Routines, Old and New

You wake up in the morning, have a good stretch, make a pot of coffee and sit down to read about what’s going on in the world – on the Internet, in the newspaper, or wherever. And the more you read the bigger and darker becomes the cloud. You know the cloud I’m talking about. The cloud of human misery and strife and conflict. For me, this has become a detrimental routine, one that often comes close to ruining my whole mood for the rest of the day, that is if I allow it. But resistance is difficult, as I am nowhere near desensitized enough to resist the negative impact of so much tragedy and chaos. Some people are desensitized enough. I am not one of them. So after an hour of reading about rape and child neglect and infanticide, terrorist attacks and chemical weapons and car bombs, animal abuse and sex trafficking and rioting anarchists, corrupt politicians and the various cruelties carried out by asshole teenagers, and the current, seemingly unstoppable, cultural trend toward moral degeneracy, I am emotionally and mentally drained by the time I close my laptop. As much as I believe in awareness and staying informed, these days I’m regretting the routine every time. It just makes me sick. Beam me up Scotty, I’ve had enough.

Daily routines are not inherently harmful of course. On the contrary, routines can impart feelings of consistency, stability, and clearheadedness. For some people it’s a morning jog before work, for others a workout at the gym after work. For others still it’s painting or writing at the crack of dawn, or walking the dog, or even 20 minutes in the garden just picking a few weeds. A routine can also be something as simple as a morning phone call to check in on a parent or elderly loved one. Before my grandmother passed away, my Mom used to call her every single morning, a routine on my mother’s part that meant the world to grandma.

I’ve noticed that on the days when do I deviate from the first-thing-in-the-morning newsreading routine and replace it with something else – running, yoga, writing emails, making a fruit salad, tinkering around the house etc – I really do feel better, like I haven’t yet been “contaminated” by the evils and wretchedness of the world. My outlook and disposition remains truer to the person I am, who is loving and hopeful. I don’t want to bury my head in the sand, but I don’t want to defile my soul either. Well at least not first thing in the morning!

Routines, like habits, are hard to break. So while I can’t shut myself out from the news completely, I might consider moving the routine from the beginning of the day to the end of the day, when it can’t pollute my thoughts, hamper my productivity, distract me, or dampen the joy that my spirit intrinsically holds. I’m a pretty happy person generally. But the news headlines seem determined to convert us all into cynical, embittered nihilists. And that is very sad indeed.

Craig and I were discussing classical music the other night. I mentioned that one of the most uplifting pieces of music ever written, in my opinion, is the overture to Mozart’s comic opera The Marriage of Figaro. Jubilant, bubbly, and brisk, the overture sets a splendid, optimistic tone for the start of a day. Play pretend conductor and it’s even more fun! My new routine maybe? A million times better than the Huffington Post, that’s for sure.

Morning Light, by Childe Hassam:

Hassam-morninglight

16 thoughts on “Routines, Old and New

  1. I’ve struggled with routines for some time now. I’ve landed on something like this: rise at 5:15; shower etc.; read something sacred and/or listen to beautiful music while having coffee; write for 15 minutes; read headlines in area that I’m interested in (urbanism); then get wife and kids up and get their days going.

    If I get up too late, or if I watch idiotic videos online, or if I do something that does not honor today being a new creation by God, then it feels like my morning is out of whack. Counter-intuitively, like your running or yoga, if I am traveling for work, I need something like that–away from the hotel room–to establish a good vibe for the morning.

    Thanks for the post.

    • artmodel says:

      Howard,

      I absolutely love what you’ve shared here, especially “honor today being a new creation by God”. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who struggles with this issue. How we start the day seems to set the tone for the rest of the day. Listening to beautiful music of our choice is a good strategy for sure.

      Thanks very much for posting your comments! I hope you do again 🙂

      Claudia

  2. Bill says:

    I know what you mean. When my son was growing up, the one program we didn’t allow him to watch was the evening news. Too violent. (I should note that we didn’t have cable.)

    I always ask myself, “What would Edward R. Murrow watch?” I also remind myself of the old adage that “dog bites man” isn’t news, but that “man bites dog is” — events that lie outside the norm are the ones that are newsworthy. I’ll really start to worry when the news programs feature people doing nice things for each other.

    One reason that I started following your blog was because of your taste in music. My own level of knowledge is regrettably low, and I thought some of yours might rub off. But, in any event, here’s the piece of music that sometimes helps me:

    • I absolutely love this piece. Thanks for posting–it’s one of those “sacred” things that get me going at anytime. When you get a chance, check out Pavarotti’s version, too: http://open.spotify.com/track/5V7LogbYVxv2DO4uHnpqd7 (if you have Spotify). Just the applause at the end lets the listener know that something holy has happened.

      • Bill says:

        Thanks — unfortunately, I don’t have Spotify (maybe I should), but I have heard Pavarotti sing it on YouTube. You’re right, it is great — and to hear both versions really adds a different dimension to the experience. You know, until recently I wouldn’t have bothered with this because I don’t understand Italian. But it seems that this isn’t written in Italian — it’s written in “music”, and somehow I do understand that.

    • artmodel says:

      Bill,

      For someone who claims to have minimal knowledge of music you certainly have great taste! Andrea Boccelli is wonderful. Love his rendition of Nessun Dorma, thank you for sharing.

      I like your point about newsworthiness. I’m often dismayed at the nonsense that is considered “news” these days. And the high-octane urgency with which its presented makes it even more ridiculous.

      Appreciate you comments, as always. Thank you Bill!

      Claudia

  3. Elaine says:

    Claudia, what an inspiring post. I to want to stay away from all the misery and heartache in the world. The emotional toll is too great for me now at my age. I wont allow the ills of society to affect my daily life. I have lived my entire life as a caring compassionate person but now
    the world has changed. I yearn for the days when people enjoyed
    simple pleasures, art, music, nature, giving love and support to family and friends. I honor those who have dedicated their lives to the less fortunate. They are the real heroes. Ordinary people who want to make a difference. I wish I could have been be part of that now. Age changes priorities, but I still have hope for future generations. I have been blessed by having two children, Chris and Claudia who have given me new insight to the world. For that I am grateful.

    The Mozart is inspiring as is Nessum Dorma, and the beautiful painting by Childe Hassam

    • artmodel says:

      Mom,

      Thanks for your thoughtful, sensitive comments. We’ve discussed this issue many times and I know how you feel about being overloaded with too much news, depressing stories, etc. It effects you a lot and I don’t blame you. But your perspective and attitude is a healthy one. Stay that way 🙂

      Love you!

      Claudia

    • derek says:

      Awe,
      I just luv these mother child relationships . I think you both have a beautiful relationship. Blood is thicker than water may I say. And I speak as a parent and grandfather. I always love both artiist point of view and your knowledge of the history of the arts.

      Elaine , you are a true gem as a mum and artist and having your children has been your greatest accomplishment in life just as my children are my greatest accomplishment.

      I think its lovely that you both get along so well and the bond is so strong. You raised and created a beautiful young lady who turned out to be beautiful and smart and talented. God bless you both.

      • artmodel says:

        And God bless you Derek. Always a treat to have your kind, generous voice in the comments section of Museworthy. I hope you are feeling well and in good health 🙂

        Claudia

  4. Rod Lamkey says:

    Hi Claudia, I stumbled upon your blog looking for something else and bookmarked it. Now I am back and the timing is perfect since the topic is routines and news, about which I’ve been thinking, today.
    So I stayed a while and read, and well, well, a blog of intelligence, without screams and screeds!
    If I may add my two cents worth:
    Without being religious I awake early every morning grateful, or happy to be. (I might be religious if I understood religion!)
    Today I was wondering why time passes so quickly, and deduced that it is due to routines, because while making the first cup of coffee it felt as though I had done the same thing just a second ago. And despite all that happens today, tomorrow morning will feel as though only another second had passed. Still, it is a quiet alone time of day that I value the most.
    Sensitivity and the news: I am a news hound, but I must protect my painter self from indulging emotions about things I can’t change. Otherwise I would delve into remorse, anger, or frustration, and that would detract from what I put into painting. Once I have finished painting for the day, then I can be of the world. If a friend calls with an emergency or needs to talk, that’s always more important, and in that case I stash the artist for a while.

    Thank you for the painting by Childe Hassam!

    • artmodel says:

      Rod,

      First, a warm welcome to Museworthy! Your kind words about the blog are much appreciated, although, in full disclosure, I have posted a rant or two over the course of five years. However I do keep it to a minimum 😉

      I think people like yourself – painters, writers, etc – have good reason to avoid the news, especially at the start of the day. I can’t imagine having a head clear enough or a heart pure enough to carry on with creativity after absorbing so much misery and conflict. Feelings of “anger” and “frustration” – to use your accurate words – are terribly negative emotions of course. They set an awful tone. Many artists I know tell me that they prefer to work first thing in the morning. That must be precious time indeed, and without a doubt should be anger-free.

      Thank you so much for posting such great comments! I hope you continue to read Museworthy and contribute to discussions.

      Claudia

  5. Freddie says:

    You have posted another artistic gem, words as well as image, thanks again! You’re blog is part of my (positive) weekly routine. Please don’t read news before bed; it’s all designed to make you angry anyway, and it might give you nightmares and then your posts might go awry!!

    • artmodel says:

      Freddie,

      I’m honored that this blog is part of your weekly routine, thank you! That really makes me feel good 🙂

      I’ve tried the newsreading before bed approach and you’re right, that sucks too! There’s no good time to take in all that negativity. If only life could just be all art, music, love, and laughter 24/7.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Claudia

  6. Steve says:

    Hey Claudia, as a snarky teen I would ask my dad what was new in the paper. His reply was always the same: “Nothing really. Just the same things happening to different people.” But these same old things will always produce in us the most visceral reactions because we know it isn’t the way daily life should be. A smaller dose of the newscast has been very helpful along with listening to the jazz or classical channels; so that is part of the morning routine here along with coffee and the dog park.

    A terrific post and a wonderful reply by your mom, both were very pleasurable reading…

    • artmodel says:

      Steve,

      So wonderful to hear from you! The point you mentioned about the news in a “smaller dose” is a valuable one. My boyfriend has a way of scanning the news headlines in the morning and keeping it as brief as possible. I think it’s a good approach. And I’m definitely with you on listening to the classical and jazz stations. Now maybe I just need to adopt a dog and I’ll be all set!

      Thanks for your comments about the post and my mother’s response, that was very kind of you. She’s a great lady 🙂

      Claudia

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