Testing, testing… is this thing on? :)
HI FRIENDS! Oops, let me try that again. Hi, friends! It’s been so long, I got a little excited and almost forgot how to write an appropriate introduction.
I can’t tell you how good it feels to be typing this post, and how much I’ve missed being here with you! January was a complete blur. I worked on the book for some amount of time every single day for 30 days straight. With the exception of a few breaks to go snowshoeing with friends, I was in complete solitude – and I think I had a touch of cabin fever, by the end of it. But coming up to Squamish was the best decision I could have made, because I finished the book! I submitted the first draft of The Year of Less earlier this week, and celebrated with a delicious piece of cake! And then I woke up the next morning and realized how behind I was on email/freelance work/the blog/regular life, haha.
There are so many things I want to share with you, like what the process taught me and how I think it improved my writing (not made evident by this blog post, but hey, cabin fever! I’m talking to real people again!). However, I’m acutely aware of the fact that I should start by giving you an update on how my month of slow mornings worked out…
If you remember, I entered 2017 feeling overwhelmed with the thought of everything the year was going to hold, and decided the only way to combat it would be to slow the heck down. I could sense that every part of my life needed a little more care and attention, but I also knew I couldn’t slow down all aspects at the same time – at least not if I wanted to get anything done! With that, I decided to slow down one part of my life each month and do 12 experiments throughout the year. Since I knew January might be one of the busiest months, in terms of how much time and energy I would be putting into one big project, I eased into the year by setting out to enjoy the first few minutes of each day.
Here were my intentions for the month.
Experiment #1: Slow Mornings
- wake up naturally – done!
- make the bed – done!
- eat breakfast – done!
- enjoy my coffee – done!
- read a book (audiobooks work too) – done!
Waking up naturally is something I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do since I became self-employed. It helps that I’m already a morning person, and typically wake up around 6-6:30am, so it wasn’t difficult for me to stick to this goal throughout the month. Instead, what became more obvious as the weeks went on is that your morning routine (and your entire day) gets thrown off if you’ve had a bad sleep the night before… and I did not sleep well in January. I quickly learned that a slow evening (or a good bedroom routine) is equally as important, and that will be an experiment for another month. I know my insomnia was stress-induced, and waking up with ideas for things I should add to the book didn’t help. Needless to say, when my sister told me I looked “bagged”, I wasn’t offended.
Depending on how my sleep went, I woke up anywhere from 4:30am-7:30am in January. Then, no matter how tired I was, the first thing I did was make my bed. I probably shouldn’t announce this so proudly, but I made my bed every single day for the entire month, and that truly felt like an accomplishment. I am one of the tidiest people you will probably ever meet, and have pretty intense OCD tendencies when it comes to how I like things organized, but I have never been someone who made my bed every day. We all have our quirks and that is one of mine.
After a week or so of doing this, I started to notice how much better it felt to crawl into a bed that had been made. My insomnia had me kicking the blankets all over the place and waking up in a heap of a mess. Walking into my bedroom and seeing that at night would have served as a reminder of what was likely about to happen again during the next 6-8 hours and only added more stress to my plate. Instead, my bed always looked like a safe place to retreat to. As you can imagine, I have been making the bed every morning since, and intend to continue doing so.
Now, onto the good stuff. After making the bed and getting dressed, I grabbed my phone and immediately started playing whatever audiobook I was listening to. This was the BEST part of my mornings. I read five books in January (usually read two), and I know that was only possible because three of them were audiobooks. I carried my phone into the kitchen, made coffee and breakfast, and drank and ate while I listened. What I ate was a little different every day: a smoothie, toast with peanut butter or an omelette. There were even a few days where I took the extra time to make eggs benedict, simply so I could listen a little longer before getting sucked into my work. I didn’t stop listening until I was done eating and had made my second cup of coffee, which I brought to my computer.
When I decided to do this year of monthly experiments, I didn’t really map out a plan for how I would track my progress, or what metric I would use to consider it a success or a failure. I don’t even know if I would want to track something like this. The thought of checking off a box to say I made my bed 31 days out of the month, as an example, feels unnecessary and meaningless. This challenge wasn’t meant to serve as a resolution or goal; it was simply a tool I felt would help me practice being more intentional and present. If that’s the only way to measure it, I would say January was a success.
As I said, the entire month was a complete blur. I honestly woke up on January 30th and felt like it was the first day of 2017 for me, because it was the first day where I was able to do something different. I don’t remember most of what all the days before it consisted of, but I do remember my slow mornings. Sometimes the routine only lasted for 15 minutes, and sometimes I listened to an audiobook for 45 minutes or more. I remember it because I was present for it. No email. No social media. No work. It was just me and my books, spending a little quality time together.
This month’s experiment also reminded me that things don’t always take as much time as you think they do. Like I said, my routine usually lasted for 15-45 minutes. But things like making the bed took only seconds to complete, and it made me instantly happier when I was done and happier again when I decided to go back to bed. It’s like the sink of dishes we let fill up, or the pile of mail we ignore or the companies we put off calling to ask a question. It always feels like it’s going to take an exorbitant amount of energy to complete the task, but it can usually be done in a few minutes and we feel so much better after. That particular lesson is something I’m going to bring forward and keep thinking about during the rest of the experiments I do this year.
That, and making the bed. I’m a bedmaker for life.
Now, tell me something new about you! And how were your mornings in January?
PS – Some of you might remember that I am a huge fan of Real Talk Radio with Nicole Antoinette. I’ve been a proud Patreon supporter of her podcast for months, because I love what she’s doing and believe it’s important work. And I’m so excited to share that I’m a guest on season 9! We talked for a full two hours, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. But this was one of the best interviews I’ve ever done, and I’m so grateful we had a chance to connect on so many different topics.
PPS – For those who are curious, I read: Scrappy Little Nobody, Talking As Fast As I Can, Blackout, Eat Pray Love and Big Magic – four memoirs and the bible for creatives.