Morning Pages & My New Morning Routine

pigeonThis image describes me perfectly. I’m not an early bird or a night owl. Since being married the fact that I am neither and need a lot of sleep has caused some frustration between us. Willy always wants to set his alarm to a time that involves a 6 in the front. This idea has infuriated me because I’m the girl who sleeps until the very last possible minute and doesn’t snooze the alarm because if-i-don’t-get-out-of-bed-this-second-I-will-be-seriously-late. It’s hard to be late when on mat leave, though. And it’s hard to sleep in with kids, too. But because my husband insists on getting up early in the morning, I told him the early bird gets the worm and the worm is our toddler! I don’t even remember when it was that he started letting me sleep in a bit extra and he manages the morning with our first. This was especially wonderful when I was up in the night a few times with the baby.

But guess what! I now wake up before him! With an alarm! And I look forward to it!

Eww, why? How?

A couple weeks ago I saw a friend post on Instagram about Morning Pages. I did a quick google and realized: I needed to try this. I wouldn’t describe myself as an artist and I feel too shy to call myself a writer, but I could relate to the issues the Morning Pages are said to address.

Morning Pages

What are morning pages? They’re 3 pages of scribbles done first thing in the morning by hand. Before you look at your phone, before you read your Scriptures or even pray, before your mind gets revved up, before everything. I decided to give it a shot. I wanted to take the time in the morning to get my head on straight before I started the day, anyway, and so this seemed like the best way for me to start. So this is what my morning looks like now:

  1. Wake up at 6AM with my quiet birds chirping alarm on my phone.
  2. Quietly roll out of bed an start the kettle IN MY ROOM (because with toddlers and squeaky floors, you gotta keep hidden!)
  3. Start my morning pages, while hovering over the kettle so it doesn’t whistle or click and wake Willy up by the light of my iPhone haha (it’s not as tedious as it sounds).
  4. Make my coffee in the french press because I’m still trying to not wake anyone up.
  5. Finish my 3 morning pages. This means I write everything that comes to mind. The random to-dos that pop up are written down and starred. I write them down as they come – often it’s in the middle of a sentence I’m writing. I write about all the dumb things that are in my head or come into my head until 3 pages is finished. By this point I’ve mostly guzzled my first coffee and I’m awake.
  6. Transfer my to-dos that have come into my mind over to my planner so they don’t get lost.
  7. Open up my devotional and read it. I write out the quote that most stuck out to me into my planner.
  8. It isn’t until I’m done all of this that I get on my phone and check my messages etc.

IMG_0100Guys, it’s been life changing! It’s changed my devotional time because I don’t have all those brain interruptions happening. I’ve already cleaned out the cobwebs of my head and I’ve gotten into a head space that does not involve my phone. I have Do Not Disturb mode on my phone anyway so I’m not notified of any messages or any activity happening that would take my attention.

When I finally leave the room, I’m ready for the day. I’m awake and human again! I don’t find that I’m swept away by the day, living as much in reaction to everything.

#BBGcommunity

Last fall I saw Morgan post about the workout plan she had been doing. It didn’t take me long to become interested; BBG had all the things I was looking for in a workout routine! I could do it at home and with minimal (or no) extra equipment. I decided that I would try to incorporate the program into my life once I had the baby and was ready to get back into things.

My six week check-up fell perfectly in line with the launch of the January ’12 Week Challenge’. So I hopped on board with a bunch of other girls I know and many I don’t know to give it a whirl. After a few funny texts with some friends, I decided to make an honest fitness Instagram account that didn’t hide the fact that I eat McDonald’s and grunt like I’m giving birth when I do a sit-up. The fitness world can seem so fake and weird. I’m enjoying that I get to do this program from the comfort of my own home but alongside other women in the city and the world from all walks of life and encourage each other on the journey via Instagram. There’s also a lot of avocado toast and fashion sports bras (yeah, I didn’t know that was a thing, either).

Unexpected Benefits

By now you have likely learned that I’m not exactly a health nut. I love junk food and I eat it frequently, with abandon. I still do! However, working out regularly is changing me in ways I find a bit annoying because I LOVE CHIPS. Here are a few of the benefits I did not believe would happen, despite people telling me I should expect these changes:

  • I want to eat veggies and fruit. Veggies have always been a struggle for me. I don’t hate them, I’m just indifferent.
  • I sleep better at night, and I need a shorter (or no) nap during the day. I’ve been saying to Willy for awhile, “If I didn’t need to nap, I could get a whole lot more done during the day.” Well, now I should probably start cleaning my house because I actually have time to. Just kidding, I’ll find something else to do like blog more or read books.
  • I’m more productive. Because I have to fit more into my day, I’ve had to plan more. This, in turn, is making me more productive rather than reactive to things. Ideally, at least. I need to go back to the ol’ days of scheduling all of my life.

To be honest, I used to resent that exercise fixes many of my life problems. I still kind of resent it. I am pretty lazy and love laying around and I don’t (yet) enjoy the workouts. I’m like everyone else who wants an easy solution, but alas that’s not real life.

So if you’re interested in following my real life fitness journey, you can do so by following @realbbglife.

Update on my morning routine with baby

A few weeks ago I posted about how I needed to re-establish new routines for my life with my five-month-old. Well,  I have resounding good news for you: IT WORKS. It’s been great! My morning now looks like this:

  • Wake up, make coffee, drink a glass of water
  • Hop in the shower
  • Feed Jack (Willy gets Jack when they wake up and they play together until I’m done in the shower)
  • Eat breakfast With Willy, put on make-up (it makes me feel like a real person)
  • Unload the dishwasher
  • Jack goes down for his first nap and while he naps I do my first round of cleaning for the day.

By the time Jack is sleeping at 8:30, I have already accomplished so much, that I’m able to sit down and enjoy the silence. I’ve even CLEANED stuff. I’ve realized that I need to get something done like this first thing in the morning before laziness/ tiredness sets in. It’s really easy in the afternoon to “justify” not doing any cleaning because I’m tired or whatever excuse that comes up.

You know, I was really sceptical about the difference having my shower first would make. One day I was having a bunch of moms over and I had to maximize my morning so I hopped in the shower first since Jack seemed to be fine waiting to eat. It revolutionized my morning! Instead of waiting till his nap and showering, now I can use that time to do other things.

I’m very pleased with myself. Now I need to make sure I don’t get lazy with the cleaning because that’s been the best part of all: I don’t feeling gross about this apartment I’m sitting in all day long.

The Pinnacle

Yesterday I think I had the best saturday of my life. Let me give you a run down of what happened:

  • I “woke up” early with Willy’s alarm (6:45) and got out of bed shortly after
  • I read a Psalm
  • I was at the grocery store by 9am
  • I came back, helped tidy the kitchen, prepped lunch
  • I started a load of laundry
  • (Accidentally?) Cleaned the bathroom
  • Ate lunch
  • Evaluated the status of how on-top of our Picture a Week project we are
  • Headed off to a baby shower
  • Came back, baked bread for spelt hamburger buns
  • Made one of W’s favourite meals: Chicken Piquant
  • Cleaned up, read some of Anne of Avonlea, and headed off to a movie with W.

If you don’t immediately understand why this was so great, let me help you understand.

I did laundry, cleaned the bathroom and groceries ALL IN THE SAME DAY. I do not really like groceries or cleaning and laundry can feel like a nuisance. Often when I spend my Saturdays on these activities it feels like it’s all I’ve done and I’m annoyed that I didn’t get to relax or do nice things that I like (I know… this will be parenthood and the rest of my life, right?)

I did some hobby-type things instead of watching more Netflix. I filled 20 minutes here and there with reading, keeping on top of our annual scrapbook and baking.

I was selectively social and left before I had had too much. I love this term because it describes how I feel after a week filled with people. I will always been an extravert, but sometimes I need  time with certain people or anybody but certain people. It was an enjoyable afternoon celebrating the baby of a friend a few weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy.

I made good food for the man I love. I listened to CBC Radio 2 and made a heart-warming supper. I forgot how I do like to cook when I feel confident about what I’m doing and I’m not stressed for time. It felt good.

Unplanned

I think part of what made this day the best was that I had some key things in place that I needed to do but I hadn’t planned out my day to the point that it felt stressful. They were all executed at a leisurely pace and wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t do them. But the most important thing was getting up early so I felt I had time to do everything without feeling like everything was rushed and terrible.

I’m writing this out mostly because I will always need a reminder of

  1. why getting up early is good, and;
  2. why staying on top of things like groceries, laundry and cleaning will always feel better when it’s done.

I’m sure I’ve written about this before – how I have selective memory. I forget that things I don’t like to do actually feel good when it’s done. It’s like playing certain boardgames with people. I will NEVER want to. But I’ve learned that if I agree despite my zero interest or desire, I may actually still have fun and enjoy my time.

I said to W at supper, “I think I have reached the peak of my life today, and I will never have this perfect a Saturday ever again. I think I’m ok with that, because at least I know it happened.”

Kind of sad, but I’m anticipating my life to be totally upside down once baby comes. Part of me wants to try to make Saturdays like this (flexibly?) regimented and habitual. The other part of me is afraid that if I try to do that I will add all kinds of pressure and expectation and it will culminate in epic failure and disappointment.

This day reminds me that I do need more order and structure in my life to help me manage everything, and I’m still trying to figure out how to do that as painlessly as possible.

For my Poppy

dad-jess

I have two significant memories of my dad when I was really young, probably  4 or 5. One was a hot summer day in Saskatoon and the boys were all out in the back yard working on my mom’s extensive garden. My older dad peeled off his shirt, my older brother peeled off his shirt and my toddler brother was just in his diaper anyways. I was left the only shirted person there and I started to do the same when my older brother said, “NO! You can’t take off your shirt, you’re a girl!”

I didn’t even understand how those two things were at all related. It was hot out. I looked at my dad, “Dad? Can I take off my shirt?” and he replied “Go ask your mother.”

I learned how to deflect tricky parenting situations from him. Actually, my mom was pretty good at it, too.

There were a few things my dad taught me about consistency. He came home from work every day at 5:30 and we ate supper more or less right away. He would walk in the door and whistle (twice high, then lower) to let us know he was home. This whistle eventually evolved to him just calling out “foo foo” because this was easier than whistling I guess. (Few things in our family stayed one way ever, we had this always evolving language based on English what French my parents remembered from High School/Dutch/our childish misunderstandings of what the words actually were.). Every morning when I was young enough to wake up at 6AM, I would find my dad stretched out on the couch with a Bible in his lap. He would get up at 5:30 every morning to read the Bible and pray. As a very little girl when I watched him do that with probably more consistency than I saw him do anything else, I learned two very important things:

1) When my daddy says he’ll pray for me I know he will, and I know he will even when he doesn’t tell me he will.

2) Our children watch us and pick up on our habits whether we intend for them to or not.

dad-jess-wedding

How I developed the habit of writing regularly

A little while ago I wrote a celebratory post on how I’ve began writing regularly. This, along with reading regularly have been wonderful additions to my life. It’s weird but reading and writing regularly make me happier and better. I’m less cranky, more hopeful, always thinking and processing things. I used to have terrible success in doing things regularly that I didn’t need to. Writing my second novel (which I didn’t finish) happened because I needed to write it in a different sense. I had to get the images that were in my head, those scenes that described my life through this other character needed to get on paper as a sort of pensieve of that time in my life.

Anyways.

A friend left a question in response to that post that I want to reply to.

catherineQ

This is a good question. It was probably four years ago that I decided to take this desire to write seriously, even though I felt like I had nothing worth saying to anyone.

  1. I acknowledged that I would never make time for anything I didn’t feel like was a priority. There are lots of good things in life and many great things. It’s a personal decision what you prioritize. Just over a year ago I decided to prioritize some things that involved writing because I wanted to grow in these areas.
  2. Try Nanowrimo. Writing a novela in a month is a great way to develop the habit. It forces you to say no to certain things in order to say yes to writing. It’s thrilling. It’s hard. It’s a lot of fun. At the end of the month you’ve accomplished something that you might never look at again, or could be a good framework for an actual novel you continue to develop. I doubt you’ll finish the month thinking it was a total waste of time if you take it seriously.
  3. Find a project/venue to write. For years (read: since 2001) I’ve blogged. This was always a writing outlet. I’m quite confident it’s the reason I can put an idea on paper so quickly. Having a blog or a writing project with goals helps tremendously. “Who would read my blog?” Who cares? Don’t write for other people, write for yourself. Write about what you care about, develop your voice. If you want to write fiction, give yourself a project and a deadline and a friend to keep you accountable. It’s just like any other goal you’d have. One of the projects I started writing this year was really just a project for me to think through certain things. As it was developing, I realized it might be a helpful resource to people eventually. So I kept going and am working on editing it.
  4. It’s life giving to me. It’s hard to stop doing something that’s life-giving and that people give such positive feedback on. I now notice that when I don’t feel inspired to write or don’t feel like I have time to write, it’s because my life is slowly getting out of sorts. It’s a helpful compass.
  5. [edit] Track it. I forgot to add this one at first. I’ve noticed that paying attention to when I write helps. One of my habits that I’m tracking on Lift is “Write for 30 minutes.” If I can do that every day, I’m doing awesome. Even if I do that a few times a week, it’s a good week. Having that reminder on my app every day helps me plan to make time to write.

If you’ve ever wanted to write go open up a wordprocessor this weekend or the next evening you have free and start. No one has to see it. No one has to know. Do it for you because you want to and it is (if you acknowledge what’s going on deep down inside of you) important to you. Work on it for 15 or 30 minutes another day. Have a notebook or notepad app with you to jot down your ideas when they come. Keep plugging away at it. Soon you’ll be amazed at what you’ve accomplished!

Have anything else to add? Have you developed the habit of writing regularly? How did you develop it? 

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