I started getting up early on the weekends to watch the sunrise in 2015. 6 years ago! I honestly had no idea how long I had been doing it because I just did it and never stopped and it feels like I've always been going to watch the sunrise! And truthfully, I did it at first to get some good IG pics! It was quiet. No one was awake. And nothing looked cooler to me than a good silhouetted yoga pose in front of the sunrise! Case in point from my endless yoga silhouette photos in 2015/16!
I loved getting out when the mist was still sitting on the fields at the front of my neighborhood. It reminds me of living in Santa Barbara and biking to college classes. I loved watch the guys take off on the powered paragliders in the early morning light. It looks so majestical and scary as shit all at the same time! It's one of those things that I totally think I want to try and also never want to do! I would sometimes take the dog when she was a puppy and let her run free in the field, or I would take a kid - or all 3 - and some paint to paint the sunrise. Or if it was cold, I would throw the blankets in the dryer and get them all warm and toasty and then we would pile into the jeep with our coffees and teas and warm blankets and go watch the sunrise. It's usually just me these days, but sometimes, in the beginning, it was all 5 of us! ...7 if you count the days when the dogs came too! I eventually stopped taking photos and started to simply meditate and journal and just sit and watch the sun come up over the horizon. I would watch the birds fly over head and their V shapes. I would watch the clouds go from glowing neon pink, to golden, to outlined in a thin sparkling white light when the sun would hide behind them. Eventually, buildings would start to pop up in my secret sunrise viewing spot, causing me to seek out another sunrise spot, but I learned that eventually, I would find a new magical place to watch the sunrise.
But it became a habit. A tradition. A ritual. There are lots of words for what it became to me, but mostly it became part of who I am. I realized that I was hopping out of bed earlier every day with enthusiasm not just for my morning and the sunrise, but for my day ahead. It would fill me up with a sense of wonder, magic, beauty, and creativity. And then, without realizing what was happening, I started to learn more about the world around me, just by watching it.
First of all, the sun never rises in exactly the same spot every day! I had no idea! It kind of moves side to side with the seasons. Also, it rises earlier in the summer than in the winter! We all knew this, most likely, but adjusting my body (and alarm clock) with the seasons and the time change was really nice, year after year! For instance, in the summer it rises as early as 6:20am and as late at 7:20 in the Winter. AND, when we traveled, in some places it rose at 5:30am! And man, waking up on those days were ROUGH! Getting up before 5:00am is pretty challenging!
Ok, ok, I'm sure this is all super riveting information for you and if you are still reading, holy cow, I'm grateful!🤦🏼♀️ But I became fascinated with the sunrise and how much I didn't even realize that it had taught me over the years. So I wanted to explore that a little and this is how it's happening, folks!
For instance, no matter how exhausted, depressed, run down, sad, angry, frustrated, anxious, or scared I found myself at the end of the day - I knew that the morning would come, a new day would begin again, and my beautiful sunrise would be there. It was reliable, but not 100% predictable. So I knew it would be there but I could never be sure what it would look like from day to day. And that unpredictability kept me on my toes, kept things fresh and exciting, and always inspired my creativity whether it was in my mindfulness thoughts, my yoga movement, or my journaling. The sunrise was almost always there, but it was never the same.
Except when it wasn't there. And I still learned on those days. So, it rains sometimes and the clouds come in and cover the sun on some mornings. And some days in Houston, it rains a lot. A lot, a lot! BUT, those mornings still came with great lessons and brought me some other awesome morning options: I could still go out to my sunrise spot and sit in my car and listen to and watch the rain, which is awesome and romantic and cozy, or I could stay home and sit on my back porch and be cozy there and enjoy the sounds and smells of the rain. Yes, there is a smell and I love it! Especially in the Summer in Texas. It is a fresh, grassy, smoky, musty smell that reminds me of childhood. The smell of the rain on the hot concrete will always bring me back to being 10 years old. But, the rain also clears and cleans the air, which affects the colors of the sunrise on the subsequent days.
The other, most recent thing that I learned about the sunrise, after 6 years of watching it, is there are 3 phases to the sunrise.
. The Pre-sunrise is the really vibrant part before the sun even comes over the horizon. I've found that this is often even more vibrant that the actual sunrise! Yet, another reminder that the joy is in the journey and not the destination! If you are waiting for the "big thing" to happen (the actual sunrise) then you might miss all the magic and beauty that happens before it!
2. The actual sunrise is something that changes with each passing minute. I love to watch it rise from top to bottom... although I realize that looking directly at the sun is frowned upon, it just isn't as intense at that time of day! Sometimes there are clouds obscuring the actual sun but it causes this amazing phenomena called anticrepuscular rays or crepuscular rays. I call it the God light. It's the typical light behind the clouds that you see in photos depicting God. It's magical and amazing. It always reminds me of the simple beauty in nature. And when you stop and just watch it, it is a simple exercise in mindfulness. Be present and watch the sunrise and that's it! No phone. No to do lists. No worries. No planning. Just watching the sunrise. It's awesome.
3. The "Groom" phase is the part of the sunrise that you might miss if you are watching the actual sunrise, just like you might miss the emotional reaction of the groom at a wedding when he sees the bride for the first time... if you are looking at the bride. Sometimes, this is the best part! ...and sometimes, that's the best part of the wedding, as well! The groom phase is the reflection of the sunrise light on the cloud opposite the sunrise. This is where the big fluffy cotton candy clouds are found! This is where you can see ALLLL the beautiful pastels from orange to pink, to blue to purple that streak across the sky like watercolors. It reminds me, when things are happening, good or bad, to look around at everything, not just the one thing holding my attention. There might be something incredible happening just behind me.
I mean, can you tell that I love the sunrise??? This was probably my longest blog! I don't know if this is of any interest to anyone at all, but it means something to me and I had to write it out. I hope that you have an opportunity to catch a sunrise this year. Set your alarm clock! Warm up your blankets in the dryer! Go solo, with your pup, or take the whole fam! Meet up with a friend! Pack up some paints and paper! Take a journal! Or just take yourself! Drive there! Walk there! Or bike there! But please, at least once, catch a sunrise and take it all in!