Written by Becca Lory Hector
As I walk inside from the side door, dogs in tow, I look to my right and see it. The red light on the coffee maker is still on and I take a deep breath and smile to myself. If today is the kind of day that I can have a second cup, and it is, the coffee left in the pot will still be the perfect temperature. It will be hot, but with just the right amount of creamer, it will cool down just enough to be palatable while still remaining warm enough for the steam to build up in my glasses as I tilt the mug to my mouth for that first sip. This idyllic temperature cannot be replicated by microwave oven nor does it remain for long. Today, the stars have aligned. This morning, my husband has his own stuff to accomplish, leaving me alone to do some computer time that does not include a single meeting with anyone. As I pour that second cup and listen to the sugar dissolve into the dark liquid, I think to myself, today is going to be a particularly good day.
Not too long ago, maybe a year or two, I never would have had that moment. I am not a morning person, never have been, never will be. My brain just doesn’t do mornings. Instead, it slowly wakes, stretching and complaining, in the hours after my physical body has gotten out of bed. This has made mornings a trial, and an occasional trauma, most of my life. But with six cats and four dogs in our house, sleeping in is simply not an option. Faced with a dissonance that I could not ignore on a daily basis, I decided it was time to begin making use of my mornings in some way.
Creating a morning routine was no easy task for this lifetime member of the “just give me five more minutes” club but it needed to be done. Afterall, wasting my one nonrenewable resource, time, is definitely not in alignment with the life I am creating. With that in mind, along with my own limited capabilities in the morning hours, I set about creating a morning routine. For me, that routine does not look as you would imagine. Don’t think for a second that all of a sudden, I can run around my house briskly first thing in the morning, checking items off a CVS receipt length to-do list, with a smile on my face. That is a farce. I am just not built to be that way at any time of day, let alone at a time that has AM after it.
Instead, my morning routine looks like me slowly getting out of bed, taking my morning meds, and putting on slippers. Making our bed is my first stop on the morning routine train, followed by cleaning a few cat boxes, and finally putting on my glasses and heading upstairs to our living room. I then start our coffee. This is my favorite morning task, and not just for the good smells. Making coffee is a skill I have only recently learned, a remnant of my late autism diagnosis, and so I enjoy doing it. I then move to our couch, where all four of my pups and the hubby await. I give each pup one on one time as I wait for the coffee maker to beep. Next, we will each make our coffee, as we wait for the bagels to be done in toaster. I take my mug to the couch, sit in “my spot”, and pick up my phone. I have made it a point to stay present in my physical space for at least the first hour of the day. No more opening my eyes and rolling over to check phone as soon as I wake up. That makes for poorly written email responses and a guaranteed grumpy mood. Instead, I make it a point to enjoy the company I have chosen to surround myself with and move at a pace that my brain can handle. After eating, we head outside with the dogs for their play time. Watching them play and run gives me endless joy and unlimited laughter, so making it an intentional part of my morning was a must. Each morning, I take my mug and finish my coffee while sitting in the sunshine and watching them enjoy the yard. We stay out for about an hour and then its time for morning biscuits. As we head in, I think about the day ahead, finally awake enough for it to make sense.
This morning routine was not developed overnight but, instead, was crafted slowly over time, with lots of trial and error. It took realizing and accepting my morning reality, and then working with it intentionally. Eventually, a routine developed that created an excellent flow to my day and I knew I hit paydirt. Now, I look forward to my mornings; to that precious time with my pups, to making the coffee, and to that time in the sunshine. On days like today, when I my morning belongs to me, and I walk in the side door to see that red light on the coffee maker still lit, and I smile, I know the mindful morning that I created with intention, is working its magic. I mean, look at me, making a second cup of coffee, with a smile on my face…in the morning! A mindful morning routine does indeed work like magic.
Becca Lory Hector is an active autism advocate, consultant, speaker, and author.
With a focus on autistic quality of life, her work includes autism/neurodiversity consulting; public speaking engagements; a monthly newsletter, Monthly Musings; and a weekly YouTube news show, Neurodiversity Newsstand.