Leaning Out; Nineteen Weeks In

I am at that weird point in the summer, but also in the pandemic, where I really struggle to know what day it is. The boys and I went for a fun little hike last Monday, and when I think about it, it seems like months ago. Thank god for blogs, because I have no concept if something happened in April or last week, and I find myself looking it up and being constantly surprised.

There was a worldwide Garmin outage due to hacking, and it really begs the question: if you do a physical activity, but your watch doesn’t track it, did it really happen? If you do not have a Garmin watch or similar, you might think – as I did, people, as I did, karma on every judgement every time – that such a question is ridiculous. However, millions of users, myself included, were all completely lost. Sure, there’s a global pandemic with millions sick and dying, there are terrible social injustices happening all around the world, there is massive government corruption and countries are all facing mind-boggling national debts and unemployment, small businesses are closing up while the Walmarts and Amazons are thriving. BUT WHAT ABOUT MY RUN, WILL IT BE RECORDED.

The boys were up at my parents’ for a few days, helping my dad with a few things, and my husband and I looked at each other across the table, wondering what day it was. It’s Wednesday, I said with great authority. I thought it was Thursday the whole day, he said. We stared at each other for a minute – it WAS Wednesday, but disconcerting as who really knows, time has lost all meaning and feels like a false construct – and then went back to our salads.

The boys paddling at 15 degrees and windy; they are pretty hardened to cold weather, but melt a little in warmer temperatures. Luckily, they live here.

As a digression, when my younger son was in kindergarten I often chatted with his little friend’s grandma, who cared for her granddaughter while her parents were at work. This woman was a real inspiration to me; so energetic and vibrant, and interesting to talk to. She was the woman who really pressed me to look into getting my varicose veins removed, saying that I was so young with so many years ahead of me, it was too much to go through life with pain that could be easily remedied. Longtime readers will remember that I did get them stripped; unfortunately, according to my doctor, I am a “very unusual case” as I have since developed NEW varicose veins, and I cannot have anything done with them as, well, no more veins can really be removed from my body.

ANYWAY. If you’re interested in varicose veins, by all means, go search my archives. The grandma, however, talked to me once about how one day the kids will leave home, and I would be sitting across from my husband at the table, and it would be like, “Oh, hello.”

At the time I couldn’t picture it at all; dinners were hectic and evenings were filled with reading stories and supervising baths and cutting up fruit for snacks before collapsing, exhausted, on the couch. It’s not like the kids haven’t been away before, far from it. But it occurred to me suddenly: it won’t be long until the table-set-for-two is the rule, not the exception.

Last week I finished the book Lean Out by Tara Henley, and if you haven’t read it, I really recommend it. It really resonated with me and what I’ve been thinking about these last few weeks – this whole pandemic, really. The books centres on the physical and mental health issues that stem from our culture of overwork, overscheduling, overdoing. Don’t get me wrong; I love to be busy and productive and to get things done, but there’s a limit. It’s something I have known for years: there has to be yin where there is yang. Otherwise, your body forces you to be yin; in other words, you become sick, exhausted, depleted. If you don’t take rest, your body takes it for you, and it is much less pleasant than just sitting and reading for a while.

I am writing this as my husband has been working nonstop, every single day since June 29, evenings, weekends, holidays. He’s on a big project and there is an end in sight, but it is making me nervous in terms of health. Hoo boy. Anyway, during this whole month – and the whole pandemic – we have gone for walks every single day and I think that’s the yin that’s going to save us all. I’ve watched the lawns and gardens in the neighbourhood go from snow covered to bleak to tiny-signs-of-life to full blown flowers and grass. One garden in particular is my favourite to look at, owing to the gorgeous flowers and also their enormous collection of garden gnomes and tchotchkes. I call it the Happy Yard, with all the smiling ceramic ladybugs and what have you.

My own garden is in full swing; the roses are as late as they have ever been, and – perhaps owing to the super-early frost and snow last year – none of the old wood greened up, so I had to prune it all back. IN JULY.

But this week, the first of the roses started blooming, and it felt like a little breath of hope.

Pandemic Reading

I was out running errands when I got a text from my husband to let me know the library had called, and that one of my holds was ready for pickup. He followed up that text with this: Stop ordering books. I don’t know why he said that.

So I have a few things to read. Anyway, I AM making my way through the pile; I read two other books in addition to Lean Out this week.

This is about the woman who wrote The Velveteen Rabbit and her child prodigy daughter, Pamela. Pamela was a famous artist at a young age, and like most geniuses, suffered mental illness. Probably this was exacerbated by the pressure she was under thanks to her exploitative dickwad of a father.

This book was interesting and disturbing; it was well done but I don’t know that I’d across-the-board recommend it. If you like bizarre internet stalker-type books, and very well done and interesting twists, this is for you.

Have a beautiful week, friends. It’s the last week of July! Just a reminder for those of you who – like me – are completely messed up in terms of time. xo


  1. Last week of July, got it. I feel pretty unmoored in time, partly because all the things we were going to do this summer, we’ve done and it doesn’t look like either of the kids will be going back to school in the traditional sense, so it seems simultaneously like the summer’s over and that it will never end.

  2. Time definitely has no meaning. The only way to mark the difference in the days is between Week and Weekend, simply because my husband is home on Weekend. Well, except for this coming weekend, so Week will just stretch on and on.

  3. I tweeted something about this whole “what day is it?” last night. The only way I can mark my week is by the days The Husband is home (Saturday and Sunday) unless he throws a wrench into it all by taking a day or two off.

  4. bibliomama2 says

    Eve has been enjoying my chronological confusing since lockdown started – “remember when I told you all my teachers gave me a bunch of stuff and you said why would they do that on Tuesday but it was Monday?” – everybody was home every day for a while, and then only Angus was working outside the house, so things got very blurry. I have been practicing the Lean Out philosophy for a lot of my adult life, ever since I figured out that if I overdo it for a while my body hits back hard. It can be a difficult balance to maintain, it always feels like I’m either a little over or a little under, but for the most part it works.

  5. I just finished ‘Brick Lane’, it was kind of depressing. Maybe because I had lots going on in my mind I had a hard time focusing – particularly with the sister’s letters that were in a choppy form. I am now reading ‘The Silent Patient’ for book club.

    I marvel at how different my childhood was in terms of slower pace than what my kids are involved in. I want to read about this Lean Out philosophy.

    My phone was slowly dying and it made my apps misbehave. I was grouchy as all get out when I realized I had no record of my walks.

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