My Worst Habit

As I look back over the past year, I’m asking myself: What are some bad habits or entrenched assumptions I should take a closer look at?

Welp… I tend to hermit, but I’m happy hermit-ing and in that very sentence –with the word but–we see another of my prominent traits. I have a contrary mind. You say it never happened, and I am off on a hunt to find the one time it did happen. You claim it can’t be done or must be done… And there I go, down the yeah-but rabbit hole. This is a fine quality in an attorney, in moderation. At the customer service desk…?

Another tendency I have is to hang on for too long to relationships and processes that aren’t working well for me. I don’t know whether this is laziness (the devil I know…), an excessive sensitivity to abandonment guilt, or optimism gone awry, but I am slow to acknowledge an inequitable situation when it affects me directly. Over time, I have become better about shortening the distance between, “This isn’t working,” and “I’m outta here,” but there’s still much work to do.

I think about all the times I cut somebody or something loose–highly sexist Fortune 500 employers, needy boyfriends, contractors of less than honorable ethics–and never, not ever, do I wish I’d hung on longer and “tried to make it work.” Just the opposite.

Case in point: After decades banking at the same institution, through mergers, branch closures, horrendous snafus on the bank’s part (putting my tiny retirement into junk bonds, paying out on a very big check that had NO signature), I’d stuck with them. By the time I finally made the decision to switch to a more professional institution, my finances were far more complicated than if I’d switched years ago. I’d also lost a ton of investment opportunities that an ethical bank would have steered me toward.

The new bank isn’t perfect, the swap was a hassle, and the learning curve steep, but I’m much happier dealing with an organization that grasps the need to work for the customer.

Next up, I’m going after my internet service provider. Ever since the FCC rules on net neutrality were repealed, the local ISP shop (we have exactly one in the whole valley) has been offering worse and worse service for the same price. We’re supposed to call them in dismay about our “slow modems” or “traffic volume slowdowns” so they can up-sell us.

I believe in voting with my dollars. I believe in treating everybody honorably. Squeezing loyal customers (twenty years plus) isn’t honorable. And when I get the ISP situation sorted, I’m having a serious talk with my accountant, who was no use whatsoever helping me figure out how to manage payroll in two states at once. And after that…

The talk I have to have with myself is this: If I can consistently feel the pea under the mattress, then it’s not a pea. It’s sleepless nights, sluggish days, cranky conversations and worse. Some situations must simply be endured, but others… Chuck the peas, Grace. You don’t get any princess points for ignoring your own frustrations. Make 2020 the year of chucking the peas.

Is there a pea under your mattress? Was there one once upon a time that you finally tossed? To one commenter, I’ll send a $50 Barnes and Noble gift e-card.


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35 comments on “My Worst Habit

  1. I am a life-long Chicagoan, Grace. Our motto should be “what have you done for me lately” but in fact it isn’t, it just seems so. 🙂

    I tend to move on with tradespeople–if you’re not gonna be honest with me about my furnace and despite the fact I’ve been a customer for 20 years–you’re OUT! I haven’t had a regular dependable plumber for years because every time I try someone new, they disappoint me, charge a LOT and the next time, I try someone new and……repeat.

    This drives my spouse CRAZY but time and time again I tell him if we are paying someone to do a job, whoever we hire better be HONEST about what needs to be done or we’re finished with them. After the furnace people we’ve used for YEARS quoted an outrageous amount TO HIM, and then would not return our calls when we told them we didn’t want all the bells and whistles add ons,NOW he sees my point. We found a new company who gave us a fair price for what we needed, and got the job done PRONTO—and returned our calls. We are very happy with the new people.

    As a life-long Chicagoan, I also miss my favorite long gone department store, Marshall Fields. They were revolutionary in the late 19th century and changed how merchants all over the country did business. They had a motto which was at the heart of their philosophy– “Give the Lady What She Wants.” Stop and think about that–isn’t it genius even now? And we–ladies or gentlemen–are NOT given what we want. The only recourse we have is to move on and change to a business who WILL give us what we want. And Marshall Fields understood that.

  2. Every year I go through my bank statements and direct debits and other commitments to see if I can reduce the out goings because somehow I have taken on something extra.My own fault I know,but I keep doing it.These extras are usually charities of which I feel strongly about and therefore don’t want to stop.But the cost of living rages on and my pensions stay the same. Solution_____choose two charities and stick with them for five years then change over to a different two for another five years and so on.This way I don’t feel so bad.Being an optimist I hope to be around for a while so I can contribute something to all that I support.It’s just a drop in the ocean I know but I have worried about it.Now the pea under my mattress has been squashed I can sleep better.I wish you Grace a good fruitful year and peaceful and calmness within,we can’t do it all all of the time we do need to stop and stare.

  3. I have “re-evaluated” a few friendships this year. It took me awhile to figure out that I am not the only one who can pick up the phone, send an email or pay a visit. I doubt either one of my long term friends has figured out that I am not making the effort.

    I think it’s hard to move on from friendships; both personal and professional. I dread it when my washing machine breaks. My husband calls a local company and it’s fixed. I wish he’d figure out that a $400 repair bill could be put towards a new washing machine. The company is expensive but, issues are resolved and there’s no appliance stress. So it’s a win?

    I joined Weight Watchers yesterday. It’s time to be serious about getting rid of the extra baggage I have been carrying with me. It’s a step forward in my plan for a healthier happier me!

    It’s hard to figure out how to eliminate the peas under the mattress. I am hoping to ditch a few more peas in 2020.

    I have re read a few of my GB favorites while fighting this bronchitis/ pneumonia issue.
    Loved Theo and Jonathan in My Own True Duchess — Wentworth was Theo’s banker—and Nita and Tremaine in Tremaines True Love— just loved this story and Della – can’t wait for her HEA.

    Have a great week.

  4. My pea is my job. I’d love to say more about it, but the internet is a funny thing, right? So I’ll just lay that statement there and tiptoe away

  5. My “pea” was a toxic relationship with a cousin who I considered to be a best friend. After many, many years of feeling like I was being taken for granted, giving more emotionally than I received and generally feeling like I was not appreciated, I finally stood up for myself and ended the relationship. Yes, it still makes me sad, but it helps that I no longer have to walk on eggshells and stifle my frustration at the inconsiderate treatment I’d often experienced at her hands. I used to think that to have her in my life I had to accept that she was oblivious to the hurt she caused. For years I tried to convince myself that the benefits of her friendship outweighed the deficits. But I was fooling myself. Once I came to realize that I was worthy of respect, I cut her out of my life and I am better for the change.

  6. I am my own worst enemy in putting something aside to deal with later. So I end up constantly with piles of things that are hard to tackle/things I dread and so I need to deal with things as they come in instead of later. I guess I need to stop being the pea.

  7. I “tossed” my last landscaper that I used for less than a year (and by landscaper I mean cuts the grass, blows the leaves & plows the snow). I had started with him to snowplow for 2 seasons. The prior landscaper had let wild rose bushes encroach on my backyard, making it smaller & smaller. This new one started by doubling the cost of the wild brush removal after the work started, saying they needed to use a small backhoe to really get the roots out. Then, when a moth later the stalks started popping up again, charged me an extra $20/month to use weed wackers to cut them back. The final straw was in early November – I was away for a few nights when a big storm blew thru & took a few very large branches down blocking my driveway & front walk. My neighbor was outside when the crew came by, stopped, spoke to him & decided not to blow the leaves that week – or to move the branches – so they left. I got the tree guy I’ve used before to clear things out of the way, but the next week the landscape crew came by again, but again did no work since ‘the branches were still there’. The owner thought that since his crew had come by it was still ok to charge for the visit. That was it – got a recommendation – we’ll see how this one goes.

  8. My contrary mind means that I can usually see both sides of any question. I happen to like that about myself and wish more people saw things that way. I got that from my dad – we used to argue about things and would occasionally switch sides. One of my fondest memories.

    Unfortunately my current peas are my job and family members, not so easy to toss. I am ready to retire, for example, and my employers want to stay another year. I am debating this with myself. It’s been my experience that removing an employee is like taking your thumb out of a bowl of water – it fills in and the next person reinvents the job.

  9. Happy Sunday! I agree that it is hard to quit being loyal. One thing su am going to do this year is work on resolving problems while they are in their infancy. I am often too patient, too forgiving and just offer too many chances. Thank you for your great books! Have a blessed day!

  10. I had a major “pea” in a past job I had. Won’t say where, except it was a major banking institution. My department had been getting steadily worse on a personal level, largely due to the fact that I just did not fit in with my co-workers, who by and large were more interested in petty gossip than anything else. But then the way things ran overall began to change, when we started losing people who were not being replaced- and at the same time, the work load was being increased. So we got a situation where we had fewer people being asked to get more stuff done in the same span of time. This naturally wasn’t happening, and this escalated into a steadily rising trend of consistent mandatory overtime where we were told “this is the requirements of your job now” and “just think of it like another day”. Because it got to a point where they had us on ten hour days for five days a week, plus eight hours on Saturday. If we had a day we couldn’t do it we were expected to “make it up” by doing extra hours a different day. I knew a lady who had to show up at work at six in the morning in order to leave early enough to be at her own child’s birthday party. They were than inflexible. Then I got back after being gone a few days and found out they took away our lunch breaks. We were still permitted to eat, just told we had to sit at our desks and keep working while we did so, because for some people there was “too much to do”, and anyone who was not doing what they were had to do it too in solidarity because “it’s not fair for you to have a break when they don’t”. That was my moment of utter clarity, where I was like “that’s it, I’m done”. Handed in my two week’s notice the end of that week. I’ve had troubles since then with stability, but for my mental health it was still a far better decision in the long run. Snippets I’ve picked up since then hint that not only is it still that bad, but the toxicity has spread throughout the company.

  11. My worst habit has to be my hurry to get things done. With this, my problem becomes wanting others to hurry up and get things done…drives me nuts and then I end up doing it myself.

  12. My worst habit is drinking sugary drinks. I’ve switched to cold brew to cut calories and to have more money to spend on books. With this gift card, I coffee and books too!

  13. Princess Points, lol! Oooh, bad habits, huh? Like I have any! My worst bad habit…avoidance of executive functioning or, idk… um responsibility. I hate to deal with stuff of any kind – household fix-it problems, taxes, doctors, deadlines, insurance, returning items, cleaning. I’m a downright lazy-ass individual unless it’s promoting something I’m into and excited about (like books, kid’s stuff, innovation & ideas & equality, Indiana University, pastry & boozy ice cream). My second worst habit is crankiness – I could compete with Scrooge for bah humbuggyness, especially in the morning. But just about 10 pm I start getting pumped up for something. No princess points for me either, Grace. 🙁

  14. I think my pea procrastination but I’m determined to crush it this year. It took my going to the patient advocate’s office and seeing a Nurse Practitioner, my PCP left the clinic I’m in, before I got some of my medical questions answered and got referred to a mental health practitioner. Now I just hope she can help me. It was difficult because I’m not suicidal nor do I want to harm others.

  15. I had a very hard pea to get rid of this year…a toxic family member. It’s never easy to have disagreements with family but when one is continually tearing you down and making you feel bad about something you had no part of, it’s time to cut them loose. My life has been so much more calm, my blood pressure and tummy issues have gone back to normal. Here’s to a happier and healthier 2020!

  16. Oh, Lordy! My worst habit is procrastination. If there is a tomorrow I will wait and do that chore on that day. The only way to get my house clean is to invite company. So that is what I do, quite regularly.

    As for those irritating cable companies, well, we unplugged all the TV and use an antennae but we still need the cable people for internet access. UGH!

  17. My kids are teens and both on the autism spectrum. I think I just need to listen to them more. Autism + hormones makes for unpredictable kids so my daughter went from grumpy to mental health emergency in a matter of weeks. But we got help. And she’s doing a lot better now. But I think I need to just listen more. We don’t like the same books or media or music. But I’m the parent. I need to just listen more.

  18. I sympathize whole heartedly. I hang on to the wounded feelings after I have decided people are not worth extra effort if they don’t reciprocate. My pea lately is trying to balance all the feels after my divorce and figure out how to sail into the future. It’s kinda exhausting on top of a job and being a mom. Thank God my kids are older, couldn’t do it if they were younger. I have a friend who reminds me that I don’t have to figure it all out at once. Working on it.

  19. My first boyfriend was one hell of a pea. I stuck with him for almost 3 years because I was so afraid of being alone. I still don’t know how to be alone; I met my husband as soon as I decided I was done with the ex.

  20. Since you asked…..;-) I have two habits I want to work on.
    First, saying Sorry. I find myself saying it allllll the time. To everyone.
    I dont mean when I have done or said something that I need to own up to and apologize sincerely for, of course.
    Not too long ago, my husband and I had been out doing errands. When we got home, I dont know what prompted it, but I opened the door too fast or whatever and immediately said, “I’m sorry, honey.”
    When we got inside, I said, mostly to myself but out loud, ” I think that is just about all I have said all day is, “I’m sorry.”
    I looked up at him and he didnt say anything. But his look was something like, “You are just now noticing that?” hahaha
    My husband is brilliant with things like this. He knows it’s always better if I come to the conclusion myself.
    And so, there I am. Coming to the conclusion myself. 🙂
    I will always apologize when I should. But I am going to try to limit my habitual sorries…..
    The second thing is my offer to help.
    I catch myself doing it. Anytime,
    I will offer up…..
    Can I help?
    I can look for it.
    I will come to help……
    All the time!!
    Some time ago, I recognized, there are very few people around me that do the same.
    I mean, offer up help or actually help if I ask…..

    I have noticed my anger level is lower and lower all the time. And I dont like it. I dont like that I get angry easier. I think these things I want to work on may be the trigger.
    Perhaps, I can come to a middle ground?

    Anyway, thats what I want to work on……not great habits! 🙂

    Good luck working on yours!

    Happy New Year!! Lisa

  21. My worst is why do today what you can put off until next week until I’m hyperventilating with the stress of what all needs to be done. and buying too many books but that can’t really be bad – can it?? 😉

  22. It’s easier to procrastinate rather than do the research. I’ve been on that merry go round trying to gather enough info to make a decision and delayed taking action too. May 2020 be the year you are able to quickly come to grips with all the decisions to be made. They’re such a pain, I’ve been guilty of the same.

  23. Oh, where to begin? I have so many bad habits. Most I have brought on myself, but some are due to circumstances. I think this year will be the year of trying to make myself happy. Sounds so easy, but I know it will be harder than anything else I could choose. Try to stay away from toxic family members, make better choices, say “no” more, chose to do things I want to do, let go of regrets, hurt and disappointment. Won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!

  24. So I follow so many social media posts you share and had to dart over to read this particular blog post. I think I needed a vent. But I too hold on to relationships that cause distress for fear of rocking the boat or spiraling into panic attacks. Change in huge scary directions gets me bad. I am terribly co dependent. The funny part is I dont even know what I am co dependent on. I do all the major things except making the bulk of the money and that part doesn’t scare me so much now that I’m finishing my degree, raising two kids (oldest is special needs), therapies, errands, drs, music on fridays, cooking the meals, cleaning the house, paying the Bills (no he doesn’t even do that), all the while sitting in limbo cause he wanted a divorce but won’t do the paperwork with me so we dont have to get a lawyer. So I’m co dependent on an idea? Not sure but it’s more than a pea here. Then its toxic family. Being told “I dont say I love you out of spite.” From someone I constantly try to get that attaboy from was tough and hard not to pack up and go home. Instead I share my kids and everything I can. I dont know when I will finally sort it all out but the councilor agreed that I should take it in baby steps and my big focus is that diploma so I can better take care of my kids when I do chuck the peas. Even with the weight dont feel sorry for me anyone who gets this far. I’m ok. I am learning alot about me and hell I’m finishing college and looking at a working masters afterwards if I can find it. Small blessing have surrounded me even if I have chosen to, for now, sleep on my pea filled bean bag of a mattress:) xoxo happy new year

  25. Exercise! I promised myself that if I joined that pricey gym I’d go but didn’t. No excuses, it’s literally five minutes away. Now another year is starting and I guess I’m just never going to be a gym person.

  26. I had a conversation with a friend about keeping or ditching cable. She ditched cable and said it was cheaper to just pay the monthly fee for a handful of apps that show the programs she is interested in. I told her that I am an eclectic grazer when it comes to programs that I have interest in. I don’t feel like paying the monthly fee for more apps than she has, just to watch one program on each app for a limited number of episodes. I would like to ditch cable, the price goes up way too often, but I don’t know if I would save much paying for apps, Netflix and Amazon TV. Now there is Disney Plus. I just don’t have the patience to deal with multiple sources. Unfortunately, this means no Star Trek Discovery, the upcoming Picard, Outlander, or The Mandelorian. Outlander was part of On Demand, but my friend claims no longer, because it is now available on Amazon. I will have to check on that.

  27. I understand about the bank situation. I switched mine about 10 years ago and it was an ordeal, but had to be done. Now I need a new insurance company and I am not looking forward to that. I am very loyal and I don’t like change. Plus, I hate the hassle of paperwork and such so I will deal with problems for longer than I should.

  28. My husband is a major pea chucker, smasher and prince of a guy dealing with things that are broken, breaking or that no longer suit. (Except when it comes to his old jackets) However, he could use a thicker mattress or he’ll hurt himself.

    I drive him nuts by procrastinating. The sink still drains, maybe not as fast, there’s only one of 12 lightbulbs out, the toaster will work if you push the lever just so.

    Peas that will be mine in the next bit are a stint with my mom, who at a skookum 91, can still devastate me with a few words and the local property assessment folks. Mom is who she is, but the assessment authority should be ashamed of itself.

  29. My ‘pea’ was my job. It didn’t start out as a pea and there were good parts – i miss some of those good parts. I ditched the pea last year, just short of 10 years there. My pain doctor said it was the best thing I could have done for my health. (Turns out it was a good move for my husband’s stress too. He doesn’t worry about me as much.)

  30. Oh, Grace, some of your peas definitely are also mine: the local bank, the ISP, yuck. But I’m retired after more than 50 years in work force so feel I’ve earned my reading-on-couch days. I do have lists and occasionally make progress, but the peas, sigh.

    Thanks for your books which are my good companions in avoiding adulting.

  31. Wow, after reading the comments, I just want to give everyone a great big virtual hug. I’m usually pretty good at chucking the peas but when you’re a caregiver there’s no chucking. Although I do have this boyfriend …

  32. Definitely my biggest pea is procrastination. I know things need to be taken care of, but when it’s something I don’t like or dread to do I put it off for so long that I have to work twice as hard to get it done quickly.

  33. My worst habit? I’m a quilter. That might not sound irredeemable, but a quilter needs….fabric. And thread, a heap of storage space, a wonderful machine, and all the gadgets. This was fine when I lived in a townhouse, but now I’m in senior housing–one bedroom, small closets, and fabric that seduced me is now snickering from any container, nook and cranny. The bookcase has stuff in it; the books are in my nook. ( I can’t believe how many Burrowes books there are)
    Now it’s time to start on another quilt. I love what I do; I just wish it didn’t possess most of my living quarters!

  34. This is not on the subject, but I am really enjoying re-reading some of your early books–just finished he Soldier, having done the Prisoner . Your view of the psyche is what I find irresistible.