Creatures of Habit

habit quote

We’re all creatures of habit, don’t you think?

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m sure some unique souls out there don’t have routines, but I don’t know of any. Do you? I do, however, know myself and my animals. I can predict what they’ll do even before they do it because, well, it’s habit.

I’m no exception with routines. For instance, in the shower I first wash my hair, then my body. Wouldn’t occur to me to do it in reverse. Without fail, I put on my left sock before my right. I floss my upper teeth before my lower. It’s a habit for me to forget my bags when I grocery shop. Every. Single. Time.

shopping bags

Forgotten in the door of my car

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My Self Evident Truths

In my silly life, I count on some things being predictable. Some simply occur and I accept them. Then again, some of my truths are nothing more than just my opinion. I guess you could say I hold these truths to be self evident…

truthsWhen taking my dog, Nellie, for a walk, she will poop on the lawn of the one person in our entire neighborhood who happens to be out front the moment we walk by. Every other house we pass is like the Twilight Zone, appearing eerily empty from the outside. Yet that damn dog will zero in on the one lawn which also happens to be perfectly manicured. She never does it on a dead lawn or in a rock garden.

I sense it the second I see someone out front tending their garden or mowing their precious lawn. Those people are like magnets to my greyhound. I even get my poop bag ready as we approach, prefacing my apprehension by saying, “Don’t even think about it, Nellie.” But she does more than just think about. Every. Single. Time.

Nellie at park

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Welcome to My World

I slept three and a half hours Friday night. This is not particularly unusual for me. That’s partly because ever since menopause my body says: Who needs sleep? Why waste all that time with your eyes closed when they could be open? That’s what my body says to me and unfortunately, I usually listen.

So Friday night (actually early Saturday morning), I was sound asleep, having finally dozed off somewhere around 12:30 a.m. watching Stephen Colbert. Then one of the dogs started whining at 4:00 a.m. It was my Greyhound, Nellie.

stephen-colbert

Nellie happens to have the bladder of a camel so I know at that hour she was simply bored and wanted to go outside to eat poop off the hill, keeping me waiting at the back door until she has her fill. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not exactly psychic. I know Nellie eats poop because she returns chomping on it. Anyway, I didn’t fall for her whining this time and told her to go back to bed. Trouble is, now I couldn’t do the same.

My mind started thinking of my ‘To Do’ list for Saturday and it was a long one. So I read a magazine for a half hour, hoping it would bore me to sleep. But it didn’t. So I watched a program I’d taped. Then I watched another. By 7:00 a.m. I was still awake but starting to doze off. That lasted until 7:30 when the animals decided they’d had enough rest for the night and it was time for me to rise.

rise-and-shine

And so our morning routine began…

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Oh Happy Day! Or is it?

I think you all know how much I’ve struggled with house training my one-year-old Dachshund mix, Wally. He’s either the most stubborn dog this side of New York or not a very bright canine. I’d say maybe both.

wally-after-bath

After his first bath

My friend Patty adopted a Dachshund mix a day before I took home Wally last summer. Unlike me, she has a history with the breed and wanted a companion for her full-on Dachshund, Jimmy Dean.

jd

Jimmy Dean

Enter Ali. Hard as it is to believe, Ali is even cuter than Wally. But Patty’s pup has the same issues as Wally. Yippee!

ali2

Ali

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Searching for Clarity, Peace and Perspective

I have a busy brain.

That’s a polite way of saying I’m a bit scatterbrained. Maybe more than a bit. How about somewhat? That’s slightly more than a bit but not quite a lot. So now that we’ve established the degree of my scatterbrainedness, let me explain.

busy-brain

Life is busy. You’d think the older we get the less busy we are but I find it to be the opposite. Retirement is supposed to be a time of relaxation (I hear), being free to do whatever you want…or nothing at all, if that’s your thing. I don’t know what nothing at all feels like. Running a nonprofit in my supposed retirement years pretty much seals the fact that the word rest is not in my vocabulary.

Besides being on call every day, my 8 animals keep me hopping. And I always have a To-Do list for my house. My ex used to call me Mrs. Winchester because I never seem to finish working on the place.

winchester-mystery-house

The Winchester Mystery House — 160 rooms built over 38 years

Adding to my activities, there’s family I need to see and tennis to be played. And I can’t forget time spent with my besties — having them over for dinner, going to movies and out to lunch, shopping and traveling. Who has time for rest? I’ll do that when I’m dead. In the meantime, I need to find a way to quiet my mind because the rest of me isn’t cooperating.

So I decided to practice meditating. As in sitting still for an exorbitant period of time, thereby removing all thought from my mind in order to gain clarity, peace and perspective. At least I think this is what meditation entails. Maybe I should look that up.

brain-breaks

aka meditation

I have to say I don’t have high hopes I’ll succeed at this endeavor. The idea of me actually sitting still for more than 30 seconds and clearing my head of the multitudes of random thought constantly permeating my gray matter is like expecting Trump to go a day without tweeting. But hey, I’m willing to give it a try.

So last week I looked the part — sat alone upstairs in cross-legged fashion, the back of my hands on my knees, palms turned upward, thumbs touching middle fingers in the traditional meditation pose.

meditation-pose

Then I realized I had no mantra. So I got up and Googled the only chant that came to mind: Tina Turner’s mantra in her movie, What’s Love Got To Do With It.

tina-turner-chant

2 hours???

Back upstairs and anxious to reach that trance-like state, I began chanting. But my busy brain resisted. It went something like this:

Is that the gardener blowing leaves in the rain? Why doesn’t he take the day off?

Relax, Janet. Calm your mind.

Hum, maybe I’ll make some minestrone tonight. Wonder if I have enough veggies?

Breathe, Janet, breathe.

Don’t forget to buy batteries. Who are you fooling? You’ll never remember the batteries. Better write it down when you’re done meditating.

quiet-mind

That’s how it went for what felt like 20 minutes but in reality was 120 seconds. Just two minutes in and I knew this meditation stuff would be one of the more difficult things I’ve tried. Parachuting from a plane was way easier than attempting to keep my body still and mind quiet.

On second thought, maybe gaining clarity, peace and perspective isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. I, for one, will probably never know.

inner-peace