Cassie is better than any alarm clock I’ve ever had. At 6:30 she stands up, gets out of bed and then plops down on the floor next to me with a groan that sounds like she is 100 people years old. I think it is a warning to me that it is about time to get up. At 7am she sits up and watches me. I peer at her from between mostly closed eyes. She comes over and nuzzles my hand then moves back a few steps to her sitting position. There’s no way I’m getting up at 7am so that’s my cue to roll over and tap my husband on his shoulder so he can get up with Cassie and get ready for work. As soon as I poke him awake she runs to his side of the bed and lets loose a flurry of moans and quiet yips and such a variety of noises I’ve never heard from a dog before. She only makes them in the morning. For him.

I have no idea why she doesn’t wake him up first but this is our routine. During the week I get to sleep and on the weekends my husband (yes, one of the good guys) gets up, takes her out and then brings her back to bed again. She likes having breakfast about the same time ever day, after her morning walk and before her morning nap.

Every day, At 9:15 and 3:15, the dripper turns on to feed the birdbath. She can’t hear it but still, at 9:16 and 3:16 every day she rings the bells to go outside and watch the water flow from the top bird bath to the lower one. She needs to work on her suntan twice a day, once in the backyard and once in the front courtyard. Before bed, every night, there is the nightly inspection of the yard. She walks the fence line, sniffing in a purposeful fashion as though to make sure everything is as it should be before bed.

With Cassie there is a time to eat, a time to exercise, a time to work, a time to play and a time to nap. She staggers her events throughout the day with a regularity that amazes me. Cassie’s been with us almost a year now and I’ve watched her go from a nervous, sad dog to a mostly calm and always happy dog. Stress for her is mostly a thing of the past. She follows her routine, filling her day with the things she loves, and crawls into her fluffy dog bed at night, making another, different, assortment of sounds that say to me, she’s a happy dog.

I’ve been laid off from my old day job for eight months now. The only routine I have is that I have no routine. I’ve never been especially good at setting them in place but now that I am writing full time I can see the need for one. I need time to read, time to write, time to exercise, time to garden and time to sit still with Cassie and just be. My ability to focus on any one thing has been hard of late for a variety of reasons that don’t really matter here. Some of it is, I think, about getting older. I used to be able to jump from diapering a baby to making dinner and talking on the phone (back when they had cords) and not skip a beat. Heck, some days I did that all at the same time.

I think I’m going to take another lesson from Cassie. No more Superwoman trying to do it all or do it all day all the time. I’m going to chop my day up into bite-sized pieces that work for me and see if I can plug them into a routine that works for me.

Any routine that includes nap time has to be worth checking out, right?