By Robert Grabel
16 May

How Do You Start Your Morning?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Since my cardiologist cleared me for it, I’ve started running or cycling each morning.   While I have my choice of routes, I’ve quickly fallen into a routine. While several of my options are more scenic, I find myself making sure that all my runs and rides pass by a particular high school in my neighborhood. I do this because every morning, the Dean stands at the door and greets each student with an authentic smile and firm handshake. The smile is genuine as opposed to the type that politicians have learned to perfect. The handshake is firm and welcoming. I can just tell by the reaction from the students.

There's something about seeing this morning ritual I find particularly inspiring. I often ride away wondering what those students think and how that greeting makes them feel. Other times I think about how different this is from when I was in school. When I was in high school, the only time we had contact with the Principal (we didn't have a Dean) was when we were in trouble. I even find myself pondering whether I might have been a different person today if all my school days started this way. OK, that may be over-dramatic. But you get the point...

My early morning routine got me thinking of how we start our days as adults and particularly as those with congenital heart disease (CHD). It’s unlikely that the leaders of our organizations (the adult version of school) are going to greet us each morning. Moreover, while it would be great if each morning our cardiologists gave us an “all clear” for the day, that’s probably not going to happen either. But I think there are some things we can do on our own to create that very positive vibe to start the day and wanted to share some suggestions with you:

Do something every morning that inspires you: Since I’ve written for the Adult Congenital Heart Association’s blog and others of my love of running and cycling, you'll probably suspect I'm going to suggest you run, bike, or exercise. I'm not. I am going to simply suggest you find a practice or discipline that grounds you, relaxes you and makes you a bit happier than when you got out of bed. Maybe it is some form of exercise but just as likely not. Reading, writing, playing your instrument of choice or even ventriloquism (I couldn't resist as I have several antique ventriloquist dummies). Anything that makes you feel uniquely you is perfect.

Do something every morning that inspires others (or just makes them start their day a little better): What if you could play the role that the Dean of my favorite school takes on? Be the one in your office that's known for complimenting everyone on something: their work, a project or even their outfit. Bring in the bagels, coffee or a healthy snack every Wednesday (or Monday or Friday or whatever). What does this have to do with your heart health?  Everything!  I’m not going to get scientific, but doing good things for others is one of the best ways to remove stressors from your body and replace them with positive energy.

​Do something every morning that puts you in touch with Gratitude: Let’s face it, if you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you’re living with CHD but have come through surgery – or even several – and are managing through it. That, in and of itself, offers us so much to be grateful for and is worth remembering every day. I can point to dozens of blogs, website and videos to show you how, but the truth is that we all express this in different ways. Just be sure to do it...and not just in the morning.

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