I haven’t used an alarm clock in ages. I have 3 dogs. Whether it’s a Monday or it’s New Year’s Day, I am up no later than 6 AM. I’m even amazed by their ability to adjust their hunger clocks for Day Light Savings … we have a routine that begins each day at 6 AM.

My husband teases me about my morning dog routine and often messes up the order of this routine when he beats me downstairs. I let the pups outside first. No food prep until they have gone out to do their business. I then turn on the hot water as I walk across the kitchen to turn on the coffee maker and take out the supplies. I mix their dry food with a little hot water to make the all-important gravy and then mix in a small spoonful of wet food. I think I could work in a 5-star doggy diner someday! It’s crazy, I know, but that part is our ritual.  Oh, and did I mention that I let them each lick their little spoons after they eat? Ok, that’s probably TMI! #CrazyDogLady

While they’re eating I do some stretches and squats so I can at least feel like I got some movement in early. When they finish, I drink a full glass of water slowly and purposefully imagining that it is activating my brain. I then make my version of bulletproof coffee and sit down for my quiet time ritual.

I take my phone and open an app called “Jesus Calling.” If only he used Verizon and would actually call me each morning at 6:30. It’s a genius name for a Bible study app since the main reason most people don’t open a Bible is that it doesn’t ring. When I finish that time of reflection, I usually scan my messages from Slack, social media and email. BIG mistake. Now my brain that was swirling with ideas for blog posts or podcast episodes, shifts to active mode and I tend to start responding. Ritual stops… routine kicks in.

Because I also run a social media management agency, I tend to feel the need to make sure all is right with our client’s world before diving into those creative ideas. What I need to do (and do you see how I know that I need to do this, but still don’t? #Issues) is create a writing or creating ritual and spend the first-hour writing before I move to responding and fixing. I also would love to find a way to do more than bend and squat for exercise first thing in the morning, but we live 30 minutes from the gym (excuses, excuses) and I go to a couple of classes in the evening.

I have tried adding meditation in with apps like Calm and Headspace, but I never really made the commitment to using them to center my mind or get past 2-3 minutes of stillness. I used to feel as if I had a good handle on managing my stress throughout the day and could pause and breathe before diving into a stressful situation, but lately, I have added quite a bit on my “responsibility plate” and need to add this into my morning ritual.

Routines are those things we do without really thinking of them—like feeding the dogs and making coffee. Rituals are those things we add with intention to make the time sacred or just special, like adding in gravy or creating quiet time for meditation or prayer. Morning rituals help us start the day proactively. Whether that’s setting our goals for the day, spending time meditating, or making time to plan and prioritize before the urgent activities hit, we need to start with intention and not let our days begin accidentally.

At The Village, my goal is that we nurture and support each other emotionally and mentally as we achieve big things in our lives.  I want to hear from you. What would you find helpful to begin the day strong? Perhaps gathering together for that morning stretch or setting our intentions and goals with a bit of accountability over coffee or tea.

Share your morning routine here in the comments, and more importantly, the rituals that make the beginning of each day special.