Good Morning, Baltimore!

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(Cue your inner Tracy Turnblad for that title.)

Truthfully, it's been quite awhile since I've woken up with that much enthusiasm. Funemployment and no set schedule can make for some very lazy mornings, and while I appreciate the slower pace, I'm also very aware of losing momentum to complacency. When there's nowhere to be, there's no rush to get the day started. It wasn't until an early morning wakeup call for an early morning flight last week that reminded me of what I've been lazing away. Once a weekly occurrence for a 6:30am class, it was a time of day I haven't seen in quite awhile, and it reminded me of just how much value those hours hold.

Early mornings are fresh and quiet and full of potential. They're removed from the hustle and bustle of a daily routine, and when used correctly can be the key to an entire day well-spent. Even with all the time in the world right now, mornings are still something special. So, when if feels like there aren't enough hours in a day turn to the early hours to find the time you've been looking for.

Here are a few morning rituals I can't do without:

Hydrate. Before food or that first cup of coffee I start my day with water. It seems simple enough, but even more than filling a glass it's a promise to myself that regardless of what the day holds I'll start off treating myself well. In the summer I keep a pitcher of room temperature water out at all times (cold is harder to assimilate) and keep a (deceptively large) glass full at all times. Fresh mint and basil leaves make the perfect addition to a half a lemon or lime. In the colder months I trade in for a mug of hot water over half a lemon and top it off throughout the day. As much as it is about hydrating, my morning drink also primes me for what comes next.

Fuel up. No matter how groggy, how grumpy, or how generally disinterested I may be I need breakfast. After fasting all night my body needs calories to move through the day. I've also found no better way to set a good precedent for what I eat for the rest of the day than to start with a meal that's truly satisfying and well-intentioned. To eliminate the barrier of option paralysis I cycle through a few choices, enough to stay interested, not too many to get overwhelmed. Summers call for overnight oats loaded to the max or a breakfast smoothie. Once fall rolls in I switch to hot cereal or eggs with avocado and sourdough. Weekends get special treatment; whether it's homemade french toast or a piping serving of shakshuka

Set an intention. Every day, every morning, every moment is an opportunity to practice what it means to live with intention. Setting a purpose for the day, in the form of a to-do list or simply living each moment with mindfulness, makes even the most routine day indispensable. Rather than looking at intention setting as a means to keep tabs on what needs to get done in a day, reframe is as what you want to practice in a day and then carry that with you. It's not about perfection or completion so much as it is about progress and enjoying the process.

For once I'm finding more time in my pre-noon hours, but just as summer is wrapping up, this free time is sure to be temporary. For now I'm enjoying the moments and starting most days with this Breakfast Shake. It's not too healthy, no too sweet, and keeps me going through the day, no matter what it holds!

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