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Back in the swing

Posted Mar 29 2011 1:32pm

I have never been very good at dealing with change. I love consistency in my life. I like waking up at the same time every day and eating the same breakfast and lunch every day of the week. I like visiting the same stores and running the same route day in and day out. I value stability and continuity in my life. Growing up, I would often grow anxious and nervous at the prospect of change, no matter how big or small. Over the years, I have definitely become more adept and comfortable at handling changes in my life. I have developed strategies for creating consistency and continuity so that I can more easily welcome and adapt to changes, both major and minor.

I have gone through some pretty big, exciting changes in the last few years. In 2007, I made some important lifestyle and dietary changes that affected nearly every aspect of my life. In 2009, I graduated from college and moved back to San Francisco with my boyfriend. I started a graduate program in teaching and spent the year teaching kindergarten. In 2010, I finished my graduate program, stepped away from the classroom, and took a new position in education administration. Last year, I started running more consistently and began racing , and I have been working to bring my body and mind back to a healthy, happy place.

With all of these major life changes happening, it has been more important than ever for me to establish consistency in certain parts of my life. Knowing that there are some things that I do every day or every week keeps me grounded, focused, and happy, even as other things around me change rapidly. Those consistent things have shifted as I’ve entered various stages in my life. Exercise has always been a constant for me, and it continues to be an important outlet and source of inspiration, relaxation, and fun.

In the last year, J and I have developed some constants that we do on a weekly basis that help center us and keep us connected and happy, even as other things around us change in unpredictable and unexpected ways. We developed these routines through trial and error. We are usually pretty stressed out and exhausted by the week’s end. When we first moved to San Francisco, we tried going out with friends or out to dinner on Friday nights, but we would always come home cranky and upset. We learned from those experiences that we just need some chill time on Fridays. So every Friday night, we eat dinner together and watch a movie. We also enjoy exploring our neighborhood and city and spending time outdoors. On Sundays, we typically go to the Farmers Market near our apartment and then enjoy some outdoor activity, whether it’s a hike or just a walk in the park. Having these things to look forward to on the weekend makes getting through the busy, chaotic work week so much easier.

Recently, though, we have completely missed out on our routines. In the last six weeks, we have not spent one weekend at home together without some sort of major activity or agenda. We celebrated J’s birthday…

…went cross country skiing…

…had friends stay in our apartment on two separate weekends and spent some time apart when J went home to New Jersey for a celebratory weekend. By the time last weekend rolled around, it had been six weeks since we had enjoyed our Friday and Sunday routines together, and I was really feeling the loss in my life of those constants. Last weekend, though, found us back in our beautiful city by the bay for some relaxation and recharging.

On Friday night, we ended up enjoying an abbreviated version of our typical tradition. We cooked a delicious dinner together–shrimp taco salads with braised swiss chard on the side–but I was too tired to watch a movie. I ended up going to sleep at 9:00 on Friday night, and I didn’t wake up until 9:00 on Saturday morning! I think my body needed a ton of sleep. Things have been absolutely crazy at work recently, and I happily welcomed the much-needed rest.

On Saturday, J and I set off to do our own things for the day. This is something else that we both look forward to during the week–some “me time” over the weekend to spend on our own. For me, this usually means an extended gym visit followed by lunch with a friend or one of my parents. This week, I went to the gym for a quick run and a strength and sculpt class, and then had lunch and went shopping with my mom. After an afternoon of fun, I came back to my apartment, changed my clothes, and headed downtown to meet J for dinner at a new-to-us restaurant, Kokkari Estiatorio . We have been wanting to come here since J’s birthday, and we were finally able to make a reservation. We met downtown and walked over to the restaurant, which was right across the street from a lovely little park.

All in all, our meal was pretty disappointing. We are not harsh critics by any means, but the service was pretty bad and the food was just so-so. We enjoyed some of the appetizers–lentil soup, grilled eggplant and artichoke hearts, gigante beans–but our main dish of roasted seabass wasn’t that tasty. Still, we had a wonderful time hanging out together and trying a new restaurant. After dinner, we walked to the Northbeach neighborhood, where we strolled around and J enjoyed a fresh cannoli at a little cafe. We then took a cab home and called it a night. Even though we didn’t love our experience at Kokkari, it felt so good to do something else that has become a constant in our lives–exploring San Francisco and trying new things. In the last two years, we have really done our best to make the most of our time in the city by visiting new restaurants, cafes, shops, and neighborhoods, and going on hikes and adventures in and around the Bay Area. Exploring and trying new things together have become constants in our lives over the past two years.

We continued our weekend of fun on Sunday with a trip to the Farmers Market. Pickings have been slim lately, but we took home kale, chard, apples, carrots, and cilantro. After the Farmers Market, we enjoyed some rest and then set to work looking through our collection of cookbooks for some new recipes to try. We came up with a whole spreadsheet for the ones we want to make! We then went for a lovely walk through Golden Gate Park and did our shopping for the week. We came home hungry and ready to try two new recipes from Mark Bittman’s book “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”: Spanish-style lentils (with carrots, celery, and onions), and kale cooked Romano style (with LOTS of garlic and lemon juice). Both dishes were delicious, but the kale was really unbelievable. It was so fun to try new things in the kitchen!

It felt so comforting to get back into the swing of things over the weekend and spend some time alone and with the people I love doing the things that I love. Change can be so exciting and wonderful, but I know myself well enough to understand that I need routine in my life to keep me happy. I am at my best when I have a good mix of consistency and newness in my life, and I am working to find that balance all the time.

Question: how do you deal with change? What are some of the constants in your life, and how do they help you adapt to changes in your life?

I hope you have a wonderful week!

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