I was going to write about something else today, but I changed my mind when I sat down at the computer. Sheesh. That’s the second time in a week that’s happened. I guess I’m more mercurial than usual these days. More changeable, less predictable. Like the weather where some of you live, I can run the gamut of all the emotional seasons in one day. And I need to go with whatever is on my mind to be able to write. This post might be the one productive thing I do all day. Which is a big deal because lately my productivity levels have become important to me. And achieving just one thing each day is my new productivity goal.
It’s the pandemic, I know. The enforced confinement to home. Last week I thought that if we’re going to be in lockdown it might as well be winter. This week, I wish it were anything but winter. So I have to find a way to muddle through, like we all do.
Even those of us who, like me, are grateful to be warm and fed and healthy and, while not wealthy, are financially secure. Whose families are, as far as we know, healthy and relatively safe. And, at least for me, whose mum although elderly and therefore at risk is nevertheless cared for by several lovely, kind ladies who make her yummy suppers. And whose daughter makes sure she has enough books to read. Ha. I just had to put that last bit in there. Because after warmth, food, and safety, having enough books to read is way up on the essentials for life list. In my opinion.
So even those of us whose basic essentials of life are not in peril, even we need to find a way to muddle through the rest of the bleeping never-ending winter in a lockdown during a pandemic. And for me that means I have to find a way to feel better about the state of things. To feel as if I am somewhat productive, useful, of value to the world. I know, that’s total hyperbole, but it’s how I sometimes feel. And so to NOT feel like a slug, a schlump, a failure at life (hyperbole, again) I need a goal. And that goal is to do one thing each day that seems productive to me.
Of course there are loads of things I could be doing. I have made mental lists of them in my head as I drift off to sleep at night. So many things… like signing up for an online course, joining a zoom fitness class, taking up some kind of craft or handiwork, getting back on track with my drawing, baking, whatever. But when a new day dawns, the thought of taking up any of these activities bores me to tears, and then just makes me cranky. I feel like an angsty teenager. And sometimes that angst even bubbles to the surface before I can tamp it down.
So I metaphorically go into my room, close the door, and sulk. For a few minutes. Usually until I’ve finished my first cup of tea. And then I get on with my day. Make the bed, have breakfast, tidy up, read my email and blog comments, and decide what to do for the rest of the day. By then I’m usually cheerful and all smiles.
Have I mentioned that I’m a Gemini? Geminis are known for being changeable. And Pandemic Geminis… well… need I say more?
This morning when I asked myself, “What productive thing should I achieve today?” I was reminded of when I first retired. Hubby was diagnosed with heart disease on my very first day of retirement. So all our plans were put on hold and a winter of stress and fear began. Pain, fear, stress, and frustration for him. Stress, fear, and wondering if this was what retirement would be like… for me. But we muddled through. And we will muddle through this too.
But I have not forgotten the feeling I had that first winter of retirement: that I was of no use to anyone. I had gone from being a successful teacher and department head, who told lots of kids what to do every day, managed staff committees, and raced through each day, getting stuff done all over the place… to someone who couldn’t even shovel snow without bawling. I wish I could go back to that winter and tell my younger self to go easy, and be a bit kinder to herself.
And since I have not forgotten that feeling of uselessness, I know enough now to make a plan to stave it off. So. One thing a day. That’s my plan.
Today I achieved several things. Well, I will have by the time I’ve finished this post. I washed and cut my hair, trimmed up around my ears and cut a teensy bit off my bangs. Just to feel a bit less shaggy. I went for my walk. Fitness goals are important to me. I talked to my mum on the phone and afterward ordered her some books. And now I’m writing this post.
Hair, walk, Mum, blog post… that’s four things. Today has been a very productive day. I now feel as if I’ve earned the right to loll around with my book and a cup of tea for a while this afternoon.
I know that by virtue of the many years I taught and worked hard at my job, and by virtue of Hubby and I saving our money and planning for retirement, I don’t need to “earn” the right to loll with my book. And I don’t need to apologize for being fortunate enough to be able to retire. But somewhere in the back of my mind I always feel as if I need to say that I know how privileged I am. That I know many, many others who have worked way harder than me are not able to retire. Are not safe and warm and well fed, like me. And I hope I don’t sound like some princess whining, “Boo hoo, my castle is so boring. How can I bear it?”
I can bear it, no worries there. I’m grateful for everything we have. But this winter, well, at times I do feel as if I need to justify my good fortune, at least to myself. I need to stave off feeling low by giving myself a good shake. Then get on with achieving my “one thing” goal. Going for a brisk walk, cutting my bangs, and ordering my mum some books online.
Then sitting down at the computer to tell you guys all about it.
P.S. Thanks to my friend Frances over at Materfamilias Writes for inspiring this post with her own post about her to-do list. You can read it here.
How have your productivity levels been lately my friends? Or is that not something you even worry about? And if you don’t, lucky you. Keep up the good work.