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Building Habits Day by Day


January is winding down already – how are you all? Usually, this month is a slow ramp up to the rest of the year for me, but this January has gone by like a shot. Admittedly, it’s been an eventful month (riots, inauguration, crazy politics, covid and new business), but also, I’m trying really hard to keep up with the (ambitious) new habits that I resolved to start this year, and they take some time. I’m not usually a big resolution girl, but this year I desperately needed a fresh start, and as I get older I’ve really noticed how the small things, good and bad, start to add up over time.

So, what are these new practices that are keeping me on my toes? First, I’ve started a new morning routine. One good way to develop a habit is to tie it into a habit that is already in place, so in addition to my morning coffee (existing habit), we each have a half lemon juiced into water (I like mine cold, Dave takes his hot). While the supposed health benefits of lemon water are varied, ultimately, I think it’s just a good way to get hydrated early, and have the added benefit of a tasty dose of vitimin C. Then I spend 1/2 hour writing in my journal. This is a habit I first started at the age of 8, and I’ve been at it off-and-on ever since. (Now I’m trying to get Anabelle to join me before school, and some days she does, but it’s spotty.) I can absolutely attest to the benefits of this one. From working through problems and freeing up my mental space, to just solidifying memories of the events in my life, I find this to be one of the most helpful practices I’ve developed. I have days where it feels like a waste of time, and I find myself documenting my breakfast foods, but overall it’s a great way to focus the mind and stimulate creative thinking.

I’m also trying to walk, or move my body, for an hour every day. Before the pandemic I would go to my gym, but it’s been 9 months since I’ve been there and I’ve been very inconsistent about exercise. Walking has always been my favorite form of exercise: it’s convenient, enjoyable and you can think while you do it. But lately there have been a flurry of articles about all the other benefits, from being surprisingly affective at warding off chronic illness, to benefits to the brain. I’ve always suspected that there was something about the left-right brain coordination that happens when you walk, because I’m usually able to work through problems and find creative solutions when I go for a walk. Plus, it feels really good to get out in nature, whether its an urban sidewalk lined with a strip of grass, or one of the designated open spaces I’m lucky to live near. Here’s a glimpse of my walk from today, a little rainy, but still beautiful:

Last Wednesday I added one more activity to my daily routine: I committed to a 100-day sketch challenge. I’ve been wanting to make drawing and painting a more regular thing, rather than just breaking out the paints when I’m working on a new collection, but so far I haven’t prioritized it. I needed to find a way to make time for it, and give it the importance that would allow me to do it when I have so many other pressing tasks to take care of. Wednesday, the day of the presidential inauguration, I decided that I would document this important chapter in time: a new administration, and hopefully, the waning days of the pandemic. I’ve stuck with it for 7 days now, and my subject matter has ranged from dramatic – the capitol on inauguration day, and a portrait of the amazing Amanda Gorman – to the mundane: the Japanese soda that my daughter gets as part of our Friday tradition (a blog post for another day), a cookbook, a houseplant. I’ve started out being quite tight and detailed, but that’s going to have to change because it just takes too much time, and I want to find a softer, more personal style. I think it will be a visual diary of sorts, the daily things that have significance, punctuated by the events going on in the country and the world. We’ll see. 7 down, 93 to go… Here are a few of the first drawings:

I know that doing all these things at once is kind of the classic set-up for resolution failure, but it has also felt really good to do a bit of a lifestyle overhaul, and take action on some of the opportunities for healthier habits. Now that life is a little more curtailed thanks to the pandemic, it seems like a good time to put a daily routine into place. From my own experience, it’s much easier to stick with a habit if it feels good, and right now, being healthier and having a bit of structure to my days is feeling great.



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