New Habits

They met me, one after the other, all dressed in black.

“What’s going on? Did I miss a memo?”

My women friends from the university were meeting me at an Irish restaurant and had, apparently without prearrangement, all decided to wear black and white. I was dressed in orange from head to toe.

I don’t wear black anymore. I used to wear a lot of black. Black is very practical. I wore it to business meetings when I was in business. I traveled in it when I traveled. I had black suits and black slacks and black shoes and a black briefcase. I don’t have any of the above anymore. Now I am a graduate student and wear bright orange clothing that I buy at the used clothing store and zip around town on a moped. Habits change.

Since the start of this month, I have been diligently working to establish a new habit. I have never run in the morning. I have been an on-again, off-again runner for years, mostly off-again since moving to the Southwest because it is hot for much of the year. (That is the excuse I have been using.) The time to run here is in the morning. There is a wonderful window of opportunity just as the sun is rising. The cool air settles in the desert at night and is still hugging the ground in the morning until the sun rises over the mountains. The summer flowers are fragrant and the air is refreshing.

This is when I like to sleep.

But, back in the Midwest and chatting with my friend Andy, we formed a pact and I said I would run every morning for thirty days while he walked every day. He also planned to give up a variety of high-calorie foods and, in solidarity, I said I would give up fried foods and alcohol. I have no idea what I was thinking.

Running in the morning is terrible. The very idea of putting on running shoes when I am still in bed seems almost obscene. Milo was very excited by this new routine for the first three days, then even he stayed in his bed until I stood, leash in hand, and said, “it’s time.”

So we ran.

(Day one: terrible. Day two: worse. Day three: seriously, what was I thinking?)

After a week I checked in with Andy. He said he was walking every day it didn’t rain. He mentioned that it had been raining a lot.

I met my women friends dressed in black and told them that I would not be joining them for an Irish cider. I explained my pact with Andy and about all the rain in the Midwest. They suggested that I abstain from drinking every day it rained here in the desert. I liked that idea; but I had an iced tea and got up again the next morning.

(Day fourteen: has it been two weeks already?)

I realized that it had happened: something that seemed impossible and utterly not who I was had become something that I now did— if not with pleasure— without complaint and without a great deal of thought. I had formed a new habit. This morning I got up before my alarm. Shoes on, out the door, Milo jogged happily at my side. I realized that I liked this new habit and would likely continue for the foreseeable future. I liked this new Carrie, running with the rising sun.

But on July 1st, I plan to have a big glass of wine.

Till next time,

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