It is the New Year, or a few days into it, but I feel some unresolved business with my old year. Over Christmas, we all got HFMD. It was rough. The baby was inconsolable and we didn’t know what was happening until her pox developed. A few days later, I got an insane fever and basically couldn’t leave my bed for two days. Somewhere in there was my birthday and New Year’s Eve.
It was almost funny how over the top the situation was. Think you can have your parents watch the baby for a day while you go off and do something fun for your birthday? Think again! And when we got back to NYC, we were all just exhausted and I felt very much like I had missed our vacation.
The old year brought us a lot of changes…namely MG. And I do think it is teaching me to roll with the punches, because what other choice do you really have?
Here’s to a healthy and happy 2020 for all of us!
Week one of my Sabbath homework was deciding the following things:
- When would Sabbath fall into our weekly routine?
- What would be our Sabbath starting and ending rituals?
- What are nourishing activities (but not to-dos) that we could enjoy on our Sabbath?
R and I started to chat about this. Hear are preliminary thoughts.
1. Sabbath would be all day Sunday. So from bedtime Saturday (no working while asleep!) through likely the baby’s bedtime on Sunday. We’ll at least try that for now and see how it works.
2. Starting ritual would be lighting candles and a short meditation after the baby goes to bed on Saturday. Maybe a declaring of intentions? Or some sort of blessing could be nice. Sometimes we have post-baby dinner dates but we often don’t like to eat that late so I’m not sure we’d want to do that weekly.
3. Nourishing activities would include:
- Having friends over
- Eating delicious food (but not intensively making it…so making something in advance or doing prep in advance?) or just getting take-out?
- Both of us playing with the baby at once, instead of one of us playing and one of us doing errands
- Napping while the baby naps
- Long showers
- Taking a break from screens
- Taking a break from errands
We found a cool sort of online course where you practice Sabbath for 7 weeks and focus on something different each week. So these are our guidelines for week 1. We’ll see how the next few weeks go!
Most years, I make a resolution. Or at least more of an intention. I’m generally happy with my life, but I’ll try to tweak things in certain areas. I’ve been thinking about 2020 and what keeps coming to mind for me is the Sabbath. Creating Sabbath within my own life.
As a secular person, I do feel a bit weird about adopting a religious tradition outside of context. But I honestly think people with formal structured Sabbath are probably happier that those without. A forced rest – time for relaxation, away from the never-ending to-do list.
So what would I want a secular sabbath to look like:
- clear starting and ending points
- without my phone (I’ve been thinking about getting a sabbath-specific dumbphone so I can see people but not use the internet)
- a delicious activity: a meal with friends, a massage, a long shower with wine – something that nourishes
I want to some more reading on this…looking at this and this
I’ve been working from home a lot lately and have been very much enjoying it. I get to have a walking commute for daycare drop-off, go grocery shopping on my way home when the stores are empty, and look out onto trees while I work. I work all morning using my lightbox and get to stand up and walk around a lot.
I also love making a meal. Instead of taking 15 minutes to go to Sweetgreen and drop $15 on a salad, I’ve been making a giant mushroom, spinach, goat cheese omelet every day. I get to make my own delicious hazelnut iced coffee and drink it from a reusable cup with a stainless steel straw.
And instead of having 15-minute breaks between meetings when I only have time to refresh wapo.com, I get to wash a set of dishes or go put laundry in the washer, or chop some veggies.
And the focused work! I get to turn my email off and…work. Perfect working environment, good mindset, productive super focus.
This contrasts now to days when I am in the office and it is run, run. run all day but often without any real work to show for it.
I have been wanting to write for a long time, but haven’t prioritized it. Life has been good. R and I are both back at work but it has been better than I thought it would be. I have become a drop-off pro, greatly facilitated by the fact that I work from home three days a week. MG is insanely cute, crawling around like a maniac and with very clear preferences. The whole world is her oyster.
I’ve been thinking a bit about the holidays and new traditions. I have a real aversion to traveling anywhere with MG. I firmly think travel is not for the baby, but for the parents (though in our case, mostly an obligation). Babies I think, at least our baby, really like sleeping in their own crib, being the masters of their own place, and spending a lot of time with people they like and know. With Thanksgiving coming up, I am very, very tempted to just bail and do what we want instead. There is something interesting to me about how grandparents (who are retired) get to be visited instead of visit, while working people with families have to cram that into already limited time off. Wow, how crotchety do I sound? I guess I have a sense that it’s not worth spending free time out of obligation. I’ve been very into the simpler life – a life where a good Saturday is making a delicious soup and eating it with bread and friends and taking a walk and watching The Americans while the baby naps. That to me, right now, is much more nourishing that going to check out the new MoMA or taking the train anywhere.
I haven’t done a formal monthly review since January 2019, but I was in the mood to restart. Something about fall back-to-school nostalgia maybe, or starting a new month where both R and I are working full-time.
1. What went well this month?
- Phone foyer! I heard this funny phrase to describe exactly what R and I have been doing. MG is creepily obsessed with our phones, so we’ve been leaving them in our mudroom. If you want to use your phone between 4-8 pm, you have to use it in there where she can’t see you. It’s been really nice actually in terms of making the rest of our house a phone-free space.
2. What didn’t go so well this month?
- Meditation. I wasn’t able to go to our meditation group at all and really miss having a formal practice. I’d like to make more space for it in future months.
3. What did I work on last month and how did it go?
- Just rolling with the moment. Overall, I think it went great. It was a month where I didn’t really make plans in advance, and spent most nights after MG’s bedtime on the sofa lounging. But it did make me feel a little antsy. R and I used to spend a lot of nice time doing puzzles while listening to podcasts, or playing games and I feel like recently we’ve been a bit lazy about having nourishing downtime versus lazy downtime.
4. What am I working toward?
- A weekday morning routine. In November, I’ll be doing daycare drop-offs but will likely also keep working from home most days. I’m likely going to make a full post on this, but I’d like to make a new morning routine that sets me up well for the day.
- Productivity. So far at work, I’ve been able to leave work at 4 and avoid having a post-bedtime shift. I’d like to keep it up so when I get home from work, I’m totally available to play and connect with MG and R.
- Simplifying. I’ve just been really over stuff recently. I did a big clean of our mudroom and want to tackle our coat closet next. (Yes, I am blessed with storage space in my NYC apartment!). Clearing out junk has been very satisfying to me. But also simplifying in terms of how we are spending our time – embracing lazy days at home with soup on the stove.
Tomorrow starts October. A month where my partner turns 40 and has his last month of parental leave, MG starts daycare, and its Halloween and Diwali, back to back. It’s making me feel very pre-nostalgic. Fall is a very fresh start, back-to-school sense for me, but it increasingly makes me think of growing old and dying. Or, just dying. Who knows when? I often wear an extremely comfortable, enormous t-shirt to bed that says “this body will be a corpse.” It’s morbid but true (and no, I did not buy this shirt — it was given to me from a meditation center that was closing). I feel like MG is so fun and so much of a kid right now — like has clear thoughts and preferences, and you can actually communicate with her. At the same time, she’s such a cuddly, squishy, loving and loveable baby. I wish I could sort of pause this era of my life. I would not have said this even a month or two ago, but it makes me look forward to having another baby.
Often I try to commit to monthly goals, but this month, I want to just try embracing the messiness lovingly and mindfully. So I commit to loving presence and daily meditation practice, and lots of grace for myself and for others.