Where was I two years ago?
I was finally graduating university with my MA, having completed all my work for two BAs and an MA in 4.5 years. I was ending a five year relationship. I was tired and emotionally drained. And at the root of it all, I was the messy result of the Western world.
When I moved to Taipei, rather on whim, I didn’t quite know where I was going, but I knew that I did not want to continue what I had been doing.
I resolved to work mostly part-time. Although the amount of grading, prep, and commuting that goes into teaching abroad, puts me closer to full-time status. Yet, those extra hours of “work” were spent in the places of my choice and under my terms. In this sense, I had gained a freedom and taken back control over my lifestyle.
I, of course, started this blog to document what I was going through and to give inspiration to others. Passion is that long sought after answer and this site has helped me explore more through my options of potential passions than a lot of my other life experiences had.
Mostly, I switched to a slow-mode. I was always rushing when I had been living in the States and I hate rushing. I love being busying and having things to do, but I absolutely hate rushing. I hate jumping out of bed in the morning and I hate gulping any drink down. I can’t stand to run out the door and not have time to go back in if I forgot to put perfume or earrings on (two things that I feel very naked without).
So when my schedules shifted to be more evening and weekend focused, I found myself discovering what mornings felt like.
Now I will never be an early morning person. I like sleep way too much to part with it. But I started incorporating two significant elements into my daily routine.
- I started enforcing a better bedtime. Time-to-time I break it, but my body has adjusted to desiring an approximately midnight bedtime. This allows me to sleep naturally for about 9- 9.5 hours, 8 just never seems to be enough, and wake up in time for some form of a morning.
- I do not allow myself to jump out of bed in the morning. Never.
These two components of my day have drastically affected what happens in-between. I get less anxiety, I tend to be more productive, and more importantly, I get less stomach aches (a chronic problem that doctors can only seemingly attribute to stress, much in the same way as others get headaches or migraines).
A therapy and concept that I have begun to subscribe to (at the expense of sounding very much like my therapist mother) is mindfulness. In short terms, mindfulness is the practice of using meditation, deep breathing, and other cognitive measures to be present in the moment in order to reduce the difficulties that comes with stress. You can read more about mindfulness here. I encourage you to watch the short video on it.
I haven’t taken the online course just yet, but am hoping to soon.
In the meantime, I have tried to use my morning time, in which I won’t jump out of bed, to be time just for me. This might not be completely in the original concept of mindfulness, but my rationale is that being present in a way in which I am just doing the things I want to do gives me a better sense of calm and enjoyment in meeting the later challenges of the day.
Typically upon waking, I scroll through my notifications on my phone. Since I am asleep when most people in the States and Europe are awake, I get quite a bit. I normally don’t respond back right away, I simply read through and clear them.
After which, I scroll through Instagram and the latest articles on WordPress and Bloglovin. Lately, I’ve been enjoying Bloglovin more as I can follow bloggers in design, lifestyle, fashion, and more outside of my normal travel bloggers circle.
The light from my phone wakes me up a bit more and keeps groggy me from falling asleep again. As I am selective in the bloggers I read, I find myself inspired to get up for the day and have stories to tell or pictures to post.
Thirty to forty minutes is spent slowly inspiring and gearing myself up for the day (By the way, I avoid reading the news or attending to Facebook as I find both at once sad and annoying).
The next thirty to forty minutes is spent doing my hair and makeup as well as cooking breakfast and having a tea or juice, something I hardly had time for back in college.
Maybe my mornings aren’t spent working out or practicing yoga. I am not even sure if a devotee to mindfulness would find my new morning routine as being present. But for me, that hour spent taking my sweet time getting out of bed and ready for the day is all mine. It’s a chunk of my schedule that I have full control over; no one gets to dictate how that time is spent except me.
That’s a wonderful feeling and it helps me focus on my tasks later in the day. Being present in simply enjoying my own company has allowed me to be better present in the company of others. And ironically, the more time I take for myself, the more time I have to accomplish other things.