Written by Annie Laskey, Events Director, Pasadena Senior Center
I like having a routine. Whether it’s a daily routine of starting every workday at 9am or a weekly routine of fixing champagne brunch every Sunday, consistency is my friend. It gives me a basic schedule I can count on, which helps keep me productive, centered, and able to look ahead. Of course, it’s fun to break routine, too: it can still feel like playing hooky from school; only now, instead of ditching high school to go to Disneyland (which I’ve done), I’m ditching my online exercise class to go out for ice cream with Dad. A break from day-to-day routine can be a real mood lifter, just like a “cheat day” on a diet can help keep cravings in check.
It’s good to change things up, yet too much disruption in routine can be DDD: Disorienting, Difficult, and Depressing. We all found that out when our lives and expectations were turned upside down last March by restrictions imposed by the pandemic. It took a while to settle into new routines and new patterns, but after eight months, many of those new routines have become familiar habits.
In the past few weeks, it has seemed that many of my current routines have been interrupted for one reason or another, and not because I’ve chosen the diversions. The time change, colder weather, holidays creating scheduling changes, and friends whose recreation time no longer coincides with mine, are just a few of the things that have wreaked a bit of havoc with my usual timetable. For months, I’ve done certain things on certain days at certain times, and now many things are jumbled up and turned around and up in the air. That is hard for a person like me that thrives on consistency and continuity. So, what’s the answer?
I’ve decided that I need to do two things to get through this complicated time: 1) Embrace the unknown, and 2) make lots of lists. The second is easiest for me. I love lists. It is very satisfying to create a to-do list and cross off each item one by one. It’s all there on paper, so I don’t need to keep it in my head. What needs to happen today (turn in blog). What needs to happen by the end of the week (order my sister a birthday present). What needs to happen by the end of the month (buy a space heater). And so on.
Embracing the Unknown is a harder task, but one with many rewards. So many joyful, meaningful, and unique experiences come precisely because they were unplanned and unexpected. Being open to possibilities around you is a hopeful and positive way of looking at the world, one that sees disruption as opportunity and uncertainty as a gateway to new thinking. So, go ahead! Celebrate the break in routine! Just don’t forget to make your lists, too.