Monday, August 24, 2009

Morning People

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.”

E.B. White

I am SO a morning person. One day last week, while driving my children to an orthodontist appointment I had conveniently (for me anyway) scheduled at 7:45 a.m., my son commented out of the blue, half-dozing, half awake. “I just don’t know why you do that.”

Hank is a rising ninth grader. He starts high school on Tuesday. I hear this particular phrase from him a lot these days. He seems to have a need right now to NOT understand me…a kind of tribal rite of passage…a universal statement that allows him to safely move toward more autonomy and a healthy dose of self-sufficiency and curious questioning.

“I just don’t know why you get up so early. Why do you do that?”

I thought for a minute. By the time I responded, Hank had fallen back asleep, this time with his head against the passenger side window. I responded anyway. “Because, it’s the one time of the day I own.”

My Mom got sober in 1970. I was in fourth grade. Not shortly after, she started running. She would launch out of the house, the screen door slamming behind her, feet to follow on the gravel pathway just outside. One hour later she would come back, perspiring, red-faced and happy. She was literally transforming before my very eyes.

My mom was tall, svelte and quite elegant. She was captain of the basketball team and Homecoming Queen. She went to Smith College and shortly after, met my father. He drove onto campus, one fall day, in a baby blue convertible and the rest was history.

Mary still is the most authentic woman I’ve ever known. In March of 1970, she hit bottom. It took a couple of tries before sobriety “stuck” but once it did, she became a tremendous advocate for women struggling to get sober. She started working at a local Alcohol Treatment facility and sponsored dozens of women in a 12-step program. She wrote poetry, read poetry and even had a number of her poems published. She competed in many local 5k’s, winning her age group. She started running longer distances and competed in a number of 10k’s, 15k’s and even one half-marathon.

In 1974, I joined her on one of her early morning runs. I was 14. She was 52. The sun was not yet up. The screen door screeched “good morning”, our feet hit the gravel and we were soon journeying through our neighborhood. I ran one block with her--about a mile. We didn’t say a word. Our feet rhythmically hit the hard cement in unison, our breath in and out—mantra like--the crisp edge to approaching autumn filling our lungs. I had never experienced anything quite like it…the quiet, the fellowship, the power.

I started running regularly with my Mom. The one-mile block grew into two blocks and then three. Eventually we were running eight, nine and ten miles together, usually first thing in the morning. And no matter how crazy my “other life” got (high school, college, my 20’s) meeting my mom for that early morning run was a welcoming sanctuary, where mother-daughter became woman-woman…where I felt connected, loved and whole in spite of the low feelings of self-worth during the remainder of my day.

There is something quite magical about the early mornings. These days it is simple…a cup of coffee, a lit candle and time to just be with myself, by myself. The sound of night crickets crosses over to early birds, traffic, school buses and my children just waking. I have learned a lot about myself in the early morning hours…time to think, ponder, wonder and be. The weariness of the day hasn’t yet soaked in and my big ideas, hopes and dreams somehow seem to feel more honest, doable and realistic. There is a gleaming optimism that shines with each morning…not yet tarnished by carpools, homework and laundry.

I love the morning, whether I’m running, writing or just being. The solitude, quiet and expectation of the day feeds my idealism, hope and belief in my life's work, my children's futures and the future of all children. I am fueled by the certainty with which I write THIS morning that if I seek the good, then the good will come.

Do you set aside time to dream, think and hope for bigger things not yet obtained? If not, why not? If yes, when? Let me know here or at


  1. Love settng time aside to breathe and dream... albeit it later in the day. Thanks for sharing You, and reminding us to take this time for ourselves.

  2. I really wish I could love the morning.

    But I hate it.

    Maybe if I liked coffee I'd appreciate it more. But right now I hate it.