new place, old me

I love new beginnings. Fresh starts, clean slates, reset buttons. The passage of time that smooths the rough edges, the emotional distance that gives me a chance to tackle a problem from a fresh perspective.

Moving seven hundred miles away, leaving behind more than a decade of connections and routines and memories, counts as a really big Fresh Start.

With one caveat: I brought the old me along.

Many of my problems, you see, aren’t rooted in where I am or the people I’m around or the place I’m living in. No, many of my problems are rooted in me. They’re rooted in my habits and my attitudes and those aren’t things I can leave behind as easily as I did outgrown toys and clothes that didn’t fit right.

Because even though I’m in a new house and in a new state, I still go to bed too late (like last night *yawn*). I still put off cleaning bathrooms far longer than I should. I still get too wrapped up in mindless ‘net surfing and I still get snappish and impatient with my family. New place, old me.

I can move hundreds of miles, but I can’t run away from myself. If I want to affect change in my life, sometimes the way to do it is to do it slowly and intentionally, one day at a time. One day in which I exercise for 20 minutes–then do it again the next day, and the next. One evening where I send myself to bed at 11, then do it again the next night and the next. Little changes become new habits, building on top of each other, like islands forming.

What habits are you trying to build in your life?

Comments

  1. What a great post, and so true! I had a friend who kept wanting to move to a new house when her problems got overwhelming, never understanding that she was taking her problems with her every time. I know I’ve done it too. We just read this book at work that was partly about how to build good habits, and I have several that I want to install in myself. They’re not exciting though, they’re just the regular chore type habits, instead of letting things build up, just do things more frequently. Writing should be on my list, as I haven’t written a word in months and have stories due, but I just can’t get into a headspace where writing is part of my life right now. Guess that will wait awhile longer.

    • Yes, it’s so easy to let things build up! Then we don’t want to tackle the enormous mess and so we put it off even more. One way to live might be to simplify a lot more–do a really good and deep decluttering. I suspect that, even with all our labor-saving devices, we end up doing as much work as people a century or more ago just because we have so much more STUFF to take care of! Unfortunately, homeschooling does lead to a lot of hoarding of books and materials, which drives me a bit crazy sometimes. :)

      As for writing–well, there’s room in this world for all sorts of writers, from the write-every-day kind to the write-12-hours-day-for-two-weeks type to the putterers who take long breaks but always come back home to their stories. Your process is your process and don’t let anyone else tell you any differently.

  2. Building habits can be difficult. Those new beginnings are great – everything squeeky clean and fresh. But the day after day after day doing something again and again makes the new seem old and tarnished. It’s hard going. I think for me what is even harder is the ‘little by little, bit by bit’ nature of all this. I want to put on a pair of seven league boots and stride off making instant, huge changes. Write a short story today, a novel tomorrow, all done and dusted in a flash. *sighs* Life isn’t like that except very occasionally.

    I find focussing on what I’m losing out on by not doing something helps me keep going. I don’t surf very much now unless there is something I want to look up. I kept a log of the time I spent surfing and considered what I could have done with that time.

    I’m still hanging onto my ‘writing times’ and trying to fit in a few other things I want to accomplish: an hour of daily exercise most days; and hour of gardening most days; keep various sewing and knitting projects going rather than having half-finished things sitting around.
    It’s making the decision to do it that matters. I enjoy doing all those things once I’ve started.
    And it’s more difficult to do things on one’s own.

    • Oh, yes. Many of the things worth doing in this world take a long time to bring to fruition. We’re so used to reading novels in a matter of hours or days, it’s a bit of a shock to find out how long it can take to write one! Part of why I blog is the instant gratification factor of it–spend 30 minutes writing a post, put it up the next day, and get instant responses from real people! Wow!

      Oooh, the old time-tracking system. I’m tracking my writing these days, but I haven’t made the leap to tracking the time spent of email, Twitter, blogs, and general surfing. *shudder* Not sure I want to know how much time is going down that particular sinkhole!

      You might need an accountability buddy or two! Perhaps exercise with a friend? Or get together with another one to sew or knit over tea and conversation once a week?

  3. I’m trying to build a habit of accomplishing things. Working on them until they are done, even if sometimes a quick fix would be nicer for my bank account (it’s also harder).

    • That’s a fine line–working on something to the best of your current ability versus working it to death.

      • Not that so much. Not working it to satisfaction, just done. As in, type the words “The End.” As in, no longer a WIP floating around on my computer in need of more words, more scenes, or just more.

  4. For the past three days I’ve been working on writing for 10 minutes at least once during the day. This is how I aim to get myself back into the writing groove.
    I’m keeping something Lainie Taylor calls “an attic diary” (which you can read about here – http://notforrobots.blogspot.com.au/2007/08/ideas-brainstorming.html). And for the past three days I’ve managed to write for 10 minutes at least once during the day. Yay! :)
    To help keep me motivated, I created an account with Habitforge.com and each day I receive an email asking if I wrote the day before. There’s a running tally then, logging how many Yeses I respond with. It’s nice to see the numbers adding up… (http://habitforge.com/cheers/1/shared?shared_u=75943)

    • Oh, I LIKE the idea of an attic diary. I’ve kept a journal for years–not a daily one, but I write in it often–but I never ever go back to re-read. Part of it is because my handwriting very quickly degenerates into an illegible mess. But it would be nice to have an idea diary, if I could force myself to be neat about it. What a lovely idea!

      Good for you, keeping on writing every day! I have many irons in the fire right now, so most days I get something writing-related done, even if it’s not raw on-fire first draft.

  5. This might sound strange, but I need to learn the habit of saying ‘no’ to new projects. I write almost every single day, but can’t seem to keep up with everything I want to do.
    I know, that sounds like a nice problem to have, and I’m not complaining, believe me! But, because I have a full time job, I have to choose between doing critiques and blogging and writing short stories and starting a new novel draft, when most of all I want to finish my revision already.
    I love doing all of these things. Juggling them is what frustrates me.

    • I’m feeling that way with all of my works-in-various-stages-of-completion. There is not enough time to deal with all the stories grabbing for a piece of me. But I have a plan! Hopefully it’ll work for the next couple of months, then I will re-evaluate.

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