I can still remember the hula hoop routine I performed to “New York, New York” in the 5th grade. I also remember the colorguard tryout routine to “Let’s Dance” that I performed back in high school. Don’t even get me started on Zumba…which is nothing but routines! So why does my brain work the way it does by allowing me to keep these things in my head long after I’ve needed them? Perhaps it’s the repetition that went into learning each of them. It could also be that I find each of these events a little more significant and therefore feel the need to hold onto them. Regardless of the reasoning, I have found that I have always enjoyed learning routines. It’s nice to know what is coming next. There is something calming about knowing that there are no surprises. One move follows the next and so on. This is also the reason that I think I, and most other people, fall into a routine in our day-to-day lives. It might include how we get ready to go out. It may dictate the route we take in getting to a destination. Whatever the routine we come up with for the various parts of our lives, I believe they hold a special purpose…even when they are changed.
Many of the routines I have created serve as an internal checklist. For example, whenever I take a shower I always follow the same routine – First, I shampoo my hair. Next, I wash my body and then face…and so on. I have a similar routine when I get out of the shower. There have been times that I’ll begin a process and realize that I can’t start one task because I never did the one that comes before it. This is my way of making sure I didn’t forget something. I do the same thing when packing my toiletries for a trip. I always put the same things in the same location so that if something is missing I know to go grab it so it’s not accidentally left behind. What I have found over the years is that by being consistent with these routines I rarely miss a step. Again, this prevents those unnecessary surprises that are caused by forgetting something. For example, imagine being a base jumper and not following some sort of routine in packing your gear before you take that final step off the edge. This process could be the last thing going through you mind when you’ve realized your chute didn’t open properly. I’m thinking this would not be the time I’d want any sort of surprises!!
Something that I find very frustrating is when I’m in a situation that causes me to be outside of my normal routines. I can vouch that this can wreak havoc on a diet. I know from speaking with friends and family who have kids that it can also wreak havoc on a young child’s sleep schedule. So then I have to ask myself, why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we go somewhere or do something that would prevent us from completing our normal routines? Logic would tell us that it is inevitable. Unless we’re in jail serving a life sentence, our day-to-day routine will eventually change due to a trip, a new job, or possibly our infamous Texas weather. Most of the time, I get comfortable in my routines and it is only when I get outside my comfort zone that I find out how much I’ve relied on this structure in my life. Fortunately, many routines can go with us. Just because I may not be in my shower doesn’t change the steps I’ll follow. I will still start with shampooing my hair, then grabbing the soap, and so forth. It is only when I return home that I get that sense of relief because now I can get back to my everyday routines.
Over the next few months I will be experiencing a myriad of events that will cause a change in my normal routines. The difference I find with myself now is that I am looking forward to these events. I look forward to the new memories I will make in the process. I look forward to the lessons I will learn, mostly about myself, during these times. I look forward to getting used to being outside the safety net of my comfort zone. It is only during times like these that I feel I can grow as a person. I discover new activities that interest me. I find new ways of enjoying life. I learn even more to appreciate that which is the day-to-day routine that I live by on a regular basis. Most of all, I learn that change can be a good thing if I allow it to be. One of my favorite quotes from the movie Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas is spoken by Ma Otter. She’s quoting her late husband who used to say “A person’s got to take chances or life will never come to nothin’!” That Pa Otter was one smart cookie!
My first move away from my routines for a little while will start this Saturday as my husband and I travel to Mexico for our 15th Anniversary trip. We will be gone for a whole week and we’re going to a place that neither of us has been before. In the past I may have panicked being away from home for this long, but this time I couldn’t be more excited!! I am looking forward to leaving behind my daily routines. I am looking forward to removing myself from the hustle and bustle that our lives have become lately to celebrate this milestone. I am looking forward to the memories I will take from this trip. Finally, I look forward to getting away for a while to see what lessons life has in store and how those lessons will affect who I will become.