More Hydrating, Less Piddling
A convo with author Amy Paige Condon about her morning routine
Good morning, my darlings.
If you are a mother, I hope today fills you with gratitude and joy. Your job is complicated and important, and probably sticky. If today is a difficult day for you, I hope you can create space to feed yourself love.
No matter how you honor this day outwardly (if at all), take an opportunity to mother yourself, to give yourself nourishment and love. What parts of yourself are you trying to birth? Does your inner child need milk and cookies, a playdate or maybe a timeout?
This week, I sat down and had a chat with author-on-fire Amy Condon about her morning practice. Amy, like most of us, went into quarantine last spring flailing blindly, but she managed to emerge vaccinated and with a simple, but solid, daily practice that has changed her life.
Author Amy Condon is the founder of The Refinery Writing Studio. The former editor of Savannah Magazine, Beacon magazine and the Beacon/Commuter podcast, she wrote A Nervous Man Shouldn’t Be Here in the First Place: the Life of Bill Baggs. Her most recent project, the cookbook Bress and N’yam, which she co-authored with Chef Matthew Radford, comes out on this Tuesday, May 11. It’s already been met with critical acclaim and has made it onto this season’s must-have cookbook lists. She lives in Savannah, GA, with her husband Brian, two dogs, and a pig named Gus.
Tell me about your morning routine.
“The morning routine I go through now was developed during COVID. Before that my morning routine was honestly rolling out of bed at five and going straight to work: grabbing a coffee, going to my computer, and starting to work. About halfway through last year, I was having a lot of pain in my back and hips, so I had to start doing all these exercises for physical therapy. And I realized it’s been crazy the way I've been doing things. I’m actually not filling up my well.”
So, your well was running dry?
“I realized then I'm not setting my intention for the day, not doing anything I should be doing in the morning to prepare me to be productive. So that I’m half as productive as I could be, even though I'm working longer hours.”
How did you craft a routine?
“I played around for a little while and I found a mix. I get up first and drink water and take my vitamins. Those are my cues. Drinking water is the most important thing to do. You’re dehydrated after you’ve slept for eight hours or however long. I don't sleep for eight hours, let’s be real. But the first thing I do is drink water, take my vitamins, and then meditate.”
How and how long?
“I find guided meditations for anywhere from three minutes to 15 minutes. I want to be intentional. And I want them to be serving their purpose at that point. I did a 21-day Deepak Chopra [meditation series] on getting unstuck.”
“Then I read. Whatever passage is sent. I get an email every morning from the Center for Action and Contemplation. It’s a Franciscan thought process about how everything is sacred and well connected. It’s about how to be contemplative; people who have a contemplative life serve the world better.”
How do you respond to that?
“I have a little journal where I say what I'm happy about. What am I grateful for this day? And who's on the prayer list? Basically who needs something--even if it’s me, who needs something? It goes on this list. So, the first half hour, 45 minutes of getting up is really sort of like getting my headspace.”
Do you do any kind of movement?
My physical therapy, and that's about a half hour. And then the critters are stirring. A lot of times they come lay on top of me while I'm doing my exercise1.
Have you noticed a change in you and your brain?
“It’s made a huge difference. I’m far more productive. I piddle around a lot less. And I'm much more focused. Part of the meditations is setting an intention for the day. For example, what I want to get done today sometimes is I want to be kinder. It’s amazing how that can actually change the way you work, your self-talk is even better. It’s even kinder, instead of beating yourself up.”
So how do you remind yourself of that during the course of the day?
“It’s almost like I don't have to, if I’ve done this work on the front end, the rest of the day kind of follows.”
How do you wake up?
“The alarm on my phone. It sounds like one of those old timey cartoonish alarms because I used to have one that sounded just lovely. And the lovely doesn’t wake me up. The lovelies made me go, “Oh, that was so sweet.”
Is there something that you aspire to adding, but you just don't know how or you haven't gotten around to?
“The thing I would love, that I really wish I had access to, is a pool. Because if I could get in the water for 45 minutes with that sort of resistance of cardio and yoga all at once my body would just --ahhhhh. That is the best exercise for me ever. And I love it. And if I had access, easy access, to something like that, that’d be a game changer.”
Do you have a bedtime routine?
“I cannot go to sleep unless I read a few pages or something. I have to read. I also sometimes play calming music. I just let it play until I fall asleep. I try not to do anything with a screen or my phone before I go to bed or I'm just likely to scroll, “What's going on with other people’s lives? Oh, that'‘s an interesting story. I'll read that.”
What about breakfast?
“Always black coffee. And I've taken to Auspicious Bakery’s sourdough: a piece of toast. Love strawberries. Sometimes yogurt.”
Do you have your coffee set up before you go to bed?
“I have become ridiculously lazy2. And a lot of times I do Stokes, cold brew and just have cartons of it in the fridge. But if I want hot coffee, I just I’ll do a French press. It’s purely convenience. It’s not because I’m fancy pants.”
AMY’S FANCY PANTS MORNING ROUTINE
Wake up time: 5-5:30am
Alarm: default iPhone alarm
Snooze button: no
Drink water and take vitamins
Meditate 3-15 minutes
Read 5-10 minutes
Links from our convo:
See you back here on Wednesday with more inspiration to help you keep nurturing your daily practice. xo
Gus is a 160 pound pig.
BULLSHIT! Finding a time hack is not lazy. It’s an efficient use of your resources. Especially if the hack, like in this case, is something you really enjoy and better than you could make yourself. And doesn’t clutter up your counter. And helps streamline your morning routine.