Eat First

Like most of us, I have a routine when I come home from work. I get the mail, open any packages, eat dinner, and then I work on whatever the day demands, most likely this blog.

But I invariably eat before I’ve started anything else. And the reason is simple: I’m hungry. Or so I thought.

Say what you will about thinking on an empty stomach, but the real reason is because when I’m eating, it’s something I do for myself. No one else around me needs to benefit from my eating — it’s the only time of day that I can take time out for myself. I usually don’t do anything else while I eat, and I focus on the food coming into my body and nourishing me.

And so, whatever your routine may be, make sure you take some time for yourself. Whether you’re eating or watching tv or reading a book. Make sure you make time for yourself. Because no one should be able to take that away from you.

Love,

Bailey

Running and Crying

Two things you should know about me (if you don’t already know from reading this blog and assuming):

1. I am not an athlete. (I played sports growing up, but I wouldn’t consider myself “athletic” by any stretch of the imagination.) 

2. I never follow through in my personal life. (I have a million and one hobbies at home, and I’ve never finished any of them. I’m looking at you, five adult coloring books.)

So, if I told you that I’ve been waking up early to go for a run these past two days, would you ask if I’ve been abducted by aliens? 

Good, so would I. 

But I haven’t. I’ve just been fed up with how I look, feel, and look. So, for two days, I got up, put clothes on, and went out the front door before I was fully awake. 

And I know, two days isn’t a lot. But see point 2, above, ok? 

So, I was running along today, trying to will myself to keep with it and to go faster when I said to myself, “it’s okay, Bailey. Even if you don’t make it all the way, you accomplished something because you got out of bed to do this today. You’ve already won.” 

And possibly because the pollen has been horrendous and I couldn’t take a full breath without choking and my chest feeling tight, I started to cry. Which looks like I’m a member of crazy town to anyone who is passing by: a girl running slowly, crying to herself. 

But it had been so long that I had been nice to myself, that I had said anything encouraging to me, that it caught me off guard. It’s like when your significant other brings home flowers or does something unexpected to make you feel good. But for yourself. 

So, what’s my advice? Get up every morning and do something for yourself. Break your routine. But really, don’t surprise yourself with kindness, like I did. Practice it daily. 

And even if I don’t get up early enough to go for a run, at least I’ve accomplished something, by getting out of bed. 

You should be proud of that too. 

Adaptive

Humans are pretty resilient.

 I mean, no matter what your mom says, she most likely hit you on the head when you were younger. (It was probably an accident.) And you’re totally not a serial killer now, right? (Right?!)

Right. You turned out just fine. Which made you better because what doesn’t kill you (or makes you a killer) makes you stronger. And that’s great for the bad things. 

But what about the good? People say be careful what you wish for, but I say be careful what you adapt to. Because the old routine that doesn’t seem to change much and that feels comfortable could be the one thing in your life that is really damaging. It makes you stay inside instead of going out with friends because your show is on. It makes you never try anything new at an old restaurant. And believe me, I understand. I would rather be in my pajamas too. But sometimes, it’s not good for us to have the same old, same old. Sometimes, the same routine that you’ve adapted to has bad habits, which is a double whammy. 

You adapted to the routine you have now. I’m sure that in some point in your life you moved, or broke up with a partner, or started a new job, or tried a new ice cream flavor. You pushed your boundaries then and adapted. Push them again and see what happens. 

It’s great that we’re able to adapt. But it’s a very old instinct that needs to take a backseat to you having new and different experiences every once in awhile. You need to unadapt. Your couch will still be there when you get back. 

Life Is Voluntary

It’s easy to forget that you have to choose to live.

Gravity keeps you on the ground. Alarms go off when they’re told to. Green lights turn without a second thought. The world is set to auto-pilot, and you are a mere passenger.

But you? Your body is a work of art, isn’t it? Controlled by your own volition?

Not exactly.

You blink and breathe automatically. You pull back when something burns you and hunch down when it is too cold. Everything is instinctual and such a part of the fabric of life that it is easy to forget that you have to choose to live. You have to decide, everyday, that you are going to make the most of it. You have to think about what kind of contribution you are going to make. But how are you going to do that when the Starbucks barista knows your order and has it ready for you when you get there? What happens when you actually start to memorize the license plates of the cars that participate in the same daily commute as you? What happens when trying to live goes against the grain of life itself?

Well, ironically, you have to focus on that which is unintentional to create a deliberateness in your life.

Huh?

Okay, let me put it this way. You know when someone tells you to take a deep breath? Well, usually when you breathe, it sort of just occurs. It’s like waves on the shore; they roll in, they roll out. But like the sea, your breath is not in control. You are. Likewise, the ocean is not in control. The moon tugs at the waves and creates the tides. So, when you focus on your breathing, you are actually taking back control of what you already do naturally. It puts you in the driver’s seat again, which is really helpful when everything seems like it is crashing down around you, and you aren’t in control of anything.

So, that brings up another great point: you feel most helpless and angry when you are not able to navigate, when someone else is doing that for you. But, if you focus again on the things that were once self-regulating, like your breathing, you can begin to seize control and start to believe that more of life can be shaped to your advantage, even things that seem to beyond your sphere of influence.

Really, this is all a really fancy way of saying that everything in life is about choices. And even when you feel like you have run out of them, they are still there because there are decisions to be made in what is perceived as truth. You simply have to believe that you have the power to change what has always been.

What Do We Watch on Tuesday?

If you were a kid in the 90s,  your parents would order a pizza for dinner every Friday night. I don’t know why this was an unspoken rule of weekly take-out, but if it was Friday, you knew that you were going to eat cheesy goodness while watching Sabrina The Teenage Witch, in that order.

Little did you know that your parents were also giving you a taste of adult living at a very young age, while simultaneously setting you up for heart disease. What was a fun way to spend the end of the week suddenly became a rut that you were trudging in by the time you were nearing puberty. Your mouth would start watering on Thursday night in anticipation of the next day: pizza day.

And so it was born: your ambition to work for/treat yourself with the weekend. (To be fair, 5 days of schooling also contributed to this, but hey, positive reinforcement doesn’t help it, either.)

And it is now that I invoke this sort of, blogger’s license, and say that you should break the routine you live in whenever possible (and at the same time, I freely admit that this is a struggle for me as well. I, too, looked forward to pizza at one time.)

But like pizza, routines are unhealthy. (I know, sad truth.)

Now, I’m not going to tell you that life exists outside of your comfort zone. Because you already know that. Yes, if I tell you what you should be doing, it doesn’t change the fact that you aren’t doing it. You’re scared and that’s obvious. We all are, and that’s why we adopt routines in the first place. That’s not a crime, it’s a fact.

No, I want to tell you it is possible to break your routine. It is possible to start something new. It is possible to stop asking, “What’s on television on Tuesday?” Not because you already know, but because you have broken the habit of doing the same thing every Tuesday. Just start small. Watch your normal shows on a Wednesday night instead of a Tuesday. I know, I know, that’s really starting small. But when you convince yourself that change isn’t life-altering, and that it won’t kill you, then you can move up. Try a new restaurant. Read an author you’ve never read.

Then, when you’re comfortable in your new uncomfortableness, keep going. And you’ll realize that the life you were living before wasn’t really living at all.

Routines can be good because they help us to remember what we need to remember in our lives: the car keys, this huge project, that night out with your friends. This is because nothing ever changes. But routines aren’t memorable for the long-term, as days merge into one another as one gray blur. That’s why we need a break from routines from time to time, to feel new things and try new things. To live the life we want to live instead of the life we feel we must.

So, we’ll do it together. We’ll both make small changes in our life so that they add up to something big. Because life is simply that: small moments that add up over the years.

(But don’t worry. This blog will always remain routine without being ordinary.)