Friends, I hope you’re safe and healthy and well provisioned with food and knitting. If you are an essential worker, I am lighting a candle for you, and giving you ALL RESPECT.
To everyone: I can only imagine how many listicles, cri-de-coeur posts and full-on coronavirus memoirs you’ve seen by now, your reading glasses fogged by the mist escaping from your home-sewn mask. So I will spare you “easy steps” for this or that.
But I did want to tell you what I’m doing to make it through—in case it’s of use or will make you laugh. And ask you to share your “life in the time of” hacks as well.
Routine and Novelty
In myself I’m noticing—in a way I really don’t think I’ve experienced before—a heightened need for routine and at the same time, a desire for more novelty. It sounds contradictory, but it feels necessary. I’ve been experimenting by sort of tightening up my routine, building a bigger scaffold, and then plugging a few new things into it.
Routine: It’s good for the nervous system, good for exercising control where that’s possible, good for running households that suddenly have to be houses, offices, schools, gyms and tiny-repurposed-desk concert venues.
Novelty: It’s good for the will to keep on living. Good for keeping the brain ticking over!
I may have mentioned here that I was raised by a Marine. The Marine Corps gave me a secondhand but strong belief that tidiness and orderliness are next to godliness. Cleanliness is newly risen in the ranks, now that we’re all disinfecting everything all the time, but still: Order. Routine. Those have always come even before cleanliness in my world, and I’ve been gratified to see how even tighter routines have made the world feel a little safer.
Helen Keller told us that safety is mostly a superstition, and that life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing. Helen: I am just not feeling that right now. I look forward to daring adventures in the future. Today, I want to plan special time for my friends’ Instagram stories about sourdough.
More examples: I didn’t use to plan every meal every day, but I am doing that now. Making sure there is adequate protein and fresh food every day is my golden key to mood stability, and mood stability keeps the divorce mediator away. Making sure there’s enough wine has also helped.
I used to putter and work in my gym sweats, but now my routine calls for grooming and dressing every day. I know many people who are not being this strenuous right now, and are just swapping their lounging pjs for their special Zoom pajamas. I draw the line here: Sweats are out, tracksuits are in. On Zoom, you can really appreciate the distinction.
Therefore, I ordered a new tracksuit—a shiny one—off the internet, and now I have two tracksuits in rotation. Boom, novelty!
Now I’m all dressed up and I’m not gonna lie to you: I don’t care as much as some folks that there’s no place to go. I’m an indoor cat and this stay-home life isn’t killing me.
In the MDK Shop
Yoga and Hip Hop
On the other hand, staying at home doesn’t seem to be making me stronger. I can really tell my brain needs frequent refreshment, which I am now getting from yoga and hip hop dancing. These are two things I find really difficult. Truly brain-scrambling. In a good, ventilating kind of way, like we used to go outside to get.
My yoga teacher, Madeleine Lohman of Sacramento, is brand new to me. I’ve never attended yoga in Sacramento but now Madeleine is on YouTube, live every Saturday morning at 11am Pacific. I love her classes because they’re slow and gentle. I’m left with a feeling of wellbeing, rather than a feeling of underachieving.
My hip hop teacher, on the other hand, offers challenge. I try to keep up, and I can’t. Dance is hard. Left and right are really hard. Having my arms do one thing and my legs do another is almost impossible. But my brain seems to dig it, if my ego doesn’t. A Zoom class, unavailable before, is my dream. I’m not feeling embarrassed, or crashing into anybody. And I can practice again and again.
One day I will get back to the gym, and I can’t wait to see all the gym people I’ve never actually talked to and probably never will. Until then, it’s up-and-at-’em in isolation.
What about you? How are you finding your needs for routine and novelty have changed? And what have you done with your findings that others could use? I can’t wait to read.