Creatures Of Habit

image Welcome fabulous storyteller and dear friend, Trish Jensen!

My puppy is an almost 14 year old black Lab. In other words, she’s very old for her breed. Her muzzle is graying, and she’s creaky all over. But she chows down her “puppy supper” twice a day like she’s been starved for weeks on end, and begs for treats all day. When my parents ask me why I’m not letting her go yet, I tell them when she stops eating, I’ll know it’s time. So far, she’s a piglet, so therefore she’s still happy.

One thing that she’s always done: When she bows, which is her way of asking for a snack, I’ll stand up and she whacks me on the back of my leg in a “HURRY UP, MOM” way. She’s almost knocked me over a few times, but it still makes me grin.

What does this have to do with anything, you’re probably asking yourselves and me right about now.

It’s about habits. Things that we do every single day that we might not even realize about ourselves. I finally realized that I couldn’t start the day until I brushed my teeth. Couldn’t start writing until I thoroughly washed my hands. And couldn’t sit down at my desk until I was in my favorite PJ’s. Then had to brush and wash again.Which makes no sense because I’m a horrible house cleaner otherwise.

Habits. They’re either good for you, or goofy as hell. Mine are goofy, and I know it. But I can’t start my day without them. And I’ll be devastated when the the day comes that my dog doesn’t push me any longer. It’s her habit. And she’s good at it.

And I can’t even begin to write until I’ve brushed, washed, brushed, washed. I’m a whackjob by any standard.

Do you have habits you have to maintain to start your day? Or is it seriously just me? 

image Trish will send either a print copy or e-book of her latest novel, Nothing But Trouble (Bell Bridge Books, May 2013) to one  person, drawn at random among today’s comments.

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About Kathleen Eagle

Kathleen Eagle is the award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of over forty novels.
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30 Responses to Creatures Of Habit

  1. Eve Gaddy says:

    I have my coffee while reading email and messing around on the computer. I feel very cheated if I don’t get to do that while I wake up. One of my habits, some would say compulsion, is checking the doors before I go to bed. And I can’t just check them once. I have to do it a time or two, and then right before I go to bed, I check them again. I don’t know why I think they’re going to suddenly come unlocked!

    Love your new book cover! He’s a cutie!

  2. Lois Greiman says:

    Hi Trish. Welcome to the convert. I love your cover, too. And your dog…I’m already in love with your puppy.
    There is a sense of normal that those little every day things give us, I think. For me, it’s feeding the horses first thing in the morning–the kickoff of every day.

    • Trish Jensen says:

      Oh, Lois, horsies! I used to be owned by one in my early teens. His pasture bordered our yard. My mom would watch every day for the bus to come by because she loved seeing his head pop up when he heard the bus coming, and he’d come trotting over to the fence to greet me, as I always had a carrot or apple in my lunch box as a treat for him. After gifting him he’d turn himself sideways against the fence, I’d drop everything and jump on him and we’d carouse around the pasture for a long while until my mom would force me to come in and start on my homework. Several times my parents had to come after me in the barn, because I wanted to sleep there all night with him. Lucky you! Horsies!

  3. Teresa Hughes says:

    I start my day by feeding my dog, Marley. While he is eating I use the restroom. Then I let Marley out to do his business. Next, I check email and Facebook. After I have done all of this I am ready to start my day.

    • Trish Jensen says:

      Teresa:
      If I started my day with FB, It’d be mid-afternoon before I left it. Which is why I only FB at night, right before bed. I know I’ll get sleepy before I can spend too much time on there answering posts.

      • Teresa Hughes says:

        Trish- I can imagine! Luckily I don’t have that many to answer. But, sometimes it can take awhile.

      • That’s my problem, too. I have to FB at night. I check e-mail early, only open stuff that looks like it needs timely attention. The rest waits until after the kids go to bed.

      • Teresa Hughes says:

        I don’t know how all of you keep up with all that ya’ll do anyway. I would never get anything done.

  4. I love morning routines. Let the dogs out. Let them in. Feed them. Feed the cat. Drink my tea. Watch Live with Kelly and Michael. Drink more tea. Eat something. Check email and FB. Let dogs out and in again. Shower. Try to get some writing done. Morning’s gone by now.
    Love your post!

    Lucy Kubash

    • Trish Jensen says:

      Lucy: My dog has an internal clock that is AMAZING. She wakes me up every morning at exactly 6:00 am to let her out. She comes back in, gets a treat and then my morning habits begin. She knows EXACTLY when it’s noon and 5:00 pm, when she gets her meals. I lose track of time. She NEVER does. I mean exactly. I keep looking for her alarm clock, but have yet to find it.

      • Amazing, isn’t it? My dog expects food at 4:30. fetch the ball at 8:30 am and 4 pm, walk mid morning, bedtime at 9 with the girls. When she figures they’re asleep, she gets back up and stays up with the night owl in the house–that would be me–until I say “Let’s go to bed,” at which time she returns to the girls’ room. She lets me know when it’s time for each activity she has scheduled for me. Dogs are wondrous creatures.

  5. ellie says:

    We all have comfortable routines when we wake and it is a habit. I have my morning tea, check the weather and then read the newspaper and get online.

  6. TrishJ says:

    Mornings are my favorite tome of the day. I have my first cup of coffee in the front porch with the birds and squirrels. I usually check FB and emails too. It is really my only really quiet time all day. I am going to have to pay attention to that commercial now.

    • Trish Jensen says:

      Trish (love your name, btw :
      My birds and squirrels are on my back porch. And their water feeder is right outside of the windows of my office. Sometimes I will just sit and stare at them as they drink and wash themselves. I never get tired of watching their habits. Also never let my dog go out if there’s a bunny feeding on my back porch. I am SUCH a sucker for all animals.

  7. debradixon says:

    Hey, Trish! I have a whole complicated ritual with the new cat/kitten, our other cat and the dog. It’s like a ballet dance in the morning because the Maine Coon, Leo, is still learning he can’t jump in the middle of me making his food. And he can’t eat out of the dog bowl with the dog. So everyone has to get fed in a specific order and they all have a different diet.

    Leo is actually so food motivated that we’ve had to start teaching him tricks so he can work for his treats. So far he plays air hockey in the bath tub (the object being to stop the kibble before it slides into the drain hole). He sits up. And now we’re teaching him to shut an open drawer in the kitchen before he gets his treat. It’s exhausting. But his food rituals are very important to him.

    And he knows when the dog comes in from going out, she gets a treat. So he hauls a** to the treat closet the minute he hears the back door open and shut for the *second* time, because that’s when treats are dispensed.

    • Trish Jensen says:

      Deb:
      Oh, I LOVE Maine Coons! They are so gorgeous. Hilarious about the treats. When my kitty was alive, her bellringer was hearing the can opener, as I make tuna and chicken salad a lot. As soon as she’d hear me opening a can, she came rushing in and just waited for the tuna or chicken juice and bits. If I made the mistake of using the can opener for anything else, like quickie veggies or something, I always had a cat treat ready, because I couldn’t stand to disappoint her. She’d eat the treat, but would still glare at me and turn away with a swish of her tail, because she was disgusted it wasn’t tuna.

  8. Lisa Scott says:

    I don’t have any pre-writing habits! Maybe I should develop a few, and completing them would force me to write!

  9. pearl says:

    Morning routines always follow a certain pattern. When I have the dogs, I let them out. Then I look after myself and my breakfast drink, food and after that get on the computer. Always have and will do this in an order.

  10. Stonehawk says:

    I have a morning ritual depending on how early I wake up in the morning is to watch the local news on TV. Then shower and then go online the internet on the computer. I always do that every morning.

  11. michelehauf says:

    Morning routine is ALWAYS a crumpet with almond butter on it, and reading my emails while eating. The day just doesn’t go right if I haven’t had my crumpet. 😉

    • Trish Jensen says:

      Okay, my idiocy is showing here. What exactly is a crumpet? I’ve heard the phrase “tea and crumpets.” but never really got the crumpets part. Are they like croissants? Muffins? Buns? I have to take about fifteen pills every morning, and it’s tough as some say don’t eat before and some say you have to eat something before. And I can only take them all with room temp water. NIGHTMARE. 🙂 I like my water ice cold and coffee hot. But by the time I’m done pilling, I’m so full of water and granola that I have no desire to actually eat breakfast. But I’ll eat breakfast any time of day later. Even as supper. Where in the world do you get crumpets, Michelle? Do you live in England?

      Trish, who’s about to get knocked by her dog again, as Cassie’s just bowed for a treat…

  12. Love it, Trish! I didn’t realize how “habit-trained” I was until my sweet woofer wasn’t around anymore to get me started. But I do have a routine. Up and into the office. Hit the lights. Wake up the computer. Check the thermometer. If it’s under 65, turn on the gas stove (that’s the heating type, not the ::gasp:: cooking type!) Do my five minute wake-up-the-brain exercise routine. Pour the Diet Coke. (yes, in the morning…I don’t drink coffee, so that’s my caffeine conveyance of choice) and settle in to work. Since it’s spring, (despite a foot of snow at Mt. Rainier last night) I’m distracted by lots of birds visiting and chirping, but make myself stay put. Unless it’s an eagle. Then I get up to look because it makes me smile in awe.

    But I have to say, this sunrise at 4:30AM bit gets old very quickly. And we’re not even to summer yet!

  13. bellwriter says:

    Hey, Trish, adorable post. And whoa what a cover. Nice abs! I had a Boston terrier that ruled my life, told me when to get up, when to go to sleep so I know what an attachment you have to your lab. Hope he keeps loving his puppy food for a long time.

  14. pjbme says:

    I’m ruled by two morning habits: 1) coffee in whatever form I can get while watching the AM news and 2) Squeak, an orange tabby, who now associates the smell of coffee with a mama lap. I’m not ready for the world until I’ve had coffee with a cat going all limp and noodly on my lap.

    • I like to watch the morning news, too. Periodically I wean myself off morning news, but eventually I seem to sneak it back into my morning, and once I start, it’s habit again. I get more writing done in a shorter time if I start with a clean mental slate. I used to be a night writer, but it’s time to get serious about switching it around. Routines aren’t easily revised.

  15. Quilt Lady says:

    I have to have my coffee every morning in front of the TV while I get dress. Yes I dress in the living room every morning while drinking coffee and watching TV.

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