How early is too early?

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Morning in the neighborhood at the normal time I walk.

This week, I’m driving my husband to work because he’s recently had shoulder surgery and has not been cleared by his doctor to drive. I am not complaining and have no problem with this at all. I enjoy the 30-minute drive with him to his office. The problem is that his alarm goes off at 3:45 am. Yes, before 4 o’clock in the morning.

Of course, his alarm has gone off at that exact time for years. However, I had mastered the art of putting a pillow over my head, rolling over and ignoring it and the noise he makes getting ready for work. I managed to sleep until the late hour of 6:30 a.m. and sometimes even 7 a.m.

This week, I have said to him, “Wake me up at the last minute before you’re ready to go and I’ll be ready to drive in a few seconds.”

However, knowing that I’ll be leaving the comfort of my bed in the dark, isn’t conducive to falling back to sleep. Instead, after failing to return to my dreams, I give up. I’d rather drive showered, with clean teeth and a freshly washed face than stinky.

The end result is that I’ve been in kind of fog this week. I get back home ready to start my day, but within a few hours, I’m really, really tired. Yesterday I fell asleep at 5 p.m. I sat down to read and nodded right out. It was only a brief nap, but I’ve never been able to nap well before.

Today was much easier to get up and so far I have more energy. Maybe I’ll get used to this new early riser schedule. I wonder how many days it takes to change your internal clock? It makes me think about how tough it is for most kids at the start of a new school year. That’s another reason why we appreciated swimming. Although our children’s summer schedule was not as early as during the school year, they were used to getting to the pool by 7 a.m. all summer long. It wasn’t a stretch to transition back to the school schedule.

I’ve always liked the morning, just not the hours before 5 a.m. But after all, the early bird gets the worm. I can do this! Maybe I’ll be more productive with my work by getting an earlier start. Or, I could swim at 5:30 a.m. Masters like it’s no big deal.

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Sunrise

What time do you get up in the morning? How long has it taken you to get adjusted to a new schedule?

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How to catch your dreams

download-2I’ve discovered a few secrets on how to take control of my life and pursue my dreams.

First, have you defined your dreams? If not, write them out. Make it specific and concrete. Write out a few steps you can take right away. They can be baby steps, not huge leaps.

Second, after you’ve written down your dreams and goals do you find that everyday life gets in the way? I’ll sit down and write or make that phone call — after I unload the dishwasher, sort the laundry, and weed the garden. Plus, the car needs an oil, lube and filter. Then, I’ll get started on my dreams.

Third, is it fear that is holding you back, not life in general? Why aren’t you following up on your baby steps? Take a close look at what you’re doing, or what you’re not doing and ask why.

Here are my tips on how to overcome my fears and reach for my dreams.

ROUTINE:

I revel in my routine. I was talking about routines with my husband this morning. He said he believes all mammals crave routines. For example, Olive, our cat, leads a structured life. She stays out all night. She wanders in announcing her arrival with three short little mews at the same time every morning and then jumps onto my tummy. She meows a little louder and wants me to walk her to her food bowl. Minutes later, after I’ve snuck back into bed, she’s back on my tummy for a kitty dance before she settles in for the day.

Baby Olive

Baby Olive.

At this point, I have to slip out from under the covers without disturbing Olive, to start my morning routine.

My routine involves writing three pages longhand every morning of every day. This clears my mind so I’m open to new creativity. It serves as a brain dump to get those niggling uncomfortable thoughts out into the daylight. Some days my morning pages are a long to-do list.

The few times that I’ve missed my morning pages I’m anxious and jittery.

EXERCISE AND FRESH AIR:

The second phase of my morning routine, besides the basics of toothpaste, floss and face cream, is to walk. I walk two miles around my neighborhood and park, marveling at the beauty and how I get another chance to start fresh. I throw in a short stretching routine, sit-ups and pulldowns. Energized and refreshed, I’m ready to start my work.

DO THE BAD STUFF FIRST:

Another tip is to tackle those things that you don’t want to do–first. Get them crossed off your list and your day will open up.

Fear and anxiety can be big blocks. When I take my fear head on I’m motivated rather than blocked. Anxiety is energy. I tell myself to harness and ride it toward my dreams.

I have a sign in my living room that says, “Live now. Procrastinate later.” Such good advice that I try to follow it.

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4 Tips to Make Dreams Come True

IMG_8956Do you have a secret dream that you’ve been working towards for years? Or, maybe a dream you once had, but never reached? What’s holding you back? Why aren’t you moving forward? Do you feel stuck in your daily grind, with no time to finish that project, or follow your dream?

I’m reading a book that provides a strategy to make dreams come true.

It’s called “From Chump to Champ: How Individuals Go From Good to Great” by David Benzel. He’s an author, athlete and sports family coach. I discovered him on the USA Swimming website. He offers monthly webinars and has written books that are inspirational and helpful.

The Belmont Pool, where many dreams came true.

The Belmont Pool, where many dreams came true.

What I’ve discovered and learned so far from reading this book are the following four tips:

  1. Dream—Be specific about your dream. Like going to Olympic Trials. Please take note as a new Masters swimmer in my 50s, this is not my dream. It’s someone else’s dream, but a good one to use as an example.
  2. Goals—Set steps that you need to take to reach your goal. Say, if you’re a swimmer, and your dream is Olympic Trials, then you have a specific time goal. If you need to drop a second to get your cut, what daily things are you going to do to get there? Cut out junk food? Work on underwaters? Those would be specific goals to reach your dreams.
  3. Visualize—Use the theater of your mind to picture what it will be like getting your Olympic Trials cut. Make a movie in your head and replay it over and over all the way through.
  4. Belief—This is the hardest one for me. Get rid of that pesky voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough, or your dream is just a dream. “I’m not talented enough to make it to Olympic Trials. Other swimmers are stronger and taller than me.” Change the self-talk to positive. “I’ve worked hard my entire life for this. Nobody works harder than I do.” Reflect on all your accomplishments and the hard work you’ve put in. How you’re setting yourself up for success.

Step #4 is the one that 80 percent of us need to work on. It’s the last stumbling block we need to overcome before realizing our dreams.

Sunset at the beach.

Sunset at the beach.

Can you imagine what it would be like to face life fearlessly every day? Excited to reach your dreams? Carpe Diem! Let’s go for it!

Carpe diem.

Carpe diem. Photo by Debbie Gardiner