Ever since the shutdowns in March, I’ve been honing my staycation and day-trip skills. I was supposed to fly to Scotland at the end of March, to celebrate my 40th birthday. When that was looking unlikely, I came up with a Plan B, then a Plan C, then … well, it might have been Plan M that I ended up with, which was three days in a row of having picnics with my dog in state parks then coming home to cook outside and do a special evening activity: a new jigsaw puzzle, a new LEGO set, a new sudoku book. I did my best, and it wasn’t bad.
If you’ve followed my Instagram, I started a thing called #TakeOffTuesday, where every Tuesday I’d take my dog to a state park for a picnic. Well, it wasn’t every Tuesday, and then I needed Tuesdays for business, so we went for some Saturdays, but weekends got busy too and fibro had to get a word in, and, well, I tried. And I’m still trying.
Amica and I had a great birthday day trip … on *her* birthday. By June, things were partially open and the weather was great.
After that, our special days just turned into, “Come on, Amica! It’s our birthday!” We’d load into the car and go adventure, or stay in with culinary indulgences, and make like it was a birthday celebration.
A few weeks ago, I took doggo out on a date on a Friday night. We went to a riverside park and smelled things. We went out to dinner on a pet-friendly patio. Then at home we each got some favorite treats and watched a movie. At the restaurant, I told our waitress about my birthday-pretending and she loved it. When we left, she wished us a happy birthday.
This year, celebrations and events are canceled. Or we’re choosing not to attend rogue gatherings because we want to be safe and keep those we love safe. But that doesn’t mean you have to keep your calendar barren.
How I Always Have Something to Look Forward To
Since April, I’ve had a birthday at least every other month. I set aside a weekend, which I mark on my calendar, and make plans for a special celebration. This can include adventuring in nature with my bestmutt, getting myself new toys to play with, ordering takeout and binge-watching a favorite show in bed … whatever! The key is putting it on the calendar and enjoying the planning that happens in the preceding weeks, enjoying the looking forward to, and enjoying the heck out of the weekend itself.
Switching Things Up By Theming
We’re getting into the dark, cold winter months and I feel like I need to change things up, so now my creativity is evolving into theme days or weekends.
A couple weeks ago, I desperately needed rest and relaxation, so I did a new things called “sofa Saturday.” I made my couch into a bed and hustled to clean and make peace with my house, then I got all my favorite things around me, picked a favorite show to watch, and settled in for a fabulous sick day from life. Here’s how that looked:
The day’s prep also included acquiring then setting out and portioning as much as possible the ingredients for strawberry muffins and pizza casserole:
This is the theme day I have planned for this weekend. I’ve started to feel a bit too self-indulgent with all my “It’s my birthday!” and eating and playing and watching TV. Can self-care and self-love be overdone? Perhaps not, but my heart has felt compelled to get outside of myself more and spend a (fun) day with God.
That means this Sunday, after virtual church, I’m going to do some spiritual reading … some Bible, some Franciscan mysticism, some Dr. Wayne Dyer. I’m going to do yoga. I’m going to watch The Bishop’s Wife and put up my Christmas tree, and then pick a wholesome Christian movie to watch in the glow of the tacky twinkles.
The next theme staycation on my calendar is a writer’s retreat for the long weekend of New Year’s. What better way to start off a new year than get myself inspired and productive in my favorite passion? I haven’t gotten this planned out yet, as I’m enjoying the planning process in the coming weeks, but I’ve got ideas and notes for it.
I’m going to do a thing I call the “book shift,” where I alphabetize a few new books in my two-room fiction-and-literature section, which means having to shift everything around to fit the new tomes, which means touching, admiring, finding hand-written notes in margins and random relics tucked in the pages of my collection. I may need to pop into a used book store first.
I’m going to do something like workshops, so read articles and listen to podcasts. Maybe I’ll drive to a park and listen to podcasts and wander with my dog and some Thoreau.
I’m going to read and I’m going to write.
I should set up a cocktail hour / video chat with a creative pal.
I shall stalk agendas of real writer conferences and retreats and see what inspiration I can glean. (I wonder if there’s a writer spa day!)
What’s Your Theme?
- What might you add to your calendar and plan for yourself?
- What is a passion you may have been neglecting that you would love to inflame?
- What does a perfect day of rest look like?
- What’s a favorite place or favorite memory that you can plan a theme day around … including movies, or a museum visit, and/or and certain meal accompanying photo album perusal?
- What’s something your family all loves?
- What’s something you want to share with your partner?
- What’s a new experience, a new hobby, a new country you’d love to explore?