What’s Your Morning Ritual?

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms


When I worked as a writer for Democrats in the House of Representatives, our radio man was a fascinating guy named John. During a lunch break, John once announced to the gathered staff that a recent study discovered that most fatal heart attacks occur early in the morning. We wondered: Why?

“First, people brush their teeth when they get up. We have toxins in our teeth. Brushing  loosens them and sends them into the blood stream. Bingo! We drop dead still clutching our toothbrush!”

“The other thing,” John added, “is people use the toilet in the morning. A lot of people die of heart attacks while sitting on the toilet.”

The lunchroom went silent. “You can thank me later,” said John with a broad smile.

“Now there are two things you won’t be doing each morning. I just freed up a lot of precious time for you.”

In spite of John, I continue to have morning rituals. Older people find that rituals are comforting and they help us organize our lives. My rituals probably differ from yours.

Unlike most baboons, I am retired, I live alone and I have no pets.

Morning begins when I fire up my desktop computer. I don’t sleep much, so I’m often on the computer by 4 or 5 AM. The world outside my windows is dark, and no birds are yet filling the air with their tunes. I enjoy the radio while I’m at the computer, usually music on Folk Alley or NPR’s Morning Edition. I wear headphones to avoid disturbing the sleep of my upstairs neighbors.

As I drink black coffee I study my internet browser (Google’s Chrome). I’ve set Chrome up to display 16 web sites that I have “bookmarked” for easy access. I always begin with the site on the far left side of the bookmark bar. That’s NBC News, which I use as my basic source of national and international news.

After reading interesting stories there I move to the next site to the right, which is the online version of the Washington Post. That’s a great site. I can easily spend an hour reading all the news, op/ed and lifestyle stories in this (paperless) paper.

The last thing I read on the Post site is my favorite: Carolyn Hax’s column of personal advice. I never used to read advice columns. Carolyn’s column starts with letters in which readers describe their screwed up lives and dilemmas. Then Carolyn speaks up to analyze the situation and propose solutions. Damn, she’s good!

Next comes the online version of the Star Tribune. I read that closely. While my body is in Oregon much of my heart is in Minnesota. Following that, I read the online version of The Oregonian. That paper delivers weak writing in a frustrating format. I rarely waste much time with it.

Having read news stories for maybe two hours, I move right again to the link for Trail Baboon. That’s my treat after studying so many depressing news items.

Next comes the NPR site, a highly varied compendium of stories running on NPR. After that I read MinnPost. Next is Politico, a political news magazine that is often boring but not always. I finish my computer time by indulging my weakness for news about the Minnesota Vikings. I blush to confess I read five web sites that talk about nothing but the team. There are, I suppose, worse vices.

All that computer time accounts for maybe three hours of my morning. Then I move to the second big event of the day: writing my letter. Since I’ve mentioned this often before, I won’t say much here. In 1999 two things happened at about the same time. An old friend lost her husband to cancer. My marriage ended.

The two events merged in an odd way. My friend was living in a valley outside a tiny town in extreme southeastern Minnesota. While she had a few friends, she was an outsider living in a highly conservative corner of the state. I began writing daily email letters to her to soften her grief and chat about progressive politics. What I didn’t understand for many years was that my friend was handling being a widow well, but I needed the correspondence as a way of processing my own grief. I write a letter each morning, even on days when I can barely stand thinking about my life. Writing those letters is healthy for me. Knowing I “have” to write them encourages me to think more about events in my life, living a little more completely.

My letters give me a reason to reflect on each passing day and to seek meaning in the mundane events of my life. I often roam the back alleys of my history, relishing old memories and rediscovering myself. Just as singers need to sing and athletes need to exercise, writers need to write. The daily letters have become a crucial connection with that part of me.

Do you have a morning ritual?


56 thoughts on “What’s Your Morning Ritual?”

  1. Morning all! I read most mornings – audio book while doing either some online solitaire or online jigsaw puzzles (sometimes “regular” reading, but this is hard first thing in the morning; it makes me too drowsy after having just gotten up). I usually read for half hour or 45 minutes then feed the animals and then on with my day!


  2. Suppose I should have mentioned the Trail, but I figure most of us will be bringing it up;.

    And I am also a Carolyn Hax fan, but I access her column through Facebook so the timing is hit or miss throughout the morning!


    1. Bill: your answer is funny in a way you couldn’t know. My father, god rest his soul, had a weird morning ritual. After doing the usual morning stuff he would stick his toothbrush down his throat to trigger the gag reflex. What we outside the closed bathroom door heard was all the usual noises, ending with a horrible “Urgggh, aacckkkk, gwooolph!” sound (like maybe the sound of Linda’s washing machine). In a moment of weakness he explained that he was told as a kid that this maneuver was good because “it gets the bad air out.” Sometime in his 40s he figured out that this was bogus. But he couldn’t quit doing it for another two or three decades. And it was made clear to me that this was not a topic we could ever mention.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Oh, geez, I just figured out the answer. Ha!

          I’m not at my brightest today. But I’m better than I was a few days ago.


  3. I have some chores to do first thing in the morning. Those are make coffee and walk the dog. When that’s done I check my email if I have time to do that before the start of the live stream of Democracy Now. If something else doesn’t interfere, I listen to the entire Democracy Now show which is one hour long. If there is still some time before my wife is ready for breakfast I will read new entries on Facebook and check out Trail Baboon. If I am up extra early I might go to Trail Baboon and Facebook before Democracy Now and I might also enter a comment at Trail Baboon.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Democracy Now can be heard over the radio at 8 AM on KFAI and on some other radio stations at various times. When I lived in Clarks Grove I listen before breakfast to The Morning Blend on KFAI, a show managed by Dale. In Clarks Grove I was able to watch Democracy Now on a cable TV station later in the day. Now the early morning live stream of Democracy Now works best as the time when I can listen to that show and that interferes with listening to The Morning Blend.


  4. 2:30 A.M. potty call
    4:30 A.M. alarm clock
    4:31 A.M. finish my turn at Civilization V
    4:40 A.M. check websites Media Matters, Mediaite, Crooks and Liars. Respond to Republican posters.
    5:00 A.M. start car. Tune radio to Morning Edition. Drive to Speedway for coffee and two breakfast sandwiches.
    6:30 A.M. Work

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Morning coffee (French Press), English muffin with cinnamon sugar, yogurt, fruit, thin sliced Swiss cheese, and a quick read through the local paper, check the Trail, check Yahoo news, feed cat, let out dog if husband hasn’t, then clean up and get ready for work.

    This morning’s routine was disrupted by a flurry of texts from children and daughter in law. Son and Dil found a vey young abandoned kitten on their walk last night, and since they can’t keep it, and since daughter who is visiting them can’t keep it, guess who is getting a new kitten. Daughter will keep kitty at her place in Moorhead a couple of weeks and then bring it to us mid August. Kitty goes to the vet today. No lost kittens have been reported to Brookings Animal control, so it seems to be ours.


  6. I used to do breakfast before animals, but it kept getting later and later before I could tear myself away from the (%&*!) computer…so I recently shifted to going out early (started at 5:30, today it was 6:30+) to feed the horses, chickens, cats and then the dog then me. The down side is I am still sitting at the computer, reading the NYTimes, Facebook, emails…forwarding information on the trials and tribulations of the Draken Harald Hårfagre viking ship trying to make its way through the Great Lakes and hopefully to Duluth (miscommunication woes with the US Coast Guard re: the need for pilot ships to accompany it @ $400/hour)…oh, and this morning reading about the invite for Russia to hack Democrats….hmmmm. Time to stand up and do something productive. (perhaps)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. i am in the midst of transition
    new house
    new business model
    new perspective on how i need to get it done and each day starts out with the checking of the cell phone next to my head to see if the sync between my brain and the level of morning light or lack of it is close to correct.
    i have appointments a couple days a week at present at 7 so heading out depends on time of year,(right now being on the road is a piece of cake at 630 because 1/2 the world is on summer vacation) destination distance away from my starting point weather. winter and rain add considerably

    i have always enjoyed a morning soak int he tub but the tub is in the community bathroom in this house so i have turned to either using the hot tub or a shower. its a production to get my tea and materials ready to head out to the hot tub and i have a kid whose room is nearby who comments on my thumping the hot tub cover as it opens or closes and the music i paly at the ungodly hour before noon.
    i like to start out my day with ted talks and the trail but i find myself doing the crash and burn at midnight and slleping straight through til 5 with no time to do the 20-30 minutes of computer time.

    before anything else happens the cats and dogs get fed and the dogs finish eating and go out in the yard for 15 minutes before coming in to lounge in the family room as everyones day begins.
    the fish get fed, tea made and then the checking of emails to see what china has come up with for me while i slept. i check with my business partner and son to see what we need to get done to go forward and to be sure all of yesterdays stuff got doen as expected.
    i have two other dittys that are start up and crank it up mode business’s that steal attention and a list of meetups and activities i attend when i can.two kids left with activities i am involved in all determine what is left in the option pile as my feet hit the floor.
    last week i slept in til 7 for the first time in 5 years. i guess i was tired.
    i have been a bit overloaded the last couple of months and hope to be able to get a guest blog or two up but the best intentions are not getting the job done. ill try something else. my friend calls it ass in the chair time. i need some more of that.
    thanks for keeping the ball rolling gang. the trail is a great place to get up to and come back to through the day. it has become one of my favorite rituals.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey Kids!
    Summer certainly has it’s own schedule. One day I overslept. But for what is the question. And who could tell?

    I read emails on the phone and check out FB before I get out of bed. Yes, I am one of *those* people.

    Let dogs out, potty break, sometimes I’m distracted with other chores or
    random jobs. But then It’s to the laptop to email my friend Paul. He and I email every day, rather like Steve and his friend, it has become morning ritual for both of us.
    And this summer I am doing an online math tutorial thingy. So I spend an hour or so trying to make myself smarter and not be scared of math. This is preparation for the ‘Elementary algebra’ class I’m registered for this fall.
    I take daughter to camp everyday at 1:00 and spend the afternoon doing whatever else is on my schedule.
    This past week and all of next week is lighting a show down in Chatfield at the [still being] renovated Potter Auditorium. Show opens next Thursday… most of the paint should be dry on the building not to mention the set.
    Somewhere in there I hope to have oats combined and I’ll be baling straw too.
    Always something.

    I’m supposed to go back to ‘work’ work August 10. Maybe then I can get some work done.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Since Husband and I sleep separately, we climb in together in one room or another for our morning meeting. : ) Then it’s turn on the computer while tea water heats up. Someone gets to the computer first and the other one makes breakfast or a smoothie. When it’s my turn I check email, the Trail, weather, and the news * – in that order. Eat anywhere between 9 and noon… then off to whatever is the project of the day, sometimes over at our friend Walken’s place. Two or three times a week there’s an afternoon visit to my mom.

    * I am aware from reading Wes’ schedule that I do the wimpy version of the news – just what shows up in msn.com, which is sometimes all I can stomach…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Very nice. Steve.
    A) wake up between precisely 4:34 (yesterday) or 10:19 (today).
    B or C) turn on my computer and Ipad
    B or C) go to the toilet (bringing the ipad).
    D) check on Sandy and check for messages from kids.
    E or F) take my morning meds (which is more than taking pills).
    E or F) Go to the toilet.
    G) Wait 15 to 45 to be able to stand erect.
    H) Wait 10 minutes to three hours for my hands to be useful and then empty the dishwasher.
    I) Go to the toilet.
    J) Make coffee (about which I will today submit a post if I can).
    K) Stay very quiet before Sandy wakes up (typically 10:30 but can be as late as 12:30).
    L) Go to the toilet.
    Then in any order.
    go to the toilet.
    Sit on the patio with coffee and see if the building maintenance man comes by for a chat (often)
    Make lunch or breakfast,
    Try to read but get bored.
    Try to watch something on Netflix or Prime or Acorn but get bored.
    Help Sandy if she needs it and drive her to meet friends (often but not always).
    Do any cleaning (yesterday all the flours and tubs and showers and my share of the dusting–company coming, hence the sleeping late today).
    Be bored and frustrated about my hands.
    Read TB if my hands are not too frustrating.
    Go to the toilet (wall that coffee).
    Today I am adding to the list:
    pray I do not die on the toilet.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. My usual morning routine is nothing special to write about, so I’ll do yesterday’s, which was quite different than usual, although similar to Sunday through Tuesday’s routine. Starting after midnight since that’s when “morning” supposedly starts.

    1:30ish – Potty
    4:00 – Potty
    4:15 – get hooked up to IV
    4:45 – get unhooked from IV
    5:00 – blood draw
    7:00 – finally drifting off again but woken by a knock on the door. A volunteer wants to know if I would like a newspaper. Well, yes, I would, but I sure would have preferred it at 9:00 instead of 7:00
    7:30 – peruse the breakfast offerings to see what delicious (sarcasm) food I can order. Call in my order.
    7:35 – Finish reading the paper in bed while I wait for my food to arrive.
    8:00 – Potty
    8:10 – Get vitals checked
    8:15 – Eat breakfast but am disgusted by blueberry muffin which is sweeter than blueberry cake should be and not very tasty either. But the bacon is good.
    8:20 – Read in bed and try my darndest to stay awake so I’ll be alert when the doctor arrives
    10:15 – IV hookup
    10:45 – unhook from IV



      1. I was in the hospital from Saturday evening until yesterday evening.

        A little too close to death’s door for comfort.

        Taking lots of pictures in the woods can be a dangerous thing. I went to Duluth for a few days, a few days after July 4th. Had a great time and each day I got out to take pictures and each time I strayed off the beaten path. Because there are good pictures to be had if you go off the path.

        Got a couple tick bites.

        Last week, Tuesday afternoon, I suddenly became extremely tired. Went to bed…sleep didn’t help. Felt hot and feverish. Threw up. Next day was the same…and the next and the next. I didn’t bother taking my temp because even when I feel super feverish, I will have a raging “fever” of 98. Kept thinking I would be better the next day. I was hot, nauseated, achy, had diarrhea, and other fun stuff. Ate almost nothing this whole time. Finally took my temp: 104.7

        Then, my foggy brain remembered: tick bite! and that maybe I should check for Lyme disease. Off to the Urgent Care. Then the E.R. and being admitted to the hospital. And the tests began. And the IVs – at first continuously because I was severely dehydrated and then it was cut down to whenever I needed one of the three antibiotics I was on. My white blood counts were so low (a mere fraction of what they should be) that a hematologist was also involved in my care.

        Finally, on Tuesday, there was an answer: Anaplasmosis – also called Erlichiosis. A tick-borne illness that the doctor said is worse than Lyme disease. But it is totally curable with the right medicine, which I started taking in the hospital and am still taking. My white blood count went up slightly, which is what they wanted to see (besides figuring out was wrong and treating that) so here I am, home again. Tired but grateful to get back to my normal boring morning routine.


        1. Whoa, ljb, what an experience – that’s trauma! I’m so glad you are OK. And glad you’re home if you are still able to rest there. And glad it’s curable. And glad to see your sense of humor is still somewhat intact.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Yes, I think I will stick to urban photos for a while, Bill! And I vow to apply tick repellent very liberally anytime there is a remote possibility of getting a tick bite!


        3. i think wed better see those pictures. glad you figured it out. get better quick . keep us up to speed. part 1 2 and 3 of your blog post sould be done not necessarily in that order

          Liked by 1 person

  12. I can’t think of anything that I do any time of day that I would call a ritual. The closest would probably be my half hour of meditation, but really, it doesn’t involve anything more than sitting still and quieting my mind.

    My morning routine is kickstarted most mornings by Martha, our cat. When she decides it time for her breakfast, she’ll walk all over me, meowing all the while. I can ignore her only so long, and usually by this time I have to get up to go to the bathroom anyway, so I feed her. Then I let Bernie out, and while he’s doing his thing in the back yard, I’m preparing his morning meal. Once he comes in and has eaten, it’s time to settle back into bed with the morning paper. First the news, then the NY Times crossword puzzle. After that I check email, FB, and TB.

    Hans usually sleeps till 8:30 or so. Then he fixes us both breakfast and coffee.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Because I like to do it at the same time every day, and my schedule is as flexible as it is, I do it in the afternoon – after Jeopardy! and before I start cooking our supper. Of course it can be done anytime, but I find that if I don’t do it at the same time every day, I forget.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. i miss some of my ritual but i am really happy with my current mode. like the pandora lists i have put together and the random mix of the stuff i have chosen over the last couple of years, my rituals of todays are the rituals i have chosen to plug in a bit here a bit there. reading , listening to ted talks or on being or one of the podcast/online classes/ electures or webinars. making potatoes, cubed, hash borwn american fires, with onions and something else that varies but onions and potatoes are the core. my 22 year old acuses me of maing potaotes and onions with cumin chili powder and whatever else is around for my sunday ritual. i love getting up early enought o do something else before my 8 am cbs sunday morning cooking session. maybe baked eggs or a quiche, maybe some bread or something with black red or pinto beans and or rice kalamata olives artichoke hearts chipotle and abado then see whats sitting corn oranges pears oh the peaches this year…
    learning mushrooms, and spices holing to get indian mexican and chinese cooking down better, i shouldnt limit it to that but thats where i aim today if lebanese and ethiopian come to me from a teacher i will welcome it. i want to learn to can and pickle stuff. learn what to do with tomatoes and on and on and on..
    my ritual is to pull myself back in from the tangent i strayed off into for the moment while i am trying to get the 3 or 4 things of the moment done.
    i really need to focus on the 4 i am doing right now. food trays heaters non profits and hats/caigslist/amazon.
    plus the three inventions and new companies ideas that are too good to leave alone.
    just did a thing on the guy who studies people who all live to be 115 with good quality of life and hope to get that plugged in and increase the numbers
    water rooftops retirement distribution… the ideas keep my rituals going strong

    makes me sad but lets me know i was on the right track when one of my simmering notions comes around and becomes an everyday idea.. its so obvious…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I wish a could achieve a consistent morning routine. I like to sit around and sip coffee while reading and doing some online sudoku and kakuro puzzles in the morning. Often I have to go somewhere in the morning, though, and I have to leave the house before I’ve gotten hungry enough to eat breakfast, and then the day makes all its demands on my time and before I know it another day has slipped away.

    I work at a flower shop one day a week these days, and I’m scheduled to start at 8. I’d really prefer it if I started at 10 or 11, but at least that’s only one day a week.

    Liked by 2 people

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