Before the pandemic, I stayed home quite a bit, so my life, although significantly disrupted, has not been turned upside down. However, it’s still the most bizarre and scary time of my life, and I’m guessing that’s the case for all of you. Business, as usual, is out, so I’m working out how to shelter in place and still enjoy life as best I can. In this post, I’ll talk about what I’m doing for exercise, getting out, and other activities at home, trying to approximate normal as best I can.
Exercising was the hardest for me to figure out. I stopped going to the gym, where I used the elliptical machine and treadmills, and sometimes did a weight workout. It closed last week, so even if I wanted to risk it, I can’t. I was there six or seven days a week. A core activity in my life, one that significantly impacted well-being, was shut down. For a few days, I went over to my stepdaughter’s home and used the elliptical in her family room (it used to be in our Portland home, from which we downsized, and now we don’t have room for it). She and I decided it wasn’t such a good idea, not safe. Let me digress a little bit: in the Pacific Northwest, where we live, it rains a lot between October and June (and sometimes well into July). For about a week and a half, we had some beautiful sunny weather, so I was able to exercise on the large, outdoor trampoline my wife and I bought for our grandkids to use when we took care of them or when they visited with their mom. I ran/danced in place for an hour, listening to Aretha, Otis Redding, the Rolling Stones, Bruce, Dylan et. many al. on my iPod. (I wipe the tramp with disinfectant wipes after the girls use it). Then, the rains returned.
Meanwhile, I reached back into my past to solve the exercise problem. When I was a much younger man, before I ruptured a disc, I used to run long distances each day. For a while, I was living in Indiana, where winters were pretty brutal, so I purchased what they call a “rebounder,” a small trampoline (3 to 4 feet across) on which a person can run in place and jump or do a little dance. I ordered, and it arrived on the first rainy day – a rare incident of perfect timing. Since it came, I do an hour either listening to music or watching tv. I also have some handheld weights, and I’ve fashioned a couple of mini- weight workouts that will tide me over. If you’re interested in getting a rebounder, I got one on Amazon. The price range can vary as do the accessories, i.e., for folks who have balance problems or use a walker, some models come with detachable handrails. The price range varies greatly, from as low as $30 to a whole lot more. The size also varies. Mine is 3 feet in diameter, the jumping mat is about 2 feet wide, which is plenty of room to get pretty good exercise.
We get outside every day.
We have a standard poodle puppy, and to say he’s nuts is redundant since he is a puppy. Cosmo is a giant fluff (we haven’t had him “poodlized” yet), and he loves to run around and play with other dogs. This works well for the three of us: we get some fresh air and get out of the house for 45 minutes to an hour. We get to walk, and the dog gets to run around, hopefully, to get himself tired enough to be less rambunctious at home. When he meets another dog who wants to play with him, we maintain social distance from the other owner, but we get to chat, and things almost seem normal. If we didn’t have the dog, I doubt that we’d be outside every day, so I guess we’re grateful to that big fluffy lunatic.
Around the house, it’s the usual.
We used to go out to eat once or twice a week. When we eat at home, we share the cooking. We didn’t plan our meals. If we decided on something for dinner but didn’t have it in the house, one of us would go to the store. Now we have to plan a little bit and keep our frig and freezer pretty full. However, we are both pretty good cooks and pretty creative, so we’re trying new recipes or using the food we have in different ways. For example, we had some marinated artichokes. At first, we thought they’d be great in a salad, but then my wife suggested we serve them over pasta. This morphed into Fettucine with onions, capers, and garlic sautéed in olive oil and mixed into the pasta with the artichokes and fresh tomatoes, topped with grated parmesan. It’s nothing fancy; it’s not even a recipe, but, using the food we had, we figured out a different and tasty way to combine it. We’re trying to do things like that fairly often, and it’s working out okay so far. Of course, we also “occupy” ourselves by trying to keep our home tidy and clean. Since the granddaughters are not coming over, it’s easier to keep it neat, and we do a little housecleaning each day, which works well: the house stays pretty clean, and we don’t feel overwhelmed by what I consider at best to be a very dull activity.
Last but not least, I try to keep in touch with family and friends. We have “visits” with my stepdaughter and granddaughters who live close by. We stand a distance apart and talk to each other. When the weather is good, they come over to visit and use the trampoline. Yesterday, they came over, and we visited in the driveway. The dog also got some time with his absolute favorite people (he loves the grandparents with all his deranged little heart).
At least once a week, we Facetime with my other stepdaughter, her husband and our grandson who live in Nashville.
We were doing this before the crisis, but it’s so much more critical now, as it’s a great diversion to spend Facetime with our grandson, who just turned two, and is lots of laughs. Plus, I’m close to both his parents, so it’s something we look forward to and always enjoy.
I don’t use social media. I don’t-I’m not against it, but it’s not something that ever appealed to me. I keep in touch with my friends mostly through phone calls and texting.
I also email articles that I think friends will be interested in and probably don’t have access to. It often sparks discussions with them, and it gives us each an opportunity to check-in and stay in touch. I think that’s important. I imagine those of you on Facetime are making good use of it-I hope so.
So, that’s some of it. In Layin’ Low #3, I’ll describe what I’m doing it for entertainment.
– Edward from McMinnville, Oregon, a FAR customer who is finding purpose in this new stage of his life.
Edward writes for FAR and is also a customer. He is 73-year-old, born and raised in and around New York City. After college and a little graduate school, he took Horace Greeley’s advice and went west. Edward lived in several cities throughout California and currently resides in Oregon. He practiced law for a few years as part of a law collective doing what they called “people’s law,” but spent most of his career working as an internal organizer for the unions.
When Edward’s career ended with the unions, he was determined to become an advocate for older adults. He enrolled at Portland Community College studying Gerontology. He learned a lot about aging and how it applied to his own life experiences and my own aging process. Much of Edward’s writing is related to what he learned in his Gerontology studies.
* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Finance of America Reverse (LLC).