Something really strange has been happening in our home lately.

First of all, our house has been clean and seems to be always picked up. This, in and of itself, feels quite monumental. And quite foreign considering we have two kids ages 5 & 8.

Getting the kids off to school has been a breeze. We never feel rushed and even arrive early. Alarming, right?

Last night, we had a delicious meal. We were done with it by 5:30 and found ourselves with nothing pressing to do. Too busy? Too stressed? Not us. Not right now. So we went to the park to search for geocache and play on the playground. The air, warmth, sun streaked sky, autumn sounds and colors made for a spectacular evening!

Tonight, we are having friends over for dinner. And while my husband and I will both be working a full day, I’m not even worried about having to scramble to clean the house or get the food prepared. Time and energy for entertaining? This is NOT typical for us!

These past few weeks, our house has felt so calm. A truly inviting, relaxing, and peaceful space. It feels GOOD to be home!

Lately, I’ve had time to work on some creative projects. I’ve been writing.

Today, I’m facilitating a conversation with colleagues that I’ve been dreaming about for years. It’s finally happening.

I’m exercising regularly, and I’m finding I have time to meditate, read books, and journal.

Crazy, isn’t it? Sounds too good to be true…

So, what has changed to create this miracle of a life?

One thing.

We decided to get up out of bed at 5:30 in the morning.

Just stay with me here. I know that 5:30 is early. I used to loathe getting up early as much as the next person. It was drudgery and I bemoaned the lack of sleep. Typically, my husband and I would stay up, enjoy the evening, have a drink, get on Facebook, spend time with each other, chat about the day. We would sleep as long as the kids would let us. Life was regular. Life was average. Life was good.

So, WHY did I make this shift?

I started to realize that what I need in my life is more SPACE. I craved more space.

As a wife, a mother with young kids, and small business owner, I saw myself going through my days without having a single moment to myself. And without a moment to myself, there is no time for reflection. There is no time to be intentional. There is no time to be creative. Instead, I was reactive, putting out whatever fire that burst into flames in front of me.

Without space, without reflection, there is no growth. And GROWTH is what I want.

Sometimes in life you just get to a point when you realize that your modus operandi just isn’t working for you anymore. Sure, it got you to where you are. And where you are is probably just fine. But if you want to go any further, sometimes you’ve got to throw off whatever it is that is holding you back. As I read recently, “Constantly shed what no longer serves you.” Sometimes life requires you to step up your game a little. And move into a new space. 5:30 in the morning just happens to be that space for me right now.

Once I realized that I need more space, and that I can only get it early in the morning, these pre-dawn hours have suddenly become my favorite time of the day! Here we are, with almost two hours ALL TO OURSELVES before the kids roll out of bed. And IT. HAS. BEEN. AMAZING! I’m even EXCITED to wake up! I’m finally getting what I’ve wanted.

While this may not seem like a monumental, life-changing act, it is. It has shifted our life. And it has set off a domino effect of other changes.

I make my bed every day. It is the perfect activity to get my body moving, put the night behind me, transition into the day, and make our room a peaceful space.

We don’t have a glass of wine or a beer at night anymore. When we did that, we stayed up later and slept horribly. Instead, we enjoy a cup of tea. Sleep has never been better.

Since mid-august, I have totally signed off Facebook. After a long, tiring day, there is nothing more absorbing, entertaining, and distracting than tuning into media. But when I do that, I lose out. Time is wasted. I stayed up too late. Instead, I’m reading books and turning out the lights by 9:30. And without social media, I’m recognizing now how distracted I was throughout the day. Always checking. Constantly reacting. Living in a responsive, reactive mode.

But most of all, I have time. Time to reflect. Time to practice gratitude. Time to just be. Time to create. Time to set the pace. Time to set MY agenda and arrange MY day instead of being driven and controlled by my never-ending to-do list. Time to get to things that have been waiting for me for far too long. Time to engage in the hard stuff of my dreams instead of defaulting back to what is easy, familiar, or urgent.

Life, now, is really good.

If space is what is what you need, if you are looking for some extra time to reflect, or to attend to those life-giving opportunities, or if you just want to sip your coffee in peaceful silence EVERY DAY (idyllic, isn’t it?), then maybe the early morning is calling to you too.

Insight to Ignite:

I wonder how many of us are simply moving from fire to fire. Are we constantly spinning our wheels? Or are we intentional and purposeful about our time and actions? Are we re-active or pro-active?

What do you or your organization need in order to grow?

Do you have enough time and space to be reflective in your life or your work? Are you able to pause to see where you are? What’s holding you back? Or to chart out the path forward?

Is it time for you to step up your game? To move out of the status quo? Are you ready to push past your current boundaries?

What old habits need to go and what new patterns, structures, or processes would serve you better?

Matteah Spencer Reppart is the founder and visionary leader of PROPONENTS LLC, an independent consulting firm providing evaluation services for programs and organizations. With a passion for individual, organizational, and community growth & progress, Matteah is an advocate for reflective practices in our personal and professional spaces and utilizes evaluation tools towards those ends. As we gain insight into where we are in order to move forward, Matteah maintains a commitment to fully and authentically showing up in her work and encourages her clients to do the same.