There’s nothing better than a good morning routine. It sets me up for the rest of the day, emotionally, physically and mentally. It helps me maintain some sort of emotional equanimity so I can go the craziness that is my life all Zen and shiz. (Or at least a semblance of Zen and shiz.) My morning routine also shows me just how attached I get to having things a certain way and what kind of emotional reserves I have when things veer off path.
This morning, my routine blew up. My eyes popped open at 3:30 am, fully 90 minutes before I was supposed to wake up. My husband, who has been working overtime, got home at 4:30 and turned on the TV in the living room. My daughter, who had to catch a flight for a work trip, got up late and had to scurry around the house to get ready. My mom is visiting, effectively closing off my office/spare room as an escape route. I had nowhere to go. No place to escape chaos. No place to meditate, journal, or study.
Instead, I was stuck in the living room with my hands clenched as my husband watched the news and commented on the horror of the day’s events. I bit my tongue as I watched my daughter flailing about so I wouldn’t make a sarcastic remark about getting up earlier or having everything prepared ahead of time. Clearly, this wasn’t a teachable moment.
Or was it?
By the time my husband went to bed and my daughter left for the airport, I was a mess. My nerves were shot, my stomach was churning and a two ton heavy thing sat on my chest. Not a great way to start a day that was already crushingly busy. I had to volunteer at the school, take my mom to a hair appointment as she had a wedding to attend that afternoon, get dinner in the crockpot, pick mom back up, make it to my math study group and then go to work. I had to turn it around and fast or otherwise I would come home and dive into a vat of wine. I had maybe fifteen minutes before my mom got up. It was time for some ninja calming techniques.
Ten very slow breaths. I imagine that my stomach is a drawer that opens as I take in air through my nose. As I let the air out, the drawer contracts closed. I count on the bottom of the outbreath.
Mountain pose. I stand very tall, feet close together, arms by my sides, fingers pointing down, eyes gazing in the distance. Then I dive to a loose standing forward bend to stretch out my back. Then I straighten with my arms over my head, stretching first one arm upward and then the other.
Then I spend about five minutes jotting down my schedule. Was there anything I could move or change? It took me a minute to realize that I could skip or reschedule study group and run up to the tutoring center to get my questions answered after dropping Mom off to get her hair done which would save me about two hours out of the day. That would also give me time to stop at the store to pick up an item I was missing for dinner.
Then I took a moment to realign my thoughts. Instead of resenting running my mom around, I reminded myself to be grateful that I still have my mom with me. My struggles with math show my commitment to my goal of getting a degree. Instead of being pissed off that I had to stop at the store, I should be grateful that I have access to have so much available food. Gratitude is a game changer in my daily struggle for equanimity. My ego is like a petulant child always wanting to run the show, always wanting its way. Gratitude is a quiet way of putting my ego back in its place.
I took a deep breath. Then another. It was going to be okay. A hint of anxiety was still there, lingering just below the surface and I knew I would have to remember to deep breathe until bedtime, but a bad start to the morning didn’t mean I was stuck with a bad day. It took just ten minutes to come to grips with that concept. Lesson learned.
I’d still rather have my morning routine, though.