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Things to Remember When This Season Ends

So much of much of 2020 has not been what I expected. At lot of events and ways that we live in this season are disappointing. What is most sad for me is not being able to see my family and friends freely. As many let downs as we've all had this year, there are quite a few things I want to remember when this season ends, however long that takes. When I refer to 'this season' I realize that means so many different things to different people.

For me, this season looks like continuing to go to work everyday and helping to navigate an essential business through all of the regulations and guidelines, some of which especially early on, change daily. I also began a graduate degree program. I had plans to return to school set and confirmed long before COVID was part of our lives and luckily, the program is completely online so it was already set up to operate during these times without a last minute scramble. My job work combined with school work is new to me on top of navigating pandemic life and the combination of the two have create and changed some habits that I hope to someday be able to look back at this time and be thankful for some takeaways. Some things are so simple and silly but nonetheless I'm documenting so I can remember.

-Online crossword puzzles. Early on, I was doing the daily crossword puzzle on the USA Today website just about every day. I had no idea I would enjoy it that much but for some reason I did it once in April and realized it was fun. I don't have time to do the crossword everyday anymore but I do it most Saturdays and Sundays right after I get up while I drink coffee and prepare to exercise. I hope that a few years down the road when life is back to some level of normal and I say I'm bored or there's nothing to do, I remember the 15-20 minutes of enjoyment I get from the crossword.

-Large grocery hauls. Starting in March, I was going to the grocery store every 4-6 weeks. My bill was embarrassingly high but averaged out over 4-6 weeks, it was what I would have spent if I shopped weekly. Buying that much was hard work, it took time to plan what to buy, time at the store, time to unload and put everything away at home but it was worth it to not think about what we needed for the next month or month and a half. I bough just as much fresh food as I thought we could get through before it went bad and the last few weeks before the next trip were more frozen items. Interestingly, when it was time to shop again, I was by far most excited for fresh vegetables and salad ingredients. Recently, I haven't been going to quite that extreme but I'm trying not to make any more store trips than necessary for safety but it's also nice not to have to go to the store every single week. One way that I am prolonging trips is by supplementing by going to the farmers market near my office at lunch. For instance, last week, we had meat in the freezer so I got Brussels sprouts, spaghetti squash, and eggplant over lunch one day and we were easily able to pull that together to have meals for the week without a grocery trip.

-Real carrots and buttered toast. This is very silly but I really do forget how good real carrots are. I get too hasty and buy baby carrots for something quick and healthy to eat but they are terrible compared to real carrots, they taste like nothing. Carrots last a little longer than some vegetables and it doesn't take that long to peel and cut them and they taste so good! I also forgot how good buttered toast is. I bought bread on my early grocery hauls but didn't have a specific plan on what to do with it and I ended up using it to make toast, often to supplement salad for a meal. I started looking forward to a nice big salad and toast at the end of a long work day.

-Watching much less TV. I will be the first to admit I watch too much TV. It seems like when so many things are closed and cancelled, I would watch even more but I wasn't finding any joy in watching TV just to watch it. I'm still watching my few favorite shows but I usually don't watch TV during the week, I focus more on school work in the evenings and then I catch up on recorded shows over the weekend but I'm still often weeks behind. I also realized I don't really like to have the TV on while I'm doing things just to have it on. Dan was working 2nd shift over the summer and most weeks, I didn't turn it on at all except for the weekends. Who knew I would love not watching hours of mindless TV?!

-Home workouts. I had a total of three gym memberships which sounds crazy but I actually used all three. I took classes at two fitness studios, one I went to at 5am at least two mornings a week before work and one is a block from my office so I would go there at least twice a week after work. I also had a membership to a regular gym so I could have access to a treadmill and weights and other equipment. Suddenly I had zero access to any of those places. Actually, I'm not sure when I would have gone. This spring and summer, I had many days where I worked from 7am to 7pm and sometimes I have to go to work at 5am or 6am and I often don't know that until the day before. I would not have been able to go to even the earliest class or the latest class of the day. It took me a bit to catch my bearings on how to get back to home workouts. I have done many home workouts but it hadn't been a regular thing for awhile. I'm still running every day and I eventually landed on the Peloton app which was offering a 90 day free trial. When I signed up for the trial in April, I thought that 90 days would get me through COVID and I would be back to my gyms after that. I actually ended up LOVING the app. I felt like the app was so beneficial that I ordered a spin bike, not the Peloton bike but an off brand that I use with the Peloton app and I'm really enjoying the strength, cycling, running, and yoga classes on the app. The app is $12.99 a month and I use it every single day. I'm starting to see some nice definition in my arms and I don't even have to leave my house. When I think of the schedule I keep with work and school, I am so happy that I'm not getting up at 4:15am a few mornings a week on top of that. For an hour workout, I was spending close to 2 hours to drive there, workout, and drive home. I still exercise or do school work on the morning sometimes but my whole schedule has quite a bit more efficiency with home workouts. I loved the workouts and the people at the gyms and I might decide to return at some point but I don't need to spend that much time to get a decent workout right now.

-Online shopping. I have shopped online before but not more than necessary. Amazon Prime has a special price for students and its a really good deal. I initially signed up to save the cost of shipping on my text books but we've been ordering other things as well and the shipping is really fast, often next day, and free. Not everything is a great deal on Amazon but I've found quite a few things to be great deals and nice to have delivered to my porch. I've also ordered from Target online quite a bit too. Sometimes I have items shipped to my house but I've done the drive up pickup quite a few times. I never used drive up before this year but it is so nice! My philosophy is that I put myself at risk every time I walk into a store so I try to reduce that wherever I can. I don't want someone else to pick out my groceries but the items I would purchase from Target are simple and don't require picking out. The employee puts that order in your trunk and away you go.

-Lots of time at home. It's almost a relief to have so much time at home and not have to think about what I have to do while I'm home. When we're traveling frequently and going here and there doing this and that, time at home almost feels like you have to cook, clean, do laundry, and get rested and refreshed all at once and quickly. I look forward to nice long Saturdays not going anywhere.

-Sleep meditation. Sometimes I have trouble falling asleep and I've had great success with the sleep meditation classes on the Peloton app I often chose a 5 minute meditation and I've only heard the end of it a handful of times. I am frequently asleep before the 5 minutes ends.

-Video chats. Prior to COVID, my close friends and I would do our best to get together as often as possible but we live within about a 2 hour radius and everyone is busy, we all have jobs, some have kids and its tough to coordinate. We would often get together one on one within the group but even that could be cumbersome to schedule. In March we started a Monday night video chat and it's wonderful. I have not seen my friends this much since we were in college and lived on the same campus. Not everyone is able to make it every week and some of us log on late or sign off early but the call usually lasts about 2 hours and it's something that we've all agreed we look forward to and hope to keep it going even after COVID. I'm also thankful that video chats allow me to see my family every Sunday night but we all live close to each other and I'm ready for us to be able to get together in person again.

For my own self, I wanted to remember the glimmers of goodness and good habits and changes from this season.


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