I used to work in a bookstore, and one of the women I worked with described her life in this way: “Get up, swim around the bowl, go to bed.”

She meant that she got up, had the same breakfast, went to work at the same time, did the same things at work, went home after work and did the same things… She yearned for adventure.

People talk about routine as though it’s a bad thing. I think part of this is that we see it as the opposite of  adventure.

Routine is getting up at the same time each day, going through the same process of getting ready, going to work, going home… Adventure is getting up whenever we wake up, doing just what we feel like doing, and being surprised by opportunities to fly off to Sri Lanka or jam with rock stars.

Get real. Routine is what leads to good health, a clean and pleasant home, a successful career, and happy relationships. The opposite of routine is not adventure, it’s mess.

Here’s why: unless you have a butler with a good routine, doing just what you feel like doing will inevitably mean that you have no clean underwear to pack for that sudden chance to fly to Sri Lanka and your instrument will not be in tune when it’s time for the jam session.

Classes start up again a week from tomorrow and the HGP begins two weeks from today. Between now and then I’ll fine tune my routines so that I’ll be ready for adventures. I need to get up in the morning after having slept enough, to exercise and eat a proper breakfast, to dress like a grown up and tidy up enough that I don’t have to be stressed by mess all day — not to start working in my nightgown because I woke up with an idea.

I need to get up and move around enough during the day that I don’t damage my health, and I need to stop for lunch.

I need to stop working at a reasonable time in the evening and walk the dogs, cook a proper dinner, spend time with my husband, have the house in order so I don’t wake up to chaos, take care of myself, spend some time reading, and go to sleep early enough to wake up refreshed at the right time the next day.

That’s unnatural for me. So I have to work at it, and I also have to give myself a day during the week when I don’t have to follow that routine. I have to build an unstructured day into my routine. I can be amused by the irony of that, but I think it’s key to my being able to have clean underwear for the trip to Sri Lanka, not to mention being healthy enough to enjoy it.

For some people, routine is necessary so they’ll get enough work done to be able to afford a trip to Sri Lanka or so they’ll practice enough to have the skills required for the jam session. Some people’s routines are essential to keep them from spending every evening in front of the TV or starting each day with a Pop Tart and yelling. A good routine can help you break out of a bad routine.

Along with the beginning of classes I’ll also have the beginning of choir practice, paying the boys’ tuition, and whatever community stuff I decide to do this semester. I haven’t yet decided on anything. I typically take a class, participate in a study, or sing in a community chorale. Some years I’m out four night a week in the fall. At the moment, I have nothing planned except for church choir on Wednesday nights. I might need to work a couple of evenings, or I might choose to continue with my summer projects at home in the evenings (it’s pretty clear that I won’t be getting them done this summer). I may participate in some of the work-related/networking things I haven’t been doing.

These decisions are part of the fine-tuning of the routines. Today I actually have to do some work that didn’t get done during the week, as well as errands and housework that didn’t get done yesterday, and I plan to finish up the headband I’m making for #1 son to give to a friend. These headbands are very easy to make, a really excellent first knitting project. Cast on 10 or 12 stitches and work them in k1p1 ribbing till it’s long enough. Graft the stitches to the cast on and you’re through. The Kindle has done away with the problem of how to keep your book open for knitting while reading, so I will enjoy a novel while I knit. #1 son came over last night for dinner and half a movie, and may come back tonight to see the rest of the movie and get some more dinner, so I plan to complete the headband early so I can give it to him. I am of course speculating about the friends he’s giving it to, but he probably won’t tell me. He likes to be a man of mystery.