Returning To Old Habits

I’m house/kitty-sitting for a friend at her small studio in Santa Fe. Outside the sky is a blue I don’t have a name for and the cottonwoods along the Santa Fe River glow golden yellow. I came here after two weeks in Greece, a journey with my daughter, daughter-in-law, and our friend, to celebrate my birthday and for me to return to some of the places I’m writing about in my memoir. My time in Santa Fe is also a writing retreat and a time of solitude.

This morning, writing at a desk that faces outside where an apple tree offers up its ruby fruit for the birds, I wrote what I think might be the beginning of my memoir. Yesterday I wrote what might be the end. This may seem strange to write the ending before the beginning, but it’s not really. I started in the middle sixteen months ago and have been working toward the end ever since. Besides I’m still in notebook draft (notebook #9) and everything will probably change anyhow as I lift all this from notebook to computer and begin working with manuscript drafts, which will also be numbered and subject to change.

It feels good to be writing daily again after not all those days traveling around Greece. In fact I hardly even wrote in my journal while we were gone, which is really strange for me. I’m a daily journal writer. It’s how I have begun my days for decades. Journal, candle, cup of coffee (or two or more).

I forgot what it’s like to be a writer with a kitty accomplice. This kitty–Rumi–has much to say and doesn’t hesitate interrupting. But she also curls next to me as I write, especially when I sit on the daybed, and purrs. I haven’t lived with a kitty since my own Rumi was hit by a car five years ago. This may change when I return to San Diego. I like talking to someone besides myself. Sometimes cats even make a show like they’re listening.

Old habits that feel new again after a few weeks’ break. I’m even back to my morning yoga practice. My body says thank you.

What about your habits, writing and otherwise? Do you ever take a break from them? Do you find it difficult to return or does it feel like coming home again?


19 thoughts on “Returning To Old Habits

  1. The mornings I write in my journal ground me for the rest of the day.

    I talk to Lucy, my beagle-bassett, all the time. She’s going deaf now so I doubt she hears me. But then she probably never listened much to me anyway unless I was calling, “Suppertime!”

    • Hi Jill,
      Thanks for checking in. Love your comment about Lucy and her “selective hearing.” Ha ha. I think by now, you and Lucy communicate via thoughts, you know each other so well.

      • Hi Jill,
        I have a Bassett named Priscilla and she is practically deaf also…must be common to the breed after they get older, I guess. My Priscilla is almost 12 and she has been stubborn since I adopted her from Rancho Coastal at age 5. She no longer howls when I leave the house because I got her a playmate: a mini Poodle whose name happened to be Elvis….I knew it was meant to be with those names….no kidding!

  2. What a fantastic opportunity to write in virtual solitude, but still have a feline companion and the wonders of Santa Fe nature outside your door. Sounds perfect. Unfortunately, my current habit is no habit. The only thing I do not do is write in my home office because it feels too much like “work”. When I take my laptop to the coffee shop or library I can lose myself for hours in a cone of silence. I was once at the local coffee shop for so long my car was towed!

    You have reminded me, through mention of starting in the middle of your memoir, that if I really want to make some inroads in my own memoir, I should put it on Scrivener. I used Scrivener for my novel and the bulletin board was invaluable for sorting through time sequencing in chapters. And develop a habit of actually getting back to working on it! Because although life and work demands get in the way, no matter how long it’s been it does feel like coming home again.

    • Hi Deborah,
      Here I am home again (from Santa Fe and Greece) and just catching up. Thanks for commenting on the post. I understand about not writing in your home office because it feels like “work.” I’ve heard more than once that it’s not a good idea to try to do our writing in the same place we do our work. Sort of like not watching TV in bed; we’re there for sleeping. (Though I will confess to taking my iPad to bed with me to binge-watch a few of my favorite shows.

      I used Scrivener for my Wild Women, Wild Voices book and really liked it. Like you, the bulletin board was one of my most used places. Soon as I finish this notebook draft of the memoir, I’m going to transfer it into Scrivener and begin working on the next draft there. Let’s do it together, shall we?


    • Deborah,

      Indeed I had to quit calling my writing space an office, after all that’s where I did my paid job which I did not like. My writing table did not like my bedroom either, even after I painted colour coordinated pictures for the walls. The only thing I do in my room is sleep ergo no writing or reading are allowed. The little table nestles among the plants beside the couch. Behind me are more plants.

      Habit isn’t always good. This morning NoteBook said we are going on a surprise run to his writing café and we stood in the doorway while I went through: did I forget something (stove on, etc). Or am I experiencing dis-order.

      Solitude is wonderful yes. But then I can get wrapped up in that and start to do other things. Sigh.

  3. Many thanks for the great post Judy.

    I’m currently in Athens enjoying the wonderful Greek sunshine. Today was a visit to the Acropolis area and tomorrow we will embark on a journey in search of Diogenes and Socrates……

    I remember a painter saying to me once: “ Even when I’m not painting I’m still painting,” meaning that he was still looking, witnessing, paying attention to the world around him with his finely honed aesthetic – an exercise which would find expression in a future canvas. And is it really any different for writers? Even when we are not at the laptop, typewriter, etc we are still noticing, running thoughts through our minds, evaluating the world around us which – consciously or otherwise – will probably appear somewhere in our writing to come.

    Just a thought

    I’ll sign off now, more of Athens to explore!

    Best Wishes

    • Oh Michael, you are where I was just a little over a week ago. We stayed in an airbnb in the shadow of the Acropolis and gazed at it from virtually every window. I hope you remembered to take your lantern when you went searching out Diogenes.

      Thanks so much for writing, as always your perspective gives me ideas and inspiration. My trip to Greece was, in part to revisit some of the places I am writing about in my memoir. But, guess what… you can’t go home again.

      Many thanks for being in touch from Greece. Or anywhere. I always appreciate your notes.

  4. Nice essay. Thank you Judy, and yes, I do take breaks from habits. Some of them supposedly good for me, some not so much. I’ve contemplated on this process of pausing then returning and I am reassured that it is a normal and healing thing to do. At times it seems as if the subconscious is acting for our higher good. This ‘stepping away’ refreshes one’s perspective of purpose and revitalizes those habits we choose to retain. Your experience also confirms the power of travel as a means to refresh, reinvent and inspire!

    • Thanks so much for your comments Theres, I’m sure you’re right about the “stepping away” refreshing us both physically and emotionally. Sometimes we’re “empty” and need to refill before we can continue. Travel has always been a way of me returning to myself, odd as that may sound.
      I appreciate your perspective and that you took the time to write. Thank you. Judy

  5. Dear Judy,
    Thank you for your post and the beautiful photos of the trees and kitty. What a beautiful place to be and to write.

    • Thanks for checking in Arlene. This is truly a gorgeous place and the people are so easy to be with. I’ve had several engaging dialogues when I go out in the afternoon, with elders as well as young people. It’s inspiring. Now if that kitty would just sleep in a few hours longer!

    • Hi Barb, Thanks for writing about your relationship with Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico. My body is so SoCal/ocean oriented that this feels all new to me. I’m appreciating it through my senses and can see why so many creative and artistic people come here. It has some kind of deep draw. Looking forward to our reunion on Tuesday.

  6. Coming home to myself means I’ve settled deep inside and have created an inner space for whatever is there, whether comfortable feelings or not to arise into that inner space. I love working with my dreams not by analyzing them, rather by inviting the images and the dream scape to have it’s say. It is like having a coffee chat with someone. Each image is invited to share what it wants to say and a chat back and forth ensues.

    I invite the dream image or a particular scene from the dream to have it’s say and I write exactly what is shared. I then respond, often with a question like I would with a friend sitting across the table and I write this. This back and forth dialogue continues until there is a sense of completion. Untold wisdom is revealed when the images and dream stories are given the freedom to have their own voice.

    • Thanks for your comments, Eileen. I really like what you say about having a coffee chat with someone when you invite the dream images and dream scape in. I’ve done some of those notebook dialogues with the voices of others passed on, and inanimate objects, jobs and relationships, but never with dreams. Thanks for sharing how you go about it. I’d like to try this sometime. A different approach.

  7. I get rutted into routine until one day I decide to do it differently and then the rote changes. Do that with interior deco too. My rut rote now is get up between four and five, weight lifting, banana, and then decaf and notebook.

    I looked back at the April – August notebook and found it full of story a day, poems, beautiful handwriting (Ha? Whassat me?). Then I looked at the present one and the writing is cramped, rushed, meagre, and full of (yawn) quotidian. However I was writing paternal memoir. Just finished and decided to do maternal too.

    Candle? A spark flew onto my little table and that was good enough, I parked the candle on the counter in the kitchen before I burn the building down.

    And I was too tired to do yoga the other evening and last night I forgot. No wonder I was so crabbed this morning and the weights felt so heavy.

    Your trees photo looks just like my city right now.

    Yes NoteBook is always good to come home to. Yes.

    • Weightlift bananas? I ought to try that. (Ha ha). I’ve never been much of an early riser. I don’t know how people do it. But I do know it works for many and you’re one of them.

      Keep up the writing and the yoga and the bananas.
      Thanks, as always, Leeenda for posting a comment.

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