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  • January 13th, 2010 | 12:01 AM
Of Dogs and Writing - Routines

Like most dogs, Cassie is a creature of great habit. One of my favorites is the nighttime routine just before bed. I'm usually working on the couch in the library and Cassie is passed out in her chair by the fireplace. Hubby has gone off to his office. I shut down my computer and that gets her attention but she doesn't move from her chair. I go to the kitchen and pop open the box of her pills. I know she hears this but she still doesn't move. Finally I go to the refrigerator and get out the last of the day's cheese slice. I call out "cheese" and eventually Cassie wanders into the kitchen, still half asleep, for her snack. Two pills down the hatch and then she proceeds to drain the water bowl.

She pauses and waits for me to say it, even though she knows what's coming next.

"Time to go outside." I flip on the light and she meanders out back to take care of business. I always expect her to come rushing back in so she can go back to sleep but she has a routine to follow and that includes walking the fence line, up and down both side yards. She comes back inside and stands in my office while I lock up and shut off the lights. She's waiting for the next command.

"Go tell daddy good night." Off she trots to hubby's office, nuzzling his hand away from the computer so she can get some love pets from him. She waits in the doorway, offering a few groans and mumbles while I tell hubby goodnight myself.

"Upstairs." Usually she heads right upstairs but sometimes a toy or a bone grab her attention on her way. She'll pick them up and look at me, waiting to find out if they are okay to take upstairs. Squeaky toys make me say "put it away" which means there's no way that noisy thing is coming into the bedroom with us, but quiet toys or bones get an "okay, take it with you" and off she'll race up the stairs. By the time I get upstairs myself, she's happily ensconced in her bed, waiting for me.

I envy her the ease with which she's developed these routines. I'm not as good at them as she is. I'd like a daily routine that includes time for writing and art and exercise and friends and gardening and the occasionally burst of cleaning. But what I have is more of a feast or famine sort of thing...one area will get most of my attention and everything else is ignored until the squeaky wheel squeaks a little louder and I switch gears. I know they say it takes 21 days to create a new habit but even that feels overwhelming when there are so many new ones to be created.

I also envy that Cassie has someone like me, guiding her with commands, urging her through her paces, encouraging her with words and rewarding her with cookies for jobs well done. It's tough to be my own coach, my own guiding light.

I'm not sure what the answer is, for me. Oh, I can hear some of my friends saying to just pick one and start there and that's all well and good with the logical side of one's mind but for someone like me who tends to live on the emotional side of things, well it's a bit tougher. But I'm going to try. Again and still. Because that's what I do. I try. I fail. I try harder.

Or in the words of Samuel Beckett, "Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 13 comments — Leave comment )
January 13th, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC)
I am occasionally bemused that I am so good at keeping the dogs and horses at their optimal weights, and so bad at keeping myself there.
January 13th, 2010 03:09 pm (UTC)
My day starts with a routine but then it falls apart (which isn't necessarily bad). I like the variety in my days and I'm guessing you do, also. Maybe that's just how you operate, Susan. I mean, you and Cassie both have a routine at the end of the day but what comes before that is based on a whole lot of other factors. I tend to think routines can be both good and bad for us. Embrace the ones that work and dance your way through the rest of the time (or garden or journal or stare at the clouds, etc).
January 13th, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC)
I like Post-it notes :) Notes that gently remind ("Time for a little BIC,") or chide ("What are doing looking in the fridge right now") or even offer a little praise ("Yay, you, 10 pages! High five!")

Great post, as always :)
January 13th, 2010 06:29 pm (UTC)
Our cats wake up with the attitude that it's brand-new day. We get up and think about our to-do lists. I love Cassie's sweet routine, a little like Winchester's "evening cookie" (mine, not his, but he has to have some of it). Maybe setting goals is better than having a fixed schedule. Write 2 pages every day, or whatever. And reward yourself with a cookie!
January 14th, 2010 06:08 am (UTC)
I think the animals have the right idea with the living in the now. I'm trying to adopt that. And yes on the rewards!
January 13th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
Lovely post.
I am trying to write a list of my goals for the day while I am still in bed. It is very loose, like walk more than once in the woods or find the weights...
I am working on my perfectionism, so anything I do is good, and when I don't get to something, I am also doing good because I am working on my perfectionism which used to tell me if I wrote it down, I had better do it or I was no good.
January 14th, 2010 03:34 am (UTC)
I like the idea of writing out the goals of the day while still in bed. I moved my netbook upstairs so if I got the urge I could write at night or in the morning so I could maybe start with looking at my list, or doing it the night before and then printing it out. Thanks!

I need to work on my perfectionism too!
January 13th, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)
I must be more of an emotional person than a logical one. Just as well I am a Libran or I would not have any logic at all. You do better than me you do actually get some things done eventually. Me on the other hand I am a Gunna always going to do this and going to do that. I find though if I really have to do something it does get done though. I could email you or text you every day with a list of things to do if you like I am very good at telling others what to do, Just not so good at telling myself what to do. A bit like you and Cassie. If we always had someone to tell us what to do, our brain would frizzle up and that would be no good for us either. You are doing GREAT.

- Anne McKenna
January 14th, 2010 03:32 am (UTC)
Thanks so much Anne. I have a lot of Gunna in me too!
(Deleted comment)
January 14th, 2010 03:31 am (UTC)
Yeah, I don't like someone telling me what to do but without deadlines imposed by someone else I don't seem to be doing a whole lot of anything. :) I'm going to listen to my body and figure that maybe that's what I need right now.
January 14th, 2010 03:14 am (UTC)
I would like to join Cassie's fan club!
You know I am in love with your posts On Dogs and Writing... BIG MAD LOVE!
January 14th, 2010 03:31 am (UTC)
Thanks, Laura! I just got your note and will email you. I want to get you some pom-poms because you are such a great cheerleader!
January 18th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
Such a beautiful post, Susan!
( 13 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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