I’m a night owl, so my default is to sleep until the last possible moment, roll out of bed, poke at everyone to get ready, blearily throw food at the family, and stumble out the door. Add to that my daughter, who is ALSO not a morning person, fighting every step of the way, and it’s easy to see how that franticness can follow me all day. When I do this, I come home feeling drained and empty, with nothing left to give, and no matter how early I force myself to bed, it doesn’t help. There’s an old saying, “you cannot pour from an empty cup,” and my cup is often bone dry by noon.
So I’ve begrudgingly accepted that what I need isn’t more sleep, it’s a head start. I need time to fill my own cup before I can pour my energy into other things and people. So, I’ve started a (sigh) morning ritual. First, I started doing 10 minutes of yoga, but it wasn’t enticing enough to get me out of bed every day (though movement and meditation in the morning is great), adding time to read, write, and eat something better than a handful of cereal were also good elements. Sadly, they were also easily skipped and eventually replaced with the snooze button and assertions of “I’ll get back on track tomorrow.” After all:
Finally, I realized that to fill my cup, I need something a little more literal- something to look forward to… in my case, it’s this:
I try to start each day with a quiet cup of tea.
My mom bought me several cups after we went to an afternoon tea for her birthday (thanks mom!). I decided that I didn’t want them to just sit in my cabinet, so they became part of my mornings. I set out a cup, breakfast dishes, my journal, and a book the night before. I’ll even go so far as fill the kettle and teapot to make things as zombie-proof as possible. Then, after I’m ready for the day, I GET to sit down, and have a cup of tea before everyone else gets going.
In these few moments I reflect on the day ahead, read, and eat something decent. The tea cup reminds me of the people in my life. It’s fragile, so I have to set it down and pick it up mindfully which slows me down, and its simple beauty lets me focus on the act of having tea, rather than checking Facebook or email (both are supposed to derail your morning) and just spend a few minutes enjoying the quiet.
Once I hear movement in my daughter’s room, or my reminder goes off, I switch cups-mentally and physically. I pour the tea from my fragile cup to sturdy car-proof mug. I then rinse the beautiful cup and put it away before hitting the day hard. In all, it’s about 10 minutes, but making room for those 10 minutes gets me out of bed faster and better than almost anything I’ve tried.
My first mental pushback was that these 10 minutes could be spent hanging out with my family, or writing or working…. but eventually I learned that taking this time, is just as important as knocking items off the to-do list. I have a dear friend whose email tag says, “self-care is not selfish”- and she’s right. When you take just a few minutes to center yourself and prep for the day, you can go back to that stillness anytime, and from there, you can do anything.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, my tea is getting cold.
Lisa Pavia-Higel is a St. Louis based writer, educator and performer. By day, she’s a mild mannered Communication and Media professor at a local community college and an Organizational Strategist for TEDx Gateway Arch. By night, she’s a stage combat fighting, jewelry making and selling, comic reading, critique writing, productivity advice giving powerhouse. She also loves trying things that she’s really not very good at, like sewing, painting and writing succinct biographies. She is indulged by her little geeklet Sofia and intrepid feminist, geeky husband Matthew. She’s too long winded for Twitter, but you can tweet her @lisamariepavia.
Lisa Pavia-Higel is a St. Louis based writer, educator and performer. By day, she’s a mild mannered Communication and Media professor at a local community college and runs her own small jewelry company, Geekery Gal. By night, she’s a stage combat fighting, comic reading, critique writing, productivity advice giving mama. She loves trying things that she’s really not very good at, like sewing, painting and writing succinct biographies. She is indulged by her little geeklet Sofia and intrepid feminist, geeky husband Matthew. She’s too long winded for Twitter, but you can tweet to her at @geekerygal