A break in the routine, re-visit

On Monday, I wrote about our recent cultural transition to social distancing in my post, Time Out. This post from January 2015, explores another time that I made a big transition.

My blender stopped working this morning. I think it got jealous of all the other items that have been leaving my house via the Minimalist Challenge and wanted to join them. It’s going to get its wish.

I filled the blender with all my healthy ingredients — almond milk, cashew butter, banana, etc. — then pressed the button that usually makes it whir and blend. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.  This happened once last week, but I walked away, came back a few minutes later, and it miraculously worked. Not today. I walked away with the rest of the parade of beverages, did my Bible study, then came back. Still nothing.

Since I moved to Ann Arbor, I have embraced routines. Ok, let me honest, for my whole life, I have embraced routines. I like repetition. I like order. I like predictability. So, I usually go through the same motions each day — smoothie, tea, devotions, writing, exercise, etc.

My husband, a teacher turned therapist turned pastor turned dean of students, told me shortly after I moved here that “routines are one of the best ways to manage a transition.” I am in the middle of a pretty significant transition — moving from working full time to not working, moving from Missouri to Michigan, moving from city living to campus living.

We all spend our lives in transition, don’t we? We transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood to middle age to old age. We transition from single to married and perhaps back to single again. We transition from summer to fall to winter to spring. We are always in transition. Perhaps that is why we crave routine.

In the past week or so I have heard many people say, fresh from the holidays, “I am looking forward to getting back to my routine.” Our days have beginnings, middles, and ends that are largely very repetitive. We like that. So what happens when something happens to disrupt our routine?

We sleep through our alarm. The power goes out. The basement floods. We lose our job. We get sick. Someone dies. Our blender stops working. 

It’s a disruption. We have to stop in the middle of that beloved routine of ours and regroup. When we sleep through the alarm, we have to establish new priorities — shower or no shower? breakfast or no breakfast? notify the people who are waiting for us or break the speed limit to get there on time? When we lose our job, we have to reevaluate life and make some choices — find a new job? move to a new town? go back to school?

Our blender stops working and we have to decide what in the world are we going to eat for breakfast.

This morning I didn’t want to stop in the middle of my routine. I was already a little tight on time. I didn’t have a backup plan for something healthy to eat. And, guys, all the stuff was already in the blender! So what did I do? I kept moving for a bit. I went to my office and drank my other beverages, but without the smoothie, they were out of order!!!  This ruffled me a little, but I pressed on. I got through my morning email-checking and devotion-reading and checked the clock. I had to leave soon if I was going to meet my friend for a Pilates class. Should I make a bowl of oatmeal? grab a Kind bar? I thought about it as I got dressed, washed my face, and put in my contacts. I walked back into the kitchen and pressed the button on the blender one more time. Nothing. Sigh. I couldn’t just leave all those precious ingredients sitting in the blender on the countertop, so I poured them into a bowl, mashed the banana with a fork, stirred and swished as blender-like as I could, and ate that stuff with a spoon. Bam. Problem solved.

I wish all disruptions were this easy to manage, don’t you? This small disruption didn’t shape the rest of my day or the rest of my week, but many disruptions do. Some disruptions change our lives forever — an unexpected illness, a death, a global pandemic. No amount of routine can prevent such disruptions or prepare us for their impact. So, we may all of a sudden find ourselves reeling, desperately searching for something to hold onto.

When I find myself in such a position — feeling out of control and a little terrified, I return to routines — regular wake up and bed times, daily exercise, consistent food choices, and regular Bible reading and prayer.

Today, as I anticipate unprecedented uncertainty, I am thankful for my routines. Last night I set up my home office in preparation for telecommuting which begins today and lasts for the foreseeable future. More now than ever, I will return to my routines. I’ll get up at the same time, read my Bible, write my pages, practice yoga, take a shower, eat breakfast, and report to work on time just as I have been doing. Over the years, I’ve found that patterns like these provide the structure that anchors me.

Routines remind me that as sure as the sun rises each day, so does God remain the same. His mercies are new every morning.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 13:8

2 thoughts on “A break in the routine, re-visit

  1. I use a nutribullet. I don’t think I could live without it. When my old one broke I promptly went to the store an bought another one. I understand your need for consistency in routine. We are in the middle of a home renovation- ummmm for 2 years. I pray each day that we will make some visible headway. Sigh….I have learned to quietly live in a huge construction mess and minimal function.
    Each night I go to sleep and think- well, maybe tomorrow, but we have a roof and thats a blessing.


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