We seem to have landed in January temperatures here in Minnesota, and it isn't even Thanksgiving yet. Snow is firmly on the ground and seems determined to stay with us till who knows when. Given my hesitation about walking in these conditions, even though I have plenty of Nanook of the North outerware, crampons strapped onto the bottom of one of my pair of boots and will soon have walking poles for extra security, strolling through the neighborhood doesn't have lots of appeal.
Still, I know I need to exercise more. I have not been given clearance from my orthopedist yet to return to Curves, and hope that will happen soon, but in the meantime I use the exercycle faithfully everyday--the best exercise for my broken ankle I have been told--but since I sit at my desk and write and read much of the day, more exercise is definitely in order. I am not eager to join a gym (No lectures, please!), however, so what to do?
Yesterday I went to the Mall of America and joined the other senior citizens walking the Mayo Mile. I walked two of the four loops of the mall and left before the stores began to open, feeling quite self-righteous, I might add. I intend to do the same thing today.
Doing this, however, means I have to change my routine, and I like my routine. Very much. My routine these last few months has been to get up at 6 and go straight to my garret desk and write and read while still in my pajamas. Eventually, when I feel like it or because there is someplace I need to go, I use the exercycle, shower, and dress for the day. In the meantime my husband has left the house and gone to his coffee shop "office" to work, and I enjoy the spaciousness of the quiet. Most days I walked in the neighborhood later in the day. That has been a good routine.
That routine was the result of asking myself, "What are you willing to do to make writing a priority in your life?"
But what do you want badly enough to keep front
and center in your life? To make sacrifices of time
This Year I Will…How to Finally Change A
Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream
Come True, M. J. Ryan, p. 19
One thing is clear to me…You can't do everything
you'd like to do…You must hold on to some things
and let go of others. Learning to make that choice is
one of the big lessons in life.
I decided it was worth giving up an hour of sleep in the morning in order to work at my garret desk without distraction. That has worked well, and I am moving forward with my book project. However, my body has asked for equal time, and that makes sense to me. I recognize the need and have decided I am willing to make an adjustment in my routine. Making the effort to walk in a safe and dry place on a regular basis and still keep writing time as a priority means establishing a new writing regimen. I am willing to do that. I am willing to establish a new routine. I am willing to exercise my power over routine, instead of letting the routine be in charge.
The Value and Power of Routines
I think routines make us feel secure. Routines help us feel as if we are in charge, productive, and moving towards something as we navigate our way through our self-imposed routines. In one way, having a routine is a way not to think about the next step, but routines are also a way to check in with ourselves and to know if this is a normal kind of day or one in which we are in store for something out of the ordinary. Routines are part of our decision-making about how we want to spend our time. We do this, instead of that. That, instead of this. Routines signal how we live our days, and that gives power to routine.
How important it is to keep asking the question, "Is this where we want to place our power? Is this the way we want to live our days?"
An Ongoing Lesson
The thing is I value spontaneity and flexibility, as much as I value routine and regularity and having a plan. And I am aware of how distractions creep in as the day progresses. What I continue to learn, however, is that when I stay awake, when I live consciously, the need for routine and the need to respond to change, along with the desire to be open and spontaneous are not in conflict. When I stay awake, my body, mind, and spirit live together without conflict for the wellbeing of the whole. How amazing is that!
I don't know yet if this new plan will actually become my daily routine and if it does, how long it will last. I know there will be days when bad weather will keep me home, instead of walking at the mall, and I hope there will be other days warm enough for an outdoor walk. I assume there will be other days when the writing beckons more than walking. This routine will modify into another routine at some point, but I hope that will happen because I am awake and living a conscious life, responsive to the movement of God in my heart.
What routines feed and nurture how you live your days and what routines have power over you? Are there routines in your life that need to be examined or is there a routine in your life that needs to be established? I would love to know.