Sunday, February 1, 2015

Mornings and memories

I love mornings. I love waking with the sun (in Summer), the crisp air that refreshes your sleepy lungs and the memories attached to this time of day.

In South Africa, waking at 5am to the gentle sunrise, the chirp of the birds and my grandfather’s gentle knock on my bedroom door, asking if I wanted to go walking with him, are some of my dearest memories.
He calls me "Sunshine" but if only he knew what a
 light he's been in my life.
 

In my town, those who know our family, also know the familiar sight of my grandfather every morning, marching along briskly in his white shorts and t-shirt. His white socks are pulled up, his worn takkies (trainers) are firmly on and his cap is pulled over his short curly hair.

Growing up, you would find me (on and off) walking at his side. In primary school I would ride my bike alongside him, in high school I sometimes ran and on each return from Varsity or work, I tried to go with him a few times.

Here in Korea however, I find that I am losing my love of the early hours to being ‘busy’, or to quickly checking my phone in the evenings and then finding myself I’m exhausted after an hour or two of phone usage. I’ve slowly started making changes to my morning routine here in Korea to find my balance again.

The smartphone: I place my phone and alarm clock out of arm’s reach. I’ve been getting a little frustrated with myself lately for how much I stare at my S4 screen in the morning and evenings, so it’s been banished to the table across from my bed. The phone goes to bed at 8pm and I give it attention around 7:30am on my way out the door the next day.

My alarm clock: My fire-engine alarm-clock is also placed on the table. When it goes off in the morning I’m forced to leave my cocoon and turn it off. In the event that I dash back into bed, the back-up alarm goes off 20 mins later, and then 10mins after that on my phone. Sigh… when you can’t trust yourself. My grandfather is currently 79 and he's been waking up at 5am everyday without an alarm clock! If he can do it, so can I! 

Making my bed: After a sip of water (or the rudeness of the second/third alarm) I make my bed. I’ll never get back into a just-made bed. It’s my thing. I just can’t. I’ll sleep on top of it though! Hahaha! A made bed just makes the tiny space feel less crowded and I leave the flat a little happier. 

Breakfast is a must: I can just hear my grandfather saying to a high school me: “Nadia, we’re not leaving this house until you sit down and finish your breakfast. Don’t rush.” Sitting down with my old man and chatting about the day ahead calmed me and allowed me to give my brain fuel for the day ahead.

Living life as a solo expat here in Korea, there have been some alterations. I'll try put an egg on the stove to boil and then hop into the shower. While having a good scrub and singing session in the shower, breakfast is on the go. After the wash, creams, hair and make-up, I’m ready to sit down to my boiled-egg and toast. Add a cup of freshly brewed coffee from my moka pot and my morning has gone from ‘normal’ to ‘flipping brilliant!’ My grandfather would be proud. 

Two chores a day: There were many times back home when I would moan and complain about doing chores, but how necessary it has become when you live solo. I've been trying something new and it's working! I try and complete two chores before leaving for school. Simple. This can by anything from washing my dishes, sweeping, taking out my trash or when I’m cheating, watering my little cactus. It’s pretty awesome knowing I’ve accomplished a few things in the morning, as opposed to coming home to a mini crash-site. 

A moment to pray: My grandfather’s morning prayers were said during the first 10mins of the morning walk. During this time I knew that I was not to talk to him while he and God had a few words. With my good example marching and praying at my side, I also took this time to pray and be thankful. After his chat with the Maker, we walked, spoke, laughed or enjoyed the morning silence as our takkies hit the pavement and the sun continued to stain the road ahead of us. 

Walking to work: A walk to my school means I get to see things I would otherwise miss if I were on a bus or the train. “Hello Nadia teacher!” is a pretty great thing to hear from a tiny human on a morning walk. Sometimes there's the exchange of a deep bow and a large wave/grin with an old lady that holds a stop sign in one of the roads. About half-way to my school I’m also blessed to see a group of about 11 senior citizens sitting outside a CU-store, chatting and giggling. Sometimes you’ll see them in their hiking gear and passing around a flask of something piping hot. When I pass, we all wave at each other and again I bow and say hello in Korean. I love guessing where they are going at 7:45am, how they all met and what's in the flask!

Are you a morning person? How do you inject calm and happiness into your morning routines?Share some of your tips with me. ^^