For the past six years, I have woken up every morning and made journaling my first priority. With rare and reasonable exceptions. Well, first priority after brushing my teeth, drinking a glass of water, and getting a cup of coffee to place next to me while I write. 

Six years of a morning pages journaling ritual and counting. That’s more than 2,000 mornings and 6,000 to 7,000 pages handwritten. I don’t know how many dozens of journals that’s filled. And counting. I love the ritual.

I’m a morning person. My best energy for running, cycling, paddleboarding, creating, writing, or doing anything really, is in the morning. 

In the year of 2010, I had a different ritual. Every morning from January 1 to September 16 of that year, I photographed myself right after waking. No brushing teeth. No washing the sleep from my eyes or taming the hair on my head, which I then had.

From the Bedhead Self-Portrait Series (2010) by Adam Williams

The purpose was to photograph my bedhead, that fresh sleep-wild rawness of a night spent dreaming and forgetting. 

If I was on a work trip, I did it in my hotel room. Most mornings, I was at home in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. I’d walk down to our mostly unfinished basement and use the cement wall painted white as my backdrop. 

I know the exact dates of the series, because I’d intended to do it every day for that one calendar year. But it would become a year that would change my life like no other, and priorities would shift. On September 16, 2010, my wife, Becca, went into labor with our first son. He would not be born until the dark-early of the next morning. 

I awoke that September 17 morning from a partial night’s rest on a hospital couch too short to accept my full six-foot-two frame, and I looked over at Becca. She was reclined in bed, cradling our newborn boy. At that moment, I knew my morning rituals would take on a different focus, color and meaning.

I’m sure I had small morning rituals here and there during the years between 2010 and 2017, or six years ago. But none have stuck so well or meant so much as my consistent journaling now or my bedhead series during Becca’s pregnancy, which naturally culminated with meeting our first son and making him my new priority, in the morning and otherwise.