Sat with Nat

Nat ponders the dilemma and delight of routines

Nat and Michel face the camera wearing grey toques and puffy parkas. Natalie’s lower face is covered by a mustard scarf, Michel’s a greying beard. They are dusted in powdery snow that also fills the blurry background of grey sky and naked brown tree branches. The couple looks content.

Recommended soundtrack: Voice of Baceprot’s cover of Testify. Really though, give it a listen and notice how it being performed by 3 Muslim women makes an old song completely new.

I’m well into my work from home pandemic routine life. There’s comfort in the weekday cycle of coffee, dog walk, eat, work, eat, walk, work, eat, walk then the subset of things that happen between 7-10:30 pm …. then sleep.

The weekends swap out “work” for “sacred duties” and that’s pretty much it.

I don’t naturally gravitate towards routine and plans. My beloved has always marveled at my capacity for chaos and spontaneous stuff, including gloriously restful days of naps, podcasts and crafts contrasted against days of gardening or hiking or singing or writing.

I think back to the first time I went to a yoga class. It was 1998 in a high school gymnasium through the Winnipeg community recreation program. 12 weeks of yoga where we painstakingly learned how to spread our toes, pull up our knee caps, slide our shoulder blades and other biomechanics in support of learning a short Sun Salutation. The instructor told us to do the same routine every day.

I rejected the idea outright. The SAME THING? EVERY day? BORING! I mean, wasn’t the point of exercise to have variety, gain new skills, advance and repeat?

My exercise routine prior to that was triathlon training in college. 5 days a week 5:30-7, 4-5:30 alternating swimming and weights in the mornings with running and cycling in the afternoons. We did long slow distance runs on Saturdays. Sundays were rest days.

But even within that variety there were 12 week cycles of baseline testing to get your minimums and maximums, focus on form, strength, power, cardio and tapering for racing season. Always different, always measuring, always with the goal of progress.

Nearly 3 decades later I now understand the wisdom of a daily yoga practice though I’m not doing that right now. It is about checking in and it is different because I am different each day. My body reacts in novel ways each time. The postures demand my focus and the world falls away.

Walking, on the other hand, feels automatic. The weather, clothes and quality of the light changes but the routes and effort don’t. It’s easy. It’s sometimes mind numbingly boring. I focus more on training our dog Lucy or talking with Michel. It’s our alone time as our 3 cohabiting adults are home due to the pandemic nearly 24/7.

The house we rent at times feels vast. That’s usually at cleaning time. Other times the walls close in. That’s usually when everyone is up and at’em in all the rooms. I retreat to my bedroom to knit/draw/nap.

I miss the variety of being in the office, my old routines. Talking with Titi who cleans and makes sure we have toilet paper in the bathrooms. Trading laughs with Jimmy, Mark and Rachel when I grab a coffee or food at the cafeteria. Sitting in my pod of 4 people having side chats as we work away.

Today is Saturday. The morning walk will be later, longer and unhurried with no meeting to rush back for. The meals will take longer to make and enjoy, the errands and chores can wait. I likely will only get 1 creative endeavor in, crochet or knit or draw or sing. There’s never enough time for all of them.

It is only a boring as I need it to be.


Christine H is an early quitter and she’s cool with that.

This time last week, I thought I had my fitness plans for 2021 all figured out.

I had stumbled across a free 12 week program that seemed perfect. A high energy instructor, a plain background, and a progressive program that made sense to me.

It didn’t look *easy* but it looked like I could work up to it. And the fact that the program was all laid out for me took any day-to-day decisions out of it.

I decided to go for it, right away.

I wasn’t even going to wait until the new year, I wasn’t going to wait until the next day, I was going to start that very day.

A black and white GIF  of a 1950s/60s white woman  in a high waisted shorts set using a  piece of gym equipment (handles attached to a pulley  attached to the wall. She appears enthusiastic but unskilled. The text reads ‘You go girl!’
This woman in her high waisted shorts who is enthusiastic, yet out of place, reminds me of how I feel when I try new exercises.

So, I did it.

I joined the mailing list.

I subscribed to the YouTube channel.

I promised myself that I would adjust any exercises that I wasn’t ready for.

I said, aloud, that it was okay if I had to work up to the levels in the video.

I pressed play.

I started with enthusiasm.

I hated it.

The music was jarring. The enthusiastic instructor wasn’t speaking. The exercises were repetitive to the point of (my) frustration.


I tried to stick with it, figuring that it was just that I needed to let it grow on me.

I started to give myself grief about giving up before I even gave it a chance.

But then I remembered that the best exercise is anything you will keep doing. Anything you ENJOY doing.

Exercise is not a punishment.

And, I knew then, 21 minutes into a 30+ minute video that I was never going to want to do this program.

I would dread it. I would avoid it. I would curse it.

I had no doubt the program would work but it would never feel like a fun part of my day.

And this wasn’t about me not wanting to work hard. It was about me being so very, very, very bored.

A GIF in which a kid  wearing summer clothes hangs headfirst off a large flat swing. As the swing moves back and forth the top of their head moves through a  puddle of muddy water.
This kid hanging off a swing, dragging their head through a muddy puddle, definitely has a bored vibe but I suspect someone else will end up annoyed.

Over the past year, I have done a lot of reflection and put a lot of effort into figuring out how to work with my brain instead of fighting it all the time.

Choosing to continue this program would be ignoring all of that effort and going back to battling my brain.

So, I quit.

At around 23 minutes into the first day of a three month program, I noped right out of there.

And it felt GREAT!

It felt right. It felt like a reward.

I had no lingering sense of ‘shoulda.’ I didn’t worry that I was just giving up. Actually, I just keep thinking about all the FUN ways I could move instead.

I haven’t decided on a new program but I am considering a few things. And I will be working WITH my brain while I figure it out.

In the meantime, I’m taking the dog for slightly longer walks each day and I’m doing a little extra practice on my TKD patterns.

I may not have a plan yet but at least I’m not BORED.

A GIF in which a baby is sitting up on a pink couch and falls   safely face first onto the couch as they fall asleep.
This baby doing a face plant on the couch really embodies how I felt during that video.

PS – I am not going to mention the program or the instructor because they have put a lot of work into something they are offering for free. It is a high-quality program but it is just not right for me.