I find routines comforting. If I’m behind on my bookkeeping, or a client is unhappy with me, or I’m working 11 hours a day – or if all the above are happening at once – it helps me to eat the same kind of oatmeal each morning with a glass of the same kind of orange juice while I read the same newspaper (Wall Street Journal) for 10 minutes. Then I walk the same way to work and make the same type of tea (Earl Grey) when I get there before I sit down to start the stress/work wheel all over again.
When things are going well, routine feels good too. I savor my orange juice, add a little extra cinnamon to my oatmeal, inhale the steamy, lemony scent of my tea before I drink it, and take an extra few minutes out of my day to enjoy the morning.
Like a lot of people, I sit in front of a computer much of my day, and no matter how often I remind myself to sit straight and shift my position now and then, at the end of the day my neck and shoulders ache from reaching forward and sometimes hunching (really, I try not to), and my knees and back feel a little stiff and sore from sitting. So part of my morning routine is yoga. The poses that feel wonderful are those where I pull my shoulders back, where I arch my back, or where I straighten my legs completely. Basically, where I move my body just the opposite way that I usually do.
This morning as I moved through poses that opened my chest and shoulders, and straightened my knees, I thought about how I might like to do more things that are different from what I usually do. Try to stretch my mental and emotional life the way I do my body. I didn’t decide to go to the extreme – try skydiving, for instance, when I find driving risky enough. But I signed up for a seminar in the U of C continuing education series on religion and the brain, even though none of my friends were interested in taking it with me. And I said Yes to an evite to an event hosted by someone I’ve only know for a few months, even though I don’t know any of the other women who RSVP’d. Maybe I will learn about a topic I’ve never thought about before, get an idea for a short story or a poem, make a new friend. And even if none of those things happen, maybe it will feel good, the same way stretching my arms and legs does. But I’m sure I’ll still have my orange juice and oatmeal – and Earl Grey tea – the next morning.
Lisa M. Lilly
Author of The Awakening
Author of The Awakening
Will Tara Spencer give birth to the first female messiah? Or trigger the Apocalypse?