In Praise of Solitary Mornings: Four Reasons I Love Waking Up Alone

I am single and child-free and fifty-five years old.
And, oh, how I love my solitary mornings.
Here are four delicious qualities I treasure about that time…..


I do whatever I want in the morning. As a self-employed person, I do a lot of everything – from the high-level thinking and writing to the mundane tending of details. The first hours of the day are for following my whims. I very rarely set an alarm. One of the most precious “self-employment benefits” I have – and there are many – is the gift of waking slowly in my own time. Once I’m up and moving (slowly, slowly), I read a novel, step out onto the porch to smell the air, or linger in the garden to gather greens for my morning eggs. Mornings are for making it up as I go.


I love not having a witness in these mornings. For many years I awakened next to someone and cherished that shared, intimate time. Romanticized it, even.   Now there is nothing more appealing than being completely alone and unwitnessed in those tender hours of waking. My hair is every which way. I talk to myself. My eyes are puffy, my breath most likely sour. And I don’t care. I remember waking many years ago next to my then-husband and realizing that before I was even fully awake, I was considering what he needed. I was horrified that the habit of caretaking was so ingrained that it revved up before my conscious mind was engaged. Mornings are for being free from the eyes of the world.


I often set the timer on my coffeepot so I can wake up to the smell of coffee. The pleasure I take in snuggling into my covers while I hear that magical substance brewing in the kitchen is indescribable. I feel cared for and pampered without having to contend with the pamperer. Once I’m up, I pull on my favorite plush robe. It’s long enough – a miracle for someone who is 6’2” with constantly chilly ankles– and so soft and just my color of blue. Most mornings I sit in my favorite chair with a mug in hand and feel like the luckiest woman alive. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for these little day-starting blessings. Mornings are for simple, sensuous pleasures.


The space between sleep and wakefulness is sacred to me. When I’m there I gather remnants of dreams, listen for the voice of wisdom, and send blessings to my family and friends.   Things occur to me during that time – things both profound and mundane. I listen for guidance, dip into what the day holds, softly set intentions to be kind, to breathe, to welcome the gifts and challenges that arise before I return to my bed at day’s end. For years I’ve assumed that I should leap up and meditate. I should read poetry. Do yoga. Write three pages in my journal. What I’ve come to discover is that my time between the worlds has become my morning practice. It is a “should-free” zone in my demanding days. Mornings are for tasting the sacred in my own way.

Sometimes I sing softly to myself in these tender hours. One of my favorite morning songs is by my friend, Francis Gurtz with lyrics by Kahlil Gibran:

Wake at dawn with a wing-ed heart
Wake at dawn with a wing-ed heart
Give thanks, give thanks
For another day of loving.

About Barbara McAfee

Barbara is a voice coach, singer/songwriter, keynote speaker, and author who merges lessons from 12 years in organization development with the transformational power of sound. Her book, Full Voice: The Art & Practice of Vocal Presence (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) was a #1 Amazon bestseller in Business Communication. The book is based on her 25 years as a voice coach, supporting people from many professions in learning how to access the full power and expression of the voice in service to their work and relationships. Barbara’s musical keynotes blend practical content, sophisticated humor, and thought-provoking questions on topics including voice, leadership, and engagement. She was “the band” for Margaret Wheatley’s Women’s Leadership Revival Tour, which visited 15 North American cities. She also appears with authors Parker Palmer and Peter Block. Barbara has produced seven CD's of mostly original music and is founder of the Morning Star Singers, a volunteer hospice choir in the Twin Cities. She lives across the street from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
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6 Responses to In Praise of Solitary Mornings: Four Reasons I Love Waking Up Alone

  1. Ah, darlin’, this is beautifully written, and contains many truths. I now have fond images of your mornings.

  2. suefilbin says:

    This post is a quiet embrace of bountiful gratitude & wisdom. Thank you.

  3. vnarula says:

    Beautifully expressed and written, Barbara!

    I feel the same way.

    One of my favorite gifts of self-employment is not having to be anywhere in the morning. I am not a morning person and I’d rather just sleep in and take it slow to start my day (especially Mondays!). It is priceless. That gift alone (and there are many others, as you say) is enough to keep me on this path – unperturbed, focused and determined to stay the course.

    Thank you.

    So, when are we going for a walk and talk? Are you around this week?

    Take care, my Dear!


    Vikas Narula Co-Founder at Keyhubs


    Blog LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

    Keyhubs 5244 Zenith Ave. South Minneapolis, MN 55410


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