The ‘Mater Method and Me

tomato timer

Twenty-one days.

That’s how long “they say” it takes to form a habit. I say that’s how long it takes to figure out how to accept something that’s out of your control. 

For me it actually started on days 15-19. That’s when I figured out how to wrap my mind around this whole social distancing thing that in Birmingham turned into shelter-in-place and which is now a statewide shelter-in-place. 

I’ve made no bones about the fact that staying at home was a real struggle for me and affected me way worse than I thought it would. I talked about it here and here. And last week one of the things I talked about here was trying to put myself on some sort of schedule to help me get focused on something other than how much I hated my current situation.

And you know what? Now that I’m on the 21st day of social distancing/shelter-in-place, I think I’ve found my groove or at least come to accept the situation.

I decided to use something called The Pomodoro Method, which is named for the tomato-shaped kitchen timer the creator used when developing this method. He was Italian. Hence, Pomodoro, which is Italian for tomato. If he had been Southern, it would probably be known as The ‘Mater Method. But he wasn’t. And it’s not.

Basically The Pomodoro Method involves dividing your day up into segments where you work at a task for a set amount of time (usually 25 minutes) and then take a five-minute break. After you go through 4 cycles, you take a longer break, maybe 20-25 minutes. Then you start the whole thing all over again. I added in a longer lunch break in the middle of the day. I also downloaded an app called Focus Keeper, which is basically a glorified timer but you can set up your whole schedule and then just let it play out all day. 

Then I got a big sheet of paper and wrote down what I would do during each of the 25 minute sessions and stuck it on the wall where I could see it every day. Obviously most of the segments are work-related, but I set aside a little time to do something creative or get outside before I start my day and in the middle of the day. And I’ve stuck to it religiously. Even if I am in mid-type, when break time comes, I stop what I’m doing, get up, and stretch or go outside on the balcony. 

I find that I’ve been more active. My mind seems to be a little sharper. I’ve been more productive. 

And probably most important, I’ve been in an infinitely better mood than I have been for the previous 2 weeks. Rather than moping around not knowing whether to, as they say, shit or wind my wristwatch, I feel like I have some focus, some purpose, and a sense of accomplishment. 

I still feel a little short tempered and a little restless. But I’m actually starting to dig being at home. I don’t worry about all the things I can’t do. I actually do things — a lot of things that I (a) never had time for or (b) just couldn’t get around to. And, dare I say it, I’m enjoying my own company for probably the first time in my whole life.

Y’all, I feel like I’ve got this. 

It was a pretty good week! Here are some things I got accomplished:

  • I worked on an in-progress painting and got the base coat down for another one. 
  • I discovered some new places in my neighborhood to walk.
  • I started a tremendously complicated (to me) crewel project. 
  • I reached out to an old friend and we met in the park for a socially distanced cocktail. 
  • I pulled off a reasonably fun 21st birthday party for Sonny Boy. And don’t get your drawers in a wad…by “party” I mean a festive time for just the three of us in our household. 
  • As part of the aforementioned “party”, I made a layered B-52 shot for the first time ever, but it won’t be the last. (I also discovered a recipe for another shot called a “Duck Fart” which just cracks me up! The internet is a weird place, y’all…)
Behold the B-54 – Kahlua, Bailey’s, and Grand Marnier. Tastes like dessert.

Things I am thankful for:

  • Hot pink geraniums. I’m so glad we got these flowers for our balcony because they sure brighten things up.
  • Clean sheets. It always amazes me how good it feels to get in a bed with fresh, clean sheets. And the ritual of weekly sheet changing makes life feel normal.
  • The resilience of nature. I was recently watching the Today show, and Al Roker showed two maps — one showed pre-corona pollution levels (spoiler alert: there was a lot of pollution in a lot of places) and another showed post-corona pollution levels or, rather, the near non-existence of pollution since people have been staying their asses at home. I hope we can remember how nice it was to live without pollution, to breathe fresh air, and enjoy the clean water, and not return to our selfish, thoughtless polluting ways. (Here’s an article from The Guardian that illustrates the changes in pollution levels.)

Weird things I thought about:

  • I made a pound cake for Sonny Boy for his birthday. As I was alternating the milk, eggs, and flour and mixing it all up with the creamed butter and sugar mixture, I was thinking about making this same cake at Christmas. And what a complete failure it was. How it stuck in the pan and wouldn’t turn out. How I had to literally pry it out of my bundt pan with a knife. And as I went through the rotation of milk then eggs then flour, I found that I couldn’t remember doing the egg part at Christmas. I’ll bet you a dollar that I left the eggs out altogether which is probably why the cake stuck to the pan. And this isn’t the first time I’ve done that. I’ve left the eggs out of I-don’t-know-how-many cakes. What is it about the eggs? I think I just get lulled into some sort of relaxed state watching the beaters spin around and the ingredients come together and my mind starts to wander off to other strange and weird thoughts then — BOOM — I’ve lost my place in the recipe and the poor eggs get forgotten. 
The cake – eggs and all.

Plan for next week:

  • Stay on my daily Pomodoro schedule.
  • Attempt to sew three face masks using my friend Lillis Taylor’s pattern. Watch the video here. While I tend to be very crafty, I’m not very good at straight sewing, so we’ll see how it works out. 
  • Paint more.
  • Walk more.
  • Obtain more toilet paper. I’ve figured out that with careful folding, three squares is usually sufficient. But even with judicious conservation, our little stash won’t last forever. Fortunately, I was able to stock up on Kleenex. 

Until the next time we meet on this blog, let’s keep each other’s spirits up, keep our hands washed, and keep on keepin’ on the best way we can!

5 thoughts on “The ‘Mater Method and Me

  1. Hey Audrey! I sat down on the porch with a glass of wine to enjoy your blog. I’m so happy you have found a method in the madness! I’m a homebody at heart, so this may be my finest hour. Your cocktails and cake look top shelf. What kind of painting? I’m a watercolor enthusiast myself. Hang in there my friend! All the best, Von

  2. I wish I would’ve have gotten some plants before the lockdown started. Your geranium’s remind me of my mom’s. I can smell their earthy scent looking at your picture!

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