Starting and Stopping

Out of the Fog

I don't know about you, but I have been living in (what I've taken to calling) my "pandemic trance."  

Just kind of . . . almost floating . . . through my days.  
Feeling disconnected.  
Going through the motions.  
Not much focus.  
(Concentration?  What concentration?)  
Nothing that I thought would interest me right now interests me right now.

(I'm sure this is grief.)  
(I'll write about that another day.)  

Time seems to have folded, somehow.  I always used to feel that the saying "the days are long but the years are short" resonated perfectly with my perception of time.  Now, that seems completely upside down!  My days fly by, but the weeks just creep along!

Yesterday, Tom reminded me that we've only been at this social distancing/self-isolation thing . . . for two weeks!  It feels like so much longer than two weeks.  And yet, my days - filled with nothing much, really - are zooming past.  Flying by, really.  So. Weird.  So very weird.


I'm ready to come out of my "pandemic trance." 

I'm sick of living this way.  (I'm talking about what's going on in my head; not the social distancing thing.  I'm In It To Win It when it comes to the social distancing.)  I need to take charge of my life again.  I need to fight my way out of the fog.


So yesterday I started looking at "tools" that might help me plan my days and structure my time in more productive ways.

First, I reminded myself of Elise Joy's 3-simple-things method.  It's not complicated - basically coming up with 3 simple things you want to do each day.  (And I mean SIMPLE things - unload the dishwasher, put away the laundry, make dinner.  That kind of simple.)  I used to do my own version of this when Erin was a newborn.  And again when I was in chemo.  It works -- because it helps you create a "normal" structure in days that no longer seem "normal" or structured.  It helps you get the little things done . . . which may lead to getting the bigger things done.

Next, I looked for some bigger-and-bolder tools for de-fogging my brain and (maybe) becoming a productive human again.  

I found this:  The Sequester Checklist from Black Cardigan Edit.  It's a daily planner page specifically designed to help users find forward movement in these challenging times.  It's definitely more . . . laid out and prescriptive than what I'd usually go in for, but I think it might really be a helpful tool for me right now.

And I also found this:  A "daily page" format from artist Nicole J. Georges.  (If you follow the link, it will take you to the artist's Patreon page.  You'll need to scroll down to the heading "Recent Posts by Nicole J. Georges" and click on the drawing, then click on the side arrow for page 2.  Kinda complicated, but worth it.)  If you don't want to follow the link, her illustrated "daily page" has the following sections:

  • 5 things I'm grateful for
  • What is out of my control today
  • What is in my control today
  • What will I do for my body today
  • How will I connect with other humans
  • Can I help someone or be of service today? How?
  • What 3 songs will you listen to today?
  • Draw a quiet time.
  • Free square (basically, anything else you'd like to say)

I like the planning/journaling combo in Nicole's "daily page."  It's a little more ... free-flowing, and I think it could work for me.


There are 3 things (see what I did there?) that I think might help me . . . find a way out of my fog.  Maybe . . . they'll help you, too?


Be sure to hop over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday posts today.  AND . . . make sure to visit Bonny, too -- because she is collecting happiness!



And from the Look for JOY desk today . . . 

Be sure to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium!  The actual aquarium is closed, of course, but you can treat yourself to their Live Cams.  Jellyfish!  Rolling ocean waves!  OTTERS!  



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I'm listing 3 things each day, too, but I think I need to be less ambitious about them because there's one thing (organizing my selectman's paperwork) that I keep putting on my list each day and not actually doing.


I make a list for each day too, even so, it is so difficult to overcome this underlying unsettled feeling. I've been ending each day with a simple "examination of consciousness" sometimes called "examen": I look back at the day and note down 1 or 2 things I'm thankful for, 1 or 2 things I'm sorry for, any missed opportunities for grace, and a simple resolution for the next day. This helps me with what I want to focus on each day. I've also found that the less news I watch, the calmer I feel!


I've kind of been listing three things in my mind, but starting today I'm writing them down. Do laundry, plant seeds, fix home-made pizza for dinner. I had also decided I was sick of living like this (in a depressed fog), so collecting happiness became a necessity. Thank you for all the happiness here. I read the Monterey Bay Aquarium link as Live Clams, but Live Cams may be even better!

Kim Sheehan

Glad you are coming out of the trance. I made weekly calendars for the next ten weeks (of distance teaching) to start to bring more structure to the day. I'm reaching out to students to schedule time in for next week. Control the things we can!

My three things are all going to be maintenance related--sweep the hearth, put away papers, wipe down counters. It's too easy to be messy these days.


Ever since I began joining in for 3 Things Thursday, I am amazed at how often I think in terms of "3 things". I love your idea of thinking of 3 simple things that you have control over that you can do each day. My days are pretty unstructured anyway (I'm a retired teacher), so this may be a good habit to adopt even if we weren't in the middle of a crisis. Thanks for sharing!


My things have been super simple, but still challenging - get dressed, make the bed, and figure out what we want to make for dinner. Simple except when you are in a fog.

Thank you so much for sharing these links! :)


I'm surprised I have not really been that foggy. Scattered? Yes. But I'm busy with work and loving being home. Grateful to be employed and making the most/best of this situation. And, you know I am not a list person - lol.


Yep, we are all in similar place. I've heard a few voices these last 48 hours or so talk about how we're grieving and it is so terrible/comforting to know that yes, it's real and ugh, it's real. I am loving Elise's Three Things format (although I should've thought WAY harder about my list for today because turns out I'd have to knit for about SIX solid hours to complete one of my tasks. oops!) Have you listened to the debut episode of Brené Brown's podcast? It's about FFT (f-ing first times and it's good). xo.


LIfe does feel sort of foggy. It's so surreal as some things in life are completely normal - I walk in my very familiar neighborhood. I'm cooking in my kitchen as I usually do. Knitting continues at about the same pace or perhaps a little less. Other things are completely different - no coffee dates, book group, stopping by the tea shop, or perusing the yarn shop. Very few cars in shopping mall parking lot, lots of people at home. Very weird feeling indeed. Three things is a very good idea.


You've perfectly captured the way I've been feeling these past two weeks (and seriously, has it only been two weeks?!). To me, it feels a lot like when I was in the middle of a depressive episode, just without the overwhelming sadness. It's more like a blankness and a total aimlessness. Even with work, because I'm working from home, it all feels kind of pointless. I really do think we're all going to be at home for a long time, so I thank you for the tips and ideas to help clear the fog.


THANKYOU! This is exactly how I have been feeling and, honestly, I thought I was going crazy. LOL. When you said " it is grief" I felt such a huge relief. Yes it IS grief. I am going to try all your suggestions.


I’m so glad you named it—Yes! The days fly by! And how is that possible—with nowhere to go and no real timelines, either. My daily list has been a good thing—which I started for myself, really, and posted with day and date on the front of the fridge...and even with that I get mixed up.. What I’ve noticed is that everyone else in my house is referencing it and adding their own things to it, too (and none of them is a habitual lister). If nothing else, this will be a fascinating time for observing our true natures. All those things ‘we’ say we’d love to live without (commitments or deadlines or alarm clocks)—well, hmm....
Three things today: finish mulch before snow/rain; finish Isabel Dalhousie; exercise.
Happy Friday! (although, when I woke up I thought it was Saturday) :)

gale z

These are such good tools. I've been making a daily schedule that has helped me a lot, plotting out our whole day from breakfast till dinnertime. I had no idea it would be such a good thing for us. I started it to give shape to the very new-to-me days of homeschooling here and knowing it's comforting to Zoe to have an activity schedule she can look at. It turns out it's super good for me as well. And yes, I feel like we've been at this forever. Strange times!


The hardest part is not knowing when our need to stay home will end. Plus, the gray days we've had (and snow). I have been able to find enough to do around here that the days (and weeks) fly by. The 3 things list has helped me and I've been able to get some things done that needed to be. One thing I did yesterday was to wash all of Mylo's toys. He was not amused but we played and walked enough he got through it. lol

The comments to this entry are closed.