AM/PM: Tender Tomboy on a Bike

Welcome to AM/PM, where Autostraddle team members share our morning and evening rituals.


I’m a snowflake. I can, for a certain number of days (seven), make any living situation work while maintaining my amiable, kind, and generally cheerful disposition. After that, though, I morph into a movie monster at an exponential rate. Gremlins fast, even. I’m a person who clings to my habits. I want to wake up in my own bed on my own sheets next to my partner at exactly the time I want to wake up, having slept the exact number of hours I want to have slept, and go about my day exactly as I have planned. I can deal with a lot, but I’m always the most happy and most healthy and most productive when I can methodically tick-tock my way through my routines. This is my morning one.

I wake up everyday between 7:00 and 7:30, on my own without an alarm clock. I do not check Twitter. I do not check my email. Some days I gaze lovingly and creepily at Stacy while she sleeps, for a few minutes. Then I’m up! First stop, our herd of pets. My indoor cats (Quasar, Socks, Dobby, and Beth March) and the outdoor street cats who make up the colony I have registered with the ASPCA under the name Hogwarts School of Witchkittens and Wizardcats. It’s kind of like having a farm. Every little lamb wants pets, food, fresh water, and to be told how beautiful/handsome/perfect they are, preferably in the form of a song. Everybody’s on a special food for this and that thing. A diet, an autoimmune disorder, the Hogwarts colony will only eat Costco brand dry food. Oh, I love them.

I eat a quick bowl of oatmeal and then I’m out the door on my bike or flopping down on the living room floor to do yoga (I alternate days). I have pretty bad endometriosis so some days (a third of them, to be honest) I can’t do either of these things. I hate, hate, hate those days — but I’m constantly striving to be gentle with myself, especially with stuff that’s out of my control. I love riding my bike in the morning. New York City is a completely different place before 10am. Almost quiet. It only takes me a few minutes to pedal to the waterfront, and I spend about 40 minutes there, looping through different parks and greenways. (Or, if I get up early enough, taking the ferry into the city to ride along the East River or the Hudson.) I grew up in the mountains but I’ve fallen in love with the smell of salt water, the way the sun bounces off the waves as it crests over the skyline. No matter what kind of mood I wake up in, by the time I’m climbing the last hill toward my apartment after a morning bike ride my body and my brain and my heart feel so peaceful and invigorated.

Another invigorating thing is the ice cold shower I plunge into as soon as I get home.

For my whole entire life I have been desperately intimidated by health and beauty everything. I’m a tomboy. I’ve always been a tomboy. There wasn’t a lot of guidance for me. And growing up, I sure as heck wasn’t going to let any of my friends touch me to try makeup or face masks or whatever. I was straight, okay? I didn’t want to touch other girls or have them put their hands on me. STRAIGHT! Two years ago I found out about ASMR and it changed my life in so many ways, including the fact that all these really warm and kind women spend loads of time talking about makeup and skincare! They get so excited about it which makes me excited about it and now I have a routine that actually helps my very problematic, acne-prone skin.

Depending on the activity of the morning, how much I sweated, where I’m at in my monster menstrual cycle, and whether or not it’s mud mask day, I alternate between Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Cream Cleanser and Derma-E Very Clear Acne Scrub. I follow it up with some Thayers Rose Petal Toner, and then moisturize with either coconut oil or Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Moisturizer. I have seborrheic dermatitis on my hairline on the back of my head (problematiiiiic skiiiin) so about once a week I do a leave-in treatment with coconut oil on my scalp.

If it’s a mud mask day, I use Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay which is honestly the most magical thing I have ever used on my body. I mix it with raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and leave it on just until it starts to dry because that’s what Emma Watson said to do one time on Twitter. The little brown bottle in this picture is a mix of argan oil; rosehip seed oil; and either lemongrass, peppermint, or lavender essential oil. I use it as a moisturizer and also on my scalp. I learned about that from ASMR too. (P.S. If you mix your own skincare products, you will feel like a witch!)

And then it’s meditation time. I started using Headspace a couple of months ago, when I felt like my entire brain and body were on fire every single hour of every single day because of Donald Trump, and it has changed the shape of my world. I have ADHD. It’s something I’ve been wrestling and coping with my entire life. These days I have a pretty good handle on it, but even on my best days I never imagined I’d be able to regularly sit still and meditate and feel good while doing it. I know a lot of real deal big time meditators don’t like Headspace, but it’s perfect for someone like me. It has helped me calm the storm inside my head and find ways to be more focused on the things that really matter to me and — perhaps most importantly — extend the compassion to myself that I find it so easy to extend to the people I love.

Because my doctor made me do it, I gave up coffee back in February. I’m a tea girl now! Lately I’ve been really into Pukka Detox (with lemon; the kind without lemon tastes like licorice, blech!) and Tazo Peachy Green. After I meditate, I put a cup of tea onto brew and while it’s steeping, I do a quick wipe down of the hard surfaces in the kitchen and living room with Meyer’s Honeysuckle cleaner, run my OXO Furlifter over the couches, and set the Roomba off onto its morning jog. I also have the OXO Furlifter Rake (Thanks, Valerie!) and it is hands-down the best household item I have ever owned. I always drink my tea from the Everyday I’m Hufflin’ mug Stacy bought me for my birthday a couple of years ago.

Then — and only then — do I open up my phone or my laptop to read the news and get started on my workday, which happens on weekdays between 9:00 and 10:00. At some point in that hour Stacy hurries downstairs and kisses my forehead, my cheek, my mouth, my chin, whatever whatever and over again. She says, “Hey, you’re beautiful,” and “Please be safe today,” “I love you,” and “I love you,” and rushes out the door to work.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 805 articles for us.

41 Comments

  1. Your routine sounds so good, you’re totally keeping on top of things and I love your strategies for managing, like the meditation and tea!

    I tried the Aztec face stuff but it was a bit harsh for my skin it also made my face do this weird pulsating. Kind of scary.

    Also, my cats want to send owl mail to your cats.

  2. This is so cool Heather. You’ve inspired me to do so much more with my mornings before sitting in front of my computer. I’m especially into the idea that you don’t even interact with technology before getting up and moving through the world. Definitely going to incorporate this into my routine!

    • Using a real live alarm clock instead of my phone honest to god changed my life. When the first thing I have to do is turn off my phone alarm, it’s hella easy to open XYZ thing and scroll mindlessly for a few minutes. I still lay around in bed for awhile, but I try to be intentional about what I want my first thoughts of the day to be, and I feel like I’m in a more proactive and less reactionary headspace if my first thoughts aren’t about what other people are saying. It’s been really good for my stress levels 🙂

  3. This is so lovely!!!

    This series is great, but is making me feel really jealous of all of your working from home lives! Could we maybe get inclusion from a couple of people that have to go to work out in the big wide world? I want the inspiration!

  4. Oh my god, I am so jealous of your routine, Heather! I think if I could convince myself to commit to literally any sort of exercise, my life would be so much more, yes, peaceful and invigorated, and then you go and throw meditation into the mix, too! Wow, I am impressed. This sounds so balanced and lovely. I loved reading about your morning routine!

  5. Heather, I love this! So much self-care on a daily basis. That’s something I need to make time for, too; since November I’ve felt like my life is in a disaster spiral and it’s been difficult to be kind to myself amid the chaos.

    I just downloaded Headspace to give it a try. I also have found ASMR to be a huge help, especially when sleep seems impossible because of my anxiety.

    <3

  6. So I have sincerely loved this entire series; I look forward to it every week. The Autostraddle Team has such wonderful writers and I feel like these are excellent opportunities to get to know you all better.

    That said, oh boy, I DID NOT KNOW THAT AN ARTICLE ABOUT LORNING ROUTINE COULD LEAVE ME THIS INSPIRE!!!!

    It was honest to goodness beautiful to read Heather. I feel calmer and more centered now than I did when I began. And that sense of peace has given me the motivation I need to conquer the rest of my day!! Thank you.

  7. This is so so lovely. I am always inspired by this series, both to try some little things that you do (and some not so little, like yikes I gotta start exercising in the morning and maybe meditating at some point), and to be more thoughtful about and appreciative of my own morning routine.

    Also I love your and Stacy’s love and love getting adorable peeks at it in your pieces.

  8. “I have seborrheic dermatitis on my hairline on the back of my head (problematiiiiic skiiiin) so about once a week I do a leave-in treatment with coconut oil on my scalp.”
    My god I have SUCH A problem with mine! I use the prescription medication and the little solution they give me for problem areas, but this only keeps it under control SOME of the time. It is the WORST! I can’t lie down without having a bunch of dandruff come off and make it look like a snowy Christmas morning. I will try the coconut oil tho!
    Also omg, your cat colony name is everything<333

  9. Every little lamb wants pets, food, fresh water, and to be told how beautiful/handsome/perfect they are, preferably in the form of a song.

    While bluebirds land on your shoulders and butterflies gently swirl in the breeze.

    I commented once before that Heather Hogan could write a grocery list and make it poignant and inspiring, and this post is proof that that is literally true.

  10. Love this series and love this routine. I’m trying to jump back on the morning meditation with Headspace train because it really does make such a difference in the day but when work gets nuts it’s the thing that tends to go. But Heather Hogan you make this all sound so intentional and peaceful and like what things should be, so call me newly inspired to keep doing the things

  11. #GOALS !!!!

    You had me dreaming of a better way starting with I wake up everyday between 7:00 and 7:30, on my own without an alarm clock. I do not check Twitter. I do not check my email.
    I think I may have to …. try this out??? Not quite ready to commit but I’m thinking about it. Thank you for sharing your morning!

  12. I’m crying. There’s so much love in this article Heather <3. Love for cats, for your SO, but also self-love, in the time you carve out to care for yourself.

    Also BETH MARCH is the best cat name.

  13. You’re doing so great Heather. Since having a baby and going back to work part time my selfcare has really suffered. I need to and I will work on it. Also my bike is back at my parents because we had to turn our store room into a nursery. You have inspired me.

  14. I have really been enjoying reading these but my main thought every time is ” Does everyone else in the world really have such involved skincare routines?!”

    I definitely don’t have what could be called a routine. I wash my face with gave face wash some nights but usually just use a make-up wipe… Even that is a kind of recent development. Am I missing out?!

    • I don’t use a bunch of skincare products! In the mornings I use the Trader Joe’s tea tree cleansing wipes and put on their moisturizer. Before bed I brush my teeth, use the TJ wipes again, and then put on my acne cream. When showering I use a neutrogena face wash that my dermatologist recommended. That’s it! Super simple.

  15. Unsolicited advice here from a gal with bad endo too. I got my days back by sticking to a no meat, wheat, dairy, soy, caffeine, or alcohol diet. Basically anything that increases estrogen is not my jam. Also I took serrepeptase once daily for 6 months as I read it helped some people anecdotally. It worked for me! My new endometriomas have stopped growing and some are collapsing. There may not be a cure but here’s to staving off the next surgery as long as possible!

  16. Thank you Heather!
    I feel like it needs a special kind of courage to establish healthy habits, especially in the mornings.
    Maybe I’ll dare to leave my phone in the next room, starting tomorrow, and head to the gym right after getting up.

  17. This is so good, so pure, and indicative of so so much functioning and being successful at adulting and all that stuff that I can never imagine myself being able to do. I want to ask you “how the fuck do you get a grip on ADHD???” because I am so incredibly not in any control of mine, but I get a feeling that your success has a lot to do with the same discipline that was no doubt responsible for most of the other habits on this list, and so probably any answer I might get would be incredibly unhelpful. But you’re still basically my hero and if I can some day function even half as well then I will consider that a mega success!

  18. You do all that before 10am, sheesh. My morning plays out like 630 alarm goes off, snooze, 640 alarm, snooze, 650 alarm, snooze, notice a pattern? All the way until about 745 then I finally get out of bed get dressed make some breakfast to go and rush out the door.

  19. “extend the compassion to myself that I find it so easy to extend to the people I love.” THIS IS MEEEEEEE. I just started therapy and this post came at the perfect time. It gave me permission to have a 2-3 hr morning routine where I do the hardest work of the day – caring for myself – first. I’m still working on doing that, but thank you thank you. I also shared this with my friend who is running for office, which sounds like living hell, and who thought that working out was too much of a luxury. I was like ‘would the people of your electoral area be better off with 80 hours/wk of you who has not exercised or 72 hrs/wk of you who has exercised” and I made her a sticker chart for ‘Exercise before Email” and I love it. Your good things are spilling into the world like rainbow dominossssss!

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