Routine and Freedom [en]

[fr] La liberté, et la routine. Trop de liberté ne rend pas forcément plus heureux. Et si la liberté c'était de pouvoir choisir ses contraintes? Retour sur mon histoire avec la liberté et les habitudes.

Kites @ KepongPhoto credit: Phalinn Ooi

I think about routine a lot. I spent a lot of time when I was at university trying to be free. I was quite free, actually. Habits and routine are something we can get stuck in and that might shield us from seeing things we need to see — but I naturally gravitate to the other end of the spectrum, the introspective one, the one who thinks too much, wonders too much, asks herself too many questions. It was clear to me, already back then, that routine/habits had their use: they allowed us to lighten the load of thinking and deciding when it comes to our lives.

I spent ten years at university. Ten. Being a student. Three years studying chemistry (and finally failing), and seven years in what we call “Lettres”, studying History of Religions, Philosophy, and French. One of those years was spent in India. I then spent a lot of time not writing my dissertation. All in all, I spent many years with very long holidays and a very do-it-yourself schedule. It was a good time of my life. It was difficult to see it end.

Is freedom so important to me because of this slice of life, or did I hang out in that context so long because of how important it is to me?

Over the years, I’ve realised that “too much freedom” in the way I live my days does not make me happy. By that I mean complete lack of routine. Was it the first or second summer I was living alone in my first flat? A friend had used the kite metaphor: when you’re free, you let the string out and the kite can fly far, far up high. And I had let my kites go out a bit too far. University resumed, I drew my kites in.

In 2009, it felt like I had got my shit together. My life felt “under control”, in a good way. I wasn’t scrambling after things. If I remember correctly I was even doing my accounting regularly (that’s saying something). And I remember that during that year, I had a pretty solid morning routine. I actually would set my alarm clock. I would wake up at 7:30, and at 9:00 I would be at eclau to work, having pedalled on my stationary bicycle for a good half-hour.

Then 2010 happened. During my catless year, in 2011, I travelled way too much. I made up for all the previous years of no holidays. 2012 was chaotic. All that to say I never got back to where I was in 2009. Briefly, yes. But not consistently. And I know very well how important it is for me to have routines and good habits, so it’s something that’s often top of my mind. But I find myself coming short.

Things might be changing right now. This morning I wrote my first Morning Pages. (Loïc’s fault for mentioning them.) Last week, I got confirmation that Quintus is pretty much completely blind, and so I’ve been actively thinking about how to stabilise his environment — space and time. Quintus is a very routine-oriented cat. All cats are, to some degree, of course.

Blind Quintus Taking a Stroll

So between Morning Pages, cat-related routine, no money to travel (keeps me at home!) and wanting to get back on track when it comes to physical exercise (judo injury in March and slightly expanding waistline that doesn’t fit into favorite winter trousers anymore), the time seems ripe.

I’ve also been wondering recently if I’m not sleeping too much. One of my precious freedoms is not setting an alarm clock in the morning: I sleep as much as I want/need. But I still feel tired. So I think I’ll go with the 7:30 alarm for a bit and see if it changes anything. I’ll report back.

On another note, I sometimes feel like I spent a huge amount of my time in the kitchen dealing with food. I like cooking, and I like eating. But maybe I should limit the number of times I actually cook during the day. I eat a “normal meal” at breakfast, so I sometimes end up cooking three proper meals a day. I should probably reheat or throw something quickly together for morning and lunch, and just cook in the evening.

The biggest freedom might be the freedom to determine your own constraints.

The Price of Freedom [en]

[fr] J'ai une voiture. Le prix de la voiture c'est pas juste le prix de la voiture, c'est aussi le prix de la liberté de monter au chalet quand je veux avec mes chats sans avoir besoin d'organiser tout ça à l'avance. Mon monde vient de s'agrandir d'un coup.

Last week, I bought a car.


I’ve been car-less since spring 2007. Freelance, I didn’t need it anymore to go to work each day, and 500CHF a month that I wasn’t spending on a car I didn’t use was 500CHF I didn’t need to earn.

My life has changed quite a bit now. My family seem to have all chosen to live in places that are hard to get to with public transport. My brother has children. I have two cats that I want to drag to the chalet more often.

But I was reluctant. My life is simpler without a car. I just take public transport. I don’t wonder whether it makes sense to take the car or not. That’s a decision I’m spared. When I had a car previously, I used it all the time, even to go to the shop 2 minutes away. I don’t want to start doing that again.

I also wondered if it was worth the expense. Would I really use it that much?

But by having a car, I’m not just paying to have a car. I’m paying to have the freedom to go to the chalet with my cats without having to organize transport beforehand. I’m paying to have the freedom to go and see my nephew and niece without having to ask my brother to pick me up and bring me back to the train. Same for eating at my Dad’s. I don’t have to worry about when the last train runs.

It’s like people who buy the “abonnement général” — a yearly pass for public transport. They might not actually travel that much, but it gives them the freedom to hop on the train whenever they feel like it. Like I do with my bus pass, actually. I’m sure there are months where I don’t do 70CHF worth of bus travel. But I like not wondering if it’s worth buying a bus ticket.

The Bittersweet Freedom of Catlessness [en]

[fr] Visite féline durant le mois à venir. Je garde Kitty, le chat d'une de mes anciennes cat-sitteuses. Juste retour des choses, et occasion d'une réflexion sur ma vie sans chat/avec chat.

Bagha's spot on my desk

I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite a few months. What prompts me to write it now is that there is a cat in my flat, and will be for the next month. Kitty belongs to a friend of mine, who is going abroad for a month. She used to cat-sit Bagha back in the day. So, I’m taking care of Kitty for her while she’s away.

Kitty is a shy character, maybe a leftover of her past life as a stray. I have been trying to coax her out from under a piece of furniture with little bits of ham — and my plan for making friends over the next weeks involves clicker-training. You’ll get photographs once she comes out of hiding.

Over the last months, saddened though I was by Bagha’s death, I have been enjoying the freedom of catlessness. I have travelled a lot (maybe too much), and appreciated being able to stay elsewhere overnight on a whim without feeling bad about leaving my cat alone. (One could discuss how justified feeling bad about leaving Bagha alone for a night was, but that’s another topic.)

Now that I’m clearly out of the acute stage of grief, and that my catless life seems very normal, I wonder how I’ll feel about giving up some of that freedom again for furry companions. Of course, the freedom you give up for an animal when its young and healthy is not the same as when it is old and declining. (Kittens, though, are another story. I’m not sure I want kittens. Kittens are cute. Of course I’d love kittens. But I’m not sure I want to go through a year of having baby cats in the house.)

I’m not finding it too difficult to enjoy my freedom. I thought I would be more conflicted about it. Feeling bad about being happy to be free [because I don’t have a cat anymore]. I was a bit, intially. Now… sometimes I even forget to be sad. I think that’s a good sign.

This month with Kitty, in addition to helping out a friend, is also an opportunity for me to be “with cat” again. Another cat than Bagha. I mentioned that one of the things I needed to do to sort through my grieving emotions was separate my sadness of losing Bagha from my sadness of being catless. Maybe the coming month will be a chance to tie up a few loose ends around that theme.

Liberté d'écrire [fr]

[en] I've been feeling increasingly less free to write here (that's not new, can't remember when I first said it). Maybe the huge category list is guilty.

Je crois que ça m’est déjà arrivé de dire ça ici, mais j’ai la flemme de rechercher le billet. Je me suis rendue compte (e ou pas de e à rendue? j’oublie toujours) en écrivant des “bêtises” dans mon BleuBlog que je limite mon expression sur CTTS. Trop peur d’écrire des banalités. Pression que je me mets d’être à la hauteur. Je suis en train de devenir une de ces horribles personnes dont je me suis parfois moquée qui “écrivent pour leurs lecteurs” avant tout.

Eh bien mince. Je veux récupérer le droit d’écrire des articles moins longs (car je tartine, n’est-ce pas) et des critiques pas forcément fouillées jusqu’à la dernière virgule.

Je sais, j’ai “tous les droits” ici — ce n’est que de moi-même à moi-même que ça coince un peu.

Je crois que la monstrueuse liste de catégories dans ce blog n’aide pas. Allez savoir pourquoi, mais ça me bloque. Il faut vraiment que je fasse du triage. Mettre à jour Batch Categories par exemple.