Last weekend, I experienced being a VERY early bird when I woke up around 4:30am and could not get back to sleep. While I consider myself a morning person far more than a night owl, I wouldn’t say I am truly an early bird. I usually wake up naturally between 7 and 8am, and dragging myself out of bed at 6am for November Project is a struggle more often than not. And yet, every time I get out the door and watch the sun rise on a morning run, I’m so grateful for the experience and glad that I didn’t give into the snooze button. Which makes me think I’m more of an early bird than I realize, and wonder about what makes people tilt one way or the other. This was definitely on my mind Sunday morning and the past couple of days.
Once I got up and out the door, I was awed by the summer dawn. The photos can’t do it justice. I always feel that way when I take pictures of nature, but hey, I want to share what I can! I paused at the intersection of my street and a main road to capture the view, something I rarely do on a run – most of the photos you see are taken when I’m walking later in the day or on a rest morning stroll.
The temperature was perfect, and as I began to settle into an easy jogging pace, I was happy I had come out to greet the morning while the dew was still fresh. It’s always strange to see the moon in the sky when you can tell the sun has risen, but it’s ethereally lovely nonetheless.
It was only after a few miles that I became aware of what I was enjoying the most, and why. I love the morning, and have grown accustomed to rising early, because I gravitate towards the light. When I was younger, I would stay up very late trying to finish homework and chatting on AIM or Facebook Messenger with my friends, who were also awake at all hours trying to finish their calculus assignments. I would then be exhausted and not in the best shape to face the day ahead. Chronic lack of sleep and this unsteady schedule continued at Oxford through some rough patches, but it was there that I began to leave my room when the sun was rising and take a stroll when sleep was elusive. I started to realize I was happier and brighter when the world was too, and that perhaps instead of fighting my body’s natural rhythms I needed to listen closely to their tune.
Of course I didn’t, because college is often more about fitting your own needs around the way social life works, and I wanted to be up late into the night chatting with friends, wandering Oxford, drinking wine, and having fun. I’m glad I did. I made so many wonderful memories at 3am and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. But once law school was upon me, and I struggled through the first fall, it was time for a change. That first spring in law school was when I started running, and by summer those runs were in the morning. I was voluntarily waking up early before work to get outside, and I felt better during the days. I also started trying to get to bed earlier, and over the past few years it’s become rare for me to see the other side of midnight. I joke that I’m a grandma compared to most 20somethings who are out at all hours, but I’m so much better off. It’s what works for me, and I’d rather be happily idiosyncratic than droopily conform. (Incidentally, we could all learn from pups on this – Sasha sleeps when she wants!)
It’s only recently that I’ve thought about the fact that several of my closest friends are also early birds – in fact, my two best friends from growing up and one of my dearest Oxford friends all tend to rise just as early, if not earlier, than me. I think we all like to wake up with the sun because it’s lovely to see the dawn of a new day, when the world is aglow in light and everything seems possible. Every new day is like the birth of another chance at life, and I love that. Of course it’s hard when the majority are marching to a different rhythm, preferring to greet the evening in style, but at least I’ve found more early risers through November Project! And sometimes, like Sunday, one of those really early mornings is serendipitous, with a wonderful run culminating in breakfast at, fittingly, a local favorite of mine in Ridgefield called the Early Bird Cafe.
I met my BFF from growing up for an early breakfast around 8am. They always have fun specials, though I enjoyed my usual plate of scrambled eggs with Swiss cheese and buttered gluten free toast, along with a mug of decaf coffee. The food here is simple but good, and it is very popular with locals, as demonstrated by the full house so early on the Sunday morning after a big holiday with evening fireworks. I was shocked when they started serving not just gluten free toast, but also gluten free pancakes and waffles – but it’s great for me!
I must admit I always get hit with a migraine later in the morning after a suddenly sleepless night, and Sunday morning was no exception. But I enjoyed my early morning run and brekkie, and so long as I’m intending to wake up at 6am and not just up after hours of sleeplessness, I’ll savor the precious hours of the bright and early morning.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
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