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"The Devil On My Shoulder"

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

I fumble in the dark to switch off the alarm that has rudely interrupted my peaceful

slumber. I try to locate my phone on the bedside table, but to my dismay, it's nowhere to be found. Laying very still , I listen in the darkness, and realize the muffled sound is coming from somewhere within my bed. Rummaging around, I manage to find it wrapped up cocoon- like between the sheets and the doona cover. I must have fallen asleep again, scrolling or playing some ‘on line’ game ( And yes, I know, its not the best habit to go to bed with devices on, but sometimes I’m guilty, sleep doesn’t always come easy ) I groan, realizing its only 5 am , which means it’s time to get up from beneath the toasty warm covers if I’m to have any chance of making it out the door in time to catch the sunrise.

Flicking off the alarm, I roll over , and pull the covers back over my ears to keep out winter’s early morning chill. My shoulders and hands ache from the arthritis that has been hitting me hard this week. It just seems so much easier to stay in bed and not even try to attempt to get these achy tired joints moving.

“That’s ok" , whispers the Devil on my right shoulder, " It’s Saturday morning , and who in their right mind wants to get up before sunrise in the middle of winter anyway? It may be too cloudy to see the sunrise, or it could even rain, why risk it and take the chance? much safer to stay in bed.

This is the conversation that is literally taking place in my head, between the devil on one shoulder and my voice of reason, on the other.

I close my eyes savoring the warmth, like a bear hibernating for the winter. You see, I know myself too well - I’ve set my alarm to sound two more times, which means I can savor the warmth a little longer , so there is still hope for me to come to my senses and ignore the temptation to stay in bed.

After what seems like only a matter of seconds, the alarm rudely sounds again. I turn it off with a huff, determined to ignore it, and make up my mind to stay in bed. It just feels like too much effort today, even though I know I’ll regret it later. I attempt to close my eyes and drift off once more , but to no avail.

“C’mon Kim, get up !” shouts 'the voice' from my left shoulder, demanding my attention. “Get your lazy ass up if you want to get fit, and feel that sweet sunshine upon your face" sounding more like a drill sergeant this morning.

“No, don’t do it, stuff getting up and trying to make an effort, everything hurts, and you deserve to stay in bed“ whispers the Devil smugly once again.

“Yes, your right, it does hurt” I mumble, closing my eyes again , convincing myself I will go tomorrow instead, striking a deal with the Devil – dammit , his voice is always so smooth and convincing!

“Kim! – I’m telling you, if you don’t get up , right now, you’re going to stay this way forever. Come on, we made a deal yesterday, and you need to stick to it. If you want to get your day off on the right foot, and get that ass into shape , then get the hell out of bed and move it!”

“My God, that voice is sooooo annoying” I grumble to myself, but my eyes are now wide open – seems she has hit a nerve!

You see, I desperately want to fit back into my favorite jeans ( It seems Covid lockdowns and a series of arthritic flares and steroid medications have also contributed to unwanted weight gain over the last year ) Not one pair of jeans I wore a year ago fit, and I can no longer use the line ‘the washing powder is shrinking my clothes’ - its wearing a little thin, excuse the pun!

Wow! my voice of reason is on a mission today, and she has finally ignited the flame of vanity needed to get me moving. Hey, whatever it takes, right?!

The hardest part is in taking that first step – in putting that first foot outside of the blankets, into the cold, and letting my feet hit the floor. I know once I’ve conquered that, I’m on my way.

Rolling carefully onto my side , and I literally mean “rolling" (the arthritis in my arms and hands has me summoning whatever core strength I have to lift myself up out of bed without putting pressure on my arms and hands) I moan and groan and hubby mumbles "Are you okay?" and I say yes, and laugh at myself despite the pain, as I must paint a comical picture first thing in the morning rolling around like a panda bear.

Dressing is a whole other feat in itself, and takes the longest, as the pain is very real, especially first thing in the morning, but I won’t bother you with all the details. Those of you who suffer from chronic pain and illness will understand where I’m coming from. I have to wake hubby to help me dress as it takes a little while to warm up, and get better use of my hands, especially in the cold. He rolls over and goes back to sleep and I kiss him goodbye knowing he wont have remembered a thing, I'm envious of the way that man can fall back to sleep at the drop of a hat!

I fumble my way slowly downstairs to the kitchen to grab some breakfast, switch on the morning news, and savor my first cup of coffee while enjoying the stillness and solitude of the morning. I can hear the birds waking outside the window, chirping happily as dawn approaches.

My alone time is sacred and hubby knows its not wise to disturb me until I’ve washed down two cups of caffeine, however I know he won’t be up for a few more hours yet with it being Saturday.

I place my empty coffee mug in the sink , and quickly fill my coffee flask with a much needed refill ( it takes two cups to get my motor running!! ) grab my keys and head to the car.

The whir of the engine and the garage door opening sounds like a victory song as I switch on the headlights which shine brightly illuminating the far wall. I put the car into reverse and pull out of the garage and into the fading darkness. There is no stopping me now, I’m on my way!

As I turn onto the main road, I marvel at the low lying puffs of mist slowly rising above the dam in the paddock across the road. The sparkling dew on the tall grass glistens in the early morning light, reminding me that it is in fact quite cold outside this morning. I’m thankful I remembered to wear my arthritic gloves, they will help circulate my blood and keep me warm.

A vibrant burst of orange is trying hard to break its way through the patchy blanket of clouds as I reach the hilltop, and I take a sip of coffee enjoying the view, and early morning solace of being one of the rare souls out and about on this cold winter's morning.

Parking my car in my usual spot, I look for the elderly couple on the front porch across the street who are usually drinking their morning coffee, but the chairs are vacant this morning. "Looks like I'm the only crazy person up this morning", I chuckle to myself.

Taking a final swig of my coffee, I don my earbuds and climb out of the car. The crisp morning air stings my face, but I know it won’t be long until my body starts to warm up. I strap on my back pack and make my way across the dew soaked grass to the pathway that follows the creek and flick on the radio to listen to some of my favorite songs.

That bright orange glow is now slowly rising and filtering through the branches of the native bottle brushes and silvery gums, swaying gently in the early morning breeze. The suns rays splash beautiful shapes and shadows across the timber footbridge and pavement, so I stop to capture the images before they fade completely. Already my mood is lifting, and I smile as I hear my favorite bird call – the echoing laughter of the kookaburra , who greets me right on cue, reminding me to smile, and not to take life too seriously.

My sunrise walk is around 5.5kms and takes me on average about an hour, sometimes a little more, depending upon how many photo stops I make, to capture nature and of course, the sunrise.

I have been walking this path for over ten years now, and I never tire of it. Each new day paints its own unique sunrise and new moments to capture. I could walk this path for the rest of my days, and there would always be something new to photograph.

The invisible cobwebs stringing the pathway confirm I’m the first one to hit the pavement this morning, as I break into the 'spider dance', waving my arms about furiously, as I try to brush the sticky webs from my face and clothes. With every stroke it takes to clear the path, I’m also clearing the cobwebs in my mind, making way for fresh thoughts to start my day.

I turn up the volume on my phone, and there it is - that newfound spring in my step, as the rhythm and my heartbeat become one. Truth be told, it makes me wanna dance, all those happy endorphins have already begun their journey through my veins.

Walking and observing nature lifts and inspires me , and ideas for writing and creating art come and go randomly and effortlessly when I start my day this way.

Walking in the early morning sunshine also has the benefit of giving a nice little shot of Vitamin D, giving that extra boost of happiness- especially if I’ve been feeling a little down or flat. No matter how low or bad I may be feeling, the quote: “Walk yourself out of a bad mood” is indeed very true. Walking in nature has a beautiful way of lifting the spirits.

So, a sunrise walk , is what it takes to help me feel motivated, and to make my heart smile - the hardest part is just fighting the Devil on my shoulder and actually getting out and doing it.

Trying to make time in a busy schedule to exercise and do things that benefit us mentally and physically isn’t always easy - that dark voice ( the Devil, as I like to call him) is always there on my right shoulder, tempting me to take the the easy path, and to not even try when it just seems too hard. But that's the time we need to listen to the voice of reason the most.

Lack of time, health conditions and just feeling unmotivated all stop us from time to time.

And that Devil will always be there, with a list of excuses as to why we should give up before we’ve even started.

However, I’ve found that writing a to-do list and keeping a diary of my goals and accomplishments, helps me in achieving my goals and helps keep both my physical and mental health in check.

For example: Starting my day with a sunrise walk helps to:

  • Lift my mood, by releasing “Happy Endorphins”

  • Give me more energy and a sense of purpose which means I accomplish more during the day.

  • I sometimes get to stop and chat with the locals – which gives me human connection (and I do love a good chat, ha ha)

  • Keeps my health in check - both physically and mentally.

  • I get a great sense of accomplishment for ticking this goal of my 'to do' list.

  • · It should (hopefully) help towards reaching my goal of fitting back into my jeans.

But, it’s even more than that, watching the sunrise, and walking in nature helps with inspiration/ideas for creating art and my writing.

However, it doesn’t have to be getting up at sunrise. Perhaps you love cycling, gardening, reading a good book, or some form of craft work, the list is endless and everyone is different.

Its all about finding that thing that inspires you the most and gives you purpose, then allocating the time to do it

If you don’t schedule it, it most likely wont happen, you need an action plan to fight that Devil who gives you every reason not to bother.

Rewarding yourself along the way is also a great way to keep motivated. For example: there is a lovely little bakery on my way home where I stop to buy my bread. They also happen to make the most delicious pies and pastries. Every once in a while, I reward myself with one of their sausage rolls or fresh cream apple turnovers for getting out of bed so early to exercise.

Hey- I know, this is another 'Devil on my shoulder' place to visit, but we all deserve a treat now and then, that's one of the joys of living , so treating yourself ( in moderation) is also high on my list of being kind to myself - but like everyone I struggle with the 'balance' side of that sentiment - chocolate being my greatest weakness. However, my theory is, if your going to eat it, you may as well go ahead and enjoy it !!

We are, ultimately creators of our own happiness, no one else can do that for us, the motivation has to come from within, from a place that we know will truly bring us purpose and joy.

I’m not saying my plan is foolproof. Sometimes the Devil still wins despite my lists and best intentions (Hey – he’s a smooth operator, and I’m only human) and sometimes is just a physical impossibility - my body demands I rest, but I never allow it to stop me from trying again .For it’s one thing to take a break, but a whole other thing to just ‘quit’ – that my friends, is a word you will never see make my list!

If you wish to share some of your passions and how you motivate yourself to schedule time to pursue them and reach your goals, I'd love to hear about them too.

In the meantime, I hope you manage to set aside a little time to do something that brings you happiness today and makes your heart smile.

Take care, and be kind to yourself.

Warmest Wishes

Kim-Annette xx

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