It’s an early Friday morning in February. The mild west coast weather has been draped in an arctic outflow. The white puff of my breath disintegrates in the cold air. It’s a chilly – 3 Celsius (26 Fahrenheit), and I’m sitting on my patio with a hot cup of coffee and taking in the morning. Wispy snow-filled clouds are drifting lazily in a blue winter sky. The seagulls are murmuring from their nest on the roof and the hummingbirds are twittering as they fly back and forth from the trees to the bright red feeders hanging on the balconies. It’s a refreshing, and somewhat peaceful morning.
The thing about mornings is they’re not the best time of day for people with arthritis. Our groggy joints are stiff and painful in those first tentative movements after a night of sleep. The problem I have is that I am mentally sharper in the mornings. My body may be lethargic, but my mind is raring to go. To take advantage of this, I must tread carefully. I know that the key is to get moving – and once I do, my joints will come alive, and move with me instead of against me. One way to achieve this to have a morning exercise routine to keep my joints fluid. I try to find a nice balance of stretching and flexibility with yoga, and a short stepping program with weights to nurture my cardiovascular health. Another method that helps is a hot bath. It’s a gentle pleasant way to loosen stiff joints first thing in the morning. The warm tepid water will ease them from their unyielding prison and warm up cold muscles. I also try to stick to a regular sleep schedule, getting up and going to bed at the same time (although if I’m honest, my writing brain doesn’t always cooperate with this plan but I make the best of it).
By no means is this easy. It takes determination and resolve to get up and move, and there are many mornings when I would rather turn over and go back to sleep. RA can take so much from our lives, but little by little, I work to take it back. I just need to have the patience and find the methods that work for me to achieve the things I want. As hard as it might be to get going at the start of a new day, I know that in the end it will be worth it. I can’t bear to miss out on some of the wonderful things a morning can bring. The first rays of sunlight, the melodic chirruping of the birds, the harmony of our natural world before the frantic movement of city life penetrates the peace.
It’s hard to be a morning person with RA, and yet, my brain demands it. It needs that quiet inspiration, that clear beginning to a new day. The morning is like a blank piece of paper waiting to be filled. I don’t have the same feeling later in the day, when the city has already roared to life with cars, people, deadlines, and errands. There’s just something about the morning that soothes and refreshes me.
Now it’s Sunday, St. Valentine’s Day, and a gentle snowfall at first light has put the world to sleep for a little while. The freshness in the air brings back memories of cool mountain sunrises coupled with the soft whisper of trees. There’s a unique tranquility in this moment, that can’t be replicated at any other time of day. That’s the thing about mornings – they have just enough magic to transport you to another place and time when you need it the most.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.
Its funny. I write best between 3:00 AM and 5:00 AM. After 5:00 AM I can do it, but it is not my best. For me I get to see the sun rise out of my window and it casts shadows on the cars as they run on feeder street outside. It is remarkable to see the snow fly off the cars, the school buses roll with kids and the commuters on the way to Indianapolis.
I believe that my best writing is accompanied by the birds in my backyard, the chipmunks I try to run off and the rabbits populating the hill under the pines.
Yes morning is best.