Making the Bed and Other Daily Habits That Matter

I’m a Gemini, for better or for worse. I don’t religiously believe in astrology, but there are some irrefutable traits that I have that are totally and completely “Gemini:” I’m fun, out going, happy, creative. But I’m also fickle and I don’t always finish things—I can’t begin to tell you how many projects I have laying around waiting to be finished.

It is really frustrating to me that I don’t finish things. It’s even more frustrating that I seem to not be able to keep healthy habits going. I regularly berate myself for not doing some sort of physical fitness. However, I do have two daily habits: coffee every morning—and an hour of quiet time to myself, when possible; making my bed—every day, without fail. This sounds like something that is just a daily task, without a moral. But its not. I didn’t start making my bed daily until about 8 years ago when I was in my late 20s. I’d love to tell you that there was some lovely dramatic story to this, but there really isn’t. As a kid, my parents encouraged a clean room, but it didn’t always happen, and wasn’t enforced. As a teenager, I just didn’t care if my bed was made or not. In college, I was convinced I could only sleep well if I configured my blankets and pillows in a certain way. This configuration was not to be disturbed, so I NEVER made my bed. After college, I moved into an apartment, got a grown up job while still pursuing my dream on the side. I dated, and had men over. I still didn’t make my bed. It just didn’t matter.

Then one day, it just did. I read something that said if you’re stressed out in your life, you need to organize your living space. To try to channel this, I think I did everything BUT make my bed. I cleaned out my closet, organizing my shoes and putting all items by type, season, and color. I went through my drawers, and organized and refolded everything. I cleaned and organized all surfaces, my desk, my nightstand, the top of my dresser. This overhaul took a few days, and I still didn’t think about making my bed—I think I pulled up the sheets to make a flat surface for organizing, but I didn’t actually make it. Now, in my terms, “making the bed” is straightening sheets and blankets and any flat to be straight and pulled to the edges, sometimes tucked. Pillows are fluffed a bit and sat straightened. Any extraneous blankets are folded neatly at the end of the bed. I have a queen bed. This activity generally takes me no more than five minutes. I rarely do it right when waking up, its usually after I’ve been awake for a bit.

The first week I started to make my bed daily, something interesting started to happen: I was happier. Not from making the bed, but instead from randomly entering my room and seeing that my sleeping space was just waiting for me. And the opposite is very true as well: if I don’t make my bed and I walk back into my room, I’m grumpy and frustrated until I make my bed. Its so bizarre. I’ve also figured out that if I leave things on my bed, taking up its space, I am frustrated when I come back and see the mess on it. I’ve also learned that if I need to remember things, I write myself a note and leave it on my pillow—those things ALWAYS get done. And, if I need to take anything with me for the day, I put it on my bed, I never fail to remember those things.

I wish I had better daily habits. I wish I got up and did yoga, Pilates, stretching, meditation, vocal warm-ups, eating healthily, writing, even brushing my hair, regularly without fail (yeah, sometimes I walk out of the house and haven’t brushed my hair… I’ll confess that. It happens. After having super short hair for over 10 years, I forget to deal with long hair some days. But I digress…) Instead, I have my coffee and bed making. Both make me happy. Both make my day go more smoothly, and thereby make me a better person.

The point I’m trying to make here is that daily habits you have should make you healthier in some way. The gym isn’t a healthy habit, if you find you can’t live without being there for at least three hours daily and aren’t getting paid for it. The coffee intake isn’t the healthiest choice, but the time I spend with those cups (and ultimately myself) is. Taking five minutes to make my bed isn’t a lot of time, but ensures happiness. Yes, I do other things for health and wellness, but nothing else is a daily priority. Truly, I’m ok with it. So, yes, I’m a Gemini. Yes, I’m a creative. Yes, I’m a coffee drinker. Yes, I’m a bed maker. I often bemuse that I don’t have better consistency, but I’m consistent for the things that matter to me; when I need to be consistent with something, I am. What makes you happy, and how can you make it into a habit? Do you have good daily habits? Are they as good for you as you think they are?

-Clare

Patterns Versus Change

Life is full of patterns. Your daily routine is just that: a routine. A pattern. You wake up, make breakfast, get dressed, go to work, eat lunch, go to the gym, go home, make dinner, go to bed. Rinse, repeat. There are things you add in from time to time. You go to the theater or the symphony, you go out for lunch, you have friends over for dinner. Aside from these variations, we live patterns and routine.

It’s the moment we glimpse ourselves outside of that, when we see that these patterns no longer serve us that we crave change. Most of the time without realizing it. We complain about patterns. However, we bitch about change.

I was in a job that I knew wasn’t right for me. It started out as a temp job, and turned into a permanent position. For the longest time I told myself that it was a dreamy job because there were so many things that a person should want in a job. I won’t go into them here. I also was in a relationship that I thought was good for me. And in my down time, I was performing in local theaters—not getting cast a lot, but I was performing some. However, I was unhappy.

Life decided it was time for change. I lost my job, my relationship ended, and I got incredibly sick during a show and almost had to quit because of stress. It took me at least eight months to recover, and I still find myself, years later, talking about the situation with disdain.  I am not a failure, but I failed at a moment in my life facilitating all kinds of change. Even though that moment of my life brings me painful and frustrating memories, it was the best thing to ever have happened to me. The man in my life was creating a lot of tension and was no longer good for me. The same with the job. Although it took me a little while to recover and regain my footing, I found myself on unemployment, going back to school to get a Masters Degree in Psychology, and making plans to move to New York City to pursue my dream to be an actress on Broadway.


I am not a failure, but I failed at a moment in my life facilitating all kinds of change.


Looking back at all the things that happened between then and now, reevaluating the change that occurred, I can see that it was many little differences, alterations, and thoughts that formed plans and feelings that made the change come about. I knew change was in the works, but didn’t want to admit it. I started making choices in my daily work that ended up effecting me in the long run. The same thing was probably happening in my relationship. I was living in a pattern that I thought was good for me, however I found a few things that made me take a deeper look at that job and myself. My opinions changed, or refocused, and every day, a little change was happening. My pattern was no longer an exact replica. It changed a tiny bit each day. Was this change inevitable, was it already in the works? Or did I finally open up my eyes and see what I really wanted, and once comparing it to what I had, I realized they weren’t the same thing? No matter what, no matter how I analyze it, I know it was a bit of both.

When I was a kid, I had one of those flip books. (This goes together, trust me. I didn’t just flip to another topic.) You know the kind. The ones that have a similar picture on each page, but if you held the spine in one hand and let your opposite hand’s thumb control the speed of page release—the quicker the better—it would look like it does in the movies. The characters on the pages come to live. Mine was a Cinderella book. She dances with the prince. Now, being an analytical child—for better or for worse—I would look at each and every picture after flipping through a few times to see if I could spot the differences. Upon close inspection they could be seen, but they were minimal. They had to be, otherwise when flipping through, fanning the pages to see them animated and “moving” you would notice a huge jump or a jerk. This being the change, the shift. Life is like that too. It’s not a picture. It doesn’t stand still. Every day there is a miniscule change. This change creates movement through your life.

Life changes a little bit every day. It moves toward something different. It must. You learn something every day, or if not you experience things that change you. You grow older, wiser. Unless you live in a vacuum or a cave, which neither is possible if you’re reading this blog, you are going to change. We often don’t notice change until a lot of it has taken place. Often as soon as we notice it, we notice how we don’t like what is going on around us and we see our patterns and we get frustrated. The frustration comes from both realizing we are stuck in a pattern, and that we no longer want to be stuck. Often times the patterns we have help us keep in our daily routine because it felt safe or easy. When the moment comes and change is happening, we cling to the pattern with such tenacity because we are afraid we are making the wrong choice, the scary choice, the painful choice even if the change is needed and/or inevitable. All change is good. It might not feel the best as you’re going through it, and its terrifying because you don’t know where you’ll end up on the other side, or if it will be as comfortable. But the point of change is to get you out of the comfortable. To make you better. To make you stronger. To make you live a greater life.


Life changes a little bit every day.


 

I needed my job and lifestyle change to happen. I couldn’t make the choice for myself, so I willed it to someone else. Even though I was hurt badly, probably because I didn’t and couldn’t make the choice myself, I rebounded. And you know what? I’m incredibly happy. Change needs to happen. Not all of it is drastic. Sometimes little change is good. It keeps you on your toes.

Change will happen. There is no stopping it. Well, ok, you could go move into that cave, or live in a remote location, but that is really not a likely option. Just let change happen. Take deep breaths. Think of change as a new roller coaster that you’ve never ridden before: it might be scary at first, but just put on your seat belt and enjoy the ride (this advice coming from a girl who used to hate roller coasters). At the end, you’ll be done with it and come out a different person for it. Just keep your eyes open, breathe, and know that there is some good in every outcome. You will be a different person, a better person, for having gone through the experience.

–Clare

 

What is “Live ClareLesley”?

First of all, how do you say it?

“ClareLesley” is intended to sound like “carelessly” (Get it?) It IS a clever conglomeration of our names, however it’s also the way that we think life should be lived.

 

You mean I should live carelessly?

In a way. Both Clare and Lesley are equal parts smart and fun, and both continually strive to find a balance between working hard and living well. Both have made many life choices that created strain and stress, and have not only lived through those undesirable days, months, years; but have learned how to live better, because of those moments. “Living ClareLesley” is meant to remind you to live each day with equal parts enlightenment and entertainment and to deal with the difficult times with grace and laughter.

 

How do I “Live ClareLesley?”

Such a great question—one that we’re continuing to explore and answer. And revisit. And revise. Breathing is the start; when you come up against any problem always breathe deeply. Understand that although there are bigger things happening in the world, the magnitude of life changing events in your world are important, but everything can be handled. Finding balance between the serious and the laughing moments of life are vital. To Live ClareLesley you need to jump in to the situations that are the hard ones, breathe through them, and come out on the other end. Life is for the living, so go out there and thrive, do, be. Don’t wallow in your mistakes, learn from them and move on. Most importantly: love and forgive. Both of these actions should be as much for and toward yourself it directed to others. In this fast paced, social media driven, smart phone connected, selfie world, take a moment to look around and live and laugh and treat yourself well; that is how to Live ClareLesley.