It took four decades for me to become it, but I am an official lover of morning. At home, I get up early and follow the same routine every day: coffee, Bible, journal, planning. I need and hour or two of sunrise and solitude in order to function well the rest of the day. Mornings are also when I do my best work creatively – all three of my books and nearly every blog post has been written in the early hours. Occasionally, on vacation or days off, I’ll sleep in, but I almost always regret it.
I went into sabbatical not knowing how I would do mornings. Would I want to switch it up and become an afternoon girl? I didn’t know, and I left myself lots of room to decide in the moment. But now, eight days in, I have a routine and I can tell it’s going to stick.
I usually wake up around 4:30 (I’m hoping that will change as I acclimate more to this time zone) and make myself stay in bed until 5:00. Then I go out to my kitchen, open the big doors on the terrace (and the city is soooo quiet at this time) and make an espresso.
True story: I’ve never really liked espressos much. They’re delicious, but so little. I want more time with my coffee than that. However, I’ve grown to really like these little guys, made in the Nespresso provided by my lovely airbnb host, Judy.
I sip my espresso and go through the daily page in the journal that I created for this trip. It’s sort of like a ‘solitude map’. It asks a different “three things” question each morning and then goes on into meditation, reading, priority-setting and self awareness (that part isn’t shown on this picture.)
This process is not at all work to me; it’s so fun to have some time to connect to the big purpose for my life and to establish some small steps for achieving it. Sometime during this part of my journaling, the church bells chime 6:00 and the city wakes up and when it wakes up, it gets big and loud very quickly. Shop doors start opening, street sweepers roll through my alley, voices rise through my courtyard filling the air around me with several languages (mostly Italian) reminding me once again that this globe is packed with people who are loved by God and I am one of those people, but only one. The quilt of cultures I’m experiencing here in Italy is breathtaking and beautiful.
When the bells chime 7:00, it’s time for a phone date, which is one of my favorite parts of the day. It’s amazing how next-door everyone sounds even when we’re a world away. (Aside: since posting about the church bells, I have heard from several who are church bell annoyed and I do not understand you people. I will defend your right to dislike them but let’s agree to never talk about this at parties.)
After that, I usually write for awhile, a blog post or poetry or more focused journaling in my computer. When I feel out of words, I get ready for the day and go in search of yet more coffee. Mostly, I make myself do this so I don’t become a hermit during my time here, also because I love seeing the city in the morning. And also because I love coffee.
This is the pretty entryway to my apartment. I love it so much. And I even love the statue, though I don’t know who that guy is (I’ve got a pretty light grasp on art history). And see that white chair in the photo by the table? It doesn’t belong there, but that’s where I keep it because this is an old apartment and the fuse blows a couple of times a day. It’s an easy fix, but I’m a short girl, so that chair saves my bacon every time.
Aw, this is Via della Condotta – the street where I live. It borders Piazza della Signoria (undoubtedly the busiest piazza in Florence where the fake David and Neptune lives), but it’s filled with shops and restaurants that I visit every day and I love it – but its not my very favorite street. My very favorite street is Via dei Neri and that’s where I’m headed.
Via de Neri has loads of lovely things to see and taste and experience. Ditta Artiginale is so far my favorite place for coffee. It’s the one place I’ve found so far that serves a “filtered coffee” (American = pour over) and it’s delightful and makes me feel closer to home while also being far away. I keep hoping Dave Beach will walk out from behind the counter, but that keeps not happening.
This routine of coffee/quiet/listen/write/coffee is working for me. I know it’s working, not because I’m producing cool things, but because I feel myself becoming more myself as I move through this adventure. I feel thoughts taking shape and dreams being born and seeds of plans being planted during this time and I’m so grateful for it.
This morning I woke up thinking about some of the old hymns my grandmother used to sing. Maybe it’s being here in all this history, away from all-things-modern America, but it inspired me to write something old and new. I know this isn’t what I usually write and it’s not particularly profound or well-constructed, but something about it connected me back to the foundations of my life, my truth, my love for Jesus and the people who taught me to search for Him everywhere.