Rituals that Bring Balance

May 2014 | by Jenn David Connolly

I’ve been thinking a lot about work-life balance lately, since I’m speaking on the subject as part of a panel at the upcoming How Design Live conference in Boston in May. I have a morning ritual that I’d like to share with you which brings balance to my life.

10155068_10203419437266236_59870839_nMost mornings I wake up when it’s still pitch black out, and I wake up to the first bird singing its song—nature’s alarm clock. Living just a few steps from the beach, I make my way to the sand while it’s still pre-dawn and jog along the shore. The first surfers are just starting to come out then, and I see regulars who also jog or walk, or sit and meditate, or even dance.

I love this special time when the day is slowly awakening, the beach is still mostly empty, the brown pelicans are nose-diving for their breakfasts from high up above the water, and a few of us are doing whatever it is that we do on the beach in the morning.

Me—I jog, listening to music or just the sounds of nature. Sometimes I skip, sometimes I just stop and breathe it all in. It feels like my own personal playground in nature. But mostly I am amazed by the beauty of this often-surreal morning scenery: the colors, light, shadows, reflections, clouds. It’s the same place every day but the view changes so dramatically. On more than one occasion I have felt as if I were inside of a Monet painting, or a dream. It amazes me so.

Once the sun is fully up, I head back to the house to get myself and my kids ready for the day and we head off to school and work. I’ve already had a fulfilling start to my day by the time I sit down at my desk to start my workday. Because of it, I am so incredibly refreshed, invigorated and excited for the day.

It is this morning ritual which helps me reset and refresh every day, allowing me to be fully present during the time I work—which in turn allows me to be fully present in my time off work as well. I’m sharing this with you because the work that I love to do and the amazing people I work with bring the other side of balance that is so important to me.

Here are a few of my favorite recent shots from these mornings. Do you have any rituals that bring you balance? I’d love to hear them.