birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

My Morning Routines

Some years ago when I was enrolled in a fiction writing class at Kenyon college, David Lynn, my instructor suggested that I put in an hour of writing every morning before I went to work. That idea made sense on several levels: It would become routine. It would be quiet; I would be uninterrupted. I would have the main part of the day for my job and family. I tried. Truly, I did try because I had a story I really wanted to tell. But after a couple of weeks, the 5 a.m. wake-up schedule was unsustainable. I was already having trouble getting up at six. Plus, just knowing I had to get up an hour early meant that I would wake up at three and just lie, staring at the darkness until fifteen minutes before the alarm jangled me out of a soft dream.
My mornings are no longer regimented. Since I retired at age 55, I awake only after the sun is up and the light in my bedroom awakens me naturally. I threw away my alarm clock at that time and did not put batteries in the expensive Waterford Clock the School board gave me as a retirement gift.
Some morning I make the bed right away. Other mornings if my husband is still sleeping, I slip out of the room quietly, knowing he will make the bed when he gets up.
Some mornings I get dressed right away. Other mornings I just hang out in my robe and nightie. Some mornings I brush my teeth right away. Other mornings I just gargle. Some mornings I am in Arizona. Other mornings I am in Maryland. Seven a.m. or nine? Tea or coffee? Raisin Bran or Muesli? Bagel or Peanut butter toast? Washington Post or New York Times
The floating nature to my mornings may be the best part of my retirement. The only absolute self-imposed rule is that the bed will be made and the breakfast dishes will be put away so kitchen will look good. Maybe it was my childhood training, but I suspect this last vestige of regimen is my effort to create an illusion of order in an increasingly chaotic universe.
I like the quiet of morning. I like to plan and prepare dishes for dinner in the morning. I like to find a quiet spot inside or out and read my current book. I like to take advantage of an empty morning to catch up on the details of my rental business. Morning offers almost infinite options to the happily retired. It is good to recognize that I can add fifteen minutes writing to my morning. Or to my afternoon.

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