Has it ever struck you how much we can become creatures of habit? Although we may live varied lives, and have many things to occupy our time, at the core of this is likely to be a foundation of what for each of us is our ‘norm.’ Wherever we may be, and whatever we may be doing on any given day, we will most likely be framing that activity in the context of a routine of some kind. At its simplest level, this can be something mundane, such as what time we get up in the morning, whether we have breakfast or not, and if so whether we have it before or after our morning ablutions, that kind of thing. However free-spirited we may believe ourselves to be, we all have our own behaviour patterns, whether or not we recognise them as such. Since I retired nearly three years ago my routine has changed – I don’t have to worry about being up and ready in time to catch the train to work, and I don’t have to compress the things I would rather be doing with my life into evenings, weekends or holiday time. But there is still a routine there, it has just adapted to the change in my circumstances.

So, what happens when something knocks that norm? How do we adjust to it? If something big happens to us – a major family event, perhaps – we tend to take it on, challenge it and manage the required change. Births, marriages, deaths and other events in the family have a massive impact, but we try our best to deal with them, to cope, and to move forward with our lives. I have recently had such a change with one of my children (who are both adults, but still children to me!), who has needed help and support, both in the practical sense and also in a more spiritual way. For me, the realisation that this has made a difference to my life has manifested in several ways, a very simple example being that I have seen and spoken to my ex-wife more often in the past few months than in the whole preceding eight years since we were divorced. I’m not presenting that as either a good or bad thing – our divorce was perfectly amicable and we are both content with our outcomes – but it brought home to me the sense of family changes and the impact they can have. But I don’t intend to say any more about that: it is too personal, particularly for my daughter, and isn’t for publication.

Let me instead give you a much less important example – less important in the great scheme of life, that is, but it has nevertheless made me think. I’ve mentioned before that I have been invited to become part of the Senior Salon, run by Bernadette of the Haddon Musings blog. Since Bernadette started this six months ago it has developed into a vibrant community of bloggers of a certain age, with a wide range of interests, and it has become a part of my routine to take part in it. I enjoy the range of interests that fellow bloggers share, and it has got me into the habit of posting at least once a week so that I have something new to offer. Yes, I still have my hiatuses but they are fewer. And if I want to think of myself as a blogger, regular posting is kind of important, right? The Salon starts each Wednesday, with an email notification that the new link up has gone live. This email usually arrives around 7am UK time and my Wednesday norm has become a morning trip to see my lovely nurses for my regular bandage change, followed by a return home, breakfast and my thoughts turning to converting the ideas that have been stumbling around in my brain into a post. Or, like today, I sit at the keyboard and pray for inspiration – you can tell, can’t you! Ah, but I can see you thinking, today isn’t Wednesday. Correct! Have a prize! I didn’t get the email yesterday, and so I spent the day watching the Euro 2016 football instead. Tough job, but someone has to do it. Nor did I get the notification today, and I began to wonder if perhaps Bernadette was ill, and unable to set up the Salon this week. But there it was on her blog, so all was clearly well with her. From our interactions on our respective posts I thought it highly unlikely that I had been banned, so I checked my WordPress settings for the blogs I follow. Have any of you ever seen this message:

“You have blocked all notifications for blogs that you follow”

I certainly hadn’t come across it before, as it seems to me to be a very strange thing to do. What is the point of following blogs if you don’t want to see what people are saying? To be honest, I didn’t even realise that the setting existed. Fortunately, WordPress also kindly told me how to change it, which required no more than one box to be unchecked, and normal service has been resumed. But it left me with a few thoughts. How could I have changed such a setting when I didn’t know it was there? Do I have a maleficent alter ego who creeps into my blog when I’m asleep and changes everything? Are WordPress operating some kind of practical joke to see how alert we are? (in my case, not very alert, apparently!). Why did this matter to me anyway?

There were two main reasons as to why it mattered. The first was that it made me realise how unobservant I am. I probably get around 30-40 emails each day announcing new blog posts, and I hadn’t realised that I saw none of these yesterday and, so far, today. I pride myself on being intelligent, aware and alert, but clearly I’m not as good as I thought! The second was the change in my routine. In six months my Wednesday has shaped up as I described it earlier, but yesterday was different. Every time I checked my emails I looked for the one telling me that this week’s Salon link was live, but to no avail. Yet still I didn’t spot that something was amiss. A change, albeit a small one, had taken place, and it was a little disconcerting. I had been taken out of my Wednesday routine and it just didn’t feel right. My regular habit had been broken. I’ve found both the problem and the solution, and will be enjoying my usual participation in the Salon, although I am coming ‘fashionably late’ to the party this week.

Am I being stupid to think this way about it? Am I building it up beyond its importance? You might think so, but I don’t. Our routines and habits are important to us, however trivial they may seem to others. The sum of all our little pleasures – like reading other people’s blogs – adds up to the whole of our enjoyment of life. Every little part has its place and its importance. A wise man once said:

So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same

But in its own little way, yesterday didn’t feel the same. Strange thing isn’t it, this life and the way we live it.

11 thoughts on “Ch-ch-changes

  1. This was the first Bowie album I bought! I too have had gremlins visiting: it took many hours of frustration to sort out the Twitter widget for my blog, it doesn’t work on iPad, I eventually had to ask someone else to find my Twitter id number for me so that I could put in in the relevant box in admin. Yay, it finally worked! Now it doesn’t again, even though the id number is still in its box. If anyone can solve this riddle, I willl be eternally grateful. I actually don’t like routine. It is a cause of frequent discombobulation in our household as my husband does everything according to what hour of the day it is. I like to be guided by what mood I’m in, what the weather’s like etc, how many aches and pains I have…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me too, Chris. I still think of his early stuff as being his best but that’s probably more to do with me than him! Sorry to hear you’ve had problems too. Not an issue that has affected me – yet. Hopefully it never will as it sounds a real pain. Not as though I use Twitter much or say anything worthwhile there anyway!

      Interesting that you draw such a distinction with your husband’s approach to life. I know what you mean, as I have the luxury of not having to do something if I don’t feel like it. But do you not have any routine even for your writing and blog posting? Maybe there’s a little more habit in there than you might think?

      Liked by 1 person

      • The only routine I have for writng is that I do it all the time! It is my proncipal occupation. I get ideas at the most awkward times and can often be called out pretending to listen when in fact I am honing an idea or a sentence!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am glad you checked your settings and resolved the problem. It also a mystery to me how these computer gremlins get into our settings and upset our apple cart. I wish the gremlins would be more like the helpful elves in the shoemaker tale and I would wake up and all my work had been miraculously accomplished. Always enjoy reading your posts Clive.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So much fodder for my wee early morning mind today! First, the point about changes to our routine—I don’t like them! I write early in the morning (5;30am), and count on having the house completely to myself. If my husband decides to get up early (with a cheery greeting!), I suspend my thoughts and join him for breakfast, but I’ve ended my writing for the day! I like it better when he gets up at the usual time! The matter about WordPress having a button that prevents blogs getting to you is worrisome. I too get many, many blogs in my in-box each day, and don’e want to miss any of them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Changes aren’t helpful, are they! If I write on days when I don’t have to go out it also tends to be early, but not 5.30am! I live on my own so the only distractions are the ones I create for myself. It’s called procrastination! At least you’ll know what the problem is if you stop getting emails about blogs 🙂


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