My perfect morning started with an unexpected phone call at 6:30 am.
“This is a message from the Pittsburgh Public School District. All Pittsburgh public schools will be operating on a two-hour delay today.”
I shut off my alarm – the one I’d already hit snooze on three times – and sent a text to my teenager upstairs, “2 hr delay”. I rolled over and went back to sleep.
An hour later I woke to my daughter crawling into bed beside me. “Two hour delay,” I mumbled and wrapped my limbs around her.
“I hope it’s cancelled,” she said.
“Not gonna happen,” I told her.
“Why not? How do you know?”
“It’s just delayed because of the cold. It will be warm enough after two hours.”
She threw back my covers in disgust and left the room. Having been forced into enough lines of conversation to be awakened, I decided I might as well get out of bed. Besides, I had plans for a perfect morning.
The night before, when I was planning out the work I wanted to do during the week, I’d made a list of what I wanted to accomplish in the morning. I had hoped to do some yoga, meditate, journal, and put a soup in the slow cooker before heading into the co-working space I rent. I’d estimated the routine would take me about two hours, which is why I’d set my alarm for 6 am. Even though I’d missed my original wake-up call, I figured I could still hit some of the items on my wish list.
I walked out into the living room and found Devin wandering around with his headphones in, waiting for his time to leave. Emma had plopped herself in front of the computer, an error in judgment I corrected for her immediately.
“Yoga and meditation will have to wait,” I decided. I hate trying to do yoga in the midst of a busy household.
I headed to the kitchen and pulled out the slow cooker. Then, I had a flash of inspiration.
I opened the YouTube app on my phone and loaded up my “music to move to” playlist. I could certainly dance with kids milling around.
Thirty minutes later my heart was pumping and I had a smile on my face. I kissed my son goodbye and turned my attention back to meal prep. By the time I’d plugged in the slow cooker and turned it to Low, Emma was dressed and I had about 20 minutes before it would be time to drive her and her friend to school.
“I don’t really want to try and squeeze yoga and meditation in,” I thought.
I debated getting dressed so that I could start work as soon as Emma was dropped off; it was nearly 10 o’clock after all. Instead, I sat down with the last of my coffee and my journal. I wrote for 20 minutes before a knock on our door announced it was time to leave. I threw on snow boots and a winter coat over my pajamas and drove the kids to school.
Ten minutes later, I came home to a quiet house. I contemplated my options.
I could head to the shower. I could open up the computer and get right to work.
Or, I could go ahead and do that yoga and meditation session that I knew would be so good for me.
I swallowed my guilt, made a conscious decision to embrace my privilege, and I pulled out my mat.
Afterward, I made a fresh cup of coffee and breakfast before getting into the shower. I checked the clock on my phone as I was drying off: 11:01 am.
My perfect morning took me right up to the beginning of what could easily be considered an early lunch hour. It was practically noon and I hadn’t even pulled my laptop out of its bag.
And that was just fine.
I realized I still had four hours of quiet left in my home, plenty of time to accomplish all of my computer and writing work for the day. If I needed more time for other work or chores, I acknowledged that there were still several hours left in the day after school let out – hours that I had the freedom to use as I pleased.
The best part was that I was now totally prepared physically, spiritually, and emotionally to take full advantage of those remaining hours.
This perfect morning that stretched into normal working hours was a pretty significant win for me. It represented a shift in my perspective that I’ve been trying to make for months.
You see, I don’t work a 9 to 5. I don’t have to go into an office. I’m not bound by a boss or a time sheet. Because my children are old enough to mostly take care of themselves in the mornings and afternoons, I’m not really even beholden to the schedule of their school days.
I’m incredibly lucky, in other words.
But preconceived ideas and a lot of guilt have stopped me from enjoying my good fortune.
Because most people have to be at their desks for more than four hours a day. And most people have to be producing by 9 or 10 in the morning, if not sooner. Who am I to laze about journaling and doing yoga until 11?
That’s what I tell myself when I skip a chance to practice yoga or don’t take the time to meditate for ten minutes, write, or even have a decent breakfast.
I can spend hours doing things that are good for me each morning, but most people don’t have that luxury – and therefore I shouldn’t.
But the reality is that I am blessed. I have been given an amazing gift of time and freedom at this point in my life; and I am serving no one by squandering that gift in the name of guilt.
In my quest to do more and get less done this year, one of my goals is to start embracing the unique flexibility that I have right now. I have the opportunity to spend a lot of time not working at a desk or plowing through tedious tasks, and I don’t want to let guilt or some outdated perception of workable hours get in the way.
Today’s perfect morning was a step in that direction.