I come back to this piece I wrote almost exactly a year ago, on August 8, 2018, because once again, I’ve gotten out of my routine, and I’m trying to get back — away from the grumpiness and back to the rhythms that sustain my physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
I’m such a creature of habit. Once I find a groove, I like to stay there. I like to wake at the same time, eat the same foods, listen to the same podcasts, drive the same roads, and watch the same shows.
Lately, I’ve been getting up at 6am, doing a little yoga, showering, fixing some kind of breakfast egg scramble, listening to my daily Bible reading followed by a favorite podcast, and driving to work. At lunchtime, I take a walk and finish my podcast. Then, on the drive home, I listen to music, make a phone call, or simply drive in silence. Once home, I typically spend some time in the kitchen — cooking or prepping food for the week’s lunches. My husband joins me for dinner, then we might take a walk or watch some TV. We read, then we sleep.
Now, of course, weekends are a little different, and sometimes I have an appointment or some other detour, but typically, the routine is pretty consistent.
However, the last week has been a bit out of the ordinary. We had a couple of our kids over for visits. We accepted an offer on our Missouri home. We voted in the primary election. I attended a day-long training. We took a day trip to see my parents, and a few more out-of-the-ordinaries popped up. Most of these were welcome interruptions; nevertheless, my routine has been tampered with, and although I managed well for the first few days, the cumulative effect is grouchiness and irritability.
I’m sitting on the couch in my pajamas right now, tapping at keys, though I am thoroughly exhausted, because I really need to process and shake off this funk before I ooze grumpiness on any more innocent bystanders. I “put myself to bed” around eight tonight because I was just that tired, but I’m still awake after 10 because the grumble just won’t be put down.
I crave my rhythms that much! I really need each moment of every shower, each breath of every yoga pose, each bite of every breakfast, and each step of every noontime walk. I can’t skimp — not for more than a couple days in a row.
I’ve become high-maintenance; I admit it. I’d feel guilty if these rhythms didn’t contribute to my overall health, but they do!
Life in this chapter has taught me that if I want to be kind and attentive to the people in my path, if I want to do my job well, if I want to reduce my pain and increase my stamina, I must oxygenate myself first every day. And, for me, oxygen is obtained in the purposeful rhythm of routines.
One of the routines that sustains me is writing. It seems that my preferred rhythm is to write anywhere from 700 to 1400 words at a time. I think it takes me that long to dump out what’s building up, find out where it’s headed, then write myself back off the page. Perhaps that is what I am doing now.
It took me the first several paragraphs (the blue text) to dump out my frustration. Only when I had fully expressed those initial emotions could I move on. The next few paragraphs (the green text) allowed me to analyze those feelings. And now (in gray) I’m working my way off the page.
I think I use this same model every time I write — I come to the page with some logjam of ideas and words that is just begging to be put down. I write and write until I see that I’ve shifted from expression to contemplation — figuring out why the logjam existed in the first place. I then keep on writing until I can find a way to end, because by the time I’ve gotten to this place, I feel better, I think I might be able to sleep, and I’ve remembered why this part of my routine is one of the most important of all.
I need all of my routines — the sleeping, the eating, the exercising, and the relaxing — but perhaps the routine that holds all those other routines together, the one that allows me to understand all the others, is the writing.
Now let me go get some sleep.
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord make me dwell in safety.”Psalm 4:8