Lockdown in Paris: Day 21

It’s garbage day today. ©Lisa Anselmo

Paris looks more like its normal self today. That is to say, it’s been raining. That’s fine with me; I’m nice and cozy inside my little flat, video chatting with two old friends who are also in confinement in London and Tokyo, futzing around the house doing little chores. It’s a very peaceful day.

The tranquility is coming from within me. In my last meditation class with Duda Baldwin, we discussed how staying in the present moment can bring peace. I write about this a lot, but unless you really understand what this means, and how to achieve it, being “in the now” sounds like so much guru jibber-jabber.

But Duda showed us how to become mindful using simple everyday tasks. Making tea, chopping vegetables—these were two examples she gave. Focusing your mind on only the task at hand. It sounds simple enough, but how many of us have whole conversations with ourselves while we’re washing dishes, preparing dinner, or even (horrors!) driving. The moment you let your mind wander, is the moment you’re, well, not in the moment.

I’ve been practicing this concept of mindfulness since our class on Friday, and I’ve become aware of just how much I have not been paying attention to what I’m doing. This is because my mind is either on something totally other, or because my impatience moves my focus ahead to the next step in the task—before I’ve finished the current step. My dishes bear the brunt of this in the form of tiny chips here and there from when I turned my eyes from the task at hand (putting the plate in the cupboard) to the next plate in the dish drain.

My aim is usually to get the mundane tasks done and over with as quickly as possible, so I can get on with my day. But our days are filled with many little mundane tasks, and doing them mindlessly is like swiping through much of our lives—pulling ourselves away with thoughts or worries about things that may never happen.

Our days in confinement are all about mundane tasks; there is no “day” to get on with. This is our day. To give each task time and attention—care—is to give quality and peacefulness to our lives.

Now I take each dish carefully out of the drain, feel it in my hands, watch my hands putting it in the cupboard, then turn to the next dish and repeat. My mind is in the action, and it’s strangely much more satisfying. The most important part: there is no room for the inner conversation, no place for invented problems to be imagined. I am made calmer with each task I do. This is meditation in action.

Try it. Speak the steps of the task out loud it if helps. I’ve found that not only have I stopped chipping my dishes, I’ve also stopped stubbing my toes, leaving full cups of tea around the house, burning the toast. I no longer forget where I put my phone, or what I was about to do. Every action has a purpose, every task is a job well done. Every moment is lived fully.

And, yes, I am more at peace.

Get caught up on my diary, here.


Welcome to Music Mondays!

Every Monday, I’m going to share a song. Because. Today, I’m singing an Italian pop song from the 1960s, made famous by the incomparable Mina: “E Se Domani.” I recorded this track a while back for a friend. (Forgive the tacky karaoke orchestration.)



Another kind of recording

Listen to the audiobook, narrated by Yours Truly. Click image buy.

15 responses to “Lockdown in Paris: Day 21

  1. Thank you Lisa for your recording it was very relaxing and really encouraging
    A generous gesture to your followers you mostly do not know..
    Stay safe

  2. Appreciate your writing. I shall look forward to Mondays. Am in lockdown in Morocco. Being a foreigner I do not have to produce a signed permit to be out. Mindfulness is my savior these days. Thank you for Musical Mondays. Gwyn

    Sent from my iPad


    • Thank you! I’m no Mina, but I try. It’s a favorite song of mine as well. I bought a CD called Mina: Gli Anni d’Oro at a music store (remember those?) in Milano in 1998. I’ve been listening to it lately because it transports me to my own anni d’oro, when I was studying opera and going to Italy every year. I had planned to go back this summer and visit friends, but alas. Maybe next year.

  3. Hi Lisa. I just want to say I really enjoy your blog and your musings about Paris. My wife and I own a 30msq apartment in Montmartre since 2007. Paris is our favourite city by a mile. Needless to say we’ve walked the length and breadth many times but our French is still lousy.
    The Notre Dame thing knocked the stuffing out of us. We felt the pain I’m sure the same way the Parisians did. I’m glad you are coping so well with lockdown. Paris so gorgeous in the spring, and anytime of the year, for that matter. Keep up the great writing and keep on loving Paris.
    John o grady

    • How lucky you are to have your place in Montmartre, and to have bought it when the market was affordable! I looked for a place in the 18th, but prices per square meter were shooting up, and I turned my search elsewhere. But the “little rebel village on the hill,” as I call it, is a special place, indeed. (By the way, prices there now are around 18,000 euros per square meter, which to me is insane. But a ripping good investment for you!)

  4. Thank you for this, Lisa. It’s just lovely and it transports the listener (well, this listener) to a much better time and place, hopefully soon when all this has passed.

    Even though it’s raining and cold (again) here in LA, we did have a few days of glorious sunshine and hope to have a few more again soon.

    I wish I could bring some mindfulness to dusting, vacuuming and scrubbing my bathroom, but I am much too much of a NYer for that to happen.

    I start prepping for Passover tomorrow. It’s normally my favorite holiday. But this ain’t normal. Sigh.

      • No, no other people. Not even my kid. We were set to have 20+. I’m planning to box up some food and leave it in containers on the porch for her to come over and pick up. Girl does not live on ramen alone. Especially not during Passover.

  5. That was so lovely, Lisa. Thank you for these musical Mondays and your daily messages. They bring me some calmness and solace here in Portland, Oregon, so many miles from beautiful Paris. I’m glad you are finding ways to cope and sharing your thoughts and soothing voice with us. I knew when I heard your melodious voice at a Paris book talk a number of years ago, that you would have a lovely singing voice, as well.

    Take care and stay well. ❤️


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