Insights on morning routines, legacy, and learning how to sleep

Morning routines

The insights keep coming

I loved writing this article about morning magic two weeks ago, sharing with you how much I get out of my daily routines — journaling, meditation, tai chi, and more. And then my relationship to my routine changed. (Funny how things work sometimes.)

Relaxing into innate resilience and wellbeing

I’ve been learning about the three principles (mind, consciousness, and thought) over the last year or so, and I keep hearing and thinking about how these principles uncover our innate or natural resilience, wellbeing, and humanity.

Morning routines — the insights keep comingAfter writing that article, I — without really planning to change anything at all — found myself relaxing the tight grip on my routine. One day in a group call I mused about what it might look like if I didn’t set aside all that time each day to check off these activities. My teacher said “Imagine what you might do with all that time!”

Insights, and surprises.

I worried. What will I do with the time? Watch more tv and eat chocolate? Can I trust myself to do what’s good and useful if I don’t have a rigid checklist? Here’s what I found: At one point in the day I felt like stretching so I stretched. At another point I grabbed my shoes and did a little tai chi practice. And then at night, before bed (after watching some TV), I found myself chanting for a few minutes, and then I reached for my journal and pen on the way to bed, where I wrote a few pages. (I had never journaled at night before sleep before.)

Morning magic looks different now than it did just two weeks ago when I wrote about it. It’s exciting to see what I’ll be called to do next, now that I’m trusting the process — and my instincts — a bit. Today I’m starting by waking up before six, grabbing my laptop, and writing to you from bed. Over the weekend I took a nap then successfully hand-sewed a deeper back pocket in my new pants so my phone will fit in it (really, Gap? A 1.5″ deep pocket? Seriously?) It feels really good to ask myself what I feel like doing in the spaces that are opening up because I’m not so tightly and rigidly scheduling my time. I can have magic any time of the day or night, it seems!

One more insight: I find that when I allow the desire to arise in me naturally (instead of just checking off a to-do), I bring more of my full self to the thing, more intention. I feel more of the sacred energy of ritual when the action comes from desire instead of obligation. 

Insights — giving my daughter part of her legacy while I'm aliveGiving my daughter part of her legacy while I’m alive to see her get it

One more story to be told about the packing, downsizing, and releasing journey that unfolded in this last move:

I had so many pre-digital photographs. A few moves ago I had gone through the tons of boxes of snapshots. I culled and sorted. Kept the good ones (no negatives, just prints). Bought beautiful archival boxes and had them displayed that way for years. When I decided my archive was too big to take with me, I knew what to do.

Take every opportunity you can to pass on legacy while you’re here to enjoy the experience — there’s nothing like it. Nice way to open into Mother’s Day week.

Rose (my daughter) came to help me pack, and I told her the photos had to go. I asked her to go through the boxes and take the pix that were meaningful to her. I watched her spend a couple of hours going through each box. She took pictures of herself as an infant and little kid, and she also took many pictures of me and my family — a few generations worth. She filled a big bin with images and also took a bunch of the beautiful boxes as well. Poignant, significant, (tearfully) joyful.

Insights — retraining my brain so I can sleep on a noisy streetRetraining my brain

Sleeping on a noisy street with the window open

I climbed into bed the first night here in Petaluma with the windows cracked for fresh air (that’s how I like to sleep, yo). I was awakened over and over and over all night long by the sound of cars accelerating right outside my window. (Turns out there’s a stop sign a few houses up, and a small rise — acceleration happens.)

I tried sleeping with the windows shut; not a sustainable choice for me. I like fresh air!

Natural resilience may have been at work here too: I started thinking about white noise, and did a little research. After a bit of trial and error — water sounds made me have to pee every time I was awakened — I found an app that had a bunch of level sliders; I was able to come up with a noise that was similar in timbre and intensity to the sounds of the cars going by.

It only took a week to retrain my brain: After a week of sleeping with that recorded sound going all night, I now need nothing. My brain is soothed. I can sleep with the windows wide open all night long and am no longer being rudely awakened by cars going by. A happy surprise.

What insights are arising for you? Where can you loosen and lighten up? What might come up for you when you do?

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I’m a barely tamed hippie, sage, seasoned, sarcastic (not all the time any more, but still). I’m a mom, a daughter, sister, a neighbor, and a friend. I’ve been on this meandering journey — like you, probably — seeking a better connection to and experience of peace, harmony, and fun in every bit of life. I’m single, quite good at it, and mostly love it. I’m here for the conversations I get to have with you, which these days center on exploring the mystery and beauty of life, work, health, aging, and creative expression. Want to know a little more about me and my journey? Explore the site. Read the blog. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Join the conversation!

  1. Sue, love reading this! When I first retired from teaching, I made lists for everything and would be upset with myself if all were not checked properly! LOL! After 43 years of lesson plans and tight schedules, it took awhile! I love the ideas you wrote about with the ” desires rising”! My days now flow! Yet I get things done! Huge hugs!

    • Elsie, thank you. I’m not retired, not sure if I ever will be, and yet! I am finding new freedoms and concomitant new happinesses!

  2. love hearing about your loosening up, lightening your load, and getting into the flow of your new home. Wishing you continued joy and discovery there!

  3. This really hit me between the eyes, Sue. I started doing this months ago, and wow, was it a powerful way to live! And then I had this litter of puppies, and went straight back to a pretty rigid schedule.
    I’d forgotten about living in the moment, and doing what felt natural the next instant, and the next. And yep, when I lived that way, life was not only so much more sacred, but I also got so much more done!
    I love this: “when I allow the desire to arise in me naturally (instead of just checking off a to-do), I bring more of my full self to the thing, more intention. I feel more of the sacred energy of ritual when the action comes from desire instead of obligation.”
    That’s it, isn’t it.
    Time for me to go back to living that way! Thank you.

    • Susan Mary, thanks for sharing your heart. I love being on this journey with badass beautiful wisewomen like you.

  4. To do lists have their place in the scheme of things, Sue – to act as an aide-memoir for tasks that need to be done within a time frame. But the Soul needs more and going with the flow is the best gift we can give ourselves.

    There are days when I skip meditation because I know I won’t settle into it and need more physical activity. The best one I know of is nature walking with Miss Coco and spending time in the garden appreciating the trees, grass, wind and the little squirrels running around. 🙂

    My Mom started giving parts of the family legacy away to my sister and me a few years ago and it ‘s good to learn the stories behind the gifts she”s giving us. Precious!

    • Vatsala, I love the ease with which you roll with what is present in each of your days and how you can best be in each one of those days.

  5. LIke others here, I’m so glad you’ve chosen to share this new leg of your journey with us, Sue! I can surely relate to the downsizing since I went through a similar process when I moved from the Islands. I could spend a small fortune shipping stuff, much of which was from my old married life, or start fresh … and I chose to leave it all behind. And, you are so right about what a freeing feeling that is! I think what may be especially helpful to many of your readers is how you emphasize that what you’re going through is a process and that with the right attitude you can learn and grow along the way. Beautiful. 🙂

    • Marquita, yes. Exactly. Because it’s all a process. Illness. Good health. Moving. Staying still. Financial ease. Financial lack of ease.

      All of it.

      So, with the right attitude we get to roll with it!

  6. Sue, I love your stories about lightening up. I’m going through a transition, opening up more space & slowing down after an intense period of busy-ness. You’ve named the missing ingredient: lightening up. Thanks so much, I’ll see what magic arises as I take things more easily.

    • P.S. I love your story about getting your daughter to select the photos she wants. I can see that I have a similar project to do on that theme.

    • Just the saying of it, just pointing the lens of your heart and mind in that direction of easiness, gets you well on the way there.

  7. Ahh, Sue, those powerful words, “Lighten UP!” can be a life changer and you just discovered their power. My hat off to you. You’ve come a long way. Don’t stop! Love this blog because it displays such growth from which we can all learn.

  8. I enjoyed reading your entire post and resonated with the three sections. I am a list person, and have to be, or I may forget important tasks and appointments. However, I allow myself a certain amount of flexibility so that I’m not married to the list with little time for spontaneity. Thanks for sharing how freeing that has been for you. On the matter of “things” When we moved back to Jamaica over two years ago, we shipped our entire house of furniture etc. but made sure to give my daughters pieces they liked. Also gave friends some of my coveted collectibles (was an antique store shopper for years and collected all kinds of stuff – many quite valuable). The thing that got to me recently when I was in Jamaica, was that I discovered two boxes of clothing I’d not touched in two years! Made the decision to give them all away because obviously I did not need them. Isn’t it funny sometimes the things we think are so important turn out to be non-essential after all? Wish I’d thought of something like the app because I spent many sleepless nights due to the noise from passing vehicles when I first moved back until my brain got accustomed to it. Enjoying the quiet of the nights back in Florida.

    Thanks for sharing your stories.

  9. Good for you Sue. There’s a point in time in our lives when we need to stop being slaves to a schedule and a to-do list. I like having the freedom to decide what kind of day I would like to have. Some days I’m in the mood and very productive and other days I need to rest and gather my strength. Handling off your legacy to your daughter now is wonderful. You get to answer all her questions and share with her what you’ve learned. So many times, we wished we had asked family members before they passed on. How fortunate for you to be there for her.

    • Joyce, I love that! Deciding the kind of day you’d like to have in advance.

      I’m not particularly enjoying the kind of day I’m having this week (stupid cold/flu), and I choose to feel great! Now if only my body can catch up with my wish!

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