“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”  -- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

This post is sponsored by my friends at Mountain Rose Herbs

Early summer mornings, before 7am, when the sunlight is filtering through the trees and the river is calm and quiet, and the birds echo through the still mountain hollers....this is my favorite time of day. Waking up with gratitude of feeling safe, well nourished and eager to greet another day is a true blessing, and I acknowledge this before even getting out of bed. My pup cuddles in bed with me, gently licking my face and nudging her cold little nose into my arm,  half saying "Let's just do this all morning..." and half saying "Outside! Breakfast!", until finally we decide to lazily begin our predictable morning routine together, slow and steady with mutual eagerness. 

With still heavy eyes fuzzy with the remains of pixelated dreams, I shuffle over to my tea nook and reach lovingly for my Dawn Chorus Tea, always ever present in my tea pot on most mornings. I sift a bit out into my favorite morning tea pot, pull out my favorite whimsical mug, and as the water heats to a boil, Gromit plays outside, chasing the hungry birds and creeping stealthily in and out of the vegetable garden...hoping not to get caught (again) this time. I open up all of the windows, letting the cool summer morning air permeate through the house and light a bit of rosewood incense, fans on full blast to break the stagnant humidity that built up over night. 

The kettle boils and piping hot water goes slowly into the tea pot, filled with organic nettle leaf, green rooibos, and rose petals. The familiar smell is intoxicating...nurturing Nostalgic. The Dawn Chorus Tea blend from Mountain Rose Herbs has been a morning companion of mine for years, and the aroma alone reminds me of mornings past...in so many different "homes" with so many different people. My devotion and love of nettle runs deep (and it's in many, many of my monthly steeps) and the nutrient profile of the stinging nettle herb hits all the right spots in my body. Rich in iron and calcium (both of which my body needs constantly) and vitamins A and C, nettle is my favorite morning herb to fill my body with nutrients and quench a thirst from a night of vivid dreaming. Green rooibos is deliciously uplifting for morning time and doesn't carry the typical sweetness of most rooibos varieties (it's also unfermented, giving it a unique taste that I love) and packs in trace minerals and anti-oxidants. It's naturally un-caffeineted, so I never mind drinking cup after cup after cup...which I often find myself doing on extra slow mornings. And finally the hint of organic rose petals - the sweetness and gentle affection we all need first thing in the morning. Anything rose to me is just straight up feminine self care indulgence that, when sipped in a morning tea, comforts and relaxes me no matter how chaotic the world outside my windows may be. This trio together is my morning imbibed. Sheer herbal tea love. 

My evening adventures are receding quickly with every moment I'm awake, and tracking down my dream journal under piles of yesterdays accumulated books promptly cranks my brain into working mode. Dream journaling is something I've done since I was nine years old, and always something I try to do within 15 minutes of waking up. It's a practice that I make special time for, even if it's just bullet points to help remind me of the details that are often like fading cobwebs as the day day goes on. With tea close by, I remember vivid dreamscapes filled with familiar characters and places that I've been acquainted with for decades. My dream life is precious time, and a whole extra part of my real life that I would otherwise have no memory of years later. On slow mornings, I can document the night's travels in detail and reflect on what they may...or may not represent...and honestly I have no idea most of the time, but it's still part of my story nonetheless. 

With tea precariously in hand and my favorite pen and journal, the river is where my thoughts can really escape and flow onto a page that no one will ever read. Morning river time, even if only for a few minutes, can put a whole day into perspective. No screens. No calendar. No phone. No way to be bothered. Just quiet alone time with thoughts of gratitude and love that I send out to the world that needs it desperately. This morning time reminds me that I am still very small, and just a tiny part of a grander landscape, no more important than the hawk after her morning breakfast or the snake warming on a nearby rock. Although it is never far from my mind that I have daily responsibilities, people to care for, a business to run, people to help and a team that I need and want to contribute to, sometimes I do succumb to a tremendous sense of of overwhelm...like I"ll never been good enough for a task or I didn't do a good enough job on a project, or I could have created a better health plan for someone...here is where my mind shuts off and those thoughts are left up on the hill within the confines of my closed laptop - at least, for the time being. Tea still needs to be finished before those thoughts swarm around me for the day, and Dawn Chorus tea helps to create my daily shield, and a much appreciated softening buffer to not be so hard on myself. Because how can I stay wound up so tight when I have to take deep breaths to sip and swallow such nourishing tea? That's just counterproductive. 

Even when we feel alone, by choice or by default, moments of stillness and setting a ritual of gratitude for the morning with an herbal ally tea can make us feel connected in deeper ways than we can ever know. My morning tea ritual has evolved through many incarnations over the years and still fluctuates from time to time. Morning tea allows us time - dedicated and essential time - to not just go flailing into a busy day with our compass spinning in circles. Morning tea ritual is our opportunity to set our true North and remember it with every conscious sip. I'd love to hear some of your favorite morning practices - What are your grounding morning rituals or favorite morning teas? 

This post is sponsored by my friends at Mountain Rose Herbs. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It is my goal to use and recommend only the highest quality herbal products from companies that I wholly trust and fully support. Industry standards including sustainable harvesting, quality control, organic / fair trade standards and responsible sourcing are all things I care deeply about when working with herbs and herbal companies. I have been using Mountain Rose Herbal products for almost a decade, and have always been so impressed with their commitment to environmental stewardship. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to make this blog possible. 

Sources: 

1. Comparison of Nutritional Properties of Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)