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On Being a Morning Person

sunrise

The view from my front window this morning before heading out for my run. I never get tired of this view.

 

I wasn’t always a morning person.

I was once a typical teen who loved sleeping in on the weekends…the later the better, the actually. I grew up in the sticks, however, and had a loooooong bus ride to school every weekday, which meant that on Monday-Friday, I was up at around 6:00 am most days. I enjoyed this about as much as any typical teen would. But I had no choice in the matter so I sucked it up and dealt with it, living for the weekend when I could catch up on some much-needed sleep.

When I went off to university I wasn’t much different. In my first year I made the mistake of signing up for more than one 8:30 am class thinking, “I live on campus. Worst case scenario I can roll out of bed at 8:00 and still make it to my 8:30 class. This is sweet!”

Um….yeah. Let’s just say while it was a good plan in theory, in practice it didn’t quite work out as planned.

After finishing up my education I went out into the working world and again was forced to get up early in the morning to make it to work. I didn’t love it, but I was learning to accept it as simply “part of life”. Because that’s what grown-ups do. We get up in the morning and head off to work. I still made a point of sleeping in on the weekend, but I was beginning to view sleeping in as a waste of my precious weekend time. Why not just go to bed a little earlier through the week if I needed extra rest?

And then…I became a mom. And well, any parent can tell you that early mornings are part of the job description. With my first daughter in particular I spent first year of her life in a sleep-deprived haze. Lots of early mornings, late nights, and even middle-of-the-nights to deal with. My second daughter came along and she was a much better sleeper, thankfully. I’d seen my fair share of sunrises by this point and I’d come to see the beauty of the early morning.

By the time Lil’ Mo was about a year or so old, I began getting up early in the morning, before the rest of my family, to get a little alone time. During the nicer months of the year, the sun and the birds were the only alarm clock I needed. I would sneak out of bed to go for a short run around the neighbourhood or to spend some time writing. it was a good time to be alone with my thoughts before the hectic activity of the day began. And when you’ve got two young children, time to be alone with your thoughts is in short supply. I took in whenever I could get it.

This is when my inner morning person really began to shine. I quickly realized that getting up extra early = even more alone time. I began loving the quiet mornings. My love of running began to be fully embraced. Mornings are now my time for me – time to move my body, time to sort through my thoughts and feelings, time to organize, time to plan. Time to breathe in the early morning air and enjoy the sights and sounds of the world waking up around me.

Being a morning person means that over the years I have seen many sunrises. More than I can count. And I realized recently that I haven’t regretted a single one of them. Not the mornings when my girls had me up before I was ready, or the days when I was marathon training and reluctantly dragged my bum out of bed. And not even the rare mornings when I was haunted by insomnia and just.couldn’t.sleep. There will come a day when there will be no more sunrises for me — ever. I plan on seeing as many of them as possible while I still can.

 

Focus

Since our argument last Friday and my resulting realization, I have been making a concerted effort to really focus myself on remaining positive. That’s not to say that I’m walking around with a big fake grin plastered on my face all the time…that would just be stupid. And not very genuine. And kind of pointless when you think about it.

What I’m been doing is simply making a choice to not dwell on the stupid crap that comes up in the run of a day. For example: something shitty/stupid happens at work. I allow myself to feel annoyed by it, perhaps even have a minor gripe with a co-worker, and then…I just LET IT GO. I push it out of my mind, with the reminder that dwelling isn’t going to make it better. In some cases, I have even made the choice to not talk to CBG about it (even though he’s a coworker and knows all of the players involved) because it’s something that a) doesn’t directly affect him and b) he can’t change.

And then…after I make the choice to let the negativity go, I make a point of turning my mind to something a little more positive. Like looking forward to the weekend. Or planning a Valentine’s Day surprise for the hubs. Or thinking back to the great morning run I had the day before. Anything other than the stupid negative crap that wants to use up valuable space in my brain.

No, it’s not always as easy as I’m making it sound. But there is something that I am noticing. I feel…lighter. Mentally and emotionally. Negativity is heavy as lead, apparently. And now that I’m letting it go, the space it once occupied is being filled with positivity, silliness and love, which is lifting me up like a hot air balloon.

I know that the real challenge will come on a day when I get beaten over the head — repeatedly — with a bunch of negative garbage. I know that this day will come, eventually, because we all have them from time to time. This will be the true test. At the moment, I am feeling like when it comes, I’ll be ready for it.

But there’s no use worrying about something that hasn’t happened just yet. In the meantime, I will enjoy my new found focus and the positivity that has resulted.

Embracing Life as it is Right Now

I’ve been whining on this blog a lot lately, I know. While I have plenty to whine about, between the crappy winter weather, battling SAD, dealing with CBG’s depression and the issues that it’s causing in our marriage, well, life ain’t terrific in a lot of ways right now.

BUT.

I also know that by dwelling on the less-than-terrific things in my life right now only makes them seem bigger than they really are. As is often the case, we get so focused on one particular thing that we miss out on all the other stuff. Or at least *I* certainly do.

Because when I look at life through non-critical eyes and with an open heart, I can see that there are still plenty of things to be thankful for. I’ve been doing my best to make an effort to focus on the good things…and of course, it is helping. Sure, life doesn’t look exactly the way I would like it to look at the moment; however, it looks a whole lot better than it could look. And that’s what I need to think about.

So I am working on embracing ‘now’. Life as it currently is. And one of the things that I’m making an effort to really embrace is winter. I mean, particularly living where we live, winter makes up a pretty big chunk of the year. It’s also the main source of why I’ve been feeling so stinking rotten lately. So my hope is that by embracing it a little more I will be better able to cope through these dreary winter months.

In doing so, I’ve noticed something. I’ve gone from absolutely hating winter to “not minding it so much” to actually….liking it. Well…parts of it at least. I’ll never be one of those “YAY! MORE SNOW!” kind of people, but you know what? It’s not nearly as bad as I’ve been leading myself to believe all these years.

Every morning when I’m out running I make a point to stop and take a photo. Just as a reminder of my run, I try to capture something interesting that I see along the way. Some mornings are lovelier than others, of course, but most days I’m able to find something pretty special, if I keep my heart as well as my eyes open. On the tougher days, I look at these photos to remind myself of the beauty that is out there, and to look for it, if it doesn’t easily find its way to me.

Here are a few of my favourites from the last few weeks…proving just how lovely life can be, even in the dead of winter.

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Thirty Six Seconds

I’ve been running a lot lately. It’s been good for me for a lot of reasons. I had originally planned to run a full marathon again this fall, but there just wasn’t room for that in my life this year, for a whole lot reasons. After this was put on the back burner, though, I found myself a little lost. That’s when I made the decision to start trying to improve my speed, as I’m not nearly as fast as I would like to be.

So this past week I’ve started cutting my distance back a bit, in favour of concentrating more on speed. I won’t lie, it’s been tough, since I’ve come to rather enjoy my slow-and-steady paced morning runs. And let’s face it — pushing oneself physically like that has a tendency to kind of suck. However, I’ve been able to push through those “this sucks” feelings to focus on my goal. I’ll never be speedy, I’m just not physically built for fast running…but I want to be able to say that I’m “fast for me”. I have a certain time goal in mind that I would like to work my way up to hitting pretty consistently. If I can do that, I will be pleased with my progress and feel like I’m getting somewhere.

This morning I headed out for my usual morning run. I could tell in the first kilometer that I was feeling good (thanks to a deep-tissue massage earlier this week) and so I decided to push myself to see if I could hit that goal of mine. I run with a running program on my phone, which gives me an update every kilometer, so I can know how well (or not well) I’m doing.

And so…I pushed myself. I kept that goal planted firmly in my brain. Every time I thought about slowing down, I pictured that particular number in my head. I knew if I could just hit it, then I would be happy with my progress for this particular run.

As I was coming up on my “finish line”, I heard the smug female voice of my app inform me of my time. I missed my goal. By thirty-six seconds.

I’m pretty sure that I swore right out loud when I heard that. So close…and yet so far. I won’t lie…I was pretty disappointed in myself. I wanted to hit that particular goal. Badly. Anything less felt like a complete failure.

As I continued on with my run, however, I thought more about this. The time that I reached, though slower than I ideally wanted, was still pretty damned good. Especially for a “slow” runner like me. I have definitely made progress from where I was just a few short months ago, which I can see from my increasing speeds.

And then I heard a little voice in the back of my head. A voice that asked me what I would say to one of my girls if they encountered the same thing. And what would I say? I would tell them that progress is progress…and that it should be celebrated. That goals are nice to have, but they shouldn’t be the be-all, end-all to something like this. That when it comes to running, the joy is in the experience, and that I shouldn’t discount an otherwise great morning run because of a measly 36 seconds.

Sure, goals are great to have, but what happens when we don’t quite meet them? We have to celebrate the process. We have to enjoy the moments leading up to that finish line. And I’m not just talking about running here, either. In life, if we boiled everything down to either goal achieved = success or goal achieved = failure, then life would be pretty miserable indeed.

I still plan on keeping my eye on that goal. But you know what? Until I get there, I’m going to enjoy the journey. It’s what life is all about.

I refuse to allow my joy to be swept away by thirty six seconds.

The Spaces Between

When I used to think about marriage I often thought about the big moments in life in a shared life together. The happy moments — raising children, buying a home, family vacations, anniversary milestones. I also thought about the less-than-happy moments — dealing with loss or tragedy, struggling with finances, managing any number of big life disappointments. I figured that it was the big happy moments that got couples through those big less-than-happy moments.

Though CBG and I have only been married a little over a year now, I am realizing that a marriage is so much more about all those little spaces in between those big events. Those are the things that get two people through the big, bad, ugly moments of life. Tiny little moments that, for the most part, aren’t often even given a second thought. The flicker of forgiveness in your partner’s eyes after a misunderstanding. Stolen kisses in the middle of the night. Laughing until your sides ache at mutual silliness. Hearing the slow, steady pace of your partner’s breathing in the dark. Silently offering the last cookie. Giving a hug after a rotten day.

It is these small, seemingly insignificant moments that are the glue that holds a marriage together. They cement those big moments, giving them context and meaning. Sure, we may remember the big moments first, or even the most, but it is the wordless glances of understanding, the scent of your partner on the pillow in the morning, or the random reach for your hand in the park that allow those big moments to happen at all.

Without those tiny shared moments, the big moments mean nothing at all. And when you have a marriage rich with those miniscule twinkling demonstrations of love, commitment, respect, passion and friendship, you know that you don’t really need to ask for anything more.

And then some other days….

So Tuesday was kind of a rotten day.

I’ll spare you all the details, but basically we got a piece of news that threw me into a bit of a tailspin. This news left me feeling defeated, like the air had been let out of me. I’m sure you know the feeling. Kind of like a punch in the gut that leaves you feeling absolutely exhausted.

I do my best to be a positive person. But I’ll be honest — it’s something I have to work at. I’m just not one of those people that positivity comes to naturally. I’ve made a lot of progress in this area in the last several years of my life, but every once in a while something comes along that drags me down again.

And Tuesday happened to be one of those days. I allowed one single thing to drag me down to the point where I just felt like giving up. It felt like everything I’ve been working for in the last few years had just been for nothing. A little voice in the back of my head told me that there really wasn’t any point to any of it, that I needed to give up on unrealistically wanting more and just resign myself to a ‘less-than’ existence.

Oh, it was ugly, alright.

I won’t tell you that CBG talked me down off the negativity ledge, because he didn’t. When I get in that particular head space there’s not really any talking me out of it. In fact, I become like a drowning person who frantically grabs onto the person closest to me and drags THEM down with me, too.

No, instead of trying to buoy me up with positivity, he simply got out of my way. He let me know that I was allowed to feel what I was feeling, but that I needed to go feel it someplace else, and not pull him down with me.

It was exactly what I needed.

A nice run the next morning gave me the opportunity to sort through everything in my head. It gave me the chance to work through what I was feeling, and more importantly, why I was feeling it. I realized that I’d been resting a great deal of my immediate happiness on a very thin wire. And then that particular wire snapped, leaving me feeling utterly defeated.

Once I was able to step outside of myself and work through it, I realized how silly I had been the day before. Sure, we suffered a bit of a setback, but it absolutely wasn’t the end of the world. And sure, I could be unhappy about this setback, but a) that unhappiness wasn’t going to make anything better, and b) I have plenty more things to base my happiness on.

I returned from my run feeling light, determined, and energized. I had a whole new outlook and found myself determined to tackle this obstacle head on…to do what needed to be done so we could just keep on keeping on. The best part of all is that I don’t have to do any of this alone. I have my very own partner in crime, who knows when to step back so I can have the time and space to re-adjust my crappy attitude and get back to living.

Look out world, here we come.

Some Days….

Some days you just wake up not feeling it. Today is one of those days for me.

I’ve been working very hard lately to remain positive in the face of negativity from outside sources, to put on a smile, count my blessings and push through. Not sure how possible that’s going to be today. It might be one of those days when “getting through” is going to have to be enough.

Some days it’s a whole lot more tiring than others. These are the days when I double up on the coffee, cross my fingers, and hope for the best.

Some days I need to lean on others a little more than usual. Those are the days when I have the toughest time doing it.

Some days, happiness is a little more elusive than others. Today is one of them.

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