SOOOO not a morning person

So yesterday’s writing workshop was marvellous. I was relaxed about it. There was hardly anything to do, no room setup to speak of, except for rearranging the cushions, no bathrooms to clean, no vacuuming, no flower arranging, just the group, meeting together and having a wonderful experience.

It helped, I think, that it was in the afternoon. I think maybe that helps with how much it takes out of me. I can do a morning gig, but even for a 10:00 a.m. start, I need to be there by around 8:30, which means I need to leave by 7:45ish, and I have to be up about 6:30ish. That’s a strain because I’m SOOOO not a morning person.

I do *like* mornings, especially those times when I’m up really early, up first, and there’s a mist on the lake our whatever, you know, that sort of holy hush and magic that you get around dawn — I love that. But it’s not a “natural” time of day for me, it’s not what my body considers a decent hour to be up and about. It’s a decent hour to be curling up and burrowing deeper under the covers for another delicious 90-minute sleep cycle (or more), and slowly coming awake after that.

That’s why 9:00-5:00 jobs were always pure torture for me, let alone that time when I worked as a bookkeeper (I know, right, that alone is a hilarious thought) and had to be there and put together(ish) and at my desk by 8:30, “there” being a hour’s drive away. Or that crazy six weeks when I did a summer course (French) starting at 8:00 a.m. five days a week. There were days when I literally could not remember getting there (I drove), when I could easily have run all the red lights and stop signs, or run over a whole herd of goats in downtown Ottawa and not have had any recollection of it. Times when I’d be sitting in the classroom at 8:30 and realize I was still sleep-breathing.

So doing a morning workshop is a bit of a stretch for me even now — doable, but it does wear me out unreasonably. So fine, I plan for that — no plans for the next day!



I love my morning coffee, beyond reason. As far as I’m concerned, it is the elixir of life, nectar of the gods. I take the first sip of the smoky intensity of my first cup of Starbucks French roast and I am transported. Perfection. Sheer heaven. Nirvana.


It has to be exactly the right strength and temperature — strong enough to melt cast iron, hot enough to almost burn my tongue, but not quite. As soon as it cools off, it’s no good anymore. If it’s not strong enough, it’s no good at all.

And here’s the thing: that no-good-ness makes me want another cup, to recapture that fleeting moment of perfection, that all-satisfying first sip. Trouble is, that fleeting first sip of perfection is just that: fleeting. It is all-satisfying for only a moment. One moment a day. It doesn’t last, and it never happens again. It can only be the first moment once.

Yet I chase it.

And that, my friends, is at the heart of both the nature of addiction and the nature of human suffering: the hunt, the reaching, the longing, the craving, for that fleeting instant, be it that amazing cup of coffee, that scrumptious cupcake, or that perfect sip of wine that harmonizes so perfectly with your perfectly cooked wild salmon.

We know in our hearts that this fleeting instant is immediately gone forever, but we keep hoping it will come back. We know this is irrational, but still we keep trying, we keep searching — searching, searching, searching, never finding, because that orgasmic first sip is always followed by a second sip, and a third, and so on and on, none of which can possibly ever be as satisfying as the first.

So we end up having three cups of coffee when one is all we really want or need. We find ourselves scarfing down the entire bag of chips or box of butter tarts. Or we find ourselves peering up from the bottom of yet another bottle, not quite sure how we got there.

And so the cycle of suffering begins. The insatiable need for things to be something they’re not. For the 10th sip of cold coffee to be the same as that first, perfect sip. The longing for our life to be more satisfying, less struggle, more fun. For the anxiety about money or kids or our job or relationship to be somehow quieted. For that non-specific, free-floating anxiety that strikes around 4:00 p.m. to be gone.

So we feed it things that don’t really help, when the only thing that does help is to dive in. To lean in, as they say. To lean into the winds of our own desires and failures. To sit with who we really are without trying to escape.

So simple. But not easy.


Accountability. Community.

It’s 7:00am when my alarm goes off, after far too few hours, as usual — and it’s Sunday. I peel myself out of a vivid dream and then I’m out of bed, at an hour most people over the age of 19 would consider civilized, but I don’t. I’d much rather roll over and go back into the dream, thank you.

2016-08-10-11-35-43So why am I up, having a full breakfast half an hour later, and pulling on my exercise gear (including my Xena the Warrior Princess sports bra — truly a marvel of engineering genius that probably uses 100 calories just to put on) for an 8:30 killer barre class halfway across town?

Accountability. Community.

Accountability: The barre studio has a super-clever way of getting you to show up to what is essentially a drop-in class: pre-registration, and a penalty for last-minute cancellations. So all I have to do to trick myself into going is pre-register. Then I have to go or forfeit the class.

Community: I’m going with someone who matters to me, whose opinion counts, who has two little kids and doesn’t get enough time to herself. And I’m driving. And to top it off, the instructor also knows I’m coming. They’d both be okay with it, of course, if I didn’t show, but disappointed. And so would I.

Accountability. Community.