Tuesday, September 29, 2009


A new word from my Spanish class today, translated as "dailies" or "routine."

I have discovered (and my family may say they always knew this about me) that I am a person of routine. I need to have a plan, to know what comes next. This has been both a blessing and a curse in my life.

While I struggle to beat depression and culture shock, and to find my place in this new land, I made a list of things that I need daily to take care of myself, to feel safe, and to be able to take care of others and do my job(s) well.

They are:
my vitamins
something caffeinated (black tea, chocolate, or coffee)
30 minutes of prayer/meditation
30 minutes of exercise
a sincere conversation or gentle touch from Aaron
some kind of brain input-something to think about
connection with a friend
positive physical contact with the kids
healthy snacks

Of course, I don't get all of these things every day. But what if I did? How might that change my perspective on life?

I also enjoy creating routines for our family during the week.
On Mondays we eat pizza.
On Tuesdays I get a special coffee from downstairs.
On Wednesdays we get ice cream after school.
On Thursdays we eat something spicy.
On Fridays we have movie night with popcorn.
On Saturdays we go to the market.
On Sundays we go to church, Skype, and eat roasted chicken.

This rhythm keeps me going, helps me to look forward to something, and sets boundaries to help us care for ourselves and each another.

And then it starts over again. and again. and again....creating cadence and cotidianas.


  1. The English equivalent is "quotidian," (these could almost be cognates) and it's always been a favorite way for me to describe boring, mundane tasks. I think from here on I'll have a hard time not hearing the comfort and warmth in the word that you've communicated.

    We think of you every day. You are loved and supported.


  2. Coming from my first month of my own study abroad experience, right now I know understand exactly what it is like to seek routine. For the last couple weeks I have often said to my other BCA friends, "I can't wait till we get a good routine going." That is finally starting to take shape and it helps me to appreciate the place I live a little more. I think about you guys often and check your blog every time I get on the internet. It is such a challenge and a privilege to live in a different place and see that place through a new perspective. Best wishes in all you do. I will be shaping my perspective right along with you!

  3. The Light By The Barn
    The light by the barn that shines all night
    pales at dawn when a little breeze comes.

    A little breeze comes breathing the fields
    from their sleep and waking the slow windmill.

    The slow windmill sings the long day
    about anguish and loss to the chickens at work.

    The little breeze follows the slow windmill
    and the chickens at work till the sun goes down—

    Then the light by the barn again.

    —William Stafford

  4. wait, wait, wait.

    you just discovered this?

    i could have warned you.

    this is one of my favorite jaw-dropping things about you.

  5. I am shocked! I wish I would have known this going in to this gig. I am going to have to really make some adjustments to my behavior...Like not participating in a meeting that goes 1.5 hours over time while my wife waits for me for lunch. Um, don't get your hopes up. Con mucho amor, que estes bien, bendiciones, hasta luego, chao.

  6. I like this, Jen. Your list sounds like something we could all use.

  7. I love this about you, Jen. Just like that picture, from one of your earlier blog posts, when you lined up the kids' breakfasts and vitamins. Composing rhythms all around you, to keep the song of the day going.

    Aaron, you were 1.5 hours late for lunch?!? Uh-oh.

  8. Oh my gosh. We are a LOT alike! I feel like Marc and I are trying to find our place here in Madison (yes, 3 yrs of living here) and we were brainstorming of things that could make it feel better. Looking forward to something weekly, biweekly, monthly, whatever, will be our goal. I need that routine of looking forward to something, too.

  9. I have known this about you for as long as I remember paying attention. However, after reading this post, I realize that I have always thought of it as your way of connecting to people. You create rituals for the people around you. I'm glad to discover that this is also a strategy to care for yourself.

    love you.

  10. p.s. i'm going to make a list for myself now.

    or, in our true (disfunctional?) nature of friendship, you could make the list for me.