Daily Practice

Boy with sandOn a summer morning many years ago, I awoke to my 4-year-old nephew calling with glee, “Aunt Barb! Aunt Barb! Aunt Barb! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! It’s morning!” He then bolted out of bed and dashed from our shared bedroom in the lake cabin my family was renting for the week. His glee and glory were fully lost on me that morning. The night before, my siblings and I enjoyed the wee hours reminiscing and cocktailing. This sun-up reverie was not then music to my ears. Yet, I found myself telling this story over and over again. His glee made a deep impression on me.

He embodied a tenet of living I was speaking of but not living – “I want to jump out of bed and love what I do every day.” Clients and friends have heard me say it countless times. I offer it often as a great measure for good livin’. At the time I was out of sync and needing change – one of many such times in my life.

This tenet nudges me, and the changes take forms large and small – a new job, a new career, an attitude reboot, a new way with food, no more booze, clarified priorities, a scaled-back schedule, or a new location (aka I need a vacation). It’s like a well-being bar; a chance to check in, to notice how things are going.  A few days of dragging myself out of bed is not a cause for concern, but if the drag doesn’t subside I know I’ve got work to do.

It can be hard to face the truth of what’s causing that drag. Ignorance really feels blissful, at least in the short-term. It can turn corrosive over-time though. When the nudge persists, I seek guidance, insight and inspiration. Some callings have been easy: travel to Tucson and explore the possibility of working with Andrew Weil, MD; or get thyself to the shores of Lake Superior! Others have been harder and slower to solve: this long-term relationship isn’t really working anymore (cue theme song); or my work has become drudgery (cue theme song). This daily practice helps me stay attuned to myself.

Mom2moMOn the flip side, it’s fun to want to love to wake up in the morning – bright sun, birdsong, exciting schedule, able, flexible and strong body, and all the amazing choices of living free in the USA. If you look, you can find a lot of things to celebrate. Here’s more of the list from my first ten minutes:

  • Comfy bed
  • Central heating that keeps everything warm on these bitterly cold mornings (great windows, insulation, and lush rugs doing the same)
  • Soft bathrobe
  • Fuzzy slippers
  • Hot running water for my shower
  • Automatic coffee maker that brews while I shower
  • Hard-to-find dark roast decaf coffee roasted just blocks away at Coffee & Tea, Ltd in Linden Hills
  • A large fridge that keeps all sorts of perishables fresh and the milk for my coffee cold
  • Electricity running all these appliances
  • East-facing windows for awesome sunrise viewing while sipping coffee
  • Time to meditate in said sun before really getting going on the day

And that’s just the first ten minutes! Imagine a day filled with the practice of noticing all the good – green lights and parking spaces for sure. But also, a kind smile, an easy errand, a productive meeting, a surprise call from a loved one, a great idea for dinner, and the list goes on.

Years ago, I took a two-year sabbatical from corporate work. I was burned out and in search of inspiration. I’d been dragging myself out of bed for months before I finally gave in. My aunt and Godmother Gina gave me the book Simple Abundance to help guide my way. For each day, the author provides an inspiring quote, narrative and call to action intended to help cultivate more mindfulness, presence and simplicity to the activities of every day. When Gina gave it to me, she said the book had inspired her to begin a list like mine above. She started on the chalkboard in her classroom before her elementary age students arrived. She’d filled the whole board by the time students took their seats.  She asked the kids to start lists for themselves. They devoted the day to appreciation and gratitude and they all left with hearts aglow.

The way you live your days is the way you live your life.

          -Annie Dillard, author

A loving daily practice can make a big difference. What can you do to stay connected to yourself? To set a measure for what good livin’ means to you? How can you practice the art of self-connection and self-care, no matter what’s going on?  I hope this post inspires you to practice in some way.

May your days be delightful in surprising ways.