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Depending on how you interpret statistics, it seems that 80% of people check their phones within fifteen minutes of waking up. I imagine them rummaging around under the duvet, growing more frantic if their fingers don’t connect immediately with their precious device. An irrational fear of missing out on something that had happened over night, seems to override common sense. I know this feeling, because I was one of those people.

I’m looking out through my study window down to the river, pondering on those halcyon days before the internet sunk its claws into us.   I’d be gently woken by the radio, tuned quietly to a local station while the Teasmade whirred into action. Fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time, before getting ready for work, always put me in the right frame of mind for the day. Nobody would have dreamt of phoning so early, unless in an emergency. An unspoken etiquette wrapped a framework around such intrusive behaviour.

Today’s waking up times are shattered by compulsive tweeting and messaging.  Just because everyone else seems to be plugged in, doesn’t mean we have to be. Surely whatever feels so urgent can wait. Count to ten, breathe slowly and let that urge to respond in a flurry of righteous indignation dissipate. 

I asked some sensible, grounded people I’ve met since I started my writing life, to share their post-waking up moments. Many are common sense but that doesn’t mean they’re common practice.

  1. Smile. A new day brings new possibilities and opportunities.  John Fish, book reviewer, @TheLastWord1962   I love the idea of smiling the minute you wake up. It releases those feel good chemicals of serotonin and endorphins, lowering blood pressure and heart rate and… it costs nothing. 
  2. Read a motivational quote and reflect on its meaning.
  3. Make tea into a pleasurable ritual – warm the pot, spoon in the tea leaves, wait for it to brew, pour into a favourite mug/cup. It encourages patience. 
  4. Drink a glass of water. A great tip to start the day from Anne Coates, author of the Hannah Weybridge series. www.annecoatesauthor.com   So simple, but how many of us do that on a regular basis? It fires up the metabolism and helps the body flush out toxins. 
  5. Don’t worry about what the day will bring. Reflect on the words of the Stoic philosopher, SenecaTomorrow will take care of itself, so take care of today, otherwise tomorrow will take ill-care of you todaythus losing today. If you lose today every-day, you are lost every-day.
  6. I walk around the garden with my second cup of tea. This makes it sound like I live in a National Trust property. I don’t. It’s a short walk but it’s calming, depending upon overnight slug carnage. Tom Hocknell, Author of The Life Assistance Agency. https://amzn.to/2LrwMWC  
  7. I lie on the floor and breathe slowly and deeply for five minutes whilst listening to soft piano music. Angelena Boden, Author. Life coach.
  8. I take the dogs into my field of the back of the house, lean on the gatepost and have a fag. Then it’s black coffee time!  Charles Evans, Artist, Author, TV presenter, Main demonstrator for Daley-Rowney, UK   http://charlesevansart.com/
  9. I nearly always go outside first thing, wander around, sniff the air and look at the sky.  Dr. Andrew K Black, retiring consultant psychiatrist, author. 
  10. I write down my dreams, if applicable. If not I breathe and listen to the birds. Nikki, IT Tech and psychic. Nikki @Daimon Mediation

Tea, (and biscuits), books, walking, wandering, observing, watching the morning news, nature and dogs all featured in the research results. Maybe you do some or all of these things, or you have your own morning routines that don’t involve technology, but if not, you might want to consider the benefits of replacing that small blue screen with nature’s enormous, colourful canvas. If only for fifteen minutes.

Photograph courtesy of Charles Evans, Northumberland. 

Thank you to everyone who took part. 


Respect for Old Traditions

   Thinking it might be another damp Easter bank holiday, I trudged down to my local art shop to get some fresh supplies only to find that it had closed at lunchtime. Puzzled, I peered through the window in the hope that maybe the staff were going through some training or having a cheeky chocolate egg with their coffee in the back room.

  ‘It’s Good Friday,’ said a man, tapping me on the shoulder. I was about to retort that everywhere else was open, when I was reminded of being a child in the sixties in my home town of Matlock. My mother would march me off to church for the 10.30 service, a quick dive into the co-op for milk and bread before it shut at midday then back for the 2pm devotions. Not a crumb of chocolate would have passed my lips throughout the whole of Lent.  Whole families would troop to church on Easter Day wearing their “Sunday Best” which as my Dad used to say, did not involve orange hot pants.

  I no longer follow any religious faith but this nostalgic reminder got me thinking about other traditions we have binned as they don’t fit in with our view of the modern world. Take funerals for example. How many people close their curtains when someone they know dies; family, friend, neighbour? Black clothes were de rigeur at funerals but I’ve been to a few where mourners were specifically asked to wear colourful clothes.

    Ever had a cucumber sandwich for afternoon tea? I’d like to treat my family to a bit of tradition this Sunday. Cucumber sliced so thinly it’s transparent, placed neatly between two thin slices of white bread, lightly buttered, fluffy scones with home- made raspberry jam and tea in proper china cups. According to an old Guardian article, less than 14% of under 35s have sampled these gourmet delights.

  I abandoned Sunday roasts and Christmas dinners when my daughters left home. Trailing round the freezer chests in the supermarket looking for roast chicken for one deals wasn’t my idea of fun. Now when they visit they ask for many of the dishes I used to make when they were young. Nostalgia does have some resonance after all.

          My daughter is getting married next year. I was staggered when her fiancé asked me for my permission and said he would take good care of her. He acknowledged she was an independent woman and assured me he would never stand in her way.

  Now she has a fire cracking temper so I was in no position to say no but the fact he did this told me a lot about his values and character. How often does this happen these days? I told my parents I’d got married after the event. Then I told them some bigger news two days later. J  We chastise the millennial generation for being too self-absorbed but many are showing signs of wanting to resurrect traditional values out of respect for their elders.

   I could go on. Not moaning but feeling a bit sad that we’ve lost so much that created distinct markers in our lives. Technology rules – walking on the street, in cafes, at the dinner table and even in the bedroom.

   I listened to a poignant interview with my old heart throb David Cassidy last night. I can’t believe how much he’d changed from that gorgeous boy I was convinced I would marry one day. His was the only face I would have on my teenage bedroom wall.

 ‘Could it be for ever?’  No David, nothing ever is. 

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