Monday, May 11, 2009

Morning Celebration

Celebrate, encaustic, 8" x 10"

Birds do it every morning: they celebrate the coming of morning by tweeting away, almost as an invocation.

Here is my interpretation of their chirps: "It's morning! It's morning! It's light! Check it out! A new day! Let's eat bugs and worms! Find puddles to bathe in! My voice! My voice! I can hear it! Isn't it beautiful? Wake up! Good morning!"

Most mornings, I hear myself do this: Ugh. Oh. Ewugh. Ugh. Creak. Sigh.

Not terribly celebratory.

During the summer when I was about 16, what used to get me out of bed was the soap opera Days of Our Lives (shh, don't tell anyone). I recall one morning in particular when my mother entered my bedroom and declared, "Courtney, you must get up now. Marlena may not survive the exorcism." I burst out laughing as I un-cocooned myself from my comforter.

My childhood dogs were wonderful wake-up companions. My dog Kippy's flatulence often gave me a reason to get out of bed and my dog Alex's tongue bath on my neck tickled me awake.

I remember many mornings as a child in Hawaii (my family went on several trips to Hawaii throughout my childhood), when the ocean's morning ebb and flow made me rise from bed and walk to the beach to touch the new smooth sand.

And even more memorable were the mornings that my father sneaked me out of our Hawaii condo in the wee hours to take me out for coconut pancakes at the Lahaina Broiler (he treated me and my brothers to this secret outing, each on our own special morning). My father and and I drowned our pancakes with coconut syrup as we watched crabs climb up the side of the restaurant from the ocean.

Not so long ago, my partner went through a phase of placing cucumbers on my eyes in the morning during my wake-up process. Sometimes he even brought me a cup of hot lemon-chamomile tea.

All of these memories feel like celebrations of a new day. Celebrations of life.

My challenge these days is to find the moments of celebration even on mundane days, gray days, sad days -- days when I am missing my father and wish he would just tap me on the shoulder and say, "Courtney, time for coconut pancakes."

What can stand up to that coconut pancakes feeling? That's a tough act ot follow.

This spring the birds are reminding me that celebration can come in the morning--even if I am feeling confused or exhausted or sad. As Thich Naht Hanh writes, "Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me."

I am making a concsious effort to celebrate these brand new hours by finding something pleasurable in the morning--something that engages my senses. One morning I smelled my sweet orange essential oil bottle as soon as I woke to get a fresh scent of citrusy, sunshine energy. This morning, I played some disco tunes and did a wobbly, sleepy dance on my way to the shower.

It's a new day every day. A day with new possibilities. What do you do to celebrate?


  1. Thanks for the reminder. At one point in my life, I liked to wake up with a huge 'roar' and a stretch. Felt pretty good really.

    I also used to have a bedroom window that overlooked the rising sun (over an ocean). I had no curtains and adored waking up there.

    But yes, the difference between celebrating being awake and alive instead of all trudgy and down-hearted. We should pay more attention to our lovely birds.

    Loved the artwork, too.

  2. Hi Courtney, this is such a wonderful post - from your translations of morning birds, which made me laugh (I use a sound machine to drown them out, or I'd be up at 4:30 - and since I usually go to sleep around 3, that would not be a good thing!), to the priceless memories of your dad and coconut pancakes. Mornings aren't something I enter with a whole lot of grace, and certainly not with celebration! I like to ease, very slowly and quietly, into the new day. Do some breathing, pull back curtains, make the bed, stretch, turn the phone ringer back on, and then open up to the rest of the house and world...

  3. Our birds sure do know how to herald the dawn! I imagine them saying "time get up, get up" too.

  4. I love all of your descriptions of waking rituals.

    Svasti, I may need to try out your "ROAR!"

    Karin, I love your description of entering a new day gracefully and gradually...

    Juliet, there is a little nest outside our bedroom window, so the little nestlings are surely saying "time to get up!"