“I need to get my life together.” I’ve said this phrase so often that it’s second-nature, especially on Sunday evening after drinking too much Saturday night, sifting through drunk texts the next morning, eating a croissant breakfast sandwich along with mimosas, doing the dreaded Sunday grocery shopping trip, and then eating half the ice cream sandwiches I bought. But normally from there my life gets back on track as I enter into my trusty weekly routine.
Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.
This quote by Gustave Flaubert is something that I have based my life around, fueling my desire to maintain a tidy weekly schedule so that I can spend the rest of my energy on not-so-tidy weekends, art and writing.
Every morning Monday through Friday I attend 6 a.m. Crossfit followed by a 1 mile jog. Afterward I go home to spend an hour in the kitchen preparing my food for the day (I eat a lot.) Over breakfast I either read or practice Spanish. I go to work and come home at lunch to eat and practice piano. Then most every evening you can find me at a local coffee shop writing or watching The Bachelorette on Monday nights. To ensure that I remember to do each activity, I diligently check them off using the Lift app.
In the same vein, it’s been reported that we only have so much decision-making power in a day. By deciding once on my daily habits, I’m mitigating the risk of decision fatigue and can use the rest of my decision-making on more important things, such as what I’m going to write about, where I should go to happy hour or what the hell I’m doing with my life.
The last two weeks have been anything but routine for me. On Labor Day weekend, my purse was stolen, the “When Longtime Feelings Aren’t Mutual” blog post material happened, and I was living off a diet of rice cakes and PB2 (those bottles Mr. Tinder gave me on our date) since my wallet was missing. As a result, when I went to Crossfit on Tuesday morning to return to my routine, for the first time in 2.5 years, I didn’t finish the workout. More specifically, in the middle of 135 lb deadlifts, I started crying like a little baby and dropped the barbell. I couldn’t get a grip – on lifting or on life.
The rest of the week, and following week, were pretty similar. I didn’t go to Crossfit. I didn’t prep my meals. I took a day off work. I didn’t practice Spanish. I cancelled my piano lessons. I spent some nights at friends’ houses for a change of scenery, living out of a Betsy Johnson carry-on. I drank a lot. I attended yoga to clear my head. I only ate when and what I felt like, which sometimes meant store bought sushi and a diet grape soda. And at one low point when I was locked out of my house due to no replacement house keys, I was so tired and emotionally drained that I snuck into the Saguaro Hotel and took a nap on their poolside hammock. Homeless much?
“I Need to Get My Life Together”
“I need to get my life together” was all I kept thinking. I mean, if there was ever a time to say it, now was it. But as the week went on, I became more and more aware of how many times I repeated this phrase in my head or to friends:
“I need to get my life together on Monday.”
“I need to get back on track on Tuesday.”
“I need to get my shit together on Wednesday.”
Every day that went by that I didn’t do my daily habits felt like a failure, and my routine felt more and more like something I didn’t want to do. Simply the word “need” made me feel like I was doing something wrong by swapping weight lifting for yoga and my usual homemade egg and quinoa scramble for La Grande Orange granola.
And that “life back together” part made me feel like I was a mess. Maybe sleeping on a random hotel hammock in 100 degree weather isn’t logical, but did that mean I’ve lost my mind? Perhaps drinking ¾ of a bottle of wine the night before hot yoga wasn’t ideal, but did that make me a disaster? The fact of the matter is, this is the nature of life. Something is always inadvertently going “wrong,” but the question I contemplated was: How am I going to make things feel “right”?
“I Want to Do What’s Good for Me”
I am no yogi which is why I’m not sure why I insist on placing my mat at the front of the class when I have no idea what half of the positions mean, and I find it difficult to touch my toes. However, as I squatted down into eagle pose this past weekend, I looked around the class and realized my butt was nearly hovering the floor. I felt strong, and it felt good. A lightbulb went off: “I shouldn’t go back to the gym because I feel bad… or because I might let people down… or because it’s part of my routine. I should go because it makes me feel strong. I like to feel strong.”
When you remind yourself of the reason you do your daily habits in the first place, you realize it’s because they make you feel good. They’re things you want for yourself – for happiness, for peace or just for the hell of it.
- I want to go to Crossfit to feel strong and see my friends.
- I want to eat well so I have energy and feel healthy.
- I want to drink less so my liver lasts past 30.
- I want to read for ideas and to remind myself that heartbreaks and trainwrecks have happened throughout history.
- I want to practice Spanish so I can converse with people abroad and potentially cute Spanish boys.
- I want to spend time in coffee shops, not to escape, but to feed off others’ energy.
And I want to cut myself a break… because we are allowed to let our lives unravel sometimes.