My silly life

I’m not sure anyone’s life is truly silly, but sometimes I come here to write about something profound and all too often – I got nothing. Which is probably just as well; my version of profound could be more wool-gathering, navel gazing on the price of avocados … and I don’t even eat the darn things (it’s an M must-have food).

Of late here, I have been massively overwhelmed with stuff. Work stuff. Family and friend stuff. Health stuff. Random idiotic social media stuff. Me and my usual first-world problem stuff. For the most part, the overwhelming load has been serious and worthwhile – serious illness and surgery, potential job changes, health reports (all good!), and just the volume of work-work and with a side of too much having to talk to people whether I want to or not. I do not do well in chaos; I am a planner and at my core, I need structure and organization to be my best and to stay in my happy place. Chaos is what creeps in while I’m not looking, when I am distracted with all the other worthwhile stuff happening all at once. And please, please do not take that as complaint. I am part of a family, a community that makes me feel whole, human, and living up to my best potential, and I would rather have a lot of things going on with people I love and adore who wish to share and receive feedback and thoughts than not. It has just been perfect storm of everyone having things going on all at once and the work-work skies opening up and flooding my schedule.

Sleep remains the great equalizer. If I am getting adequate quantities of good quality sleep, I can handle most anything with aplomb. I know things are getting truly out of hand when I am getting 6 or 7 or 8 hours of sleep and still waking up feeling tired and as if another 6 or 7 or 8 hours sleep would be beneficial. As I tell M, it truly is not the quantity of sleep hours for me so much as the quality of the hours I get. Usually I conk out and am out for however many hours straight, wake up as if reset has been hit, I am refreshed and ready to tackle the challenges of a new day. The last few weeks, I gradually fade and then mind stays awake and thinking and processing rather than resting. Does not leave me at my best come morning.

The past week, I have made more conscious effort to get to bed on time and to be more mindful about going and staying asleep. Did it work? Not really, and I resorted to sleeping aids a couple of nights to help kick-start the process. But today, I can report that I feel more like my usual self and ready to address the imbalance in my schedule and life.

I think there are too many things that sound so fun and so cool and so exciting. I know that work has been crazy and I have been neglecting my “yes, but …” function. Instead, I nod, smile, give an enthusiastic “no problem!” response, only to deflate massively when I remember that this is item number 10,012 on my to-do for tomorrow. Not good. For the most part, I have clients who trust me to manage their affairs in a timely manner so they are not being penalized for tardiness. Part of that is training on my part, asking them about this, that, the other thing on the timeline and ensuring I have everything with enough time to get it done. Every year, tax season and filing deadlines throws everyone into a last-minute tizzy, and last week was culmination of all that.

Thinking about all these things this morning, I am taking steps to reclaim the balance in my time management, which is really all this current stressure is all about. Specifically:

  • Make a list of all presently outstanding work-related project, prioritize, and plan time for the upcoming week.
  • Update my weekend to-do list and finish clearing it.
  • Inventory the pantry and freezer, grocery shop and restock.
  • Reset alarm reminder for getting to bed and being asleep.
  • Pencil in some “me” time for reading and reconsider implementing some cardio exercise to accompany it (whole other blog post).

My need for a fairly structured timeframe for getting shit done is not for everyone, but it tends to work best for me. Because I have both a full-time job and a self-employment business running simultaneously plus a husband and family/friends I enjoy, this is truly the only way I keep my life and projects working and on track. Somehow I have either gotten lazy about my to-do lists or overwhelmed and busy and letting things fall through the cracks until they become an immediate crisis that must be dealt with.

Already, I feel better about things. Already, I feel like a load has lifted and things again look happier. Already, I have a lot more optimism about my ability to get shit done. Balance is possibly possible. But for me it takes a little advance planning and makes the effort less burdensome.

My silly life? Yes, probably. But it’s the only one I have and I need to make the best and the most of my days.

 

Car stuff, weekend random

First and foremost, thanks so much for all the kindness and support from my last post. While there are still several days left in March, my personal March madness has quietly concluded. Never do I underestimate the intensity of emotions that surround anniversaries.

M has an older car with nearly 200K on the odometer. He loves that vehicle, except for the fancy-smancy gizmos and gadgets that are designed into it.

This week, the battery died of old age. It is a 2008, battery has been in there since 2010, so it has had a good long life. With the push button start and keyless entry systems, it was not so simple as to replacing the battery and everything is fine. Oh no. While it did start up fine just after M put the new battery in it, our keys refused to electronically open the doors or start the vehicle when we walked out of the grocery store. Apparently our fob batteries failed as well? Or it needed to be repaired, like my phone with my car’s bluetooth? Not sure. But we consulted the manual, followed the emergency steps, and voila! Car started without issue. Get home, read more in the manual, decide there is some graduate course out at Toyota U that must be successfully taken to know what to do with this vehicle. Unfortunately when I go back to put the manual away, key fob is again not working correctly for some reason. Maybe its batteries die sympathetic deaths with the car battery?

M goes through the whole process again of manually opening the door, repairing the key to start it, and drives off in search of the super special battery needed. I stay home just in case he needs rescue. When he gets back he replaces batteries in both fobs and voila! Both keys are working again.

For good measure, every time he gets up throughout the night I hear the front door open and know he is going outside to check to see if the key is working. So far, so good.

We knew buying an older vehicle with lots of miles the potential for it needing repair increased. Since I am familiar with the entire history of this vehicle (purchased from my former boss), I knew it had been well maintained and not driven too crazily with its prior owner. But M seems to have a far lower tolerance for repairs than I do, but more than the expense the gadgetry of later model vehicles and his ability to diagnose and do repairs himself tends to drive him crazy. This too shall pass.

Or we’ll be hobnobbing around in some 70s vintage POS car that M can fix himself. Assuming he can find parts, of course.

Not a whole lot going on around here right now, other than the car drama. Busy work weeks. Busy trying to get my crap organized at home. We are in the process of moving from one storage to another smaller, closer space. Because we have waaaayyyyy too much crap. Good news on that is we are winnowing down our crap this go-round. Stuff we (M) has been keeping and storing 20+ years is now going into the trash or the donation box. Unfortunately, we still need a storage unit. I have big dreams of someday not needing an offsite storage unit, but at long as M owns the project car (that has been in pieces for the entirety of our relationship) we will likely need storage.

Once we get that stuff sorted, though, I plan to get cracking on our garage. It’s a mess. It’s a mess of crap that (1) we no longer need, (2) we no longer need to keep in the garage, or (3) we have no idea what it is or was or why we (M) actually own it.

Work is a messy schedule this week. Tuesday is usually my work from home day, but this week my admin had to take emergency leave so I will e going into the office tomorrow and moving my work from home to the weekend. Thankfully my private clients are understanding about my schedule.

But work is good, remains 95% satisfying and 5% somewhat dreadful tasks I wish I could delegate to anyone else. Allergy season is also winding down, thankfully. After a severe sinus dust-up and almost 2 weeks mild yet ongoing congestion, I am happy for the break and return to normality.

Everything else – things are good. And for that I am always grateful.

The Princess bone

It has been a long day at the office, and for the second night this week, I found myself hanging out with the bosses while they enjoyed a beer (or 3). We started out in an actual meeting discussing our upcoming recruiting efforts and how the rest of the staff are holding up under yesterday’s events. In truth, I got very little actual work accomplished today, outside of attending a couple of meetings with clients. The rest of my time was spent reassuring staff and helping with reorganizing workloads and office spaces.None of this was unexpected.

My bosses are very good guys. They are extremely disciplined professionals with high standards and expectations for themselves as well as the staff they employ. However, they are also good guys, close friends as well as business partners, and I have falling into the fold nicely. So in many ways, I am conversationally one of the guys.

Since all 4 are in some stage of single and dating, the topic comes up fairly routinely. While I am not quite old enough to be their mothers (and I have met all their parents – lovely people), I am pretty far removed from the women they tend to gravitate toward in social circumstances. The joke is if there is a second or third date, I start wondering if I need to invite them to a office lunch so I can size them up for myself. Hopefully they continue to be secure, confident men who are highly unlikely to ask me what I think about their squeezes;  my honesty could go to war with my sense of employment self-preservation.

Just last week one of them told me my “Build a Better Butt” project (as I refer to my ongoing training with J and exercise pursuits) was working out well for me. I jokingly reminded him that he should be careful what he says to a female subordinate, that sort of trash talk could find him on the wrong end of a harassment complaint. He gives me the puzzled face – am I insulted? Should he not compliment me? Is the workplace hostile because he thinks I am looking fitter? Because I know he’s teasing in his defense, and genuine in his compliments, and not a slap-and-tickle disrespecting mysogenist, I do not take it seriously and have to laugh with him. Plus I take it as a huge compliment that he and the other bosses feel comfortable enough with me to know that I am not going to take their kindness in a wrong, litigious sort of way.

So today we somehow got on the topic of breast implants. One of their sisters is in her mid-30s, getting married later this year, shopping for a wedding gown, and considering breast enhancement surgery. The boss is very upset about this, feels his sister is absolutely beautiful just the way she is and immediately suspected this was coming from the fiance. Since we were just shooting the breeze anyway, he brought it up and asked me what I thought about it and what else he might say to try and get her to embrace her unaltered shape.

The whole conversation made me vaguely uncomfortable. Not because I was talking boobs with men I work with, because that part was perfectly fine. No, I was vaguely uncomfortable because I find the topic of plastic surgery of any sort makes me uncomfortable. And I am not precisely sure why, although I did try to articulate my general thought that while it seems like a bad idea she may come to regret, I was sort of stumped as to why it is I feel that way. But thinking about it driving home, chatting with M about it, I think I have a better and more complete reasoning on the subject.

Essentially, I lack the princess bone. Or gene. Or whatever it is that makes people have more vanity than I seem to possess.

When it comes to bugs, vermin, snakes, and frogs, I got a big giant body of skin in the princess game. I want someone to take care of the bug, vermin, snake, and frog post haste, while I cower on a high surface where the evil creepy things cannot get me.

But when it comes to issues like plastic surgery, it all seems rather pointless to me. And for someone who has felt like being invisible is preferable to being recognized for my basic average (at best) appearance, my logical mind says my insecurity about my appearance would make me a prime candidate for anything that would make me appear more mainstream pretty. Except my mind does not work that way. If it did, I would probably have a drawer full of cosmetics that I paint on daily. Instead, I have an new tube of chapstick waiting to be deployed when I lose the one in my purse right now, a rarely used tube of mascara, and I think maybe a lipstick that might have escaped my most recent decluttering mania. I could write whole blogs on my anxiety about cosmetics and fears of being viewed as a clown school candidate reject for my efforts in using them effectively.

With any type of elective surgery, my mind says it is dangerous, painful, not covered by insurance and therefore ridiculously expenses. And for me personally, really kind of pointless at this waypoint in my life. Many of my friends have had some work done, or are desiring to have some work done, and frankly my understanding does not seem expansive enough to be able to successfully empathize with them on the subject. Everyone ages. Everyone has some piece or part of their body they wish to change, and I am not sure doing so that way is ever going to be a good idea. Then again, I am not the one who has to be convinced or encouraged to embrace their new look. If you are my friend, you with less wrinkles and perkier butt or boobs or flatter stomach is not going to do much anything to alter that.

I think my discomfort comes from someone else’s level of dissatisfaction with their own body. Believe me, I have plenty of body issues myself and if elective surgery did not have risks and was not painful I might be tempted to consider that route to altering body as well. But it does have risks and surgery is painful, so I shall continue my build a better butt project within the confines of the gym, thank you very much.

I also think know there are reasons well beyond vanity that people undertake such drastic measures, and somehow it’s easier for me to understand breast reduction than breast augmentation. Removing patches of skin cancer and maybe having some nipping and tucking done at the same time seems reasonable. Having noses reshaped while having some sort of sinus problem repaired seems perfectly understandable. Essentially, if there is some medically necessary reason to go under the knife and you a couple of upgrades, it does not seem like such an extravagant decision.

Obviously, at my core, I am a practical person.

But for a young woman to consider breast implants before getting married just seems extreme and wrong. I would rather see her invest the money she would spend with a good therapist talking about why she wants to do such a thing and seeing if improving self-esteem without surgical body modification.

Sometimes it seems many of my male friends do not know any regular, down-to-earth women they can have candid conversations with, or I am just naive enough to be perfectly honest about what I think and how I feel. I was telling M about this exchange tonight and he says it’s probably because of their current relationship status. Maybe. Divorce does skew your perspective for awhile, as does ending of long-term relationships.

At the end of our conversation, I simply told my boss to continue to remind his sister that she’s a beautiful young woman and perfect just as she is right now. Because maybe that’s what she needs most of all: encouragement to be comfortable in her own skin and to be both supportive and specific about why she is beautiful, inside and out. With family and family dynamics, I am kind of fuzzy about whether or not such statements make a difference. In my own family of origin, it was not normal or natural for my sibling or my parents to compliment me ever. With M and my children, though, I am unwavering in my support and encouragement of the development and good people qualities, including physical appearance when appropriate. My theory is that sincerity of affection is more meaningful than being told not to do something because big brother does not like or is terrified of the consequences of such action.

 

 

 

 

 

Closing doors, opening windows, emptying spaces

Last night I received a nice email from a former friend. It was an apology for things that have disrupted and eventually ended our long friendship. I read it last night, again this morning, and am now organizing my thoughts here before composing my reply.

I had the pleasure and privilege of lunching with trainer J and new tribe friend C yesterday. While J and I have had many, many free-roaming and far-reaching conversations over the months of working together, this was my first real opportunity to have an extended conversation and get to know C. I am not kidding when I say her charm, kindness, and wisdom have turned me into a huge fan-girl. Funny that a 3-hour lunch with people of such a varied age range – J is 28, I am 55, and C is 67 – could be so lively and entertaining.

One of the things C stressed as topics arose throughout our lunch, life is all about our choices and the ripple effect of the consequences. I wholeheartedly agree, even as I am not always so assured or as confident in my own, particularly when it comes to relationships.

This old friend made her own choices about our long 50+ year friendship and through the years has said many hurtful, stupid things. To be fair, I am quite certain we both have, because we are both very human. Looking back on the final series of events in my mind, I recognize that the choice to cease all communication and to terminate our friendship was more mine than hers and was my defense from what I viewed as relentless and ridiculous personal attacks.

I have zero regrets about that decision. At the time, it was among the hardest things I have done in recent years, yet it was important for my own emotional health and growth.

Now she has apologized for her words and her behaviors, and I believe the apology to be genuine and her regret for the cruel words and harsh judgments between us is real. She expressed the desire to close this chapter, reconnect and renew our long friendship. I now that is what I find myself mulling over today.

Forgive her? Of course; it would have been far more harmful to me to withhold that or to remain hurt and angry. Throughout the time since our friendship ended we have crossed paths at least half dozen times. While it was awkward at best to outright frosty hostile the rest of the time, I do not think or speak poorly of her. We had a falling out, but I wish her every happiness and success. The shortcomings in each of our personalities are well known to all who know both of us, and I have bent over backwards in my pleas that mutual friends not take sides in this dispute. There are so many things about her that overcome the qualities of her personality that I dislike and I seek to enhance the positives I found within her. For my own peace of mind, it is always better to focus and remember that she was my friend for most of my life and through some of the best and worst of events any person should have to endure.

That said, I am not sure our shared values are now enough to overcome the empty spaces that continue to exist. Many of my closest friends will refer to me as a Pollyanna or my generation’s rendition of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms. I take no offense at such characterizations; I really want to be someone who sees the good in people and merely be aware of the extent of the less desirable aspects. I have had enough issues overcoming my own negative girl; I did not then and certainly do not now need the embodiment of her message in someone in the friendship realm of my life.

With the conversation with C and trainer J ringing in my ears and both their thoughts on choices, I recognize that the woman I am today is an enhanced model of the one who struggled mightily to let go of a harmful friendship. I am not immune to the weight of the years, shared memories and experiences. I will never cease begin grateful for her support and encouragement during some really impossibly painful periods in my life, nor will I ever stop caring for and about her and her welfare. In the fair and balanced backward view, I have to acknowledge that her methods and her thinking, her overall negative outward voice are in contrast with the person I am and what I truly value in those in my realm. As my confidence and my own sense of self have evolved, I recognize that I do have choices in who I invite to be part of my life and how we spend our time. I am not so dreadful that I have no choices in the matter, that I should be grateful for anyone who is capable of tolerating being around me.

I cringe inwardly realizing how much of my adult life has been spent feeling inadequate and inferior to others in my personal life. Sometimes even in my choice of employment, I have undervalued myself and my contributions and sought acceptance and validation from peers and superiors, a few of whom had questionable values or quality of character.

After thinking about this off and on throughout this day, I recognize that my old friend and I will always be connected, that I value our shared history. However, as adults, at the places we are in our lives now, trying to rekindle the closeness we once enjoyed is not a task I want to pursue. Trust once broken is hard to rebuild, and while there is no specific instance that could be labeled betrayal, sometimes the harshness of our judgments and that ways we hurt those we profess to care so deeply alienates affection to an irreparable state. When our paths cross, I will be courteous and genuine in my interest in her life and times. But I have little desire to pursue anything that involves direct sharing of my successes and disappointments or leaving myself vulnerable to the impact of her thoughts and judgments. Where once I was completely transparent and unguarded in sharing my thoughts and feelings, I have finally matured a bit and learned to be more guarded with sharing my personal treasures with those who have wounded me with carelessness or casual cruelty.

In the perfect world people are not careless or cruel to others, yet I know I myself have been guilty of both on occasion. I have been stricken with regret when I realized my error, and I deserved the consequences of those actions. But I learned, and I try very hard to not let my temper or impatience or insecurity overwhelm my values and code of good personhood. Being human, though, means the only thing I am perfect at is my own imperfect actions.

But as I remind myself, life is long and there are many more opportunities to make good and better choices.

For today, I will acknowledge the apology and graciously accept it. As for the rest, I have no idea what may happen between us and what the future may hold. I will retain an open mind on the topic, yet with a very guarded heart.

Sleepwalking on the darker side

The past week has been rough on me with sleep. It is an unusual occurrence, because I rarely have issues falling asleep or staying asleep. Disruptions happen, though, and some are even depressingly predictable. Like when the trees in my neighborhood start blooming and I am popping allergy medications every 4 to 6 hours. Sudafed, while effective on my congestion and sneezing, will keep me up all night if taken too late in the day. March remains an emotionally challenging 31 days, with my oldest child’s birthday and death day occurring in the same week. Even after 21 years (this year), it’s still sad and it’s still hard.

But the allergy meds that get me through the day make for a very rough night of sleeping. This year is the first I am truly cognizant of the differences and impact regular exercise makes, and I begrudge every second of crankiness that even minor sleep deprivation brings me. If that were not bad enough, the combination of allergy-medication induced lighter sleep and March, for whatever reason it opens up the can of worms of night terrors. That makes life so much darker and seemingly more dismal.

For the most part, I am relishing the go-go-go busy and overload of work this month has brought. I love my family and my friends old and new who make me smile and laugh throughout my days. Darkness happens, and I remind myself that the reality of darkness is only as long and as permanent as I allow it to be and how to leave it in its place. Having been in such awful, terrifying places in my life, I have an almost fanatical appreciation for the joy and great aspects of my day-to-day life. Still, when the horrors of my childhood visits me in sleep, it’s upsetting all on its own, without the additional disruption of the losing sleep over things I cannot change, thoughts and feelings I wish I could ignore if I cannot forget.

Which tends to make me even crankier that I am losing sleep over shit I want to not contemplate any further.

In such a dark mood, dark place I ventured into the gym and for practice this morning. All went well, but I find myself supremely annoyed by the remodel and how my routines have been upturned. Regular folks I used to see pursuing their own Lists nearby most mornings I barely pass in the hallways now, to the point that one such regular remarked today that she never sees me anymore. How true. We both spend a fair amount of time on the stairs, seeking out spaces and equipment that used to be fully contained on one floor or the other.

At least I am not of the grumpy old person camp who snaps at members who may be in the way.

Tonight I got to spend some time with my tribe sister, doing a light routine and yakking and catching up with life and times. We had so much to talk about that my funk-spike did not even occur to me to bring up for discussion. I am happy about that.

The sun is supposed to shine this weekend and temperatures being a warm 70-something degrees. I can’t wait! While others will be outside enjoying it, I am simply looking forward to having no meetings, lighter workload, and just time to pursue my own projects. G – my youngest child – turns 30 on Sunday. Funny but it does not make me feel old so much as marvel that our lives have advanced to this point, that he is healthy, happy, newly married and moving on with a fulfilling and happy life.

It is just a weird dichotomy month for me. Every year in advance I resolve to be less bothered and burdened by the grief that lingers, and every year I am learning how to be kinder to myself when it creeps in and taints my days.

I will say the habits acquired in the last couple of years – regular exercise, healthier eating, blogging and writing routinely, the discipline of managing my own small business and working at a full-time job – have done wonders to keep me out of the emotional cesspool of my own making. While it feels like I am sleepwalking on the darker sides of my life, I am on firm footing with a clear path and a retainer wall that will not let me slide off the edge and down the slippery slope.

There is an edge to the life I have led and the events that have befallen me. I cannot imagine a day where I state with any form of sincerity that I am grateful to be a sexual abuse survivor and the mother of a deceased child, but the day when I am grateful for the beauty and sense the infuses my life is here and its now. My oldest child – I think of her every single day and it makes me smile. My childhood – no getting around that I would be a very different person as an adult. And while I am very, very far removed from perfect, I am better than many and completely good enough.

Sometimes I let myself believe I have all I need, but on the heels of that thought comes acknowledgement that needs change every day. Wanting something badly enough tends to elevate it to need status, or the item becomes less realistically available or emotionally desirable and need for it fades to the whimsy of a want. Understanding the difference and the subtleties of the feelings has been a lifelong task, one that probably ends when the mind regresses or life ceases.

My life is full with lots and lots of good fortune and amazing souls who include me as part of their personal realm. During this month when the sads strike, it seems there is always someone or something that sprawls directly in my path and makes me recognize how truly rich my whole life.

Allow me to be thankful. And grateful. And neurotically repetitive. I have not been as present in this space, but my deep and abiding affection for it, and all of you, remains. I shall endeavor to ponder here more frequently.

Rocks, cars, year-end brain dump

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I actually feel on the verge of feeling crappy. I know that sounds sort of vague and mysterious, but I have felt “off” since last night with a stomach ache that is not going away yet not getting worse. Bad food was my first choice, because M and I ate a quick fast-food-like dinner last night (Noodles and Company) while out doing a zoom-zoom-zoom through landscape places. Landscape designer (and M’s best friend) REALLY wants us to consider at least a tree in the front yard, despite M telling him repeatedly that he’s doubtful I will go for such an idea (yep, still resisting it). However, when M brought it up, I did thaw ever so slightly on the idea and suggested maybe the lace leaf maple M is so fond of? Except (1) it will likely die because of our black thumbs and general negligence, and (2) lace leaf maples would not occur naturally in the simulated granite forest we are created. My good natured “So? Who the f–k cares? This is our rendition completely not based in reality,” was agreeable to M, but he/we are sensitive to our friend’s talent and business. We don’t want to be THAT friend and client.

So we went to the landscape superstore to examine tree possibilities. Hated all of them. No way do I want something in my yard that has to be groomed to look like cake pops or columnar swirls – as if either of those things occurred naturally in the wild. In the end I caved and agreed on some pretty ground cover that occurs naturally in our mountains and will not spread and overtake the entire front space, grow too tall and need to be trimmed every 3 weeks, and not require sprinklers or drip system to keep alive. We shall see what landscape bestie says on Monday.

Anyway, something is not agreeable with my virtually cast-iron stomach. Mildly nauseated, low energy, sort of yuck. But I thought the gym might make me feel better, and for the most part it did. I say it that way because for as empty as it was, every single machine was occupied and no fluffy cuffies were deployed. Frustrating, and I was not in the mood to negotiate or wait them out. So abandoned the rest of my lower body List and finished up with my dumbbell matrix. Now just feeling general malaise and like I’m trying to become ill. Yuck. So not the way I want to end 2016 or start 2017.

Yesterday, the rocks in my head became the rocks in my yard.

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12/30/2016 – We have rocks! Granite boulders delivered and placed.

Yep the granite boulders were delivered. Took them 2 hours to place them just-so, as the rock place owner is an artist and has an artist’s temperament with rock placement. Still, the yard is truly starting to take shape.

 

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12/30/2016 – Retaining wall. One more row of stones and capstone to add.

Monday the rest of the retaining wall stones will be delivered, and M and I are going to a couple of landscape places to check out their decomposed granite and such today. I know, I know – such an enthralling life I am leading today. Honestly, I don’t much care if the decomposed granite is light gray or reddish gray, but M wants what he wants (lightest gray possible) and would like to know in advance so as to adjust his expectations.

I will mostly be happy when the dirt is no longer being tracked everywhere the way it is right this minute.

But after 2 years of waiting, our front yard will finally look like we have done something to make it attractive. I am delighted with the way things are progressing, and even if I do relent and we get the tree, I will insist upon nice decorative rock at its base. Our expensive tastes already have it selected for this application if it comes to that, because it will be a small enough area to justify the cost.

I was putting fuel into my car this morning and contemplating the filthbomb it inside right now when a brand new version pulled up on the other side of the pump. I drive a 2013 Rav4, and after 3+ years it has just over 30K on the odometer. This is essentially less than 10K mile per year, and M and I have tentatively agreed that we keep it at least another 3 or 4 years before deciding whether or not to upgrade or get something else.

Temptation is everywhere, though, and while admiring it’s 2017 twin, I was idly thinking maybe we should advance our timetable, upgrade sooner. This is the terrible accountant in me coming to the surface, because my car is practically brand new, extremely reliable, and the present level of filth bomb interior will be restored to its usual clean and tidy state with a vacuum (yard dirt is everywhere even though Rav lives in the garage) and a dust rag. M’s car is approaching 200K on the odometer and is our primary go vehicle, so our dollars are better spent ensuring it continues to enjoy its present level of robust good order. I don’t know what it is about a brand new car; perhaps I am influenced by the new car smell? A good interior scrub, having M hand wash and detail the exterior and I’ll be over the moon again abut my car. But for a few moments I was dreaming of bright and shiny objects I do not really want. I am far more comforted by the replacement car cash building and driving our paid-for vehicles.

And in all fairness, I’m not 100% sure I want another SUV when the time comes. M will always have an AWD/4WD SUV because of his hobbies and places he goes. Me, my next car could be a smaller, more fuel efficient vehicle. Or a Rav with a bigger, more powerful engine. Things may change with environmental regulations under the Trump administration, so probably best to wait and see what happens with cars on our present planned trajectory.

M and I have been discussing our plans and projects for 2017, and this may be the year when we do not have a big home improvement. The deck last spring and the front landscaping now pretty much leave us wanting to let things settle a bit before we decide on what to do next. This year was so busy, hectic, crazy with both kids getting married and then C moving to Florida, so we may need to revisit our plans and priorities for the new year. Definitely we will want to go to Florida to visit C and A, but when is in question right now. Summer does not appeal to me in the slightest, G and K would also like to go, but they have a destination wedding in Mexico in March, so it does seem more prudent to let some time pas and savings build for them to join us. I like the idea of October, but M kind of wants to go to Portland and visit our friends up north and support them in an ultra race. He may also go to Colorado to support his bestie at Leadville, and while he would love for me to go as well, I’m not that excited about the idea. The primary reason I like the Portland event is that a lot of our runner friends up in that group have non-running spouses that I genuinely enjoy hanging with. We shall see.

Work continues to be an evolving adventure. While a bunch of my tiny self-employment clients have found other accountants to help them, I did pick up 2 new regular clients that I could not turn away. When one of my existing long-term private clients refers someone to me I always say yes, no matter what. I doubt I will regret these addition, although I feel mildly intimidated by the volume of catch-up that must be done and the challenges of working and educating them to avoid such mishaps into the future.

Sometimes it seems the biggest disconnect that M and I suffer is the fact that he is essentially retired and I feel as if I am only just now cresting my peak working years. While I have zero resentment about being the breadwinner in our relationship, he feels some hesitation to pursue his hobbies and interests when larger cash outlaws are involved. I’m grateful for our baseline communication, where we can talk about things honestly and openly and figure out whether or not we can make things happen. That he might travel without me is of no consequence; if I really wanted to go I would make it happen. Fact is I truly love the work I do and it satisfying the little slave-driver within that keeps pushing to do more, more more, as well as the organizer who wants to find balance and manage the time I have available.

My hope for the new year that the quest for balance continues to evolve into a life that satisfies my needs as well as fulfills more of my wants. In 2016 I came face to face with the idea that success in personal development is not just a fluke or something that happens to the gifted and the blessed. Persistence, hard work, discipline have their place, and surprisingly, I am capable to stepping up when it matters. Perhaps I always have been capable, yet not quite ready to embrace and accept that it happens even when not gifted or blessed with any special talents.

The desire to learn and challenge myself in new ways sparks joy in unique and exciting ways, and pursuing the various tendrils of new and evolving interests is invigorating. Either commingling that with my jobs or finding time to prioritize my pursuit is part of what makes my life interesting. I am, at heart, a very simple soul.

I do love the beginning of a new year. If I view every month as a chapter in my personal book, I see a year as a volume in my book of life. I am always excited about new beginnings, fresh starts, resets. For me, 2016 was an absolutely amazing and wonderful year. The plan is to continue to build on that, and with the zeal of the born again, I plan to make it happen.

Happy new year, everyone! Please be safe tonight.

 

Corollary to my final 2016 training recap

Last year, trainer J introduced Scott Abel into our training routines. Whether he had been reading and following Coach Abel for awhile or I just start paying more attention when he was discussing technique and theory seems irrelevant at this point, although I do believe it was the former. Or maybe I was just finally in the headspace to hear what Coach Abel has to say about exercise, diet, physique transformation.

Under most prior circumstances, I would discount Coach Abel almost immediately because of his history as a physique competitor and trainer/coach. His message would not apply to me, unfit and hapless/hopeless middle aged woman. Negative girl was starting to pump up the volume during this period, and I would be slowly backing away muttering about not being in that realm of exercise and never, ever being capable of and therefore not interested in that aspect of gym life, all the while thinking “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy.” Fortunately by that time I was already moving away from setting specific goals, counting calories, learning about macros, and seeing food, body, exercise as my enemy. Fortunately by that time I had enjoyed some surprising success with managing my diabetes and having medications cut and numbers dramatically improving. Fortunately by then I was more focused on improving my overall health than on what the scale read or how uncomfortable I felt in my own skin.

I am a success story in this regard, and as hard as it is to write that down and publish it publicly (lest you all judge me some ginormous egomaniac), I am standing by it.

Abel writes a lot about the inside-outside transformation. From a Facebook post today:

After this many years and decades Coaching people to physique transformations, it still amazes me how people tend to overlook the elements of lifestyle that will make or break being able to accomplish and sustain a physique transformation. 

So many people form a goal to take better care of themselves and to transform themselves from the outside-in, and then get all caught up in incidental elements of this transformation process. They start focusing on counting calories and number-crunching macros and searching for the “magic training program” and all the rest. But they miss and overlook the most fundamental aspects that make sustainable physique transformation possible – and that is lifestyle considerations. 

Lifestyle is the FOUNDATION that supports all these other things. It is not the other way around. That is the illusion. 

And lifestyle is also one of the hardest life habits to change. But make no mistake; things like time-management, mindset and attitude, sleep patterns, meal times, stress-management – these things together ALL fundamentally matter more than does the right workout program or the right diet-strategy. If you don’t have the right lifestyle and the right mindset to fit these things into – then it is never going to work for long.

Such sentiments resonate deeply within me. I have worked very hard at transforming my mindset, at locking away my negative girl and shutting down the voices that whisper that I can’t exercise, that I’m fat, gross, out of shape, never going improve. Nothing I do every day in the gym or the yoga studio even compares to the difficulty of transforming that part of my life and lifestyle.

The timing is just right for me at this point in my life. My jobs are flexible enough that I can spend up to 2 hours at the gym every day and be in bed by 9 or 9:30 so I can get up and 4 a.m. to get my exercise done and crossed off my daily to-do before I even consider doing anything else. I simplified my eating down to a few basic meals and I eat those over and over and over again. Since I am not much of a foodie or a cook, it’s easy enough for me to drink a protein shake or eat a bowl or oatmeal every day for breakfast and have the same turkey and cheese sandwich almost daily. Weight loss when it occurs will be a nice perk, but these less I thought as an earned consequence of my actions the happier, calmer, and more enjoyable life became.

I have worked hard and deserve the success I am presently enjoying; I have earned it. However, in my reading and trying to learn more about the science behind physiology and human body systems, I recognize and accept more and more that decades of a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits and food choices are not reversed overnight or even over the course of the year. Will it happen? Maybe, maybe not. That said, I have no basis for complaint. None at all. Everyone ages and maybe complete recovery and some shadow of socially approved slender, svelte figure is not possible for me at this stage of my life. Oh well. I have a fabulous husband who loved me when I was fatter and loves me more now not because I am this much fitter but because he loves that I am happier and more comfortable and confident in my own skin. My health is excellent and I am rarely sick, allergies aside. I have been careful and cautious in my exercise pursuits and avoided injuries thus far, a trend I hope continues. As long as I can continue to manage my vanity and my ego, I can continue to dwell in my present level of happy, mostly balanced headspace.

In my own mind, I am Jane Average – normal level of intelligence, common sense, and ability to get through life and learn from my experiences. This was me comparing myself to others, and over the course of the last year I have learned just how dangerous that behavior can be, because I will always find reasons for fault with me. Stopping myself from comparing me to others has freed me to pursue my own thoughts and make better choices and exercise more realistic judgment about what is possible, what is not. I am far less susceptible to the endless drone of marketing that tells me I can be more than I can in 10 minutes per day. It also gives me a lot more room to be completely genuine in my support and enthusiasm for other people’s successes. Envy is an ugly emotion; self-flagellation for not having the same level or type of success is far worse.

The resulting overall physical improvement from my exercise efforts is wonderful, but the ways it has impacted all aspects of the way I conduct myself and live my life is unexpected. My mindset and interest in continuing the process is such a huge boon and benefit. I don’t know that Scott Abel is 100% right in his theories and opinions 100% of the time, but I do know his approach generally makes sense to me and has impacted me far beyond any tiny expectations or hopes I might have harbored this time last year.

Self improvement gets talked about an awful lot, and I have read far too many articles, books, even blogs on the subject. A lot of it was simply gobbledygoop. These days, I’m more capable of reading their words and making realistic judgments about whether it is something worthwhile for me in my life or simply a empty platitude that looks pretty in print. When I saw TM a couple of weeks ago he remarked upon how well I look and seem overall, and how our tune-up appointment next month might just be a one-and-done type year. My village – they don’t blow smoke in my direction much less up my skirt. His comment meant the world to me.

As I slowly close out 2016, anyone reading this or having followed my journey this last year and relating to my struggles as well as my successes, I leave you with the following though from Coach Scott Abel, also posted today on Facebook:

You will be amazed how much you change from the outside-in, when you focus first and foremost on change from the inside-out!

I am living, breathing, happy proof of this concept. Happy new year, everyone!