“I sip my tea and listen to the sounds of New Orleans: fog horns on the Mississippi river, the strange meow of cats and sometimes even the neighbor’s banjo.” – Lauren McCabe Share this quote on Twitter

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Lauren McCabe

What is your morning routine?

During the week, I awake at 5:45am always to an alarm, always feeling groggy. I like to think of myself as a morning person because I tire so easily in the evenings, but rising is never easy; it is something I only accomplish with hard work.

To me, mornings are about getting the things done that are most important to me: writing and movement. Each morning, I alternate between writing stories, running, or yoga. On the days that I write, I sit on the porch of my 100-year-old house in New Orleans or, now that it’s hot, in my kitchen. I aim to write for two hours; then at around 8:00am I rush through my house and throw on clothes, grab a granola bar, kiss my Merman goodbye, and make my way to work.

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I find that writing in the morning puts me in a more pensive mood all day; it is good for the work I do as a digital strategist. I’m already awake and thinking by the time I arrive to work. I usually then take my lunch break to refine and shape any of the writing I did in the morning.

On other days, I go to Ashtanga yoga taught in the Mysore style of self-practice. I arrive to the studio between 6-6:30am and begin my practice. Rather than instructing the yoga class, the teacher works her way around the room adjusting students and giving them new poses as they advance. This style of yoga is perfect for me; I can stay longer if I have more time, and cut it short if I need to head to work early.

It is essential that I accomplish something meaningful to me before going to work, and that I keep the most important things in my life at the forefront of my days.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

I’ve kept this specific routine for almost two years, but a morning routine for well over five years. In college, I was a night owl – I hardly ever woke before 10:00am – but my life has changed drastically since then and now calls for much more careful doling out of time.

I am officially a morning bird.

What time do you go to sleep?

Ideally, I’m in bed by 9:00pm reading a magazine or book, and asleep by 10:00pm. I rarely ever stay up past eleven, a difficult feat in New Orleans, a city where the fun doesn’t begin until the late hours. But I persist!

Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?

I use an alarm and always have. People think that waking up early is something only morning people can do, a group magically predisposed for early waking, but it has never, ever, for one day in my life been easy to wake up early.

I never hit the snooze button because I won’t ever stop hitting it. I quiet my alarm, take a deep breath, then roll out of bed.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

If I run or exercise in the mornings, I eat afterwards once I get to work. I’m usually ravenous; I’ll down a few servings of yogurt and granola.

On the mornings I write I eat very little; an egg, a small bowl of cereal. My appetite in the morning corresponds directly to how physically active I am.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

I workout three times a week, usually running or attending a yoga class.

It’s interesting to wake up early in a city like New Orleans that operates on late nights, 24-hour bars, music into the wee hours of dawn. As I run through the French Quarter I watch the city make its wobbly way to bed, the late night revelers nodding to me as I fly past them. It is a ritual that resembles a changing of the guard, a hand off from the night owls to the morning birds in this strange liminal space where for a moment we meet. I love this.

Do you see to email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?

Very rarely do I send emails first thing in the morning. That time is too precious to me for the mundaneness of email; it is the only time I will have to myself all day, and I try to keep it free from the constant buzz that will surround me in the upcoming hours.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning, either for calls/messages or social media and news?

Sometimes I scan my social networks looking for updates to the blogs that I most want to hear from, but usually I don’t look at my phone beyond checking the time. I enjoy staying offline as long as possible before the day begins when I won’t, for a single moment, disconnect.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

It is to write and write and write. In my day, I never get as much to write as I would like, and so I am constantly, desperately trying to write as much as I can in that sliver of time before the rest of the world awakes.

Right now, I am mostly focused on writing for my blog, short pieces that I can begin and finish each week. For me, it’s very important that I use my mornings to start and finish things. It is very easy in that half-sleep of dawn to dawdle, and so it is also very easy in life to dawdle on your dreams, never actually making them happen. My mornings are a microcosm of what I hope to do with my life: start things, finish things, and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from moving forward.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

It is water first (I am a mermaid!) and then jasmine tea second. I love tea, everything about it, the art of brewing it, its steamy earthy smell, the subtle caffeine that opens my eyes.

Mornings are so languorous for me, a time of quiet and solitude, the only time all day that I won’t get disturbed. I sip my tea and listen to the sounds of New Orleans: fog horns on the Mississippi river, the strange meow of cats and sometimes even the neighbor’s banjo if they’ve had a particularly late night.

On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?

When I’m traveling, especially on vacation, I abandon my morning routine. I sleep in, wake whenever my body wants (hardly ever early) and then savor the day. That said, I always weave the activities from my morning routine into my day during a vacation – writing in the afternoon or taking a run along the beach or surfing.

To me, my morning routine is a tool that I use to do the things that are most important to me first, and so in this way it’s less about the mornings and more about prioritizing the things in my life that make it worth living. On vacation or even when I’m traveling for business, those priorities shift as traveling is also one of the most important things to me. And so, my routine shifts with it.

What do you do if you fail to follow your routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?

If I don’t run or write or do yoga I can feel it in my body – I feel as if something is missing. The feeling follows me around all day, hovering over me like a ghost. On those days, I will try to use the evening directly after work to accomplish those things – writing the moment I get home, making it to a yoga class in a rush – but really, sometimes I let it go.

Living with the feeling of loss – lost opportunities, lost words – is something that we all go through and something that I try to become more graceful at letting go. There is tomorrow morning.

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