Why I Wake Up Early

Several years ago, a dear friend gave me this Mary Oliver poem.


Why I Wake Early

~ Mary Oliver ~

Hello, sun in my face.

Hello, you who made the morning

and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of the tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the

miserable and the crotchety –

best preacher that ever was,

dear star, that just happens

to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever-darkness,

to ease us with warm touching,

to hold us in the great hands of light –

good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness.

The poem lives on the bookshelf next to my bed.

I read it often, and when I do, I breathe in deep gratitude for my friend who gave me the poem.

I feel grateful for my wonderful husband whose head still imprints the pillow he leaves at 5:30 most mornings.

I feel gratitude for the health of my beautiful children and the gift of my eyes to see them.

I know I’m blessed to have these fingers to touch the tips of their noses and hold the pencil that scrawls these words across the page.

I’m grateful for the tall trees swaying outside my window and the sun streaming through to warm my pillow.

And this morning, like so many others I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my greatest reasons to wake early… and then stay right in bed!


Do you wake early? What fills you with gratitude?


booksAndie stood at the library counter checking out a huge pile of books.

“You sure read a lot,” said Miss M, the children’s librarian. Her delicate, spotted hands waved each book under the computer scanner recording their withdrawal. “And you’re growing so tall.”

Andie smiled. I couldn’t resist.

“You should have seen how she started out.”

Miss M looked up, but said nothing.

“When this girl was born,” I put my arm around Andie’s shoulder. “She weighed just over a pound and a half.”

Miss M looked down at the pile of books. She said something I didn’t hear.

“Pardon me?” I asked.

“Me, too,” she said, then looked at me through her wire-rimmed glasses.

“You, too?” I asked, thinking she must have misunderstood.

“Yes, me too.”

“No, I said she was born at a pound and a half.”

“Yes,” she said quietly. “So was I.”

She went back to scanning the books, and I tried to think of a polite way to ask how the hell was she alive if she’d been born that little so long ago.

“To what, um, do you attribute your survival?” My cheeks burned.

“Well, my mother always said it was because they put the two of us in together,” she slid the pile of books across the counter and got a faraway look in her eyes. “Yes, there just happened to be another baby born, just my size, at the same time.”

I placed my hands on top of the pile of books.

“Did the other baby survive?” I asked.

“I believe so,” she said.

Questions swirled in my head, but another patron had stepped to the desk and a nod from Miss M told me our conversation was over.

Driving home I imagined the rest of the story. A phone call from across the country – Were you born prematurely in such and such hospital on such and such date? Arrangements would be made…

But it seems that story will have to live in my imagination, for on every visit back to the library since, Miss M never made mention of it again.

This photo, taken in 1995, hangs on the bulletin board in my office. It’s titled The Rescuing Hug, but I’ve come to call it, Miss M and Her Long Lost Companion.


What would you call this photo?

Clean Focus

Clean-FocusI’m at the Laundromat.  Our dryer broke.  I’m happy.  Not that our dryer broke, but being here at the Laundromat.

(Yup, even though my book is getting published – there’s still laundry to do!)

I like the order and purpose of this place.  I like the focus.  Laundry.  That’s it.  Well laundry and writing.

I like how I put in a load, add detergent, choose a temperature setting (which I’m never sure about – Hot for darks?  Cold for whites?) press start and then sit.

And wait.

If I were at home, I would have put in the load of laundry, added detergent, pressed start, answered the phone, let the dog out, let the dog in, checked email, hung up the phone, let the dog out, picked up clothes from the bathroom floor, taken ground turkey meat out of the freezer, turned on the tv, turned off the tv, let the dog in, remembered the phone call I had to make, crossed the kitchen to pick up the phone, picked up the phone and forgot who I was going to call, checked email, made a to-do and… I think you get the picture.

Not here.  Not here at the Laundromat.  Here I sit.  And wait.  And write.  I may come here everyday.  With or without laundry.  Like my secret-to-happiness morning walks I think I’ve discovered the secret to focused writing.

For me at least.  Imagine, some people just sit at a desk.

Maybe I’ll set a chair next to my washer and dryer (once it’s fixed) and after every load goes in, I’ll sit.

Just sit and write.

Yeah right.

Folding my first load of whites, I came across my daughter’s well-loved Taylor Swift t-shirt.  It reminded me of the laundry blog I posted last year.  I did a little digging and discovered it was exactly a year + one day ago!

So just for fun, a trip down Memory Lane!  It appears everyday mindfulness remains an enduring goal!

Clean-Focus2Clean Laundry, Clear Mind 

Today I folded laundry… with mindfulness.

I didn’t rush.  I didn’t complain.  I didn’t have a phone balanced between my ear and my shoulder.  I just folded laundry.

And I noticed.  I became aware.  As I folded my husband’s white work t-shirts, I pictured his broad chest beneath the smooth, cotton fabric.  I could smell his morning shampoo. As I folded my daughter’s prized Taylor Swift t-shirt, I smiled at her pre-adolescent innocence and joy. Folding her clean, white winter tank tops, I remembered her little toddler body scampering away from me as I tried to get her dressed.

Tucker’s gray t-shirts with the Burton logo’s and skateboard company names and scary looking men dressed in shapeless baggy clothes, reminded me of the day when he was three years old and stood high on the back of our living room couch, a homemade cardboard snowboard beneath his feet and screamed, “Watch this, Mom!”

As I folded my new white bras, I thought Oprah would be so proud that I went to a “bra-fitting specialist,” to have them sized correctly, but that the sales clerk would be disappointed they’d gone in the dryer after she’d specifically told me they shouldn’t.

As I gathered up all the lone socks, I thought of Meg, our loyal English Mastiff, always greeting us at the door, with a single sock hanging from her mouth.

And then, just like that, all the laundry was folded.

And I was so glad that I’d gone to that mindful place, so that when I put my daughter’s pajamas in her bottom drawer and saw that the cat had pooped underneath, I could just breathe (not too deeply), get a plastic bag, cleaning spray and remind myself to remind her to clean the litter box.

And I was so glad to be in that mindful state so that when I put my husband’s t-shirts on top of his dresser and found his mountain bike clothes in a sweaty heap on the floor, I could just breathe (again, not too deeply) and move them to the hamper.

And when I went to put my son’s clothes in his closet and saw… that he had made his bed (!!!!), I could truly take a deep breath and choose to overlook the dried up, black banana peel stuck to his writing desk.