Embracing routine

Routine-Seattle
Public art in Seattle

There are three kinds of routine. The first is the kind that is [potentially] self-destructive and you should probably strive to break. Drugs is a good example. As is neglecting to shower for days on end. Or falling into a deep, vitamin D deficient state of depression because binge watching Making a Murderer is prioritized over emerging from your dark cave of a bedroom and piles of munchies scattered throughout to get some sun.

The second is the kind of routine that, to some degree, is necessary but may also drive you nuts and force you to reflect on whether you’re satisfied with where you’re at. The 9 to 5 routine is top of my mind for me and if you’ve read my open letter to young people, you can understand why. Yet a mundane routine doesn’t necessarily need to consist of activities or behaviours that should be avoided; no, a mundane routine may be one that could simply benefit from new behaviours or activities that are exciting, challenging and self-motivating. This may be taking up a new hobby or revisiting an old one, traveling more, getting out more (or less) — the list goes on.  The key is to check in with ourselves every so often and recognize that if we’re at a place where we no longer feel challenged or optimistic about getting up in the morning, it may be time to reevaluate our routine. And if necessary, think about the big changes that we need to make.

The third is the kind that you crave. It provides you with stability, self-control and a sense of self.  It’s the kind that when you’ve been without it for too long, you wake up in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror thinking: I don’t even know you anymore. A bit melodramatic perhaps, but in the past month and a half I’ve been practically living out of a suitcase, constantly traveling, functioning on little sleep and running out of clean socks to wear. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been an exciting month and a half; I traveled out west twice to see my boyfriend, went stateside, celebrated my birthday with good friends back home and reunited with others in Ottawa, all while fitting in a part-time web development course twice a week.

This weekend I made a point of making absolutely no plans to give myself a chance to get back into my routine. It has been pure bliss, ladies and gentlemen. I’ve been cooking my own meals, doing laundry, working out and am now sitting here, writing this — something that I’ve been missing incredibly.

Throughout this hectic month and a half I’ve realized that while some routines may not always be welcomed, others cannot or should not be avoided. In the end, it’s finding a mix of the second and third kinds of routines that works best for oneself. And when feeling a little frisky, perhaps dabbling in some binge watching of Making a Murderer.

Today is like yesterday

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Today is like yesterday,
And words mean the same,
Regardless how many times,
They’ve been repeated again.

With each heavy sigh,
And empty laugh and gasp,
Voices temptingly trail off,
Finding nothing left to grasp.

Yet the weather and the news,
Are captivating when proclaimed,
Because the way she tells it,
And her ability to recall maimed.

Aching with impatience,
And higher priorities in tow,
Goodbyes are always forced,
Conversations cut short, I know.

But the shame does dissipate,
With promises left on the line,
We’ll reconnect again soon,
Start from the beginning. I’m fine.

Four Things I’ve Learned From Moving Frequently

moving

In the last year, I have moved apartments 4 times – each time within the same city. My reasons for moving this many times is a combination of a few things: changes in life plans (in the case of myself and one roommate in particular), less than desirable roommate experiences in a few instances, and the continuous hunt for a place that I feel comfortable staying in for an extended period of time. Though if someone were to tell me that I descended from nomadic people, I wouldn’t rule it out at this point.

I generally accept change with open arms. And when it comes to my living situation, I’ve been known to move around a lot. In fact, I’ve never had the opportunity to take on a month-to-month lease arrangement because when the one-year mark rolls around on my lease, I typically move out anyway. With that said, moving 4 times in just one year is a little out of character even for me.

Through these experiences however, I have learned a few things about myself, those around me, and prioritizing things in my everyday life. You might find some of these takeaways helpful if you’re currently in an uncertain living situation or just curious to hear my perspective on a few considerations that might be applicable to whatever situation you’re finding yourself in right now.

YOUR SPACE SHOULD BE A SANCTUARY

I quickly became aware of how important it is for your living space to be a sanctuary once I moved into my current apartment. Though I live alone at the moment, I wouldn’t say that the absence of roommates is necessarily conducive to finding yourself in a personal space in which you feel comfortable; certainly living with the right roommates, if shared living is your choice, can make your space a positive one, and somewhere that you feel inclined to spend your time.

I underestimated the importance of this in the case of two apartments, where I lived with people that I didn’t previously know, but figured that the apartments were nice enough and I would find a way to make it work. When I initially met my roommates they seemed nice (and I would maintain that they are still, nice people), but it was upon moving in that I soon realized I didn’t know them near well enough to foresee some of the habits and behaviours that made me feel uncomfortable, to varying degrees, and my living situation less than ideal.

I experienced greater anxiety and frustration, which manifested itself in things like lack of sleep and antisocial tendencies. In the case of one of these roommates, I confronted her about a boyfriend who essentially ended up living there during the week to avoid commuting to Toronto for work on a daily basis, yet things didn’t get any better. So I found myself living in this “nice apartment” but isolated myself in my room to avoid her, him, the awkward confrontations, and everything else in between.

Now I live in an apartment where I feel like I can truly unwind at the end of the day. I look forward to spending time in my apartment, which is something that I hadn’t felt for a while until moving here.

The link between your space and your mental health is so crucial; taking the time to find a place and/or roommates that you can call home shouldn’t be taken for granted.

AT THE END OF THE DAY, MATERIAL POSSESSIONS AREN’T REALLY THAT VALUABLE

Moving 4 times in one year, means that I have moved boxes of my things many times. When I was preparing for my first of four moves, I was leaving an apartment that I had been living in for about a year. In that year I had amalgamated a lot of things on top of everything I had brought with me when I moved there – some dating all the way back to high school! So when I started packing, I had an overwhelming amount of bags and boxes that I would need to somehow transport without the help of a moving van (because I figured my sister-in-law’s SUV would do the trick just fine…oops).

In response, I sprung into action; I went through my belongings and purged. In the end, I ended up donating 5 whole garbage bags of clothing! 5! Imagine I had attempted moving that all with me.

When it came to getting rid of my stuff, I realized how much of a burden it had been to move these possessions from apartment to apartment, which actually made emotionally detaching myself from these things much easier to do. It was also interesting to take note of the initial happiness these belongings brought me when they first came into my hands and conversely, how quickly that excitement and interest in them dissipated. Since that moment, I have been much more thoughtful about the purchases I make and often stop myself before buying to be sure that it’s something I truly need and will therefore, use.

THERE’S SOME PEOPLE YOU CAN ALWAYS RELY ON

I’ve been really lucky with these four moves because there is a core group of people that I relied on to help me with them: my parents, my brother and my boyfriend. I’m not sure how I got so lucky with these folks; I’m grateful that they came to my rescue and helped me move multiple times. What’s more, I’m immensely grateful that they’ve been patient with me this last year and their willingness to help did not wean at the news of yet another upcoming move.

It’s moments like these that you find there are people in your life that will never hesitate to lend a hand when you’re in a pickle – whether it be a move or a personal problem. I cherish these individuals in my life and hope that you surround yourself with these kinds of people, too  <3.

THE GRASS ISN’T ALWAYS GREENER ON THE OTHER SIDE

I’ve had a few friends mention this to me, but it took four moves for the realization to really sink in: the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Despite my attempts to find greener grass with each of my moves, my issue was that I was looking to find happiness and satisfaction in places that, in the end, would actually have very little bearing on these two things.

My train of thought would eventually lead me to ideas about finding an affordable place, a nicer one or one in a “better” location because if I could achieve that, I would finally be happy with where I was living and stay put for an extended period of time. For me, I believe it was the moment when I acknowledged that living alone may actually be a good thing, that I knew how to find that space I was looking for all along.

I’ve lived alone before, but that was a few years back. At that point I was younger and experiencing a “scary” transition from grad school to full-time work; I was uneasy about the all the more apparent expectation to “grow up”, to fully accept living alone. Now, living alone provides a sense of empowerment and independence. Yikes, I’m an adult!

It’s quite interesting how much our thoughts, apprehensions and expectations manifest themselves in our actions; for me, it was the bumpy road I experienced through various transitory periods in my life as they related to school, work and relationships. As tiring – physically and emotionally – moving so frequently has been for me (and those who have helped – thank you!), I’m actually glad that I experienced it nonetheless. I’ve learned a lot about myself – what I want and where I’m going – and about those around me.

I will say however, that I intend to stay in this apartment for the full-term of my lease and, if we’re all lucky, for a potential month-to-month lease arrangement after my one year is up – if even for just a month or so :-).