Weeds are bad habits. Flowers are good habits. If you want more flowers, you have to dig up the weeds, sure. But you then have an empty space where the weed was. To prevent a weed going back in, you have to plant more flowers. You also have to weed regularly to keep them from getting so big that they are hard to remove.
We have to be intentional about our time in order to not lapse into bad habits. The New Year is coming, and plenty of people have resolutions. Sadly, the resolutions last at most a month for many people. Who wants to start going to the gym when it is cold and dark outside?
But that is the very best time to do anything – when it is hard. It is easy to quit smoking when things are going well. It is when things are going poorly that the old habit will come back. You have to have a different thing to do to fill that mental space; otherwise that bad habit “weed” will take up residency again. It might even be worse than before.
I have a morning routine that helps me set my day on the right track. I try to do all of it, but some mornings I have less time before work than others. I do as much as I can and I don’t obsess about it. Obsessing about it is yet another bad habit. It doesn’t change anything.
I’ve talked about some of it before, but not in this context. I have added some things too. I offer this as a suggestion – take of it what you will, or none at all. I find it helpful, and I hope that some of it is helpful to you.
When I wake up I’ll say the Modeh Ani – the Jewish prayer of thanksgiving to God for letting me have another day of life. This is a new practice. If I don’t say the actual prayer, I’ll at least be mindful and conscious of the gift of life and health and another day. I think it is important not to take anything for granted. That keeps me in a state of thankfulness and mindfulness. With that mindset, everything is a blessing.
I’ll have breakfast (either oatmeal or yogurt) with grapes and a banana. During that time I’ll check the computer for my “news”. I don’t read regular news because it is so depressing. One day I’d like to see news that is balanced – good and bad, but until then I’ll find out what is going on in the world in different ways. I discovered that starting off the day with negative news made the day start off very badly. My goal is to have the mindset of new day, new chance.
I’ll read the Daily Office – a daily set of readings from the Bible. If left to my own devices I’ll read whatever I want, which will end up being nothing at all sometimes. Having a set structure helps me a lot.
I’ll finish up a blog post I’ve pre-written the day before. I’ll write during the day on my phone or Kindle and email it to myself. When I’m at my home computer I’ll pick one of the posts I’ve started and I’ll finish it up. Sometimes it is something I’ve started the day before, sometimes it is something from months ago that I just didn’t have the desire to work on then. Rarely do posts come fully formed from my head in one sitting. They never come in easy-to-manage chunks of time. I’ve learned I don’t have the time or focus to start and finish a post from scratch every morning. It is jarring to me to switch gears from being creative to having to get ready to go to work, so I create at other times. Waiting in doctor’s offices is ideal.
I pray while I’m in the shower. Every day during my shower I make an intention that that day will be dedicated to God. I try to treat every day as if it is like a retreat. I expect to see and hear from God every day. I know that God is in everything and every time, but this way I’m reminding myself of that. It isn’t that I’m calling God into the day – God is already there. I’m calling myself to be awake and alert and mindful to the presence of God.
After that I go do some yoga. I have a mat out in my craft room and I will practice yoga for about 10 to 15 minutes. During this I will focus more on being mindful and present.
Then I’ll read that day’s page from “Affirmations for the Inner Child” by Rokelle Lerner. These are simple one-page affirmations that are very healing and help me slowly heal myself. I’ve found it is easier to face the fact of my abusive upbringing in little chunks. In my head I want to not deal with it at all, but in my heart I know I need to face it to heal it.
Then, if I have yet more time, I’ll do a “Praying in Color” sketch/meditation. This is yet a further way to clear out my head and connect with God.
Jesus tells us about how dangerous it is to not have good practices in place, in Matthew 12:43-45
43 “When an unclean spirit comes out of a man, it roams through waterless places looking for rest but doesn’t find any. 44 Then it says, ‘I’ll go back to my house that I came from.’ And returning, it finds the house vacant, swept, and put in order. 45 Then off it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and settle down there. As a result, that man’s last condition is worse than the first. That’s how it will also be with this evil generation.”
The bad habit, whatever it is, is like an unclean spirit. When you get rid of it, if you don’t have a good habit in the place, it will sneak back in and bring reinforcements.