Archive for October, 2012

This is a blog post for all the people who have ever asked me how I get up so early, or those who are interested in starting a new morning routine and might find my method useful.

First, let’s get one thing straight. This getting up early is not for the faint hearted. I have no magic method to offer that will make this easy. But I have found a way to get the job done. and that is what I’d like to share.

I am neither a “morning person” nor a “night person.”  I am sleepy when I wake up, and I am sleepy at night.   This whole lark-vs-owl dichotomy really doesn’t work for me.  It doesn’t even seem to matter much if I’m getting lots of sleep. On the rare occasion that I sleep very late, I still hate getting up.

Thanks to coffee, I can be somewhat human in the wee hours, but wouldn’t a true “morning person” just jump out of bed like a puppy?  I’ve read that this sort of instant cheeriness is the sign of a happy life. I disagree. I have a wonderfully happy life, but I never get up that way unless it’s a “special day” (by which I mean, I am to receive presents).

Let’s assume for the moment that both getting up early and going to bed late are inherently painful.  Let’s also assume for just a moment that caffeine is the key to extending one’s day. (I will give a mediocre but workable alternative in a moment.)  Hence, if one wants to get some decent sleep and use caffeine to extend daylight productivity, morning is your best option. I don’t know about you, but any caffeine consumed after about 4 PM is going to seriously mess with my Z’s.

So. Early morning wake ups.  Whether it’s to exercise, get things done before children wake up, study, or get in some extra harp practice, morning is it. I still want to destroy the alarm clock and return to sleep, but if I can get through the first 5-10 minutes, I am good to go.

Without further ado, Cynthia’s wake up routine:

Step 1. The night before… I’m sorry if this is obvious, but you must go to bed on time. Furthermore, you must strive to get 8-9 hours of sleep in a very dark room.  Six or seven might seem normal, but I think for most people it is too little.  Normal is how we are wired, not what our friends and neighbors are doing.  Normal is what we did for millions of years, before electricity.  If you don’t believe me, ask your cat. Sleeping rocks.

Step 2. When the alarm sounds, repeat mantra #1: “Don’t think, just go.”  Thinking and reasoning when one first wakes is a bad idea.  The tips and tricks of a thousand motivational seminars will not trump the strength of your brain’s will to go back to sleep. Recite as many “Reasons for the Importance of Exercise” as you want the night before, if you are like me they will mean nothing  at 5 AM. One must cut off all chatter completely and move forward.  No snooze buttons, no wondering “if I really ought to.”  Just go.

Step 3. Now to mantra #2: “If you can sit up you can get up.”  Just sit up for a bit, either cross legged or with legs over the side of the bed. Don’t linger long enough to undo step 2, but just long enough to get your inner ear balance mechanism to stop contributing to the “better stay horizontal” campaign waging in your brain.

Step 4. “Go to coffee.”  Delay those morning chores, pet care, or whatever may await your attention. Be single minded: go to coffee.  I usually read the news or get dressed while drinking my coffee. Something easy. But beware of step 5!

[Non-caffeine option: cold water on the face, and lots of light.  Be kind to your spouse/partner on this one.  Closed doors between loved one and light, no screaming in horror at the temperature of the water, etc.]  

Step 5. Don’t check your email, Facebook, or messages until after you do what you got up early to do.  “Just a quick check?”  Hahahahahahahahaha.  Ask me how I know.

6. Schedule a day off from early rising every week.  I like to know there is one day a week that I won’t have to get up until my duties absolutely require it.  If I got up early every single day I think I would start feeling deprived and chuck the whole idea.

Good luck with your goals, and I hope you succeed in having some productive morning time.


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This is my absolute favorite time of year.  Now that the interminable curse of dry weather has lifted, the fall colors really shine. I read once that filmmakers prefer a grey sky for vibrant colors.  I heartily agree.

I normally do not go into the woods alone; I run with friends if I want trails. But today there were so many people out and about, and so many of them disappearing into the trailheads, that I decided to venture in myself.  The main trouble is bears (see my previous post on this).  Remembering a friend who always wore a “bear bell” on trails to warn bears of her approach, I clipped my house keys to my zipper pull and bravely jingled forth!

“I thought you were a dog,” said an elderly woman whom I passed along the trail.  I will try to take that in a good way.

Anyway, it was gorgeous.

Here is the view from one of the little paved trails I explored.

Gentle, light showers, beautiful colors… trail running is just fabulous in October.  I tried a few trails on Snoqualmie Ridge  I’ve never run before and had a marvelous time.

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I was about 3 years old.  I remember dim light, pillows, footie pajamas, and my father, whom we called “Papa,” playing his recorders and letting us have a go…

Here are two of my siblings from such a scene. Do you think we remember early memories better if we have photographs of them?

My father played all sizes of the recorder, from subcontra bass to the garklein

 What is the earliest musical experience that you can remember?

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