Category Archives: Misc

Milestone Mulling

Milestone Mulling

Milestones often kick off a time of contemplation for me.  It’s like I’m just walking down a path – la di da di da – and suddenly I look up!  And I see how far I’ve come!  And I see my surroundings aren’t the same as when I started!

So I stop.  And take stock.  And think.  And eventually start walking again.  The time I spent around our 10th wedding anniversary (10 years!  It stopped me cold.) ended up being a hard period – but the work I did, the therapy I accepted, the communication built between Andrew and me, I feel is so for the good now.

This past week had a series of milestones all in a row, which means I’m feeling extra-contemplative:

– my brother and his wife had their first son, Charlie, who is named after my grandfather who passed away this past Christmas.

– Andrew turned 40.  40!

– I found a grey hair in my eyebrow (I know, what?) and had what I’m pretty certain was my first hot flash this morning.  This plus a couple of other symptoms leads me to think my body is saying “Welcome to the early days of perimenopause, Erika.  How ya doin’?”  (Answer – a little WTF about the whole thing, but in general just fine. Yes, going to doctor just in case it’s something else.)

All of these things are good things, or rather, to be expected things, normal things, things on the path…but I’m standing still and mulling right now.  Gonna swim down into the depths for a little bit, and am interested to see what I bring back to the surface with me.

Automation for happiness: getting dressed

Automation for happiness: getting dressed

I’m a firm believer that the less decisions you make on the day to day small stuff, the more energy and focus you have for the big stuff.  There’s been a lot of buzz about this lately (see HERE and HERE and HERE).

One of the common suggestions to reduce decision-making in the morning is to have a uniform.  Basically, don’t decide fresh every morning what you’re going to wear.

I’d be on board, except, I have issues.  Namely, one time in middle school I wore a sweater.  And a girl came up to me and said “you wore that last Wednesday.  That’s, like, your Wednesday sweater.” and I was MORTIFIED.  Because, you know, middle school.  I have, ever since, taken great care not to wear the same thing on the same day of the week EVER.  Seriously, it’s in my head, even now, heading into my 40s.

I even track what the boys wear to be sure they don’t repeat this greatest of  social embarrassments. “Change your shirt, buddy, you wore that last Wednesday” has been known to come out of my mouth.

So – uniform.  No.

BUT, less decisions in the morning, especially regarding getting dressed – big thumbs up!

Here’s how I do it – weather and rotation.

If the high is in the…

  • 80s, I wear short/short (short bottom, like a skirt without tights or capris, and a short top like short-sleeved blouse or a tank top with a light cover up).
  • 70s – long/short (either long bottom – skirt with tights or slacks, or a long top – long-sleeved blouse – with a short counter-balance on the top or bottom.  Example, today is a high of the 70s, and I’m wearing capri pants with long-sleeved blouse.
  • 60s – long/long
  • 50s – long/long with a cardigan sweater
  • 40s and under – long/long with a sweater

Once I’ve determined what my formula is by checking the weather, I then turn to my closet.

My closet is laid out with dresses on the left, bottoms in the middle, tops on the right.  Bottoms are organized skirts then slacks.  Tops are organized tanks, then short-sleeved, then long-sleeved.  Sweaters are folded on a shelf above.

I grab from the left and load clothes in on the right.  After I wear something, it either goes in the laundry hamper to be washed, or is hung back in the closet on the right.  Clean clothes get put away on the right.

I first select a bottom, which rotates every three days: dress, skirt, slacks.  Today was a long/short day (70s) and I wore a skirt yesterday, so it was slacks today – a pair of capris were on the left.  Selected.

Next I select a top.  I had a short bottom, so I went to the long-sleeved tops and the first blouse did coordinate with the slacks, so it was chosen.  If it had clashed, I would have gone to the next in line.

If the item of clothing next in line is one I just don’t want to wear (it works, I just don’t dig it that day), I turn the hanger around.  If next time it comes up, I still don’t want to wear it, I put it in the Goodwill pile.

Me, on a short/long day last year. #automaticallycute

Me, on a short/long day last year. #automaticallycute

So, in the time it took me to check the weather on my phone, plus an extra 7 seconds, I had my outfit for today,  It looks cute, it’s actually a combo I’ve never worn before so it feels fresh, and I didn’t have to think about it.  Because i cull what I don’t dig, every item in my closet is something that fits and I feel happy to wear.  Because I pull from the left and load to the right, I’m always going to have something newish I haven’t worn in a while. Every outfit is fun, and I don’t have to make a decision.

I’m not saying everyone MUST do this.  Maybe a uniform works for you (shudder).  Maybe you enjoy pulling out lots of options and making those decisions – you want to spend your brain capital here.  Whatever, you do you.

But this works tremendously well for me!  One less decision in the morning equals more able to handle the stressful day ahead.

A little lost

A little lost

“Andrew…?” I said into the dark last night, “I just feel so…lost…”

Silence.  He’d been sort of asleep before this.  He went to bed at a most reasonable 9:45pm, whereas I, craving an hour or two of kid-free quiet and normalcy in a stressful day, stayed up and watched iZombie.  And then Bob’s Burgers.  And then realized it was 11pm and if I started Call The Midwife I wouldn’t be in bed until midnight after taking the dog out, and so most virtuously and heroically turned off the television.

I figured he was still out, and that was okay, I mostly wanted to say it out loud, and then feel the warmth of his body against my back and take deep breaths and maybe be able to go to sleep.

“I’m sorry,” he finally said, “do you want to talk about it?”

Did I?  I mean, maybe, but I also knew that waking Andrew up and then asking to talk about feelings is just not a kind thing to do.  Save that for the big stuff.  The I-have-to-talk-now-or-I-can’t-sleep stuff.

“No,” I said, “not really.  Just…you know, trying to make sense of things.”

“Um…okay.” he said.  And putting an arm around me, he drifted back to sleep.

A few weeks back I let myself degrade to a state of ennui such that things truly ground to a halt in the house.  No clean clothes, or dishes, or food beyond peanut butter sandwiches.  I waited for momentum, for motivation, for something to propel me forward, and nothing came.

Except depression and self-loathing on the state of the house, which caused me to lash out at my husband and kids, and probably the dog too.  That came out just fine.

So last week I decided to make a plan and do it, no matter what.  Clear, clean, calendar schedule of what must be done.  Step by step by step.  And I did it too – I cleaned and cooked and put laundry on the clothes line and had special ed meetings and rehearsals and left for work on time and set out my clothes the night before and sang the Phos Hilaron every night and all those good things.  And the house did get a bit better.  The kids and dog were happier and calmer.  Andrew, having a longer memory than kids and dog, took a bit longer but slowly thawed.  We talked and laughed and made panna cotta and cocktails.

And I thought, okay.  If I build it, it will come.  Here’s the plan, and I’m doing the plan, and now will come satisfaction in the work, momentum to the next thing, motivation for creativity.

And it just did not.  Has not.

I can logically look at my situation and realize doing is better than not-doing.  My self-motivation nonwithstanding, cleaner house with happier family is better than dirty house with stressed out family.

But I’m just lost within it.  How did I get here.  This is not my beautiful house.  Same as it ever was.

I’m going to Ohio in a few weeks to see my brother and sister-in-law, and to bring them our crib, the crib Isaac and Kai used, for their new baby coming in July.  I’ll see them, and my parents, and will be away from my dirty house and needy kids, and I’m so looking forward to the 8 hour drive by myself in silence.  I so am.

I realize I’ve been thinking of that trip, also, as a chance for a clean break.  Before and after.  Before I was lost, after I will find myself renewed and ready to live my life again.  And I know how dangerous such thinking can be, that if I look to the external for that kind of renewal, then my internal motivation isn’t being used.  I know.  I can’t help it, here, I’m just grasping for something right now.

I just feel so…lost.