“Where were you last week? I missed you!”

This was what I heard from several people about the fact that I didn’t have a column in last week’s Villager. One person said, “I can’t even remember the last time your column wasn’t in the paper.”

To tell you the truth, neither can I. And for those who are wondering about the reason, it was a family matter. My father-in-law was hospitalized with a life-threatening infection that required immediate surgery, so my husband and I pretty much dropped everything in order to drive to Chicago and be with him and my mother-in-law. The Villager’s editor was understanding and accommodating about my missing a week, so we left town without that deadline hanging over my head.

While in Chicago, I was somewhat disoriented and had to literally stop and figure out what day it was whenever I needed to know. That’s what happens whenever we are taken away from our normal environment and schedule, whether it’s for a happy occasion such as a two-week dream vacation, or a more somber reason such as being in the hospital with an injured or seriously-ill loved one.

Even though I was away from my regular setting and routine, I still felt as though I were forgetting to do something on the day that I usually write and submit my column. It’s an unsettling feeling, one I have every so often, when my normal schedule is disrupted for some reason or other – when I have to miss my weekly Toastmasters meeting, for instance. Or when I exercise in the morning instead of my usual afternoon workout, and then feel all evening like I skipped something important.

Our habits and routines help us keep order in our day-to-day lives. They also help us get back on track whenever there’s a disruption or derailment of our normal schedules. The more firmly we adhere to what we regularly do, the more comfortably we can recover when there’s a change in the schedule.

Someone who is a regular reader of my column told me she was surprised I didn’t have a column in my back pocket that I could submit last week before I left town. Actually, I used to keep a few “spares” in my files – columns that are on generic subjects and would be appropriate at any time. I guess I’ve just gotten so used to turning one in every week that I didn’t even think about it. So our habits and routines can sometimes work against us, rather than for us, although I think the circumstances at the time had more to do with it than anything else.

My father-in-law is doing much better, by the way. He’s still got a long road to recovery ahead of him, and prayers are always welcome and appreciated.

In the meantime, I’m back at my computer, working on this week’s column. And when I’m done, I’ll take a look at my old files to see what’s still accurate and appropriate, so I can have a few columns ready in case any other family emergencies come up and I want to leave town in a hurry. Or if I decide to take a two-week dream vacation.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on September 1, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

I welcome your comments, but please be aware that all comments will be moderated and approved before appearing on this blog. This is to protect all of us from unwanted spam.