Thursday, July 12, 2012

Breaking rules and changing habits

I like living by rules, and I don't like breaking them.  Those of you who know me will attest to this fact.  When I'm with friends who want to look at a house that's for sale and they find that the door is unlocked and go in to check it out, I am the spoilsport sitting alone in the car outside saying to myself, "We should not go into the house unless a realtor or the owner lets us in."  You get the picture.  I am not the fun impetuous free spirit about whom books are written and movies are made.

So imagine my surprise when I moved to Minnesota and realized that many of my long-held rules were being broken left and right ... by me!

For example, before moving here, it was my "rule" when buying a house or getting an apartment not to live any farther than 10 or so minutes from work. And not to live west of work (you don't want the sun in your eyes on your way to and from work).  And not to buy a house with a split-level entry (too many stairs and hard to bring furniture in and out).  And always live in a neighborhood with sidewalks (too dangerous to walk the dogs if you don't have sidewalks). So what do I end up buying?  A house 30 to 35 minutes drive WEST of my work with a split-level entry and no sidewalks.  And guess what - my world didn't end!

Yes, my commute adds up to more than one hour each day.  But thanks to audiobooks, I am reading twice as much as I did before.  Some of the audiobooks I've listened to are:
Scott Westerfeld's trilogy - Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath.
Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.
John Steinbeck's East of Eden.
Arthur Phillips' The Egyptologist (one of my all-time favorite books now).
Jack Wizner's Spanking Shakespeare.
Kevin Kling's The Dog Says How.
Dana Stabenow's Restless in the Grave.
Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (in preparation to hear him speak this fall!).

Am I keen about all the stairs in my house? Not so much.  But now that I have a walk-out lowerlevel and a lovely quilt studio with lots of daylight windows, could I ever go back to having a downstairs basement?  Probably not. And is it worth it to me to live only 3 minutes away from Mom, Debbie and Catherine if it means I have to drive into the sun on my commute?  You betcha!

These are only a few of my "rules" that I've broken after moving here.  There have been many more. When I sat down and thought through all the things I'm doing differently that go against the grain (or, at least, go against my grain), I decided to look at some of my other everyday habits to see what else I could change.  For example, all my life, unless I'm on vacation, I've never eaten breakfast. Give me black coffee and nothing else. So two weeks ago I decided to try eating breakfast. 

The first week, I cut up strawberries into plain greek yogurt and took a cup to work every day.  The second week, I took peach slices and greek yogurt.  So far so good.  Not sure if I'll keep it up (and, no, I'm NOT giving up black coffee), but it has got me thinking about what else I can change and what other new things I can try. 

It is so easy to slip into a regular routine and get stuck there - what are we missing when we live comfortable structured lives?