Focused Living, One Month at a Time

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Challenge #15, September 2012: RISING & SHINING


I will get up every day and get outside to mindfully watch the sunrise.

“Each time dawn appears, the mystery is there in its entirety.
-Rene Daumal

What up with this “Challenge”?
How hard can it be, seriously - set the alarm and get up EVERY single day before sunrise in order to throw on some sweats, splash water on my face, make coffee, and walk down the street to catch the show streaming live from the east?  Not so hard if you’re used to it, but that wasn’t me.  My work (and workout, and travel) schedule varies, and I have been known to sleep in past 8-ish on occasion… 
So getting in the habit of rising early and outdoors was indeed a challenge for my scheduling consistency, which is a topic I wanted to improve on.  Happy to report it worked - eventually. I did actually miss 3 days out of the first 15 due to inexplicable forces, but after a few weeks it got a lot easier – and totally worth it. My brain plans to stick to the early rising; I hope my body will concur.

Dawn Patrol
Transforming into (yes, it did happen!) a “Morning Person
Tai Chi Class
involved being out there - my usual routine was to walk out the pier and sit or stand and watch the sky, the ocean, the beach for the changes taking place as the sun showed up to claim the day.  One of the first things I noticed was A LOT of members of the dawn patrol out there, every single day. A few folks seemed to be doing something along the lines of what I did, but most of them had their own routines and whether they walked, ran, cycled, swam, surfed, SUP'd, boot-camped, tai-chied - the dawn was just a temporal backdrop.   Some of the days I was one of these active types too, ocean swimming and watching the sun rise over the hillside as I breathed to the right, or running on the strand, grateful for the morning’s coolness during this scorching month. A few other regular cast of morning characters included metal-detector guy, recyclables-collector guy, and the pair of elderly ladies who sat on the same bench every morning, chatting and probably solving the worlds most pressing problems, or at least those of their kids and grandkids.

Surf PE - lucky groms
These morning people seemed friendlier too, maybe because they were not yet engrossed in their busy day or face down in their smart phones.  I truly appreciated the simple interaction of exchanging an eye-to-eye “Good Morning” with neighbors, friends and random strangers I encountered along my walking route.  And I especially enjoyed the time appreciating all of it with my partner, who is already by nature a morning person.  Several times we walked together, and when I would marvel at something I hadn’t noticed before like the subtle lighting changes across the sky, or the pelican peloton gliding just inches over the glassy swell, he simply sighed and exclaimed, “Welcome to my world.” 

 Worms Caught
A few of my favorite early bird moments, in no particular order:
  • Walking all the way down to the Hermosa Pier way before the official Coastal Cleanup Day  started 9AM, just doing my own personal cleanup along the way – any bottles, papers or whatever in my view shed was picked up and put in a nearby trash can.  I think the pelican at the end of the Hermosa pier whispered thank you to me, but I can’t be 100% sure.
  • On that same walk, along the way I stopped to take part in the Wishing Box – a wooden mailbox with a notebook and pen attached, and a sign encouraging us passersby to drop a wish in the box.  I did, and it has partially come true already.  Just something unexpected I wouldn’t have likely noticed otherwise, just a cool random idea.
Wispy-ness and Puffy-ness
  • The clouds, all wispy and puffy and shape-shifty – they were awesome!  Most days (except for a few foggy un-rises) they changed color from rosy-peach to cantaloupe to lavender and finally to their paper-white standard, against solid blue.
  • The one Sunday I ran at dawn then ocean swam just after – when the sky was so clear and the ocean visibility was equally amazing.  We saw so many bat rays, and silvery sardines flickering around us, it was simply an awesome morning to be outside for so many reasons.
  • The lighting change as the month progressed.  On September first, sunrise here was 6:27AM, by the end of the month it was at 6:47AM.  My alarm settings therefore changed periodically, from 5:50 AM the first day to 6:10AM on the last day.  The worms got to sleep in a bit more by the end of the month, and so did I. 

  • And today, the last day of the month, I watched the full moon set behind the pier at just about the same time as the sun rose over the hill from the other direction - simply magical.

How about you – any early bird observations?  Are you a card-carrying member of the dawn patrol?  And I hope you enjoy the additional pictures this month, just too many great moments captured to pick just one!  As always, comments are most welcome.  And thanks for your time.

1 comment:

  1. I am not a morning person - at all - but the few times in my life that I have committed to a morning routine have been surprisingly wonderful. There is something so beautiful about a quiet morning. I also really enjoyed being able to tick off "exercise" on my daily To Do List first thing. Me thinks I need to get back to a morning routine!