five miles, meditate, make a life plan, and get dinner in the crockpot all before 6:30 AM. (Good for you, Karen, but I’m super over you and your dumb morning.) I used to be so in awe of those people, inspired by them. Well, I used to think it was inspired… but what I thought was inspiration turned out to be shame. So that there was this chasm between my actual self and the self I thought I should be. A chasm so vast that I couldn’t jump over it even if I was Tom Cruise in an action movie. But the more I think about it, the more I just feel eye-rolly and smirky. Which is probably just a defense mechanism. As is the feeling of mistrust that creeps in every time I read another one.
But I mean come on. I just feel deeply suspicious of someone who is living out a whole, normal day before the sun rises. You know what that makes you? Nocturnal. A rat is nocturnal. It’s not that impressive now, is it? (JK… it’s totally impressive.) And I’d like to think that they spend the rest of their day napping on the couch, but I’m sure they’re all CEOs who have five kids and also organize carpool. Whatever. I’m still going to have to assume that most of these people just aren’t normal.
The truth is that those crazy-early-morning routines do work for some people (allegedly). They just don’t work for me. Well to be fair, I haven’t actually ever tried any type of crazy-early-morning routine, unless you count the year that Kate woke up before 5:00 every single morning like it was totally cool to get up in the middle of the night for the day, although that doesn’t really feel like the same thing. That said, I’m still pretty sure that it’s not for me.
And one of the best parts of getting older is allowing yourself to glance into someone else’s world and instead of feeling crappy about the fact that you aren’t doing it the same way, you can be like, “I’m real happy for you over there in your lane, but Imma stay in mine. Thanks, byeeee.” And you can appreciate that what works for them might not work for you, wish them the best, and then break up with reading articles like that ever again.
So I find that if I adjust my expectations, the chasm gets smaller. Instead of envisioning myself practicing goat yoga on the top of a mountain, I envision myself in pajamas, making breakfast for my daughters, attempting morning conversations with teenagers, watching the news, and cleaning up. That each day tends to unfold a little differently, but often involves the same things and that there is rhythm and routine and beauty in that. That there are lots of different ways to incorporate a successful routine and that it doesn’t all have to start at 4:00 AM, doesn’t need to be in the lotus position, and can involve what you want it to involve. In part two of this series, I’ll dive a little deeper into the idea of creating a routine in a different way than our nocturnal friends.
Shifting my own mind so that I envision what truly works for me (and what I’d actually do as a normal person) instead of the imaginary one that really is clearly made for someone else, seems to make me a little happier. Which might explain why I’m not on Pinterest very often anymore. (We get it, you’re good at making your own pillows, Barbara.) It’s a whole lot easier than being someone that I’m not… and the coffee is way better.