I used to struggle to get to work by 9am. In fact, I scheduled a daily 9am meeting with my team just to make sure I forced myself to get out the door in the morning. I could do that job with my eyes closed and often very nearly did.  The problem was that I just didn’t want to get out of bed. It was so comfortable and warm. The pillows were extra floppy and my cat loved to snuggle under the covers. No place I’d rather be.

The location didn’t help much either. My apartment was nestled right up against the forest in the back of the neighborhood and it was on the sub-basement floor. The only plant I could keep on my back patio outside was ivy because anything that required the smallest amount of light would die in no time.  So there I was, tucked in with the handsomest little kitten ever in the darkness of the recently departed night. And you’re telling me I have to go to work?

It became a game: How late could I set the alarm? If I didn’t have to shave that day, how many times could I hit snooze? I would rise later and later as I found new optimizations in my schedule. Before too long, I could be out the door less than 15 minutes after my feet hit the ground and fully awake by my second cup of coffee. My commute was next to nothing, so I rarely hit a lot of traffic. Even on those days where traffic seemed to find me, I wasn’t more than five minutes late. To my own meeting.

When we moved out to the desert, we upgraded to a modest two-story house. Our bedroom is on the top floor with a large double window facing east. The first few weeks we were sleeping on an inflatable-but-only-half-inflated mattress on the floor (don’t ask). Every morning we would wake up staring into the blazing wilderness sun, unapologetically reminding us that it was already 6am and didn’t we have things to be doing? Forget the alarm clock- this thing didn’t have a snooze button. Just a bright orange neon sign that said “WELCOME TO TUESDAY!”

I don’t need an alarm clock any more. I open my eyes at that moment where the sun first starts peeking over the horizon. That’s when you can see the most unbelievable colors streaking across the clouds right outside the window. That’s when the sky is painted orange or purple or whatever mood it’s in that morning.  Breathtaking. Like having a different masterpiece hanging on your wall every day. Did you know that sunrise in the autumn always happens one minute later than it did the day before? If the sun rises at 6:17 today, it will rise promptly at 6:18 tomorrow. As if the sun sleeps in more and more as winter approaches. For once, the time I arrive at work depends on the time I wake up- not the other way around.

I’ll admit I have started to use an alarm clock again. I set it for 5am. I’ve got things to do.