#deanslife · covid19 · habits · health · nature · season transitions · self care

It’s just another pandemic Monday!

For some reason, Mondays are harder in pandemic times. I usually like Mondays. I’ve always liked the ‘back to the office’ energy, getting down to making lists and schedules for the week ahead, ‘how was your weekend? convos with colleagues, a bike ride the office, and lots and lots of coffee. These days there isn’t much of that. Instead, I look at my calendar, think ‘wow, we’re still doing this’ and start my first videoconference at 8 am.

My last public speaking event was March 5, 228 days ago. March 10 my calendar just says, ominously, “cancel all flights and hotels.” My first COVID-19 contingency planning meeting/conference call was March 13, 220 days ago.

Ever since I’ve been here in Guelph, working from home. This is a helpful reminder of the real date.

In July I wrote, “There are no boundaries any more. Life is one big blur of working at home, exercising at home, and relaxing at home. I occasionally look at my shoe collection in puzzlement. Will I ever wear real shoes again? I still have underwire bras hanging off a doorknob, neglected, and I’m wondering why I ever thought they were a good idea. These days only my comfiest of sports bras are in regular rotation.”

In light of the No Boundaries and the Great Big Blur, I’ve been thinking about restructuring my work week a little. Lots of things are busy during the weekend, out in the world, and I’m often working on the weekend. I’m wondering about taking some weekday time to ride trails, take Cheddar for hikes, and appreciate the outdoors. That’s the weekday/weekend trade but there’s also the daytime/nighttime swap. Yes, lots of work hours are fixed but if I am working into the evenings anyway, why can’t I squeeze some outside time in the sun into my day?

It’s hard to start work when it’s dark and finish after it’s dark again. Why not get out for a ride or a walk in the middle of the day?

Are you still working from home? How are you coping? 220 or so days in, are you making any changes to your schedule?

advice · covid19 · dogs · online exercise

Lessons from the Pandemic: a farewell post

As Sam mentioned a few days ago, we’re rejigging the schedule here at FIFI, and as part of that rejig I’ve decided to step away for a bit. It’s been a long few months and I’ve struggled like others; I’ve been cushioned from health and financial blows, thanks to the grace of good government and the privilege of a secure job, but emotionally this has been a roller coaster. I need some time to take stock, and I don’t do that well online.

As I was walking with my dog this afternoon, gorgeous fall colours glowing in the sunshine, the wind whipping past us with just a hint of Old Man Winter to it, I started to think about what joy simple, solitary walks give me, and how I’ll look forward to them as we all lock down, to different degrees, in the months ahead. No matter what happens I know I will still be able to leave my house with my dog three times a day, even if I must do so completely isolated from others. (And obviously: not if I’m ill myself, which I pray will not happen.)

The pandemic is no blessing, but it has had some real teachable moments for me. These crept up on me over the summer and are more and more tangible as everything churns up again now. I’m glad to have these moments with me, as reminders of the good inside the terrible, for the winter ahead, and I thought as a farewell-for-now post I’d share them with you.

Chewy the dog chilling with his toys on the sofa; now THAT is what staying in looks like. Image from Unsplash.
  1. The internet has a lot of great gyms in it. This is the most pleasant discovery COVID has brought me. I can work out multiple times a week for a very affordable rate in my very own kitchen, and I can reap the benefits of amazing feminist energy over Zoom, even if the connection is sometimes unstable. The strength I glean, both physical and emotional, from the wonderful people I’ve linked up with on the fitness web goes some way to making up for the connections I’ve lost or had to pause IRL.
  2. If your home is a safe place, it’s quite wonderful to have permission not to leave it. I always thought I was a full-on extrovert, but no; COVID has helped me realize how much I like not having to leave my house very much, or go very far. I felt a strong pressure to be social in the before times, but honestly social environments are stressors for me. I get performance anxiety. And I’m a hyper-vigilant anxiety sufferer, so the more people in a place and the more formal the event the harder it is for me to keep my eye on everything and make sure everything and everyone are doing ok. Not having to go out and perform Public Kim so often is a huge relief.
  3. If stuff goes wrong so what? It’s a pandemic. I find I learn this lesson best from my students. We’ve had to adjust to A LOT over the last couple of months and they are having to adjust to 5x as much of it as any one of their instructors. When stuff goes wrong in my wacky hybrid/Zoom classroom, I remind us all that it’s going to be fine if we just roll with it. I show them compassion and they show me some too; when the tech dies or the breakout rooms get messed up or, you know, name a thing, we try to laugh about it. Learning to laugh and then carry on imperfectly when things go wrong is also a good thing to take from university.
  4. Incidental movement matters. Boy does it ever! My first day back in my campus office and a real-life classroom last month reminded me what walking around a four-story building all day does for your step count. Finding ways to incidentally move at home is harder, but still totally doable (see dog walking above). I think I might download a step counter app because data helps in a situation like this. And the more I move, the better I feel about everything.
  5. Bodies change, sometimes because the world has changed, and that’s just fine. I’ve put on weight these last few months, though it’s not all COVID-related. Mostly I think it’s aging, the slowing metabolism that brings, and the decision I seem to have made to say to heck with the notion that certain foods are contraband, or only permitted after a killer workout. I love food and my partner cooks beautifully; I enjoy eating and also, um, it’s a pandemic. My body is changing because it is aging, because the routine ways we are usually permitted to move in the world are currently under duress, and because the stress of the situation is something else. I’m working hard on looking in the mirror and reminding myself that I am here, I am loved, and I am proud of my delightfully imperfect body. It is hard work – after a lifetime of terrible body and self-image issues, it can’t not be – but I’m really trying.
Me (in a purple fall jacket) and Emma the Dog (a Black and Tan shepherd-crossed-with-something) during a fabulous autumn walk last year. We are on a park bench (me sitting, Emma standing, ears in curious mode, mouth open in anticipation) and the ground is a blanket of orange maple leaves. I seem to be saying something like “Emma! Look at the camera!” because Emma is NOT looking at the camera. She is looking at HORSES.

So that’s me for now, then; thanks for all the reading, friends. I will be guesting in this space again sometime soonish, I wager, but until then I wish you all a very safe autumn and the very very best to those of you heading to the polls. Thank you for keeping moving.

Kim

covid19 · fitness classes

Seeking research participants

Professor Ann Barnfield is trying to find research participants for a study on the effects of participation in online exercise/physical activity sessions. She wonders the fit feminist blog community can help.

Here is the description of her project: “There is now much evidence that involvement in in exercise/physical activity has benefits both mentally and physically, and group activities can have social benefits. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, however, such activities have been severely restricted, and even banned outright. Physical health would be maintained to at least some extent by solitary exercise, but the social and psychological effects might be affected. There is some information showing  that being able to see, and maybe to speak to, others (instructor, fellow participants), during exercise/physical activity sessions is of benefit to individuals, but there is at present little actual research into the effects of socially/physically distanced sport and exercise sessions. I propose to survey online physical activity/exercise session participants to see what the effects of such participation are, and thus am writing to you.”

Here’s the official request:

Dear Activity Participant,

You are being invited to participate in a study that Anne Barnfield, a researcher from Brescia University College, at the University of Western Ontario, is conducting to investigate the effects of participation in online exercise/physical activity sessions for those who take part in such sessions.

Briefly, the study involves completing an online survey about your experiences with participation in online exercise/physical activity sessions. It is anticipated that it should take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete the survey. If you would like to participate in this study, please click on the link below to access the letter of information and survey link.

Survey Link

Thank you for considering this request.

Yours sincerely,

Anne Barnfield, DPhil.

School of Behavioural and Social Sciences,

Department of Psychology,

Brescia University College

covid19 · disability · equality

No, “EVERYONE” Should Not Wear a Mask

I know some of you are already heating up the tar and plucking the feathers. I’m bracing for the hate-filled comments as I type this, but out of an abundance of optimism, I’m hoping you will continue reading and hear me out.

I am not going to debate the merits of mask-wearing. I would hope that by now I’ve established myself as a solid supporter of science and anti-pseudoscience (see evidence A, B). I agree with anyone who says all the evidence supports that wearing masks reduces the risk of infection for both the wearer and the people with which they come into contact.

However, when we say “everyone must wear a mask,” we are excluding people who cannot wear a mask due to various disabilities and personal challenges. Perhaps it would be “better” for them to wear a mask, but for whatever reason, they find it difficult or impossible to do so.

Unfortunately, this issue has been muddled by politics. For some reason, the man occupying the White House has decided that he’s anti-mask, and the 35% of the US that blindly follows his lead has taken up the cause. I understand that when we create wiggle room in mask wearing policies, we are creating space for people to decry their losses of personal autonomy in the face of interdependence. I appreciate that making a blanket statement that everyone must wear a mask, we are trying to make it clear to these people that if they want to do business, they need to do what’s right for the common good despite their personal attitudes on the subject.

And still, I remind you that truly not everyone can wear a mask, and I’m asking, what about them?

What about me?

I’m not sure why I find wearing a mask a challenge, but I can confirm with many repeated data points that it’s a problem for me. I nearly passed out at the grocery store on a couple different occasions before I realized that I was hyperventilating in my mask. On a recent outing, I put my mask up while I was running past a group of pedestrians, and according to my watch, my heart rate went from the mid 130’s up to a dangerous 189 bpm in about 10 seconds. It’s possible that this is due to my having a reduced lung capacity. The middle lobe of my right lung was removed many years ago, and on a good day, I get about 75% of the air of a 2-lunged person. It’s also possible that it is a manifestation of my PTSD. Wearing a mask may be triggering some element of my hysterectomy-related trauma (maybe it’s too much like wearing an oxygen mask during surgery?). Repeated attempts at wearing a mask have not made these responses easier over time. And when I talk about them, I’ve noticed some commonalities in how others deflect and deny the problem.

They downplay the seriousness and discredit my experience. “I know, they get really hot,” or “It takes me a few minutes to get used to it, too.”

They decide they know which choices are best for me. “Well, then you should just order groceries online.” “You’re obviously not returning to work then, right?”

They decide that they know which medical conditions are valid reasons and which ones aren’t. “Well, it’s actually not true that you’re getting less air.” “Maybe you just need to get used to it.”

And if I haven’t been given an opportunity to explain myself, most people apparently assume that they can tell by looking at someone if they have a valid reason for not wearing a mask. In these encounters, people just murmur under their breath, and a few times have yelled at me, “Wear a mask!” If I wouldn’t be risking a face-to-face argument with a stranger in a time when the air they breathe puts me at risk for yet another lifelong disability, I’d be more tempted to stop and debate the matter with them.

Equality and equity for folks with disabilities must include giving them the same opportunities and choices as everyone else. Not all disabilities are visible. You can’t tell by looking at someone if their experiences are valid. Trust us when we tell you there’s a problem. Don’t expect to be able to front-manage all the solutions–don’t ask for a list of “reasonable” challenges (defined by whom?) and then preload all your acceptable solutions. For example, don’t decide for me that I have to work from home, give me reasonable choices between certain accommodations at work versus the flexibility to work from home–trust that I can make the best decision for myself. Know that life gets messy and that challenges can be multifaceted and complex.

Mask-wearing is an act of both personal responsibility and a sign of our interdependence. We are being asked to wear masks for our own safety, and even moreso, for the safety of others. Just like getting our vaccinations, our communities benefit from as many of us as possible complying with public health recommendations. You are wearing a mask to keep yourself safe. You are also wearing a mask to keep me safe. Thank you for wearing one whenever you can; thank you for advocating that others wear them. But please, consider saying that “everyone who can, should wear a mask,” and grant me the autonomy to make the best decision for myself that I am able.

(Along those lines, if you are finding yourself about to post some mask-wearing advice to me in the comments, please take a moment to pause and consider if you are the right person to be offering it.)

Marjorie Hundtoft is a middle school science and health teacher. She can be found doing her best to wear a mask as much as she can, picking up heavy things and putting them back down again, in Portland, Oregon.

covid19 · family · fitness · holidays

Filling the nest with workout equipment

I never thought I’d be one of those parents lamenting their children leaving home. Mostly I’m really excited for them finding their own way in the world. I’ve always had my own life in addition to family life, and I assumed that children moving out would just change the mix. Without kids at home there’d be more friends and less time with family.

I imagined I’d still see lots of the adult children. We’ve always enjoyed meals together, playing games, watching movies, etc. I expected that to continue. In normal times it would.

But along came COVID-19. So much for all of our plans. I know I’m lucky. I live in Canada. No one in my family is sick. We’re financially okay. We’re also at a stage in the pandemic where we are able to enjoy lots of time outside together. Recently Mallory, Sarah, and I got to go camping in Algonquin.

Still, I’m not seeing friends as much as I’d like. I’m also not seeing the kids as much as I’d like.

I’m very nervous about winter, about Thanksgiving, and about Christmas. Those are times when we’d come together inside.

Frankly, I’m sad and I miss my children a lot and I didn’t expect it to be so bad.

You need to know that I am the kind of parent who happily sent kids off to Australia and New Zealand on their own. Bye! But this, this is worse. First, they’re all gone. Second. COVID-19, makes seeing them more complicated. Third, I worry about them a lot.

Okay, end of the sad part of the story. I want to share the only possible upside. There is more room in my house.

The backroom is now my home office and the official Zwift home headquarters and Yoga With Adriene studio. Check it out! Our home weights finally arrived too.

Also, while I miss my fitness oriented son for our noon hour workouts, I’ve now talked my mother into working out with me at lunch with a visiting backyard personal trainer. Living with my mother also helps to remind me too that although kids move out–as I did at 19 or so–families can stay together through a lifetime.

camping · covid19 · cycling · fitness · snow · winter

Is this the year to try snow biking?

Sam riding her fat bike on a trail on a sunny winter day

I saw a tweet the other day that made me smile.

I loved all the snow and the sun and the smiling faces.

We’re going into this winter knowing it’s going to be hard. And I find regular falls challenging. See here and here and here. Oh, and here! It’s a bit of a theme on the blog and in my life. Lol

The reporting about winter in the time of COVID-19 is gloomy and hard to read.

See A Canadian coronavirus winter is looming — and it could ‘amplify loneliness’: “But winter is coming and, according to experts, so too is the accompanying seasonal woes. And this time, it will be “amplified” by the confines of the coronavirus, according to Roger McIntyre, a psychiatrist and professor at the University of Toronto. An epidemic of loneliness long preceded this pandemic. And just by the nature of winter, people are less likely to come in contact with others. It’s a realistic concern.”

Since March, Canadians have been told to stay apart to stop the spread of the virus. The ability to be outdoors has provided safer alternatives to exercise, recreation, commuting and dining, among other things. In the winter, those options will dwindle. Experts have warned the risk of transmission also increases indoors.”

So what’s my plan? Because it’s clear that I am going to need a plan. I’m trying to remind myself of all the things I like about winter. I’m fending off anticipatory sadness with thoughts of snow biking and winter camping.

So far my plan has four parts but the fourth is still a bit sketchy and needs the details filling in. There’s time.

First, more time outside, including winter riding.

Second, I’m bringing home my SAD lamp from my university office and I’m going to use it in my home office.

Third, I’m following Catherine’s advice and getting a small warming fireplace for my deck so I can visit with friends outside even during Canadian winter.

Fourth, I used to joke about Canadians who went south in the winter. The truth is though between riding in Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina for the past number of years (I’m not even going to check to see how many!) I’ve become one of those people. It’s only ever been for a week at a time but this year that won’t happen at all. I’ve already booked some time in a yurt for winter outdoor sports. And I’m still scheming about what else I might do.

Suggestions welcome!

How about you? Are you in a northern climate heading into what looks like a long, lonely winter? How do you plan to keep body and spirit moving?

covid19 · fitness

Prepping for social life outside in colder temps (too soon? sorry…)

It’s mid-August. There are still blueberries waiting to be picked in New England, the peaches are ripe, and the weather has been hot and sunny. I have done much sweating under my mask while walking or biking around town. Yes, there are syllabi to finish, but this weekend, I’m reveling in tomatoes and corn in their late-summer glory. Ahhhh…

I’m making an omelette out of fresh corn, tomato, basil and feta Sunday morning. Yum.

As day moves into night, so summer dissolves into autumn, and then… winter. Winter brings its own bounty, which is also a gustatory pleasure.

Winter roasted vegetables with cranberries and a little molasses. Yum again.
Winter roasted vegetables with cranberries and molasses. Yum again.

But food is not what I’m thinking about when considering this year’s change of season. Yes, I’m talking about the coronavirus. This summer has been, for many of us, much more pleasant and manageable because we could go outside and visit with family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc. I’ve been to backyard book club meetings, takeout and BYOD (dinner) meals on decks, gone swimming and hung out on the beach (socially distanced from others), held small ice cream socials on my back porch, and even attended church in the garden behind the sanctuary (no singing, but our organist recorded video for our listening and contemplative pleasure).

For those of us who live in climates with four full-service seasons and a hefty amount of cold and inclement weather, the thought of a drop-off in real-life contact with nature, friends and community is disheartening.

But maybe there are ways to extend and expand our outdoors spaces and activities further into the fall than usual (I’m ignoring winter for now, because 1) ACK!; and 2) one season at a time, please…)

Among my friends there’s a lot of discussion about using fire pits, patio heaters, etc. to make use of outdoor home space for lower-risk gatherings with friends and family.

Don't do this! They are way too close together. No one has updated the stock photos of fire pits lately...
Don’t do this! They are way too close together. No one has updated the stock photos of fire pits lately…

There are all kinds of products out there:

  • free-standing wood fire pits
  • stone or brick fire enclosures
  • tables with alcohol-based smokeless fire
  • patio heaters of all sizes and strengths

I’m looking at tabletop patio heaters for my back porch. I’ve been in restaurants outside in winter (in warmer climates) that used commercial versions of these, but there are smaller ones for home use. IMPORTANT NOTE: all of these come with extensive safety warnings and guidelines for use. There are also regulations for where and how they can be used in various locations in your area. I’m looking into what is legal and safe and effective for my place.

Of course, there are other ways to keep people warm while visiting outside: blankets. Or, you can go all in and buy a sleeping bag onesie. Here’s a website for comparison shopping, and an illustration of their use in the wild.

White people in wearable sleeping bags, eating either toast or cold pizza, outside in the woods.
White people in wearable sleeping bags, eating either toast or cold pizza, outside in the woods.

As someone who wants to be a good COVID hostess in all seasons, I wonder: would I need to stock a variety of these in assorted sizes and colors? Maybe keeping a bunch of comfy blankets is a better way to go.

This is what I’m talking about NOT to do. It’s undeniably cozy, but DO NOT nestle lighted candles in blankets. Bad idea.

I’ve been looking around the internet for more info on 1) ways to prepare my outdoor space that don’t cost a fortune; and 2) what levels of risk are incurred by different sorts of interactions with friends in different home locations. We are learning a bit about 2), although our knowledge is increasing every week. Re 1), the New York Times just published an article about cheap ways to upgrade small outdoor spaces, mainly aimed at urban dwellers. Their list included:

  • floor covering, like outdoor rug or mat, for comfort and aesthetic appeal;
  • outdoor lights (I bought two kinds of solar ones for my 7-foot by 12-foot back porch);
  • bluetooth speaker (check);
  • lightweight durable chairs that work for the size space;
  • folding tables for whatever people need.

For me, being able to see my friends in person, even from a safe distance, is essential to my well-being. I live far away from family, and will have to deal with travel decisions and risks, too. Again, one topic at a time. Figuring out ways to maintain low-risk social spaces as the season changes is important. As I start tricking out my spaces and learn more, I’ll report back.

Readers– do you have ideas or plans for converting your outdoor space to adapt to changes in temperature, light and overall weather? I’d love to hear what you’ve found or what you have in mind.

covid19 · fitness · weight lifting

Shifting Priorities During Troubled Times

Greetings from Portland, Oregon, where everything is peaceful and the living is easy.

Ok, maybe not.

For over a week, federal agents have incited violence by attacking peaceful protestors, detaining them, scooping people off the streets in unmarked vehicles and so obviously escalating the situation that the only explanation for their behavior is that it is intentional. Our local police, instead of standing up to protect the citizens of our city, who pay their wages and to whom they are sworn to protect, are collaborating with this invading force. The productive and justifiable outrage of my fellow citizens is palpable.

In addition to being ground zero for Trump’s latest version of fascist cosplay, Oregon is in the midst of grappling with when, if and how we all return to school in the fall. As a middle school teacher, I am working hard to advocate for the health of my students, their families, and my fellow educators. I’ve come to accept, in fact, that this summer is absolutely not a vacation; it’s two months of unpaid work.

Some of that work is also devoted to collaborating with other educators in this moment of racial reckoning to reexamine our own understandings of race, and to begin addressing racial bias implicit in the educational system. I’m reading, discussing and exploring resources to help me better understand what my privilege has allowed me to remain ignorant to. It’s important work, but it requires focus and extended attention, both of which are hard to come by these days.

Oh, and of course there is still a potentially life-threatening virus circulating in our community that holds very real dangers for folks, especially those with complicated health histories like me. As cases have been on the rise again, I am having to hole up more tightly once more. My husband has taken over grocery shopping completely, and I’m limiting my interactions with the outside world almost exclusively to my daily walks and bimonthly visits with my father. The isolation, lack of community, and ever-present anxiety is a constant stressor.

In light of all of this, I’m struggling to keep up energy up for workouts. I am not sleeping well; I’m exhausted even when I do. My daily and weekly routines are a mess, and I rely upon routine to prime myself mentally to push hard. And, honestly, lifting from home is simply getting boring. I like pushing my strength, and there’s only so much I can do without a bench and adjustable weights.

After trying all sorts of things to reinvigorate my lifting, I’ve recently settled into a new mindset around it. What is working best for me right now is to be very permissive and flexible. Like autoregulating my runs, I’m letting how I feel each session dictate how much I do and how I do it. Do I feel good? I push hard, do more sets, make them more challenging. Do I feel shitty? I do the bare minimum I need to in order to feel like I’ve done it. I find it less stressful to have done SOMETHING than to skip it entirely, so on those days, and they’re often right now, I do exactly how much I need to and no more.

It’s hard to feel passionate about my strength when I’m directing so much of my mental energies elsewhere. I know that self-care is necessary for me to maintain my stamina for all the important work that needs to be done, but there’s a continuum of what self-care can look like. I don’t have to push hard on my workouts to be taking care of myself. And for me, skipping them entirely wouldn’t be self-care, either. I’m trying to be ok with this new, lower standard for my lifting. I’m trying to believe that my energy will return in time, and I will have benefited from this relative break from hard physical exertion.

Weightlifting can be a powerful stress reliever for me, but right now, being rigid and pushing hard just isn’t in the cards. My world is going through some serious growing pains. I’ve got other projects that I need to prioritize. It’s all important work, and I’m not going to stop strength training; I just need to change my approach so that I can do the other work that needs to be done.

Image description: The Portland “Justice Center,” boarded up and heavily graffitied from weeks of protests. Photo from the author, Marjorie Hundtoft

Marjorie Hundtoft is a middle school science and health teacher. She can be found picking up heavy things, sometimes, when she feels like it, and putting them down again, in Portland, Oregon.

covid19 · fitness · self care · sleep

Queen of the pandemic naps

This is me, happy napping, at the end of a long work day.

I don’t know about you but COVID-19 and #wfhlife hasn’t been great for my sleep. I can always fall asleep…see the comic below, it’s me….but I’ve been having nightmares and sometimes waking up way too early. I fall asleep quickly but if I wake I struggle to get back to sleep.

Early morning doom scrolling doesn’t help.

Another sleep complication is that my Zwift races tend to be late, 830 and 900 pm often and they’re all an hour or an hour and a half long. After it’s hard to relax and go to sleep right away. I’m still all zoom zoom, go go, for at least another hour.

Enter the post work nap!

Work. Nap. Supper. Zwift. Sometimes I go back to work after. Shhh! But more often I watch an episode of something and go to sleep. I’m getting more than 8 hours sleep, averaging 8.5 according to my Garmin watch, even if it’s not all in one go.

This would be more challenging if we had children at home but these days we’re empty nesters. Napping in the nest, that’s me.

Has the pandemic changed your sleep patterns at all? Are you struggling a bit with disrupted sleep?

220 in 2020 · covid19 · fitness

Working out during the pandemic: notes from Team Less can be More

This morning, Sam posted about working out more during the pandemic: Are you working out more or less often during the pandemic? Sam is on Team More

As an avid blog reader and writer, I knew that Sam was doing a lot of activity during the pandemic. It’s been cool to read about her Zwift rides, yoga with Adriene sessions, and of course the backyard weight sessions. Oh, yes– there’s Cheddar walking, too.

As a member of the 220 workouts in 2020 group, I’ve been seeing others continuing or even amping up their workouts. One member is doing 25 pushups a day for 25 days, and others have devised their own virtual exercise plans. And yes, there’s lots of dog walking going on.

Here’s what’s been happening with me: I started out pandemic exercise in mid-March with lots of zoom yoga classes. I loved them and was thrilled to get more time on my mat without having to leave my house. I walked some– alone and with my friend Norah. I even did some strength mini-workouts, using the NYT 6-minute workout. If you want to read more about that, check it out here.

After a few weeks in lockdown, though, I lost momentum. Zooming for my academic job, managing my own uncertainty and helping distressed students was exhausting, and I felt pretty flattened by it all. It became much harder to leave the house. I did walk with friends, but less by myself.

Zoom yoga was still there and still appealing, but partly because of Zoom fatigue and partly because of pandemic disregulation and doldrums, that slowed, too. Not having a schedule that requires me to leave the house and be places at particular times (for work or play) left me struggling in the most basic ways: my sleep, eating and exercise patterns suffered.

Then school ended, but there wasn’t that feeling of relief I always get. We continued to have a lot of meetings and webinars. Those meetings and webinars will be happening all summer long to help us prepare for fall instruction. So it’s not a regular summer in any way at all. Of course this is true for all of us.

If others of you have had similar experiences, you are definitely not alone. I hear from loads of friends about how hard it is for them to maintain schedules and routines without some of those external cues and stimuli and structures. Team Less is real, my friends. Just as Team More is.

One big thing I’ve done to deal with being on Team Less is to restart daily meditation. I took a 4-day Zoom meditation workshop with Alex from my yoga studio Artemis. It’s really helping me. As I love making lists, here’s a list of some things it’s doing for me:

  • It made me get up early for a 7:30 class, so it’s helped me reset sleep hours a bit;
  • It’s offered me various meditation techniques which I already knew a little about, but needed some help getting reacquainted with;
  • It’s provided company for me in my meditation, in the form of other students and the instructor;
  • It’s helped me slow down some of my anxious thought processes, and identify them as such– just some anxious thoughts I have at some time;
  • It’s helping me put together some new structures for myself, and think about how to proceed in this new environment;
  • And it’s telling me that sometimes, less can be more.

In light of the last item, I’m now putting together a new team, Team Less can be More. Yes, I may be doing less physical activity than I envisioned for the summer, but I can be accepting of where I am, enjoy what I do, and notice the times I have more energy and oomph to go out and walk or swim or bike or do outdoor yoga or paddle, etc. And then maybe do some of those things sometimes. Who knows what is possible…

One important last note: we at the blog spend a lot of time thinking and writing about our relationships with our bodies and with movement and with self-care over the course of human events and the life trajectory. The fact that some of us are moving more and some of us are moving less at any given time is information for us, and we are sending out that information in the hopes that it will help others in their relationships. I like using the language of Team More and Team Less can be More because what we are really doing here is intramural scrimmage. We’re working together to find synergy– benefits for the whole through interaction of our diverse and inclusive parts. Sam’s post inspired me to think about how I’m reacting to a pattern of less activity, and share it with y’all. I hope it’s helpful.

What are you finding from your patterns these days? Do you need more? Do you need less? We’d love to hear from you.

Less can be more.