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I’ve never understood people who sleep away the morning. To me, it’s one of the most beautiful times of the day and one of my most productive. All of us are governed by circadian rhythms—built-in clocks that keep us on a schedule—but we also take cues from outside elements like light and temperature. When we’re in tune with our environment, we feel energized and ready to rise with the sun. Of course, eating right, exercising, managing stress and getting enough sleep are crucial to this equation. It’s been very well established that without these basic things, physical and mental chaos ensue. So my ideal morning routine sets me up for a day that includes all of them. Do I accomplish this every day? I wish. But the more habitual these practices become, the better I feel. It’s not about being virtuous but about finding balance, peace and fulfillment.
Rise and shine, ideally after seven to eight hours of refreshing sleep. Sometimes I set my alarm, sometimes not. We don’t have curtains on our windows and the morning light will usually wake me up. My morning ablutions include brushing my teeth, drinking a glass of spring water and washing my face. I am very responsive to fragrance and like to use natural ingredients, so Aesop is one of my favorite brands. Their geranium-scented products are wonderful. I apply a facial mask a couple of times a week to exfoliate and moisturize.
I try to avoid checking email first thing. When I’m juggling a lot of projects, this can be extremely challenging. But most of the time, work can wait until business hours. Instead, I meditate for 20 to 45 minutes. If my mind is very active, I might use a guided meditation. (Oprah and Deepak’s online series is actually quite good.) I like to incorporate an element of aromatherapy into this experience, so I burn sticks of palo santo, a fragrant wood, or incense (Blue Pearl or Astier de Villatte’s Oulan Bator) or dab on some of Amma’s Rose oil. These are all scents that I find soothing and uplifting.
Get outside. A walk through the woods, some active gardening or a bike ride leaves me feeling energized and alive. From about May to October, I frequently use this time to forage. I love hunting for wild edibles, especially mushrooms. Weather permitting, I might wear my Vibram Five Fingers shoes (the ones that look like monkey feet), which give my legs a different workout and help improve balance. I enjoy the silence but sometimes I listen to podcasts like “Fresh Air,” “Splendid Table” and Alec Baldwin’s “Here’s the Thing.”
Depending on how much time I have, I might pick up some free weights and do a few curls and squats. Then I stretch. Endurance, strength and flexibility all require different activities. Throughout the week, I try to get to Highland Yoga & Dance to take some vinyasa classes from Shain Fishman.
I usually can’t resist checking my email by now, but hopefully I won’t get sucked into responding. It’s time for breakfast. First, I take my supplements. This changes depending on the season and my state of being. I rely on Lorraine Spinard, my chiropractor and kinesiologist, and herbalist Richard Mandelbaum to help me stay balanced. My breakfast varies as I don’t like to eat the same thing every day. Right now it might be a boiled egg with a piece of toast and some fruit; or a smoothie made with fresh fruits and vegetables; or kichari, a soft porridge made with lentils and rice and garnished with spices and fresh herbs. It’s been proven that people who eat a balanced and satisfying breakfast are healthier and have better cognitive function.
Time for work. My days are quite varied these days. In addition to my writing and the brand consulting I do, I am also preparing to open Fish & Bicycle, a bar/café in Narrowsburg, NY. Anyone who has ever started a business of this kind knows the million steps it takes. Whether I’m developing recipes, meeting with purveyors or writing an article, I’ll always feel more calm, energized and focused if I’ve found the time to take care of myself first.