The Morning Routine

For the last two weeks, I’ve been re-thinking and re-shaping my morning routine. I started a graduate program at KU this fall, and I also work full time at the University Career Center in addition to teaching cello lessons and gigging on the weekends, so I’m pretty invested in optimal time management at the moment.
My current morning routine looks like this – I wake up at 6:00 am, and let my dogs out. I have two terrier mixes, Jake and Mia. I feed the dogs, and make one cup of strong pour-over coffee. I meditate for 8 minutes (focusing on my breath, tuning into sounds around me, feeling the weight of my body on the cushion, acknowledging thoughts that come up, then tuning back into my breath). I then eat breakfast (steel-cut oats with fruit and nuts) while reading (sometimes for class, sometimes for pleasure). I then spend 30-40 minutes doing homework for class. I get dressed and ready for work, and head out on my bike at 7:45. I arrive at 8:00 to begin my work day.
I try to stick to this routine whether it’s a workday or the weekend. Consistency works well for me. Although it seems like there is a lot of activity packed into that 2-hour period, it actually feels relaxing. Having a well-rehearsed morning routine helps to set me up for a good day, because I don’t have to make decisions about what I will eat for breakfast, or in what order I will do things. I am a morning person, in that it’s the time of day when I feel my mind is at it’s sharpest, and I’m the most capable of retaining information. My routine helps me make the most of that.
What’s your morning routine?

Gigging on the weekend

This weekend, like many weekends, I had a gig. I own a business called The Oread Strings in which I hire musicians to provide live music for events. I almost always play cello at the events I coordinate. This weekend, my group performed at a cocktail hour at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in KCMO.
The weather was gorgeous – about 80 degrees and clear skies. My quartet was scheduled to begin performing at 6:00 pm, so I left Lawrence at 4:30, with plenty of time to fill up my gas tank on the way out of town and arrive at 5:30. I like to be early to events I’m coordinating, especially ones where garage parking, security checks, and long walks to the performance location are necessary.
After signing in at the security desk of the employee entrance to the Nelson, I was escorted a second floor reception area. This was the wrong place – I was looking for the East Sculpture Terrace. I had to make my way back downstairs and ask for directions. I finally made my way to the correct location – there were high top tables set up, two bars, and four chairs for the musicians.
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I put down my cello, music, and music stand, and arranged the chairs in correct playing position for the quartet. I always look for a shady spot to set up because direct sunlight is harmful to the varnish of violins, violas, and cellos. Fortunately, I found the perfect place to set up – shaded by a couple of small trees.
The other three musicians arrived right on schedule, at about 5:45. We tuned up and began playing as the guests began to arrive at 6:00. The event was very elegant – women wore long dresses, men wore tuxedos. Our quartet helped set the ambience for the evening.
At 7:00 sharp, the wedding coordinator came over to me an let me know that it was time for the guests to be escorted to the dining room, and that we should stop playing. Weddings are usually kept on a very strict schedule, so this was no surprise to me. Several of the guests told us they liked our music as we were packing up and leaving. It always feels good to get some positive recognition.
We said our goodbyes, gave hugs and kudos. The musicians I hire are good friends of mine, who I usually only get to see during gigs. I am grateful for the opportunity to have a little time to catch up each time we work together. Until the next gig…
By Ellen

Trying Something New

This weekend was Labor Day weekend so we had an extra day off. My husband suggested that we take a long bike ride together, and I thought that sounded fun. He plotted a route for us that would take us through the country, on gravel roads, for about 20 miles. This seemed manageable to me – I have done 20 mile rides before and it was ok. We left the house at 10:18 am. Our route started on the levee trail by the river. This was a nice place to ride. Very picturesque, and the gravel was small – pea sized.
When we came to the end of the levee trail, we got to the real stuff. The gravel was much bigger. The ground was very inconsistent – in some spots it was squishy, in some spots it was hard. Pedaling was much harder on a gravel road than it is on pavement. I felt like I was working twice as hard and going twice as slowly. It was also very hot and humid, and I had a close encounter with a large dog who seemed to think I was an intruder on his turf. The uphills were really tough, but the downhills were pretty fun.
There were moments during the ride when I felt I simply wanted to quit. I wanted to get off my bike and walk, but I new that we were out in the middle of the country and there was no way to get home, except to bike.
Arriving back home, about 1:00, I felt exhausted and relieved to be home. Our bikes were filthy because when you ride on gravel roads there is so much dust that gets kicked up. We cleaned our bikes thoroughly and our ride was complete.
My husband loves cycling on gravel. In fact, he plans to train for the Dirty Kanza 200 in 2018, a 200 mile gravel race in the Flint Hills. He loves endurance sports. Cycling and trail running are both passions of his. I tend to prefer shorter-time-period and lower impact activities like yoga, swimming, and weight-lifting. I’m not sure if I will be doing any more gravel cycling, but I’m glad I tried it. And now I have a better idea of what my husband is experiencing when he goes out for a 3-hour ride on a Saturday morning.
What is something you have always wanted to try?
By Ellen