Back to Basics - Redux

morning frost, Thanksgiving 2009

This morning I declared today to be Maintenance Monday, a day to catch up with the seemingly mundane chores of managing a home that make a big difference when they're taken care of.

In the spirit of maintenance, and to remind me of the power of Basics, I thought I'd re-post something I wrote more than two years ago.

Most of the time I pull out my own Basics when I feel overwhelmed or depleted of energy; today I feel like observing them not from a space of angst, but from a space of wanting to slow down and let things unfold.

Either way, they work.


Basics no doubt vary from one person to another and although they'll most likely shift depending on one's life circumstances, I tend to gravitate towards a few standards:

Sleep. Power naps after work on weekdays, morning or afternoon naps on weekends, early bedtime all around. I make a point to stay away from anything that gets my mind into high gear before going to bed and try to give myself at least an hour to transition from high-functioning wake to sleep.

Morning pages. A practice introduced to me by Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way 10 years ago, I strive to write them on a daily basis. When I fall off the wagon I notice; I get cranky and easily overwhelmed. On the flip side, when I do them I feel more centered and at peace. Sometimes sleep trumps my morning pages, but I can only sacrifice the pages for so long before the benefits brought by an extra half hour of shut-eye are lost.

Not just any food but decent, as-healthy-as-possible meals. On some days it means two toasts with a piece of cheese for dinner, on others it means ordering a quarter chicken meal with sweet potato fries from a favourite (healthy!) restaurant or temporarily carbing up on Pad Thai. It's all about keeping it simple and as healthy as possible without too much pressure for perfection.

It's easy for me to forget my daily quota of H2O yet it helps with energy and mental clarity. Drinking water is a habit; often it's simply a question of remembering to have a glass by my side for easy sipping.

Quiet/couch time. This is time spent reading a book or a magazine, enjoying a favourite movie or something completely different borrowed from the library, or just hanging out with D. and Cassie. It may involve the odd bowl of chips and for the most part, it involves being curled up in a wool blanket.

A clean house.
Home is my foundation. It's where I seek comfort and a space to lay my weary body, mind and soul. When all I see are dirty clothes and fur balls the size of watermelons I feel frazzled, which is not the state of mind I want to create for myself or for others who share my space. So bit by bit as energy levels allow, I tackle the piles and the fur balls - one sock and one dark corner at a time.

Computer-free time. Yesterday I experimented with not turning on my PC. Initially I thought I'd leave it off until late afternoon or after dinner, but about halfway through the morning I silently declared (read: tentatively committed to it without making it known so I could back out at any time) the day to be entirely computer-free. It was an enlightening and productive experiment that allowed me more time to take care of basics listed above. I might touch on this more in a later post.


Et voilà! What are your Basics? Have they changed in the past few years or are they relatively stable?