All Change.

All Change.

Since arriving in Hong Kong almost five months ago, it feels like all of the pieces of my daily life have been thrown up in the air – and they’re slowly coming back down to earth – just not fitting together the same as before.

Moving countries is a major change.  (That’s an understatement!)  I’ve done it twice before (first when I moved to Paris, and then London).  But both times, I had the rhythm of a corporate job to tether me and give structure to my days.

But this time, in Hong Kong, aside from early-morning client appointments, my days are my own and I feel this intense pull to explore.


This urge is pulling me away from my computer and out into the markets and noodle stands and temples and alleyways.
I just have to get out in it.
To engage with Hong Kong.
I keep saying engage because I don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to do here – I just know I need to be out exploring.


This deep need to get out and explore is causing a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out.)  I feel like I’m on the cusp of a huge shift – but I don’t know what it is, so I don’t know what I’m supposed to do here, and it makes me feel scattered.

So, having been down the feeling-scattered-and-stuck path before (oh! The angst of leaving the corporate job!) I’ve been working with a coach on one thing that I KNOW makes me feel better – having a solid morning routine.

In the past I’ve gone months in a row with a brilliant morning routine, inspired by Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages.  (I talked all about my morning routine in this podcast episode.)  Even when I had my busy corporate job, a morning ritual was my saving grace, easing me into my day and giving me a bit of peace before spending my peak hours doing something I didn’t love.

But something always seems to happen to break the habit of my morning routine – and this time, I didn’t get it back.  And then we moved to Hong Kong – when everything went up in the air, and the morning routine piece just didn’t fall back into place.


Here’s the funny thing: I KNOW I feel better when I have a morning routine.  But making myself actually DO the morning routine, ahhh, that’s a bit more tricky…

Rather than starting the day with email and rushing and O.P.P. (Other People’s… Priorities!) – a morning routine sets me up for my best day.  I feel grounded and centered and like I’m following my own agenda.

If only realizing that something was good for you, made it easy to do!

As I’m sure you’ve experienced, starting a new habit is painful.  There’s lots of resistance.  But once you get over that initial hurdle it gets a lot easier, really.

So I’ve been working with a coach on how to bring more resilience into my life, and that starts with a new morning routine.

It’s just that here, everything is just different.


  • We live in a tiny studio apartment.  No real privacy to meditate in the morning.  Or do yoga, when my husband is stepping around me trying to get ready for his day.
  • I’ve been eating tons of noodles, rice, wontons and dumplings.  Carb overload!  But it’s so good.  And I’m not ready to sacrifice the local food experience quite yet…
  • There are green veggies everywhere in the markets, but I don’t recognize them, and even though I’m an adventurous, confident cook, I’m a little hesitant to just start eating stuff I can’t identify…
  • I’m suddenly not happy just working away in my apartment all day (whereas in London I loved doing this, I could go days on end without seeing anyone except my husband!)  Here in Hong Kong we’re right in the middle of everything and I want to get out!

So here’s what I’m doing to create this new morning routine:

  • Define what the morning routine actually looks like in advance.  Write it down.  Don’t leave it to your early morning brain to ‘figure something out.’
  • Prepare the night before – have everything out and ready to go.
  • Set the intention when you go to bed that you’re going to wake up and do your morning routine.
  • Be open to changing the routine to fit it to your life.
    On sunny days, I’m experimenting with the morning routine on the roof deck.

If you’re curious about starting your own morning routine, I recommend The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod and The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (this one is more about creativity – but she has an amazing exercise called ‘morning pages’ that I just LOVE!)

I’d love to hear from you … do you have a morning routine?  What makes it work for you?  How have you kept it up (or not) when life starts changing?

About the author

Amanda Cook is an author, entrepreneur, and alchemist. She helps successful women create lives of meaning & magic by connecting with the seasons. Her work has appeared on BBC Radio 4, The Sunday Telegraph, Natural Health UK Magazine, and more. Learn more at

Amanda Cook is an author, entrepreneur, and alchemist. She helps successful women create lives of meaning & magic by connecting with the seasons. Her work has appeared on BBC Radio 4, The Sunday Telegraph, Natural Health UK Magazine, and more. Learn more at

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  1. Amanda, I relate so much to this post! About six months ago, I moved from Philadelphia to Japan, and I’ve been struggling with the adjustment. I haven’t established a nourishing routine here, yet, but I’m hoping to figure something out soon. Thank you so much for posting.

  2. I really enjoyed your post and look forward to many more.
    In June of 2014 I was in a major auto accident and my right foot was pretty crushed up plus I had a compound fracture. There went my morning routine.
    I was told I probably would not be able to walk again. So for two years I was pretty much confined to my bed. However, after 5 surgeries and working on my foot as much as I could I can walk again with a cane.
    I need help starting a new morning routine also. I sleep too late and I have to be carful of my right foot and left knee. I really miss a lot of things I use to do so I think starting a new routine would help me a lot.
    Your post is not only enjoyable but the comments help too.
    Thank you.

  3. Sorry I don’t have any worthwhile morning routine to share. However, I really enjoyed reading this post about your experiences in Hong Kong so far, and am looking forward to reading more. 🙂 So glad I signed up!

    Also really like Mel’s suggestion about a weekly new veggie challenge! Maybe you could show us what the veggie looks like, and maybe its name, if known. Perhaps other readers will have some experience, and be able to help identify any mystery veggies. I think it could be a lot of fun. I will be very interested to hear what happens. Also, it is very brave eating something unknown. :))

    The pictures are so interesting! Many thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi Amanda, You sound like such a terrific person. I like you already. Reading all these morning routines sounds daunting to me. I do not have such discipline . 🙂 Perhaps you should give yourself a little more time.After all this is a very different experience. I like the Serenity Prayer, accepting this day as it comes, mindful of your littleness and that God is with you always. Peace,Jeanne Butler

  5. Hi Amanda, its Kathy from Alaska Airlines – its been awhile. I think you were just about to get married the last time we touched base.What are you doing in China?
    My mornings need help desperately. When I fly I Fly all nighters – go to work at 10pm fly to Anchorage from Sea and return about 5:00am. This means my mornings consist of driving home (about 1 hour) and crawling bed or falling in to bed. my point I have no consistent routine. Help.
    The pictures are beautiful, Ive never been to Asia but ive traveled most of Europe. My oldest son is a pilot in the Air Force stationed in Tokyo, Japan with his family. Quite the education. so happy to be part of your life again.

  6. I start out about 5:30 am with shower and exercise/yoga. Then I sit down with tea or a protein drink and write down ten things I’m grateful for. I adopted this exercise after reading the book “The Magic” by Rhonda Byrne. This gets me in a positive mood thinking of all the good things in my life before I start my day. I have wanted to try Morning Papers as well, and I may swap this exercise for that one for a day or two and see how I feel. I like this quiet time of reflection before going off to my hectic, corporate job.

    Also, Amanda, I so get it about the husband in the morning. If he starts work late and is home walking around in the morning when I get up, I cannot throw myself completely into my morning routine. I just can’t. It’s like a gnat buzzing around my head when I’m trying to focus and concentrate. That’s sounds terrible, but it’s true. LOL

    BTW, your pictures are gorgeous. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Haha, I’m so glad you said that, it’s not just me then getting annoyed at having my morning routine disrupted! 🙂

  7. I’m an early riser, around 5:30 or 6 and always start with taking my Armor, then having my hormone balancing elixir while I write in my journal, then write down what I need to do for that day. I really like early mornings as it’s quiet while I’m drinking my tea. I usually go to the gym after that because I’m more energized in the morning. Depending on the time my class starts at the gym I will have my green smoothie before class or 2 eggs before class.

  8. I start my day with a glass of water and a cup of tea! I tend to wake up early so I can relax in bed before starting my day. I like to catch up on emails and social media often scheduling the posts for my FB page.

    Love your photos they really capture the essence of life in Hong Kong. You should challenge yourself to try a new vegetable every week!

  9. Mine starts with waking up naturally – usually about 5.30 to 6am. Before I get out of bed so I set some intentions for the day, maybe do some reiki self healing if I have the time or some self hypnosis. Then it’s out to get a glass of warm water with my lemon essential oil, get my son sorted for his breakfast and ready for school. Then it’s me time – I’ll do some exercise – that can be yoga, a jog outside (when not too hot) or a walk or a mini circuit workout with weights at home – then it is time for body brushing, oil pulling and shower and getting to work and breakfast ..I’m usually good at keeping to it.. travel away with work is the one thing that tends to disrupt it but I always get back into the swing when I get back home and the lemon oil in water and the exercise is usually maintained.. I tried Morning Pages but mornings for me too frantic to be able to sustain this.

    1. Sounds lovely 🙂 Yes, there’s something about travel that throws it all off, isn’t there?

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