Rhythm and Routines: An Interview
As I was planning content for this month, I knew I wanted the voice of another to be heard and experienced in this space. I wrestled with having someone write a guest post, but nixed the idea when it hit me--I should do an interview. Of course, that led to the "who?" question. It didn't take long for my sweet friend Andrea Wolfe to come to mind. Hailing originally from West Virginia, Andrea Wolfe carries a bold, adventurous spirit. After three years on the west coast, she has returned to the DC area and I couldn't shake hearing her process of rhythm and routines and returning to familiar places. So here, in a more or less simple and concise way is our interview.
It was a cold afternoon when we met. The sky was gray. Not a dark gray---like the kind we'd associated with a storm brewing, but a light gray---an almost white-gray. The sun was hidden behind the clouds but the light of rays illuminated the sky. I made the trek from Union Station to Wydown Coffee.
The normal sound of stop and go traffic and sirens were not present. It was quiet---an unusual quiet for DC pre-rush hour. You could smell the cold in the air, feel it underneath your clothes. I made it into Wydown just a few minutes before we were scheduled to me. Instantly I was enamored with the subtle tones of the cafe, the conversations of nearby patrons. I ordered a vanilla latte and waited. I saw her walking up her hair an accidental (in the best way) gray ombre, her lips painted a bright red. Embraces were had and drinks were ordered. We maneuvered our way to a more seclude spot and dived right in:
We kicked off the interview venturing back in time to her season in Redding, California. A small, northern California town.
What kind of routine did you develop while living in California?
It was shaped around the season I was in; I was in a season of learning to love myself and so I would be intentional and spend a lot of time doing things that I liked. It was a lot about me because I knew that’s why I went out there---I went out there to find myself. I would say my routine was pretty flowy---I wouldn’t say I always had a routine at times, because I was learning to grow. I was learning to uncap my feelings and emotions in a way I hadn’t before, so with that, each day was a little bit different. But, here in DC, I actually need to have a routine; I need it to thrive in order to stay on top of my game. So, like getting up early---not always early, but having time before I live the house to myself, eating healthy and working out---those are really important; also giving myself time to process everyday whether 15 minutes or 3 hours, and giving myself grace.
Piggybacking on how you mentioned while in Redding it often felt like you had too much time, when did you finally learn how to navigate "too much" time; how long did it take you to settle into a rhythm?
I can form a good routine in about 4-6 months, so I would even say now being in DC, it's been four months since I've been here and I think I'm finally getting into the swing of things. It does take some time. I mean new environment, culture, people, job---oh my gosh everything!
So, you moved back to DC after three years, how has moving back to a familiar space impacted your rhythm/routine?
Coming back to a familiar place, I had to let go of a lot of the ways that I used to do things and that came with just trial and error. [Just] trying it and I think you need to not be afraid to try something, because I feel like whenever I try something, and it fails, I actually learn and grow and I get guided the right way that I should to go.
For example, in Redding, everything was really slow, and peaceful and calm. So, I come back here and I’m like ‘Oh I’m just gonna hang out and take my time’. The first 3 months back in DC, I remember being like ‘Oh man I’m doing so well. I’m living counterculture’, because I still had that vibe of like Redding. I was like ‘no one can rush me, I’m just gonna walk down the street and take my time and enjoy it even at the grocery store’. I would I say to be the most effective where you live I do think you have to change into what the environment kind of has but not change too much that it changes you. And that’s something that I’ve been kind of processing lately; like how do I stay the same, yet be relevant to where I’m at and not be totally in the clouds. How do I stay me?
Would you say that it was kind of just living out that tension of a) how do I stay true to the core of who I am and how I want to walk through life, but also b) being senstive to the sapce I'm in and aware of what's around me?
Andrea echoed her agreement.
So, I think being aware is really important to create a routine. You need to be aware of what season [stage] you're in. How much energy do you have? I think that's a big thing in [finding a] routine. It's knowing what's your capacity? It's not gonna look like everybody else's. I think that's really important and so that awareness comes into play.
Now, being back in DC, what has helped you find your routine?
I’m a very simple person. Like the way that I do things; I like to keep things like 1.2.3” this is what I’m gonna do because I tend to get overwhelmed with too many things or I just don’t follow through so like my routines are pretty simple and I feel like to start a new one I always start with a tiny little change, because if I start with a big change, I’m gonna get disappointed that I didn’t follow through or do it all. just change a tiny little thing. If you start with a little change every day and see it everyday then you can build your confident and keep going and growing.
As we close out, what advice/tips do you have for someone who is trying to find the balance in their life?
When I first moved here, and I asked myself how do I not partner with the angst, anxiety, and rush. I realized I do the opposite. I find when I do that I discover a middle ground [that helps me] to not partner with what’s around me. And sometimes that looks like doing the opposite of what's happening. I’m ambitious and driven, but also know that I need to take care of myself. [Also] being consistent. Be consistent with what you do every day. For example, I eat the same meals almost every day and that has been the biggest breakthrough for me in my health; it’s kind of boring, but if you can do the same thing every day then you’re gonna build a habit. Make it fun and build a habit around something fun that you already like to do!