Breaking Patterns

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march2015 031

At the moment before the sun drops below the trees in the western sky, this view to the east is glorious. The trees seem lit from below; every branch, leaf and needle stands out. The colors are spectacular, at any time of year. I should pause every single day, to watch this. Wouldn’t that be a worthwhile habit?

I know I’m good at forming habits.

My life abounds with examples.

Unfortunately, the habits I most easily form are not the ones I want.

First there are the “bad” habits: addictive; unhealthy; wasters of time. Those habits are easy to form and hard to break.

As for addictions, fear of dependance makes me cautious. Though I quit smoking cigarettes many years ago, I know just one puff would have me right back in that downward spiral. I enjoy alcohol only occasionally, and almost never to excess. When I read about a drug that gives a feeling of euphoria, or makes all problems seem to disappear, I think, “WHY would anyone ever mess with that?” It’s not that I wouldn’t like my problems to disappear…it’s a fear of liking that feeling. At this time, caffeine is my biggest addiction, and the jury is still out on whether that’s unhealthy or not.

I have plenty of unhealthy habits, whether coffee is one of them or not. There is my love for chocolate, butter, pasta, bread and cheese, each of which I indulge in more than is good for me. There is my habit of skipping breakfast, and my habit of eating supper too close to bedtime. There is my habit of sitting too long in this computer chair, or hunched over the drawing table or bent over a bit of stitching or crochet. I’m sure there are others.

Time-wasting habits abound. Many revolve around the computer. Mornings, with coffee in hand, I check Email, then a social media site where I check updates then take my turns in a trivia game and a word game, then this site where I read and sometimes comment on several blogs. Evenings, I often repeat the process. When I have television (not right now), I rarely miss Jeopardy.

Then there are the “habits of neglect.”

These are amazingly easy to form. They say it takes about 21 days to form a habit. True, if applied to a “good” habit. Not, however, in the case of habits of neglect.

It’s a scientific principle: “There is a tendency toward disorder in the universe.”

Based on that, disorder is the default setting. Three weeks to form the habit, say, of making the bed every morning; two days of neglect and the habit is gone. File every paper as it comes into the house…to a stack of mail on the counter just inside the kitchen door. Drink eight glasses of water a day to, “I’m not much of a water-drinker.” For ten years I walked two miles almost every single day. Now, after one year of extremes: snow, ice, rain and mosquitoes, that habit has become, instead, the habit of neglecting my walk. For more than three years I have regularly posted blogs. Is my habit now becoming one of neglecting to write?

This has to change! I am disgusted with the stacks of paperwork and projects that have become “landscape” throughout my home. I am tired of the long list of things I need to do just to “get back on track.” I am terrified of losing myself in all the clutter and “busy”ness that surrounds me.

It’s time to change those patterns. It’s time to decide what’s important and eliminate what isn’t. It’s time to devote time and attention to what is meaningful in my life. The list is pretty basic: family, friends, art-making, writing, reading, walking, cooking and gardening. And remember to pause and appreciate glorious moments that are handed out free.

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About cindyricksgers

I am an artist. I live on an island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. I have two grown daughters, four strong, smart and handsome grandsons and one beautiful, intelligent and charming granddaughter. I live with two spoiled dogs. I love walking in the woods around my home, reading, writing and playing in my studio.

10 responses »

  1. As always, your words resonate! The patterns of neglect are the hardest to break but i have no doubt we can change them when we finally feel ready. In the past year i literally changed decades of bad habits when it dawned on me I might have many regrets if I didn’t!
    It sounds like you are ready, my friend…and I am rooting for you!!

    • It’s definitely time,Karen! I feel like I’m losing myself in all the things I’m surrounding myself with…objects, people, jobs. Somehow, I have to get back to me! Thanks for reading, and for your comments!

  2. This is an excellent post. I have some of your same habits. Mail and papers not attended and placed here and there. Not enough water. I love chocolate and cheese, but my body does not and so I avoid eating any but a bit now and then.

    But, doesn’t everyone have various habits that are not good for them? I formerly believed that the world was filled with perfect people but as I’ve aged I found that is not the case at all.

    Don’t be so hard on yourself.l It’ll all work out sooner or later. 🙂

    • You’re right, Yvonne…everybody does. I’m usually pretty easy on myself, too…but when it gets to the point that my life is less than it should be, less than I want it to be, then it’s time to make changes. That’s where I’m at. Thanks for your kind comments!

  3. What a great post! Really makes one think. We are all creatures of habit, it’s just the question of whether the habits are good or bad. At the moment I’m being pretty good in my habits but in the past I drank, overate, etc etc etc. We are always a work in progress I think…

    • Yes, but it seems I’ve been NOT progressing for a while now…that’s what needs to change. I need to get back to walking, reading, drawing…too much neglect of the things that I love! Thanks for reading, Bridget, and for your comments!

  4. I can so relate to this post, in so many ways. It seems that one of our human characteristics is not being satisfied with our habitual patterns. No matter what they are, we are so often unsatisfied and seeking a way to eliminate them. I have been successful eliminating some; others not-so-much. May we find a path which leads back to loving ourselves for ourselves…

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