My Miracle Morning
Are you an owl or a lark?
I’m definitely a lark. My Grandad had an annoying habit of knocking on our door at some shockingly early hour on a Sunday and would remonstrate with us that we had ‘missed half the day’ if he found we were still in bed. He would already have climbed a fell by then and possibly done some yoga.
So, it’s obviously in my DNA to be up early. I’m also (at risk of TMI) in the peri-menopause phase of life and so sleeping patterns are a constant pre-occupation.
Over the last couple of years my routines and life-style have changed dramatically as I have searched for strategies to support the emotional, physical and neurological changes that have taken me by surprise.
At times I have felt deeply anxious, and unsettled. Not great when you own an independent bookshop and need a constant supply of energy to keep driving the business.
The double whammy has been that the Covid-19 pandemic hit at the same time.
Spoiler Alert – THIS IS NOT A MISERY MEMOIR.
Hopefully far from it.
I decided that I needed to take control, research what was happening to me and find some solutions.
Guess what? Books were my go-to. How lucky am I to own a bookshop? I also came across the ‘Postcards from Midlife’ podcast with Trish and Lorraine – the episode featuring Maisie Hill author of ‘Perimenopause Power (her companion book on Period Power is excellent too) which talks about simple life-style changes that can boost midlife health and happiness.
I was already a Liz Earle fan – following her Instagram and reading ‘The Good Menopause Guide’ which seemed to be one of the fore-runners of advice on Menopause and how to understand and manage changes.
However, I really wanted to create a daily routine that would help me cope better with my health, my energy levels, my workload but also feed my creativity and give me time for myself.
I found it in a book called ‘Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod. It’s not for the feint-hearted but it provides a framework to start the day, to expand your time, to be more productive and in control.
If you are an ‘Early Riser’ like me it might work for you.
So here is my morning routine (not always in this order):
- 4.50 am My alarm goes (although sometimes I hit the snooze button – a few times!)
- 5.00 am Silence/Meditation to start the day . I hadn’t realised how much I need to ease myself into the morning and I jealously guard time on my own before the rest of the household wakes. Meditation gives me time to prepare for the day. Up to now I have been using the Deliciously Ella App ‘Guided Meditations’ which is really useful because you can filter according to type of meditation, duration and theme eg calm, energised, inspired etc
- 5.10 am Affirmations – to help keep me focused and remind me what is important to me and what I want to achieve. I have to be honest, I struggled to write these concisely and had to keep refining them but I have settled on things that give me a positive vibe.
I wouldn’t want anyone else to read them or hear me recite them – although two are quite generic and I will share them with you here:
‘Do Today’s Work Today’
I saw this when I visited ‘The Pinecone Church’ in Wreay near Carlisle after reading Jenny Uglow’s biography of the incredible and philanthropic Sarah Losh. I encourage everyone to visit this tiny church built in the Victorian era and modelled on a Romanesque chapel complete with symbolic carvings. Outside is a plaque bearing the above inscription.
It’s good, plain, simple advice and when everything becomes too much this is my mantra.
‘Do What You Love, Love What You Do’
From the title of Holly Tucker’s book on turning your passion into your job and earning a living doing something that brings you pleasure.
Life is too short and we spend a great deal of our time working, so it’s important to keep this idea in mind. If it doesn’t bring you joy – change it.
- 5.20 am Visualisation or (new buzzword) Manifesting. This I find tricky. Imagining what success is to me. What does it look like? What am I wearing? How am I feeling when I achieve my goals?
It doesn’t come naturally or easily to me, but I think that is down to my constant feeling of ‘Imposter Syndrome’
- 5.30 am Reading. Taking time to read without distraction has been a revelation to me. I have actually found time to read more widely – business books, non-fiction and motivational books.
Currently I am reading ‘Let It Go’ by Dame Stephanie Shirley, entrepreneur and philanthropist who came to the UK on the Kindertransport during the Second World War and was educated in Oswestry for some years. It’s very readable and hugely empowering.
Alongside this I am delving into Elizabeth Day’s ‘How to Fail’ which I find comforting and reassuring.
Daniel Kahneman’s ‘Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow’ is a more technical read but is giving me a great insight into how we make decisions and which part of our brain is in control.
- 5.40 am Movement Time – I run or do yoga. Not always with enthusiasm but I make myself do it because I feel so much better afterwards. It helps me to switch off and concentrate on a physical activity. As part of my personal ‘Mindful May’ activities, I have challenged myself to run 100K in May for Macmillan Cancer Support. So far I’ve completed 25K – a quarter of the way through. Hurrah!
- 6.00 am Journaling. This has truly been one of the best things for my mental health and well-being. I can just dump it all down on the page – better out than in as they say. Again I would cringe if anyone read my journal but it really helps to put my thoughts, ideas, fears and dreams down in words. It also helps me to organise my priorities for the day and face the stressful times in life.
When I began my Miracle Morning, my family thought I was crazy. I thought I was crazy but the impact has been worth it. Initially I was very strict about the routine and timings but now I vary it – do longer reading sessions, shorter movement etc depending on how I’m feeling.
At the weekend I don’t stick to it in the same way, but I have found other activities that provide a break from the weekly rigour of work.
During the various lock-downs, I discovered ‘Bread Therapy’ by Pauline Beaumont and it brought me back to baking. Back to the creative process and chemical genius that comes from mixing and kneading flour, water and yeast. I think it’s the ‘using your hands’ that really helps – the connection of hands and mind. I find it soothing and of course my family love the outcome – warm, homemade bread with lashings of butter.
Recently, I discovered ‘Breadsong’ – Kitty and Al Tait’s incredibly open-hearted and honest memoir/recipe book. It recounts the true story of how baking helped Kitty tackle depression and anxiety. Her recipe for ‘comfort loaf’ with marmite is the simplest bread recipe I have ever used.
I am evangelical about this book and this recipe. My Mum is a convert and my family can’t get enough of it. Watch out for samples in the shop soon.
Fortunately for me, I can harness the impact of these books to create events and activities at Booka. During ‘Mindful May at Booka’ (which is all about books and well-being) I have designed a ‘Bread Therapy Book Retreat’ which brings together everything I have found helpful and enjoyable towards supporting my midlife journey and enabling me to cope with the daily stresses and strains of running my own business.
It’s a real passion project for me and has allowed me to collaborate with other local businesses.
The event will begin with Meditation and Yoga with Jess Jones (of Liar Liar and Yoga with Jess) followed by a Bread Therapy workshop with author and Counsellor, Pauline Beaumont. There will be refreshments – including bread tasting and everyone will go home with a signed copy of ‘Bread Therapy’ and a loaf ready to bake.
Why not come and spend Sunday 15th May in the bookshop and take part in our very first ‘Book Retreat’?
So, as you can see books are helping me ‘feel better’, enabling me ‘to be my best’ self and encouraging me to ‘do better’.
I hope that our ‘Mindful May at Booka’ events and activities show our passion for books and put books and well-being at the heart of what we do.
Let us know what challenges you have overcome and the mindful tips you have for getting through the day.