How To Get Up Every Morning

Winter 2006

I’m sitting on the floor of a dorm room. It’s very late. My theater friends have just thrown a cast party for a play we all acted in, but most of the cast members have gone, and there is only a handful of us left.

I’m drunk, and I’m feeling sad. I just got out of my first real relationship, and, for the first time, my heart is broken. The alcohol has made it easier for me to share my feelings with my theater friends. And now, (in a moment I will regret later) I am sharing with them how hurt I am. They try to console me. One of my theater friends, M, starts to comfort me by talking about her own love life.

M is Irish. Not American-born Irish, but Irish-Irish. (She grew up in a small town in Ireland where the native dialect is about to go extinct.) M’s Irish accent is thick and makes everything she says sound very pleasant and warm.

“I loved somebody once,” she says. “It was wonderful.”

Her green eyes light up.

“But I had to leave him,” she says.

The light in her eyes darkens, but then lights up again.

“What I can tell you about love is that when you find the person who you really love–it’ll be like putting your feet into warm, fuzzy slippers. It’ll be so comfortable that it’ll feel just like home. Because you’ll be made for each other.”

It was the sweetest thing I had ever heard someone say about love. But, at the time, I hadn’t the slightest clue what M was talking about. I only knew the kind of love that felt like a corkscrew being rammed through your chest. I realized that the kind of love M was describing wasn’t at all like the kind of love I had known. The “fuzzy slipper” kind of love sounded nice, but it was still foreign to me.

I imagine M must have felt as if she was describing the color “blue” to a blind man that night. It was really hopeless. No matter how much she tried to insist that this “fuzzy slipper” kind of love existed, I was utterly convinced  that the “corkscrew” kind of love was the only kind of love I was ever going to experience.

Summer 2007

I’m in an airport in Kyoto. It’s very early in the morning. Me and Y are sitting in a restaurant inside the airport. (We’re in a booth, sitting across from each other.) Y orders breakfast for the both of us. As we wait for our food to arrive, we’re both silent.

I am amazed at how comfortable I feel with him. I feel so at home. And that’s why I’m a bit surprised that the last moments of our relationship are like this:  silent. I had imagined that we would share some kind of “deep” meaningful conversation near the end. Or at the very least sit there recalling the sites we had visited during my visit to Japan, his home country.

But we aren’t doing that. We are both quiet. I think it is because we both know it’s about to end. Soon, the sea will be far too wide between us. But still, we want to wait. We have about an hour left, and we just want to wait and be silent.

I wonder if, at that moment, somewhere half-way across the world, M’s green eyes lit up. Had she sensed that I had finally found the “fuzzy slipper” kind of love she had told me about a year ago? And, as her eyes darkened, had she sensed that, just like her, I was about to lose it?

Fall 2007

I don’t want to get up.

It’s morning back in Southern California. I still miss him. This is the hardest break up I have ever been through. It’s easier to let go of a person when they are an asshole, or when the relationship went sour right before it ended, but when the feelings never changed on either side, how do you move on from that?

I don’t know, I conclude.

At last, I get up from bed. I eat. I change. I get in my car. I go to work.

I float through the rest of the day, simply existing.

Before I know it, it’s night-time. I go to sleep.

Now it’s morning again.

I don’t want to get up.

What To Do When “The Waking Up” Is The Hardest Part

It’s been four years since the fall of 2007. Honestly, I was incredibly unproductive during that time of my life. In fact, I was the exact opposite of the optimistic, productive, and energetic Ollin you all know and love. Back then I was bitter, cynical, depressed, and I felt terribly alone. I felt as if something had been robbed from me, and I thought life had been terribly unfair to me.

Just getting up in the morning was an incredibly hard thing to do during that time.

I share this story with you because I want you to see that we all have those moments when the simple act of waking up is the hardest part of the writing process.

You’re not alone. It happens to the best of us.

For some, it’s the loss of a job that makes it hard to get up in the morning. For others, it’s the job they currently have, it’s a death in the family, or the loss of their house, or a disease, or a condition, or a childhood trauma that plagues them every day. For some its having to give up their pet.

And for me, back then, it was a broken heart.

But as the time passed, my broken heart healed and I moved on. I pursued other relationships. I also began to write my novel and I started my blog.

After I left behind my “fuzzy slipper kind of love” in 2007, my life was pretty uneventful. I just went through the motions, and life was just another crappy day after another. But then, in February 2010, when I started seriously writing my novel, things changed for me. Suddenly life got interesting again. It got adventurous. Suddenly, I couldn’t wait to see what new thing was coming just around the bend.

How To Get Up Every Morning

1. Realize That YOU Are The Catalyst for Positive Change In Your Life

What started to make it easier for me was changing the way I approached my life. I began to realize that I was the main catalyst for positive change in my life.

I didn’t wait for the world to change for the better. I changed myself for the better. I started to actively create a more exciting and adventurous life for myself. Suddenly, I couldn’t wait for a each new day where I could sit down to work on in my novel, or see what new reader had found my blog.

I took the initiative to bring positive changes into my life. I didn’t wait for life to do it for me.

2. Surprise Yourself (And Others) Every Day

I also started to surprise myself. I made myself do things I never thought I’d do. I ran a 5k. I entered not one, but two blogging contests. I finished the first draft of my novel. I interviewed people I admired like Leo Babauta and Jane Friedman. And I reached out to new and awesome blogging friends from all corners of the world, and had them share their wisdom with my readers. I started my own business from scratch and promoted it by using this very blog.* And I also started to do some freelancing and ghostwriting work–something I thought I’d never do.

You see, by intentionally trying to surprise myself and others, I made each new day worth looking forward to.

3. Accept That Failures and Mistakes Are An Unavoidable Part of The Journey

Of course there were tons of things I tried that didn’t work. There were plenty of times I failed, or made huge mistakes. Times when I was attacked ungraciously, and plenty of times when I almost gave up completely. No, the journey has not been perfect.

But, although failures and mistakes are unpleasant parts of the journey, they are an unavoidable part of the journey. Personally, I try not to focus too much on failures and mistakes, and, instead, I wake up each day looking forward to create. I wake up each day looking forward to seeing how much further I can push myself to explore new endeavors, and new ways to improve my life and my writing.

In the process, I have learned that life is not about winning. Life is about giving it your best shot, and pressing forward, even when nothing seems to go your way.

4. Harness Your Power To Create

What helps me get up each morning is knowing that I have the power to create the day I want.

For instance, I could cook a new recipe I’ve never cooked before, and nearly vomit when it turns out gross (or be pleasantly surprised when it turns out good). I could quietly spend an evening sitting in my car listening to Sean Fournier or Joshua Radin songs over and over again, until I get sick of it. I could visit my friends and make them laugh their asses off–or I could spend my time talking to them about the very nature of existence. I could secretly dance to music from the cast of Glee in my bedroom. I could leave a dent on my car’s back bumper unfixed because I think it adds character to it. I could continue to do random, quirky things like that because it keeps my life interesting–and keeps me looking forward to each new day.

5. Turn Your Life Into An Adventure

Take the wrong exit on the freeway on purpose and see what you find. Climb a tree. Go running when it’s pouring rain. Write a blog post in a manner that you’ve never seen anyone write it in before–and then publish it without regret. Write a letter to your secret crush, and see what it feels like to get rejected. Or see what it feels like to have the feeling be mutual. Or see what it feels like to get no response at all.

Go get your heart broken. Then go get it healed. Then go get ready to fall in love all over again.

Hit every note on life’s diverse musical scale. Then let every note hit you in return.

That’s how you get up every morning:  you make each new day the start of another adventure.

much love,


On those days when you don’t feel like getting up in the morning to write (or to do whatever else it is you need to do) what helps you finally get up and meet the day’s challenges? Share your wisdom with us in the comments below!

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20 comments on “How To Get Up Every Morning

  1. Sweet article, Ollin. I love your writing and getting an honored peek into your world and your heart.

    Sometimes I don’t want to get up. On those days, it’s often an online connection, one of the bright lights out there that gets me up.

    Sometimes I think about people I admire. Brian Clark, Jane Friedman, Alyson Stanfield, Patti Digh, Justine Musk, Colleen Wainwright, Dan Blank, Mark McGuinness, Jonathan Fields, Charlie Gilkey, Leo Babauta. Chris Guillebeau. And more……

    And I think of all the people I have ever encountered in my work, whom I’ve coached or taught or edited. Who so kindly read my words and comment on my blog.

    I think, “All those people are alive now, somewhere. Eating oatmeal, taking off their shoes, wiping their child’s face. They’re all out there just being human.”

    This kind of mental connecting, on a very basic level (not on the hero level where I think, wow, those are amazing people doing amazing things) can get me moving and reconnect me to my basic humanity.

    Thanks for all you do. I’m so happy to ‘know’ you.

    • Ollin says:

      Why thank you Cynthia. And thank you for those valuable tips. I’m so happy to “know” you, too. If you are ever in the Los Angeles area let me know and maybe we can meet up for some coffee, and you can share with me all your Parisian adventures. Talk about someone who lives their life like it’s an adventure! 😉 You’re the poster child for that mantra, if I do say so myself.

  2. cmcswain says:

    Incredibly beautiful! Thanks for your words!

  3. inkspeare says:

    Love it! I like the concept of surprising yourself and others. Again, you bring us another inspiring post. Ollin, I see the inpirational speaker in you (as well as the writer), is that something you ever considered? For me, when I don’t feel as waking up, I think that whatever it is, is only temporary and soon it will feel tiny, and I may even laugh about it one day. My cats also help a lot 🙂

  4. Christina says:

    Thank you SO much for having found the strength to start this blog:)

    It’s like talking to an old friend, and getting great advice that makes you strong through the tears.

    Thanks Ollin:)

    • Ollin says:

      Aww, it’s only complete because I have readers like you who interact. Otherwise the blog would be me just blabbing to myself–and how lame would that be. Haha. Hope you have a great day, Christina!

  5. Christina says:

    I also voted for you – hope you make it again this year and rip through the top ten:)

  6. krpooler says:

    Dear Ollin,

    This heartfelt post is precisely why you deserve to be a TopTen blogger. I love your writing. You speak right from your core and your words jump out and grab me~your honesty, your passion, your heartbreak,your spirit of adventure, your humility, your hope. It all resonates with me. I am so glad I found you. When we share our stories of hope we are all enriched. Thanks for all you do to enrich and inspire all of us!

    Blessings, Kathy

    • Ollin says:

      I am so flattered by your words Kathy. I simply try my best and hope that I help someone out there. It’s been a pleasure having you around as a reader!

  7. clarbojahn says:

    Beyond all else the thing that makes me get up every morning is my faith in a power higher than myself. Not very religious now, not going to any church every Sunday or even reading spiritual stuff, my belief in a Higher Power is what makes each day worth living. The second thing is the support of my husband. I’ve lost the first one to cancer and know what loss is. My second husband is God’s gift to me.

    Hope I haven’t over shared. But you asked. 🙂

    • Ollin says:

      You can share as much or as little as you like. 🙂 Thank you, belief in something bigger than us can get us through the hard times. Thanks for the reminder!

  8. mzem says:

    What an inspiring post. Since I deal with depression on any given day, week or month. I found this post most enlightening. It gives me something to look forward to even when I don’t know what that is. I agree with what others have said about your being an inspirational speaker. At least, you are an inspiration to me.

  9. struggletovictory says:

    When I don’t feel like getting up in the morning, I try to not think and just do. I just follow my routine until my brain is more engaged. I know that others are depending on my (my kids and husband), and that is a huge motivating factor for me. I want to make sure they get the best start posssible to the day. I love what you wrote about doing the unexpected, being surprising, learning from mistakes… all great reminders for me. For me, motivation is about fulfilling God’s will for my life. When I’m doing that, all else falls into place.

  10. It’s intriguing. I’ve traveled much of the same path and, like you, I discovered I was the one who had to change. They say you can’t appreciate the mountains until you’ve seen the valleys. I feel I do enjoy life more because of that.Your suggestion to do something unexpected opens up all kinds of possibilities. Thanks for sharing and for your insights.

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