why mornings are the best

Takashi Murakami, "Dragon in Clouds," Museum of Contemporary Art

Takashi Murakami, "Dragon in Clouds," Museum of Contemporary Art

I never used to be a morning person. I liked sleeping until noon, burrowed underneath fluffy covers, and then racing into the rest of the day, full steam ahead. 

Then I had a kid, and . . . ya know. Between 3 a.m. feedings, 5 a.m. cries, and 10 p.m. wake-ups, those initial months taught me to cherish (CHERISH!) sleep. But I still loved sleeping in.

Or maybe you've already boarded this early morning train, like my friend Emily, who has waxed poetic about waking up at the crack of dawn for years. (And she's literally the most energetic and productive person I know, so that's saying something.)

Mornings are like breakfast, and exercise, and not gossiping, drinking less, and going to church--good for you, but not necessarily what you wanna do on a given day. It feels very grown-up, this whole sliding out of bed quietly while the rest of the family sleeps, walking downstairs using my phone light, noting the brush of the cat's fur on my ankles as she skitters past, pouring a cup of cold brew in a daze, settling into the couch.

My first thought usually revolves around work: where to fit more in, what things I can check-off my list, how I can "do" as much as possible today. Then some mornings, like today, I pay attention to the quiet that an early morning can offer.

The tick-tock of the clock. The sound of my own breath. The muted lights, the cicadas murmuring outside the window, the plushness of the couch, the click-clack of keys typing or the scratch of a pen in a notebook.

No matter how many times I hit snooze, waking up early means carving out a slice of the day that's just mine. To think. To pause. To sit and be still. I'm not mama, responding to every need. I'm not a daughter or friend, connecting in conversation. I'm not a wife, catching up with her husband and partnering on all things big and small. I'm not an employee, hustling through email and meetings. I'm not even a writer, really, anxious to put perspective on a page. 

I'm just myself, alone, in the quiet. And I'm learning how much I need that.

{summer 2017}

I remember thinking in May, "I don't have any plans this summer!" Yeah . . . false. Summer 2017 has been busy in the best way. Here's what I've been up to:

  • Writing 50+ freelance articles, including one about lunchtime workouts for SELF.com and BRIDES magazine (in print!)
  • Camping with a newly walking toddler (not recommended unless you prefer bumps, bruises, and that no sleep life)
  • LA to visit a dear friend, where we hit up Joshua Tree (more camping!), ate delicious food, and caught up. I also enjoyed AN ENTIRE DAY to myself, where I strolled through stops in Venice, leisurely sipped a latte while reading a book, laid on the beach and listened to music. SIMPLE PLEASURES, especially after becoming a mom.
  • Updated one of our bathrooms and stained our deck. (Let's be real, I supervised this work.)
  • Visited a nearby lake with a beach, where E loved the water but hated the sand. Which, ya know, isn't the easiest combo?
  • Watched Moana 4372843927 times. Still don't hate it.
  • Visited the Ozarks with family for several days of sunshine, boating, swimming and all the beers. Oh, and quality time, of course.
  • Went to NYC with my parents and little sister, where we met a cop on a horse in Central Park, tried 5 new coffee shops, indulged in sushi at Morimoto (swoon), saw 3 Broadway shows (Lion King - insanely magical costumes, Bandstand - super fun, and Chicago - classic), walked around Times Square in the rain, drank local beer in Staten Island, waved at the Statue of Liberty, walked around Little Italy and Chinatown on a food tour, and so much more. Epic trip; if you've never been, GO.
  • Buying a baby pool so we can sit with our feet in it with E and also drink a mojito at the same time.
  • Farmer's market strolls, complete with the usual smoothies and egg sandwiches and a million refrains of E saying "hi" "dog" and "uh oh."
  • Early morning coffee dates with my husband before work.
  • Marveling at our son's cute face because I'm obsessed with him.
  • Hanging out with our neighbors on Friday nights.
  • Sunday dinners with my sister and her husband that ultimately turn into Sunday Funday of some sort.
  • Visits from our parents on both sides.
  • Finally investing in a bike trailer so we can bike with E. The first ride involved multiple stops as he screamed bloody murder while wearing a helmet, so, it's going great.

The rest of the summer also includes a drive to Chicago to see some women I adore, a trip to Minneapolis to hang with our pals K+L, and the cherry on top: a week-long vacation to Charleston and Raleigh to meet my cousin's baby girl and my best friend's twin boys who are the same age as E, and hopefully see another friend who lives only a few hours away.

Theme of this summer? Brews, babies and besties. The best.

the secret to freelance writing

Now that I've been a freelance writer for a few years, I get the same question a couple times a week—and it is always some variation of: "How do I get started?"

Do you have any tips for new freelance writers?

How did you get your gig at XYZ?

What's the best way to get a freelance assignment? 

Can you help me figure out what to write?

How do I become a better writer, since I want to freelance?

Here's the secret: put yourself out there, and start writing.

Seriously, it's that simple. Although I have sympathy for all the writers dying to get their words in the world (and get paid for it!) I also continually raise my eyebrows at this question. There's no workaround, no short-cut, no quick way to get published. And yes, I know there are a million stories of the blogger going viral, the one-hit wonder author at age 25, the person cherry-picked from oblivion and asked to write.

That's not been my experience, though. Mostly it involves writing. Late nights. Early mornings. During naptime. Lots and LOTS of Googling and research. Reading what other people do. Looking at bylines, and editor emails, and verticals. Endless brainstorming and pitching. And plenty of no's. In fact, probably 75% no's versus yes's. Enough to make you wanna quit? Of course. But if you want to *be a writer* in some sort of published capacity, you don't.

This spring, I stepped up my freelance game, intentionally so. My goal? Publish a first-person essay in a national print magazine. I'm happy to say I checked that off my life (stay tuned for details in November!) I also simply wanted to get more articles under my belt, so I hustled big-time. I've written 50+ articles in the past 2-3 months, and I'm really proud of that work.

But as much as I'd love to announce I've found a "secret" to making it happen, I can't. Because there isn't one. You put your head down and write. You look at a blinking cursor, or a blank page, and combat the voice in your head whispering "It's all been done, you have nothing to add" in favor of the feeling in your heart beating, "No, I want to contribute my take, I can and I will."

Want to start writing? Then start writing.