Balancing Act: Knowing days of the week may take planning
With my possessions already downsized, my move to a new house complete and the fall garden chores behind me, I was starting to worry.
Pretty soon, Thursdays would look a lot like Wednesdays, which would look a lot like Tuesdays.
The thought didn’t come out of nowhere. Friends, many working from home since March, said their days were running together.
“Just wait,” they said. “You’ve lived a charmed life. When your to-do list runs out, you’ll get sick of the crosswords, the jigsaw puzzles, all those Zoom meetings.”
Then my older son, the movie buff, weighed in with well-intentioned sympathy.
“Oh, no!” he said. “Sounds just like ‘Groundhog Day!’ ”
The thought was terrifying. I immediately could feel icy water on my pantleg, just like that reporter assigned to cover Punxsutawney Phil. He had to live the same day over and over, and each day, he stepped off the same curb into that same puddle.
“Oh, no!” I repeated. And with COVID-19 numbers climbing and winter approaching, I started to envision a long winter blur punctuated only by dramatic political moments – good or bad, depending on your point of view.
It was about this time that another friend offered a magical opinion.
“I’m excellent at structuring my day,” she said. “I’ve been doing it since I started working for myself.”
Then I bumped into an article that said the same thing about retirees and suggested punctuating each week with memorable events.
Suddenly, the whole idea of having a whole day – or week – or months – where I could creatively call the shots seemed like a privilege for which I had newfound expertise. All I had to do was make each day memorable.
With some urgency, I started flipping through my calendar and its many “to-do” lists to see what the most memorable days had been. What had been star-studded? A stand-out? The kind of day that wouldn’t run into the next?
It was encouraging to learn that my most memorable to-dos were not particularly complicated or difficult to find. They were mostly little things.
For example, I still laugh remembering how my 7-year-old grandson hijacked his mom’s phone for our FaceTime call. We toured his bedroom, his fish tank and their new addition, which is under construction, after “we” crawled through a window to get there. All the while, his mom was looking for him so she could make a phone call.
I remember driving 30 minutes to do a curbside pickup of eggplant from a farm and making baba ganoush, which turns out to be easy but always has sounded very complicated. Even as I write this, I feel impressed with myself that I have now made baba ganoush.
And I reconnected with a cousin who had put me onto the movie “This Beautiful Fantastic.” It was so good, it inspired me to plug in my basement exercise bike after a hot summer, pedal transfixed when it was raining, and reminded me there’s hope for exercise in the coming winter.
Looking ahead, I’m thinking how amazing it might be if I set aside some time to practice piano each week. Maybe by May, I could play Haydn’s Sonatina No. 5 as well as I did at age 12, when, according to my juvenile handwriting on the music, I performed it at three Saturday recitals.
Maybe I could find the time to do this by blocking out those hours I might otherwise be watching TV breaking news, which is mostly the same each day.
And maybe I could get a running start through the holiday season by designating a day to roast chestnuts or make figgy pudding, if there is such a thing, and watch holiday movies. I’m pretty sure finding fresh figs via curbside pickup would be an event more memorable than taking out the garbage, and I’m willing to try it.
All this brings us back to movies and “Groundhog Day.” I still think of cold water when I hear the title. But I do recall that in the end, the never-ending day finally took a turn for the better with a shift in perspective.
Maybe that’s what’s called for here. And maybe that’s what my son was suggesting when he mentioned it in the first place. It wouldn’t be the first time I learned something from my kids.
Balancing Act author Pat Snyder is a northwest Columbus resident and life-balance speaker and coach. Find her at PatSnyderOnline.com.