Despite the heat, we’re managing to maintain our summer routine chéz Ravenous Reader. And that’s a good thing, because I do very well with routines. I am as much a creature of habit as my two little dogs, and when the apple cart of my regular schedule gets upset, my mood quickly goes a-kilter too.
Am I imagining it, or are my routines becoming even more important as I get older? It seems harder to recover on those days when I have to get up early and thus miss my morning coffee-and-a-book hour. And if there’s not time to get my usual two mile walk in, I feel sluggish and out of sorts.
Earlier this month I was reading Anna Quindlen’s new book, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. In it she talks about her morning routine, so I was happy to know I’m not the only one who thrives on starting the day with a familiar pattern.
This is how the days begin for me now: I rise at 6:00 a.m., which would have been as improbable to my younger self, who would roll over and go back to sleep with unconsidered ease, as would those evening when I think idly, Is nine-thirty too early to go to bed? (No.) I go down to the kitchen, make enough coffee for several people even though I am the only one who drinks it, make the same breakfast every morning, either Greek yogurt with a little granola blended in or a whole-grain bread with almond butter. I read the paper and do the New York Times crossword puzzle. Then I power walk for an hour, almost exactly four miles, either in Riverside Park on on a hilly look at the house in the country.
Upsetting the opposite end of the day has the same ill effects as a messed up morning. I like to watch about an hour’s worth of tv before bed, something frothy and fun, or a good family drama. During the summer when all my favorite shows are on hiatus or in reruns, I sometimes don’t have those choice. I don’t do well with reading at night – not before I intend to go to sleep anyway. I’ve conditioned myself to fall asleep with a book at night, so I’d better be in bed and ready before I start to read.
It’s all about conditioning, our regular routines. We find pleasant ways to start and end the day, and it’s comforting to have those rituals to look forward too. Luckily, today was a typical Tuesday. I got up at 7:00 a.m., made the coffee, and went out to the back porch with my book (The Book Lover, by Maryann McFadden). It was hot, but bearable, and I drank both cups out there happily reading with the birds wake up chatter for background music. I had my 30 minute exercise routine in front of the televsion (and underneath the ceiling fan), then walked the dogs on a shady and abbreviated (because the temperature was already 88) version of their morning constitutional. After all this I have breakfast, which is always the same, too. Whole grain toast with peanut butter, banana and some other fruit (today it was melon) and orange juice.
So the day got off to a good start. Typical, uneventful, and just how I like it.
How about you? Do you have typical and comforting ways to start and end your day?