Ah, the beauty of routine.

I have discovered how wonderfully beautiful and healing routine can be. And I’m going to tell you why.

I was brushing my teeth last night and I noticed that my little dog Lola Lovepuff (I know, it’s a smashing name) is in the habit of eating dinner when I brush my teeth. I thought maybe it was a fluke for a bit, but no, it turns out she has literally timed her day based on when I brush my teeth! This was a self-selected routine on her part. I never ordered her, “go eat your food young pup because I’m getting ready for bed!” Nope. She just decided that her routine was going to be synchronized with my nighttime routine.

Dogs are keenly tuned into routine and I find that charming. For example, when the sun comes up each day, it’s time for Lola to jump on my head and lick my ears until I’m forced to get out of bed. It’s her routine, and it’s so damn cute that I can’t seem to get mad at her for doing it. In fact, today I forgot to set my alarm and so my fuzzy little friend saved me from being late into the office for my important meeting! I love that little ball of fur.

Since I was diagnosed with my lovely little ovarian cyst, my attention has really turned towards minimizing stress in my life so that I can heal completely. I’ve also been addressing this through diet and supplements, but I know that stress and emotions have played a bit part of my body being out of balance. As someone who is very driven, motivated and always busy, this was at first very hard to do. I literally planned time to relax - I’ve learned that it doesn’t work that way. Reducing stress has been an interesting and successful self-experiment, and much of it is based on creating new, relaxing routines. Here is how it worked:

1. Do some weeding

First, I had to learn how to cut out any optional stressors in my life. What is not necessary? Who is not nourishing in my life? Weeding is important and it really did help me to make more space for myself so I could hear what my heart was trying to tell me so I could create new routines. Once I quieted down a bit and had more space, I discovered that I’ve really been craving some time to myself - to do precisely nothing. And so that is what I did.

2. Do more of nothing.

For the last month, I’ve given myself permission to just do what I feel like, and very little of anything else. I’ve consciously refrained from filling up my schedule. Usually every evening is booked out for like 2 weeks. I’ve discovered that having unscheduled time in my evenings and weekends has been such a relief to not always be rushing somewhere. Having nothing planned has really given me a chance to decompress. I realized that part of my new routine has to be unscheduled time and that I must protect and prioritize that in my life.

3. Reserve time for what you love.

Because I know that my healing process is important, especially at this time, I really allowed myself to indulge in the little things that make me happy. Like spontaneously going to the cafe around the corner to order an earl grey macaron, watching the entire Mindy Project series (twice), and playing around with cooking a bit. There are some things that I have felt like I didn’t have time for because they were a “waste of time.” I realize now that in order for life to be balanced, some time must be wasted. How will creativity ever flourish if you never take the time to nourish your soul? It’s kind of like a credit card. Working all the time racks up a bunch of debt on an account that you are planning to pay back later. Resting is what pays off that energetic debt and allows you to get back in the black.

Doing these 3 things - weeding, doing nothing and and enjoying the simple, routine pleasures of life - have helped me to bring my stress level from a 10/10 down to about a 5/10. Which trust me, is a big deal. I feel more like me again. I feel like my body is really rested - I don’t wake up feeling exhausted anymore. They were such simple changes and yet I feel so much better. It’s funny how adjusting my routine and slowing down has made such a difference in my emotional health, which in turn has improved my physical health.

I know life isn’t always “in balance” and we all struggle to find the right routines for ourselves. But if I can give you a single message today, it’s a little hug of a reminder to honor your heart and love your life. When you have a health scare, you remember how precious each day is. How each moment will slip you by if you don’t pay more attention to the little things that make your world magical. Don’t wait for later to enjoy your life, start enjoying the little things now and you will notice a big difference in how you enjoy the routine beauty of life.

Wishing you great joy and happiness,