It is now mid-way through February. Biscuit's relationship to this bed has been the same for almost two months now. Recently, my husband and I made a short catalog of all the other things in the house that signify "bed" to Biscuit: the couch, our bed, the living room rug, the bath mat, my yoga mats, her old bed, a hardwood floor, piles of shoes. In other words, everything but the cute, clean, new bed.
The problem with the new bed is that when Biscuit gets into it, the squishy plushness of the bed, which we humans thought would be nice, causes the walls of the bed to squeeze in toward her. Apparently, in Biscuit's mind, this is f*ing terrifying--some kind of doggy death trap.
In other words, it's just not working. We can put treats in the bed, coax her, place her "babies" in the bed. But nope. She is just not that kind of dog. It's never going to work.
The same kind of thing can hold true for the humans among us, and February can be a nice time of year to get in touch with what's real for us, and what's fantasy.
For example, I have an extremely productive, smart, and all around fabulous colleague who is a total night owl. We've been on the same search committee this semester, which has meant that we've seen each other early(ish) in the morning several days over the past week. For this colleague, her writing happens at night, after everything else is done for the day, and sometimes her writing takes her until the early hours of the morning. Just a couple hours, as it turns out, before I wake up and do my writing. We could easily call each other for her to wish me good morning and for me to tell her goodnight.
The point is, if this colleague were to set a goal of writing every morning, or if I were to set a goal to have more productive evenings, that just wouldn't happen.
Less obviously, many of us have routines that don't serve us. And this can be a good time to check in with those ambitious New Year's goals and ask, "have I in some way tied these goals to things that aren't working for me"?
When I worked in a writing center, I was frequently amazed by people's self-sabotaging writing habits. They would have a sense that they "should" write their dissertations in the grad student offices, and despite the fact that they seldom wrote a word in that space, they returned day after day and remained confused when nothing changed. Similarly, one might consider when it makes sense to go to yoga. For me, once i am home from work, it takes an army to drag me out of the house again. For this reason, however much I might like the idea of an evening yoga class or wish I was the kind of person who took restorative yoga before bed, it's just not going to be an easy habit for me to create.
So, a month and a half out from New Year's resolutions, this can be a time to take stock. What's working? What's real about our habits and preferences? How can knowing ourselves--whether that means knowing we're night owls, or, in Biscuit's case, that we hate squishy walls around us--help us to do the work that's most meaningful?