For the past 15 years or so, I’ve worked to explore and create routines and rituals. Yesterday’s diary entry outlined a few of my routines — morning meditation, afternoon tea and an evening walk — but I didn’t go into all of my practices, the fact that my mornings, afternoons and evenings are like this by design or why I do these specific things. Today is not a Monday, which means fewer conference calls, fewer emails to return and, thankfully, there were no crisis to handle, like yesterday. I had three stories to write and file by the end of the workday, in addition to creating and scheduling social media posts, the usual email correspondence, calls, editing of other people’s stories and managing the beginning stages of production for one of the magazines I oversee.
It sounds like a lot when I write it down, and it is, but I like being productive and thrive in a bustling and active environment. The routines and rituals I’ve established are in fact one of the things that enable me to do so much in the course of a day. Another thing that happens when you have habits built into your day however, is that when your world — or the entire world — careens into chaos due to say, a global pandemic, you have something familiar to anchor you.
There are days when life gets in the way of my rituals, because I’m human and the Universe has quite the sense of humor. When that happens, I have to be OK with setting some things aside for the day or maybe even a few days, with the promise of getting back at it. It’s about progress, not perfection, right? Some people probably think this sounds like monotony. There was a time when I thought so too, but I’ve come to realize that the repetition is part of the point. It’s practice. On my best days, it feels as though I’ve been training for this moment in time.
3:53 a.m. Mr. Percy the Diabetic Cat decides that middle-of-the-night snuggles are extremely important right now. It’s my own fault, because I never deny him. We both fall back asleep though, so no harm, no foul. Until …
6:21 a.m. I have to kick Mr. Percy out of the bedroom again. This has become a very “Groundhog Day”-esque ritual that I’d rather give up, but here we are.
6:55 a.m. After unsuccessfully attempting to fall back asleep, I get up and perform the all-important routine of feeding Mr. Percy, giving him his insulin, watering and feeding myself and my windowsill garden and spending time with my Noom app doing the readings, lessons and food logging, before settling in for my morning meditation and then freewriting in a notebook for about 10 or 20 minutes. This joint ritual helps me start the day by nourishing the living things in my house, cultivating calm and getting thoughts and feelings on paper so I can set them aside and get on with things. When I don’t do this for a few days, it shows. I get cranky, on edge and am short with myself and others — nobody wants this.
7:46 to 10:41 a.m. I spent time scheduling social media posts and sending and responding to emails. It was pretty quiet and rather enjoyable, but boring to write about and for you to read, so I’m sorry, but wait until you read what happened next!
10:42 a.m. I’m really glad I wrote down the time, because something happened that changed our lives. Let me preface this by telling you that Mr. Percy starts meowing anywhere from a half hour to an hour before every meal or snack. That time before each feeding can be brutal and often results in him being put in time-out in another room (with his litter box and water — we are good pet parents!). On a whim, Mark cued up a cat video on his laptop and y’all, Mr. Percy was into it! He remained mesmerized and we worked in peace until lunchtime. Yes, we are now the kind of pet parents who use screens to placate and babysit. DON’T JUDGE US!
12:03 p.m. Our grocery delivery dropped right in time for lunch, so we spent most of our break performing our new food safety coronavirus sanitizing ritual, which involves bleach spraying the countertop, sectioning it off into “dirty” and “clean” sides, removing cardboard packaging and bleach spraying and wiping everything that can be cleaned that way, washing produce in soapy water and yelling at Mark for putting cleaned items back down on the dirty side, causing us to have to reclean the item. This is part of another new ritual in which I go into a vicious mental spiral about whether or not my hands are clean after cleaning an item and did I just touch my face? We had tuna salad sandwiches with sanitized lettuce and onion on wheat and a freshly scrubbed banana for lunch, in case you were wondering.
1:15 p.m. After editing through the eating portion of lunch (again — I have to stop doing this, because it’s not a very mindful practice), I got back to writing.
3 p.m. Tea time! Today I had a cup of green tea with lemongrass. It seemed almost daring after — in an ongoing effort to induce serenity — having chamomile for so many days in a row. I felt so alive! After drinking my tea, I ate a pristinely clean carrot and then a spotless apple.
3:55 p.m. We were both working in the living room and it started to feel cold, so I turned off the A/C. Mark said, “Thank you, Ice Lord,” and I laughed and then walked over to write down his quote, which I will definitely need to give to my attorney to enter into evidence for the trial.
5:29 p.m. Once again, I’m coming to the end of my workday. I’m actually stopping on time today (or just a little over), which is a welcome reprieve that I attribute in part to having hit the mark on all of my routines and rituals so far today. We’ll go for our daily walk at about 6 p.m., come home and feed and insulin Mr. Percy, cook and eat dinner together and then I’ll read for an hour or so. At around 9 p.m., I’ll start my pre-bedtime routine, which is how I wind down and settle myself for a good night’s sleep. It involves my time-honed skincare routine, lovingly crafted to prevent me from looking like a goblin in the daylight, taking my allergy medicine, putting on PJs and then doing a little yoga. When that’s done, I put away the electronics and read until bedtime, which is around 10 p.m. or sometimes 11.
Today was quite simply a perfect day, which I do not take for granted. We have food on the table, a roof over our heads and, for now, we are healthy and have jobs. I am profoundly grateful in such precarious times for those things and for the little rituals and routines that sustain me — even the one anywhere from 3:53 a.m. to 7 a.m. that involves a hungry, attention-seeking furball.
The Corona Diaries is a joint project of the Renaissance Publishing Staff. Each week during the series, a different member of our staff will share their day-to-day experiences with working from home, social distancing and the other ups and downs of living through the pandemic.