Today's exercise is to explore what a perfect day looks like to me. What would I be doing, where would it take place? How would it feel?
Based on my experiences in South America, this is my future:
As I stretch and open my eyes, I hear the sound of songbirds in the tree just outside my window; skylarks, goldfinches and wagtails are all calling for me to wake up.
There's a light breeze coming in the semi-obscured window. I sneak out of bed, and walk through the door, closing it gently behind me, trying not to wake my still-sleeping husband.
I walk to the kitchen, prepare the coffee grounds and water in the percolator, then put it on the stove. I grab a glass of cool, fresh water, throw in a slice of fresh lemon (pre-cut and in a bowl in the refrigerator) and drink it down.
Planning for later in the day, I start the load of laundry already in the machine. The gentle hum of the water filling the washing machine overpowers the comfortable little hiss of the gas flame under the coffee.
Then, I walk barefoot across the cool, rough tile floor to open up the rest of the shutters and let the daylight permeate every inch of the main part of the house. Although it's full-on sunshine outside, the light is filtered through the shutters and as I open them fully, I feel the warmth on my face. The eaves of the roof are wide, but the low morning sun slips under them perfectly, streaming light through the window panes and making beautiful trapezoidal patterns of sunshine on the tile floor.
I stretch out my yoga mat and slowly, deliberately complete 3 sun salutation sequences. By this time, the coffee is done and I return to the kitchen to stop the coffee just as it's finishing percolating, but before the water reservoir boils dry and the coffee burns. I pour my mug and sit at the dining table for a moment of quiet reflection before I wake up the rest of my family.
The girls share a room, big enough for the two of them and their things, yet still somewhat sparse. There's a large, ornately patterned rug that stretches across the floor, connecting their beds and creating the feeling of a room within a room. I go to my oldest daughter and rub her back, knowing that she's the crabbier of the two and takes longer to wake than the little one. After a few growls and groans, she's talking about her day, with hard blinks against the sunshine streaming in the window. I move to sit on the other bed and the little one takes a huge stretch, with an big arched back spine and thrown back. She opens her eyes and smiles at me, saying a cheery but drowsy "good morning".
Their school clothes were prepared last night and waiting for them. They dress while I'm cooking some fresh eggs in local butter for breakfast. The three of us start to eat our eggs together as my husband comes down the stairs, pours a cup of coffee, scoops the last of the eggs in the pan onto a simple white plate, then sits down next to me.
We eat, chatting about the events of the day to come, then finish preparations for school. The girls grab their bags while I get the shopping basket and money to do my morning shopping. We walk the half a mile together, through winding city streets until we get to the small village school that they both attend. There are blooming flowers bordering the front sidewalk, and an open gate with staff nearby, welcoming students to the front courtyard. I give each of my girls a hug and kiss as they join their class groups. There's a short flag ceremony and announcements, then the instructors usher the kids to their classrooms. I give them both a wave as they walk inside.
I'm now on my way to the market to buy vegetables and fish for tonight's dinner. I go to my favorite fish vendor, who knows that I like the heads cut off and the fish cleaned fully. As a foreigner, Im not accustomed to cleaning my own fish, although I've done it before. He chuckles as he sees me and gets to work with his thin and impossibly sharp fillet knife. Within a few seconds, he bags my order, I thank him and pay with a huge smile, grateful for the comfort and ease of the transaction, then I'm off to find produce. I visit a few different stands, buy what I need, then stop for some extra beautiful brown eggs. I buy a dozen, nestle them carefully in the basket on my arm, on a bed of vegetables, then begin my 5 minute walk home.
I enter our little house and find my husband on his laptop in the back courtyard. I empty the basket and arrange the eggs and vegetables on the counter, then put the fish into a bowl and place it in our narrow refrigerator.
The Bialetti is calling to me again, almost taunting me to have another coffee, so I empty the grounds from earlier in the morning and prepare it again for the next cup.
I grab my laptop and planner to schedule my day; There's three an a half hours to work until the girls arrive home from school for lunch. I sit down for a moment int he courtyard next to my husband and we talk about my morning excursion, what I bought at the market, and the announcements at school. The coffee starts it's familiar hiss, telling me it's ready, so I excuse myself and return a minute later with a mug full of steaming black coffee- so much larger than the locals prefer!
My planner shows that I need to complete the final edit to the outline of my newest training program and start writing the week 1 component. I check email. Send a few replies, then get into my work. An hour and a half passes before I realize that I was completely and intensely in the flow of writing . My husband, still sitting next to me, asks a question and my trance is broken. I smile, realizing what had just happened, then answer and decide it's the prefect time for a break.
The clothes in the washer are now clean so I go back into the kitchen and bring the basket of damp laundry out the back door to the courtyard to hang the clothes. I have a double laundry line stretched at an angle between the back wall of the house and the side wall of our neighbors's courtyard. I shake and hang each piece in the sunshine with wooden clothes pins, made grayish with their time outdoors. I admire the beauty of the shapes and colors swaying gently in the light breeze.
My husband is also taking a break, having just finished with a phone call and is now chatting about his work as I sit down again. We talk more about what we need to accomplish that week, then he tells me that he can pick up the girls from school today. I need to make some calls anyway, so I welcome this opportunity to go back inside to temporarily get away from the chirping birds and a small dog that has just started yipping wildly somewhere in the neighborhood....