The B Word: Boredom

I did not think I would ever get to a place where I felt bored, not after the last few years anyway, and certainly not here on Kaua’i. But I woke up yesterday and realized that I was indeed bored. Very bored, in fact, and feeling a bit depressed as well.

Two months ago Brett and I were walking around and exploring our immediate neighborhood in Tokyo, discovering all sorts of new things right around the corner or just down the road from where we lived. We spent time with our family and felt like we were contributing something important. We were excited about our upcoming visit to Mexico, seeing Meiling in NYC, attending “Hamilton” on Broadway, and then heading on to WenYu’s graduation in Massachusetts. We are blessed and thankful to be healthy now, and safely back home again on Kaua’i, but I’m just beginning to realize what a shock it was to our system to have to have all the plans we had carefully put in place discarded and changed so abruptly.

The moving, shopping, and setting up our house is finished. No more packages are expected except for a spice order from Penzey’s, but I think YaYu is more excited about that than I am. The house is as set up as it can be until our shipment arrives, but there’s still been nothing happening with that. We walk most evenings, and although the view when we arrive at the beach never gets old, the walk itself sort of has. We’re stuck at the apartment almost every day unless we go for a walk or go food shopping but neither of those outings lasts very long. We do have a wonderful deck to relax on, and we thankfully all get along very well, even in our small space, and still seem to have plenty to talk about.

The potential was there though for me to mope, grow bitter, or even more bored, so I spent a good deal of yesterday reflecting on what I could do to change my attitude, as well as how to use my time more effectively to improve the situation. Just telling myself to snap out of it is not an option, and it’s still going to be a while before we can get together with friends or go to the beach. Our budget is going to be tight for the next couple of years as well so I have to deal with that as well.

After deciding on some things I could and wanted to do now, I decided to go back to my old card system, at least for a while, listing and checking off tasks to make sure the things get done every day and so that inertia doesn’t set in. I came up with six items for both mind, body, and the future:

  • Drink eight glasses of water every day
  • Walk 1.5 to 2 miles at least five times a week
  • Read for pleasure 45 minutes every day
  • Study Japanese for 20 minutes every day. YaYu and I signed up for a new online program called FluentU and will be doing it together.
  • Earn at least 50 Swagbucks a day. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this, but I figured out that at an average of 50 SB a day for two years I can earn $400 in Southwest Airlines gift cards, which will help keep the cost of YaYu’s travel down as Southwest now flies to Hawaii.
  • Spend 45 minutes a day on future travel planning (because it’s fun).

The card system has worked very well for me in the past because I’m someone that once there’s a list in front of me, I have to check off all the things. The items on these cards are all small activities that won’t overwhelm the day but will keep me productive as well as motivated and moving toward future goals within the current situation we’re in. They’ll also give each day a bit more structure.

One other thing I’ve learned from my card system is that time seems to go a bit more quickly, and before I know it it’s time to fill out a new set. Fingers are crossed that’s the way it goes this time as well, and that in five weeks some changes will have occurred and some new habits set.

43 thoughts on “The B Word: Boredom

  1. Welcome to how 90% of people are feeling! And many don’t have a steady income like you. Keep it in perspective and do what you can. Many share the pattern of a good few days interspersed with a down, lethargic, bored and/ or sad day. It is a crazy world right now.

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    1. I figured it was going to arrive one of these days, but was still sort of surprised when it hit. I am grateful that we had so much to do, and were able to stay so busy with it for so long. Things are starting to open up here, but slowly and people are still very, very cautious. Having activities spelled out on the cards will help.

      Now, if we could just get that shipment over here. I will be calling again next week (grrrrr).

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    1. We like puzzles too, but we don’t have room here! We have played some games (we love Scrabble and Yahtzee) but even those are getting old now. YaYu loves board games, but Brett and I don’t, sadly, so that’s another lost opportunity.

      We are finding other things to do together, like cooking, our walks, and so forth. I am especially happy that we’re all able to get along so well (YaYu can get ‘prickly’ at times).

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    1. The cards really work for me, and make sure I get things done, especially things like drinking water, walking, etc. I figured boredom would eventually arrive, but was still surprised by it.

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  2. Like you I am a list maker, but rather than a card I use the calendar on my phone to list things must do, and want to do in time slots. I set an alert for the item. Then upon completion I place a green & white check beside the completed item.If it is a reminder to take a pill or vitamins I note actual time beside the prior calendar entry if not within the first few minutes of the allotted time.

    Since I have moved to this system I do not, for example, miss meds or carving out time to read or weed the flower beds. Once I recover from my knee issue I will set up time to exercise on equipment in our house. Interestingly enough my TV watching is not more than usual, except when I was first home from surgery and non weight bearing. I happily binged on several series. I also schedule time to prep to cook, and do my Bing searches, read my favorite blogs and the news.

    Clearly everyone is different and I find myself inundated with paper as I am still sifting through old materials. Additionally I handle a relative’s paperwork, financial’s etc so that adds to the paper burden. I do not want everything digitized but see it as a goal to move towards. Honestly, I do not want my sons to have to deal with it all. In fact I no longer want to garden to the degree I have to do now. I feel the press of time in many ways, especially with humidity looming! So must weed and mulch now.

    My goal? To take a page from bloggers I follow and pare way down moving forward. Seems to me less house and yard to take care of means more of the time left spent on things I now find important. I actually think my husband understands how I wanted years ago may not what I desire now.

    Glad you took control of the blahs to keep yourself focusing on the great things you can do right now in this time at this moment.

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    1. There is something about those physical cards setting out that works for me – I have tried to do it electronically but it just doesn’t work as well, for me anyway. I love index cards anyway – they are my preferred item for taking messages, making shopping lists, or making any kind of list, really (and they’re recyclable). These five were the last of the stack we carried around with us during our travels, so next time we’re out I will pick up a new pack.

      Our goal now is to not add any more than we have (storage items included). Brett mentioned last night that we hadn’t used the storage cabinets on top of our closet and I told him it’s my goal not to have enough to have to use those cabinets!

      I was surprised by how busy I was yesterday with all those things I needed to check off. The day went quickly!

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    1. I’ve never really been bored either, but this feels different. We were so busy moving and getting things set up here and trying to make a routine and then boom! it was over.

      I’m hoping the beaches open up again soon, at least for residents. And that we can get together – I apologize for not seeing you before we left Princeville, but those were crazy times! We are enjoying the south side: pretty scenery, and there’s always a breeze (so far). As soon as things open up more we will be up to see you (we also haven’t seen Alan and Cheryl for weeks).

      Thanks for the links. Genealogy is sort of calling me, especially after our trip to England (where both sides of my family come from).

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  3. Despite having SO much to do (moving, overseeing condo build, etc.), there are days when I feel exactly the way you’re describing. I do think the virus and the ensuing social shutdown is affecting most of us. I had to grocery shop today, which is an activity I used to somewhat enjoy. The fun has been drained from it by wearing a mask, avoiding others physically in sometimes tight quarters, following one way signs in the grocery aisle, and washing everything constantly. That said, I keep trying to tell myself it could be so much worse. Some days that doesn’t help my mental health, but sometimes it does.

    I like your card system. Like you, when I write something down, it generally happens. Lots of details going on here right now. We will be happy when inspectors (home, well & septic) and surveyors stop coming to our house. But overall, we continue to be grateful that the house sold and crossing our fingers that all goes well. (Example: We have a radon remediation system in our home, but the new buyer wants radon tested again. Which means it’s 65 sunny degrees outside and we can’t open doors or windows until tomorrow.) Every morning as we drink our coffee, we tell ourselves One Day at a Time. So far, so good. But it is tiring on so many levels.

    I’m making dinner for a couple of friends who need support right now, and it does take me out of myself. I would hate to be in either of their situations, so that helps me keep my head on straight. At least for a few hours. 🙂

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    1. Boy, I am right there with you about grocery shopping. I used to love to do it, looked forward to it, but these days, not so much. The masks, the distancing, the higher prices, etc. have made it a somewhat unpleasant chore. I am grateful for the nearby farmstand and the re-opening of the nearby farmers’ market – we went yesterday and loved the variety we found there (good prices too).

      I’m hoping all the inspections, etc. are now over and you can get back to working on the actual move. Brett and I were talking about that agent again yesterday, just shaking our heads at what she put us through. We had known her for many years, but it was a relationship that should have stayed social.

      I keep reminding myself that while the days might feel long now, the years are still short and life is marching on. I just need to find a new groove.

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  4. All the big universities worldwide are offering free online courses, is there another course or tutorial you could take?

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    1. Thank you for this suggestion! I went and looked at some classes last night and I was intrigued! I almost signed up for a class offered through MIT, but then had a flashback to my graduate years and all the reading and work involved and felt instantly exhausted so am not sure I am ready right now for this. But it’s a very good idea and most likely something I will pursue (especially since nothing is offered locally).

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    1. The card lists really help me to stay focused. I’ve used them a couple of times before and they were instrumental in keeping me on track and getting important things accomplished.

      Swagbucks is place where you earn “bucks” doing surveys, doing Internet searches, answering questions, etc. The bucks can then be redeemed for gift cards. It’s free, totally legit, but does take a bit of your day if you really get into it. These days I try to do one or two surveys per day, answer the daily poll, and do one search. I have earned enough in the past to get a KitchenAid mixer for less than $5 (among other things), Christmas gifts, and Southwest gift cards that we used during our travels.

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  5. I understand. Your best laid plans all got tossed and it is very stressful not knowing when you can see grandkids again. I am so out of my element now because of Covid, my retirement plans have been turned upside down, and my entire extended travel plans to see grandchild are cancelled, Our court system is opening back up to in person hearings, I deal with a huge risk criminal population and I am terrified, especially since apparently blood clots are a thing with this disease now. I know folks who work every day, keep to themselves for the most part, and they have Covid and they are young. I just hope they recover. I am stressed to the max like a lot of folks. Grown kids losing jobs, being short of food, and not telling me because they are embarrassed…..ugh. I fixed that very quickly with Walmart.com. I do lists also, at work and at home, to keep me on track, because I would lose my mind if I didn’t. Yeah, your life has been turned upside down and I would be especially pissed if I had plans to go to Mexico all firmed up, and they got cancelled like yours. I was in the beginning phase of planning a trip to Mexico and I am pretty upset. So you are right, it is kinda depressing. Yes, we are grateful to be alive but that absolutely does not negate the mourning we feel for loss of time with grandchildren, trips not taken, and adventures not lived. I think it is ok for us to be bummed about it, and that mourning doesn’t take away from our being grateful to be alive. It is possible to have both feelings simulaneously.

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  6. I know there are food give always happening on the island for people in need. Volunteering at the Kaua’i food bank may be an option.

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    1. This is an excellent suggestion! It’s something Brett can do as well so we are talking about it. When things get going again we’re also volunteering with Surfriders to do beach clean-ups, etc.

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  7. You are a little late to the game because you’ve been focused/distracted by your move, so as we all can attest to, what you are now beginning to experience is well shared. Life is really hard right now, and we are all mourning in our own way. Even if we are fortunate enough to have our health, a healthy family, and financial stability.

    I go in and out of it, and it’s surprising what can initiate a bad period- an emotional commercial about front line workers, a FaceTime call with our when-will-we-see-her-again granddaughter, a walk by our still-closed library. The list is endless.

    So I keep working on moving forward. And gradually some level of joy comes back. And it does always come back. Well, so far at least!

    I have also learned that I can’t live without family and friends, so we are now setting up picnic dates in the park. We bring all our own stuff, and sit separated. It has helped tremendously to have something to look forward to. 💕

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    1. We were lucky to be distracted for so long. I knew it wasn’t going to last forever, but was still surprised by how quickly I felt bored once it was over.

      The joy comes back for me as well. Travel planning for the future is helping – right now I’m just looking things up, getting ideas, but haven’t put anything down on paper yet. That will come later. Today though I watched a potential ad for California tourism and about burst into tears, partly because as a native Californian I always love seeing my home state, but also because it made me want to go again and we can’t. So like you, ups and downs.

      I miss the grandkids terribly. Our DIL is great about sending pictures, but their lives are also currently curtailed.

      No get-togethers here, not yet anyway. We’d be arrested if we were in a park and sitting still with food! It was great though to attend a real farmers’ market again yesterday, although the booths were far apart, and distancing lines were painted on the pavement. We are getting takeout for dinner tonight. And, we noticed my favorite store in the marketplace is getting ready to open soon – I am looking forward to that!

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  8. We are retired, so life has not been hugely different for us, except for the travel part. We were very sad to have to cancel some planned trips, and wondering if we’ll have to cancel more. We have had a lovely spring and being able to be outside has been wonderful. Many people walk in our area, so we can wave or chat if we are outside, and if we are walking we can chat with the porch sitters. I have started planning a couple road trips for whenever we can safely travel again….at least it is a fun thing to do. We facetime with friends and family, I have rediscovered my love of crossword puzzles, there are the usual household chores to do and I can always read if there is nothing else to do! We have also been able to do some “distance picnics” with friends and family which has helped tremendously. Actually, most days seem like they go by pretty fast. And of course, I enjoy readying blogs like yours! Hang in there….. better days are coming!

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    1. Hi Addy – we’re feeling the same about cancelled trips, and facing the unknown of when we’ll be able to travel again. We have two years of focusing on getting our youngest through college, so have a “start-up date” of 2022 for future trips. But after all our plans and previous schedules it’s hard.

      I am having a good time doing some travel investigation though. We have four ideas for trips (two in the U.S., two overseas) and that’s keeping me busy for a while and in my happy place right now.

      The cards are working well so far – I was busy all day yesterday getting things done! In fact, at times it didn’t seem like I would have enough time to get everything checked off, but I did.

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  9. I am constantly amazed at how differently this situation affects people! My retired SIL has many of the same feelings as you, but she didn’t have a move to occupy her, so she got there a lot earlier. Being a sewer, she did participate in a community mask-making drive for awhile, but she is such an extrovert that she is floundering without her round of walking dates, coffees, lunches.

    Our bookstore has been closed to the public for 7 weeks, although we are there taking orders by phone, email, FB, and our e-commerce site and putting them out for pickup on our covered porch or mailing them. I am so grateful for the strong support of our customers and community but it takes twice as much effort to sell half as much stuff this way, and I am exhausted by the end of the day. Although I do have a bit more free time because of no evening events, I have no energy to tackle new projects. I find myself a bit envious at times of those who are laid off and getting paid more than they usually make to stay home, but then I think of the uncertainly they must feel. Of course, we have plenty of uncertainty about the future of our business.

    And then there is my niece- her husband is working still as a construction manager which mostly requires office or job site work, she is working from home half-time, and keeping two elementary school kids on track with their computer based learning. She looks exhausted. And although she won’t be working after the end of this month, she is looking at a summer with two kids to entertain without play dates, the community pool, and camp.

    And another nephew is an ER doc who has been through the horrific shifts and exhaustion of caring for COVID-19 patients, been infected and ill and has now recovered, and is back at work.

    So many diverse challenges….so many coping skills needed. Especially for those who live alone, I think. One day at a time seems to be the only universal strategy! Be well!

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    1. I am in awe of people who have kept working, in sometimes dangerous and difficult situations, during all of this. And, those who have kids at home for distance learning or whatever while they also try to work at home. I have heard many appreciative remarks about how much teachers do – hopefully attitudes about their work and what they do each day will change.

      Both Brett and I have been especially pleased by our two oldest daughters’ getting through this. They both live with their boyfriends, and those relationships have been strengthened during this. YaYu is a delight to have around – she’s helpful, and less “prickly” than she was in the past. We don’t know whether she’ll be able to return to school in the fall yet or not. We want her safe, but also know how much she misses her friends and her collge life.

      As you say, it’s a challenge for all.

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  10. We never developed much of a community here since the point of moving was to be near to our daughter. She is now across a “no cross” state line. Boredom hit a long time ago. I have been busy keeping up with the state on helping the undocumented, which has been a challenge of email writing. We have also gotten our house going for Idaho- piecing money and plans together.
    Something your daughter may be interested in. Many professional couples are now hiring college students to be tutors for the summer. I know full time child care is not her cup of tea, but this is one on one getting caught up in the subjects missed. Between the two of you, she may be able to come up with some great math, language, literature or writing courses to advertise for small groups in one home. Does that make sense? Here a small groups are ten—but I can see three or four 10th graders working in math or Chinese with her for an hour…. Seems to be the only well paid cottage industry that is coming together now.
    I am developing a seventh grade home study for.a group of my grandson’s friends. We will meet once a week. Next year should be interesting.

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    1. I mentioned your idea of tutoring to YaYu and she looked at me like she was crazy. “I have no skills, Mom!” The one thing she feels confident about helping with, Mandarin, is not in demand here at all. She could do math as well, but again, no confidence. She has applied for one job that will be opening, but so far hasn’t heard anything back. I know she will keep at it though, and if anyone can find work here it will be her.

      I agree, when it comes to education, from college to preschool, it’s going to be interesting. There’s no way to know what’s going to happen right now, no way to plan. We keep throwing money into our account for YaYu and will hopefully have enough whatever happens in the fall. I’m grateful for the Alaska Airlines credits we received – those will get her from here to there and back in December.

      My card “tasks” kept me very busy yesterday, so I am hopeful.

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  11. I think it’s funny that I the social butterfly who managed two meetups and made a date for every Monday though Friday has not lost her mind yet. Or maybe I did and gained it back since I have been literally at home since March 15th which makes it two full months with nothing but delivery and my front door (admittedly living with two people). In fact i probably went through that when I was alone, and then adjusted when they stayed home as well. The good news i suppose is that I know there will be less social butterflying in texas (although more family) and I am obviously prepared for it. So I have not been bored in any way yet, but i have had the “what do you mean I can’t walk into the library” or “I want to to work out in the heated pool, damn it” more often than i would like to admit. Other than that I am grateful that I have enough hobbies to keep me busy . as someone else said genealogy can be a whole that I need to control. I work on my language skills I sew, i read a frightening amount I binge on TV shows……and so far I am mainly okay. Actually, yesterday I had to drive my car twenty minutes since it was dead and charrged. And seeing all the people out in traffic and without masks on and so on made me want to run back to my cave and back yard lol.

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    1. Did you notice lots of traffic in Kapaa? Hopefully, not the crawl again. People walking around?

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      1. We have not been up to Kapaa since the 10th of April, since we moved in here – as far as we go nowadays is Lihue. Traffic there is still light. I have seen people walking around though down here, in Poipu – I think even with the quarantining visitors are coming back. Brett checks the numbers every day and it doesn’t look like much, be we see it. But, mostly it’s all locals and some days we “have the place to ourselves” when we go for our walk. Shops are slowly re-opening in the Kuui’ula Marketplace, and a couple of restaurants opened for takeout. I noticed yesterday that the Living Foods market had opened, but no dairy, meat, or produce available. It’s going to be different for a while.

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      2. Yes, and sometimes there are more people leaving the island (usually for Oahu) than arriving all week! Our daughter says there are often unpleasant comments on some of the Kaua’i feeds she reads from people upset we aren’t opened up yet (“You need our money.” “Kauai is not friendly any more.” “I’ll never come to Kaua’i again.” (yeah!)).

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    2. As I wrote earlier, as an introvert this is actually an ideal situation for me, so it surprised me a bit to feel bored. I’ve never been bored before and always knew how to fill my days (or so I thought). Live and learn. I miss traveling, but I think that something as simple as being able to go to the beach is going to mean a major improvement in my mood. I really enjoyed the farmers’ market experience yesterday, even with all the social distancing we practiced.

      However, I did notice several people I put down as visitors, and they made me a bit nervous. I am still feeling very wary of visitors coming and bringing the virus along with them as I think most people here are. People want to get back to work here, but everyone also knows a spread of the virus here would be catastrophic.

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  12. My Gemini self never allows me to get bored…when one half is out of ideas, the 2nd steps in and takes over! That said, after venturing out ONCE to the supermarket after lockdown regulations were eased, I’ve decided that I’m better off at home. This semilibertà (as they call it) while we try to put things back in a way that makes sense and works for everyone is still too restrictive to actually enjoy getting out. I know that it’s for keeping us safe, but I’ll handle it my way and leave the house only when absolutely necessary. 2020 is already in the garbage anyway.

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    1. So, so happy to hear from you, Rowena! Brett and I had just been wondering if you and yours were OK, since it had been a while.

      Going food shopping is no longer a pleasant experience for me outside of the farmers’ markets. Prices are too high, and sometimes there are too many people (or at least it seems that way) to feel comfortable.

      At least the beaches are opening today for residents!! Yeah!

      I agree with you about 2020 – to hell in a handbasket!!

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      1. I hadn’t realized how much time had gone by but between cooing at photos of our newborn grandson and tending to a garden bursting into action, there hasn’t been a spare moment around here. Getting out still feels…strange. Glad that we live in the sticks.

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      2. Congratulations on the new grandson!! Being a grandparent is simply the BEST, isn’t it!

        I think it’s going to be quite a while before going out like before will ever seem normal, or not a bit scary.

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  13. I actually am not bored at all. I have so much to do around here. I work during the day so that keeps me busy and I have work to do around the house on weekends, so I don’t feel like I have a lot of free time, which is odd and not what I expected.

    I haven’t done any grocery shopping in person since March, but ordering online is getting too expensive so I plan to venture out for the first time on Monday, and I’m not looking forward to it.

    To keep myself on track, I use a white board. I used to use cards or paper, but the white board works better for me because I can just erase things as I accomplish them.

    I’m also starting to plan some trips for whenever travel is possible again. S. Korea is at the top of the list!

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    1. I have not been bored since I made those cards – I almost can’t find time to get everything done! This though has been a very weird situation for me, being so, so busy before traveling, helping out our son, etc. and then to come back to . . . almost nothing to do in comparison. Things are opening back up though, for residents anyway. It’s going to be a slow process but it’s starting.

      We had to install a whiteboard in our old house back in Portland to keep track of the girls’ activities – that was nuts!

      For now I am just “looking” at things, and what they cost now, just to get ideas. Airfares are impossible to gauge, so I’m not even going to try. We’re picking “safe” countries to for possible international travel: New Zealand and Ireland!

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      1. Oh, I’m definitely not even looking at air fares right now. I’m just looking at places that I’ve always wanted to visit and doing some research on attractions and where to stay. I doubt I’d go to Asia within the next couple of years, but thinking about it gives me something to look forward to. Ireland and New Zealand are good choices.

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      2. Airfares are all over the place right now – there’s no way to even estimate. Someone I know that worked for an airline for a while said prices should be low . . . for a while, but then they will start climbing. Right now I can’t even imagine getting on a plane but eventually we’ll be ready to go again.

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    1. I can’t believe how busy I am now that I’ve set up those checklists! I don’t seem to have a free moment, or at least it feels that way at times. The water drinking is making the most difference – glad I am tracking that again and making myself take in enough fluids. It makes a huge difference with the humidity here.

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