Yesterday was one of those days. Yes, those days. The ones that you know are going to be tough the moment you wake up. And, to be honest, it was my doing. I plucked that morsel of negativity out of nowhere and let it fester in my body. For many reasons, which I’m not going to focus on, my life feels uncertain, ungrounded and upended. Yesterday marked two years of life and work in Colorado, in the Roaring Fork Valley and, for those many reasons, I felt distant rather than connected. Homesick rather than joyful.

Halfway through the day, I met a fellow writer from the Aspen Writers’ Network for lunch. We talked a bit about her latest novel and the editing process she is currently consumed with. When she asked about my writing, I couldn’t tell her too much. Except that I wasn’t writing very much of anything. And, with that, came an anecdote about my reservations of life here, what I was doing, how uncertain everything felt and the disclaimer that I felt a bit sheepish about this sob story.

Well this is the perfect time for you to write, she said, right in the middle of angst and times of great emotion. It’s true, writers do accomplish some of our best work it these times of strife. After all, the catchphrase “troubled artist” has to come from somewhere. But, in all seriousness, what she said resonated. Why couldn’t I use this “blah” to my advantage, and turn it into something else.

Time. It’s always my biggest excuse. When do I have time to write? Not after work, when I am always too tired and the thought of looking at a blank page or screen – and producing creative words – induces a mild wave of panic that settles into a dull ache between my shoulder blades. Ok, perhaps it isn’t that bad but, nevertheless, post-work creativity is rarely an option.

About four years ago, I found myself in the Balinese jungle of Ubud talking with an Ayurvedic doctor about my life. The circumstances sound so much more exotic than they really were. Instead of trekking through the jungle to find a 110-year-old man with a century of Ayurvedic knowledge, I was on a resort property, in a tiny little office, talking to a young man behind a desk. Nevertheless, his words stuck with me and at the time I took fastidious notes – on my ideal diet, exercise, sleep patterns and, interesting enough, my most productive hours of the day.

I’ll have to find those notes. I can’t quite remember if the most “productive” hours were the exact words he used, but I’ll use those for now. His answer? 6am – 9am. At the time, my inner self groaned. I was not, nor ever thought I’d be, the kind of person who popped up in bed at 6am without an alarm clock, ready to seize the day, and make the absolute most of the next three hours. I’m a snoozer.

Four years later, I’m still that snoozer and there have been hundreds of 6am-9am windows of productivity that I have consciously missed out on because I was deep into my last cycle of REM sleep. But to give myself a little credit, it is rare that I sleep past 10 or 11am these days, perhaps once every few months. I consider it progress, especially when at one point – in my much younger years – sleeping past 12noon was not uncommon.

And now I have a new catalyst to launch me back into mornings. A dog. Her bladder has a max hold time of 6-7 hours. Going to bed at 10:30/11pm means that by 6am, she’s up and ready to pee. We’ve only had her for two and a half weeks but getting out of bed for her isn’t all that hard. And, with that, it’s settled. After she has done her business and we set foot back into the house, it’s time to do mine. It’s time to reclaim my morning hours in the name of productivity – and creativity. I’ve only got myself to blame for missing out on these hours for as long as I have but, then again, it’s not about the hours that have passed.

Gathering the regret and discontent lodged in between my shoulder blades, I’ll take a step back, a deep breath, and redirect. These feelings don’t have to be a concrete road block, instead they can be fuel to get it all started. So, with the dog back in bed, and the house still, I’ll quietly re-stake a claim in my early mornings to come.