How a schedule and family have helped motivate me through the pandemic

I’m learning a bit but also realizing I have my own ways of staying motivated. I’ve always liked having a framework. In fact, I’ve found it difficult to do anything outside a framework, so I’ve established a loose schedule that I find motivating.

During breakfast I read and listen to classical music on CBC 2. The last book I read is one I want to highly recommend. It’s a novel called Five Little Indians by Cree writer Michelle Good, and it’s about five survivors of residential schools. Longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2020, it is a harrowing tale, difficult to read, since it lays bare the abuses and deprivations imposed on five Aboriginal children, but one that demands our attention and can deepen our understanding and empathy.

I also am on a Faye Kellerman kick. She’s a prolific American murder mystery/detective novelist and although I wouldn’t put her on my great literature list, she keeps me going with her Decker/Lazarus themed thrillers. It helps that the novels take place in L.A. where my daughter Amy lives, and I often feel I’m there driving along the routes I’ve driven with her, as Peter and Marge track down their suspects.

Then at about 11am I decide what to make for dinner and take the necessary ingredients out of the freezer. I enjoy cooking these days, having done it for the past nine months, every single night, priding myself on variety and nutrition and, of course, taste. No takeout for us. Sad for the restaurants I know, but I find it so much better to be able to spend time choosing and preparing what we will eat each evening.

We used to frequent the Jean Talon Market and our neigbourhood Provigo but now we rely on our corner Monkland Fruiterie where we hand the owner a list and he fills it for us… stress-free shopping. They’ve come to know our wants and needs and exactly which coffee beans and yogurt we like.

In fact, Irwin has just walked in with today’s order, and some ingredients for my keto cheese crust pizza — the plan for dinner.

(Recipe will appear in the coming days.)

Irwin is more regimented about when he eats lunch. I often skip lunch, opting for an appetizer around 4pm.

I actually enjoy preparing his lunch. He is fine with me organizing the food in the fridge, making sure we use up the leftovers.

Then it’s a choice of two activities. I either bake a keto recipe, my favorites these days being keto blueberry muffins and keto butter pecan cookies. Both are easy to prepare and I promise to share them soon.

If I have enough cookies and muffins in the freezer, I might paint, my greatest passion these days.

One thing that helps me paint is that I’m permanently set up, using the dining room table and a desk in the living room almost facing the TV, both covered with plastic tablecloths. Being set up for painting helps motivate me. I can see the paints and canvases, view what I’m working on and be inspired by what I’ve created. And not having to take the time to put everything away.

Then I turn on my computer and begin my “walk at home with Leslie Sansone” workout on You Tube. I started the one-mile, 15-minute walking workout and once I mastered that, I switched just yesterday to the half-hour. Two-mile workout, minus the soft jog, which I can’t do because of my bad knees. But my knees and the rest of my body are getting stronger and even though I don’t go outside to walk (I find it very difficult with these knees) these workouts have boosted my capacity to exercise…. Perhaps for the first time in my life I enjoy the class.

At about 3-4 pm Irwin joins me for a game of Scrabble. We hadn’t played for years before I ordered the deluxe edition online. I had a deluxe edition which I bought myself for a wedding present in 1975, but I lost the board and spend five minutes searching for it every day. They just don’t make them like that anymore.

We play only one game, usually eating two butter pecan cookies each. Does this sound unusually obsessive? Perhaps, but I enjoy the sameness of it all.

I call one or two family members and friends every day including my cousin Aliza, who lives in Haifa, Israel, where the vaccine is being dispensed almost as fast as God is said to have created the world. And yes, they get two doses there.

Every day I spend about two minutes thinking about where I’d go when I get the vaccine or whether I’d go somewhere outside of Canada to get the vaccine if I knew I could get it. My choices are California, where both my daughters live, and Israel where I lived for five years and still dream of returning to …. Not that these countries are easily accessible these pandemic days. But I still can fantasize.

After Scrabble, I spend about an hour watching my “daytime Netflix escape show.” Now it’s Nurse Jackie. Before it’s was Call My Agent (Season 4 is now available for your viewing pleasure) and then there was Schitt’s Creek, which I had a hard time with (mainly because of the insane overacting), but continued watching just to see why it won so many awards. And you know what? I never quite figured that out.

Then it’s final prep for dinner (having done most of the cooking and pre-prep in the earlier hours of the day).

We definitely enjoy our dinner, which we have faithfully at 6pm. From 6:30 to 7:30, it’s time for chess, two games exactly. Mostly, I lose. Sometimes I win.

At 7:30pm it’s Jeopardy with the new guest host Ken Jennings, whom I find adorably nerdy. I hope they keep him. They’ve got a winner there and I find myself becoming more addicted to him than I was to the late and great Alex Trebek.

At 8pm we watch our chosen Netflix show until 11 when we watch the news and then fall asleep to Stephen Colbert’s monologue on The Late Show. (More Netflix and Prime Video recommendations will be on the website in the coming days, now that I’m motivated to write for you.)

That’s my day. Very dependable. Very regimented.

But I do have breaks. Like the break I had to take when Irwin had his cataract surgery. A stressful time which is now coming to an end, which I will write about in my next blogs.

I want to add that I am inspired by my friends who are finding the motivation to help others. Bonnie Sandler told me she takes comfort in bringing comfort to the homeless. She fills up her car with winter clothes and heads to Resilience, which is just south of Ste. Catherine on Atwater. Here someone waits for her at the door to receive her donation. I shy away from driving these days. Perhaps it’s because I have not driven in the winter for several years. We are usually in warmer climes at this time.

If any of you are still wondering about whether we are publishing a print edition of The Senior Times, the answer, sadly, is no. Our last issue was October and that was difficult to distribute. We are not officially closed because we are continuing with our online edition, which you are reading now.

Stay tuned for keto recipes, Netflix recommendations and a report on Irwin’s cataract surgery in the coming days.

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Cooking with the bounty of Montreal’s Jean-Talon Market

2 Comments on "How a schedule and family have helped motivate me through the pandemic"

  1. Thanks so much for re-living your day for us! Looking forward to more!

  2. Inspiring story. I found another motivation while sheltering in place. Decided to organize my life and records and personal contacts so that when the day comes that I am not able to manage all or some of my affairs, my Spouse and Family will know where everything is. Gives me a feeling of accomplishment and peace of mind. Came across My Life Directory…a simple inexpensive confidential way to do this by entering just the location of important documents, records and personal/professional contacts. Neil

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