The Friday Five: What gets me up in the morning?


My women's group has been reading An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor, and in the introduction she shares advice a minister gave her when she was asked to speak to his congregation: "Tell us what is saving your life now." I love this thought, so I'm going to start taking Fridays to tell you what is saving my life now, whenever now happens to be. I hope you'll join in!

To kick it off, here are five keys to my 2016 morning schedule that have made me happy to get up and begin the day (and I am NOT a morning person).

1. Headspace. Ever since I took a mindfulness class followed by a spiritual formation class a few years ago, I've been wishing that I was the meditation type. But I'm impatient, and I'm a perpetual Snooze presser, so as much as I imagined waking up at 5:00 a.m. to do 20 minutes of centering prayer, it just never happened. This fall, I downloaded the app Insight Timer, which has a plethora of free meditations to tap into, or simply a timer that sounds like that wonderful resonant bell we associate with mindfulness. I started setting the timer for five minutes in the morning on weekdays, and mostly stuck to it. When I heard about the meditation app Headspace (also from women's group conversation), I thought I'd give the first ten 10-minute sessions a try. When I finished those, I decided to pay for a yearlong subscription. I'm on day 18 now, and can really tell a difference in my level of anxiety, both in the morning and throughout the day. I appreciate having the same (British) voice talk me through the practice daily. It also adds meaningful elements to consider (empathy, purpose, restlessness /boredom) along the way.

2. A Jessica Smith workout. If you know me well, you know that the lovely ladies at work and I work out with Jessica Smith three times a week. On the days we don't meet, I try to do a quick video of hers in the morning. I don't belong to a gym right now, but honestly I don't feel like I need to with the variety of videos she offers. I've moved from 3/5 lb. weights to 5/8/10 lbs. in less than a year, and feel like I'm in a lot better cardio and strength shape. (Plus she doesn't yell at you, and her dog Peanut is adorable!)

3. A free write. I've been trying to get journal writing back in my life for awhile, and found a pathway by writing while my tea kettle comes to a boil. It's a set amount of time (7-8 minutes?) that gets something else done (hot water!) while I get something done for myself. And it really doesn't seem to matter what spills out from the ink to the page; just knowing that I've started the day putting down thoughts is enough.

4. English breakfast tea + skim milk. And once that water is boiled... I've never been a coffee drinker, and turned to tea when we used to go out to Sunday brunch with my grandparents. It sounded so grown-up in fourth grade to try something called "cinnamon stick tea" (with my dessert, of course). Not surprisingly, back then I dumped in a ton of sugar and milk. It's been enough years now where I quit the sugar, but hot tea with milk is still my morning fave. And skim means I can dump in as much as I want.

5. NPR. I've been waking up to the voices of Morning Edition and Marketplace Morning Report since I was in middle school (and probably before), one routine that I predict will never change. National Public Radio is always a comforting companion, even when the news itself is discomforting.

What's your Friday Five this week? What is saving your life now? In the mornings? Any time of day?

Enjoy the weekend, friends!