Welcome to Kitchn's series My Superpowered Morning, where we show you how interesting people use their morning routine to help them fuel the rest of the day.
In a world full of perfect #selfies and over-styled food shots on Instagram, illustrator Mari Andrew's account is remarkably human for someone with almost 900,000 followers. Her drawings are sometimes funny (like with this hilariously accurate depiction of food trends), but more often than not they deal with heartache, grief, and navigating how to be an adult. In just a few strokes of a pencil or brush, she is eerily good at making you feel less alone.
Mari (pronounced MAHR-EE, in case you were wondering) didn't start out as an illustrator. In 2015 her dad passed away and she was going through a terrible breakup, and she needed a creative outlet to cope. So, she picked up drawing and started an Instagram account where she posts every day. Her work resonated with people and it quickly grew in three years. This year she published her book Am I There Yet?, which is a heartwarming extension of her account.
I got to visit Mari at her studio apartment in New York. We talked comfort food, Bossa Nova, and how her morning routine sets the tone for the rest of the day.
You started your Instagram account three years ago during a difficult time in your life. What's the best comfort food?
Oh man, I think pad Thai! Something I love about pad Thai is that it tastes the same everywhere. It make me feel at home.
Your book is all about navigating becoming an adult. What's the recipe that makes you feel like a grown-up?
Roast chicken. I feel like a lady when I make roast chicken. The recipe I use actually comes from Blue Apron. I am a Blue Apron success story because I actually did learn how to cook something!
What does your typical morning routine look like?
One thing that has absolutely changed my life — a very small thing — is that I got an alarm clock. I've never been more obsessed with a possession. It's the best thing ever. It's Braun. I got it from the MoMA gift shop. You can't press snooze on it (which is why I love it so much).
So, I wake up around 7:30 a.m. and I always make my bed first — very important. It has to be the first thing or it won't happen. Then I post to Instagram. If I have a post queued up, I'll log in, post, log out. I don't read or anything. Juicy gossip, I know! It's all just too much to handle at any time, but especially when I wake up.
Then I wash my face, which is a three-step process. Also very proud of that. After that I go into the kitchen where I make coffee and toast.
While I'm eating I do this little journaling exercise called the The Daily Examen. There are five steps: stillness, thankfulness, reflection, shortcomings, and hopeful. It helps me be positive and thoughtful throughout the day. It usually takes me a half-hour in the morning.
So you mostly have toast for breakfast?
Yup, bread with butter!
Do you listen to music or podcasts in the morning?
When I'm washing my face, I listen to a podcast. Right now I'm really into Who? Weekly. I'm a who-ligan for sure. Also, Call Your Girlfriend, Dear Sugar, Forever 35, Getting Curious. Nothing too serious. I don't want the news. I don't want any of that stuff. I don't need someone telling me that I need to be better. I just want to chat with my friends.
When I'm making breakfast and doing my journaling exercise, I listen to Bossa Nova. I got into it after staying at this Airbnb in Brazil where they just had it on in the mornings while they were making breakfast. It's the nicest, easiest way to get into the day. I'm never doing anything else. I love Joao Gilberto, the Beatles of Bossa Nova.
How does your morning routine help you with the rest of your day?
It's important for me to set the tone for the day, because it's so easy to get into a very negative place the second I check email or do anything else. When I don't stick to my routine I find that I can't catch up. It feels like my brain is clogged and I can't push past it.
What does being healthy look like for you?
Last year I was very, very seriously sick and I'm still having complications from that, and I think what I learned is that health is freedom. To me, having good health is being free and having joy and making choices. What I learned from almost dying is that your time is so precious and your space to do things is very precious, your choice-making is precious. Living in full health to me is taking advantage of my time, being protective of my time.
This translates to eating and exercise because I do not have time to go on a diet. I don't have time! I need to be happy. I don't have time to feel bad about myself. I just can't be bothered. I love to dance and I love to run and I never want that to feel like punishment.
Who inspires you?
My mom does because she is almost 70 and she is a completely new person every year. She has so many new hobbies. All of her friends are in their thirties because she just gets along with young people. I'm drawn to people whose identity isn't tied to just one thing. My mom and I are very close, but she also has friends, and hobbies, and she travels. I want to be like that.
Any Instagram accounts you love?
Oh my gosh! So many. My best friend Susan makes these really great jewelry things and her account is like joy. It's Susan Alexandra and she's great. Janie Korn is an artist I love a lot who makes little videos. My favorite illustrator is Liana Finck. She's incredible, amazing.
You talk a lot about love and dating on Instagram and in your book. What's a favorite meal you've made someone?
I really do like to make breakfast for people. I think that has always been a little nicer to me because it's so unexpected. I make a pretty good spread. I'm not very confident in my cooking, but I can make a spread.
I'm very inspired by this trip I took to Brazil. They had the best spreads for breakfast! Breads, cheeses, fruits, vegetables. So as a result, for my spreads, I usually make some hard-boiled egg, some cheese, a little salad, and then fruit. Just add a little square of chocolate and you're just living your best Brazilian life.
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee. Tea is bullshit. That's my stance.
What's always in your fridge?
White wine, and some kind of green thing like spinach for balance. Sparkling water.