“I love these quiet morning hours, la madrugada, when the stillness beckons you not to flip the lights on just yet and the sun calls you outside to watch its rising.”
This was a journal entry of mine a few summers ago after one of my all time favorite summer “traditions” began: getting up before the sun and spending my mornings reading and praying outside as the sun begins to color the sky with its waking.
I started doing this the summer before my senior year of high school as I began to realize my lack of routine in the summers was ruining my productivity. Sleeping late was draining me, physically and spiritually. When I slept till noon, as summers often went, I would be about 0% motivated to do any real work, would actually be more tired, and would tend to never get around to having a “quiet time” with the Lord. I felt like I was basically wasting my days.
When I decided I wanted to get up earlier, I thought, why not sunrise? If I’m going to be up early, I might as well make it early enough to enjoy the beautiful morning sky. I grabbed a blanket, a notebook and pen, my bible, my camera, and a cup of coffee and headed out to the back field at my parents’ house, where the horizon is long and flat and the sunrise is visible all morning.
Let me tell you, it changed my summers.
First of all, it totally charged me spiritually.
It was such a sweet time to sit in the presence of the Lord and learn from His Word. I normally begin by journaling a list of things I’m thankful for (anything from my family to the color blue to pizza) and then writing down notes on the passage I decide to read. I also spend time in prayer and listening to what God is telling me, all while looking at one of His most magnificent creations. There’s something about sitting in the cool of the morning when the rest of the world is still sleeping that is just so alive spiritually. It has really grown me.
Secondly, it super boosted my productivity
– like, through the roof. This part comes in after the sun has risen and I’ve gone back inside and not gotten back in bed.
It’s between 7 and 7:30 and the rest of the house is still waking up, and for whatever reason motivation is up 3000%. Suddenly I have all these ideas for my Etsy shop, semester planning, or other projects and the energy to start them.
I’ve found that sleeping in late usually totally saps me of energy while getting up for the sunrise has me crazy focused. Where I would usually get two or three (or zero!) things done when I woke up later, I now have most, if not more than, my to-do list done by lunch on days where I get up early. Then I have the rest of the afternoon to relax, although I’m usually motivated to continue the productivity.
When I’m at school, I would normally be heading to class to get started on the busy day, and if snoozing makes me groggy then, why snooze in the summers either?
Lastly, it gave me something to remember.
I love photography, and some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken came from those gorgeous, golden magic hours. I usually take photos throughout my quiet time as the sun is rising and they are beautiful mementos of sweet times and great backdrops for other projects I may think up .
When I’m done reading and praying I often take even more photos, do some stretches/exercises, and occasionally journal some more. It’s overall just a rejuvenating time and honestly feels a bit adventurous. While I’ve been blessed to enjoy some beautiful sunrises in the lush mountains of South Africa and the peaceful warm of Mexico, amongst other places, some of my favorite have still been in my own backyard.
Mornings like that make for a summer worth remembering.
Here are some tips for starting your own sunrise summer tradition:
1. Make it your own. You could skip the journaling if that isn’t your thing, or choose a novel to read that you’re into, listen to a podcast or music, or do some yoga. Whatever your morning needs to be to make it feel rejuvenating for you, give it a go!
2. Set multiple alarms if you have to. It doesn’t have to be every day, either! It’s okay to enjoy a lazy morning sleeping-in every now and again. (But you’ll find you like the early ones better in the long run.)
3. Ditch the phone. If you have a camera or aren’t inclined to take pictures, and don’t need your phone for music or something, try leaving your phone inside while you enjoy your morning, distraction-free. There’s nothing new on social media, yet, anyway!
4. Do it even if you can’t spend the whole time outside. If you’ve got little ones asleep inside or no spot to really sprawl out outside, just take a peek at the sunrise and fix up a cozy corner in your living room to do your morning routine inside. Hopefully there’s a good view from a window, but even if not, getting up early is still worth it. (If you already get up early and spend it inside, I would totally suggest taking just a moment to look at the beautiful sky!)
5. Make yourself a nice cup of something to enjoy. Coffee is a personal favorite.
6. Set up everything you need before you go to bed. Having your journal, pen, book, blanket, and camera all together when you wake up is easier than fumbling around in the dark (who wants to turn on the light at 6am?) and it can be motivating to actually get up if you know it’s all ready to go. I stay in my pjs and just grab my things, make a cup of joe, and head outside – less than 5 minutes.
Overall, because of these early mornings my summers have completely changed for the better. They’ve become some of the most productive, alive, and memorable.