ELDERS FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM Calling all elderbloggers. I hope you are planning to join us next Thursday 20 August in posting for health care reform. Let's not let those old people disrupting town halls with shouted inanities speak for the rest of us. Find out more here.
Before I was forced to retire four years ago (sorry, readers, I'm going to rag on the stupidity of young hiring managers who refused to see me as useful until the day I die), my morning routine hardly varied.
Whether my job required me to wake at 4:30AM or 7:30AM, I moved in lockstep through the schedule:
- Start the coffee water
- Feed the cat
- Make the bed
- Pour the water into the coffee maker
- Makeup and hair
- Check email with coffee
- Wash up the few dishes and cup
- Give the cat a pet
- Leave for work
Since rushing rattles me, I gave myself 75 minutes or so to do this which is about how long it takes for my brain to reach its full functionality after a night's sleep. Any disruptions to the routine could throw the timing off because it all took place in my lizard brain - no thinking required.
When I stopped looking for work and put the plan in place to sell my home and leave Manhattan, the schedule remained the same for about a year. Then I began slacking off. I'd skip bed making until later. Then I put off showering to read and answer email first which soon extended to the morning online news which easily added an hour, even two to sitting butt-still in the desk chair.
I am never hungry until four or five hours after I waken. I had forced a meal for years knowing there would be no time to eat until noon or later, but now I realized I could stop doing that and eat whenever I feel like it.
You know how this progressed. It became common for me to still be sitting at the computer in my flannel granny gown at 11AM – even noon - with nothing changed but having switched from coffee to green tea. Maybe I was researching a future blog post. Or writing tomorrow's post. Or organizing items for the Saturday Elder News. Or just dinking around.
On days that it was noon before I became mobile, showering seemed almost decadent or, at least, beside the point, and I'll admit that if I had no one to see, I skipped it some days although never two days in a row because that is just too icky.
For six months of the year, I shop at the farmers' market on Wednesday mornings which opens at 7AM. It is good to be there early before the best stuff is sold, but this season I found myself resenting the routine necessary to be presentable and even stayed home a couple of times.
All this sloth came to a head a few weeks ago when the UPS man arrived at around 11AM and I was forced to answer the door in my favorite but rattiest, old, granny gown, long, gray hair flying in all directions. It's an old line, but he must have asked himself if it was Halloween.
So I took myself in hand, gave myself a talking to and for about the past six weeks, I have been following a retired routine that is similar to my work-years routine with extra time slotted for internet reading before moving on to chores, shopping, blog work or whatever else is planned by 8AM.
It's harder to enforce than I would have thought. Although I'm quite pleased with myself to be in and out of the shower within an hour of waking; although I think my lizard brain retreats more quickly this way so my mind is sharper at an earlier time; and although no matter how late I sleep (for me, 5:30AM is the goal, but I often wake earlier) lizard brain returns by mid-afternoon when I can no longer do any useful thinking, I am still forcing the routine.
Which means that at some point I will back slide. In fact, the longer I spend writing this post, the more familiar it seems and it may be that I've been through all this before - a couple of years or so ago.
So I wonder, all you other retired people, how you organize your time now, particularly your mornings. Do we inevitably become slothful as our working years retreat further into our pasts? If left unchecked, how far can it go? Does it matter?
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: The Band Teacher