T.J. Masters
Passionately Writing Passion

#Diary

Well Read Wednesday: Morning

Morning has always been my favourite time of day and so the premise of this quirky little book drew me in and I am so glad that it did. Morning, written by author and food journalist Allan Jenkins is his “manifesto for morning”.

There is an energy in the earlier hours, an awareness I enjoy. In today’s world we tend to wake as late as we can, timed to when we have to work. But we don’t need to chase the day.’

In Morning, Allan Jenkins shows how getting up earlier even once a week or month can free us to be more imaginative, to maybe read, to walk, to write. He talks to other early risers such as Jamie Oliver and Samuel West, to poets and painters. We hear from a neuroscientist about sleep, a philosopher about dawn, a fisherman about light. Allan wakes early, he listens, he looks. He introduces us to a secret world.

This is a celebration of dawn and morning: the best time of day.

In essence the book is an intimate diary taking us through a year of the author’s mornings. This is also where the writing is at it’s best, especially when marvelling at the slowly waking natural world. Since many of these morning begin in pre-dawn darkness, he listens for sounds around him including naturally the increasing birdsong. the next sense to be engaged is that of sight as it records the first gentle diluting blackness and the coming of colour with the dawn’s early light. Movements are noticed and even the fragrances of morning. One of the things I loved was the recording of the very subtle changes which heralded each new season.

This is writing with all of the senses engaged and presented in short poetic bursts. It is a mindful journey through the quiet hours when day replaces night.

For many of those interviewed, including the author, the early start provides a golden period to do those things for which they have no time in their busy lives.

I love it when a book like this crosses paths with my own experience. Having thought of myself as something of an insomniac I have adjusted my bedtimes to encompass to shorter periods of sleep. The author briefly mentions this and it appears that throughout history, there have been numerous accounts of segmented sleep, from medical texts, to court records and diaries, and even in African and South American tribes, with a common reference to “first” and “second” sleep. There is strong evidence from studies carried out which suggest bi-phasic sleep is a natural process with a biological basis.

Reading this great little book has inspired me to to examine my relationship with sleep more closely and maybe to question the bedtime rules which we have all accepted as the norm.

Monday Motivation: Who do you want to be?

Most New Year’s resolutions are about things, changes or achievements. More money, less weight, healthier body, new car etc. These goals are often woolly, lacking in the kind of definition which will make them achievable. What we need is a clear vision of the end goal. For many people, the simplest visualisation might be a photograph of the new car or the holiday destination. These visual aids are very useful, but there is another, sure fire way of fixing your end goal in your head.

Rather than focussing on an object, it is far more powerful if you can visualise yourself at the end of your journey. What will it feel like when you are driving that new car? What will you look like when you have lost all that weight, or got that holiday sun tan? How will you look and feel when you are holding your newly published book in your hands?

There are many visualisation exercises to be found online but essentially you need to do two things. First of all, REFLECT. Don’t dwell on the past year or your past life too much. Future success will depend on the decisions you make now, not anything that has happened in the past. What you should do is to reflect on who you are now, and where you are now. Once you have established these things you have a clear starting point from which to set your compass and stride into the future.

To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you are going, so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction. -Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The second essential task is to look at who you want to be. Picture yourself as you will be when you reach your goal. What will you look like? How will you feel? Put as much effort into this as you can. Paint the picture as clearly as you can and reinforce it with all the relevant feelings and senses you can think of. Emotions, colours, smells, tastes, sounds, relationships etc.

I dream my painting and then I paint my dream – Vincent van Gogh

Having reflected on who you are, and visualised who you want to be, have confidence in yourself and get started. Check in regularly on your vision of who you will be. Anytime that indecision sticks its nose in, use this vision to remind yourself why the future you is so much better than the current one.

Of course your progress needs to be measurable. Unless it is recorded and specific milestones reached along the way, it will be very difficult to keep faith in the journey. In the next post I will take a look at using diaries or journals to measure the path.