Four Days of One’s Own

Redwood trees in California

An unexpected gift – spouse and small child off to visit the Grandparents. I stay home to save money, keep the pool from turning green and spare the dog the ordeal of being abandoned for the second time this summer. And to give myself a chance to think, breath, drown in quietness.

Thoughts before:

Four full days and two partial ones to do as I please. And what would please me?  Gorge on junk food and movies?  Lots of sleeping?  Spend all day floating around the pool?  Read books all day with a box of chocolates by my side?  All of the above!

Did I want to make a plan to use every blissfully all mine moment?  Or did I just want to wake up and see how the day unfolded? I decided to make a loose plan for three of the days and let one day be spontaneous.  I wouldn’t pick which day but just let it find me.

My planned days had me doing stuff on the computer and getting my 10k steps done in the morning.  Lunch would be my main meal and after cleaning up I would watch a movie.  Then putter around or read a bit before taking a swim somewhere around 5:00p.  (Still very warm out but avoiding the brutal desert sun.)   Next would be a salad for dinner and dessert.  After that reading or watching television.

The Reality: 

The first two days pretty much followed the plan.  Saturday and Sunday went unplanned.  The break as a whole was fabulous.  I seldom left the house and I drank in the peace and quiet.  I will try and summarize how things went.

Things that surprised me:

  1. How little interest I had in cooking.
  2. Finding a dead mouse in the pool one morning and a live scorpion in the dog’s food bowl one evening. (Such is life in the desert.)
  3. Taking two naps.
  4. How little time I spent in my office.  I spent much more time in my bedroom watching movies on my computer, reading, journaling and thinking.  And taking those two naps.
  5. Starting to do yoga again, rather out of the blue and completely unplanned.
  6. Learning I wake up at 6:30a on my own.
  7. I not only swam everyday, but at different times of day.
  8. How poorly I am coping with the heat these days.  It was over 100° F every day and I hated it. Especially two very windy days.  Hot breezes are not good.

What I ate:

Mostly leftovers or eggs.  I did indulge in a few chocolates (okay most of a medium sized box), ice cream for dinner one night, and one fast food meal (Chick-fil-a).  In the interest of full disclosure I also ate two donuts that I “accidently” grabbed when I stopped for milk after church.  A Boston creme and a chocolate iced cake donut and they were yummy!

Movies I watched:

  1. “Rebecca”
  2. “The Shipping News”
  3. “A Perfect Murder”
  4. “The Guns of Navarro”
  5. “Twenty-One Days”
  6. “Housewife, 49”
  7. And some Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel

Books I read:

  1. “The Union Quilters” by Jennifer Chiaverini
  2. “The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen” by Lindsay Ashford
  3. “Magical Journey” by Katrina Kenison
  4. “A Year By the Sea” by Joan Anderson

I also read a bunch of articles on the internet about coping with menopause, specifically when you have younger children.  My longing for quiet and stillness is perfectly normal at this stage of my life.  Many women feel the need to take a bit of a time out and evaluate their present and their future when they hit fifty or thereabouts.  But most women’s children at my age are out of the nest or soon will be.  I am looking at ten more years of full time mothering.  I need to find a way to balance my needs with the demands of parenting a young child.

Basically all the articles said the same thing about coping with menopause, you have to take care of yourself.  Reduce stress and you minimize the menopausal meltdowns. I was already learning that.  Life was on a more even keel since I started giving myself a bit of quiet time each morning.  Maybe I could do a bit more to take care of myself?

New priorities I made based on what I learned and dreamed about:

  1. Do yoga or meditate every day.  Even if I only meditate for five minutes.
  2. Take time to stop throughout the day and repeat my mantra. (It is sort of silly so I am not sharing it.  Unless you really want to know and then just ask.)
  3. It is okay to stop and ask what I really want to do at any particular moment, and then do it.
  4. Continue on with my good habits of 10k steps, quiet time and getting to bed early.
  5. After a bit of experimenting I have decided food is not at the base of all my ailments.  But I still want to eat healthy, simple meals avoiding as much processed junk as I have the willpower for.
  6. Be more mindful with everything I do.  Folding laundry, cooking dinner, taking a swim.  Stay in the moment as much as possible.  I am so tired of worrying about the future or reflecting on poor choices made in the past.  I need to learn to simply be here.
  7. I really wanted to be outside but not in the crazy heat.  I have promised myself a day up in the mountains once the weather breaks.  So probably not til late September but it is nice to make a promise to myself.

Some of these tasks are going to be very hard and some will get dropped before they barely get started.  But some will stick, maybe not exactly as how I imagined them but hopefully exactly as I need them.



G is for Goals

A quick update on how I am doing on acquiring new habits for 2016 and my twelve areas to clean.

Around mid-March I realized I had lost sight of my goals for the year. I think this was because they are written in my bullet journal and I had started writing my daily task list in my day planner. I sat down with my lists and refreshed my memory.

First the cleaning list. I actually had four tasks already done (all associated with clearing out and organizing the garage) so I was ahead of schedule. But several of the tasks left could be rather time consuming so it is best if I don’t slack off. I decided to tackle the shredding. It only took two weeks of 10 to 15 minutes a day and I was done. Another task crossed off.

Next up will be working on my photos. I have the latest batch of printed photos to post in an album and I plan to do that next week. The more herculean task will be to label, group and purge all my on-line photos. I have more than 4,000 so this is going to take some time. I will have to spend say 15 minutes a day or maybe do a month at a time. Once I get started hopefully a good method will present itself.

On the habits side I am making progress.  Slow progress, but progress.  Some habits are very hard to get to stick.  Any interruption to the routine and I have the unhappy task of starting all over.  I would be referring specifically to my healthy eating goal. Right now I am on day five of the Whole30 and it is going well.  I will give details when we hit “W” which will be towards the end of the 30 days.

For March and now April I started a task tracker in my bullet journal for these four things:  walking 10k steps a day, 10 to 15 minutes of quiet time each morning, working on my upper arms and in March it was doing the shred and now in April it is meeting my blogging challenge.  I’ll add the photo work once it begins.

I have been doing excellent on my 10k steps a day typically getting in between 11k and 13k steps.  But now I have hit a hiccup, my treadmill needs to be fixed.  I love doing my writing while walking.  It seems to help hold my attention and I love accomplishing two big tasks at the same time.

Now I am scrambling to think of ways to get all those steps in.  If I walk my neighborhood loop it is 1,000 steps, boring but easily doable when the weather cooperates.  So I am trying to create a new routine where I walk a loop or two after lunch and after dinner.  We’ll see.  With walking the dog in the morning and walking to get my son from school I should be close to 10k steps.  I am also considering dropping my goal to 8k steps, just until the treadmill is fixed. If it even can be fixed, still researching that.  I won’t be very happy if I have to replace it.

While not officially meditation I have learned to greatly appreciate taking ten to fifteen minutes each morning to plan my day, sit quietly and maybe do a little needlework.  I am finding it very soothing and when I can’t do it it seems like my whole day feels a bit rushed.

In addition to walking I wanted to add some other type of exercise.  I have decided to work on my arms which are starting to get kind of um, flabby.  So each day I take a few minutes to do a few pushups and/or use my hand weights to do a series of exercises.

I feel like my plate is full enough for April with the A to Z blogging challenge and the Whole 30. Mid- May is when my son gets out of school so a whole new routine will have to develop then. I am hoping to remain flexible so that I don’t completely lose sight of my goals over the summer break.