The Rhythm of Love

I haven’t written in a while. And I’m behind on my projects for work. True, I have been packing boxes, moving truck loads of my belongings from old residence to new, and now unpacking boxes, in every spare moment of my time. I have been residing at the new residence for a couple of days now, and I am really struggling to develop a rhythm in my day.

I think humans were meant to have a routine; a daily routine, perhaps a weekly and monthly routine, and most definitely a seasonal routine. As hunter/gatherers, our lives were very much set to the pattern of the rising and setting of the sun, the change of seasons, and the progression of age. It is natural, and living without a routine, though commonly thought of as romantic and bohemian, is really not sustainable. And so, I am feeling a bit out of sorts.

I like to consider myself spontaneous. I can be. I’d like to think if a friend called and said “let’s go do this or that tonight”, I’d be thrilled and ready to go. I think I would. Usually. But, for every day where nothing spontaneous presents itself, I do like to have a bit of a routine. Perhaps it has to do with my life, in general, with so much travel, and rarely to the same place twice. Though every destination is different, I do have my travel routine; how I travel, the time I prefer to book my flights, what I do as soon as I arrive in the city, at the hotel, etc. There is a definite pattern, if not a routine.

During the brief respite from travel I have each year, occurring right about now, I crave a routine in order to get my projects done for work. When we don’t travel and train clients on software, we re-write, rearrange and refresh our class materials. That’s what I’ve been working on the past few weeks, and still I am behind. I’ll get it done, no doubt, but I am struggling, more than usual, with the upheaval of moving in the midst of all of this.

During this time of year, when I work from home, I like to get up, eat breakfast, write in my journal, check Facebook, text important people in my life a heartfelt good morning, work out, shower, and be ready to work by the time I’m “supposed” to be working, 9:00 am in my home time zone. This I can usually accomplish, sometimes it’s a little later, but then I just work a little later. Sometimes a lot later. No big.

My old residence was a house outside in a newer suburban neighborhood, an annoying distance from any convenient shopping venue. The house was actually, originally, leased by my son and a few of his friends from high school for their first years of college. My son being the only of the four that went directly to a university rather than to a community college. After a year or so, the other young men all transferred to other schools in other locations and my son was left at the house by himself, with most of their stuff and all of the rent. My lease was up for renewal at that time, with a sizable rent increase, and after an unsuccessful attempt at securing new roommates, my son asked me to move in. I rented the two smaller bedrooms from him, he kept the master bedroom. It was kind of a strange dynamic, at first, but we settled into a routine that suited both of us. Neither of us were home, much, at all, and when we were, we were often alone. We actually got into the routine of setting aside a Friday night once a month to go to a pub for a beer or to a wine bar for a flight of wine. While living with my son, I was able to stick to my preferred routine when working from home, mostly, and was very happy with that.

My son has moved, having found a less expensive option, living with other college kids, which is a much better college experience than living with your mom. I support that. I wasn’t wild about paying for and keeping clean, the entire three bedroom, two and a half bathroom house. Especially the paying for part. My mom just turned 89 and lives alone in the house I grew up in, an older, suburban, split level home that requires quite a bit of work and maintenance. She struggles with the stairs and with keeping things up. I, being the only child, and my father having passed away just over a year ago, worry about Mom falling or overdoing. Her neighbors have all been lovely and kind and have been looking out for her, but I knew, I’ve known for most of my life, that at some point, I was probably going to have to assist in some way. I consider myself the “floating family member”, I can live pretty much anywhere as long as I’m within a reasonable distance from a decent airport. Well, I can’t live in Hawaii. Or Alaska. Which is really, really, really unfortunate.

So, here I am. Living with my mom. For two whole days now. I haven’t accomplished anything. I have no schedule. I have no routine. I have no solitude. And I have no patience. Breakfast is littered with random recitations from the newspaper, I couldn’t focus on my journal at all. There I was writing down my affirmations, one being “I am a good daughter”, all the while just seething and being generally grumpy because I was unable to concentrate on my task as my mom read snippets of the newspaper out loud to me. I’m pretty sure I was making the same face my dad used to always make, sort of a grimace, when my mom read from the newspaper. I wasn’t ready to work until 10:00 am this morning, and I really wasn’t all the way ready, but I had a meeting. Then I finished getting ready. I worked for a wee bit, had another meeting, then took Mom out for errands. Just like yesterday.

I know that I need to be way more tolerant. I need to be accepting. I need to find a way to secure solitude at one end of the day or the other to do what I find very important to me; journal, reflect, exercise, write, read. Oh, and work.

I have written over 1,000 words tonight, and this feels really good. Of course, I should be working on my work projects right now, try to finish up before next week’s deadline, having probably only put in about six hours of work in the past two days, total. I’ve told Mom that tomorrow, no errands, that I need to work twelve to fourteen hours, after my morning routine. We’ll see how that goes. I am hopeful. I have plans to alter my morning routine slightly to accommodate the “I am a good daughter” affirmation. I will do my journal (affirmations and gratitude) before I go down for breakfast. I will smile while she reads the newspaper out loud and I munch on my breakfast, text and Facebook. Work out, shower and then work.

I am a proponent of change. I think change is good. I am comfortable enough with change to deliberately seek it out. I embrace change. With change comes adjustment, tolerance and acceptance, all four being very upsetting to most people. All four being critical to our ability to develop, to evolve into the people we hope to become. And so, I have set my alarm and look forward to the challenge of a new day. A day where, out of love, I will try to fall into a new rhythm.

Morning Exercise

For those of you who hate mornings, and Monday mornings in particular, may I try to offer you a little inspiration?

First, mornings are necessary, there is no avoiding them, and so my recommendation is to meet them head on, tackle them and conquer them. True, if you sleep until noon you technically miss morning, but, you still have to accomplish all you need to for the day, and you have way less time to do it! Think of mornings as the foundation for your day. Use morning to build yourself a solid base for the rest of the day to rest on. I have a couple of different morning exercises, if you will, depending on my work schedule and the day of the week. Whatever day it is, wherever I am, and no matter what time I have to get up and be at work, I have a plan to get my day started on the right foot.

I find that by having a plan, by following it, a bare minimum routine, that I can accomplish more than if I just wing it. I find solace in a routine, and as I am often on opposite coasts during the week than on the weekend, anything that provides consistency is a good thing. And I think that applies for people who don’t flit around quite as much as I do, too. I really benefit from a routine, appreciate it, actually, even when I’m home for a while.

This time of year I am working from home more often than not. I am working on projects more than I am meeting with customers. My days and weeks are littered with project team meetings (conference calls) and maybe a training session or two per week via the web. I, generally speaking, have all the time in the morning I need to accomplish all I desire. I take advantage of this slower time of year to get re-focused on my goals, my fitness, and my health.

My alarm is usually set for a respectable hour, 6:30 or 7:00. I am usually awake before my alarm goes off and I find great benefit from just laying in bed a few moments, quietly reflecting, just sort of being still and letting my mind empty. I don’t call this “meditation” because that seems to put way too much pressure on it for me. As soon as my brain focuses on “meditation” I become completely incapable of just being and breathing. “Reflection” seems to work; I breathe, I be, I am in the present, I am still. There is no time set for reflection, I’m probably lucky to be awake but still for five minutes before my brain springs into action and I leap out of bed.

Once I’m up, my fastidious side likes to make the bed immediately upon touching feet to the floor. Then I’m downstairs to fix coffee and a small healthy breakfast. I bring my journal and after breakfast, I fill a page with “affirmations” and another with “gratitude”. My affirmations are single sentences, affirming to myself, my strengths, qualities I seek to enhance in myself, qualities that boost my self-esteem, each one beginning with “I am”. The next page is reserved for noting down all the things I am grateful for. This entire exercise takes about five minutes and really sets me in the right frame of mind for the day. I first read about this in a book many, many years ago. Since then, nearly every author on self-improvement heralds this method. I whole-heartedly agree. The days I miss this morning exercise, I find myself in a less than optimal mood, unfocused, easily agitated, frustrated and generally, just out of sorts. I follow journaling with a challenging workout video, a shower and the whole beauty routine that ensues.

Crazy, insane mornings where I have to get up super early for work are my “minimalist” mornings. There are things I must accomplish, in addition to shower, hair and makeup, no matter the day, no matter the demands of the day. My minimalist routine consists of writing in my journal and eating a healthy breakfast. Whether I am traveling or at home, if it is an early and rushed morning, I make sure my alarm is set, and obeyed, with adequate time to accomplish these tasks. I will avoid defeat by setting out as much the night before for my breakfast and for getting ready in the morning. Be your own best friend, not your own worst enemy. Workouts, I really, really try to make them happen in the evening, but when flying coast to coast and switching time zones on myself constantly, admittedly, sometimes I fail. This is something I’m working on, affirming.

On leisurely weekend mornings, when I don’t have a running engagement (I’m in a running club that meets on Saturdays most of the year) or other early morning activity, I allow myself to sleep in without benefit of an alarm. Which means I may sleep until 7:00, sometimes even 8:00. I follow my weekly routine, but perhaps a bit more slowly. I have discovered that if I have all morning to complete my routine, I am going to take all morning to complete my routine. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Now, Mondays, let’s talk about Mondays. Much like mornings are the foundation of your day, Mondays are the foundation of your week. I think of Mondays as sort of a mini-springtime, time for renewal and growth. We’ve had the weekend to recover and recuperate, or to party and completely destroy ourselves, but no matter, Monday is when our week begins fresh and we can make it what we want by spending a little time getting it pointed in the right direction.

So, to employ another analogy; think of mornings as the New Years of the day, time to make another attempt at our resolutions. Mondays, likewise, are the New Years of the week, time to make another attempt at our resolutions. What you write in your journal, those are your resolutions, and by focusing on them at the beginning of the day, the beginning of the week, we are much more likely to stick with them throughout the day, the week, the months, the year. A small step in truly achieving what you hope to achieve.

I know it all sounds so ideal; get up when the alarm goes off, eat breakfast, write in your journal, work out, get ready, go to work and a perfect day is made. I will be the first to admit that this rarely goes exactly according to plan.

Today, for instance; I had two mid-morning meetings, so I figured, when I set my alarm last night, that I’d allow an hour to eat, journal, clean up after breakfast, text K-Man (my significant other), check facebook, finish my coffee, jot down some blog fodder and dilly dally in a few other ways. I’d allow an hour for my workout video, and, finally, an hour to shower, do my hair and makeup and get to the office (the third bedroom in my house, so, lucky for me, commute equals three steps down the hallway).

I awoke well before my alarm went off and figured I’d get the day started early so I could take my morning even more leisurely. Somehow, that seemed to put my internal timer on relaxed, weekend morning mode. The whole breakfast/journal/facebook/coffee/blog fodder/text K-Man thing ended up taking nearly two hours, putting me about a half an hour behind schedule. Before heading upstairs for phase two of my morning plan, I choked down my vitamins and finished my first tall glass of water for the day.

You know how Mondays can be? As I was taking my vitamins, I dropped one. Typical. My first lightning quick thought was, “yup, it’s Monday”, so negative, but I reached out my hand as the vitamin bounced off the table and headed for the floor, and I caught it. My whole perspective changed in an instant. Did I just conquer Monday? Then I dropped the vitamin a second time. And caught it between my knees. Yes, Monday was mine, I owned it!

Phase two; I was half an hour behind schedule, but I was not about to let myself wimp out or postpone my workout, because once the shower/hair/makeup is done, there is severe resistance to the whole workout thing until late in the evening, and I have an appointment tonight. I really, really don’t like compromising the workout schedule on Mondays, it just really sets the wrong precedence for the rest of the week. Especially after this weekend’s dietary indiscretions!

I ran upstairs, threw on my work out clothes, and loaded my Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit DVD into the player. I panted and sweat along with Shaun T. and all those perfectly fit people on the screen, who are all about thirty years younger than me. It’s supposed to be a sixty day program, I’m thinking it’ll take me more like six months to be able to accomplish the Level I Drill, once, let alone the entire set of exercises. But, hey, I make a little progress each day. That’s the point. Now, since I’m new to Insanity, and old in years, my thirty second breaks sometimes stretch to sixty, or so. I usually have a good “reason”, need a(nother) towel, (more) water, etc., but when you start to multiply that across all the breaks, a forty-five minute workout becomes more like an hour.

Now I’m really late. As a matter of fact, as I step into the shower, and by God, I’ve GOT to shower, I have less than fifteen minutes until my first conference call begins. Shaun T.’s voice is still echoing in my head, and I swear as I grab the shampoo bottle I hear him yell “Shampoo! Squirt! Lather! Four, three, two, one! Rinse! Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one! Conference call is in ten minutes people! Let’s go! Soap on loofah! Scrub! Eight, seven, six, five! Four more! Three, two, one! Towel!”

I made it to my meeting on time, squeaky clean, glowing from my workout out, and totally owning Monday, and the whole week!