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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Vella

Routines Gotta Change!

Like most humans, I find the balance between routine and structure and novelty and variety a tricky thing to navigate. On the one hand, I am a Taurus and therefore I love my cozy routine, the no-thinking nature of going through pretty much the same flow every day, and the even-keel of my day-to-day existence. On the other hand, that def gets boring and stagnant sometimes and naturally I enjoy new and exciting things - in an organized fashion lol.

Recently I had one of those epiphanies that feels uplifting ("Ooh a good idea!") and a bit of a gut punch for the ol' ego ("How did I not think of this obvious idea before?"). Here's what happened: for a long time I had an awesome morning routine that I loved: I woke up, brushed my teeth, fed my cats, and then sat down with a big ol' glass of water for a seated mindfulness meditation. It was great. I loved it. It served me well for many years. Until it didn't.

And despite my history of mindfulness, I am not proud to admit I didn't even notice when it had stopped serving me. Actually, that's not exactly true - I had noticed, I just didn't want to admit it to myself (I guess I conveniently skipped out on the 'non judgmental' aspect of mindfulness by judging that awareness to be crappy and inconvenient. Oops?)

I'd gradually begun noticing that I wasn't looking forward to my morning routine, I was fidgety and distracted during it, and most notably, I didn't feel the same way after. I used to feel calm and centered, and ready to take on the day, but now I was just annoyed and in a hurry to move on with everything. Not cool!

While I was on vacation in Costa Rica, I finally had the change of scenery and slowdown in pace to sit with myself and gather my thoughts. One morning, as I was sitting quietly after breakfast, fully enjoying the new vacation routine (I mean, who doesn't love a good vacation!?) I started wishing I had more time in my 'regular' life to be outside in nature more often. As soon as I noticed myself thinking "But I can't because I don't have the time" it hit me - I definitely do have time. I just needed to change my morning routine. Which I had been struggling to stick with anyway! Eureka! (and duh!)

Here is a pic of the sweet dining area - a pretty solid place to sit and have any kind of epiphany, even an obvious one:

A photo of the colourful and serene dining room area at Blue Spirit, Costa Rica. There is a thatched roof with ceiling fans, some wooden couches and a coffee table. In the background there are some chairs and nother couch

The morning after I arrived home, I started my new morning routine: wake up, brush teeth and so on, feed cats (no changing those parts, stinky morning breath and loud hungry cats gotta be dealt with), then get dressed, mindfully walk to the park, sit in the sunshine (when it's there…), gently stretch and sit quietly with myself. Then, I mindfully walk home, feeling all the good, juicy morning feels I used to experience and need to have to get my day started off right.

I love my new routine. It's moving mindfulness, which is working for me so much better right now. I know that a future change is baked into this idea (i.e. it will be winter at some point in time and sitting in the park will be a no go because my butt will be too cold. Also it will be dark. No thanks!) so there is less risk of going on and on without re-evaluating.

It has also been good to shake up my awareness in general. On my first week of walking through my own neighbourhood, I noticed so many things I had never noticed before... but which had always been there, of course. Autopilot is so strong in our lives! The big dose of vitamin D I get from the (usual) sun and the bit of morning movement that I get are really working for me, mood-wise!

This is my view at the start of my walk home from the park:

A photo of the entrace to Durand Park in Hamilton, Ontario. There is an archway over a path that reads "Durand Park." The sun is shining throgh the trees and onto the path

It is astonishing how a little change can set off a cascade of goodness when we just take the time to stop and reflect. I wish we could all go to Costa Rica periodically to have this experience, but recognizing that isn't exactly practical, I resolved to give myself a regular opportunity to re-evaluate my daily routines and implement new changes when needed. The changing of the seasons is a great opportunity to do this. If you are noticing that tugging feeling that a change is needed, try taking some time to get quiet and listen to that message. Self-care, mindfulness, 'me time' and so forth can be literally anything you want - anything that works for you... until it doesn't and needs to become something else :)

A photo of the sun shining through the trees in the park. There is a small grassy hill with a bench in front
Another beauty pic of the park int he morning, just because it's pretty :)

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