WFH: The Dreamiest Slow Mornings Routines

Friday, July 17, 2020 San Francisco, CA, USA

Nothing has sabotaged my life more than the unrealistic expectation of "perfect streaks." I'll start a new bullet journal layout, only to feel discouraged and ultimately give up when I'm not making fully detailed entries every day. Or I'll map out "ideal morning routines" involving back-to-back workouts at sunrise and multi-step skincare regimens... but feel overwhelmingly exhausted by the very premise of them and struggle to get out of bed. While WFH, I've had the luxury of time to experiment and oscillate between periods of micro-scheduled discipline (10:00AM: three almonds... 10:05AM: another almond...) and "intuitive living" (dick around literally all day). What I've ultimately had to acknowledge, though, is that balance necessarily accounts for fluctuations, misses, and disappointments. Below are my tried-and-true elements of dreamy mornings - not meant to be prescriptive or restrictive, but merely suggestive, a la carte options in pursuit of fuller, more joyful living.

01 | Real breakfasts that make me happy to be alive
I have a weird relationship with breakfasts (in that I love meals in general but am often swept up in intermittent fasting FOMO), but I've loved carving out time blocks in the morning to read + luxuriate. I used to obsess over "tone-setting" for maximal productivity and would force myself into inorganic morning routines like 6AM workouts or  scanning the news or carefully sorting my inbox into ambitious folders (this habit literally never lasts...). But the daily news will still be chaotic and upsetting at 10AM, and I do my long-term well-being no favors by forcing immediate engagement with the outside world. Lately, I've loved decadent contemporary literature (pretentious code words for "chick lit"), homemade cold brew, and Taiwanese avocado toast (avocado, minced garlic, and soy paste!).

When I do get around to my "updated" editorial scan routine, I like Lausan (leftist, decolonial perspectives on Hong Kong + East Asia), Popula, and Medium (I'm a paying subscriber).

02 | Elevated coffee
I'm often drinking very watered-down cold brew in a whiskey tumbler during my afternoon touch bases on camera, and one day, my sweet, sweet manager gently asked if I was experiencing too much work-related stress. (To be clear, in my current workplace, I don't think I've ever felt a second of negative stress and am wildly grateful for the way my career unfolded.) But the tumbler remains, and is part of my newfound philosophy that beautiful things can transform ordinary experiences. This is not an invitation to buy anything new or adopt tea ceremony rituals into your routine (though I guess you could). But little, elegant touches - espresso shots in tiny cups and matching saucers, iced coffee in a crystal parfait cup, smoothies in mason jars with proper glass straws - have felt like significant upgrades from the usual trusty Target mug. The game changer has really been in the mindfulness of this new practice. Through heightened consciousness, everyday habits have felt like treats, especially since I only drink black coffee --which is typically the beverage of soulless people. Let's be real! It's just not as good as frothy lattes and lavender cream whatnots. Anyone who claims otherwise is pretentious or lying or both!

03 | Chaotic journaling
I'm pretty sure nobody has tried harder + failed to develop a structured journaling routine than me. It's SO frustrating, because I have literally all the keys to success: a hoarder's treasure chest of blank notebooks, really good handwriting, an obsession with joining the ranks of elite diary-keepers and letter-writers. I have an entire Pinterest board of writing prompts. But again, the preoccupation with perfection is so demoralizing. The trick for me has been to allow for "chaotic" journaling -- unplanned, spontaneous entries whenever I feel like it. 50% of the content is mindless and ultimately unimportant (I am still the type of girl who writes the names of her crushes over and over again! Sorry not sorry!). Very little of it is the scientifically adored "gratitude journaling." I have not written down a single app or startup idea worth mentioning. More often than I'd like, I'm just fantasizing about ideal sandwich or trail mix combinations. But it breaks me out of this conviction that every notebook has to be some grand draft of my magnum opus. It normalizes my life's scattered flaws. There are billions of thought pieces (and I think I've drafted a few bad ones) about how journaling is the liberal arts equivalent of deadlifts (in that... you should do them to be successful? Idk, I clearly don't gym very hard.) but I think framing it as a productivity tool has often just trapped me in burnout. So the habit I'm forming now isn't to compose gorgeous essays that capture my soul and spirit for schoolchildren to analyze decades from now (I would be mortified if they did), but to confront my mind's nutty corners (so... many... trail mixes...). And that's it.

The luxury of "dreamy slow mornings" will probably be a post-pandemic point of nostalgia, since prior to sheltering in place, my mornings were awful commutes, bleary treadmill runs, and very, very bad (free! but still bad) office coffee in chipped corporate mugs. I don't take it, or my generally stable circumstances, for granted at all. The rest of my day is typically seismic waves of productivity and drowsiness, punctuated by my daily apres-dinner rant about how Americans are not taking the coronavirus (among other issues) seriously and we are, as a whole, an embarrassment to humanity and history. I'm getting angry just thinking about it. But at least I had my blissful little morning. God help us.


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