Life in general has been quiet these days. I’m waiting every so impatiently for spring to come, and the sight of minuscule star-shaped snowflakes trickling from the clouds this morning was not the sight I hoped to see on the 27th day of March. Still, I will bundle up again (winter coat, earmuffs, gloves) and walk the dogs and try to ignore the frosty wind, thankful at least that the pavement is dry.
I have settled into a pattern this winter, getting up very early to drink my first two cups of coffee in the quiet house, wrapped in a warm sweater and curled into my corner of the couch. I write my morning pages, go down in the basement to exercise (yes, I still do the Walk at Home program with Leslie Sansone!), and eventually make it back to the kitchen counter for breakfast of yogurt, granola, and fruit. By this time, everybody else is getting up, so it’s time to take the dogs out, prepare breakfast for Jim, and let the rest of the world in on my day.
If I were to choose a favorite time of day, it would most certainly be those few hours in the morning when I’m the only one awake, the house still and safe around me, the promise of the day bright and shining in front of me. Those precious minutes when there are no demands on my time, when no one needs anything from me, those hours I call only my own - those are golden.
I’ve never minded being alone - of course, I’ve never had a steady diet of it, never lived alone as a permanent state of being. I went directly from my parents house to my own house with a husband. I never spent one night alone until I’d been married about two years and Jim went off on a business trip.
That was a long and restless night, I can tell you: I was acutely aware of every thump and creak in the house, and drifted off to sleep only in fits and starts. But he traveled a lot, and I got used to it soon enough.
We get used to things, don’t we? We grow accustomed to the little changes life throws our way. I’m used to going outside with the dogs now, rather than having the convenience of letting them out the backdoor into the fenced yard. And they have become accustomed to hurrying out, taking care of business, and being herded back inside, waiting for their daily walks to satisfy the need for sniffing and meandering.
I’m used to waking up too early every day, the shifting hormones in my body going through their mysterious cycles and waking me up before first light. I’ve come to enjoy it, see it as a gift, and make the most of it, even though in these early spring days it means I’m often struggling to stay awake before it’s completely dark outside.
We settle into our routines quite easily, and the older we get, the more deeply ingrained in them we become. That hour or two in the morning with my coffee and a book is absolutely sacred to me. Maintaining that little routine governs more of my activities than you might think. I never schedule appointments early in the morning, I’ve turned down jobs because they would required early morning start times. There were many, many years when I shot out of bed and jumpstarted the day - breakfast, carpooling, work.
But no more. One of the benefits of my current stage of life is the ability to slow down, to step back and know what I need in the day and then find a way to make that happen.
I ordered a t-shirt the other day because I loved the sentiment emblazoned on the front:
happy. healthy. balanced. peaceful. life.
As life goes on for me, it’s exactly what I seek for my future.
Most days lately I’ve been fortunate enough to find it.
But only if I get that two hours in the morning with my coffee and a book.