Ask my mom- she won’t lie. Ask her how her daughter feels about the morning, waking up, being up early, functioning at any am-hour. From what she can remember (not having lived at home for quite some time now), mornings and Megan do not mix. We are water and oil; sardines and strawberries; iPhones in pockets and diving into the ocean. Tell me a time before 7am and I will scoff. Well, I would have.
As she has so many times, Mother Ocean changed my mind.
When Ernie asked me to marry him, I said (enthusiastically!) “YES!” But my one condition was that I would never be the wife who stayed on land while my Captainly husband went out to sea (and, of course, have tons of fun and rum in the sun!). No, I knew I wanted to shed my landlubberly life for the ocean. That meant I had to figure out something to do while I was out at sea with Ernie. Never having faced something I couldn’t accomplish (in my mind, you understand), I set out to learn to cook. And cook I did! Quiet well! What an instantly gratifying career, chefing: everyone eats, and most everyone likes good food (we call those folk, “foodies”). Everyday, at least three times a day, I am rewarded with “ooohs” and “ahhhhs” and “THANK YOU!” Who wouldn’t love that?
But no one explained to me (until I had already signed up for the job, sold all my belongings, stocked up on bathing suits and flip flops) that the chef gets up first. And early.
No matter! I already said I could do (just about? almost?) anything! I put on my big girl apron and set out to blow peoples’ minds with my amazing culinary creations- she’s self taught? oh my goodness! how amazing! and in such a tiny galley space! yes, please, I’ll have another pastry! and the recipe!
This overly-zealous confidence in my morning persona seems to be thematic throughout my life. I was the one who signed up for the 6am classes in college (I can start early, and finish early, and then there’s more study time! yeah. right.). I was the eager beaver who requested the 4am opening shift at the pool to assist the old bitties in their water aerobics (lifeguarding with your eyes closed is literally impossible).
And so it went my first job working on a boat, cooking for 24 passengers and 6 crew (I learned to put out LOTS of food FAST), doing 5 dives a day: week after week, day after day, I saw 5am. First few days I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, READY TO CONQUER THE DAY! And then my natural instincts kicked in; I groggily rolled out of bed (after smacking the snooze as many times I could get away with before Ernie murdered me), put in contacts (screw it, glasses will suffice today), threw on a sweatshirt (did someone set the A/C on MEATLOCKER overnight??), and started attempting to make something that looked like breakfast. First big speedbump: Forgot to defrost (insert breakfast meat). Fine. Waffles this morning. Crap. I forgot the waffle iron. Fine. French toast. Ok. I can do that.
7am: I have thrown off the sweatshirt; flipping French Toast with two spatulas, really wished I would have put in contacts (and/or not had that last Pum Runch last night); and breakfast is out. Phew! Time for a coffee and a swim. But, really, that meant longing dearly for my pillow while now prepping lunch. *le sigh*
What was wrong with me?? Why was I so tired? Where did Ernie get his energy (he is the Energizer Bunny, I swear)? What magical powers did I need to conjure to get through my day?
And then, one day, as I have often done before in my life, I decided. I said, “NO MORE.” From that day onward, I would no longer greet the morning with disdain! I would start everyday with intention.
It took some settling in, but today my day starts in a way that would cause myself 5-years ago to do a double-take and a “heh?” But it’s all about intention: planning, consistency, giving yourself something to look forward to, taking in the moments we are given.
We have a saying on Lolalita: Friday starts on Tuesday. That means whatever you wanted done on Friday, you’d better start on Tuesday. I start my morning the night before. A lot of it is diet (which I will happily write about later)- no more food or alcohol after a certain hour. Make it a point to get 8 hours of sleep. Set out your morning items (Mmmmmm…. Baconnnnnnn…)(but, really, not only breakfast items for guests- I also get out a bathing suit, rashguard, towel, tea mug, and yoga mat for me). Leave the shades open so the sunshine can help you wake up. Decide what you’ll have for breakfast- make it something goooood. Set your alarm, pick a happy tone, none of that nerve-wrecking “EHH EHH EHH EHH MORNING SUCKS EHH EHH.”
When my super-cute alarm tone (birds chirping and a silly little song- Ernie loves it) sounds at 5am (if I didn’t naturally wake up before it went off), I put my feet on the floor. I open my eyes. Stretch. Stand up and start moving. I put out the guests’ coffee and Continental-style breakfast items first. I drink two tall glasses of water (again with the diet stuff, I’ll write about it later!). Ernie is now up. We both put on snorkel gear and jump in the water, accomplishing two things: the water is awesomely shocking, getting rid of the excess sleep chemicals; and it also gets my body moving. The sun is rising and Ernie and I are swimming with our familiar friends, watching them zoom over the coralheads and move in social packs. This is what I’ve been looking forward to. Just this morning Ernie and I saw a field of 50+ Sailfin Blennies, dancing and flitting about for one another; a turtle with a remora hitchin’ a ride; a Spotted Eagle Ray with an 8-ft wingspan, lazily hovering over the sand; and a giant hermit crab, filtering his way through the turtle grass, one tasty morsel at a time. It is never dull, always new and exciting. We swim for a half-hour, alternating between a fast and slow pace to get our heart rates going while also taking in the sights. Back to the boat, a quick rinse, and a hot water with lemon while I do yoga on the bow. The sun is just over the horizon and it warms my face with what I can only describe as the incarnate feeling of pure joy. After stretching, I sit to meditate, thinking intentional, positive thoughts for my day.
I roll up my yoga mat, grab my mug, and head to my oh-so-familiar galley. Guests may or may not be up- no worry. I get the plated breakfast ready and also start prepping for the rest of the day. Dinner starts at breakfast, remember?
Yeah, this might sound lofty or impossible to you. I know my 5-years-ago self would have called my today-self a lunatic, but I know what it’s like to see a sunrise and feel refreshed when I put my feet on the floor. It’s not fool proof- I’m sure it won’t work *exactly* the same for everyone. Sometimes I mentally beg myself for justfivemoreminutes, or count the hours until I can take a nap. But most mornings, I can’t wait to start the day. Most days, I feel accomplished. Most days, I feel like I’m actually seeing the minutes of my day instead of wishing them away for the sake of sleep.
It will change your life. You won’t regret it. I know I don’t. How can you regret making the most of every minute?
See you when the sun rises!
Megan (and Ernie) Schlobohm