Survival Mode – Three Things to Know

I am in survival mode. I know many of you are also.

Parents stuck with no good back to school option are in survival mode. Workers being required to return to an office they are not really sure is a safe option are in survival mode.

I am in survival mode as I am hundreds of miles from home taking care of a family medical emergency, while I am job hunting and getting ready to take my oldest to college in the middle of a pandemic.

No one’s survival mode is better or worse. I describe survival mode as the season where you do just enough to get by – there is no threshold to pass to get into or out of it. You want to just hide under the covers, but someone has to run the asylum. But when that someone is you, there are three things you can do to streamline the basics to keep the ship afloat without completely debilitating yourself. This idea is based on the “Three D’s” that are presented in the Sorta Awesome podcast 253. I have modified my tool from “3 D’s” to MAD. The acronym cracks me up because when I am in survival mode, I tend to feel a little mad. Mad like manic. OK, sometimes mad like angry too. Survival mode is tough. Maybe this tool can help soften those edges for you too.


This first part of the tool for survival mode is M for meals. If I have a loose meal plan and know the groceries are on hand, I do not need to think about it and can move on to something more important. The converse of this is when it has been a rough day already and when it comes time to make the baked spaghetti and there IS NO SPAGHETTI IN THE HOUSE. Tears have been shed at times like these.

Having a meal plan removes a lot of uncertainty. Keep it broad and easy – sandwiches, pasta, pizzas on the grill, etc. Simple, quick, and bonus points for meals that allow for leftovers you can heat up for lunch.

Survival Mode


Next is A for acknowledgement. Don’t pretend this is business as usual. Denying this is a survival mode season will blow up in your face. Call it what it is and try to roll with the chaos. What this looks like for me is that while I am away from home, I have let go of 90% of my exercise routine. Yes, it is an important part of my life, but in survival mode while I cannot leave the house on my own schedule (or sometimes at all), it has fallen by the wayside. Instead of beating myself up over it, I acknowledge it is survival mode season and move on.


The third part is D for dishes, specifically the dishwasher. As part of my normal time nightly routine, I clean the kitchen. I know Tomorrow Susan feels more serene starting her day with clean counters. The minimum viable product of a clean kitchen is clean dishes so during survival mode I just make sure I run the dishwasher before bed. If we have a doctor appointment to get to, there might not be time in the morning to clean up the kitchen. ┬áIf something goes wrong in the night and we don’t get a lot of sleep, it is easier to continue with the day if cleaning the dishes out of the way.

Survival Mode

This is not my kitchen, but it is the clean surface look I love to close the day with.

If you are in survival mode and still trying to do it all, I invite you to download the Sustainability Checklist. It will walk you through some suggestions about what you might need to drop off the list for now – or for always!

By |2020-08-10T20:28:41-04:00August 11th, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Tuesday Tenderness

Just wanted to drop in quickly to share this view from a recent bike ride – a little nature to soften the sting of this Tuesday. I wish I could somehow share the amazing smell of these Wisteria blooms. It was such a treat to roll under a small tunnel of them on a recent ride. I had to pull over and snap a couple pictures.

By |2020-04-26T20:49:03-04:00April 28th, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Spiders + Flying Cars = Sanctuary?

Like many people, focus has been hard for me lately. I have not been able to read very much during the COVID19 pandemic. Audiobooks seem to work, but there is always a long wait for me to borrow these from the library. I currently have a seven month wait for American Dirt. Waiting that long for a book isn’t what I would call productive reading.

But in the last 6 weeks or so I find myself chafing against needing to be productive all the time. This is what I love about the concept of SUSTAINABLE productivity. What is the smallest part I can do? Even if it is only not moving backwards – that is progress. It is not always hard charging forward, it is finding the next right step, however gentle it needs to be.

I have found rereading Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets to be soothing though. I started going through the series again after I found the podcast, Harry Potter and The Sacred Text. This podcast will be familiar to those of you who have been subscribers for awhile since I wrote about Book 1, Chapter 2 resonating with me last year.

Sanctuary: Aragog (Book 2, Chapter 15)

In this chapter, Harry and Ron meet Argog, the giant spider. We learn Hagrid gave Argog sanctuary in the Forbidden Forest after hatching Argog in a cupboard. But although, Argog loves Hagrid, he does not protect Harry and Ron from the other spiders and the boys make a run for it. The flying car zooms in to take the boys back to the sanctuary of Hogwarts and the Gryffindor common room. These are certainly two very different forms of sanctuary.

Harry Potter Sacred Text

I love the idea of sanctuary. A place of refuge or safety. As discussed in this episode of the podcast, it is a place usually silent. A place where I can make room to hear more from the universe. Nature is a significant sanctuary for me. In the stress of isolation and social distancing, I try to spend some time outside every day. If simply being outside does not slow down my monkey mind, I look try to slow down and use my senses to engage more in my surroundings.

  • I see beautiful spring flowers.
  • I smell newly cut grass.
  • I feel the breeze on my face.
  • I taste the fresh air as I take a deep breath.
  • I hear the chirping birds.
lavender field
I only wish this was my yard. But it was a sanctuary for sure.
This is Jardin du Soleil – a lavender farm in Sequim, WA that we visited on vacation in 2018.

Cozy is definitely a requirement for a sanctuary for me. I need to be comfortable. Burrowed in the covers in bed is another favorite sanctuary.

  • I feel the softness of my flannel pajamas.
  • I hear the sound of Lucille snoring while she naps next to me.
  • I see my favorite things around my bedroom – certain books and photos, especially.
One of my favorite sanctuaries is cuddling with Lucille and a book.

Do you have a favorite sanctuary? How are you keeping your mind from spinning out? If not, how do you bring your self back when needed?

By |2020-06-17T17:44:48-04:00April 26th, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments
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