Friday Morning

The moon shines brightly even as sunlight begins to overtake the night sky

The moon shines brightly even as sunlight begins to overtake the night sky

It’s Friday morning and incredibly early.  Early that is for my recent routine, which has excluded morning biking and rowing ever since injuring my back.  In truth, my back has recovered and it’s time to get back on the bike and into the boat, I just haven’t managed to get out of bed early enough.

But today is Friday.  And Friday is special.  On Friday I get out of bed at 5:15AM whether I feel like it or not.  I do this for two reasons.  The first is because I have yet to regret it.  In fact, each and every Friday that I crawl out of bed at 5:15AM, by 6:30, I’m glad I did.

Friday morning yoga class starts at 6:30AM.  We are a small little family of 4, sometimes 5, that reunites each Friday morning (when we’re all in town) to spend an hour breathing, stretching, strengthening together.

The second reason I get up at 5:15AM for my Friday morning yoga class is that it’s my class.  I mean, I feel personally committed to this class.  It’s not something that exists whether I show up or not; it’s something that exists because I show up.

This is partially factual.  The instructor has told us he needs 3 regular students for it to be worth it to him to get up at whatever time he has to get up to drive down from Lookout Mountain in time to beat us all there.  And, since he travels a lot, he counts on us to show when he has a sub because it’s hard for him to find a substitute.

And so, feeling both that I know I will enjoy the class once I get there and the sense of responsibility to keep going so that the class doesn’t go away, I rush through my pre-yoga morning routine.  I double-up on walking Tisen and drinking coffee at the same time (something I find hazardous and usually avoid) to save 15 minutes.  This gives me time to climb the sledding hill with Tisen in tow and take some panoramic pictures before dawn.  The iPhone has lots of noise in low-light photos, but I can’t resist capturing the bright moon next to the early morning light.

The other side of the scene--no moon, but dark clouds instead

The other side of the scene–no moon, but dark clouds instead

When I get to class on this particular Friday morning, there are 4 additional students.  One has been coming for quite a few weeks now and is at risk of being considered a “regular.”  The other three are new additions.  It’s nice to have the extra students–it helps reduce the responsibility of being reliable enough to keep the class going.

I finish the class and find myself smiling–one of the common side effects of yoga.  I return home to find Tisen lying by the door waiting for me.  I take him for a longer walk in the now fully-risen sun.  We pause long enough at the riverfront to take one more panoramic photo.

A panoramic view of the bridges and aquarium of the Chattanooga waterfront

A panoramic view of the bridges and aquarium of the Chattanooga waterfront

Bright Spot

After getting settled in and oriented on my recent adventure at a “hiking spa” in Vermont, my friend and I got ourselves together in time for the evening yoga class.  The yoga instructor was well-trained and seemed to know what she was doing.  She reminded me of my first yoga instructor in Columbus with a voice that combined happy with soothing.

Things were looking up.

We made it to dinner and things looked up indeed.  The dinner was really delicious.  There were two choices and I got the combo because I couldn’t pick between the two.  The portions were not as generous as I might have liked, but I consoled myself with the thought that it really wouldn’t be bad if I dropped a couple of pounds.

What was really exciting was the number of repeat customers.  All participants in the hiking spa sat at 4 large tables, so we got to talk to others who’d been there before and/or had been there for several days.  We got the low-down on the place and what to expect.

If the spa director is smart, he will start offering these repeat customers some sort of discount–they are his best advertisers.  One woman at our table was on her 10th visit to the hiking spa.  She is the one who told us it was more shabby than chic.  Her honesty made her more credible and her enthusiasm for the program made us more excited to be there.  She knew everything from the menu for each day to the hikes that would be scheduled.  I really think they should have hired her to do the orientations for new arrivals–we would have felt much more welcome and better informed.

In general, the people we spoke with at our table made us feel like we were joining a fun club with lots of cool people.  They were from all over the place–some from as far as London.  There was a doctor, a spa owner, a retail business owner, and a chemist who held several patents among the many different career choices represented.

The next morning, we got up early to attend the 7AM stretching class before breakfast.  When we walked out to the semi-permanent outdoor tent setup exclusively for the hiking spa fitness classes, the sun was barely visible through dense fog.  It was hard to tell it was nearly 7AM through the gloom of the fog.  The glow of the sun peeping through the thick fog made me happy I’d decided to bring my camera with me.

I would have preferred a short yoga class instead of  a boot-camp style stretching class first thing in the morning, but it was still nice to get unkinked before breakfast.  I just prefer to have calming music and be in a meditative state of mind over having a big, hairy guy leading us through marching in place and elementary-school-style stretches.  But, it definitely got us ready for breakfast.


Fantasy Morning Attempt 1: Bring in the Elves

This morning, I decide to conduct an experiment. I’m up at 5:30AM and I don’t absolutely have to be online until 9AM. That gives me 3 1/2 hours to enjoy my morning. I decide I will try to make my fantasy morning a reality today.

Step 1: Sip coffee while sitting on the balcony watching the sunrise.

The first problem is that I have to make the coffee. Making coffee was not part of my fantasy morning. But, since there is no coffee making elf who will appear and make the coffee for me, I get a pot going.

While the coffee is brewing, the second problem occurs. I have bodily functions that I must attend to. My fantasy morning was bodily-function free. However, when nature calls, there is no denying her. I decide I will just start over now that the coffee is made and I am guaranteed a bodily-function free hour if I’m lucky.

I take my hot mug of coffee out on the balcony. Problem number 3 occurs when I realize it’s quite cold out on said balcony. Oh, and I forgot:

Step 2: Take some shots of the sunrise while sitting on said balcony sipping coffee.

I return indoors to put a warm jacket on and pick up my camera and tripod, which I take out with me. This is problem number 4: I didn’t account for any setup time in my fantasy morning. Everything was just in place. And, by the way, problem 5 is rather obvious in that the sun doesn’t rise until after 7:00AM this time of year. I’m still a good hour away from first light. I set up my tripod and camera anyway. There is an interesting cloud hanging over the downtown skyline across the river and the smoke stacks on the various buildings have steam pouring out of them that appear to be creating the cloud. I watch the cloud and take some pictures as a substitute for the sunrise.

After about 10 minutes, I’ve had enough–in my fantasy morning, it was at least 60 degrees. My feet and hands are freezing and I’m going to run out of time if I wait for sunrise. This leads to:

Step 3: Do some yoga.

Which, of course, leads to problem number 6–I have to bring in my camera and get out my yoga props. Once again, I didn’t account for clean up or set up time in my fantasy morning. But, I manage to get my yoga space set up with plenty of props for restorative poses.

I go through a few “low-flow” poses (as one of my instructors in Columbus used to call it) to get the blood flowing again, warming my hands and feet after my time on the balcony. Then, I go into a series of restorative poses that I hold for ten slow, deep breaths each (since I can’t see a clock). While this probably isn’t long enough, I’m clearly running out of time for my fantasy morning and I still have 3 more steps to go.

I decide to multi-task:

Step 4: Meditate.

I finish up my yoga with reclining goddess and do my meditation while I relax in the pose. It takes a while to get the music I want to play on my laptop, eating up several precious minutes while I mess around with getting iTunes to work. However, once I get it going, it’s actually the nicest multi-tasking I’ve ever done. When I’m done, I do a quick Shavasana and pick up all my yoga toys.

I check the clock. My fantasy morning includes an hour of writing time and a walk with Pat as steps 5 and 6 respectively. However, I left showering and getting dressed out of my fantasy morning–apparently in my fantasy morning, I work all day in my pajamas. I have time to shower and change plus take a walk with Pat or just to write. The clock ticks on unsympathetically. I decide to jump in the shower.

When I get out of the shower, the sky is turning red. I wrap up in my big, thick robe and carry the tripod and camera back onto the balcony. Looks like I will be shooting the sunrise after all. But, realistically, I don’t have time for this. The sunrise is so dramatic, I can’t tear myself away. I keep watching until the unbelievably bright red starts to fade into a more normal, muted tone. Then, I make a mad dash to finish getting ready for a walk.

I wake up Pat and tell him I want to go for a walk. I resist the urge to check email, realizing that if I do, we will get no walk in at all. As it is, we are only have time for a short loop. When at last we get outside, Pat constantly tells me to slow down–I am practically jogging trying to get some distance in.

In the end, my fantasy morning feels rushed, not so relaxing, and I don’t have time to write. Where are the elves when you really need them?