Creatures of habit…Are we willing to change?…Queen of routine?…

Its funny how we stumble across interesting articles on the web when we’re researching another topic, often leaving our original search in the lurch. It’s easy to forget our original thought as we become entranced by a new topic.

Today, while searching for information about “creatures living in Tuscany” I was taken to a great article about “creatures of habit.”

Laughing while getting sidetracked is normal for me when its a topic I’m drawn to regarding our habits which have become so obvious to us as we’ve left our old lives behind to begin anew. 

Bringing along our old habits didn’t surprise us.  They occupy no space in our luggage whether big or small, useless or useful, beneficial or harmful, annoying to one another or not, we brought along all of them.

Unfortunately, or not, we’ve discovered that our environment as we’ve moved from country to country, is not conducive to maintaining many of our old habits. The question for us has been.Shall we replace one habit with another more befitting our environment or,ilet it go entirely?

Without a doubt, we’ve reshaped many of our old habits, most of which are simple daily tasks that we adopted such as preparing the coffee pot at night to easily turn on in the morning, a task many of us habitually perform. Most likely, most of us have 100’s of such rituals we exercise each day, finding comfort in the routine, often performing these tasks without conscious thought.

Then, there are the others, the habits we believed we’d never change, never need to change as being harmless and insignificant in the realm of our daily lives. 

Suddenly, almost nine months after leaving Minnesota, those we’ve surrendered are glaring, as places we live force us to strip more and more habits away.  I must admit with a bit of trepidation, that I was the “queen of routine.”  I wasn’t bored by any means but kind of “stuck in my ways,” a state in which many of us see ourselves. 

Few of my habits were particularly harmful to myself or others, albeit annoying at times to my family and friends, less so to Tom. He’s always considered my quirks as mildly entertaining.

One cannot travel the world and find joy in the process while “being stuck in one’s ways.” Ultimately, it would create angst, frustration and unhappiness. What would be the point?

So, beside saying goodbye to the people we love and a lifetime of “stuff,” we’ve both had to say “goodbye” to many of the routines and habits that we thoroughly enjoyed, often looked forward to on any given day in our lives.

Here are a few of the habits each of us have forfeited in our travels:

For Tom:
1.  Reading the Minneapolis StarTribune newspaper every day of the week. Based on poor quality of the download service by the few companies that offered the daily paper, he was forced to quit, not replacing it with any other daily publication.
2.  Sunflower seeds, salted in the shell. Quitting smoking last Halloween when we left Minnesota, he’d taken up a replacement habit of eating sunflower seeds. Now, as we travel the world, we’re unable to find them at any of the local grocery stores.
3.  Turning on the TV, remote in hand, able to “flick” to his favorite TV shows at leisure, all spoken in English. There are two financial news show, BBC news and France News, here in Italy spoken in English plus, reruns of Jimmy Kimmel. 

For Jess:
1.  Eating dessert every night. With easy access to low carb, gluten-free, sugar-free, starch-free, grain-free products, I was able to make desserts we’d enjoy every night after dinner during our last year in the US; the perfect plate of dessert, a special fork and a neatly folded linen napkin eaten while watching a favorite pre-recorded TV show provided great comfort. This habit is gone. Ingredients to make any type of dessert are not available.  If I find myself hungry a few hours after dinner, I may have a piece of hard cheese. Habit gone. That was the hardest one for me. 
2.  Crystal Light Ice Tea:  for no less than the past 10 years, I had my insulated mug filled with this ice tea with lots of ice at my side most days and night, out and about, in my car, visiting family and friends. I gave it up a week ago.  ts not available here and we were running low on our supply. The ice tea is 99% caffeine free. It was habit. Its over now. I’m free, instead drinking bubbly water with lemon. Its OK. After a few days, I stopped thinking about it.
3.  Watching Dr. Oz (with whom I didn’t always agree with his many mixed messages but enjoyed none the less) and also, Dr. Phil, every afternoon, since retiring, I turned on these two shows while chopping and dicing for dinner, folding laundry, baking desserts or other productive tasks, never sitting down  just to watch. These shows are unavailable for downloading or streaming outside the US. We could pay for a service but choose not at this point.

They say, “old habits die hard.”  Yes, they do. For us, new habits replaced them such as with the bubbly water and lemon, watching downloaded shows and reading books on our phones. 

In the past, we’d dine at 6:30 each night. Now, we try for 7:00 pm. We used to awaken the same time each morning, going to bed the same time at night. Now it changes from day to day. I used to do laundry every day. With no dryer, the weather is a factor for hanging clothes. I used to go to the health club on the same days each week. Now there’s no health club within an hour and a half drive on the mountain roads. I work out in the neighborhood, walking the hills.

Looking at the clock on my laptop as I write this, I see that’s it close to 4:00 pm.  It’s tea (hot) time. That habit, I’ll never break. Although I’ve decided that when I run out of my favorite Taiwan Pouchon in the next month or so, I’ll start drinking Earl Grey which appears to be available everywhere we’ve been. So far, that is.