“Pick up the weight and swing it between your legs in a squat, then up over your head and straight up, Arms straight! Lean Back!” Kathy exclaimed with the sound of a woman enjoying this (or a sound somewhat close to the familiar shrill of Aunt Lydia from The Handmaids Tale depending on your mood in the morning). Was anyone else in the class today finding her commands amusing?

I am almost fifty four years old standing in a class filled with women, some my age, some far younger and was struck by how fast time had flown. It was just yesterday it seemed that I was the twenty two year old head to toe in Jane Fonda aerobic tights, thongs and goodness knows what else was the eighties workout fashion of the moment watching a woman in her fifties teaching the class thinking , “Wow, she looks good for her age.” Hard to believe that this was almost thirty years ago and now I am that woman. I felt like we should all have pictures of ourselves on the wall with our age and life experience next to it to explain why I was finding it necessary to use some of the time to just hang out in child’s pose instead of one more over achieving push up.Why wasn’t anyone else resting, sweating, stretching in between change overs?

Yes I signed up for this, yes I paid for this, continue to pay for it, and actually as much fun as I make of it, love it. Can’t really live without the wackiness of the almost daily routine of the grind, pound, move, and an accelerated heart rate that astounds me all these years later. Who actually enjoys this? I do. I love the camaraderie of mostly women thinking that we are in some sort of control of our health, our lives and this in itself makes me smile. I smile a lot in these classes because I so often am in utter disbelief that I am one of the insiders, one of the regulars, not a stranger showing up quivering filled with potential embarrassment that I may have to give up. Nope. Not me. There is no giving up as I jump and twist and burpee and mountain climb my way through an hour of my life. “If your shoulders can’t take any more spider man twists, then there is no shame in lying on your back and doing bicycle crunches,” Kathy yells. I peek out the corners of my eyes to see if I am the only one too happy to take her suggestion, tired shoulders or not. Any excuse to be on my back for even a brief moment I relish in.

I will never be one of those workout chicks who have the discipline of an army general. When I am on, there is no stopping me. Deliberate, consistent, clear headed gym girl. Then I feel really good, really fast, like in a week, and then I start to go down the path of least resistance, but I have learned to semi enjoy this despite the fact that I know I will have what I refer to as spinney head. Or as I have heard in countless Alanon meetings, washing machine head. It is okay to take a break from myself and for myself, it is okay to rest once in awhile. I don’t know how often I try to convince myself of this. I know there is a distinct rhythm to habits. Wake up, check the clock, make sure it is at least 5 am, brush my teeth, wash my face, put moisturizer on, walk into the kitchen and make coffee. This is definitive every morning, never breaking from the routine. Once this all happens though, there are lots of am choices for me. Workout? Write? Type? Watch the news? Read the paper? Read a few pages of my latest book? They are all vying for a segment and this is all before the start of my day at around nine am. Waking up at five am gives me four full glorious hours, and each one of these choices feeds me and in a unique and stimulating way and this is where my discipline usually goes out the window. Lately I haven’t been writing as much because the morning gym takes so much time. I have to fit work in there too, paperwork takes a lot of time, and I forgot to mention that I have signed up and been taking three different writing classes each week. I love working out so this has been my morning priority lately. And as a result my morning writing has taken a hit.

Here’s what I know though. I am off kilter when I am not healthy. My mind starts to spin and takeover in a way that doesn’t serve. My partner has a sign hanging in the house that says, Don’t believe everything you think. When I am not writing or moving or eating healthy, my mind takes me hostage and I have been known to go into a tailspin. This may not be obvious to the people who are not in my inner circle, the ones who really know my insides, because there is the outside alayne and the inside one. As much as I try to speak the truth 24/7 sometimes I need a nap from the incessant mindspeak that is my brain (likely my closest friends do too). Health, meditation, creativity, movement, eating well are the cures for a calmer head. I know this is part of who I am.

The entrepreneurial spirit I have been blessed with is sometimes a hindrance, but most often it is a welcome creative force to be reckoned with. The question I often ask myself with the wisdom of hindsight is what is the spark that ignites the tailspin? When I take a deep diaphragmatic breath, you know that breath that cleanses you from top to bottom, that delicious calming and soothing free meditative sigh, I know. I know it has to do with the pain of loss, grief that still lies within like that little shard of glass you know you missed when the dish dropped on the floor and shattered. There is always one fragment left to be found by a bare foot some time in the future when you have forgotten all about the broken dish. Grief will never be something I can check off my to do list and it is an absurd notion to even consider this as a possibility. What I always know is that working out and writing and being in nature are the trifecta of calm and better energy for me. Though wine and sugar feel so fucking helpful at the time going down, they are smothering band aids staving off the air necessary for healing. But it is so much easier and fun to wake up, stay in my pjs, buy typewriters (or cars), make chocolate babka and drink wine in the afternoon. My perpetual cross to bear isn’t so bad when I say it like that.

a small rainbow that still takes my breath away. Nature is always a salvation.



I have always been an early riser. People in my “inner circle” know this about me. My team knows this too since I am known to send emails as early as 5:00am. I try to resist texting when ideas and notes pop like kernels in my fresh and open brain at the wee hours of the day since I am not sure most keep their phones off close to their heads and beds. There is an energy in the early part of the day that is unlike any other part of the day, at least for me and I cherish its intensity. The morning sets me up and sets me straight for the rest of the day.

Finally I have been sleeping thought the night so when I wake up early now I am alert and filled with a momentum that propels me. Lately I awake around 4:15am and try to hang out in bed until at least 4:30 or 4:45 and then get up and do my am ritual. Put my morning pjs back on, (hot flashes force zero clothing these days), brush my teeth, wash my face, apply my skin potions, crank the heat up to some crazy sauna like temperature, and then grind some fresh coffee beans. I make my way to the front porch to get my NYT which I usually don’t take a look at until much later because I like to get my writing in along with Morning Joe and Mika on the couch. Morning rituals are like a yoga class with my friend Tracy on a Sunday morning at Bristol Yoga. There is a meditative quality to it and I am amazed at what I can accomplish before the sun comes up. Ben Franklin would be proud as I seem to remember reading something about his disdain when he realized how many people were still asleep at the early dawn ultimately becoming an advocate for daylight savings time to get people up and out. As I did a quick Google search to confirm this, (because everything on Google is true, right?) I discovered that the idea actually started with a London builder, William Willett (http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/c.html), as he realized that many people were sleeping in and wasting the day.

When I am up in the winter months especially in the early part of the year, I have continued my quest for order and organization in my closets, cabinets, files, basement. I have cooked delicious new recipes for my son, I have caught up on old fashioned correspondence, you know like an actual letter or thank you note hand written and sealed with an actual postage stamp, just like my Grandmothers taught me. I have cleaned my kitchen, emptied the dishwasher, put clothes away. “You have a lot of energy, “ is something I hear often from my partner and those who know me. Yes. Morning energy. After 3 forget it, but before noon, I am at peak performance. When I was in high school, I am sure this early morning energy was a power that confused me as I hadn’t learn how to rally it for a good cause (like studying). So instead, I did what many creative souls not understanding their power yet, not having parents to guide and coach it down the correct path, smoked a lot of pot. Clearly this wasn’t a prudent choice for increasing my productivity. I lost a lot of time trying to squelch the intensity of my creative spirit, all unbeknownst to a young teenage girl who otherwise would have gone on to bigger and more constructive things, like finishing college for one. I will someday for sure goodness knows I have the morning energy to do so.

I live next door to my friend Dottie who is from the same early rising school I am and if I wanted to have a full blown conversation at 5am on the front porch, I can be sure Dottie is ready and able to banter. I can count on her sweeping the sidewalk, sweeping the leaves from the front of my house, or on her way to get the newspaper at Pic and Pay. We talk about seeing cardinals in the neighborhood, the temperature, doctor’s visits and family visits like it is the middle of the day and everyone is (or should be) awake. I love that part of my morning too.

This morning I finished my filing for the 2017 year and cleaned out the remaining files that are no longer useful. I have one closet and my basement to clean and then I can say I am finished and ready for the opening of my store in the barn in the spring, this in itself gives me great excitement and as soon as the weather breaks I will not only have gardening to look forward to, but a barn to paint and prepare for my upcoming newest venture.

I often sit and read cookbooks, scanning for a recipe I may have missed or when my mood has changed and I see a recipe that I previously passed by. When my son is home, I love to try new morning recipes and have been challenging myself with yeast recipes lately with actual success! What I am amazed about is how much I accomplish in about two hours, 5:00am-7:00am, it is like the time slows down for me and allows me to complete tasks that would otherwise take much more time simply because of the distractions that naturally occur mid day. I don’t usually go to the gym until after my am routine, I like the morning sit and ordering of things before a workout; it is like mind and intellect fitness and just as important. I am usually shutting it down by about 3:30 though and I am happy to do so. The morning light that begins its slow entry into my view causes me to get up and open the flowered happy curtains adorning my windows to let the light in and reminding me that another morning has come and gone.

Rituals of any sort are a lovely part of life. They are the comfort to my day and a stabling force in my routine. Daily rituals keep me grounded and centered. We all have rituals of some sort, often we may not even realize that some of these routines are a sacred part of our days. When I used to make lunches and breakfasts for my son when he was in elementary school, I don’t think I had the same feeling about these morning tasks. I am sure I looked at them more like chores and less like rituals, but this is part of the growth that happens as a parent with the wisdom of retrospect. Part of the process and the joy of aging in my opinion. There is a much deeper sense of appreciation when those rites of passage become scarce because of a child grown into a man and off to college with less frequent opportunities. There is also a much deeper sense of gratitude in participating in rituals since my mother stopped speaking to me and it seems relatively hopeless that our relationship will ever be anything other than one of occasional emails. The rituals are also much more embraced and relished when there are health scares and deaths causing a deeper appreciation of the simplicity of them. My morning time has ended and it is only 7:15am. I have accomplished much this early day. I watch the snow fall in mid January knowing that tomorrow is hopefully another one I get to look forward to.