a pause for appreciation

· 777 words · 4 minute read

Some things from this period I am appreciating:

  1. I started an early rise routine a few months ago, mostly to make the commutes for the occasional 7 a.m. meeting feel less onerous. I have mostly kept the routine but without the 45-minute commute. I have so much time in the morning before work, now.

  2. That time often goes to making good breakfasts for Ben. Play a podcast, make the pancakes or biscuits and gravy, drink tea.

  3. I love my office. I’m surrounded by my pictures, I have the lighting dialed in. It’s bright and welcoming. There’s decent sound. My mood improves when I walk in first thing. At the end of the day, I sit in the lounge chair in the corner with the lights low and think about nothing.

  4. We have a lot of discrete spaces now that the weather is turning: bedroom balcony/porch, front porch, little back patio with sun sail, our offices, and the living room. It’s great to just go out and sit on the balcony in between meetings and get a little sun and breeze.

  5. Our patterns throughout the day take us in and out of offices/rooms. Sometimes we all end up in the living room; Ben sewing or playing a game, Alison and me working. It’s companionable. After a while a phone call or whatever breaks up the moment and we drift away.

  6. It is easier to consider what’s next during the day. At first home is a distraction, but after a while it’s back to deeply familiar and comfortable. Grab a glass of water, sit on the porch for ten minutes and think about what’s important for that next meeting or work sprint.

  7. It’s so quiet now. You can see more stars at night.

  8. People are masked and all skirting wide, but the friendly little wave–a sort of manual curtsy–is back in vogue. I was a friendly little waver when we moved here 20 years ago, but the move to the sorta WASPy, chilly northeast Portland beat it out of me, and Lents people are more about the uptilted “sup?” chin, which is less a greeting and more a fleeting nonaggression pact.

  9. I see more of Ben and he wants to talk more.

  10. In the quiet and relative calm I’ve carved out around me, I have space to remember people are not at their best. Sometimes people aren’t at their best sort of at me, and it has become easier over the past few weeks to return to center afterward. We’re all sort of alone with our egos right now. People succumb. They need understanding and patience, and a sincere belief on my part that there is nothing to forgive.

  11. No commute home at night. Just that last email or Slack, a quick check for invoices or purchase orders or expense reports, then gather up the mug or glass, lights out, and head downstairs.

  12. People reaching out and being closer in the isolation.

  13. Space to sit in the dark and grieve, or feel shitty, or cry, or worry.

  14. Writing more feels like an adaptive behavior, at the slight cost of coming to believe meetings are best for the truly novel, but not being sure how to address that.

  15. I have finally found the sweet spot between keeping handwritten notes and capturing actions reliably. It’s simple: Take notes, annotate actions with “!!!” and then sweep that into Things at the end of the meeting, which is easier when you’re not rushing down a floor and across the building to get to the next thing.

  16. Ben’s room is a marvel to me. He understands comfort and coziness in a way I was incapable of at his age. Throw pillows, big blankets, fairy lights, candles. I poke my head in and my heart melts. He learned how to figure out what he loves and he surrounds himself with it. It took me forever–well into my forties– to stop being angry and hard on myself, and to learn how to find things that brought joy or comfort. I’m really proud that he just has that.

This is a hard time. Sometimes I think it could swallow me. I worry for people I care about, and people I don’t even know. I sense inside me a resistance to listening to angry people because they are a demand on my reserves, so I worry that I might starve my own pet anger and begin to forget important things.

So this wasn’t an act of “it’s all fine!” It was an enumeration of things that are good because of so much that is bad. It is a reminder of how much I have. I’m grateful for it.