Guest Post: What happens when all your personal rhythms are thrown off?

Special Guest Post by Cathy Hutchison

What’s it like for you right now?
If you are like me, having all my personal rhythms shifted and rearranged has been disconcerting.

Two weeks ago, I had a daily routine:

  1. Wake up crazy early.
  2. Play with dogs and feed them.
  3. Go to a yoga class at my local studio. Do an after-class quick change into office clothes.
  4. Pop into my favorite coffee shop for an espresso and some journaling. (Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know this is 84 Point Coffee in Dallas.)
  5. Head to the office and jump into my day job.

This week:

  1. Wake up at weird times with my head pinging like a pinball machine.
  2. Play with dogs and feed them.
  3. My yoga studio is closed.
  4. I don’t even know if my favorite coffee shop is open because I haven’t been out that way. (Do I even have a way to make coffee at home???)
  5. My co-workers and I are working from home.

I know you are living through the same kinds of shifts. We all are. And it can really throw us off right? There’s normally a bit of autopilot at work in our days—even if we journal. But these days require full on engagement. 

Here's how my journal is helping me cope: 

1. I need to write the day down. It helps me to see it.

The beauty of the bullet journaling technique is that it gets your day out of your head so you can see it clearly. In a normal world, I write down my next day the night before. Now, I find I'm having to recraft multiple times a day as priorities change. 

Seeing the day is helping a lot. While most bullet journalists use the pages of their journal to catch this, I just put a sticky note on the inside cover. (My interior pages have other jobs.) This is particularly useful right now, when I'm pivoting often. The mess stays on a sticky note that I can throw away later. 

2. I need to keep an account of what I'm actually doing so I can see whether or not I'm doing it.

When I get really in my head, my physical practices are the first thing to go. It's hard to be present in my body when my brain is so busy. 

My life goes better when I'm doing my breathing practice, yoga, and walking my dogs on a daily basis. When things started getting crazy, I started making notations on my monthly spread (highlighted with pink highlighter). If you are curious, WH is the Wim Hof method. (I'm only doing the breathing technique, I haven't quite psyched myself up for cold showers.) Y for yoga--usually an hour. For dog walking, I capture the miles. 

We can often lie to ourselves about how faithful we are with our self care....

No journal capture = "Oh, I'm working out pretty consistently."
With journal capture = "Oh, I worked out...THREE WEEKS AGO???? Whaaaat?"

3. I'm creating sketchnotes to make my coworkers laugh.

Now that we are on video calls all day, I wanted an interesting background. So I moved the chalkboard from my kitchen to my home office. Each day I sketchnote something I've noticed that I wouldn't have seen if I'd been in the office. 

(I had no idea my dogs "talk" with the dogs across the street out of open windows 101 Dalmatians style.) 

On Day 2, when I went to take out the trash, four of my neighbors were in the alley talking. I counted them out loud... "1, 2, 3, 4...whew. I don't have to report you!"  Lighthearted anything in a time of heavy stress can be a relief. 

We are all trying to craft a "normal for right now"...

The fear of what's next is the hard part. The not-knowing how bad it will be in our own areas. For the people we love. 

But small daily routines in the middle of chaos can create joy, appreciation, and a little bit of sanity.

My yoga studio did a 5:30 am class via Zoom this morning. (It felt soooooo good to see my teacher and the inside of the studio.) I've figured out how to make coffee at home. I like it that my family is staying connected sharing ideas or just being with each other using all the digital tools at our disposal. My best friends and I have a short daily video check-in.

Our reality at the moment is weird. Uncomfortable. And often scary.

And it will probably go on this way for much longer than any of us want it to. 

When our lives are in crisis, the small things really matter. What are the small things that will help you most right now? Journal them, and share your pages with the hashtags #yourvisualjournal and #inthistogether. Small actions can collectively have very big impact.

Cathy Hutchison
Joyful Wielder of Crayons & Journal Enthusiast