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Something my mother has done for years is now something I have begun to do with my having more time at home during the spring which I never have had the opportunity to savor in the past – beginning the day next to the fireplace, hot cup of something to sip within reach, still in my robe and wearing slippers (because it is below freezing in the morning still!), pups snuggled near and waking up with the sun.
Waking up to a day you are looking forward to experiencing and making your way through it well is the goal for every day, so when we are tasked with staying in the same location for days on end without a known end in sight, it can be a tricky navigation. However, with conscious effort, and admittedly with practice it does become easier, our days and many hours at home can become truly pleasurable.
Two weeks ago I shared in episode #280 12 Daily and Weekly Rituals & Routines You Love, and many readers and listeners asked for more, so today I wanted to share with you 22 ideas for making the abundance of time we have either working or being at home more pleasurable.
I continue to update this post because as I go about my day I will remember, Oh! That is something I enjoy doing too!. Admittedly, so many of the ideas I share below are regularly savored in my daily and weekly routine no matter what is going on in the world, but those shared today are especially helpful now and hopefully will be helpful to you and yours as well to enable you to be more present, see more of the goodness that is waiting to be treasured and make the most of our uncertain times.
Quickly, back to the daily morning ritual I have begun enjoying whilst sitting next to the fireplace. As I shared on IG Stories, I find this time quite pleasurable and cathartic as my mind is overflowing with ideas I do not want to forget, so I will sometimes have a journal to pen out my thoughts, or update a post as I am doing now when I think of how I can improve it, or plan my day. It truly is as Anne Shirley shares, a brand new day with no mistakes in it and oh, what a deep breath of gratitude I take each time I think about that fact. Let’s get to the list!
1.Set up a Bird Cafe
Currently in the northern hemisphere, birds are migrating and mating. The music they are making is magical and uplifting, but simply watching them at my bird feeder has always delighted me, and now more than ever, it is therapeutic.
Many readers have asked about where to find bird feeders similar to what they have seen in my stories, so I wanted to share the links (see below). Do remember to thoughtfully place your bird feeder so that cats and squirrels cannot take advantage for their own unique desires. I purchase no-mess bird seed from our local bird shop which is still open for curbside pick-ups thankfully during this time because my neighborhood birds are currently dining frequently.
2. Wake up early and gently begin your day
I wanted to include this idea one more time because as I shared in the introduction of this post, this one is new to me, and I continue to savor it because it brings so much pleasure. While I will still go through my morning routine – breakfast, meditation, walk about the neighborhood with the boys – now, before all of that routine begins, I sit. I sit sometimes for 10 minutes, sometimes 30 or 40 and I ponder what the day can bring. Norman usuallly sits by the fireplace next to me while Oscar walks about the house, passing by to say hello and then go somewhere else and nap. Gradually the birds will begin stopping by for their breakfast, and if the sky is clear, near the end of my sitting, the morning sunlight will begin to trickle into the house. I certainly am looking forward to welcoming this ritual into my life well after all of this unique time in history is behind us.
3. Make the trips to the mailbox a break to stretch your legs
Having dogs, I thoroughly enjoy the quick break we take to go pick up the mail from the mailbox (ours is at a neighborhood location). At approximately mid-day, we dress up for a short jaunt outside. The boys get to say hello to the world, and I get to see what the world has delivered to me. I am so thankful the mail is still running smoothly as I will admit, I love this daily ritual and look forward, after Sunday, to our trips to the mailbox to resume when Monday arrives.
4. Try that recipe you’ve been wanting to give a go but didn’t have the time previously
So many TSLL readers have been reaching out sharing while they enjoyed The Simply Luxurious Kitchen’s video last fall of how to make croissants, they never gave it a go because of time restraints; however, now they have given it a try with the extra time they have at home and are having wonderful results! I have shared many of them on my IG Stories, check Highlights – Viewer’s Recipes to see how they have done.
5. Create a work area designated for “work” and cultivate it in such a way so that you want to arrive
Not all of us have offices in our homes to work, but creating such a space, however temporary, is a good idea to increase productivity and focus your attention. As someone who does work from home entirely in the summer months and throughout the school year when I arrive home from teaching, my office is some place I love being. The boys have their beds, I have a designated space for my teacup and planner, and notepads at-the-ready for taking notes or writing reminders to myself.
Nothing is frivolous if it makes your space inviting – a single bud vase for a fresh spring flower, a beautiful spring table cloth, moving your table closer to natural light. All of these details make a difference in helping cultivate a better work environment.
~Check out episode #60 for 25 Must-Haves for an Efficient Office Desk
6. Take in fresh air every day and walk outside
As a late morning walk yesterday morning, the boys and I headed outside in amongst the pine trees as the snow that had been falling all night and through the early morning had begun to melt and the sun began emerging through the clouds.
Through sun, snow and rain, Bendites are fortunate to be able to get out of their houses and walk in the good ole outdoors. With so many trails, off-roads, rivers and lakes, our outdoor playground, for which many chose to live here is our breath of fresh-air figuratively speaking (and literally too) during these current times. However, I know this is not the case for most TSLL readers especially if you are under strict shelter-in-place directives. With that said, simply opening the windows, stepping out onto your balcony and creating a daily ritual to be outside if there is space will do wonders for your mind and being. If where you are you are allowed to exercise once a day outdoors, take advantage of this. You need not be sweating and running to exercise. Moving the body by simply walking is powerful (it’s all I have done for over a decade).
7. Make the last show/music you watch/hear/etc. for each day be calming or uplifting in some way.
Whether I have been watching Gardener’s World or Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home or a cozy British mystery from ages ago, I watch something that does not agitate my mind, and is something I look forward to.
8. Plant your own seeds
As shared last week, such a simple activity (and inexpensive too) can bring so much hope and delight. Gardening centers and nurseries thankfully have been deemed essential businesses in Oregon, and while you may have to order ahead and pick up curbside, doing so is absolutely worth it.
And for anyone who cannot visit a nursery at the moment, why not plan your yard and garden while you have more time at home? In Monty Don’s Down to Earth book he details how to plan, imagine and bring to fruition the yard and garden you want, and you can do that all from inside your home.
9. Prepare and Repair your soil
Again, if you can purchase mulch and/or compost, seed and fertilizer from your local nursery, often they will deliver it for your home, and sometimes for free (Home Depot will deliver it for free).
As luck would have it, we are in the start of spring and have time to be home. Spring is one of the busiest times of the year for gardeners, and now we have time! As recommeded by Monty Don and his team on Gardener’s World Adam Frost and others, I will be mulching in the next week and repairing some of my soil that the boys have, well, made no longer green?. 😉
10. Revel in an evening ritual each evening
I stocked up on my favorite dark chocolate truffles a couple of weeks ago, ordering from a small Oregon business that has been keeping me supplied with this evening ritual nibble for ten years – Arrowhead Chocolates.
From having a favorite chair you lounge in, turning on a favorite music or television program, playing one game of backgammon with a loved one or taking a hot bath, cultivate an evening ritual to look forward to that calms your mind and upon completion makes it hard to keep your eyes open so that you can fall fast asleep.
11. Finish those projects that you now have time for
I know there has been much shared about being okay with not being productive, but in all sincerity, each of us is wired differently, and for me, working on a project is therapeutic and keeps me present as well feels highly rewarding and uplifting when complete. So if you, like me, find joy in projects – go forth and complete them!
I shared over the weekend that I completed hanging grasscloth wallpaper in my foyer, a project I had started two weeks ago. While a full reveal will happen later this month, be sure to check out IG Highlights – “butterfly” to see the images of progression, and a glimpse is shared in the image below.
12. Set a time for cleaning your home
Whether you want to clean once or twice a week or a little bit every day, setting up a routine for what will be cleaned when will be one less thing that will bring stress and therefore be less taxing on the mind.
I have begun doing a thorough cleaning mid-week as it is motivating to have a clean home as the work week begins to wrap up.
13. Maintain routines as much as possible
There are many benefits to routines, something I have a feeling if you are a long-time reader of this blog, you are well aware of. In January I wrote a detailed post on how and why to establish a daily routine, and such routines are more necessary now than ever before.
Currently, I am trying to set up a routine for my students regarding our online, remote learning because not only for me will this be helpful, but it will be something they too can count on and not have to adjust every new day thus reducing their stress as well.
In the new situation we find ourselves, we know that it will end, but having routines that are helpful, calming as well as tend to the necessities in our lives will help this time go far more smoothly and cause far less stress than we already may be feeling.
14. Stop looking at the clock
Granted there will be times throughout the day if you work from home or have to tend to necessary business you will need to look at the clock, but otherwise, release this “need” from your mentality.
Let yourself feel your way through the day. Each of us has our own unique living situation, and admittedly, living alone makes this easier, but modeling a more natural pace through the day for those you love will be helpful as they will see your stress reduce as a result. Do you need a brain break? Find natural light and just sit or walk or put your hands in the dirt. Do you need to rest? Give yourself permission to shut your eyes and take a nap. Do you need nourishment? Grab a fulfilling snack and sit still to enjoy it. Do you need time to yourself? Set your boundaries respectfully and take it (and let others do the same).
I don’t think I am an anomaly when I share because I do not have to have an alarm clock set to wake me up, I sleep longer and deeper each night, especially if I have exercised during the day. It helps, during these times, not to watch the news, and I find a direct correlation with a deep night’s sleep when I have not “checked in” throughout the day. Not having to live by a clock is therapeutic if we allow it to be so.
15. Make meals a special event, each day
It may sound excessive or unnecessary to do so every day, but you want to create moments to look forward to. From using your linen napkins, to pairing wine with your meal, to using the beautiful glassware you love, have fun and enjoy your meal even more by making it special. Perhaps this will be something you realize should be a part of your everyday life moving forward. Go even further and light the candles, turn on the music, place the bouquet of flowers on the table even if you only have one bouquet in the house and have to move it around to wherever you are. By doing these simple things, you are controlling what you can to elevate the moment, and every moment counts.
16. Dive into your creative outlet
For me it is writing and at the moment, home projects and the garden. Whatever it is for you, unabashedly dive in. Whether that is in the actually doing or maybe it is in learning more about your craft by watching or reading work shared by experts in the field. However you dive in, do so head-first. What time to do so could be better as it requires your focus completely and helps you be present rather wandering and worrying?
17. Put on your perfume/cologne (and everything else you would for work)
Yep, from taking your shower, doing your make-up (it may be simpler, but still, do what you need to feel your best) and wearing clothes that make you feel ready for the day, while you may be able to step out of your “work attire” sooner than normal during your day, getting dressed, getting ready creates delineation in your day, so that when the work day ends you can put it aside, and just be home.
Case in point, last week, for our first online class meeting, I wore what the students would have seen me in if I were standing in front of them in a classroom. While it may have set the proper tone for them, it also helped me step back into my teacher role. As well, I appreciated seeing fellow staffers in online meetings doing the same thing as it told me that they too were invested and focused.
18. Set clear work hours
Even though you may be working from home, if your household is not accustom to this, set clear working hours for them, but also for those you work with which will communicate the boundaries you need to have in place to do your job well and maintain healthy, respectful relationships. As a teacher, it is still important to take the weekend off. Communicating this clearly and respectfully to students and staff is important as while we may be at our homes, we are still inundated with the stress at work during the work week. Separating the work day from the rest of our lives helps us find a place to fully let go and unwind.
19. Do one spring “home” cleaning activity a week
Since it is the spring cleaning time of year, gradually making our way through these annual have-tos will feel rejuvenating to complete. From one weekend being the day to clean all the windows, to the next being when you turn on the sprinklers to yet another being when you go through your spring wardrobe to see what needs updating, donating, etc., use the additional time at home to cultivate a home that is refreshed and a joy to live in.
Spring Cleaning to Welcome Mother Nature’s New Year! 22 Ways to Start Fresh, episode #200
20. Turn on music that moves you through your day
While I have shared what I enjoy listening to many times, I have found I am listening to far more music these past couple of weeks, and it is soothing. Currently (as I type this) I am listening to French Cafe Music, and I find I gravitate toward Jazz in the evening with Classical music filling my work day and mornings.
21. Make a day of the week (or two) Take-Out Day
As we are cooking at home all day, each day, and restaurants need our support in these times, why not choose a day during the week to look forward to on which you order take-out from a favorite restaurant? If you live with others, have a different person select the restaurant each week to expand your dining experience or if you have a favorite restaurant or fewer to choose from, try something different from the menu each time. Or, stick to what you love and enjoy it once each week especially if it something you do not make in your own kitchen.
22. Have a chat over Facetime, Zoom, etc. and see a loved one’s face
The other day my mom called via Facetime so she could show me something about transplanting for my plants. I have to say, just seeing her face delighted me and lifted my mood. The conversation was not about anything serious, and it wasn’t even a long chat, but it was appreciated. Do that for others you love but are distanced from and do so in a way that you are comfortable. Whether it is to talk or to watch a common show or movie together or have a meal together or anything you would normally do, but for now you have to do it virtually, do so. You will create lovely memories to reflect upon in the years to come.
I hope these ideas sparked new inspiration for your daily routine. If nothing else, we have an opportunity to learn about ourselves, to understand if we need to learn better coping skills, to discover if we already have well-toned coping skills, to discover if we handle stress well or can learn to handle it better, as well as to be more self-aware of our needs and address them when times are seemingly going just fine. Do we communicate well? How can we communicate more effectively for the sake of our own mental health and the relationships we wish to maintain with others? So much is being presented to us to learn from, but instead of feeling overwhelmed, perhaps just choose one observation and work with it for a while and see what you discover about yourself. That may just be the diamond in the rough in this entire unwanted world situation.