A year-and-a-half ago we moved to an area that experiences all four seasons. We have beautiful, awakening springs; hot, sunny summers filled with tourists; cool, lazy falls; and harsh, cold winters. This is the first time I’ve lived in an area with four seasons. The area where I used to live had two seasons: rain and no rain.
This fall the youngest of our seven children left for college. My husband and I have now entered a different type of new season: empty nesters.
I love routine! For years, my husband and I set our alarm for 4:37 a.m. One snooze and we were out of bed by 4:45 and in our exercise room by 5:00. We worked out for an hour, had an hour to shower, dress, and prepare for the day, before waking the children at 7:00. My husband was out the door, headed to work at 7:15 and the kids caught the school bus just after 8:00. Every day, year after year.
When we moved here, our routine was like a game of 52-card pickup. One day this, the next day that. No routine, just willy-nilly. I tried to get into a routine, but none of my attempts lasted long. Then, last week, it hit me! I’m not only in a new location with seasons influencing my routine, I’m also in a new season of life. I need a new way of looking at routine.
There are certain parts of my day I’d like to have as part of a daily routine: workout (yoga, stretching, weights, running/walking), walking my dogs, coffee and reading, and (on a productive day) showering and getting dressed. In this new season of my life, without the need to be up and ready to prepare children for the day and without my husband needing to head to the office at a specific time (he now works from home), I’m no longer constrained by an early morning alarm setting off the next three hours of activity aimed at getting everyone out the door, unrushed and on time. Likewise, living in this area with four seasons, I’m unable to set a morning routine that works year-round. In the summer, when our community trails are full of tourists running, walking, and riding bikes, I need to be out walking the dogs by 6:00 a.m. at the latest. That’s not a problem, because I’m usually awake by 5:00. I get up, put on my workout clothes, and hit the path. In the winter, when it’s dark and cold, I must wait until at least 7:30 to walk the dogs, yet I still wake up before 5:00.
Walking the dogs is a given. We do not have a yard for them to play in, so they must have a walk to stay healthy and happy. As I’ve gone through these changing seasons in my new season, I’ve struggled to figure out how to create a routine that allows for the other parts of my morning: the other workout, coffee and reading, and showering and dressing. I’ve been trying to create a routine similar to what we did for so many years, but that just doesn’t work. And, even though it doesn’t work, I’ve been fighting it. I’ve been fighting the seasons of the year and the seasons of my life.
Last week, with the sudden awareness of these two types of seasons, I realized I actually have new freedoms. I don’t have to do things the same way, every day, all year. I can still have routines, but now they’ll be seasonal routines. With this realization I am now spending the first half-hour of my day doing yoga, then settling in with my coffee and book until it’s light and warmed up a bit before heading out with the dogs. When spring arrives, I can choose to walk the dogs as soon as it’s light or I can wait. I’ll figure out then what routine works best. Instead of fighting the seasons, I’m relishing the new freedom.
Now the coffee is ready and it’s time to read.