We are enthralled with, and laugh at, our pets’ habits. They thrive on routine. Whether it is a donkey who wants to be greeted with a scratch behind his right ear, a dog who waits by the window when he knows it is time for the human to come home, a cat who demands just the right amount of water to be poured into the bathroom sink every morning, or a pup who refuses to walk on the other side of the road, their routines are cute, amusing – and sometimes – frustrating. Aren’t they funny critters?
Yeah….um… are we really that different from them? Have you noticed your own habits lately? Sure, we all like to think that we are a little wild and crazy, impulsive and unrehearsed. Maybe when we were younger we could drift in whichever direction the wind took us. But as mature Real Women who have families to manage, jobs to hold, and our own mental states to maintain, we just have to be a wee bit more in control of our destinies. Or at least try to be. And let’s face it, there is comfort in the familiar.
It seems the word routine has bad connotations. When I Googled it, I found all sorts of quotes about how routines are basically the killjoy of life. We can’t possibly change our lives or succeed if we don’t break the “paralysis” of routine. Wow. That’s harsh. And I get it – if we never push ourselves beyond our comfort zones, or try something new, then we won’t grow and experience some of the more amazing things in life. I totally agree. But just because we like to plan, make lists, know where we are headed, and naturally do certain things virtually in the same way and at the same time every day doesn’t mean we’re not fun and experiencing life.
The tone of our day starts with our morning routines. Just like our pets rely on us to get them out and feed them at EXACTLY the same time every day, we rely on our usual plans to flow smoothly with as few crises, spills, and trips as possible. Like some sort of military operation, we have our mornings timed to the minute. Last week both my son and husband were up earlier than usual, which instantly caused a back-up in the shower patterns, and threw off the prepping-for-the-day process as if the earth’s axis had tilted. They didn’t notice anything, but the dog and I just kept looking at each other with a “this feels very off” look.
We are even predictable when it comes to getting our daily news and information. We have our preferred TV networks, websites or feeds, and spend pretty much the same amount of time on them each day. Before I head to work, I pick up my phone to first check work emails, then personal emails, then Facebook. In that order, every time. Then a quick check of Twitter and Instagram. I turn on the local news while I get dressed, then switch over to the Today Show at 7am. When the Today Show gang are doing the fluff segment of Trending, or Rossen Reports, I know it’s time for me to go downstairs and make my chai tea before I head out.
We have these weird little rituals all day long – sometimes we don’t even realize we are doing them. Routes to work, how we greet co-workers, lunchtime behaviors, after work activities… and, of course, at the end of the day, the whole going-to-bed process follows specific steps.
My BFF and I were texting each other the other night during one of our seasonal routines – cleaning out our closets. We agreed that we go through the same thing each time. As if it is a surprise, we realize that our style has changed, how things fit has changed and that impulse buys are generally a big mistake. Maybe we are slow learners, but more likely, we enjoy the familiarity of the process.
I understand that, like Google inferred, routines can make us sound boring and maybe even sad. But I don’t believe that. Because sometimes we are smart enough to take breaks and divert from the usual. To go on travel adventures, or take days off, or do something bold and different. You know, like take a different route to work. Or try something new for lunch. Or heck, even check Facebook BEFORE email.
We can have happy moments of spontaneity to perk up our days. And like a dog who’s just been offered a car ride, we can jump in, soak in the fresh air, tail wagging with the excitement of what might be around the next corner. Then go back to chasing our tail and taking naps later.