Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Routines vs ruts...

We've recently modified our subscription to the print version of the local paper as prices have gone up once more. I get it, and am no longer able to justify the expense. That being said, I'm not crazy about the digital age. I followed family tradition and subscribed as soon as I moved out to that apartment with the shag carpet I wrote about last week. Many things have changed in my life and in the world since, but the paper hitting the door in the mornings has been a constant during times of hangovers or grief, joyousness and workday rush. I know that the past was nowhere near perfect, but sometimes I long for kids on bikes with paper routes versus pre-dawn delivery people careening through the neighborhoods in beat-up cars. I think of the days when there were just four or five TV stations, and we all heard the same news at night. Again, I know there was a lot wrong, a lot unsaid and unreported back then, and, there was a certain frame of reference, before any niche or rabbit hole could masquerade as fact. Yes, I'm aware I verge on being a cranky old lady. I knew I was getting old when some of my sentences began, "Why, I remember when..." whether that is nostalgia for the meetings-after-the-meeting we used to laugh our way through, to thinking of neighborhood places that are no more. And time marches on, with or without my permission, in print or online or somewhere in the cloud.

Which has me looking at those places where I say, "But I've always done it this way." As a supervisor in the workplace, staff saying, "We've always done this," was a signal that a program or a process might be stuck. "Just because" has never been a great reason to do anything but how often do I think that way? I take the paper because I've always taken the paper. I go to this meeting because I always go to this meeting. I don't do this but I do that. It's my on-going rub between comforting routine and stultifying rut, and how to know the difference. A clue would be that "But I've always..." statement. 

Some routine borders on tradition. A friend and I always pick peaches in July. My maternal lineage makes jam in August. I turn on Christmas lights the day after Thanksgiving. I run or walk the Holiday Half in December, rain or shine. As far as routines, I start the day with tea, journal and daily readers, and end it reading in bed. Our cat lives by routine, letting us know when it's time to get up, or when she is supposed to go out for her daily prowl around the backyard.

Some routines border on ridiculous. I'm not sure if I've told this story here, though I certainly have in my Alanon meeting. When my husband moved in, about a year after we started dating, the place we consistently bumped into each other was the very small kitchen. He kept asking me to move my teapot off the front burner so he wouldn't inadvertently get burned while making his daily coffee. But that's the burner I use, so just be a little more careful, dear, being a wee bit territorial over how it's always been. At some point, after one more minor kerfuffle over the darned teapot, it struck me that there is a second large burner on the back of the stove, completely out of the way. Good grief. Just move the darned teapot, Jeanine, and let go of this particular territorial battle. 

After last week's post, a friend told me that they've used "character aspect" instead of "character defect" for years. I like how that takes into account that I have a personality, a character that is sometimes adorable and sometimes annoying and sometimes simply neutral. Being rigid about the teapot was, obviously, annoying. The good news about long term recovery is that I can usually see my foibles sooner than I would've in the past, when I might've gone to the mats over a cup of hot water. 

Things change, whether friendships or meetings, my body (boy howdy) and its capabilities, how I like to spend my time, and yes, technology at the speed of light. I'm a paper calendar kind of gal, with appointments and dates scribbled in or neatly written, preferring the tether to an actual piece of paper rather than the "cloud." (What, exactly, is "the cloud" and what happens to my pictures, my music, my notes if the cloud evaporates??). Maybe it's ok to live with one foot the world of photo albums and CD music, and one in the ether world of online banking and zoom meetings and all the other things I don't really understand.  One day at a time, I will try to stay teachable and open-minded while doing what works for me (If it's not broke, don't fix it!)

What would you describe as traditions, routines and/or ruts in your life? Are you adaptable? To what degree? Do you welcome change? What areas of your life would you prefer stay just as they are?

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See the Feb 4 post for a sample of the 78-page workbook, "I've Been Sober a Long Time - Now What?" available as hard copy (mailed) or PDF (emailed - ideal  for those of you outside  the U.S.). Portland Area Intergroup also has a supply available.  Go to the WEB VERSION of this page, if you don't see the purchase link in the upper right corner

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