Monday, April 17, 2017

Stay at Home February

I vowed to stay in one place for the month of February…. I know, it’s a short month… but that’s just how it worked out. February, typically, has always been the month where if I was going to be depressed, it was statistically more likely to occur then.  So I tried to keep that conscious every single day. I bought lights that were balanced for daylight to boost my mood.  I had a reasonable to-do list that I vowed to complete most of each day. I did not always accomplish everything but was ok with relocating some items to another day. 

I practiced piano – a lot. Every day. Twice, sometimes three times a day.  I thanked my mother every time I sat down for the few years of piano lessons I had. The ability to read piano music, to know where the notes were, to know something about scales and arpeggios, and to actually remember how to play some early memorized songs went a long way in keeping me interested and encouraged. That – and a conviction that practice WILL make perfect (or close to it) helped me to practice consistently.

I made plans for my meals…. decided not to purchase anything that qualified as junk food… got out my crockpot (a vestige of the seventies with its avocado green exterior) and made chili and other homemade soups…. I experimented making chia puddings to satisfy my “need” for dessert.

I renewed listing things that I wanted to sell on ebay. I’ve been an ebayer ever since my mom passed away and my sister and I determined that selling old stuff on ebay was more profitable than selling at auction or garage sale. But in the chaos of the last six months of 2016 – retiring and moving, I had gotten away from it. However, the stillness of February gave me space to reorganize and start photographing items and listing them again.  

I wrestled with whether I was going to be an early riser or a late go-to-bed person. This was a real conflict. Left to my own devices, i.e. no alarm clock, my tendency is to awaken on my own around 7 a.m. This was much better than the 5:30 or 6 a.m. awakening that I did for much of my work life. I like to get up and watch the Today Show with a cup of coffee in the stillness of the early morning before I start the day. Trouble is, I also like to watch The Tonight Show – and if I get a second wind around 11 p.m., I can easily still be active at 2 a.m.  Five hours of sleep between 2 and 7 was not going to be enough. I had vowed that my life would no longer be lived sleep deprived.  But sleeping late is not in my DNA. Why sleep away a perfectly good day?  

Eventually I decided to force myself to bed before midnight, thus ensuring a reasonable rising time in the morning. And there is always the DVR so I could theoretically watch anything I might miss. So far, I have just reinforced a growing conviction:  I can live without television.

I watched and photographed birds at my feeders, spent a long time pouring over pictures in books and on the internet trying to identify the ones I didn’t recognize. I fought the battle of the squirrels (more or less winning), the deer (conquered), and a lot of crows or grackles (still losing). 

I started reading again, for pleasure, not for education or career. I knit a little every day.  I did actually do some real work. I was teaching a research class online for Fordham all during January and February, so most days I had to attend to student questions or work on grading assignments, at least a little.  I read applications for the Admissions office– again, not a huge time suck, but something that had a deadline.

I did not go shopping – at least not recreational shopping.  I did not exercise. I did not clean, despite that being on my list of to-do’s every single day.  Except for taking my brother to a concert in Buffalo, I stayed within a seven-mile radius of my home the entire month.

I did not long to go to New York City – or even to plan a more exotic vacation. For the most part, I was content with listening to my internal clock and letting my retired rhythm begin to emerge.

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