Margin in My Mornings

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I am not a morning person, and likely never will be. If I have to rush around in the mornings, I will be unhappy for the rest of the day. Both my body and my mind need time to wake up, gradually and quietly.

If I am rushed in the morning, my day is pretty much ruined. I feel stressed the whole day, as though there’s an itchy tag scratching at my soul. No matter how much I try to adjust, there’s something bothering me.

In an effort to be less stressed, I’ve started to try and build more margin into my day. Here are my morning practices:

—I set my alarm for earlier than I need to, just to gently nudge myself awake. I can snooze for a good long while, knowing that it isn’t ‘costing’ me time, letting my body slowly wake up.

—I have a routine so I don’t need to make any decisions at all. I have the same cup of coffee, the same breakfast – I even sit in the same spot.

—That means, the night before, I do everything that would require a decision or effort in the morning: I tidy up my spot, even if the rest of the room is a mess. I make sure the cafetière is available and there is a clean cup, even if the rest of the dishes are dirty. I choose what clothes I will wear, and I make a to-do list so that I don’t wake up thinking about or trying to remember all the things that need my attention.

—I ring-fence my ritual. I’ve started to turn my phone to airplane mode when I go to sleep, and I don’t turn it back on again until after I have finished my morning prayer and writing time. That means I don’t have any new information coming at me: no email, messages, posts, etc.

—For me, silence is key. There is no music, no noise. (For other people, music might help a lot.) If my husband is home at this time, which is rare, we don’t really talk much until after I have finished praying.

—My prayer time in the morning doesn’t require a lot of creative thought. I don’t have to think of things to say to God, or remember everyone I am praying for. In the morning, I’m in ‘receiving’ mode. I pray the psalms that the whole Church is praying, read the same scripture and meditation that everyone around the world is reading. I don’t have much to say in the morning: I let the Word sink in.

—And here’s what I’ve discovered: if I let myself just sit, I can often hear quite well. It might just be one thing, but it’s the thing I really need to hear.

—From there, I can write. Sometimes in my journal, sometimes for the blog, sometimes other writing projects. The point is: Letting God speak to me, and then sharing my ideas, all before there is any kind of noise in my day, has been a life-giving and life-changing ritual.

Margin in the mornings means that I don’t rush this ritual. I have time to be, time sit, time to receive. I don’t wake up feeling stressed because I know I have a very limited amount of time to cram in every activity in the world. I have space in my mind because all the little decisions have been made. I have space in my soul because the only ‘input’ I’m accepting is God’s still, small whisper.

The noise, the input from everywhere else, the decision making, all comes later in the day- after I have filled up with Living Water.


How do you have margin in your mornings?