Calendar Girl

One of the side effects of the pandemic was that I got de-calendared. The days were all the same, and my objective became, “Do three things every day.” The three things were usually writing new pages, doing 10,000 steps on the tread desk (five days a week), and… something else. If it was go-to-the-barn day, that was my third thing. I might have tackled a little housework, or maybe I wrote new pages AND read over three chapters of copy edits. Three things…

And that, with a few routine chores, an occasional Zoom, and a lot of reading, often made for a satisfying and productive, if not exactly busy, day.

I also got de-watched. Didn’t matter at what hour I got up, when I went to bed, when I finished my pages for the day, when I got on that tread desk. Didn’t matter, because tomorrow was just another day.

A minimally-structured approach to time is a good fit with my intrinsically motivated style. I have always liked being the boss of me, and not being the boss of anybody else. I don’t make lists, I don’t have schedules, I just kinda do the next thing, and it all works out. Mostly. I jot appointments down on the calendar because next week is part of one undifferentiated mass of “later.”

I remained temporally oriented at the level of the season and the weather. Did my flower gardening the same as always, put in my fall bulbs, stockpiled some firewood on the porch for when the power went out in cold weather. I was aware of shortening and lengthening of days. The daffodils came up, then the forsythia bloomed, followed by tulips, irises, and so forth. Then it got hot. Hello, magic lilies!

Then the days weren’t so long, and the last flourish of flowers was from the dahlias, which go right up until a hard frost, and then it’s time to plant more bulbs.

My horse grew his winter coat, or shed out, depending on the season; the feral cats had kittens, or not, depending on the season.

And that worked well for me. Now I’m having to “manage myself” back into a more structured existence. People want to meet at specific times on specific dates in specific places, and that requires effort on my part. It’s not a relief, it’s discipline–for me–to go back into a time-clock-and-calendar driven life.

And I’m lucky. I’m self-employed, I like my little tumbledown farmhouse, I love my job. The degree to which I must re-enter a structured world is minimal compared to the adjustments many others are making. I am taking it slowly, still trying to do just three things per day, and to spend most of my days at home.

Are there aspects of pandemic-time that worked better for you than the time-clock-and-calendar approach? I’m not doing a give away this week, but I am making a donation to the Maryland Food Bank. For me, life is getting back to some version of normal, but for a lot of my neighbors… not so much, and not yet.

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20 comments on “Calendar Girl

  1. I’m really lucky that I retired almost 5 years ago so the pandemic hasn’t made too much of a difference in my introverted, home-centered life. But, like you, other people are starting to expect me to do things now. I’m trying to keep it limited to one thing a week because I’m not ready for that much social interaction yet. Although I feel a bit guilty, I, too, don’t pressure myself to do too much on any given day. I have started to do more of the decluttering I sort-of started when I retired. I read a great book (Dana K. White’s “Decluttering at the Speed of Life”) recently and while I was already doing some of the things, I’m now congratulating myself if I do one decluttering thing a day. And it’s working. There are already a couple of empty spaces on my floor that weren’t empty before!

  2. I’ve mentioned before we did home renovations during the Pandemic. We’ve done some major things in the past, always bunched up and concentrated in a time frame. And whatever could not be accomplished within an 8 week block of time was put off for another year. This time we began last fall, had Thanksgiving to Christmas off, then began late January and finished before (like the DAY before) Easter. NEVER would it have worked before. The companies we worked with were scrupulous with COVID precautions and I felt almost SAFER within those precautions than before they needed to be in place.

    I am trying to enjoy all those renovations and wouldn’t ya know it? Things are getting back to normal and I’m not ready. I’ve told Hubby and kids that there are certain things I’m just not ready for and will stand my ground until I AM ready. I believe there are many folks like me–taking it slow and cautious. Once my chamber choir are all completely vaccinated, it will be time for rehearsals again and I CAN’T WAIT!

  3. Working from home has given time back to me. I am not commuting and I have at least 2 more hours of time each day. I catch up on the dishes, the laundry, the grocery list and spend time with the dogs.

    I need my planner and lists for work. The pandemic has added several additional clients to my workload. The weekends are more fluid. I walk with my neighbor, run errands, go to dog class. The days and times of the appointments changes weekly. I like having the flexibility

    I may return to work in the Fall. No specific date has been provided. I am curious about the return process and the time impact.

  4. I too have been retired for a long time – almost 13 years. One of the first things that I noticed (when I retired) was that I didn’t have to live by the clock any more. I have also been house bound for the last few years due to my arthritis. So the pandemic hasn’t been as hard for me as it is for some.

    I want to thank you for the many hours of enjoyment your books have given me. And thank you too for your donation to your local food bank. I know they will put it to good use. It is a loving positive act in a time of so much negativity.

  5. To be really honest, the pandemic didn’t change our lifestyle that much. We’re already retired, we’ve always been homebodies. But that didn’t mean we were worry free. All of our younger relatives’ jobs required they be there in person, so we were thinking of them constantly. In the early pandemic days when Doctors were doing phone appointments, and dentists were postponing any non-urgent work done it got quieter and quieter. That has changed so much that between the two of us it seems like we each have some kind of appointment every week. (That does go in spurts.) And shopping was a huge worry for me, as my husband does most of it and he had to get up super early in order to shop the safer ‘senior hours.’ I still wanted to cook fresh, and this is SO not a national crisis by any means and I know we are very fortunate to be able to do this, it was still an adjustment to send him out once a week. Okay, I know I’m still reading about people who are now permanently having all their groceries delivered but other people I know have said the produce they pick out for you is not what you would have picked. We also ordered things online but had to shop many multiple sites to find the things we wanted…again not a national crisis.

    I have been reading more and more about introverts. I’m not sure if this is a current topic of the month or if it has something to do with post pandemic issues, but I’m catching headlines all the time. The ones I’ve chosen to read have basically confirmed what I always known about myself, but after all these years I may be closer to telling people what is what with me and if they don’t like it or think I’m even weirder than they thought I was, too bad. I’m sure you know from all the types of people you meet that to be an introvert makes it possible to interact in a friendly, open, and sociable manner and go home utterly exhausted to the point you’re almost ill. These articles have also let me observe in hindsight many of my actions and feelings in the past. Things that made me feel awful about myself. But they can all simply fall under the same umbrella personality type not as a ‘cop-out’ but a reason.

    So the best thing and the worst thing the pandemic did for me are the same thing. I could legitimately stay home and just do my own thing. Not so good on a permanent basis.

    Three of the best things the vaccines and less risk of COVID have brought us is a.) We can see family again, b.) we can safely go back to our gym where I do water exercise, and c.) we feel safe flying to be with our son and daughter-in-law to be, for their wedding this month. Hurray!

    I’m so happy you said you would be donating to your local food bank in lieu of a giveaway. Thank you for that, Grace.

    • Hi Michelle!
      I am also an introvert. I wanted to mention a great book called “The Introvert Advantage” by Marti Olsen Laney. I gave it to a bunch of people to help explain me. It’s a great book if you’re interested in reading more on the topic!

      I was also given a book called “Quiet” by Susan Cain. I didn’t read much of it because I’d already read “The Introvert Advantage”, but it might also be a good resource for you.

      There are many other books, but those are the two I have experience with and enjoyed reading.

      • Karen, thank you so much for the recommendation. I’ll be looking for both those books soon. I’ll put them in my wish list so I can find them again after we get back from the wedding (leaving day after tomorrow.)

        I’m curious/nosy…Did anything I said about enjoying the benefits of the pandemic ring any bells with you, as far as being permitted to avoid the world.

  6. I enjoyed working from home for several months. I could get up out of bed, and walk to my computer to sign in. Our dogs and cats kept me company, and I could get up to feed them and let the dogs in and out. I liked it a lot and found it much more pleasant than being around people (some noisy) in an office with cubicles. Fortunately, I retire this year.

  7. I mark the weekends as enforced isolation at home to miss the plague crowds. A few days of the week are my dawn raids on the grocery store when it’s me & the medical staff shopping.

    Summer was marked by a dead battery from heat & a sainted neighbor jumpstarting me & pointing me to Auto Zone. Nicest service I’ve had in ages as well as a military discount.

    The start of hurricane season was marked by new gutters & measurements for a bid on screening my porch against the No See Ums.

    I rise at dawn & zonk a few hours after dark. Working for myself at home is the sanest pacing I remember since childhood when people got home from work in time to have dinner together. As people slowly trickle into my life again, I’m being more selective about the distractions I’ll allow back. And yes, I’m noticing a full day of running around to appointments or car repairs is somehow more tiring than I remember.

  8. I think I liked that we were semi-forced into taking things a little slower. I enjoyed being able to take my time with things… and, there wasn’t the “get it done yesterday” push.
    But, I’m afraid this slowing down has taken it’s toll on many people. I see it in traffic patterns as there seems to be much less patience and a lot more crazy driving these days.
    I was always in danger of not knowing what day it is and that aspect of me got worse… but I enjoyed not being the only one who had to ask, “Is it Thursday today?”

  9. I was sleeping better, for the most part (when I wasn’t freaked out).
    Back to a full work schedule means that either my sleep or my exercise is constrained, sometimes both. I’m so resentful of that!

    And hooray for your donation- bless you for your kindness

  10. Since I retired the October before the pandemic hit, I didn’t have much of a chance to my new schedule other than adjusting to my husband working from home. Some of these adjustments are all around positive, I sleep later so that he can sleep a bit later before getting ready to start his Zoom calls. We still eat around the same time but now we usually cook together. We are lucky that we both love and like each other so it hasn’t been a burden to spend more time together.

    I loved Miss Delectable!

  11. Being mostly retired (part time job a few hours, 2 days a week at our local senior center) the pandemic changed my job from in person to remote. Fortunately for me, the part of my job that I liked the best (graphic design) is the part which I can do remotely. Other than that change, our lives are pretty relaxed, as they have always been, though worry about friends and family who did have to go to work concerned us. I also turned 70 during the pandemic lockdown, so I pamper myself a little more than I maybe used to… not to say I’m a slug, by any means, but I’m more apt to give myself a pass if there’s something I do or don’t want to engage in where I used to just go along. So I guess that’s a positive change. As life begins to return to normal, I plan to continue going my own way more than I did in the past. Took me 70 years but it’s about time!!!

  12. We had to cut a brief holiday short because of a date & time commitment this year. Didn’t have that last year.

    However, I do like the online option for participation in events that would otherwise be out of reach. We are considered “rural, remote,” by the post office.

    And I do better with a few things scheduled or I’d dive down a rabbit hole and not come up for air until I’d exhausted every burrow. My husband insists on 3 squares a day, even if it isn’t much, so the day is bounded by that. The week is bookended by church albeit online.

    There have been weeks I didn’t get out of my bathrobe this last year. I know this can’t continue, but I have loved not wearing a bra or fixing my hair.

  13. My calendar has suddenly come alive,friends relatives have been booking meetups,lunches walks and general outings.It’s taken me aback a bit and I’ve been slow to react.But once I got started I soon relaxed and enjoyed the company.We still have some restrictions and we won’t be fully out of lockdown till the end of june.We can travel across England and stay in hotels now.Still social distancing,masks.So off I went for a 4 day break by coach to the Lake District in Cumbria.On Sunday I witnessed a scene that will be in my head forever.The sky was clear blue the mountains green,trees of many colours sheep and lambs grazing,ducks,geese flying,birds singing and lake Windermere glittering the same blue of the sky.A jewel of nature and I saw all of that glory and was in awe.How insignificant I am compared to all of that I give thanks and I am humbled and blessed.I’m home now and renewed.I also re-reading miss delectable,a delightful tale,Life for me at the moment is going well and soon things will be better for many.Keep safe and focused one and all.Looking forward to September and the next romance from you Thank you.

  14. For me, coming out of hibernation has had some rough moments and I certainly feel rusty, but the biggest shift is going back to kid scheduling. I am not a big fan of shuttling kids around on a packed schedule, so I have always done close by (walkable if possible) extracurriculars for the kids and kept them few numerically. Now, however, we are pursuing an autism evaluation for my 13 yo and I know that there will be an increase of specialist appts as a result that require accurate scheduling, driving all over etc. I’m tired just thinking about it. I won’t miss quarantine, but I will miss the relaxed timing. We did a lot of just hanging out together, everyone with their own book or taking leisurely walks. Mornings were less stressful without the rush for the bus. All kinds of appts done virtually (which I hope to continue as much as possible) with no rushing to drive across town, park and dash to be on time. I was able to cut my work hours down recently though, so I hope to keep the rushing to a minimum. I find the required interactions in the clinic setting exhausting too, so I hope we can find a balance doing things virtually that make sense in that medium and doing in person appts as sanely as I can manage.

    • I understand about the autism situation; my oldest son has autism. Once the diagnosis comes, it should be easier for you all. There might be therapists after but you are sure to find some close by.

      This transition time kinda sucks rocks for everyone. Take care.

      • Thanks! I am hoping that this process will lead to therapies that have a positive impact on managing the school environment and some behaviors that are triggered by stress that have some negative physical effects (phew! pandemic was a time we learned about those for sure!). I’m glad to hear a positive report, I hope you all are making it through the uncontrollable and unpredictable pandemic era too.