Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Making and Breaking Habits

"They" (whoever they are) say that it takes twenty eight days for a behavior to become a habit. I have never heard a statistic on how many days it takes to break a habit, but I fear that it is much fewer than twenty eight. Since school started only two and half weeks ago, I have broken many of the good habits that I established over the summer. I have surprised myself with the things that I have let slip by since the 25th of August, the first day of this academic year. If you are reading this, you have probably noticed that one thing that I have neglected is regular posts here. I can't even give you a good reason for it. I'd like to say that I haven't had time to write because I am getting ten hours of sleep every night, all my papers are graded, I have lesson plans for the entire semester, and my house is spotless. No such luck. None of these things is true. I have no good reason for allowing my habit of blogging to be broken.

The sad thing is that blogging is not the only thing that I have neglected. Over the summer I was diligent about making my bed every morning. Admittedly part of the reason that I established this habit in the first place was to keep the dog and cat hair, deposited by critters who spend more time in my bed than I do, from accumulating on my sheets and pillow. It was so nice to crawl in bed every night between sheets that contained not a trace of animal hair. Those days are gone. I can't tell you the last time I actually made my bed first crack out of the barrel upon rising. It just isn't happening. "Why?", you ask. Sadly, I don't know. Yes I get up earlier during the school year and my morning has more of a routine, but why is making the bed not a part of that routine? Again, I have no answer.

Another thing that I have let slip is knitting. Today was the first day I have knit in several weeks and the only reason I did today was because BK had a ball of sock yarn in the car. I did not have any knitting in any bag that I had with me. That just isn't normal for me. Because of Spirit of Knitting, BK, Alissa, and I have had very little time to knit things for our own families and ourselves. We have recently decided to cease publication, partially because we are all busy with other things and partially since we began publication five years ago, the market has been saturated with knitting magazines whose advertising budget and manpower we can't compete with. Considering that we made the decision to quit so that we would have more knitting time, I can't figure out why I have knit nary a stitch . . .and I have ungraded papers and a dirty house.

I have never been a big fan of TV, but I do like to watch the Tonight Show and the news regularly. I can't tell you the last time I've seen either. We're on hurricane Ike? How did we get to "I" already? Don't they start with "A" at the beginning of every season? I can't believe I have missed eight storms. And what is all this talk about bulldogs, pigs, and lipstick? I feel so out of touch with the world!

A fairly new habit that I began over the summer was journaling with mandalas. Prior to blogging, I was an avid journaler. I never intended for this blog to replace my paper and pencil accounts, but it has. I am still using the same spiral notebook for handwritten journal entries that I was using at this time last year. That is unheard of for me. So, I decided to try a new approach, drawing mandalas each night rather than writing. I was quite diligent from early in July until the start of school. Though I have not completely neglected my morning and evening routines, making the bed and knitting, I have not drawn every night like I did during my summer break.

What is really going on here? My teaching load is double what it normally is but my schedule is certainly manageable. The extra classroom time that I have does change the flow of my week but it really is not an excuse for breaking all my good habits of self discipline. The fact that I have no logical explanation for permitting myself to stray away from these good disciplines is inexcusable. These things have been the mainstay of my sanity in the past. And, I still need them for that.

Now that the weekly routines of this academic year have been established, it is time for me to figure out how to work these things that I need and enjoy back into my daily schedule. This just should not be problematic. I have no good reasons here for my neglect other than inattention and laziness.

For my own well-being, I need to dedicate 28 days to making my bed first thing in the morning, and promise myself some knitting time every day, perhaps while I am watching the news or the Tonight Show. Drawing mandalas could happen in place of housekeeping or grading papers. Surely that wouldn't be a problem. Or would it? I'll let you know how long it takes me to reestablish my old habits, but only the good ones! For now, I am going to go draw a mandala and then crawl into my slightly hair enriched bed.