Monday, August 5, 2013

Ruts Vs. Routines and the “Smarts” to know the Difference

I love routine. I always have and I always will. Routine gives me security. Routine makes me feel safe and helps me develop habits that keep me on track. Staying on task helps me accomplish what I set out to do.

Routines are delightful because you do them without thinking. They become automatic. I know that at a certain hour of the day, I will paint. I will write. I will carry out my dreams come “hell or high water!”

My husband knows never to interrupt me when I’m painting. He knows I never answer phone calls when my hands and elbows are dripping in acrylic paint. If friends call, they go into voice mail. The world literally goes on hold when I’m at canvas working with fast-drying acrylics.

If my husband chooses to converse with me, he may get a growl in return. If my agenda changes either by crook or necessity, I’m not a happy camper. I may even have a temper tantrum of disproportionate proportions. My day becomes lop-sided. The monster within comes out. I feel betrayed, cheated, and forlorn; oh, woe is me and a pox on everyone’s house.

If you’ve stayed with me to the end of this tirade, you now know the difference between routines and ruts. Routines are good “if” they help you stick to your goals and enable you to get your work done. Routines become “ruts” when they hold us prisoner and don’t allow us to be flexible. Without flexibility you can kiss creativity goodbye.

Ruts can entrap us, hold us, and make our lives miserable. The first time I went cross-country skiing it was late in the season. Hard, icy tracks were molded on the pathways.  As long as you stayed within their boundaries, it was smooth sailing. Get out of the grooves and you went sailing into the trees. That is exactly what I did when I came to my first turn. The ruts were so deep that you literally had to jump and twist to make the turn. Not something a novice like me could do.

(New work in Progress: "Reggae Night" first layer drawing w/edits)
Ruts stifle creativity. Spontaneity is also a critical component. Awareness and objectivity need to be in control 24/7. Creative thinkers must be good observers. They must be willing to adjust when opportunity knocks. Inspiration is a product not of time or mind, but of heart and soul. The door must always be open. The spirit must always be prepared to receive.

Go ahead and plan your schedules and routines. Set your goals and work toward them; but leave yourself an opening for the unexpected, the priceless moments with loved ones and family, and the sudden impulses that may flutter suddenly on your window sill or whisper in your ear in a moment of reverie.

"Tansy's Pride" 9 x 12 Pastel on Bristol
Here are a few tips:
·         Routines guide our way.
·         Ruts hold our feet to the fire.
·         Routines allow movement and growth.
·         Ruts exhaust us and make us feel like slaves.
·         Routines involve familiar tasks and a safe place to explore ideas.
·         Ruts become rigid trails that lead us nowhere.
·         Routines let us experiment without criticism.
·         Ruts are monotonous black holes that go nowhere.
·         Routines ground us while our mind soars.
·         Ruts create anxiety and worry.