Bear with me… it’s time to get habitual.

I’m really bad about habits.

I TRY, I really do!  I’m extremely motivated and have very pure, good, and holy intentions of maintaining a routine.  But, none the less I often fail.

When I first started writing here I was inspired to start a “word of the day” theme.  Well, like most New Year’s Resolutions, that habit really didn’t sink in.  So… I’m declaring a “DO OVER”!  Right here and now.  (at least… for now… we’ll see how long this lasts!)

{{{drum roll}}}
Today’s “word of the day” is BEARS.
{{cymbal crash, clank, ca-ch-ch-ch-chink}}

Yeah… there were bears.  In my garage.
If you recall from my previous BAT story, I don’t get along well with wildlife in my house.

So, I guess it’s not widely known that there are bears in Florida.  We actually have our own species here… the Florida Black Bear.  We live very close to a local state park and our area is notorious for having these wild neighbors wandering through the neighborhoods and digging through trash cans for food.

Our neighborhood, in particular, has had a lot of recent bear activity – so much that our neighborhood Facebook page is filled with daily sightings.  My husband, being more alert to these types of things, had been trying to remind me to keep the garage door closed – out of concern for his family.

Well, this is where we get back to the whole topic of HABITS.  I had been in the habit of mindlessly opening the garage every time I run the dryer (our dryer vents into the garage and the hot, muggy, humid air isn’t ideal to keep trapped inside the garage).  It was 7:30 at night, and my husband was away working with his new business partner.   Suddenly he gets a phone call on his cell phone from our neighbor, who happened to be pulling into her driveway.

“THERE ARE BEARS IN YOUR GARAGE!  Two of them!  And they’ve opened your refrigerator!  And they’re drinking MILK!”

My poor husband was so confused, because he knows he *closed* the garage before leaving, and his darling wife would *never* open it after the millions of reminders he had hoped were sinking in.

Well, long story short – our neighborhood security guard was able to scare them away and back into the woods.  We only lost a few items – a gallon of milk, a gallon of tea, and a half-dozen sodas.  There were huge bear paw prints on our garage refrigerator… thank goodness they hadn’t opened the freezer where we have a decent stock of meat and fish!  All I know is that I will NEVER mindlessly open the garage door again, I don’t care how hot it may get in there from the dryer vent.

Forming new habits takes DISCIPLINE – or a sudden shock to your system.  Lent is good – it can serve as the yearly “shock” that we need to form new spiritual habits.  But, Lent doesn’t last all year.  So, how DO we form new habits in our lives?

The Catholic Encyclopedia on provides some nice insights:

The main factors in the growth of habit are:

  • The number of repetitions, as every repetition strengthens the disposition left by previous exercise;
  • their frequency: too long an interval of time allows the disposition to weaken, whereas too short an interval fails to give sufficient rest, and results in organic and mental fatigue;
  • their uniformity: at least change must be slow and gradual, new elements being added little by little;
  • the interest taken in the actions, the desire to succeed, and the attention given;
  • the resulting pleasure or feeling of success which becomes associated with the idea of the action.
Honestly, it sounds like a really rough workout routine… my muscles are already starting to ache.  Unfortunately we don’t always have trainers hovering over us screaming… COME ON, ONE MORE SET!  LET’S GO GO GO!!!!!  We have to find ways to quietly and privately form prayerful habits during our daily routines.

As a family, we pray before meals and before bed.  We give blessings to our children and ask God to be with them as the leave for school in the mornings.  During my day I try to listen to the daily readings podcast, and maybe squeeze in a rosary or a divine mercy chaplet on my drive home from work.

Prayer seems to come naturally when we are going through turmoil or pain, but what about those moments when prayer doesn’t come easily?  Having these habitual prayers in place helps when as we go through those times in our lives when our prayer lives seem to be in a drought.  It becomes so ingrained in what we do on a daily basis, so that, even during those “dark nights” when we can’t seem to find the right words to say, we can at least turn to our routines for a sense of comfort.

How do you incorporate prayer into your daily routines?

And, just so you know, I have officially broken my bad habit of leaving the garage open.  The bears can keep on walking… no food for you here!… And my husband can breathe a sigh of relief that I’ve FINALLY gotten the message.

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