Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Routines and Rituals

Making my bed every day is an important routine that I actually stick to.


Okay guys, I have to write another Tiny Buddha inspired post today.  Two days in a row!  But sometimes this website really speaks to me, and I guess it's just one of those kind of weeks.

As 2012 is coming to a close, I'm feeling a little down.  Another year has gone by and my professional writing goals have not been met. As I've been thinking about writing a post reflecting on the year, all I seem to keep thinking is that I'm disappointed in myself for not achieving any writing goals.  My blog traffic is not where I want it to be, I do not have a manuscript of my novel ready to submit to an agent let alone even have an agent.  I don't like when I find myself only thinking negatively, and I try to stay positive while also keeping it real on this blog, but as December approaches, all I can really think is- where has this year gone?

Part of being a person with creative goals outside of my day career (yes, it's much more meaningful than a day job, which I'm grateful for) means that I need to make the time to do the things I love.  I feel like I've spent my entire life trying to live by routine but it never lasts.  I remember making lists really young in life- like 7 or 8 years old as a way to make the most out of my days.  I've started to think that living by a routine is stiff, not the kind of life meant for a creative person, it just doesn't work.  But after reading "Create Better Days With Empowering Routines and Loving Rituals," I'm feeling inspired to give routine and ritual a shot once more.  I was really moved by this quote:
"If you want an extraordinary life, you must have equally extraordinary routines and rituals."
It's possible that I've spent the entire year, off and on, channeling my energy towards bad habits instead of my real desires and goals.  By going online as soon as I come home from work for no reason, or watching TV instead of exercising, or not cooking dinner and/or eating a bad breakfast, I get myself stuck in an "alternating cycle of feeling either overwhelmed or paralyzed."  Pretty awful right? Why do I keep doing this to myself? But without routines and rituals, I do.

I also find myself having a hard time balancing social time with work time.  And sometimes I won't do something socially because I have to go home and write, and then I don't end up writing.  UGH.

So how do I establish a routine, and some rituals and allow myself to be flexible instead of rigid?  I'm not entirely sure, but I hoping to spend the rest of the year thinking about it and figuring some things out and hopefully start living an extraordinary life ofextraordinary routines and rituals in the new year.

Ideas that I have right now include writing in a gratitude journal about what I'm thankful for as a bed time ritual every night and using the simple routine of taking a shower every morning as a time for reflection and a way for me to choose how I want to feel during my day.

The big thing though is establishing a writing routine.  That's what I still need to think about, however rituals are still really important and I think will help my writing in the long run.  Smouse writes in her article that rituals offer "compassionate disciple," which I think I need to stop being so hard on myself when it comes to my writing.  And they are different from a routine because they need to be "celebratory and meaningful."

I'm curious readers, are you a routine person?  Do you find them too rigid or do you have a hard time maintaining them, like me?  Do you have special rituals that are important to you? I'd love to hear about some of your routines and rituals in the comments.  Let's chat!

24 comments:

  1. i enjoy routine...it helps me feel balance...although routine is a bit harder with a new baby!

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    1. I'm sure! Although now you probably have different routines then before, am I right?

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  2. I loved that Tiny Buddha post as well! I love my routines. Even if it's just reading for awhile before going to bed, I cling to my little rituals (and long to create more of them). I think deep down I believe that if I create the perfect routine I will have the perfect life. Probably not exactly true, but the quote you mentioned ("If you want an extraordinary life, you must have equally extraordinary routines and rituals.") really resonates with me.

    I freely admit, however, that I do have a hard time maintaining good routines. How does one have a social life and routines? It's all about balance, I know, but it's definitely something I struggle with. Sometimes I create a really good routine but then I have an off week (vacation, holidays, etc.) and it all falls by the wayside. Best of luck with your routines, old and new. :)

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    1. Reading before bed is totally a routine for me too! Maybe even more like a ritual because reading is so meaningful to me. Totally agree with the vacation thing too- we're totally on the same page :)

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  3. I have a hard time sticking to my daily goals, which for me are exercise, meditation, reading, and writing, and then all the other stuff that needs to get done for myself and my family. At the end of the week, month, years I'm always asking myself why time seems to go so much faster now that I'm older and what have I really done with my life. I tend to get distracted by things such as the internet and I can't say that it is wholly unintentional. Sometimes it's just easier to veg out than do all the things I tell myself I should be doing. I want to leave reminder notes around the house, like a list on the bathroom mirror, on the fridge, etc. to keep myself focused, but I tell myself that my family might tease me about this, so I don't do it. That, of course, is just another excuse I am just telling myself that keeps me from really living the life I want to.

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  4. Sorry, another comment. I forgot to say that recently at bedtime I have been reflecting on my day and writing down what I accomplished that day in order to make myself face whether or not I was being productive or just wasting a lot of time. It has helped steer me in a better direction, I think.

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    1. That's awesome, Heather. I think I'm going to give something like that a try.

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  5. Thanks for introducing me to Tiny Buddha, I quite like it! I'm a pretty routine-y person, but I like to give myself a little flexibility too. I know if I don't have coffee or tea (or some warm beverage) first thing in the morning while listening to the Calm Meditation station on Pandora and reading blogs I follow then I'll pretty much have a bad day. I know if I don't workout, my body feels bad. So maybe for me it's all about cause and reactions? It's a good topic to think about.

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    1. Yes, cause and reaction is exactly it, which is why I'm trying to figure this routine thing out. Thanks Michelle!

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  6. I don't really have an answer, but I really struggle with having a routine and being productive while at the same time being flexible. It's frustrating.

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    1. Yes, the same for me! At least it's nice to know I'm not the only one :)

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  7. Firstly, such a great post! I can't speak about routines at all, because as a person with severe OCD I tend to consciously avoid anything routine - even though I can see how maintaining a reasonable routine (or several) can help someone make their life better organized, I'm just scared of falling into the obsessive mindset again.

    For writing, though, I use some Internet tools - I'm not sure if that's what you had in mind, but maybe they'll help you as well. I've been using http://750words.com/ for some time now and I find the minimal-distraction style really helping my focus. I mostly write about what happened to me that given day and what I don't feel like blogging about. I've noticed that writing often (albeit not every day) has really helped me in terms of formulating my thoughts or just simply expressing myself (not that you have any difficulty with that). Other than that I like http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/ best of all writing challenges. They have two writing prompts every week, and they're usually good ones. The word count is limited, so it helps with economy of language. Sometimes I just have a think about the prompt when I'm lazy or lack inspiration.

    Sooo, that's one monstrous comment. Also, feel better, you're awesome :)

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    1. Thank you so much for this comment, and your kind words Gabriela, they mean a lot. I will definitely check out those writing tools! xo

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  8. UGH I hate admitting I'm a routine person.. but when I get right down to it, I know that having a routine will motivate me. I'm having the same issue with the writing routine.. it's so hard because you really do have to have discipline, even with something you love. I feel like blogging helps though when you're trying to accomplish a lengthy goal like a manuscript. Blogging reminds us that we can enjoy the creating process and not just the finished product. You do a great job being candid and real on your blog, and I think that's fuel for your other writing projects. I'm trying to do the morning pages from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.. I've heard it does WONDERS getting you on a healthy writing routine and works great against writer's block. Also, I'm going to look into writer's meet up groups in my city or try to start a small group of like-minded writers. I think implementing more face to face, creative discussions and accountability can help maintain certain routines... at least that is what I'm hoping.

    I know reddit has a writing group were they do "word wars" to motivate each other to write. Pretty cool - I haven't done it yet but you should look into it!

    http://www.reddit.com/r/shutupandwrite

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    1. You're so right aout focusing on the process. I really believe in that, but it can be hard to remember sometimes. Thank you so much for your kind words Mollie! xo

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  9. What a wonderful bit of reflection, Sarah. Along with that "compassionate discipline" don't forget to offer yourself some love with the structure.

    The basics of routines allow creativity to blossom because it gives you a structure. Or let me share one of my favorite analogies:

    When you have solid and supportive routines, it acts like a dog park for the creative mind. The routines build the fence around the dog park that get you to the solid parts - breakfast, getting your writing space in order, sitting down to write, etc. Then, your creative brain gets to be off the leash and run around in the safe park with wild abandon. If your creative brain is having to keep the logical side of you alert as well (aka "look for cars") then you're more easily distracted when you sit down to write.

    I personally get distracted by things like dishes in the sink and a stack of things that needs to be put away... and I need the little ritual of slowly enjoying my first sip of coffee as a signal to my creative side that everything is in order and it's time to play....

    You can do it!

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    1. Thank you so much for reading my post Debra! Your encouraging words are so inspiring.

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  10. Hello! I just found your blog via Kaelah Bee's TILT post. I too am insanely inspired by Tiny Buddha and the post you mention resonated with me as well. I'm trying to develop routines of my own...it's all a work in progress!

    Anyways, what you wrote about being disappointed in yourself resonated with me as well. I struggle with the same thing...I'm usually the meanest to myself and I'm trying to change that. I read this article recently:
    http://www.mysticmamma.com/the-theme-for-december-is-forgiveness-by-lena-stevens/
    and I think you might dig it. :)

    Sending you love&light!
    Elise

    @elisevsmith
    www.elisevictoria.com

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    1. Thank you so much for this sweet comment Elsie, you totally made my day! Thanks so much for the article suggestion, and I'm going over to check out your blog right now! xo

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  11. I love the idea of routine. I love getting geared up to make a change, having my life all mapped out in my head and taking the first step towards changing it. And then I sit back and stare into space (or sometimes at a screen or a book) for hours and the idea of facing the rest of the world seems like the most unimportant thing in the world.
    The word in the quote you used, "paralysed", really hit home with me. Right now, for example, I have wet laundry in my machine and the idea of getting up to hang it up to dry makes me sink further into my bed. To avoid a simple task like washing dishes or sweeping the floor I can literally sit on my couch and look at a spot on the wall for HOURS - yet I'm not a lazy person. I'm an incredibly hard-working and motivated person. At work, I'm the person that everybody relies on, and the person that everybody loves working with because a shift with me is a fun shift, where every goal is checked off the list. It's a cliche to say you go home to switch off, but to me it's like that's literally what happens. It really interests me to look for the line between allowing yourself down time and losing your sense of self because you're feeling overwhelmed by simple, tiny tasks. Thank you for an insightful post. It appears to have motivated me to ramble out a blog post of my own in your comment section, ha!

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment! Yes, I think I can be very similar especially is I'm being held accountable for something- like at work, I can do it great! But when I'm the only person holding myself accountable, like with my writing, it's so much harder.

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  12. Most of my rituals center around a cup of coffee and my camera. I love to document the beauty in every day life and that in itself has become a ritual of mine.

    I hope you find what you're looking for.

    x missdottidee.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks for you comment Sarah Dee! Yes, the ritual of coffee is a pretty magical one :)

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  13. I am definitely a routine person, but I've found that it's much harder living with my husband. He is content doing nothing other than the basics (work, showering, eating, occasionally helping with chores, etc) and spending the rest of his time browsing the internet/watching tv. Unfortunately, he often sucks me in and distracts me from my plans.

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