Choose your own adventure

I have a confession to make: my weekend was wonderful. Almost a little magical, maybe.

Oh, I wish I could have seen my kids or my parents (or, even better, my kids and my parents). I really do. I miss them terribly. But as my mom and I admitted to each other over the phone on Thursday morning, it was nice not to have to drive anywhere. Or make a huge meal. Or clean the house. Or navigate any familial tension.

After weeks of stress, insomnia, migraine, and worry, it was really nice to step off the treadmill of my life and just be.

It has been such a gift, to have four days so truly off. For Thanksgiving we did make a nice meal, every dish a new recipe we’ve never tried before. (Pork loin, brussel sprouts, dinner rolls, Bourbon-cranberry cocktails, and bread pudding for dessert.) Because it was just for the two of us, we weren’t also trying to entertain and get everything to turn out perfectly. We overcooked the roast and mis-timed the sprouts, but it was all good. Doing something new, working together, laughing at our missteps, and feeling no pressure mattered more than the food we eventually ate.

In the days since, we’ve gone for long walks and snapped photos of interesting things, taken naps, bought new porch plants, put up some lights, cleaned out a kitchen cupboard, Christmas shopped (online only), talked with those we love who are far away, and watched frivolous TV (Home of the Year). One evening I took a bubble bath with a new (to me) book, feeling so content with my modest, quirky home. Another night, we lit a fire and played a long game of Upwords and ate big helpings of leftover bread pudding.

I tried to finish a knitting project I’ve been working on, but when I attempted to sew it together (it’s a pillow cover), I realized I’d gotten the gauge wrong. Significantly wrong. I considered some half-assed solutions, but I knew I wouldn’t be happy with any of them. So it went from this…

…back to this:

I realized that the project is like our Thanksgiving dinner, where the process of making it matters more than the product I’ll eventually end up with. I realized that I want to do it right more than I want to get it done, a sentiment I’m feeling about many things lately.

In this time of continued suffering and uncertainty, it feels wrong, somehow, to feel as good as I have this long weekend. But what I’ve seen these past few days, more clearly than I did even in the spring, is that some aspects of pandemic life are good for me, and when we are past this enough to safely gather again, there are things from these months that I want to hold onto.

I know that it might not be easy; if I excuse myself from fast-paced living and unnecessary obligation I won’t have the ready excuse of a pandemic, which no one in my circle has questioned or pushed back on. I have been able to say both “yes” and “no” to things I normally might not, without hurting anyone’s feelings or disappointing anyone’s expectations (including my own). We have been giving each other all kinds of grace in acknowledgement of the hard time we are living through.

As I’m feeling myself come back to physical and mental wellness from just these few days of deep rest, I’m wondering: Couldn’t we maybe keep doing that for each other? It’s not like anyone I know was living particularly easy before last March. Couldn’t we keep accepting these kinds of choices as being necessary for our health (in the widest, most global sense)?

The things I want in my life are not controversial (or shouldn’t be). I want fewer superficial connections and more deep ones. I want more time at home, living slowly. I want time to rest my body and time to move it. I want to do and have fewer things, and I want the things I do have to be the right things. I want to take more long walks, spend less money, eat more good food, make more things, and live in such a way that I support people and causes that make this world the kind I’d like to live in.

I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do it, once the world starts back up again, but that’s OK for now. Figuring out what we want is sometimes the hardest part of getting it.

I hope you’ve had a nice weekend, too, and find comfort and joy in the coming weeks, by doing whatever creates them for you.

14 thoughts on “Choose your own adventure

  1. Kate says:

    I’m so glad you had a good weekend. “ Figuring out what we want is sometimes the hardest part of getting it.” a whole lot of truth in that statement!

  2. Kate says:

    I cut myself off somehow!! I wanted to say how much I love all your pictures. Especially the yarn. It’s really pretty yarn!

    I hope you get more chances to just be throughout this season and when the pandemic ends (it will end, won’t it?)

  3. Hillary says:

    Hi RIta! It sounds and looks wonderful. I am glad you and Cane have found your way back to each other in a way that seems to be working well. Here is to these good times. I am looking to increase those, too.
    I love your quirky home. It is hamish (look up the yiddish word). Love to you –

    • Rita says:

      You know I love learning a new word! And what a great one. I miss you! We need to make some good times together just as soon as we can.

  4. Kari Wagner Hoban says:

    YESSSS. We had a good Thanksgiving weekend too. I was dreading it a bit all month but it turned into a wonderful weekend. It helped that Mike has a job where he doesn’t have to work weekends anymore so that takes the stress away. But on the actual Thanksgiving day, we both said that as much as we missed family, it was nice to have no agenda.
    Our tree has been up for days with no ornaments and I DON’T EVEN CARE! I LOVE THIS! It will happen eventually. I told my mom the other day, “it is within a pandemic that I finally figured out that my life can be whatever I want it to be”. THAT IS HUGE.
    I love your home, your walks, your discoveries, your blog. You.
    I am so glad we have woven this path together this year. I know it isn’t over, I know it’s getting harder but I am so glad I have you on this path even if you are on the other side of the country.
    Kari Wagner Hoban recently posted…Ten Stuffing Recipes Because Stuffing is GoodMy Profile

    • Rita says:

      I am so glad you had a good weekend. Back in August/September, I was just dreading the holidays. Weirdly, I am enjoying them (so far) more than I usually do. No agenda is really nice, isn’t it?

      I will have to ponder some the idea that my life can be whatever I want it to be. But it feels empowering, and I like that. I know that much of it can be, for sure, and it is good to be learning more every day about what I want it to be.

      I am also so grateful for you. We’re going to get to the other side. I think we’ll come out better in many ways.

  5. Marian says:

    Gosh, I love your home, Rita. (And that yarn!)
    I’m so glad you had a good Thanksgiving. Making a big meal *is* a lot of work, which I think is true even if it’s for people you love and done because it’s a special occasion.

    • Rita says:

      Thank you, Marian. To get yarn compliments from both you and Kate feels like high praise!

      Making a big meal is always work for me, because I’m not very good at it. I really liked our little meal. It felt just right. Trying new things made it feel special, so it wasn’t just another Thursday night dinner. We chose carefully, so that it would be new but not overwhelming. I’m sure there’s a metaphor for living in all that!

  6. TD says:

    I certainly wish that I could roll some of my mistakes back into three nicely organized balls of yarn! It is so good to take time to rest, restore and rejuvenate!

    I’m grateful for you and the time you use to blog as you unknowingly teach me so much about life outside of myself and within myself that guides me through my own personal journey and the way our world turns, Rita!!

    • Rita says:

      Boy, don’t I wish the same wish! You know, I knew it probably wasn’t going to work quite a while before I got to the end of it, but I hated the idea of starting over after I’d already invested so much time in it. That kind of thinking has never served me well. You’d think I’d know better by now. Some lessons we have to learn multiple times, I think. (At least, I do.)

      I’m grateful to have you here, and I’m glad these writings do something positive for you. They’re pretty good therapy for me a lot of the time.

  7. Gretchen says:

    We took a nice long drive through the VT mountains. So needed. On a side note, so happy that you and Cane are navigating this time together. I remember a few years ago when your family’s dynamics were in crisis. Here’s to the best December!

  8. Laura Millsaps says:

    I’ve been almost afraid to look at the ways in which this pandemic has been– if not a “blessing” (I’m for some reason beginning to hate that word, but that’s a whole other writing assignment)– then at least a way of forcing us to reconsider the consequences of the way we live our lives. I can think of a few. I get more sleep, for one. Our household has shifted away from commuting in ways that are good for our bank account and the environment. We cook more, and eat more family-oriented meals. While all these have been forced upon us, how can we keep them when we “go back?” It’s a good thing to think about. Also, speak to me of these Bourbon-cranberry cocktails! They sound amazing!
    Laura Millsaps recently posted…FlattenedMy Profile

    • Rita says:

      I have been thinking a lot about your questions. I don’t have good answers. I’ve learned the really hard way, over many years, that will alone isn’t enough to create a balanced life. Part of the equation is our individual choices, for sure, but part is the societal structures we live within. Last January, I was embracing (in my head) what I was calling “being open to radical lifestyle change.” I decided my project for the year was going to be exploring/researching/figuring out ways I might live differently, in fairly (for me, anyway) radical ways. By April I felt the pandemic had upended my project, but I see now that it has allowed me to pursue it in a different way. Rather than exploring a simpler, slower life theoretically, I’ve been doing it in practice.

      What I know now, after all these months, is: I don’t want to go back. I’ve been thinking hard about what I’m willing to give/do in order to make that possible. I want to live in ways that are good for health–mine, my family’s, and the planet’s.

      As for those cocktails: They were good! A little sweet, and a little dangerous (because you can’t really taste the alcohol). We saved some for a later day (I can’t really drink much), and then they were concentrated, which packed quite a punch.

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