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.

The trail that never seems to end.

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?

Winter… beautiful… but so long.

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.


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Do me a favour, if you’re in the mall or the grocery store and you see an old teacher, please go and say hello. You’ll make their day. And maybe even your own.

83 thoughts on “Just One Thing… Every Day”

  1. I take great comfort in your posts, Sue – I feel like we are living a parallel life in lockdown! I can totally relate to how you feel about retiring and what you know you have been able to juggle compared to the struggle of managing slower days. Most mornings I write a to do list in my agenda – in pencil – for what seem like the most inane things – just so I can check off something …anything..to make me feel useful. Exercise has always been a priority, and I’m grateful it is not a chore for me. With little motivation, I only tell myself I must do something “productive “ for 10 minutes…dust, clean a bathroom…organize a drawer..I can do anything for 10 minutes, and then get to check something off my list. Surprisingly, it works pretty well and things get done. I’m not crafty, will eat everything I bake in short order so that’s out of the question, have decluttered every drawer, closet , the kitchen and basement. Thank heavens for books, good friends to chat to, family, boundless amounts of movies and shows to watch the winter away, and of course, wonderful blogs to make you remember that we are all going through the same thing.

    1. Thanks, Laurie. It’s always nice to know that my ramblings are not putting people off. Sometimes I think I talk too much about this stuff… but it’s what is on my mind, sooo…. 🙂 I love your idea of a to do list. Nothing is too small or inconsequential to add and then check off. Ha.

  2. I retired 8/19. Right before the Pandemic. Someone at church told me to do one thing every day. So that’s what I do. When Ray, my long distance partner calls me, he asks, what’s your one thing today? Sometimes the next week looms large with nothing to do. But I soon have several things come up to do. The library here in my Northern Californian town opened in November, I think. So I can order books online and pick them up when they email me. Thank God for books!

  3. Everybody’s nerves are frayed. Even people whose lives and routines are barely changed by lockdowns. We are starved for social contact. We are starved for novelty. In trying to save our physical health, our mental health is taking a beating.
    I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa in the 1980s–no electricity or running water. I’ve seen starving children. I know how lucky I am–we are. But what keeps people going through hardship is community, and right now the best thing for the community is solitude. OK for a while but this is too long.
    So don’t beat yourself up. You aren’t alone in feeling at loose ends. And you certainly aren’t whining.
    Re getting things done: well, to avoid buckling down on work for pay, which would require concentration, I am looking at blogs, which give me a semblance of socializing. And I thank you for that!

    1. The problem of lockdown in winter is that it’s so much harder to choose to get outside. Of course I do choose… but all that bundling is too much some days.

  4. It is a comfort to read that others are struggling with similar issues. I retired in May 2019, after 40 years working in university administration. We relocated to the Netherlands to be closer to my husband’s two children and six grandchildren, and my son and his wife who live in the UK and are expecting a baby in April. We had grand plans to travel but are grounded by the pandemic and also had to readjust after my husband had a health scare. We are also financially secure after years of hard work and careful planning so are grateful to have avoided the crushing worries that many are struggling with these days. We have all known hard times at some point and have various ways to “keep busy “ . For me these include cycling, knitting,quilting, reading, cooking, and now, online scrabble with my neighbour back in Ontario – all productive and absorbing pastimes to occupy my mind, lift my mood and prevent marital discord. We will get through this and thanks to blogs like yours we know we are not alone. That is very productive, thank you Sue!

    1. I can relate to all the grand retirement plans being on hold. I still remember Hubby arriving home from his cardiac follow-up and speaking in French… Paris here we come! Our trip had been postponed and postponed, and finally we went. Yah!

  5. Well, there goes my next blog post…but yes. I was considering this very thing only an hour ago as I strolled back from work. Pre-pandemic I was always niggled by a sense that, retired though I was, I should in some way still be productive and proactive because…you know…not giving in or giving up etc etc. I don’t feel like that at all now. My one priority is very simple: I will not become a statistic. 100,000 plus people have died here in the UK in less than a year. So I will do my exercise, slough off the sofa-induced excess that has gathered since November and follow the guidelines. That will do. Everything else is just a way to pass the time; useful in its way to keep me going. I read, I write, I walk, I tidy and chat and all of these are directed to one end and all are worthwhile if that purpose is to be achieved. In the past, my single-mindedness has prompted comment both positive and negative. Good. Courage. Keep going along the trail. It will lead us out.

  6. Yes! I was just bemoaning my string of sloth-like days/weeks but I am blaming it on our American politics! I am glued to watching and reading the news.
    When I remember my hectic teaching days, the long grading periods, and the constant keeping current with my subject matter, I am thankful to have these less-demanding days! Your “one thing” mantra reminded me of my original retirement goal to do one creative thing each day…even a new recipe. Thanks for this reminder!
    Going to read Frances’ post now…

    1. Oh, the political news on TV does not help. Especially when I live with someone who is now addicted. I plug in my headphones and listen to a gentle read. 🙂

  7. I’m doing the same thing but the other way round . If my mind is a whirl as I’m trying to sleep at night I go through the little things I’ve achieved that day . Never anything major . If I was younger & not in the danger zone I would volunteer to do something useful . I hear the volunteers at the big vaccination centre near us are doing a great job herding folk around but I don’t want to end up in a hospital bed using up resources. Top of the list is always the morning dog walk – over an hour , often more . Exercise yes , but social interaction too . I just wish my hearing was better when we chat to friends at such a distance ! Then there’s usually a household task as I can’t race through it all as I used to do . Yesterday I attacked the cooker . It’s getting more wear these days . I’ve always enjoyed trying new recipes but there were other things going on , so there’s more experimenting now . Especially when the food delivery is due & there are only odd bits & pieces left . Then after a few tasks I’m happy to settle with my books , puzzles & as it gets dark the TV . All this would be much harder without the internet & your blog .
    I do remember Stu being ill & it’s great now to see him chopping wood , biking & carrying that canoe again . He’s recovered so well .

  8. When there are serious health issues,other things are so unimportant-I’m so happy that Stu has recovered completelly
    Socrates said” Beware the barrenness of a busy life”( he said a lot of other clever things :))….so,I’m enjoying exploring it. My life was never so slow going,but time passes so fast
    One thing a day is good,rituals are soothing as well , having a timetable is good….and leaving some time for (pleasant!) unexpected things….. I really enjoy walks,they are lovely and a way to exit the house
    I love Annie’s :” My one priority is very simple:I will not became a statistic”- this is the most important thing!

  9. On the same wavelength again. Nothing to talk about, nothing to do, nothing to look forward to – poor, pitiful me, healthy, with a warm house, plenty of food, a job to go to and a good salary and benefits – I’d better shut up! But still. You’ve actually given me an idea for a new blog post – thanks, friend!

  10. I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago and very much enjoy your “musings”. My husband and I have been retired for many years now, and I admit that this past year I have become a bit of a slug. Many days I don’t accomplish much of anything except keeping us fed. Does that count for accomplishing something each day? My husband has a blood cancer, thanks to Agent Orange exposure in Viet Nam years ago, so I have actually appreciated all this alone and together time we have had this year. We both agree that, for us, the year has passed very quickly. I received my first dose of the Pfizer CoVID vaccine last Thursday, and my husband gets his tomorrow.
    The next one is in three weeks. Hopefully then we can cautiously get out and about a little bit.

  11. Just wanted to say thank you, Sue, for your posts & thoughts. Good to know my thoughts & fears aren’t unique to me.

  12. Productivity….hhhmmm. Fair to middling. Many, many times I have wished my home was bigger, not for more work to clean it! Bigger so I had more room to walk/pace. Coronavirus has made caged animals out of us. That being said, I am truly blessed. Not as grateful as I should be, but blessed. I have a husband (caged Gorilla!), a warm home, plenty to eat, our health, and there are any number of things I could be doing around this house, I just need to do them! I think the problem is covid restrictions have forced us to do them. Oh well, take a deep breath, go make a cuppa and as my Mother says, this too shall pass. Have a good day everyone.

  13. While waiting for the vaccine, I’m tackling a number of house de-cluttering projects. We’re not in lockdown, but have self-imposed boundaries for what we will do. And now comes the advice to double mask!! Yes, we can and will do this too.
    I’m trying to take pleasure in the longer daylight hours and the gift of milder winter weather. Just a few more weeks and we will be back to Daylight Savings Time! Yea!! I plan to take more bike rides when there is more light and come spring we will enjoy the fabulous tulips we planted last fall.
    I too am grateful for health and a comfortable home, so many do not have them, and we give thanks daily for what we have. Important to focus on that rather than the things we cannot do currently. We will celebrate the 82nd birthday Sunday of a very dear person in our lives, wearing double masks, taking a hot lunch to share along with a custom plant design for a florist who was forced to close his business in the pandemic. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with! It’s all about finding the little pleasures.

  14. Thank you for your blog post, Sue. You express so much of what we are all feeling. Without social contact and stimulation from interacting with people, life gets oddly stressful. When I was teaching I dreamed of the day when I could create art to my heart’s content in a world without stress and interruptions. Now I have the time but many days my canvas sits there and I am not motivated to work on it. I think I, like many people, especially teachers, get energy from engaging with others and when we are in isolation we just wither like animals in captivity. I like your achieve one thing a day goal. I will go with that and see if I can reach it! – MG

  15. Under ALL circumstances, I think this “bleeping never-ending winter in a lockdown during a pandemic” as you say is hard. Really hard. I also think your notion that productivity is an excellent one. By that I mean knowing yourself well enough to recognize that even small things can be rewarding not only in the process but in the completion — whether a nice meal prepared, a day that includes exercise, or writing a post (that we all love reading, by the way).

    Goals are terribly important to some of us. They’re part of the heartbeat by which we measure our worth. Not the only part — love, kindness, generosity, laughter, sensory pleasures, “experiencing” life — these are certainly integral parts of what makes us tick. But the need to get things done, to accomplish something we feel good about — it’s ever-present. And in these odd days of unsettling limbo due to the pandemic, perhaps very important. That is certainly the case for me.


  16. I’m a regular visitor here, but rarely (if ever) comment. Your paragraph about being newly retired and feeling useless holds resonance for me. I am retiring this week, after the first semester (all my classes were scheduled for the first semester this year, on my request) and beginning to wonder how I will structure my days. There are grandbabies to cuddle and a house to sort through from top to bottom, lots of hobbies, and plenty of books, but that productive piece nags at me. So often we find our worth in what we accomplish than in simply being. There is a balance. I will work to find it. Thank you for your words this morning.

    1. I was so worried about that when I first retired. And Hubby’s illness and subsequent operation and recovery just compounded everything. Plus it was winter. But winter during a pandemic when one can’t escape to a coffee shop with one’s book, makes things even more complex. Good luck with it.
      After Hubby had recovered I found sorting out my den, discarding old copies of exams, and timetables and giving away resources to younger teachers, then filling my shelves with books I loved and things I wanted to hand in my new life was very therapeutic. My cork bulletin board no longer holds course and department schedules, but shots of outfits I want to try and favourite family photos.

  17. Though I retired from an intense job two years ago, I ‘un-retired’ in August when I began virtual schooling with 6 year old GS. I don’t need to look for things to do these days–except maybe maintain my patience (ha! limited success with that some days). I go virtually no where at all, but my DH is still working–with inconsiderate jerks who refuse to wear masks (he is the only one who does). So exposure is still a possibility. The schools have just announced K-grade 2 are going to hybrid instruction on Feb 8th (one week in school/one week virtual). While I know my GS needs the socialization and face-to-face instruction (kudos to his teacher–she’s been a star through all of this), the reality is that our virus percentages are still substantial, so it will add to the risk level. A bit que sera sera about it all. As of this week my age group is eligible for the vaccine, but who knows when the supply will be available. My current socialization is limited to reading blogs–so thanks to you and others like Frances and Annie. You all provide me a with a little adult-think from around the world. 🙂

    1. A good friend who is a retired teacher and principal was doing something similar in the fall. With her grandchildren. One fourteen and one much younger. It went really well. I’m not sure if she’s doing it this semester, though. Seemed like a great deal for those kids and their mum who was afraid to start them back to in-person school. Good for you for helping out, Mary. 🙂
      P.S. I am always surprised when I hear that people refuse to wear masks. Willful ignorance IMO.

  18. Thanks for the mention, Sue. . . and for expressing and validating many of the feelings I’ve also been cycling through during these many months. . . My own recurrent struggle is not so much with being productive, but with feeling that there’s value in my productivity. And as I wrote in response to a reader comment on my own recent post, the best response to that seems to be to push aside the existential questions — perennial and ultimately unanswerable, right? — and just get on with it. Cast on the stitches for the socks or sketch the card that I’m going to send the granddaughter or do the homework for this week’s Italian class and stop trying to calculate the lasting value to anyone else of what I’m doing or go for a long walk or do an online workout. Getting caught up in a simple, productive activity so often does seem to be the answer, doesn’t it? Sometimes, you even have a blogpost by the end of it . . . for which the rest of us are grateful 😉

  19. I feel like you’ve been climbing into my head lately and writing what I’ve been feeling! I’m going to adopt your “just one thing” plan and see how it goes. I do have a daily routine and I know that I’m already accomplishing something useful every day even if it’s just making sure that there are meals on the table, but I feel like I’m in a rut with no end in sight, so I’m going to try to add one different thing to my usual routine every day. Thanks for the inspiration!

  20. Oh, my goodness! I thought I was alone in having difficulty with the isolation while not wanting to complain because of my privilege. We, too, are financially secure. Since my husband was also a teacher, we were able to practice being retired together every summer, so I didn’t have the issue of having someone underfoot in “MY” house as a friend recently complained. I began an art class in the fall but bailed out early because I was bored to tears. Been there, done that? I never did figure out why I hated it.
    I think Margaret got it right. We teachers, while ridiculously busy during the days, semesters, and year, get stimulated by the interaction with people. I loved problem solving with my peers while walking down the hall from lunch…”I need an art project that will ________. I have pipe cleaners, colored paper, glue, and aluminum foil. What can we make?” The only problems I have now are, do I wash the lights or the darks first and do I really need to wash the kitchen floor today or can I wait until a tomorrow…or…next week?
    I also found that the turmoil of our politics was making me depressed so I stopped watching the news and political talk shows and simply asked my husband, “What did the idiots do today?” That was enough news for me.
    And since my social life consists of making small talk with the grocery cashier used only when self-check is too people-y, the blogs that I follow have been a god-send. Thanks for your posts. Carol in VT

  21. I too retired a couple of years ago after teaching for 40 years. Margaret is right. As teachers we do feed off the energy and needs of our students. I used to find that no matter how tired or frazzled I felt I could still manage another ‘performance’ for my students. In the first year of retirement I kept waiting for the phone to ring and it would be school to ask where I was and that my class was waiting. When I finally managed to get over this phase we were into the next year and the first of the lockdowns.
    Life seems to have been disjointed since. There is always this feeling of waiting but I don’t know what I am waiting for. Plans are put on the back burner as everything is dependent on this insidious virus. Like others we are lucky as we are housed, clothed and fed and live in reasonable comfort but something is missing from life. It’s that waiting game again.
    Here in New Zealand we are lucky as we are now free to move around the country but we are a little nation of five million waiting – for another round of lockdowns after another outbreak, for vaccines to arrive, to be allowed to travel to visit family and friends, for life to return to normal.
    It was so good to read that others are feeling the same. That I am not the only one struck by this awful lack of motivation and ennui. Perhaps we need to follow the Maori saying – Kia kaha – stay strong.

  22. Hi Sue-
    On the same page as you, I decided to pick 1 project a day to occupy these 10 months at home. I bought a new home before the pandemic and yesterday I filled all the nail holes and pops in the dry wall in the entire house, requiring a lot of going up and down a ladder plus lugging it through all the rooms, followed by cleaning up the spackle messes. I had re-arranged all the art work on walls earlier in this pan-damn-demic and there were LOTS of holes. To celebrate my project completion, I did a little dance to Queen’s “I Am The Champion” while laughing with glee!

    Pre-lockdown mode, I would fill holes when I created them as I couldn’t stand to see them. There is an ennui to this quarantine that we come to realize is a natural result. The key to endurance is to focus on the fact this is temporary and we are saving our own life and others by staying home and wearing masks if we must go out.

    Laughter helps. I am laughing more often and more deeply, as I try to feel the humor whenever the chance presents.

    As I turned 68 this month after deciding isolation was THE perfect time to embrace the grey and stop coloring my formerly natural brown hair at the pandemic start in 2020, that transformation is now complete. I am so grateful no one had to witness the “Is that a skunk or calico cat sitting on your head?” process!!

    It has been a wonderful distraction to completely revamp my wardrobe to complement my new grey with silver accents edgy pixie ‘do and green eyes. The biggest challenge is all the online ordering to achieve my new look. I never wore grey in my entire life and very little black, as I favored chocolate and all shades brown with olive greens and denim blues. Now, shades of grey are my wardrobe base, with light sage green, lavender, and denim blue for pops of color and sterling silver jewelry shine.

    Truthfully, I thank God every day of this isolation for not being trapped in quarantine with my now ex-husband, who I divorced over a year before the pandemic hit. That alone lifts my spirit every day!! Our new President and his wonderful teacher wife also help tremendously and our Vice President Harris- first WOMAN elected to high office- with a supportive husband! For a month that began with so much distressing upheaval, I see the light at the end of the COVID tunnel.

    Thank you, Sue- for giving us this venue to connect!

    1. You go girl! My life is very similar to what you have described. I’m enjoying it. I wish that I could see my family more, but life is good.

      1. So lovely of Sue to bring us fashionable literate women together here, Ann! Thank you for the kind words. Peace is a beautiful thing- plus cashmere… and books… 😉

    2. Revamping my wardrobe was a labour of love for me too. Now I find myself online shopping (not buying) for the perfect sweater to go with my new hair.

      1. Congrats on your feature appearance today for CINDYHATTERSLEYDESIGN.com blog! I found you through her a few months ago and y’all are so similar to my style. Especially if you read my comment on her blog today, you’ll understand my earliest fashion/life influence as a teenager was my high school English teacher!

  23. Thank you for another wonderful post where you hit the nail on the head of how I and others feel right now. I am warm, fed, clothes and financially secure but how I lack motivation to do much art. We definitely need to interact with others to stimulate our creativity or whatever our passion is in my opinion. Thank goodness for books, glorious books. I don’t know what I would do without them.

  24. Thank you for your post, Sue, it helps when one knows others feel the same way. Sigh. We are all getting frustrated, tired and bewildered with Covid. It seems like there is very little good news. I did pretty well for a long while, but recently I have just felt sad.

    Dotteressa (I hope I am spelling her name correctly) mentioned rituals and they seem to get me through the day. The morning ritual of reading the paper and having my tea or hot chocolate in a pretty mug. After lunch I write in my Covid journal, read a non-fiction book together with my husband (so far books on Native American history, the San Francisco earthquake, Einstein and the American Dustbowl), then we finish by playing music together (piano and double bass). Those rituals, plus exercise has saved me. Many days that is about all I accomplish, other than reading other books that I have started. I love to knit and sew, but have done very little of that during the pandemic – can’t seem to get up the interest.

    I enjoy reading everyone’s thoughts. It helps me to feel connected. However, I also seem to spend a bit too much time on Instagram and having been trying to break myself of that habit. We can’t wait to travel again and feel we have lost out on travel time, as we are getting older. Well, this was quite a ramble. Thanks again, Sue.

    1. Exercise has saved me too. Making sure that I do something physical every day. But it’s even better when that something is outside. Sounds like your rituals are serving you very well, Liz.

  25. I am the same! I have the longest to do list and do have the energy and interest to do but they don’t get done. I’ve bought painting projects (not even started), embroidery kit (not yet started), a sewing machine way back in summer (not yet used). But I did start a knitting project this week. And I have my reading, blogging, crossword puzzles, baking and cooking to keep me busy. Just writing this makes me feel better!
    My husband cut my hair for me on Monday, it feels so much better.

  26. Ah, a fellow Gemini! I’m the same way. On the first of the month, I make a list of what I’m goin got write in my blog, and I have little files in my Mac Notes app with the inspiration for them. And then I sit down and write and NOPE we’re going somewhere else. I think tomorrow was supposed to be about the word “multivocal,” which had popped up on in a vocabulary email I received, and I was going to use it to talk about the multiple ways to use the voice (which is not the actual definition).

    But instead, on Monday, I tripped on a rug and faceplanted into the back of chair, necessitating stitches at where my lip meets my gum, in my chin, and in my right index finger (???). And I fractured my kneecap, which I didn’t even FEEL in the wake of all the pain and shock from the fall and the blood. So I think that’s what tomorrow’s blog will be about.

    I’m very good at setting goals and doing things on my to-do list. What I need to find, according to my business coach, is the overarching VISION of what I really want. And THAT has always been difficult for me.

    1. You poor, poor thing. Here’s hoping that things look up for you soon. Face-plant and fractured knee seems a little ungracious on the part of the universe.

  27. Hi Sue
    Just so you know, reading your blog has become part of my “pandemic support system”. So yes, you are doing a very productive and useful thing when you posts…you are fostering a community. Making us feel a little more connected to the world. Thank you for sharing and inspiring others to leave their comments which I also enjoy reading.

  28. Hi Sue, I so feel for those of you in your winter lockdowns. I’ve read where second lockdowns are negatively affecting women’s mental health far worse than the first. Don’t dismiss reaching out to a therapist. It might help.
    As I was gardening this morning (I live in Brisbane, Australia), my neighbour came over for a chat. She’s a former Teacher Librarian who also loves to read. Tears came to her eyes when she suggested I read THE SALT PATH by Raynor Winn. I’ve ordered it from our library.
    Hang in there! I love reading your posts with the accompanying photographs of the winter landscape which admittedly, I’ve never experienced apart from holidays.
    Have you ever listened to a podcast called TRAVEL WITH RICK STEVES? I occasionally listen when I’m feeling the frustration at being unable to travel. I’m making notes about out next trip, maybe in 2023-4!! Jill

    1. Reaching out for someone to help should never be dismissed as an option… you are so right about that, Jill. I have listened to the Rick Steves podcast on occasion. Thanks for reminding me about them. 🙂

  29. It is interesting hearing about other people’s experience of early retirement. It seems to me, and has for awhile, that we plan financially and in other ways for retirement but are unprepared emotionally. After years of work we suddenly stop, look around and think, ok what now? We may have travel plans and spending time with family on the agenda but the bulk of our time is our own. We can do nothing or everything we ever wanted but I don’t think we should strive for productivity. For me, this means something that is measurable and in retirement I am done with such work centric terms. We need to ease up on ourselves we have had years of demands on our time. I enjoy doing nothing much, just pottering around, I don’t want busy days of work to return in retirement.

    The pandemic has altered my life and made it even quieter but like everyone else I am careful because I don’t want to be a statistic.

    1. I think that no matter how much we think we are prepared for retirement emotionally, we never are. I actually reduced my workload for one semester by resigning my headship and reducing my timetable by one class. Lots of teachers I know do that. It does help ease us into the retired life. But the loss of identity was the hardest thing for me.

  30. Hi Sue
    You will be live this morning at 7:00. I hope your readers will enjoy it. You are so right about being productive. I really need to exercise more. We are currently getting pounded with rain, so I currently have an excuse for not venturing out. After the rain! You have inspired me.

  31. Sue and others, I love reading about – and also practicing – the one thing a day, along with making lists. I’m still working and I have kids, so I’m not struggling with boredom, but rather, it’s the routine that is tiring: every day seems the same!

    How to mitigate the boring routine? I make lists! Lists for teaching ideas, lists of books to read (if I can ever focus long enough to read a book again), lists of chores do to, and the best of all….lists for When the World is Right Again. I have travel plans and race plans, and while I know this list won’t be activated in 2021, I’m OK with a long-term list. So, although the end to this pandemic is a long way off, I think that a hopeful way of looking at it is that this is planning time. I can use this time for thinking about what is important, and what I want to do when we have our freedoms back.

    Finally, I also think everyone needs to cut themselves some slack about feeling productive. When the world has become smaller, it’s OK to be less productive, and to maybe not place this burden upon ourselves. One thing a day is doable and reasonable!

    The pots and pans await me in the sink from last night!Off I go to GET SOMETHING DONE!
    Really enjoyed it!

  33. I have used the one thing a day for years, especially when I was working and had teenagers at home. It was a way to set priorities and to make sure I got the most important thing done, not the little useless things you check off but get you nowhere. Now that I’m retired I still use the one thing a day. Sometimes it’s going to the store, or making dinner or cleaning my floors. Once it was cleaning just one shelf in my pantry-I’m still basking in the glow of that one. Sometimes one thing a day is enough, and other times it inspires me to do more. I find it a good way to keep from feeling overwhelmed.

    1. If I tell myself I only HAVE to do one cleaning thing I feel less put upon. Then I usually do more than I’d planned. I hate cleaning, but love a clean and tidy house. My life’s conundrum. 🙂

  34. Hello Sue, it was so nice to “meet” you over on Cindy’s blog! I love your style, and honesty and cannot wait to read and learn more about you. I am a voracious reader myself so I am sure that I will enjoy your book posts!
    As for this post, one thing a day is a great goal during the pandemic for everyone retired on not, and is especially important for those working virtually and schooling their children at the same time.
    Have a wonderful evening!

  35. I’m on a waiting list for much needed surgery, so the one thing a day has been just one LITTLE “different” thing a day–after the routine tidying up, planning and fixing dinners and lunches, etc.– since they postponed most surgeries until after yet another COVID surge (now looking at possibly March, but have been waiting off and on since June of last year). Sitting still has never been my thing (Aires), but both the pandemic and then a serious (but not as of yet life threatening) need for surgery with enforced rest…well, let us just say I really, really, really miss doing the daily little things I so took for granted in the past. And I’m trying to find other, non-stressful, things to put on a one-a-day to do list so as not to feel like a complete slug. Muddling through as are many, many others. So, one little thing a day. Ha ha, writing this response has been that for today!! Tomorrow, I’ll groom my cat. Etc.

  36. P.S. I have got to say that reading your blog and the comments has really been something I look forward to doing on a very regular basis! That counts!! Thank you.

  37. A big thank you Sue, for being the origin of yet another wonderful conversation 😊
    Reassuring to know so many others are feeling as I am … sad at times , demotivated and not enjoying things I used to love ( cooking!!) … yet aware of how much I have to be grateful for.
    I’m becoming more aware of getting older and losing out on time spent with family and even travel time…
    Which is totally contrary to how was feeling in 2019 when I reflected that maybe we were travelling too much … thinking of the home projects that I’d get done if only I was home more.
    Ha ha … careful what you wish for! 😂
    I do feel I’m being productive but only in a never ending: plan meals, order food, cook, tidy, cook some more, walk, then sleep kind of way …
    I think I commented to Frances that I’d always believed that if we could no longer travel I’d be content with my memories and imagination. I now realise this isn’t the case 😔
    Thanks again for this Sue … I’m going to take a little while off the hamster wheel of domesticity! and try to do something each day that is both productive and makes me happy!
    Take care, keep healthy xx

    1. Lock down is definitely a hamster wheel. We are so lookin forward to some travel in whatever form that may take. First I need to get down to New Brunswick. Hope that happens this spring… but not sure it will.

      1. Spring would be wonderful, but like you, I feel there no certainty at the moment. I can imagine that first hug when you finally get to see each other … xxx

  38. Hi Sue,
    I just retired in November after 37 years as a health care professional ( maybe you are familiar with my former employer UOHI/TOH) December was slow going but we managed a getaway to the sweetest B&B in Gananoque. The holidays were quiet and as January approached I thought B-O-R-I-N-G but Ma used to say ‘don’t wish it away’ and she was right! Jan 12 saw us rescuing our son and family from the burned out wreckage of their Hintonburg home ..As son is working and DIL just ending her mat leave they have moved into our home for three weeks. Having a three year old and a one year old is NEVER boring but these old bones haven’t hefted weight like that for awhile! Anyway they are safe and have found a new nest to move to in the coming week. I am grateful that we have the resources of a large home, finances and time to offer them. However I am not grateful that we chose to do a dry January this year ( some nights a bourbon or martini would have hit the spot but the cook needs to be on her toes and the official bed time story teller needs to stay awake!)
    Having worked front line during the early part of the pandemic, sweating in PPE, watching colleagues burst into tears at the thought of dealing with the unknown enemy and putting my own 65+ body at risk I honestly don’t get the need to fill everyday with ‘purpose’ I have had enough ‘purpose ‘ in the past twelve months to last a life time. I just want to relax.
    I am grateful Feb 1 is around the corner and though there will be no bal d’hiver nor yearly Feb visit to Québec City I won’t begrudge the time spent just hanging around the house, martini in hand, waiting for spring….

    1. I am very familiar with your employer. Hubby and I are so grateful for the Heart Institute, the expertise found there, and the wonderful care for him and the support for me while we navigated that stressful time back in 2013. I can see that you have earned your rest! Big time. Enjoy it. Martini in hand. 🙂

  39. I perceive you as highly active and productive, so I was relieved to find that you too struggle sometimes. I keep trying to get as much done in a day as I used to when I worked for a company, spent 50 hours/work in the office, and had a team of 15 people reporting to me. It is a poor strategy to say the least;).

    At least many of us are on the same plane (another metaphor someone I know used and it’s stuck with me,) circling the airport forever, thankful that we’re not running out of water and dreaming of landing.

    1. It’s so hard to dial back one’s view of productivity. I used to love powering through my jobs at work and it took some getting used to the change when I retired.

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