BLESSED WAYS TO START YOUR DAYS
Surprise! I began my New Year’s Resolutions in late December, 2019. Usually I start in late January of the new year and by the end of February, just around Girl Scout cookie time when thin mints permeate the air, at least one of my resolutions fails under a cloak of chocolate dust. No worries! News Flash! You can change how you think and do things any day, any hour, any second.
Here’s why I started early (or very late in 2019.)
I’ve prided myself for years by getting up early, doing yoga, and a standing meditation to Chi Kung Exercises. This practice spurred my energy and creativity in writing and creating my book, Leaving: One Woman’s Story of Verbal Abuse. Once the book was published, many unattended chores pushed back into the empty void and squeezed everything else out. My default position was to grudgingly do my chores, while idling my writing.What do I do now? Do I promote my book? How? Do I write another one? If not, what’s next? It felt like going backwards. Back to bad habits. Back to feeling too old, too alone, not smart enough, not efficient enough, not creative enough, not healthy enough…blah, blah, blah.
One morning I struggled out of bed, crept to the bathroom, aching everywhere. I looked into the mirror; saw eye bags and body sags and wild scraggly hair and I screamed, “Oh my goodness, who is this crazy old lady?”
Good news. I woke myself up. So instead of then turning on the TV news (my bad habit default position) which could send anyone down the rabbit hole of pain, depression, fear and anger, I decided to change my narrative (my inner story.) BING! TEXT TO MIND! I am the only one who can change my thoughts and then my actions. Which means you can too.
Here are some ways to start your day in the New Year:
-Make your bed every day in the morning. When I was teaching full time and had to leave by 6 am I almost never made my bed. At night I sunk into my tangled sheets and blankets. Why make my bed, if I’m only going to make it again the next day? Made sense. But things change. And change is good.
A couple of years ago I read a poem by Peggy Freydberg entitled, A CHORUS OF CELLS, from her book, 100 Years of Words and Wisdom, The Writings of Peggy Freydberg. Peggy started writing poetry at age 90. CHORUS is about why she made her bed every morning. It’s not about making a bed. Poetry goes beyond the action. I recommend reading it. I’ll paraphrase. Making her bed every day was the ritual beginning of her day. I am here, once again, fully present, and ready to go into this gift of life and welcome everything that comes to me. Inspired by her poem I made my bed everyday or at least 95% of the time. It felt good. But one day recently I was presented with the challenging job of CHANGING THE SHEETS AND THEN MAKING MY BED!! Horror of horrors! I can’t do that now. I have so many other things to get done. But wait. Maybe I could change sheets AND and make my bed to music. That could be fun. So I put on classical music.I usually don’t listen to classical music, but I recently started because of all the benefits of classical music- enhanced memory, increased creativity, elevated brain power, and a great stress reliever for all. I found myself breathing deeper, the kind where you push out your abdomen and chest on inhale and then slowly push the air back out.Sweetness. I relaxed. I noted that most classical music has no words. I often spend my day listening to words via TV and radio, my computer and sweet-on-the-spot Siri, and sometimes even face to face real people. It’s almost constant talk.With classical music my mind is free to go wherever it wants. I provide my own thoughts and words, opening my mind. I’m not involved with the story of the lyrics or the news commentators, or sport talk radio. All that stops. It’s me and the music and bliss. So I stripped the dirty sheets; bundled them in a neat ‘unmeltable’ snowman ball by the washer; pulled fresh sheets, pretending they’d air dried outdoors under the sun; became grateful I had sheets, and a bed to sleep on, and a house to live in. I smiled and started dancing to the music as I stretched each corner of the bottom sheet to the mattress. “Home Run,” I cheered to me. What an accomplishment and one way to start your day in 2020.
-Change your bedsheets to classical music or any other chore you choose.
-Enjoy the daily traditions that just come to you naturally. My cat Eclipse has been with me for nine years.She’s a black and white Domestic who talks(vocalizes) to me constantly. Often, she is shrill and demanding.
“Give me food right now lady.I’m hungry. Can’t you understand me?”
Other times I say, “Hi girlfriend, how are you today?”
She vocalizes back in a softer tone.That’s how we banter, her eyes intent on mine. Eclipse usually sleeps at night at the foot of my bed. But as soon as I get up she waits for me to go downstairs with her. She moves in front of me and goes back and forth from side to side across each step, sometimes rubbing her head against the wood columns that hold up the banister. At the bottom she goes to her food bowl. Eclipse could come down anytime to eat, because there’s always dry food in her bowl.One day I realized that this walk is a repetitive act she loves doing with me. We connect wordlessly. We are one.Has she trained me to do this? Maybe. I’ve heard cats like to be in control.I But, in that moment on the steps that day, I realized this is a repetitive act she loves doing with me. We connect wordlessly. We are one. I sat on a step half way down and cried at the beauty of the moment. She stopped, came back and waited with me.We sat in a pocket of love. Now I treasure our timeless walk downstairs in the morning. Think of special thing that you already do with a loved one at the start of the day-something gentle, sweet and affirming, And if you don’t have a tradition, start one.
-Meditation The evidence of the benefits of meditation are huge. There are many ways and many times of the day you can meditate. You can do a one-minute meditation or thirty minutes or several hours or even days, like cloistered monks do.You can stand, sit, or recline.You can do a walking meditation. My walking meditation down the stairs with my cat is a meditation of its own. Especially if I sit on the stairs , close my eyes and go inward beyond the steps and the cat to an inner place where there is only love. That is meditation. I don’t believe there are any rules. The only goal is to go inward to that sweet spot where your mind chatter stops and you feel peace.
I recommend the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza. He has written several books including Becoming Supernatural. Dr. Joe’s book if full of research and charts and is a difficult read at times. But the GREAT NEWS is that he shows scientifically that we can “grow our brain” no matter our age. We can constantly grow our brain into new thoughts and patterns, releasing all the old thoughts and beliefs that stagnant our life. Meditation is a powerful tool to create this change and another way to start your day. Dr. Joe has several guided audio meditations. I like MORNING AND EVENING MEDITATIONS. I used it consistently while writing my book. Combining the morning and evening meditations proved powerful. I imagined into existence the cover of my book doing these meditations.
Lastly, long ago way way before I left my verbally abusive husband, I meditated almost every day, but I didn’t know it was meditation. We lived in a big sprawling one story house. I got up earlier than he, because I left earlier. After dressing and eating and setting my bags by the back door, I slipped into the sky-lit family room; sat in a chair by the sweeping glass doors; closed my eyes; breathed deeply and settled myself into being the best teacher I could be that day. I also allowed myself to not be around for the verbal barbs he often flung at me as I left in the morning. Then I quietly slipped out the back door.
-Ask yourself or someone else what made you happy today.You can do this at mid-day, or at the end of the day, or if you forget, at the beginning of the next day.This question, no matter what the time, fills the same purpose: increased gratitude and a feeling of expansion. It pulls back the dark cloak of fear, anger, and past hurts-all the junk that fills up our psyche, and swooshes it down a chute. Ask yourself in the morning, and repeat it later. I often need to be reminded, because like most humans our brains stubbornly retain past hurts and intensify present dilemmas blinding us to miss the best stuff of life. It would also be fun to ask someone you eat lunch with, or see later in the day.Then you’ll get the added fun of listening to another’s joy. And you’ll learn something about another person which creates a deeper connection. I believe that every connection we have with another human can be a holy one.That includes strangers that we pass by on a walk or the cashier at the grocery store. “How’s your day going?” It’s a simple connection with a stranger we might never see again.But our words could be what that stranger needs to hear. And the love you extended to this stranger keeps growing as it goes to their loved ones and ultimately all that comes back to you. Seems like a good deal to me-tending to budding happiness nuggets that push all the weeds out.
-And then there’s always Mr. Rodgers! It’s not surprising that two films about Mr. Rodgers were box office hits, one in 2018, a documentary with clips of Mr. Rodgers himself, called “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” and a 2019 film called, “It’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” starring Tom Hanks.There is so much vitriolic language being tossed back and forth now in our country. It pains me as a human to hear hateful talk and kills me as a writer to listen to this junk. Words meant to hurt accomplish nothing except more hurt. I wish I could grab back all those barbs, and shred these prickles into the tiniest pieces ever and bury them deep in the earth, and believe that someday they would soften and change and re-birth as glorious flowers to soften the blows to those psyches damaged by words that hurt.
Mr. Rodgers was so NICE. Do you remember NICE? Yet he presented very deep topics of the day for children, before even adults did. He was not the clown type, “Howdy Doody” of my early childhood. He was serious and reflective. He did not argue, but asked profound questions of children and adults. And he never dissed another, nor used disparaging words. He intrinsically knew that words meant to hurt offer no growth of mind and spirit.
-Inspired by Mr. Rodgers here are some other quick phrases I made as ways to start my/your day, if you’re short on time.
“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” Mr.Rodgers (All the rest are creation of the author, me.)
I am dressed and blessed. I am growing and glowing. I am growing and sowing. I am chill and ready for a thrill. I am one with the sun.
I am unbroken and open. I am dreaming and streaming. I am snappy and happy. I am free to be ME. I write in the light.
Today, then, I’ll be a perfect 10! I’d love to hear from you with quick morning sayings that you’ve created to begin your day.Or any other way that helps you start the day in a positive way. Send me a message via my website. Also encourage others to sign up on my website.
May you be surrounded by love in the holidays and may the New Year ahead be one of “growing and glowing.”