It has been an overwhelming summer, and year, for a lot of people in our world. Our country has seen a lot of violence, fear, and even hate bubble up to the surface of things–in election talk, in shootings, in attacks–and it can feel like the only way to respond is by pulling inward, taking cover, being silent. The Washington Post even declared that 2016 might not have deserved a song of the summer. “We’re living through one of the ugliest summers in modern memory,” the story reads, “and it isn’t trivial to talk about what it sounds like.” Paying attention to pain is crucial to being alive, suffering is non-negotiable on planet earth, and yet the sticky desperate hurt of life on our crowded planet right now can take a soul down.
This post is about breathing in beauty & breathing back to life.
Living is a messy business, we know that. Loving other people, working at a job at which we aren’t always perfect, caring about our families and our neighbors and strangers around the globe — these are vulnerabilities that make us human, that make our love levels overflow, and that can make life a roller coaster — not just a regular theme park ride, but one of the ones in a haunted mansion where ghosts show up in the mirror with you every so often.
One way to breathe in beauty this week is to create a comforting morning.
How many of us wake up and race out the door, hair thrown up in a bun, skipping breakfast, already late. I know I have been there so many times. But what I find is that starting out this way puts my day a step behind. I’m frazzled, on the inside, and can never quite find that expansive, calm, kind version of myself (who knows where her keys are) — instead I’m rushed, a little crazy, and most definitely hangry.
A morning routine can be an easier way to start off.
I picture sliding down into the day rather than jumping straight into ice water. As one of my favorite inspirations, Sarah Jenks, has astutely pointed out, waking up earlier can actually be *more* energizing if it is time filled with things that bring you to life.
It’s also fun to daydream about — what would make your mornings the perfect start to your days?
Maybe it is slipping into a gorgeous robe and brewing a cup of tea on your fire escape while you flip through a magazine. Maybe drawing at your kitchen table for twenty minutes with jazz music playing would set you up to feel like you all day. Maybe it is going for a walk, or doing sun salutations on your living room floor for ten minutes before you do anything else.
Taking time to eat something delicious, to slip into clothes that feel like art, to play a little with make-up or a hairstyle, and then to get where you are going in the morning at your own perfect pace…it can be an hour that transforms your whole day.
I have started to take my time with a cup of coffee and a little time to read — some days the newspaper, some days a book of poetry, some days something else. (Right now I’m reading Sweet Bitter & I could not recommend it more — can our song of the summer be a novel? I think yes.)
Getting up a little earlier to pad around in my slippers, get cozy with my coffee and connect with someone else’s words, has had a domino effect — I feel a little more rooted in myself. There’s a lot to do, there are always reasons to check email first thing in the morning, or to snooze until I’m going to be late, or to skip breakfast — but what happens if you give that all back to yourself instead? As a present, as a moment, as a breath.