The Marvelous Crumb

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How do you slay your morning dragons?

Morning Dragon

Hello day
Please be slow and gentle
Inspired and efficient
Curious and kind
I’m already scared of the doing

I’m thinking about morning routines.

Specifically, how might I create an environment that would help me start the day feeling prepared, confident and motivated rather than drowning in the overwhelm and anxiousness I experience now. Many days after waking, I wish nothing more than to go back to sleep. I lie in bed petrified of the day ahead,  willing myself into a thin dreamy fantasy that takes me away from the world and all its troubles, the mounting projects,  competing engagements, and people who need my time. Sometimes I’m in this limbo for 10 minutes. When there’s a particularly challenging something,  it’s more like an hour.


The covers are flipped only when the reality of my procrastination (and the anxiety it produces) overcomes my desire to escape. Interestingly, once I’m actually out of bed, all those dragons that held me hostage under my duvet, aren’t so fierce anymore. I see how I can simply put one foot in front of the other. This is usually the time that I say to myself, “Kelsey, you just need to get out of bed as soon as you wake up, then those scary thoughts wouldn’t materialize.”

But it’s so hard to see things clearly when you’re not fully conscious.

I’ve been doing this dance my entire life, and I’ve tried so many things to turn it around. I’ve placed my alarm clock on my dresser so I’m required to get out of bed to turn it off. I’ve used the Sleep Cycle app to track my REM cycles and determine the best time to go to bed so I can wake feeling energized. I’ve established a set of nurturing morning routines so I might actually look forward to getting out of bed.

These things have helped. I’m not sleeping in as late as I used to. But I’m still not where I want to be.

My fantasy morning looks like this:
6:30: Wake naturally, journal
7:00: Meditation
7:30: Movement Meditation
7:45: Yoga
8:30: Reading
9:00: Writing
10-12: Work

My reality is this:
7:00: Wake naturally, lie in bed drifting in and out of sleep
8:10-8:15: Meditate adjusting duration to account for sleeping in
8:30: Movement meditation
8:40: Get ready for the day, drink matcha tea, check email
9:00: Write distracted by email, texts and Snap Chat

It’s not a terrible, but this schedule leaves me feeling rushed and behind when I sit down for my workday. Even when I do engage in practices that preserve sanity, I’m distracted by wondering if I’ve missed something, wanting to connect with friends and trying to banish feelings of loneliness.  Because I do not wake earlier, feelings of guilt pervade my morning.

I long to start the day feeling powerful, inspired, creative and imbued with exciting ‘what ifs?’ I long to peacefully come to my body and writing practices. I live for these things. I thrive with this these. Starting my day in this way helps me begin on solid ground. I’m more prepared to face the challenges of my world and the bad news that keeps rolling like ticker tape coloring everything with fear and anxiety.

Mornings are a sacred, special time. The brain is fresh. We’re the most open to creative possibilities. In this quiet time, we can sense our inner world and discover our deepest questions and life’s possibilities.

How can I realize this when the clock strikes 7 a.m., I’m adrift in a sea of blankets and the idea of removing myself seems laughable?

I don’t have the answers, so I’m asking you.

What is your morning routine? Do you face morning dragons? How do you slay them? How do you connect to inspiration?


  1. I envy your ‘reality’! I struggle with this constantly. For a month or so at a time I can sometime wake up early and write before work, if I plug in my phone across the room and don’t go on Facebook till I’m upright at a desk 🙂

  2. Haha! Thanks for the reminder to appreciate what I AM doing. I can so relate to being on the ball for a month, feeling confident and then slipping back into old habits — usually instigated by some disruption like an out-of-town guest or vacation. Gentleness and appreciation could def. help on this front. Thank you for your wisdom.

  3. Really really appreciate this. I also so hear you.

    What has helped me a lot is two things: 1. An app alarm called Kiwake that makes me DO tasks after waking, making me not only get out of bed, but stay out of bed long enough to break into consciousness. Also 2. Putting explicit clear messages – cheering me on – near my bed: “wake up love” “you’ve got this” etc.

    I still struggle. You’ve got a lot of love in you – and that’s huge. I hope th s tools can help supplement your basic goodness.

    • Really, really appreciating your comment! Thank you for these tips and for specifically addressing the “unconscious” challenge. I like the idea of cheerful messages to help snap out of the grump and tasks to engage in as soon as I hit the ground. The trick seems to be in tricking myself. Thanks Miriam!

  4. Hi Kelsey,
    I can relate to this post as well. Having recently emerged from a year and a half of severe pain when the only important thing in my world was to try and get enough sleep so I didn’t hurt as much, regardless of how late I had to sleep in the morning, I am now trying to get back into more of a routine. (I had a total hip replacement and the pain is gone now!) However, at age 63, I no longer drive myself and feel guilty about when I get up and how long it takes me to get started, because I treasure my 2 hours or so of easing into the day (and I had many years of getting up at 6:30 with my sons!) The first thing I do (after visiting the bathroom–sometimes in a hurry!) is make my cup of pu-ehr tea and sit in my rocker and watch the birds at the feeders outside my window (if it is winter) and in the back yard (if it is spring, summer or fall). Sometimes I read, sometimes I daydream, sometimes I write morning pages if I am feeling anxious or angry or worried, sometimes I quickly look at email on my iPhone (I don’t like to read and respond on my phone as much as I do on my computer so I tend to spend less time this way). Having ADHD and being a very creative, holistic thinker, I have great difficulty with schedules and resist them with all my soul. I tend to get lots of work done when I am in the mood (and hyperfocus to the extent that it is difficult for me to stop) and so far this has worked for me, though I often chastise myself for not being more “disciplined” or “orderly.” It’s just not me. I don’t even like it when I have an exercise class or doctor’s appointment scheduled–I just want to do exactly what I want to when I want to. I guess that is a privilege of being my age and in my particular circumstances. I guess my two ideas for you are to not be so hard on yourself and embrace what you consider to be your imperfections. Why don’t you allow yourself a set amount of time after you wake up, say 10-15 minutes to lie there, but instead of focusing on resisting getting up and worrying, try to think about really pleasant things–for me that would be the ocean and dolphins! Then when you do get up if your mood is still anxious try writing morning pages. If you are not familiar with that it is a technique suggested by Julia Cameron in her books where you just write longhand without stopping for 3 pages–whatever comes to your mind. It really clears all the crap and anxiety away so you are free to face the day from a more relaxed place. I did this religiously for months and months all through my divorce, my son’s mental illness and addiction, and have started again as I am trying to process my mom’s death in November and many related existential questions that have arisen again for me. I am so glad we are in ArtMark together. Hawaii is my paradise and I hope you have a lovely time! I will set up a zoom call time for our pod very soon! With love, Jenni

    • Kelsey

      February 11, 2017 at 2:37 pm

      Jenni, I’m so inspired by how you start your day. A glass of tea and watching the morning birds while connecting to the current season is just so beautiful and poetic. Thank you for sharing this with me. I have done morning pages and found them most helpful but time consuming. I try for a page in my journal when I’m particularly struck with emotion. Thank for this reminder. Sending love from the Big Island.

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