Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Finally, something to get out of bed for

It's no secret that mornings and I don't get along. I've always felt that the best way to get through mornings is to sleep through them, but I haven't managed to sustain a lifestyle that allows that kind of schedule.

Which is why my mornings are strategically planned; only the most essential of tasks are completed before leaving for work—things like making lunches and working out can be put off until the evening. (I would shower in the evenings too, but they are an essential part of the waking-up process.) Breakfast cannot be skipped, but it can be rushed.

It's a system that's been working for me my entire life. But I've always wished I had the "It's Christmas morning!" or "We're leaving for vacation today!" attitude that makes de-sandwiching myself from my sleep chamber an enjoyable experience. I've heard people talk about how excited they are to start each day anew, meet new people, and make a difference in the world. 

For me though, when that blasted alarm clock goes off, my first thoughts are usually along the lines of "Why is the world so cruel?" and which story I should tell my manager so I can call in sick and get a few more hours of sleep. 

I know I have a lot to live for. But I'd sooner punch someone in the face than acknowledge that before 8:00 a.m. 

Now, I'm going to shift gears a bit and talk about an oft repeated and failed new years resolution of mine: diligent scripture study. I've been pretty good about reading most days, but I often fly through a chapter because I either want to go to bed or move on to my "real" book. Even if I read something scripture related every day for a week, my total time with spiritual study is probably less than what someone else could accomplish in a day.

However, the last few months I've had a bit of a breakthrough with scripture study. I resolved to make the study part stick this time, and now I can actually say I study the scriptures rather than speed-read them.

This presented another problem, though. After 15–20 minutes of good study, I wouldn't have time to ponder on what I'd read because I would move right along to the book I was reading at the time. It's a little jarring to emerge from deep study on something personal only to jump right into a different world. But bedtime reading is an essential part of my day, something I'm not willing to give up. 

Somehow, I had to find a way to separate these two tasks. Both were important to me, but they didn't play well together.

Eventually it occurred to me that I could move scripture time to the morning. Perhaps it took me longer to reach this conclusion than it should have, but it's unsurprising considering my background. My family was always a read-scriptures-before-bed type of family, and that was the way all of us preferred it. Getting up for family prayer in the morning was hard enough. Mom would be ready for work, of course, so she got to laugh at us as we staggered into the family room in various states of consciousness: the three older girls in the middle of curling their hair or shoveling down cereal, and Dad and the two youngest sleep-walking to the circle of sleepy Carters, collapsing to the ground and shielding their eyes from the light.

Some families swear by morning scripture time, but I always pitied my friends who were deprived of their precious sleep so they could pretend to stay awake through a chapter of the Book of Mormon. 

So I shoved that thought away. At least, I tried to. Then I proofread a book that touted the benefits of morning scripture study and read an article in the Ensign that went on and on about the blessings of getting up early. I finally decided that I was ready to give it a try.

My plan was to get up at 6:30, 20–30 minutes earlier than my usual wakeup time. Now, I know what most of you are thinking: you get up way earlier than that every day, that 6:30 isn't early, blah blah blah. But it was a huge deal for me; it felt like a life-altering decision.

I went to bed early on Sunday night and actually succeeded in falling asleep in under an hour (unheard of on a Sunday, but I was still tired from not being able to catch up on sleep over conference weekend due to the fact that I don't sleep as well in my bed at home), and woke up unusually refreshed.

I've thought about this, and I think it was the best morning of my life. Seriously. Better than those mornings in Elk Ridge when I woke up to over a foot of snow. Better than those Saturdays I wake up thinking that my alarm will go off soon, and then realizing that it's Saturday and I can stay in bed for as long as I want.

Having enough hot water to stretch my shower to 10 minutes and having a good hair day is usually a good start to my day, but then I had a full half hour to relax, study, and ponder. It was so weird not feeling rushed, and I was amazed at how grateful I was to be spending the worst part of my day doing something so fulfilling.

Life went on as normal after that, though the memory of that special morning lingered. And the past two days getting out of bed wasn't a battle with the snooze button; I actually wanted to get up to make sure I wasn't robbed of any scripture time. I don't know how long this new routine will last, but it's already done something that a job I enjoy, adult responsibilities, and a good night's sleep haven't been able to maintain: give me something I want to wake up for.


  1. I love that you found something that fit for you. I've had a struggle for years to balance my running and scriptures. Similar to you - I wouldn't give up my running for anything, but I'm pretty guilty of flying through a chapter so I could get to my sneakers. And fitting BOTH in the morning before the day is really hard, no matter how early I got up.

    One week I accidentally ended up moving all my workouts to the evening, and I realized it made my mornings so much less stressful to have time to read scriptures and ponder what I read. It just...never would have occurred to me before to do that :p

    That's awesome - thanks for sharing!

    1. It's funny how you get so locked into a routine that it takes you forever to see the simple solution—just move things around. Oh well, I figured it out eventually. :)