Morning ritual at o’ dark hundred

April 25, 2016

It’s o’dark hundred at my house, maybe 4:30 in the morning, or 5:30, depending on when I wake up. I wish I could sleep in, but no. Maybe it’s because the solitary pre-dawn hours are my favorite. The house is still and dark: I am by myself before the sun rises and I like it.

The night before Michael always sets up the coffeemaker with my favorite dark, rich roast, and there’s always a book with which to start my day.  My coffee takes its slug of cream and I sit in front of the fire in the family room. During the day this room belongs to Michael and Riley but before dawn it’s just mine. The last chapter of Oliver Sacks’ excellent memoir On the Move awaits me today. The book has been a surprise–he was nothing like his public image. I marvel at his openness and how the most brilliant among us are the most, well, eccentric. His death last year was a huge loss.

As long as I’m up, some mornings I’ll put a pot of vegetables on the stove, the kind that take a long time to cook and then cool. This morning it’s the fresh beets we got in our organic box. It takes a while for them to get tender and so I fill a big pot with water and beets and let them cook while I go about my morning habits.

morning-ritualTwo big cups of coffee and pages of reading later, I’m ready for my new morning ritual. Lighting a few candles, I sit on the sofa in the fireplace-warmed room and close my eyes. I bring to mind all those who are sick, in pain or need prayer, especially those undergoing treatments of any kind and those suffering debilitating chronic pain. Holding them in my heart and in the light, I ask that blessings be bestowed upon them and pray for their highest and best good.  It’s a beautiful way to begin a new day.

Alone-time has been important to me for a very long time. Maybe it’s because I live so much in my head, but I need quiet time, crave it, even. Depending on what time I get out of bed, I could have three hours of morning solitude, because Riley and Michael aren’t early risers.  Even without a job to go to, days can get busy, crazy and even stressful. My morning ritual keeps me sane.

Standing at the kitchen window after checking my pot of beets I see light seeping across the horizon. Morning has broken and so has the spell cast by my morning candlelit prayers. Soon, I’ll go back into the bedroom where Riley has taken my place beside Michael. He’ll look up at me to suss out what I might be doing (could it be food?) but Michael is motionless under the covers.  I wish I could prolong those pre-dawn hours. The day is about to start, though, and my  mind turns to the business of life: the gym, grocery store, Riley’s groomer and a final session with his trainer, followed by dinner with neighbors.

Day has begun.

If you’ve got a morning ritual or something to say about solitude, let us know in the Comments.


49 comments on “Morning ritual at o’ dark hundred
  1. Pat says:

    What a lovely idea to have a morning ritual. I especially like the part where you light a candle and bring to mind those people who are in chronic pain. Like you, I savor those solitary moments. Next time I wake up at 4:30 instead of tossing and turning about not being able to sleep, I will try your routine.

    • Let me know how it goes.

      • barbara says:

        I love my solitude too. I think that is why I very rarely get bored with my simple retirement. I wish I was a morning person. In my mind, when given a choice, I would choose to be a morning person but my body or sleep clock has different ideas. When I do wake, late and leisurely, I have those few moments of how relaxed my body is. All the aches and pains of getting older are not felt. Nothing I can think of is too great a challenge. Then I have my coffee and my mind wakes up and tells me to get a grip. I’m not climbing any mountains today and if I’m lucky, I’ll get all my chores done and have enough energy for a nice little walk with Buddy the dog.

  2. I am an early riser & love the quiet & solitude too.

  3. Since I live alone solitude is a constant. I get up early, before dawn, and have coffee while I write in my journal. Same chair, same red pen. There’s something nice about writing down whatever jumble of thoughts are in my brain. It’s relaxing and sometimes enlightening. The stillness, watching light as it creeps in, are part of that ritual as well.

  4. Abbie says:

    Your morning ritual sounds lovely. I, too, crave the silence and stillness of the early morning. I never used to be an early riser but a recent medication change has turned my sleep schedule upside down. There is something about my mind still being a little sleepy, maybe part of me is still in dreamland? I’m not sure, but I do enjoy it!

  5. I live alone also, except for my furry family members. My new puppy, Scarlett, has really changed the routine. I hope to get back to the simplicity of coffee and writing, but in the meantime, an early morning walk when the streets are empty has been wonderful. I may just make it part of the routine permanently.

  6. I have fallen out of the habit of getting up pre-dawn to write, I used to love it. Now that I am working from home I try to write during business hours.
    Upon waking I always take 15 minutes to meditate, pray and just be by myself. If that doesn’t happen I feel out of sorts all day.

  7. Haralee says:

    Your warmth and sincerity seeped out of this lovely post! Love my sleep but I do like it when I get up occasionally and it is just dawn and quiet and the day is new.

  8. I also wake up early (not quite as early as you) because it’s the only time I can get things done or even think without being interrupted. I live with a retired guy and he always likes to start chatting when I’m right in the middle of something. My ritual is to take the dogs out for a walk, then bring them back and go for my own walk. I do a walking meditation and that’s when I get my best ideas.

  9. Wow. It really sounds as though you have a lovely ritual. My morning ritual is: it is soooo hard to get out of bed (unless I’m scheduled to dive).I hit snooze at least twice. I get up, let the dogs out and feed them, get my coffee. I’ve never been a morning person.

  10. Diane says:

    What a beautiful way to start the day. Reading, prayer and meditation. Centre yourself to prepare for the business ahead. Perfect! I’ve always been an early-morning writer. Not nearly as calming. But fun!

  11. Anna Palmer says:

    I too love Oliver Sacks. Between he, Prince, and David Bowie we have a lot to mourn…and be grateful for. As for morning ritual I spend 10 minutes meditating in bed and then head downstairs for tea. My husband makes breakfast and I sit and sip and eat. If I got up earlier then I would love to integrate alone time the way you have. As it is I am usually the last to rise.

  12. Mary says:

    What a wonderful morning ritual. I always say I’m going to start a daily “me” time, but have yet to follow through. You have inspired me, Carol!

  13. I do love the morning; the quiet, the solitude, however I’m a night owl and enjoy listening to the world wind down. It’s at this time that I also ask for blessings for the new dawn. Lovely post Carol. Just lovely.

  14. KatR says:

    I don’t really have a morning ritual, more of a routine. My husband recently received a promotion at work which involved a major change in his work hours. He used to go to work in the afternoon and get home around midnight. Now, he goes in at 6:30 am, so we are up before daylight. We have only been on this new schedule a couple of weeks, so we are still getting used to it.

  15. What a lovely way to start the day, Carol, thinking about others and holding them in your heart. I do this sort of routine at night when I’m falling asleep, giving thanks for the blessings in my life and saying a prayer for those who need grace and healing. My early-morning time is for setting my intentions for the day before Hubs wakes up and the work day begins. I just love the quiet and solitude of that time of day. Thanks for sharing your routine.

  16. I usually get my “me” time at night after everyone has fallen asleep, waking up before mom is nearly impossible. I don’t know what I would do without this time for myself, I’ve come to really cherish it.

  17. christina aliperti says:

    This is a great way to start the day. I have been working on getting better at being consistent with my routine in the morning. I need to begin meditating.

  18. Nadya says:

    I love your description of your morning ritual, and what a powerful time to offer blessings! I an eclectic, often journal, several mornings a week do qigong for ~15 minutes. My five year old grands arrive about 7 AM, three mornings a week and their routines include a spoonful of creamed coconut, vitamins, and art or a puzzle before we walk 4 blocks to their Playschool!

  19. I don’t have such a ritual, but after reading this, I think I need one. Thank you for sharing.

  20. Mary Ann says:

    I wake up every morning at 4:45am to start the day. I have about 45 minutes to myself before it all gets going. I do agree with you that starting the day with some silence and meditative thoughts is very beneficial before the hustle and bustle starts. It’s a great way to kick start the day!

  21. Andrea says:

    I love being up very early in the morning – sometimes I even have the coffee pot warming up as early as 4:45 in the morning 🙂

  22. Donna says:

    This totally reminds me to be in the moment….I love that you created such a wonderful environment for yourself. I could see the whole picture…

  23. Michelle R says:

    For years, before kids, my early morning ritual involved the gym. I’d get there in the dark, and although there were people there, I was very much in my own head during my workouts. By the time the sun was up, I was awake and invigorated. Two kids later…I still get up early, but it’s to do the mom thing. I try to wake up ahead of everyone and enjoy my first cup of coffee in silence, maybe read the paper. Then…the best part of weekday mornings is to wake up my daughter with cuddles. It’s intoxicating. I know this won’t last much longer so I savor every morning that I get to do it. But your post inspired me…maybe on my early mornings, I should add candles and meditation. That seems like a thoughtful way to start the day.(And good on hubby for making the coffee!)

  24. Jennifer says:

    Morning time is the right time! I too love to get up early, before anyone else. There is a quiet at that time that cannot be replicated at any other time during the day. My ritual inoves reading or writing and also that first cup of coffee.

  25. Carolann says:

    I love the early hours too. I’m generally awake at 6:30 and love the quiet time so I totally get it. It is lovely having that alone time isn’t it? Ahhh and the coffee…that’s the best part!

  26. Rosemond says:

    Lovely idea to light candles and start your day this way. I wish I could drag my body out of bed but I have the hardest time waking up!

  27. “a slug of cream” – love that! Your post brought to mind last week’s Brain Pickings post on Van Gogh. I think you’d like it.

  28. Funny how I loathed mornings back in the day. My mornings start at 7am most days except my two teaching days ( 6am rush to get out the door by 8); coffee and quiet time…daughter still asleep and hubby gone at 5:30am. I need to pray and meditate more. Weekends at the delta listening to the breeze rustling the leaves is how I start my mornings there. Love your rituals!

  29. alison says:

    Your morning sounds peaceful and quiet. I crave the quiet in those moments. For me it is at night when the house is finally still with sleeping bodies and I can concentrate on all the things I didn’t get done during the day. But I wish I was a morning owl and could be up before the sun to have that moment to wake up and breathe before the morning rush.

  30. I have a practice I have been doing called Morning Pages. You read more about what it is if you google The artists way. It has been a great tool for me.

  31. Your morning ritual sounds lovely. For me, it is so hard to get out of bed in early morning!!

  32. Nicole Escat says:

    I’m an early person. That is really a nice and great way to start our beautiful day! Thanks for the information.

  33. I love my solitude, too. My morning ritual begins with Oolong tea, a gratitude session, then meditation.



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