Why my Morning Routine Takes Most of the Day

Most days, for me, writing means being willing to show up on a blind date at a table for two in the middle of a crowded restaurant waiting with crippling fear, self-doubt, and with a devotion too pure to ever talk about.
— Meggan Watterson

Someone reached out to me recently and asked me to share how I ready myself for writing every morning. I have lost the name of the lady who asked, but this is one of the many symptoms of being neck-deep in a book that my morning routine tries to help me manage. I’m only partially in this world when I’m writing. Or what I mean is that I’m more forgetful of everyday things, like leaving my car keys on the kitchen counter, because I’m existing more intensely when I’m writing a book in a world that’s hidden within this one. I’m here enough to function, to get my son to school, to grocery shop with pants on. But I lose things, more often than when I’m not writing, and I especially lose track of time. Because even when I’m doing something else, like driving (I know, watch out) or getting the mail, or taking out the garbage, I’m actually listening. I’m listening more than I’m doing anything else. So, I might look like I’m making the beds or cleaning the apartment but really, I’m camped out right beside the doors of my heart with a little fire going, a sleeping bag, and a stethoscope which I have pressed to the fleshy, unpredictable walls of what’s most sacred to me.

For me, writing means listening. Even when I’m not writing. Because the voice arrives without warning. I have zero control. And I think this is why as a writer, as a strange breed of humanity, I have morning routines that last pretty much the entire day. It’s to help mitigate the profound amounts of anxiety that’s generated from the proximity I face every day to an existential reality we all share; we are entirely out of control. And I think this is why I often get mistaken for a spiritual teacher; not because I write about the divine feminine, but because I have to do so many spiritual practices just to inch my way past the anxiety of knowing that no matter what I do, it’s still ultimately beyond me if the voice ever shows up or not. So, on to the routine. It starts with green tea, always. Yerba Mate. Loose leaf with a French press if possible, the organic bags if I’m traveling. Next, Kundalini yoga. The Sodarshan Chakra Kriya with Kimilla. She’s radiant, clear, has an invigorating Australian accent and she’s sitting on a beach while she gives instructions, which feels like a mini vacation to watch. My only warning is she’s slightly tone deaf, but this is what endeared her to me.

Next, I eat. Always eggs. And always mixed in with some finely chopped vegetables. Currently, it’s cauliflower. I’m an awful cook. And I’m not being modest or humble. I’m telling the truth. But I can chop like a sous-chef from a Michelin starred restaurant. Ok, that’s not true. But you get the point. I’m a born chopper. Never eat my food but let me prep yours. Chopping relaxes me, it lets me focus and turn inward often even more than the Kundalini yoga. And as I chop, I listen to the latest video from The Presence of Love Study Group, where Hollie and Robert Holden alternate leading us through A Course in Miracles. Then I shower while doing the Soul-voice meditation, which is essentially the same as giving my soul a fist-pump. I’m all Scorpio so water is my element, my superpower. I have revelations and one-liners that force me sometimes to get out prematurely. But most days, I stay standing there meditating until my fingertips are pruned. Then I get dressed. And by “dressed” I mean, I sometimes change out of the pajama-like-could-pass-as-sloppy-yoga-clothes I was wearing the night before and climb into new ones. Most often though, I just put back on what I was wearing before the shower which was what I wore to bed. (Except if I have a video interview that day, and in that case, I just wear something presentable from the waist up.)

Then I sage myself. And sometimes, depending on the level of distraction needed that particular morning, I go on to sage the entire apartment. I was first taught to sage from a Navajo named Gordon House when I was a teenager volunteering at a shelter in Gallup, New Mexico. I actually unexpectedly wrote about him in the book on Mary Magdalene I’m working on right now. And over the past decade, I’ve been reminded to sage because of the Long Island Medium, who I adore from the tips of her shellacked into place hair sprayed-hair to her gel coated press-on nails. Sage tends to linger, so it demarcates in this way that stays with me, that I’ve drawn an olfactory white circle around me. It reminds me, with each next inhale, to go sit down, get very still, and return to that place where I’ve never forgotten anything.

Then I imagine a golden light, like a full body halo surrounding me from head to toe. Only love is here, I repeat. I do this mostly because my imagination is a wild beast. And I find that it helps to feed it something positive. If I don’t, it is more than willing to conjure the worst-case scenarios of basically everything in my life the second I sit down. I succumb to this at some point every day anyway, but I like to at least make the effort to supply my imagination with the most positive material to start off with. Then I say a prayer and light this little candle I had with me on the pilgrimage this summer to Mary Magdalene’s cave. And by “light” I mean I turn it on, it’s battery operated. This way I outsmart the little man who is a serial candle-blower-outer. And more recently, I light an actual candle too, the LOVE candle by Danielle LaPorte. It smells like sex, and magic, and a tiny little underground temple that’s so holy no one has found it yet.

Then I start writing. Hah. Just kidding. Then I stare at the computer, and I contemplate my life from every possible angle, or I realize that the floors need to be cleaned, or that the table has spilled milk on it, or that I have a hang nail and should actually go clip it now, or, and this is exceptionally compelling, that I am destined for certain failure, that these attempts at siphoning the energy of love into the tiny chalice of each word is pure hubris. And I think about how much I care about what I write, which is the ultimate kiss of death. As if, the world could be saved by it. As if, a very unique lie, a lie as singular as my finger prints will go on continuing to exist, until I find the words to expose it, until I find the words to tell the truth. My truth. As if I could only say it, my truth, if I could find that right combination of words, it would unlock the cage I’m sitting in, or the one you’re reading this from. As if, I could only take you by the hand, with words like a mask and snorkel and show you the actual truth that’s buried so deep, and the pressure is unbearable, but when you see it, you’ll know, you’ll know what I’ve known since I was a little girl; that god is a woman too. And you’ll come back to the surface seeing with me, from the same eyes of love, and you’ll want what I want which is for every woman and girl the world over to know her worth and to live the truth of her inherent freedom.

But by now it’s lunchtime. And since I haven’t actually written anything yet, I can justify a quick lunch of massive amounts of dark chocolate. (Vosges Matcha Superdark to be precise.) I also drink large quantities of water, not out of a need to be healthy, but out of a need to feel productive. At the end of the day, I may not have managed to get a word out through the bramble and tangle weed of my obsessive thoughts, but at least I’m hydrated.

Then, sometimes, from out of the blue, but from within these conditions I’ve tried to create for it, I hear this voice inside me. And it’s calm, and it guides me. Usually I hear it once I’ve gotten up to clean the floor or go through everything I have in the closet, and so I race from wherever I am in the room for the computer or for my red pen so I can listen, and just be a scribe. And this is what makes everything worth it. I sit there in a stillness that feels like heaven and I let the energy of what wants to come through find itself into word after word. And the elation afterward, after the translation of something that existed, alone, inside me, it can’t be worded. It feels like I’ve unplugged from the Matrix, like I’ve defeated Voldemort, like I’ve actually traveled to outer space, or to that world that exists hidden within this one, and now I have the evidence to prove it.

It’s not logical, this sense of purpose and completion, this elation for expressing even just one page, one paragraph, one sentence that tells the truth. But for me, as a writer, every day, I try to create the conditions for it to happen; for what’s so much more than me and beyond my control or contriving, to arrive and tell itself through me. For me to hear even if for just a minute out of an entire day of “writing” that voice that will live for as long as I do in the mysterious walls of my uncaged heart.

But most days, for me, writing means being willing to show up on a blind date at a table for two in the middle of a crowded restaurant waiting with crippling fear, self-doubt, and with a devotion too pure to ever talk about.

Emily Bohannon