Ashley Ellington Brown
Author, A Beautiful Morning
I grew up in New Orleans and spent my childhood with my nose buried in a book. After I graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Foreign Affairs (which I never used, although I had a lot of fun getting it), I worked as a waitress, receptionist, advertising copywriter and account executive, book editor, and employee communications manager for the world’s third-largest death care firm before becoming a freelance writer in 2000. I began writing the blog Joy Detectives in 2017 to explore my ongoing quest to enjoy my life as much as possible. I live in Florida with my husband and our son, whom we homeschool.
I’ve experienced first-hand how transformational a morning ritual can be. I’ve never been a morning person. Until recently, I would sleep as late as possible and race to get ready. Not surprisingly, my days felt hectic. I was always running to catch up. This made me impatient and easily frustrated. I felt like I never had time to do what I wanted, which led to feeling grumpy and resentful. And I was tired. No matter how much I slept, I was always tired.
Finally, I also got tired of being that way. I realized I was wasting my very short precious life and decided to change. I began investigating how to live more peacefully and joyfully. I read dozens of books, took quite a few courses, and worked with several amazing coaches.
Along the way, I picked up tips about starting the day mindfully and how it could positively impact my life. Intrigued, I began with the tiniest of steps: stretching while still in bed, taking some deep belly breaths, and mentally repeating “peace” a few times.
I was astonished at how much of a difference that teensy change made. I decided to try waking up a little earlier (just thirty minutes, going from about 8:00 to 7:30) so I could fit in a few more practices. The effects have been amazing. I am more engaged and enthusiastic, more calm and centered, and more clear and focused.
My morning ritual has truly changed my life. One of the most fun ways it has done so is by inspiring A Beautiful Morning. I was sitting in my backyard one gorgeous spring day, savoring my coffee, basking in sunshine and birdsong, and thinking about how much I was enjoying my newly peaceful mornings.
I had just started a telecourse led by Martha Beck called Write into Light. I began wondering how she started her day—surely she had some lovely, powerful rituals! Then I started thinking of other inspiring women and wondered about their morning rituals. And then I thought, “Hmmm, that would be a fascinating book.” I decided to interview women I admire—who are following their dreams and creating lives that fulfill them—about their morning rituals so I could share that information with others to help them experience this life-changing magic.
I had such fun talking to all the fascinating women in the book. They speak so eloquently about their rituals; I’ve kept the stories in their own voices so it’s like they’re talking to you, too.
I hope that you will enjoy reading about the incredible variety of morning rituals as much as I enjoyed writing about them.
I invite you to treat yourself while you read A Beautiful Morning. Play with creating a ritual around it. Snuggle up somewhere cozy. Make a cup of tea or pour a glass of wine; light a candle or put on some good music.
Browse through the book with a peaceful mind and open heart. Relax into a sense of possibility and ease open a window onto a new view of your life. Then have fun as you begin to craft the personal morning ritual that will transform your life!
sunrise at the beach
Last year, for the first time ever, I saw the sunrise during a beach vacation (well, perhaps I should say, for the first time I woke up to see the sunrise during a beach vacation!). I had just started my morning ritual when we went to the beach for a few days, and one morning I awoke just before dawn. Rather than roll over and go back to sleep like usual, I decided to go for a walk. These pictures are my proof! It was an incredibly uplifting way to start the day.
My morning sit spot
I created this cozy corner in my bedroom to sit during my morning ritual. I do my morning pages and reading here, and sometimes manage to meditate!
sunrise at the beach, part two
Here’s another picture I took during my sunrise walk on the beach last year. I wish this could be part of my morning ritual every day! The beach is my happy place, and it was inspiring to be out on the sand with no one but the seagulls for company. I plan to make this a regular part of future beach vacations!