I love my morning ritual. Panera Bread, 6:00 a.m. I am not sure why, but it started in 2016. I was taking a winter walk on the Camino de Santiago in the Maseta region of Northern Spain. This is my second time in Camino. In 2015, I walked from St Jean to city of Pamplona. My route this time took me away from Punta La Reina to the city of Logrono. It was a chilly morning. I can still see the icicles frozen on the roof edges. I was starving, but I don’t speak Spanish and didn’t stop to get something to eat. After the long walk, I was so tired I skipped dinner. At  breakfast time the following morning, I searched for a nearby bakery. Even with my limited Spanish, I got some directions to the only bakery that opened that early. I ordered myself a croissant and coffee. Five euros and worth every penny.

That breakfast gave me the power and, most importantly, the additional mental strength to walk my longest distance on the Camino de Santiago.

Back in the states, every time things needed additional focus and extra determination, I tried to replicate the euphoria of that breakfast in Spain. Over time, I discovered that Panera Bread has the closest taste to both the coffee and the pastry from that special morning. Magically , the price of a croissant and coffee at Penera is the same as that morning in Spain: $5 dollars.

What I like about my morning ritual goes beyond just the food. In the morning, things are less complex. The day has not yet started, and anything can happen.   No one to call, no emergency to worry about, and no dramatic customer on my voice mail. Life is simple in the morning. One croissant and two cups of dark-roast Costa Rican coffee.

Sometimes the hardest thing in life is to choose what to do next and to get started. It sounds simple, but as life gets complicated, my mind gets cloudy with responsibilities and commitments. I get distracted with life’s demands. By keeping everything the same in the morning, by having a ritual, I increase my chances of having  the best day of my life. And each one will start with a croissant and cup of coffee.