There’s something undeniably peaceful about early mornings. Getting up before the rest of the world. Things are quiet, still, and calm. I love nothing more than grabbing a nice warm cup of coffee and heading to the front porch to watch the world go by around 5 a.m. If it’s chilly, I drape a shawl over my shoulders and slide my feet into my comfiest slippers. I slip my hand into the wide handle of my favorite gold and white coffee mug, the warmth of the strong brew warms me from the outside in. Picture a Folgers commercial - I close my eyes and take a deep inhale of my cup of Joe.

Sometimes my husband joins me, while other mornings I spend alone. We don’t have seats on our front porch, so I lean on the railing, my forearms holding me up as my hands grasp my coffee cup as it dangles over the edge. In warmer weather I can hear birds chirping. I hear a car door unlock and then close somewhere off in the distance. One or two cars randomly drive up the street, often driving faster than needed on a small residential street. We have a neighborhood cat that makes an appearance each morning. Black with white paws, my husband affectionately calls him Boots. Early mornings are reserved for reflection, deep breathing, and if we are awake together, catching up on the days gone by and those to come.

Our favorite place to spend these mornings is in the Florida Keys. Before my mother in law’s passing, she would rent the same house in Key Largo from January to April every year. It was her little slice of paradise that she shared with us. We would visit at least once, sometimes twice if our schedules allowed. Early mornings in the Keys meant warm breezes and windchimes. My husband and I would meet on the back porch facing the canal. Instead of watching cars go by, we would wave to the fishermen as they headed out for the day. Sometimes, we’d spot a swimmer or two, taking morning laps. If the furniture was moist from early morning dew or a late night rain shower, we would stand at the railing, just as we do in Jersey. We sometimes spotted geckos running across the cement dock, iguanas perched on nearby leaves or egrets flying over sailboats.

My other favorite early morning activity is running. There’s something extremely relaxing about running on the streets while the rest of the world is still sleeping. All I hear is the sound of my feet on the pavement and my rhythmic breath. Running in Jersey means hills, traffic, and lots of waves to people I know. It’s familiar and I know the roads well. But running in the Keys means balmy mornings, flat surfaces, and a final destination of Harry Harris Park - a gorgeous beachfront park where I watch the sunrise.

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Being awake when the rest of the world is sleeping is like a special secret reserved just for me. No one is demanding anything of me, other than my body. My body requires me to move. It asks me to push a little harder, passed those moments of ache in my feet and calves, passed those stitches in my sides, to find my natural rhythm - my steady pace and an even mindset. I love nothing more than embracing those early mornings, before daylight saving time robs me of my mornings where both the sun and I rise before the rest of the population. But that’s okay, there’s something to be said about those warm summer nights when the sun doesn’t fully set until 9:00 p.m.

Maybe its the mornings that I crave or simply the quiet time to reflect. Either way, I will continue to wake earlier than most in order to quiet my mind and breathe new life into my days.