“Ah! There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort.” ― Jane Austen
In a word, or rather three: on the couch.
It was great!
There is something so nice about doing very little in the dead of winter. Jeff and I had a few ideas about trying to travel for Christmas but after honestly assessing our bank account and savings goals, we binned that notion and opted for a staycation instead. I thought we we would be pleasantly lazy as a result but even I was surprised at how busy we weren’t. Full disclosure, there were multiple days when we didn’t even leave the house. In a row.
It was ridiculously good for me, I haven’t been that relaxed in a very long time.
It’s easy to vilify laziness, but I’m learning how important it can be to me as a type A person. I very, very seldom manage (much less give myself the opportunity) to switch off and I’ve written before on the toll this has taken on my physical and mental health in the past; I have more than once literally worked myself sick. I’m determined not to do that this year.
Are you good at switching off or do you struggle with it like me? Lend me your best relaxation techniques in the comments and help a girl maintain her newfound chill!
“Be a good editor. The Universe needs more good editors, God knows.” ― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Letters
I don’t always do a good job of remembering resolutions, but I have to say, picking a “theme” for this year has been a remarkable success. My mindset around a lot of life elements has taken a turn for the healthier and I’m in a more balanced place than I’ve been in years. I really believe that this has come from some purposeful editing of my life. I’ve gotten much better at saying no, worked hard to remove or improve things that contributed to my stress and anxiety problems, and become a lot more intentional about my money and consumption choices. It’s been a very successful project, and I’m already thinking towards how I want to frame 2018.
“Less but better” doesn’t have a uniform definition for me. For instance, we are currently living in our largest and most expensive home to date, but on the other hand, after 10 years of marriage and most of those spent in cheap digs, the decision to rent a nice apartment was a considered one. We are also furnishing it ourselves, meaning we are spending money, but we are taking that process slowly and very judiciously. Our home is still far less furnished than I would like…but we have chosen every piece in it together because we loved it, and not because it was the cheapest option on Craigslist. I love the idea of editing a home, carefully selecting what I put in it and not rushing to fill empty space just because I have it.
Meanwhile, on the work front, I’m actually working more but in a better way. Going back to freelance and contracting has been a great decision. I have not only opened a lot of doors and opportunities, but I have finally discovered a balance between work and identity: what I do vs. who I am. This has not always been the case with me, as I tend to throw myself into things like causes, projects, and roles wholeheartedly, allowing the lines between them and myself to blur. Surprisingly, given the nature of freelance and contract work and how it can divide your attention, I’ve found that because I’ve been able to choose my work, I’ve therefore been able to choose (i.e. edit) how I direct my energy. This has also helped me train my brain to better separate work from my personal life and I’m more aggressive about holidays and an overall work/life balance. In other words, I may be working more, but my stress levels are lower than they’ve been in years.
Let’s talk stuff, generally. I had a whole month long blog project dedicated to my closet and bathroom shelf this year, and I continue to be really happy with where it’s at. I’ve actually shopped and bought less this year than I have probably since my early 20s. Granted what I have bought has tended to be more expensive, but I’ve been fascinated to physically feel the urgency and desire to buy things fade as the year has gone on. There’s plenty of reporting out there to suggest that brain chemistry can be affected by purchasing, and I wonder if I’ve been able to ween myself off an internal drug I didn’t realize I was on. I’ve been slowly editing my closet down and I now think I own less clothing than I did when we first moved to London on an item-for-item basis. What I do own, I wear more and I love more. The same goes with beauty; I’ve been focused on using what I already own instead of craving new makeup and skincare items. I’m actually in the midst of a shopping freeze (my second this year) in an effort to actually use up cosmetics and potions before I allow myself even to replace beloved items. I’ve done a few edits of my shelf throughout the year and donated or gifted a few items that I didn’t use enough to justify keeping. Maybe it’s a welcome byproduct of getting older and more self-confident, but I’ve never been more pleased with the woman in the mirror.
When it comes to food and overall health, I haven’t done as well as I would have wished. We are eating out less (yay, us!) but ordering in more (kind of defeats the purpose, C….). We have periods of focus on health, but other periods of intense laziness. One thing I’ve realized is how much I require a routine in order to stay committed to food, exercise, and wellbeing goals. I am not a natural health bunny, I do no default to healthiness–I default to deep friend potatoes and Netflix and am self-aware enough to acknowledge this. It turns out that once I’m in a routine, I am pretty good at maintaining it but if something knocks me off course (two straight weeks of houseguests for instance, or a particularly uneven month at work), I fall well and truly off the wagon and it takes herculean effort to climb back aboard. I haven’t figured out quite how to overcome this yet, but I suspect the solution will lie in editing out things that I use as excuses or distractions.
This has been a much better year than 2016 for me, and I’m feeling pretty positive about 2018 at the moment. It’s a good place to be.
“Ah, Cindy Sondheim, you should have lived in an earlier age. Things were simpler, less complicated. Do you know how many women had nervous breakdowns in the fourteenth century? Two.”
– Love at First Bite
Thanks for all the lovely pick-me-up comments yesterday, darlings. It was really nice to know how many of you have felt the same way – and as every last one of you have turned out amazing and unbelievably fabulous, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to do the same with a bit more time, a few more naps, and much less stress.
Yesterday was beastly (if you couldn’t tell!). We’ve heard negatives on some of J.’s internship applications and are still waiting to hear back on others, which is almost more nerve wracking.
I had to hire a dozen students last minute and despite telling administration multiple times that we don’t have space for any more people, they were still shocked to discover that we didn’t have enough lockers or uniforms/gear for them. Unfortunately, the ones ending up looking foolish in this situation are your friendly neighborhood C. and Hennessy, who have to explain to several students why they have to cart a pile half as tall as me of gear home with them.
I barely averted a few violations that would have added up to potentially thousands of dollars in fines had I not caught them.
I’d only got four hours of sleep the night before.
So, these and other factors combined into the perfect storm. Literally! Just as I was getting ready to go do the laundry run, a massive lightening and rain storm whipped up. You may recall how often it rains when I do the laundry run, it’s lately become the office joke. So when I ambled past Susie’s office to tell her I was heading out I glanced our her window and froze. It was pitch black outside and rain was lashing the pane.
I felt a helpless, hysterical giggle start bubbling up inside of me and a clapped a hand over my mouth to keep it in. But to no avail! Both Susie and Wise turned, saw the rain, and started chuckling. Then Chief poked his head around the corner and grumbled, “Have you done the laundry yet?”
That did it. I collapsed on Susie’s desk laughing (and nearly crying). She and Wise joined in, Chief stared at us a minute before retreating to the safety of his office. When I got home, I put on flannel pants, an oversized sweatshirt, pinned my hair up, and crawled into bed with a book.
“Why the HELL didn’t I continue with French?!”
“Why the CUSS didn’t I continue with French?”
“Well, you can take classes.”
“Yes but if I don’t do well, and I haven’t studied it for three years, it will affect my GPA which will affect my application. CUSS CUSS CUSS!”
– C. and J.
We all have them, but for about a month or so I’ve been going through a right awful funk. And although I wish I could say I’ve been keeping it under wraps, I’m afraid it’s been spilling over a bit. I’ve gotten noticeably sharp with people, even friends, short-tempered at work, and bitter about small things that have just seemed to mount on top of each other. It culminated last night in a meeting for J.’s new fraternity for accountants when I was exhausted and stressed. I tried to be funny but only succeeded in being rude, and collapsed in a sobbing pile of guilt when we got home.
Unfortunately, I’m a bottler: I keep things locked up inside until the inevitable explosion that tends to leave a wake of destruction. And even though we’ve all been told time and time again that this is not a healthy way to live, so many of us keep doing it because it has some obvious immediate benefits.
My problems are petty and selfish, but that doesn’t make them irrelevant or mean they don’t affect my life.
– I’m in a state of constant frustration that I spent four years getting an education, but work in a job that has nothing to do with what I studied (the European Studies field is not exactly conducive to jobs in the Western United States).
– I don’t really like living where we do.
– Truthfully, I had this plan post-graduation, which involved me moving back to England. I am an ENTJ, I frame my life in these little plans and get frustrated when they don’t come to fruition. It wouldn’t matter if common sense, good counsel, or God changed my plans, I’d still get annoyed/angry if things didn’t work out the way that I had intended. (Which I absolutely think happened in my decision to get married and stay in the States, and which I still think is probably the best decision I’ve made for myself. It’s just not what I thought was in the cards a year and a half ago; that’s what makes my little control-freak, inner Napoleon jump up and down howling, “Zees was not le plan!”)
– I miss being in school and recently came to the conclusion, after much deliberation, that I wanted to pursue grad school. And seeing as I can take classes for free, a perk of working for a university, why not? Problem A) my major, which I loved and would not hesitate to choose again, did not really prepare me for any of the graduate degrees offered here. My emphasis was in history and they have removed the MA in History degree (an idiotic move if ever there was one!).
Problem B) the next best degree, and one I am really interested in due to the interdisciplinary nature of the program, requires more classes in French. Which, if I want to get into the program beginning this coming fall, I’d need to complete in record time. A troublesome goal if one works full-time. Oh! And I’d need to take the GRE in about a month.
Mostly, I feel stuck. I can’t progress (at least immediately) in the way I want my education to go, we aren’t leaving this area (at least immediately) for a small eternity, and I can’t pursue my own interests (at least immediately) due to duty to my family.
And I’m the most impatient person I know!
There are treatments. Obviously I need to take better care of myself. I don’t work out anymore [again] and I’ve noticed that I haven’t been eating enough, which would put anyone in a strop. I also don’t have any pursuits outside of work right now, and that’s soul-numbing. I’m committed to grad school, but will I kill myself trying to make it happen all at once (or at least before the March application deadline)? Maybe I should make it a goal for next year and work more slowly and steadily towards it instead of trying to rush it.
Weigh in, friends. Had a minor life crisis recently? Plans get disrupted? Get impatient with goals that are attainable, but seem so far off?