the privilege of routine

houston leadership coach 190114privilege.jpg

This morning, for the first time in about a year, I journaled.

This statement causes me a bit of embarrassment: if you’ve been reading Chookooloonks for any amount of time, you know I’m a huge proponent of journaling. I came to journaling late in life — I began about 10 years ago — and even though Hurricane Harvey washed away dozens of my completed journals, we were still able to salvage many of them. In the past, journaling has been how I’ve settled my mind before beginning my day. It’s my way of jumpstarting creativity. It’s a form of meditation for me. So why haven’t I journaled over the last year?

Well, honestly … life.

First, the hurricane happened. And then we were busy rebuilding a house, while living in an apartment that felt more like a storage facility (as we began replacing our belongings), rather than a home. Then, just as we were finishing rebuilding, my husband Marcus was faced with some alarming health issues (including some terrifying complications that occurred during his cardioversion procedure I never publicly shared); at the same time, our daughter came down first with mononucleosis, and then about 8 weeks later, pneumonia (both of which I also never publicly shared). The truth is that the months right before we moved into our home were as stressful as the weeks we were forced out of our home. And, as is often the case when life becomes crazy, the first things I let go were self-care routines. Like eating properly. And exercising. And, well, journaling.

I realize this is counter-intuitive: I mean, why let go of the things that help me stay calm in the midst of stress? How does that make any logical sense?

The short answer is that it doesn’t, of course. To be clear, it’s not like I stopped taking care of myself completely (hello, self-compassion breaks), but anything resembling a routine suddenly felt indulgent. My mind was in putting-out-fires mode, and when you’re dealing with crisis after crisis, anything routine suddenly seems completely unimportant. In fact, I’ve come to believe that routine is a privilege: that often, simply being able to create predictable daily or weekly behaviours can mean that, for example, you live in a home where you feel safe. Or you or your family aren’t in crisis. Or sometimes, it means you have the financial means to be able to do so (like weekly massages, or membership to a gym, or even disposable income for journals and pens). If there’s anything the last year has taught me, it’s that I’ll never take “routine” for granted again. Routine is amazing.

That said, now that our lives have returned to some sense of normalcy, I’m focusing on creating routines again — hopefully some that become so habitual that I don’t even think about not doing them in times of crisis. Over the weekend, I came across the following video that had some great ideas for routines that require very little resources, but could make a huge impact in your self-care … except for the part where he talks about ice-cold morning showers. Hard pass on that. I ain’t about that life.

Click here or on the image below to watch.

Anyway, all that to say that I’m back to my journaling practice as of this morning, and it feels good to return. I’d love to hear your thoughts, though — do you do any of the routines suggested in the video above? Do you have any other ones that you do that help you take care of yourselves? Any that you do in times of crisis? Please leave them in the comments, below — I’d really appreciate your insights.