I’m sitting here writing this to you with a gigantic mug of rose-scented tea and a patchouli candle flickering at my left wrist. There is so, SO much silence in my house that it is practically deafening; it is an experience that, with two kids under the age of five, I am decidedly unaccustomed to.
I have been waiting for this. I have known that alignment, for me, is sitting quietly in the dark at 5a.m., writing. It has been a couple of years since I’ve felt able to resume this practice, what with nursing a baby through the night and a general lack of sleep, but now that I have returned to this quiet space and time, I feel at home again.
And that’s what alignment is supposed to feel like, right? A coming home to yourself.
Misalignment had dawned on me slowly. It started with one of those “ideal day” exercises that life coaches like me totally geek out on. I immediately gravitated toward a day that would have me up and writing at 5a.m., and wrapping up for the day mid-morning. I continued to engage with the idea of misalignment in this area of my life as I realized that I wasn’t actually getting any writing done at all in my day-to-day work and creative life. By the time I had time to work on anything, once the kids were down, my ideal time of day had so long passed that all I could muster the energy to do was scroll in the internet and respond to emails. I’ve long known that anything that happens after about 9p.m. is just not my zone of genius.
And then I felt the almost gravitational pull of a memory, as so often happens when alignment comes into focus: when I first created my writing practice, I struggled to fit it in around the facts of my day – parenting, work, householding. It felt like a call to practice the art of the possible, to find more hours in the day, and soon I found myself waking at the ungodly hour of 4:30a.m. to write for a while before the day began.
That word was the only thing holding me back, really. Just this one word, a judgment, that caused me to miss – to completely miss – an alignment practice that I would come to look back on so fondly that I felt like it was a part of who I was, a definition of me and what I was willing to do for my creativity. For myself.
And so I put aside that word and the judgment that came with it, and I set into motion this habit of alignment.
It made me realize a few things.
It made me realize the power of a limiting belief to create not just a set of blinders but almost complete ignorance of possibility. The ungodly hour of 4:30a.m. quickly became my favourite time of day, and, incidentally, the time when I was most likely to be able to consume an entire hot cup of coffee uninterrupted.
It made me realize that I can create more hours in my day, quite literally. I thought that being up that early would be exhausting, but instead I started my day with more focus and more energy than I ever had before, partially because I wasn’t spending my entire day fretting about and feeling guilty over not making enough time to do what was most important to me.
It made me realize that alignment isn’t something that happens, necessarily, in grandiose gestures and all manner of fell swoops.
Sometimes, sure, we get the satisfaction of quitting a job that isn’t fulfilling anymore, or moving to the country to raise bees, or booking a three-month trip to Costa Rica. And, many times, those changes are exactly what is needed to truly achieve alignment, to kick start into a new way of life.
But for most of us, alignment is far less elusive than all that. It is far more achievable. And in fact, when we place too much stock in those manifestations of alignment, we can miss opportunities to feel more aligned every single day. We can also save ourselves a lot of money.
Because what if it’s not your job you hate but the lack of autonomy, or your commute, or your crappy cubicle? What if it’s not a move to the country that you desire but more silence, more space, more time? What if it’s not a trip to Costa Rica but a bigger sense of adventure?
Understanding the root of your feelings of misalignment, mucking around in those feelings for a while rather than slapping a solution on them – although Costa Rica does sound nice – might be the key to finding alignment habits that you can start practising today. Because you might be able to lead a project or work from home or set up shop in a cafe once a week. You might be able to find silence at 5a.m. or become an urban beekeeper. You might find adventure in a part of your city you’ve never explored before.
Alignment is quite often a series of habits and daily decisions; tiny incremental changes, promises kept to yourself. It shows up in quiet, mundane ways, in the form of 5a.m. alarm clocks, flickering candles, rose-scented tea, and an hour to do what you love the most.