Philly, for a second.

Photo of home

This weekend, I visited home for the first time in six months. I know that many twenty-somethings are too busy or too broke to journey home more than once a year, so I really can’t complain if I get to make the trip twice or three even times. But even so, I crave the simple comforts of drinking coffee on the porch in the morning, reading on the hammock, waking up in my childhood bed… more and more after each visit.

Photo of hammock

For me, going home is like rereading a favorite book: There are no surprises and I already know all the characters. But there is something so soothing about thumbing through the same dog-eared pages, falling into rhythm with the familiar words and phrases, and, more than anything, reacquainting myself with my favorite characters.

Photo with dad circa 1995

My dad is the hero of this story, and Father’s Day was the reason for my visit. As his only daughter, I can’t image how terrifying it must have been to watch me accelerate through adolescence, push through the tangle of my teenage years, leave home for college and city life, move into my first apartment, apply for jobs, graduate… He has always been there to offer guidance, or just to listen, as I continue to get lost between the lines of my own story.

From day one, he’s loved me more than any man ever could.

Photo 1st picture with dad

He supported my city, long before we ever knew I’d live here…

Photo of Dad in Red Sox hat

Told me where to go to find my heart’s closest desire…

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And still keeps me well-stocked with my favorite coffee.

Photo of Wawa coffee

He’s kept his faith in me unwavering, even when I doubted myself…

Photo grad card from dad

And has always been there to catch me if I fall.

Photo beach with dad

Every time I go home, to the same house where my dad grew up, I am reminded of how beautiful my childhood was. But this story I’m writing has only gotten better with age. In devoting his life to taking care of his family, my dad has taught me that there is no greater measure for success than happiness. And he could not have raised a happier, or more grateful, little girl.

Early to rise

Photo of sunrise

I’ve always been an early riser. I love the calmness and quiet that comes with mornings. I wish I could give concrete tips on how to learn to wake up earlier but really, there is no method to my madness. There are some days where I wish I could sleep in, but no matter how tightly I clench my eyelids against the sunlight, snuggle beneath the sheets, or smother my face against the pillow, once I’m up, I’m up. No later than 7. Usually 6. More recently? 5:30.

If it serves as any inspiration at all, I can list a number of benefits to waking up early and things that I enjoy about rising with the sun.

According to the experts, waking up early means:

Success: A list of 23 successful, early-rising entrepreneurs.

Better Grades: A study by Texas University found that students who consistently woke up early each day scored better test scores and overall GPAs.

Productivity: Getting a jump start on your day  provides time for planning and anticipated problem solving.

Stress relief: Time to sip (not chug) your coffee, pour over the morning paper, enjoy a leisurely shower… With just 15 more minutes, the possibilities are endless.

Meditation: Set the tempo for your day: Stretch, plan, focus, read, write, plan, relax, breathe.

Exercise: Increase your energy and alertness, release endorphins, boost metabolism, and get a better night’s rest.

And here are some things I love about waking up early:

The view.

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The solitude.

Photo of empty streets

The first cup of coffee.

Photo of coffee cup

Not to mention…

Breakfast is the BEST meal of the day.

Photo of breakfast

You have time to make your lunch…

Photo of lunch

Figure out what to wear…

Photo of scattered clothes

And all of your favorite options are available at your local coffee shop.

Photo of bakery items

So get up, get going, and carpe the fuck outta your diem.