Embracing the Night Owl


I look at my watch and realize I’ve done it again. It’s already 6:30am, not 5am, like I had hoped.  I didn’t get up early enough.  Again.  Now all of my plans are down the tubes, and I know that I’m going to have to rush to make it out the door on time. Ugh. I feel instantly defeated. I’m starting the day behind.

The defeated feeling makes it easier to stay in bed for another couple of minutes. After all, I already know that I don’t have time to write, or to sneak in a workout. I have once again failed at being a zen ninja who gets up at 5 and does ALL THE THINGS.  I’ve failed at being someone who doesn’t have to rush, and who actually looks good by the time they get to work.  Dammit.  Dammit.  Dammit.

I know that disappointed feeling so well.  It got there after years of swallowing so many self-help books, blog posts and podcasts from productivity gurus. It’s there from all of those moments when I heard and believed the messaging we get about early risers. They are the accomplished people among us. They are the ones out there getting the proverbial worms. I don’t know about you, but it’s a message I’ve gotten from childhood; like brushing your teeth and getting regular exercise, getting up early is wholesome. Beneficial. Good.

Let’s just face it; it’s how society is geared. I know that I was taught that “sleeping in” meant laziness. “Sleeping in” meant you weren’t out there seizing the day. No one looks down on an early riser.  The 9-5 work day has long been the standard. School starts before 9AM. Plus, you early birds have the comfort of knowing that you are following in the footsteps of some truly great people. Ben Franklin? Early riser. Oprah? Crack of dawn. Michelle Obama? On the treadmill by 4:30AM.

I bought into those productivity goals hardcore. I set them for myself. And I tried. I mean, I really tried to make it work. 

Until one day, after another frustrating morning, when I was sick of beating myself up as soon as I was awake enough to do so, I realized that I was constantly fighting my natural tendency, and maybe it was wiser to not battle against myself.   Like, maybe mornings really aren’t for me.  Maybe that’s ok.  Maybe there’s another way.

The thought alone was freeing.  I’m a night owl.  I don’t relish early mornings.  Never really have.  That’s alright. I’m great at staying up late.

It was one of those unique moments in life when the puzzle piece just fits.  It feels like something just goes “click” in your brain, and you’re able to look back on your life with new perspective.  (In my case, I realized that the price I’ve been paying for being a night owl is a lot of grumpy, rushed mornings and self-blame.) It helped me realize that I wasn’t just continuously “failing.”  It may be that I simply am not designed to perform at my best early in the day.  Which explains why I never managed to adjust to early mornings, even after years of trying.  Every morning I felt like I was struggling to get things done, and still barely making it out the door.

Realizing that I’ve just swallowed a lot of pro-morning propaganda has brought about a feeling of liberation almost akin to a religious epiphany; it’s given me so much more joy in my dark little heart. I’ve always had more fun at night and been a night person. Squishing myself into that perceived more “wholesome”day-friendly schedule has been nothing short of painful.

Such an obvious thing to overlook in myself and to never have respected properly. Well, I get it now, and I won’t continue to punish myself for my own nature. It might not be what so many gurus recommend, but I have to do what works for me.  I already know that letting go of this expectation and changing my schedule a bit is making me happier.



Nagging Little Things

I had a nagging little thing going on in my life. I’m ashamed to say that I lived with it for a few weeks. Just a small, nagging little thing; something that needed to be done that I somehow couldn’t get myself around to doing.

You know how anxiety can make the slightly unfamiliar seem insurmountable. This thing was on my “To-Do” list, but I still managed to avoid it. In my case, my “nagging little thing” was a slow leak in the left rear tire of my car.

This is the kind of stuff that isn’t a big deal until it is. Obviously, I can’t go around with a flat tire, but it wasn’t flat. Just a little low. Inconvenient. The first time I noticed it, I buzzed by the gas station to put in some air. I have sensors on my tires, and I’ve had a slow leak before, so this part doesn’t intimidate me. (Due to prior tire experience, I know that in the time that it takes for me to say “one-one-thousand” slowly to myself as I inflate my tire, I gain about 20kp of pressure.)

I didn’t rush out and properly address the tire issue. Instead, I became even better at inflating my tire by feel. I can put in the air, hop back into the driver’s seat, turn the key to check the tire gauge on my dash, and be right where I want to be without overfilling, all in a matter of seconds.

So I just kept doing that. Every couple of days I had to make a date with an air hose to get my tire back up where it needed to be. Real cool.

So, why not just get it seen to right away? Like a sensible person? I could tell you that it’s because I work full-time, making it a bit of a hassle (true!), or I could say that I wasn’t keen on maybe having to buy a new tire (also true!), but mostly I was just procrastinating about having to do something mildly uncomfortable. I mean, to fix my tire, I had to take action. I would have to find a garage to look at my tire, find a time during which they could do that and not leave me stranded, physically drive to the garage (a place that I know shockingly little about), and then maybe buy a new tire. Car stuff is always a whole thing.

So I repeated the every-two-day tire-filling process ad nauseam. It almost became part of my routine.

I was being haunted by a tire. (Ok, it wasn’t a killer tire, but still…)

Well, Friday morning I stopped for air at the gas station. Again. On my way to work. Again. I told a guy there that I was going to get my tire fixed or replaced over the weekend. I guess I only blurted it out because I felt awkward, knowing he had seen me come by for the exact same thing many times before.

Well, damn. That changed things a little. I might have had it on my ‘to-do’ list, but it’s different when you say something out loud, even to a stranger who probably doesn’t care about it one way or the other. Add in any accountability at all, even accidental, blurted accountability, and it changes the pressure in your mind.

I would recommend that all people with a “nagging little thing” build in some kind of accountability. It really lights a fire under your ass. Even if that fire is only there to convince you that you don’t want to have to go back on your word, or back to the hose at the gas station again, because now you’ll feel stupid.

Saturday I had some errands to run, and you know how crazy it gets driving around on Saturday afternoons! I wound up trying to turn left onto a main road at the height of traffic. When I realized the futility of this attempt, I changed tactics, indicated to turn right instead, and planned to use the next available street on my left as a way to turn around and join the flow of traffic in the opposite direction.

I turned right and headed up the road. I came into the next available turning lane on my left, and made my way onto a side street.

Right in front of a garage.

I mean, seriously, even I knew I would be silly to pass up this opportunity. Briefly, I imagined having to once again pull off the road during the Monday morning rush to inflate my tire. In front of that same gas station guy. Ugh. No thanks. Before I had a chance to convince myself that I was ‘too busy,’ or whatever, I pulled into the lot, headed for the reception desk and managed to get booked in for a couple of hours later.

I got my mom to come back out with me, and we actually turned car time into coffee and quality time together. Not half bad. We headed back to the garage together later, and…

It was only a dented rim! They knocked it back into place and everything was fine. I dropped it off and had my car back in a little over half an hour. No new tire required. Simple. Shoulda done it ages ago.

Have you also got a “nagging little thing”? If so,consider this your ass kick to make that call, book that appointment or take that next step. You’ll feel so much better when you do! Start by building a little accountability, (i.e. tell someone), and then take that action. It might be a whole lot easier than you expect!

Light, life and love,