Once upon an evening, I was enjoying a delightful round of desserts and idle prattle with my friends, Juniper and Ezra, when Ezra turned the topic to Morning Routines. She had roused herself from bed that morning two hours before work instead of her customary one, and she’d thoroughly appreciated the luxury of time that hour had afforded her for her morning preparations.
“I think I’ll start getting up earlier in the mornings,” she said thoughtfully. She turned to us – what were each of our morning routines like? How much time did we take to get ready?
“Hmm,” Juniper thought for a moment. “Well, after I wake up, I shower, which takes about twenty minutes; then I blowdry and do my hair, which takes about fifteen, twenty minutes depending on how I want it. Then I do my face stuff, put on my makeup, pick out what I’m going to wear, and I leave. Pretty simple. I eat breakfast at work.”
Now before I go on, some context: Juniper and Ezra were–and still are–two very lovely young women, both of whom were–and still are–almost always stylishly dressed and well put-together, which was–and still is–both admirable yet slightly maddening.
They were looking at me now: it was my turn to share. I didn’t really know what to say. My “morning routine” at the time was fast approaching the point where I could’ve truthfully said, “I literally just roll out of bed and go.” I would wake up to my alarm at 8:50, hit snooze, wake up again at 9, hit snooze, get out of bed at 9:05, and, snip snap snoop, be out the door by 9:12. I showered at nights. I kept a toothbrush at work.
“Well,” I said, slowly, “I’m pretty fast in the mornings – I kinda just get up, get dressed, splash some water on my face, and get going. Altogether, ten minutes?”
While a small part of me felt a perverse twinge of pride as I told them how little time it took me to get ready in the mornings, the bigger, more responsible part of me knew it was also kind of ridiculous, a little embarrassing, and a wee bit gross. But neither Juniper nor Ezra seemed very surprised (or impressed, for that matter) to hear this, and I found myself feeling a little insulted by their lack of reaction.
“Isn’t that fast?” I pressed.
“Yeah, but you don’t wear makeup and you always look real casual, so it’s not really that surprising,” said Ezra with a lazy wave of her hand.
“Yeah. I mean, it’s not like you usually look like you put a lot of effort into how you look,” added Juniper helpfully.
I gave the two of them a look. It was a look of dignity. It was a look that said…well, I don’t know what it said, but it wasn’t a happy look because I didn’t feel happy. I felt slobby. And grungy.
When I got home later that night, I thought over our conversation. I realized with some surprise that I couldn’t remember there ever being a period of time when I’d woken up early enough to have a morning routine. All the mornings of my life were a flurried jumble of slapdashed chaos.
So that night, in the spirit of experimentation and self-improvement, I decided I would get up for work early the next day – for once not of necessity but of choice: I wanted to feel what it was like to have a “morning routine.” How much difference would it actually make anyway? Would I go off to work feeling like a brand new person? A more composed person? Would I feel more confident? More poised? Was my life about to change? I set my alarm for 8:40. I wasn’t about to get up a whole entire hour before I needed to, but a half an hour sounded reasonable. No hitting the snooze button, I told myself, as I drifted off to sleep.
That next morning, I didn’t hit the snooze button. I got up at 8:40, which gave me about three times more time than I was used to that I hardly knew what to do with all of it. And dear readers – hear me when I say this: it was glorious. Miraculous. Phenomenal. Exceptional. Astounding. For once, I didn’t feel harried or rushed. I could actually take my time picking out what I wanted to wear! And if I didn’t like what I’d picked, I had time to pick out something entirely different! I had time to wash my face with real face soap! I had time to brush my teeth in the privacy of my own bathroom! I had time to pack a light lunch and throw in a snack of baby carrots! I even dabbed on some sunblock! And all the while I was doing these things, I kept glancing at the clock and marveling over how much more time I had left before I needed to leave. The day hadn’t even begun yet and already I felt so accomplished. I left for work that day with a pep in my step – clean, refreshed, dressed to impress.
After that illuminating morning, I started getting up for work earlier, revolutionizing the first six hours of all my weekdays ever since. Of course, the first few minutes of getting out of bed are still painful, and there are still days when I’m sorely tempted to hit the snooze button, but then I think about all the advantages of having time in the mornings for myself, and I get up anyway. I’m always glad I do, because the morning air is sweeter now – the skies bluer, the streets wider, my skin brighter; I even eat healthier and spend less money, since I have time to eat breakfast at home, and piece together turkey sandwiches for lunch. I eventually set my morning alarm from a half hour earlier to a full forty-five minutes: something that would’ve not only seemed ludicrous to pre-morning-epiphany Helen, but would’ve sent her into violent revolt. Post-morning-epiphany Helen? She just smiles and basks in the extra time.