Like most dogs, Cassie is a creature of great habit. One of my favorites is the nighttime routine just before bed. I’m usually working on the couch in the library and Cassie is passed out in her chair by the fireplace. Hubby has gone off to his office. I shut down my computer and that gets her attention but she doesn’t move from her chair. I go to the kitchen and pop open the box of her pills. I know she hears this but she still doesn’t move. Finally I go to the refrigerator and get out the last of the day’s cheese slice. I call out “cheese” and eventually Cassie wanders into the kitchen, still half asleep, for her snack. Two pills down the hatch and then she proceeds to drain the water bowl.

She pauses and waits for me to say it, even though she knows what’s coming next.

“Time to go outside.” I flip on the light and she meanders out back to take care of business. I always expect her to come rushing back in so she can go back to sleep but she has a routine to follow and that includes walking the fence line, up and down both side yards. She comes back inside and stands in my office while I lock up and shut off the lights. She’s waiting for the next command.

“Go tell daddy good night.” Off she trots to hubby’s office, nuzzling his hand away from the computer so she can get some love pets from him. She waits in the doorway, offering a few groans and mumbles while I tell hubby goodnight myself.

“Upstairs.” Usually she heads right upstairs but sometimes a toy or a bone grab her attention on her way. She’ll pick them up and look at me, waiting to find out if they are okay to take upstairs. Squeaky toys make me say “put it away” which means there’s no way that noisy thing is coming into the bedroom with us, but quiet toys or bones get an “okay, take it with you” and off she’ll race up the stairs. By the time I get upstairs myself, she’s happily ensconced in her bed, waiting for me.

I envy her the ease with which she’s developed these routines. I’m not as good at them as she is. I’d like a daily routine that includes time for writing and art and exercise and friends and gardening and the occasionally burst of cleaning. But what I have is more of a feast or famine sort of thing…one area will get most of my attention and everything else is ignored until the squeaky wheel squeaks a little louder and I switch gears. I know they say it takes 21 days to create a new habit but even that feels overwhelming when there are so many new ones to be created.

I also envy that Cassie has someone like me, guiding her with commands, urging her through her paces, encouraging her with words and rewarding her with cookies for jobs well done. It’s tough to be my own coach, my own guiding light.

I’m not sure what the answer is, for me. Oh, I can hear some of my friends saying to just pick one and start there and that’s all well and good with the logical side of one’s mind but for someone like me who tends to live on the emotional side of things, well it’s a bit tougher. But I’m going to try. Again and still. Because that’s what I do. I try. I fail. I try harder.

Or in the words of Samuel Beckett, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”