Locked in stone?

Why is it, on Mondays, we wake up saying, “Noooooooooo? It can’t be Monday! I’m so tired!” But on Fridays we said, “Yay. It’s Friday. I can stay up half the night for the next two.” Good way to mess up our timing. We need to stick to the same wake/sleep timing to maintain our mental health. We no longer have to get up to go to work, do we?

Same with our meals. Now I’m not saying we should be eating on a regular basis, like clockwork, like we had to do in the old days when we were 3Cs. Not at all. In fact, I’m what they call a grazer. Much healthier than sitting down three times a day filling our stomachs, and feeling the urge, for the in between times, to reach for a cookie, ice cream or candies. A grazer “reaches for” whatever they have the urge for, no matter the time of day. Freedom!

IMPORTANT: We will need to train ourselves to “reach for” what our body is needing and not what we’ve trained it to think it needs, like sugar and other addictive additives put into ready-made products. Salt is a necessary baddy (iodine source, plus chemically necessary for making bread, for instance); and since it makes food taste good (check out competitive chef shows on TV!), ready-made and take-out tends to have lots of it. The only way to change our food-intake routine is through research, and eating what our body needs for as long as it takes to make us crave the beneficial stuff rather than what will eventually kill us. Read the labels; research each ingredient; watch a year’s worth of How It’s Made.

NOTE: Back in the 1980s when I was seeing the shrink who was teaching me how to recognize OCPD, he recommended that I cut back on salt. I did. My PMS and migraines went away and never came back. To this day, I’m careful about my salt consumption.

Hunger pangs: https://www.healthline.com/health/hunger-pangs#dieting

Regular meals came along when those dudes, those “kings” I mentioned in a previous post, started forcing us to work for them from dawn till dusk. (They must have allowed us breaks to eat or the human race would have disappeared long ago.)

Routines? But I’m a Rebel!

Living by “The Rules” reminds me of growing up in my small home town and having every damned nosy old biddy watch my every move and report it with disdain to my mother. Who then “dealt” with me about it.

Did I have delusions of grandeur thinking everybody in town was watching me? No. I was the eldest of three (and I was an only child until I was nearly six). It was my father’s home town, his mother’s home town, and the town Dad’s great grandmother immigrated to from Ireland with, according to family lore, five children. And Dad was the Chief of Police. Did everybody know me? Everybody knew me. And everybody had opinions of how I should behave.

Funny thing is, I always did “behave” because it’s in my nature to be kind, caring and obedient to the Law. Besides, Mom would give me a good smack upside the head (literally) if I didn’t behave, and I was a quick learner.

I also—speaking of rules—grew up Roman Catholic. All the way from Grade 1 to Grade 13. But my mother was a convert to Catholicism. Maybe this was why the nuns watched my every move, and corrected my [seemingly] every action? My mother’s family were Catholic dislikers. (I don’t like the word “hate.”) Was this why they watched my every move? Did they hope I would self-combust if I walked into a church that wasn’t a Catholic one? (Don’t laugh. I believed this myself until I was an adolescent; until my cousin got married and I didn’t catch fire when I attended her wedding in a Protestant church.) Oh, and Dad’s father (a descendant of Northern Ireland Protestants) was a convert to Catholicism, too. And Grandma on that side was an Acadian descendant, not exactly a by-the-church-rules gal, either, although staunchly Catholic. I kept those nuns nosy for sure! Can you figure out where the rebel in me comes from? DNA maybe?

Routines? Rules? Regulations? The mere suggestion of these things today makes me want to run away screaming. But I know that the more organized I am, the faster I can get things done. The faster I can get things done, the more free time—fun—I’m going to have.

Key word: organized. Not controlled.

Time to Alter Routines from Bad-for-Us to Good-for-Us

“But I’ve Never Followed a Routine.”

No matter how we deny it, we already follow a routine.

Even running one’s life in a chaotic manner is following a routine of chaos. It’s still a routine.

NOTE: Chaos Addiction is a very real condition arising (usually) from a childhood of constant terror and worry stemming from the need for real or imagined self-protection. It’s not an addiction to the terror and worry, but an addiction to the substances produced in our bodies in response to the fear and worry. There are those who refer to people with this condition as being “chaos junkies,” but this is unkind. Like any addiction, it can be stopped, but not without leaving the feeling of being—according to what I’ve read—“dead.” Where’s the motivation, then, to “fix” something like that? In lieu of judging, understand.

I don’t plan to get into the deep and dark of various mental disorders like OCPD (Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder) and Chaos Addiction, etc. I’m not a psychiatrist. I’m talking about embracing routine in our lives so we can live a little for a change.

First thing I do when I wake up (around 6:00 AM, give or take by anywhere from ten minutes to half an hour or more, either way) is head for the bathroom. That’s often what wakes me up in the first place.

I make my bed.

Pull up the duvet. Arrange the pillows/cushions. Bingo. Twenty seconds?

If you have a duvet, all you need to do is pull it up over the sheet that you just pulled up. If you use “hospital corners,” it will work much easier as you won’t be having everything coming apart at the bottom end. Frustrating and time-consuming.

Anybody can do it: https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/how-to-make-a-bed-using-hospital-corners/#:~:text=Make%20a%20hospital%20corner%20on,fold%20the%20top%20drape%20over

I get dressed.

I turn on my cellphone’s sound. (My cellphone remains silent from bedtime to dawn. It’s plugged in to recharge during this time. It’s at my bedside, in case.)

I take my thyroid medication. This has to be taken either one hour before food, or three hours after. I choose the shorter window. I’m a grazer.

I check on the dudes in the small bedroom aquarium: plants, shrimp, and three snails named Waddy, Ithy and Sali (Arabic nicknames for “One” and “Two,” and nickname for Salvatore). These are Nerite snails and they like to go exploring, as in, climb out of the aquarium. Stressful for me? Yes. Light comes on at 6:00 AM. It turns off at 1:00 PM. I now dose it with carbon (see more below about this).

I say good morning to my plants in the rest of the apartment as I check on them: balcony (“Good morning, world! 😊“); or on windowsill in winter. Good morning world again as I open the draperies.

I take my emphysema puffer. Brush my teeth. No point in brushing my teeth, taking the inhaler, then brushing my teeth again, eh?

I turn on the radio to see if World War III started and I missed it. Or are we up to WW IV yet? No? OK. Let’s get to work, then. Or play. Or whatever. My time is now my own to do with exactly as I please.

And what I please to do is…

… get onto my computer and check all my emails. I deal with the ones that are quick to deal with, as in, outright delete for marketers; and respond to clients’ questions/replies/etc., usually brief. I respond to friends’ emails (chatty tomes, usually) later, when I’m “off work.” If it’s my day off, I can dally all I want. Days off can vary. Everything I do outside of my routine “depends.”

Then I work: writing or editing or designing or whatever. Since I make commitments to clients and to myself, I tend to work Monday to Thursday on writing or clients’ projects so I can meet deadlines. Yes. I give myself deadlines. I try to save Fridays and Saturdays to work on my blog so I can be certain to be at least one or two posts ahead—in case something comes up like the end of The Plague and we can all go party, me without the stress of having Something To Do sitting in the back of my mind, ruining my fun.

I consider writing to be fun, so spending a few hours on Friday and Saturday mornings getting ahead on blog posts, is fun. It’s playing. I could be knitting, or going fishing, or running, or anything else that people like to do. I like to write.

I also have the “routine” of weekly water changes on my aquariums. This isn’t so much “fun” but it’s required in order to have the “fun” of seeing how beautiful they can be.

I like to think of “routines” as being Things That Must Be Done Or. I MUST take my meds… or I’ll get sick. I MUST open the draperies for my plants… or they’ll perish.

After an hour (see thyroid meds above), I can take the rest of my daily meds: calcium, D, B12, etc. Taking my daily (doctor-ordered) supplements is on the list of Things That Must Be Done Or.

When I work, I take breaks, maybe wander around the apartment, stretch, dance, look out the window to readjust my eyes, sing…

I finish work after about four hours. Rarely longer because I’m not 30 years old anymore. Although… See, deadlines, above. Anytime I spend a lot of time on a project, it tends to wipe me out. Especially my wrists. (I have a Dragon Naturally Speaking app that I use for straight-out first-draft writing. I’ll get to using its advanced features “one of these days.”)

Somewhere in here I go on Facebook to respond to Notifications. I have friends on there. Actual friends. People I’ve known for years. And cousins. Lots of cousins. Both Mom and Dad came from families with nine children. Ergo, I had over 60 first cousins (some have passed). Having done my DNA through ancestry sites, I am finding even more cousins. Third and fourth and fifth from all over the world. And the further back I go in my tree, the more I am realizing that every human on Planet Earth is a cousin! ♥ Ancestry research is something else that’s fun to do.

Around 1:00 PM the lights come on for my big-ass aquascaped aquarium in the living room…

Photo taken early evening, pre Summer Solstice. The really bright lights in the far left corner are for the plant I have named, Queen Croton. (Same lights as I use for the aquarium.)

My other bedroom tank is on until 9:00 PM; the living room tank until just after 10:00 (my bedtime’s 10:00). NOTE: I don’t think there’s such a thing as “only one aquarium.” Ask any hobbyist.

The lights for the terrestrial plants are on timers from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM which is a normal “working day” for them, about 15 hours.

As soon as the aquarium lights come on, I dose with “carbon stuff” (gives the aquatic plants more CO2, which they require to function when their lights are on). Every Thursday and Sunday, the aquatic plants get fertilizer. There’s a medication I take on Thursdays and Sundays, too. I water the terrestrial plants on Thursdays and Sundays. All this “routine” has a twofold benefit:

  • both the plants and I are “dosed” on a regular basis which is healthy; and
  • I have to know what day it is to do this so that makes me remember what day it is.

Normally when we aren’t in Plague mode, I go out for a walk. Go for a shop. Run errands. Meet a friend for coffee or lunch. Go on the LRT just for the hell of it. Whatever I want to do. My time is my own and I have oodles of it because I am on a routine for doing Things That Must Be Done Or, so I can get these things out of the way fast.

Woohoo. I’m free.

Free to be me

’cause I’m no longer a 3C!

This week’s tip: Getting Started with Routines.

Until next time.

Illustrations from https://www.needpix.com/

Photos by Sherrill Wark