Gina and morning person do not often find each other in the same sentence. Unless that sentence reads: Gina is not a morning person.
There is not a single early riser in my family. Minus my grandmother. She used to get up before the sun came out, silently sipping her black coffee in the dark kitchen. We all thought she was nuts. Like, who actually wants to be awake that early? It turns out she was onto something…
On a boat, the two best parts of the day are directly connected to the sun: when it rises and when it sets. Twice a day, if you’re lucky enough to see both, the sun commands your attention. Hey you, yeah you, pause. Enjoy. (Insert a sort of diva face here).
On the road, I realized that there are a multitude of reasons as to why cultures have always governed themselves around the sun and I, an avowed night owl, have started sipping the Kool-aid. Many of the places I visited in the past year were extremely remote. When there were inhabitants on these islands, many of them did not have electricity. Work needs to get done and life needs to be lived during the hours of daylight. Makes sense. One point for practicality! My grandmother, however, had electricity and I think her allure to the morning hours was more inline with mine…
Allow me to digress.
Unlike other kinds of travel, sailing requires that someone always be awake during the night. We organize our “watches” in three hour shifts starting after sunset, ending after sunrise. Watching the sun come up after 10 hours of blanketed darkness is like seeing the finish line at the end of a marathon. It couldn’t come sooner. Yet, in that transition to the “end” there is a new beginning. A new notch in your belt, another day accomplished, the intrigue of what you can accomplish next. What lies in store for me now? It happens quickly, that transition, but to an active mind, it can also feel really slow. It’s a time to pause, to set the tone for what’s about to come. When you get to the finish line, are you going to complain about your achy muscles? Or are you going to ride a runners high? What tone are you going to set? The rest of the day is indeed governed by the intentions you make at sunrise.
On and off the boat, I started making new morning routines to get me excited about being Gina the Day Chaser. I began to enjoy the calm silence of the early morning left to me by the other night owls of the world. Alone, I drank my tea, jotted down my intention for the day – who did I want to be, what energy did I want to give off -, had a look at the to-do list I made the night before and usually took off for a bit of exercise. There is really nothing like kayaking around a blue lagoon at sunrise, doing yoga to the sound of chirping tropical birds or running the streets of Paris as the smell of butter seeps from bakeries opening their doors. Cliche? Yes. Seriously f’ing awesome? Double yes.
I am still a work in progress and have yet to permanently cancel my membership to the Night Owl’s Association, but I am making the transition. For a type-A, tornado-like thinker such as myself, there is immeasurable value in having time to stop…pause…and just be. The good news is, sunrises and early mornings aren’t just for when you’re away. They’re for when you’re awake. Learning to love the mornings has given me an edge on finding joy, finding adventure and finding that feel good, travel happy high right here at home.