Get What You Need (or Learning Something from the Stones)


I love the Rolling Stones. They have wonderfully quotable music. One of my favorite quotes is “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”

It’s one of those quotes that I push on friends and family when they are going through some type of undesirable situation. The only time I do not prefer this outlook is when I am the one in the undesirable situation. Go figure.

Ever since I got Nala I have been slightly unable to settle into my usual slightly-anal-retentive-over-productive-over-organized self. I often work from home and, therefore, have fallen into a very specific routine.

  1. Wake around 7
  2. Make coffee
  3. Check Facebook to ease into the whole work with computer thingy
  4. Drink coffee while checking all e-mail boxes (there are four)
  5. Start logging on to the school sites, opening papers and grading
  6. Grade until noon (two if there is a lot to do) / eat lunch while grading
  7. Go for a jog or to the gym
  8. Clean (laundry etc.)
  9. Shower
  10. Watch some TV or read
  11. Dinner often involves friends, boyfriend, or family
  12. Read
  13. Bed
  14. Repeat

Pretty simple. To those who have families and 9-5 jobs it probably seems a little ridiculous, but this kind of routine made me comfortable. And with Miko, my dog for 12 years, this was possible because by the time this became my routine she was old-ish and relaxed.

However, even those who have lives full of appointments and little league games, still have a route, they are just most likely more demanding. Routines are important. They make us feel comfortable. It’s why we get angry when our car breaks down (besides the fact that it costs money), it puts a kink on our routine, interferes with plans. Even the Chili minors trapped underground for two months carried on a routine to maintain their sanity. Leaders of the group assigned jobs, eating and drinking times, and even a place and time for chapel.

My routine has changed, and I have been uncomfortable for months.

I would give you an example of what my life is like now that I have Nala, but that is impossible because it changes pretty much every day. Is part of that my fault? Yes.  In the fall and spring semesters I took on some extra classes in my constant feeble attempt to make more money, be more professional, and seem like a hero enough to get good letters of recommendation when I finally get to move (one of these days….). And I haven’t really been able to hit the sweet spot of routine with these classes, my need for work time / reading time / writing time, and Nala’s needs.

There are times when this causes me serious stress and even despair.  I think about how much money I spend on this dog, how much time, and how much time I am NOT spending on my writing or at the gym or with my boyfriend. Then I feel guilty for getting her in the first place.

Then, last weekend, my boyfriend and I went camping with our dogs. (He has a Swiss Mountain Dog named Ozzie who is a big teddy bear.) When I got home I was showing my mother a video of Nala swimming in the lake and fetching a stick, over and over (she’s a great swimmer) and my mother’s response was, “Aw. She got such a good home.” And I thought, yes, she did. How dare I regret giving a dog a good home? So what if my routine has been off? Truth be told, I’m probably getting what I need. Who knows? Without Nala I may have become some kind of hermit and eventually developed a phobia and never left my apartment again.

So, with this in mind. I’ve come up with a new, very flexible, routine for the both of us.

  1. Wake at 7
  2. Walk one mile
  3. Run two miles
  4. Walk one mile
  5. Shower (For Nala this means nap)
  6. Write (For Nala this means nap)
  7. Work on on-line classes until no later than 2 (For Nala this means one of three things, nap, chew bone, or stare outside at birds)
  8. Do whatever we want until we both get tired.

This is Nala after the first run / walk on the first day of our anti-routine routine.

I started this just last week and so far the results are thus:

  1. Nala is super relaxed all day
  2. I am super relaxed all day
  3. I get a lot more done because Nala naps more
  4. I have lost one pound.
  5. We are both happier.

If I keep this up I won’t even need my gym membership.

Maybe this is what I needed all along.


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