Steps Toward the Goal: New Routines

We’re now 19 days into 2019 and I’m trying to implement steps that will help me reach my goal: publishing my memoir. In last week’s post, I said that I needed to work ‘smarter’ because I can’t work any harder. I found two television shows that I’ve hung onto over the years that have partially been background noise and also have me watching to see how the writers progress the story line. (Well, actually that sounds better than it is; the two shows are soap operas and I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I watch them!)

When I looked at both more closely, the 90 minute shows take more of my energy than first appears; my mind has to keep up with when they come on since I’ve chosen not to record them; after each show I’m processing what happened, whether I think the writers did a good job with that episode and images that linger of scenes and situations. (I’m also saying, “That’s stupid. He was just married to her sister last year!”)

That 90 minutes+ could have been spent distraction-free, working on my list of tasks to produce the memoir, doing just one thing at the time. Since I took those two shows out of my daily schedule last Tuesday, I’ve been thinking about routines.

Years ago, I went through treatment for triple-negative breast cancer. At that time, I was working as a Research Coordinator with clinical trials—or pharmaceutical research. When I finished the 6 rounds of chemo and it was time to schedule the 32 radiation treatments, I was overwhelmed.

“How am I going to do that and go to work every day?” I asked myself. I knew I could take time off to rest as needed, but I really wanted and needed to maintain my job. Considering my energy level and the daily work flow at our office, I decided I would request the first radiation appointment of the day—the 8:15 slot. While that seemed to be the best, I had enough trouble making it to my office by 8:30 so how would I manage to get to UNC Hospital fifteen minutes earlier, every day for over 6 weeks?

Thinking about the days ahead, adding radiation treatments to my already full schedule, it came to me: Make it more normal by making it routine.

 I would have to get up earlier in order to still have time for my morning walk, at least as long as I felt up to it. Walking at sunrise had been my practice and was the favorite part of my day; I wouldn’t give that up.

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Morning Walk

I had to make sure that my clothes were ready and my lunch was packed the night before—just like we’d tried to have our sons do over the years of school mornings. But still, I dreaded driving the 10 miles to the UNC parking lot to my space marked “Radiation Oncology Patient.” I hated being reminded of cancer every morning, unlike my chemo every third week that gave me a break from any announcement of being a cancer patient.

What if I pair the bitter with the sweet, I thought, remembering that practice I started during the numerous medical visits early on in the cancer process; after something bitter– like a procedure I’d give myself something sweet– like a shopping trip.

If I got to my appointment 15 minutes earlier, I could write while waiting, using the time when I felt the best to work on a new short story. I’d bring my mug of coffee and savor those minutes instead of thinking about what was in front of me.

I followed through with my new routine and when I was pulling out of my drive, I added music to make me feel better.  I put a contemporary Christian CD in the player, Hymns of Worship and Praise. My favorite portion of the road crossed over Jordan Lake, and when I reached the section where I could see the broadest expanse of water, my favorite song, “God of Wonders” played. Looking out over the beauty of boats in morning fog, I felt lifted up above my circumstances and empowered for the day ahead.

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January on Jordan Lake

Making that my daily routine for those 32 days helped me to cope with the treatments and the cumulative fatigue.

That was eighteen years ago and I still remember that following that routine made the experience feel more familiar. Now, as I think of ways to streamline how I use my time, I see a way to apply what I learned during those radiation treatments. Instead of having to set a new wake-up time each weekday morning depending on whether I’m going to my UNC job, keeping my grandson, or writing, I’ll stick with one. If I go with the earliest time that I need for babysitting, I won’t have to think about it each night and it’ll be easier for my body to adjust.

And on those dark mornings driving to my grandson’s house, I’ll have the sweet reward when I arrive of holding him in those cuddly footed pajamas while I fix myself a second cup of French Roast.

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How About You?

How are you progressing toward your 2019 goal?

Are there changes in your routine that could open up time to work on your goal?

14 thoughts on “Steps Toward the Goal: New Routines

  1. Connie, I had a hard time getting into this one, as you continued to introduce a number of issues I have to deal with. I wish I had a little one to distract me from the mundane. You really have it made.
    The best to you in the process of Goal achieving. My new year started with going back to work. I opted to not work in Produce and become a Barista in the Starbucks in our store. I will have to grow my hair long and cop an attitude, but I will adjust quickly. Back to you, I believe that whatever you set your mind to will become the norm. Do not let the “Stuff” get in the way of the goal. Sometimes that Stuff is the key to inspiration. You are an inspiration, and I do want it to continue. Blessings to you and your.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Connie, I agree, there is so much clutter in our daily lives that drains energy. I noticed the same with radio programmes -talk vs music. I also agree ‘re “normalizing” treatment appointments. Though I would not have been able to do it with my chemo or radiotherapy treatment due to the side effects – physically and mentally. Thanks for sharing and wishing you productive writing times. Karin

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    • Hey Karin,
      Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. I know that each person’s experience with their treatment path and how their body handles the side effects is quite varied.
      Thanks for your good wishes with my writing.
      Best to You in 2019 with your health and your goals,
      Connie

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Connie, I admire your tenacity. I’m a lot lazier. I write when I feel like writing. I sleep when I feel like sleeping, and I exercise when I feel like doing that which unfortunately isn’t often enough. When I have a job, I am structured, One has to be. But since I stopped working fulltime, I’m much less strict about a schedule. And if I have a program I enjoy like “Mom,” I watch it. As to babysitting, I admire you. As you know I pitch-hit, when my son is desperate for someone to keep the kid because a kid can’t go to daycare with a fever. But again, I don’t want to make a habit of it! LOL You are a much harder worker than I am. Hats off to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Erika,
      There’s something to be said for just going with how you feel; sometimes I need to do that, too. I wouldn’t say I really ‘enjoyed’ the Soap Operas. They felt more like habit, like filler in the day when I was at home.
      There is a season for everything, and right now I do feel like I need to be disciplined and work hard to get my memoir out there. But I don’t always intend to be so disciplined–and I don’t do it all the time. Don’t want anyone to think I have this down pat–because I don’t !
      Thanks for reading and sharing. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Bought my UNC sweatshirt today!
      Connie

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  4. Pingback: Weekly Round-Up: On Not Being The Perfect Cancer Patient | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

    • Thanks so much, Marie. So much of my life I thought of routine as ‘boring,’ but now, I see it as essential. Wishing you and all those in the survivor community a great week ahead, stepping toward your goal as you’re able.
      Best,
      Connie

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  5. Taking time out of my busy life to read your much anticipated post!

    You are an INCREDIBLE writer, Connie! Don’t ever give it up! I’m sure that you inspire countless others, as you do me! That’s why, if I don’t have time to read your post when it arrives, I save it until I have the time to do so!

    Love and Hugs to you…and a Very Happy New Year!!!

    Love,

    Sandra

    On Sat, Jan 19, 2019 at 1:45 PM Connie Rosser Riddle wrote:

    > conniesedona317 posted: “We’re now 19 days into 2019 and I’m trying to > implement steps that will help me reach my goal: publishing my memoir. In > last week’s post, I said that I needed to work ‘smarter’ because I can’t > work any harder. I found two television shows that I’ve hung o” >

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    • Hey Sandra,
      I’m touched by your generous comment! Thank you so much for faithfully reading and for encouraging me. It’s supportive comments like yours that help me to keep at it! When I don’t feel like putting my butt in my chair and cranking out a post, I think about how much I enjoy providing something that is inspiring, helpful, and enjoyable to my readers.
      Sometimes I really need that encouragement–like this week, so it’s like a present to receive this after a week where I’ve had a hard time finding the time to write.
      Wishing You a Wonderful 2019! Hugs and Love to you, Too!
      Connie

      Like

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