A Little Secret

A student announces that she’s no longer drinking.  At the beginning of the semester, she tells us she’s known for partying, but today, she wants to stop it all.  We cheer for her.  Suddenly, the class feels like an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.  I don’t mind at all.

I tell her that my husband and I aren’t drinkers.  In disbelief, she smiles and asks, “You aren’t?  Really?”  Other students chime in that they, too, have abandoned the drinking scene.  Here we are, at one of the top party schools in the nation, and some students opt out.

They’re seniors.  It’s a lifestyle they can no longer sustain. 

“I need to know more people like you,” she says to them.  She needs to be able to imagine a world where people have nothing to recover from in the morning.

All day, I ponder choices I make that I need to recover from.   It’s not just over-consuming.  Something as simple as staying up too late makes the morning horrible.  Last night, I sit down to work, and I realize how sleep-deprived I am from the night before.  Instead of working, I could get a good night’s sleep.

So I go to bed.  Early.  

My choice to sleep seems profoundly spiritual.   I wake up without needing to recover.

I love that my students are thinking about the kinds of living they can sustain.  They make me think deeply about my own choices–what I can sustain for well-being, and what I can’t sustain and harms me–everyday. 

I want to wake up without needing to recover.  That’s another secret for health and mood:  if I need to recover from the night before, I wasn’t living with flair.

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The Secret Community You Might Want to Join

This morning, at 5:30 AM, I discovered the secret community of Those Who Rise Early.

I can’t believe this world exists.  There I am, alarm going off, pulling on work-out clothes and stumbling to the driveway, when all of a sudden, I look around.  At the unnatural hour of 5:30 AM, there are actual people walking about.  Happy people.  People with dogs and friends and strollers and. . . energy.

What coffee do these people drink?

I pass folks out in their yard and folks driving places.  I see three runners, several walkers, and some gardeners. Why in the world are they so happy?  Do they know it’s 5:30 AM?

It’s a secret community.  Those Who Rise Early do things like work out, drink a quiet cup of coffee, stroll in their gardens, take leisurely showers, fix their hair, empty the dishwasher, prepare breakfast, and then, they greet Those Who Rise Late with a smile, ready.   

I’ve been in the later group my whole life.  I’m the one in the bad mood, dragging myself around, begging for coffee, griping at everybody and wanting my soft bed back.  Let me sleep!  I need my sleep!  I’m fighting the DNA of generations upon generations of Those Who Sleep Late.  I need to sleep until that last possible minute.   So stop bothering me and hand me that cup of coffee.  I need to sleep late

Do I?  I decided to interview Those Who Rise Early.  This club chooses to greet the day differently, and it’s supremely amazing to join them.  They usually delight in 2 hours of solitude and productivity before children rise, before traffic surges, before the onslaught of the day.  Of the men and women I’ve talked to, this 5:30 wake up has changed their lives.  They wake that early for a variety of reasons:  personal prayer or meditation times, exercise, solitude, meal preparation and house organization, reading or writing.  Those people seem to live with with flair because their early rising prepares them for the day. 

My early morning wake up is part of living with flair.  I’ve taken a nose-dive off that plateau.  I’m hoping to change this part of my life and join the secret community of 5:30 AM.  Day by day, day by day.

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