Routine reset time

Well, the end of the year is soon upon us, and with it comes some soul-searching and reflection on the past 12 months. The past year has seen tremendous growth for me, and as with many things that demand a lot of me, I find myself pretty worn out, right now. Technically, I’m supposed to be leaving to visit family several states away, in a few hours, but that’s looking less and less likely, as both my spouse and I have been ill over the past month, and we’re still not 100%.

We need to be 100%, so it looks like holiday family time may take a hit this year.

This is really the first year in nearly 20, that we haven’t made some sort of trip to see our families. We’ve always been good about it, making mammoth trips to see bunches of people in multiple states, but this year is different.

I think one of the things that makes it different, is that this year there’s a whole lot more riding on us both being as functional as possible. We have pretty high stakes in our work – my spouse recently took their professional work to a new level and has been reaching out and connecting on a much larger scale than ever before, and my own work has really taken off as well. Both of us have been putting a lot more of ourselves into our work, and we’ve been getting a lot more out of it.

But it’s problematic, to be forced to choose work over family — or in the present case, our own health over the wishes of our relatives. It’s not so much that we don’t want to go, as that we just need to get healthy, and traveling during peak travel times when we’re both sick is probably not the best thing to do.

In past years, I’ve gotten hurt during holiday seasons because I was pushing myself too hard, I wasn’t paying close enough attention, and there were car accidents and falls that really hammered me pretty hard. The last holiday accident I had almost wrecked me for good, and it’s taken me 6 years to get back in the swing of things, back to about where I was when I fell.

The good news is, I’ve been able to get back. The bad news is, it’s taken a lot out of me, it’s been a long and very confusing and at times alarming process, and I’ve had to re-learn a lot of my old functions in a whole new way. Again, I have managed to get back, but not without tremendous amounts of effort, plenty of blood, sweat, and tears, and some serious dents in my sense of self.

It has not been easy. And now I am tired.

I guess one way to look at this place I’m in now, is like it’s a much-needed rest period after a time of tremendous growth. When you expend a lot of energy at something, you necessarily need to take some down-time and rest and recuperate. I haven’t really had a chance to do that for the past several years. It’s been constant going-going-going, and I haven’t been in a place where I felt like I could finally let my guard down and just BE. Now, this holiday season, I am feeling more like I can just be. My job is good, people are very happy with my performance, and the next year looks like it’s going to be a good one, too. Plus, I’ve been pushing like crazy, the past few months, and I’m finally to a place where I can take a break, step back, review the year, and prepare for the next. I need this time to do that. I really do.

I just wish I didn’t feel so damned guilty about it.

I wish I didn’t feel like I was letting my family down by not going.

But I do.

Guilt or not, the fact is, I’m not fully recovered from my illness, and neither is my spouse. And if we push ourselves even harder, then we run the risk of complications — and starting the next year off completely wrong. That’s just not good.

So, we need to think about alternatives. I know that Christmas is supposed to be the time to give presents and share time with each other, but that’s not the only time of year for that kind of activity. The occasion is a solemn one for many, and I appreciate that. But it’s always rubbed me the wrong way that Christmas alone was reserved for that kind of generosity of spirit, and the rest of the year it was fine to not be that way. Personally, I would like to see the holiday spirit extend farther into the year — all year, if possible. The time for hope and faith and giving is never over – it is always needed, and it’s always welcome. And to whatever extent possible, I would like to extend it in my own life throughout the year.

I’d like to work it into my routine, so to say.

I’ve been thinking a lot about routine, while I’ve been driving to and from work, lately. I posted about needing routine a few days ago, and it’s still very much on my mind. I am a creature of habit, and the good habits I’ve created have saved me many times from disorganization and chaos. When my routine and my “systems” are disrupted, life becomes needlessly complicated and very frustrating. Maybe I’m being overly rigid, but for going about my daily business, they really are indispensable. They save me so much time and energy and aggravation, I can’t even begin to say.

I’ve made good progress, developing my routines, and I think now I need to reset them.

See, the past few years have been about getting myself to a more functional place. My main concerns were things like getting myself up at a regular time, going through my morning activities in a systematic fashion (so I could remember to wash my hair and take care of the household pet and get my breakfast — all without melting down and starting the day off on the wrong foot), and structuring my days so that I could get a reliable amount of sleep every night, and also get much-needed exercise each day.

But now I find myself well able to do all that, and without needing notes and reminders and prompts, to the same extent that I did. I’ve restored a large amount of basic functionality that I lost in the last injury, and I’ve also developed strategies and strengths that I never really thought I could, over the course of my life. I’ve done really, really well. And now it’s time to take things to another level.

It’s time for me to start approaching my life not in reaction, but as a director of the events of my life. I’m a lousy victim, but I have to admit that I’ve always been in the habit of responding to emergencies, rather than creating something different and better in advance of the emergencies. I’ve been well accustomed to handling crap that came up (a lot of times seemingly out of nowhere), but when it came time to plan out things ahead of time and ensure that they came into being in a timely fashion, well, that’s where things really broke down.

I hope — no, plan — to change that next year. I’ve been noticing more and more places where I have blind spots, or I get blindsided and don’t react well. So, this coming year I’ll be spending more time thinking things through ahead of time, so they don’t come up so much. Of course, there’s no way to prevent every unfortunate event, but at the very least, I can invest more time and energy in anticipating things that can reasonably be anticipated.

And I can invest some time and energy in coming up with viable alternatives when things do go south and become a big problem. Like balancing health with family time. And making sure that work and rest aren’t mutually exclusive.

So, I have my work cut out for me. But it’ll be well worth the effort, I believe.

Anyway, you never know how it’ll go, till you try. And try, I shall.

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

4 thoughts on “Routine reset time”

  1. Sounds like it’s a good time to reinvest in yourselves, rest, kick back and recharge the batteries over the holiday. The benefits may well outweigh any guilt. Thank you for continuing to write here. Merry Christmas!


  2. Hi BB,

    I just flew across the country to be with the gf’s relatives and boy do I understand about missing routine. I always feel these disruptions for days, sometimes even weeks, and it’s still a struggle to get back into that routine that you describe, that allows one to live a healthy, productive life. Every time I get changes like this, I have this feeling like my internal mechanisms have been thrown totally out of whack . . . and illness makes it worse.

    On the other hand, it’s nice out here, and sometimes it feels good to let go a bit, like letting loose of the reins. Especially in NY, where I live, where you always feel like you’re rushing against a deadline, even if you aren’t. Sometimes illness can give you a good excuse to kick back – and do nothing. Which can be a very beautiful thing. Gives you time to reflect, rest, find yourself again.

    Either way, hope you get through the holidays alright. It’s a tough time everywhere (well, except for the rich people). Merry Christmas and keep on truckin’ right through 2011!



  3. Thanks T –

    Resting, reflecting, renewing… Not a bad way to close out the year.

    Have a good one and enjoy your time off.

    Merry Christmas to you too! I have a feeling 2011 is gonna be a great year.



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