Creating the life and livelihood I desire

Thinking about a lot of things the last week or so, and it’s been a good, healthy, creative sort of process. To be clear, I am not especially creative. Where other people may throw splashy colors of paint at the wall and it somehow looks amazing, I use a ruler, draw straight lines, create geographic figures, color neatly inside. Nothing wrong with perfectly aligned squares and triangles filled with blocks of the same color, but it’s not especially arty. Likely this explains why I am an accountant and not an artist.

C is here this week, and it’s been wonderful to see her. She’s experiencing personal issues right now, and as a family we do our best to be supportive and encouraging, to help her get through it whatever ways we can. I’m proud of her taking steps to address these things, in her own ways. I want her to be healthy and happy.

It is also an exciting time in our household. M and I have had many discussions about where we are right now, our plans for the balance of 2017 and into the coming year. Nothing big or fancy on the horizon – a business trip to Texas is probably the biggest blip on our radar, and I am not 100% sure M really wants to go with me. Houston is not a hyper-appealing attraction for him, but we can make it work and have a lot of fun. We will be there together, it will not be dreadfully humid, and the client I am working with there is engaging and thoughtful about good eats and things we may enjoy.

The more I think about marriage – and I have a lot recently for various reasons – the more I realize that there is a lot of work in intimate relationships. Give, take, compromise, play to your strengths are all things I have said recently to others about forging stronger ties with your partner. We’ve got close friends going through a rough patch in their 28 year marriage, far from the first in recent years. It makes me appreciate what M and I have built together. Neither of us are the same person we were 25+ years ago when we met, and working through our own rough patches has left us appreciative for the ways we have changed and adapted and grown together.

This does not mean I do not want to smother him with a pillow to get my way from time to time. That is just the way I roll.

More than that, though, business is booming. My client roster is stable and the work is steady, and I have been regularly getting one-off projects that spike my working hours every week. If I had any worries about making a living after my last full-time job ended, they have been eradicated in the last few months.

Speaking of my former firm, I have been doing some consulting with them on a couple of projects. Melissa had asked me about this in the comments, and yes, they did grudgingly agree to my quoted rates. However, I have been able to do the work they wanted/needed in about a third the time the staff person who had been assigned the work, and I have offered to show him the methods I utilize to get the deliverable prepared. Thus far, they have preferred to outsource the work to me, except when I had to push the schedule back twice due to scheduling conflicts with my other clients. I suppose the new management did not understand that my going off and pursuing my own clients and work meant that I would be busy enough almost immediately to not have time available for them.

I am fortunate to have landed so firmly on my feet, something I am grateful for and do not take for granted.

Am I changing? Most definitely. I am focused on work and building something bigger and better. My life. The life I want to live and including the livelihood I desire.

This has been my whole quest, my whole life. As it should be for everyone.

But what I’m thinking lately … people want what they want, when they want it, how they want it, and do not necessarily want to compromise or give up or give in to anyone or anything else or even work that hard for it.

Perhaps I am being hard on those around me right now. Within my own life and world, I understand my close and once closer friends and the bumps in the roads. Sometimes their spouses or significant others’ are unreasonable assholes. Sometimes they are as well. In a couple of cases I know how easy it is to lose ourselves in the parenting role, to the point that we experience almost a grief-like state when our kids grow up and move on and into independent lives. We are so wrapped up in our identity as super mothers that we lose our identities as wives or independent units.

Or maybe we just get tired and want to be lazy when we reach middle age. Only we have to keep working at jobs we hate and are unwilling or unable to find a way out.

Pride is a funny thing. Sometimes it’s related to status or doing something to pay the bills that bores us to tears. M and I have crafted a marriage that works for us. I don’t judge anyone else in their choices of life and lifestyle, but my hope is that we can each find peace and contentment in some facet of our lives.

The danger of pride is it can lead to a sense of entitlement. Or if things are crappy in one area of our lives and it impacts our pride, our sense of self-importance could be twisted and turn us into an entitled asshole. Being humble and kind has its own benefits.

I’m cautious about it. Paranoid even. M worked hard much of our life together and has made things simpler, smoother for me. In our present days, I can indulge my workaholic tendencies, building my business and reputation among clients and community where I toil. I cannot allow myself to become overconfident about anything in my life, and I find it akin to walking a tightrope. If finding balance is a challenge, maintaining balance is possibly even more than that.

Or maybe I’m just new at it. I have always been more secure in my professional pursuits than anything else, and it would be easy to become very big-headed about my own success and importance in the bigger picture.

In my pursuit of better health, I put forth a lot of effort. Maybe I am more accustomed to it now, but it seems like this is what it takes. What I do, how I exercise, how I eat, how I conduct myself in the rest of my life – it has become interwoven in the fabric of the rest of my life now. Still a very long way to go, because I have a whole long life ahead of me that requires that I eat healthier foods, that I exercise, that I work at the intellectual curiosity pursuits that capture my imagination, that I continue to give a shit about those worth caring for and about that cross my path and turning away from those who waste my time. It’s not that I think my time is so very valuable; it’s that I believe everyone’s time is valuable and should not be squandered.

I’m learning, every day I’m learning. Right now it’s how to cut off, let go, dismiss the disagreeable or anyone else who does not “spark joy” to make me think or grow as a human being.

We all have our hopes and dreams, even for those of us who have such small scale, modest hopes and dreams that they seem impossible to separate from regular life. Maybe I do not get to be a fitness model in this lifetime (not an ambition, just an example) or the smartest person in the room. However, I’m happy being this much healthier version of my former self and I will always be glad to be the dumbest person in a room full of highly intelligent people.

And I did that. Selfishly and for myself primarily. I work hard and do the heavy lifting to get this far in my better health quest. I read, I study, I listen to other voices and ideas to expand my own worldview. I have a thriving little business with clients who like and respect me and the imperfect guy who is just about perfect for me. Because I invest the time and the energy to make it happen for me. Not overnight. It’s taken years to get this far. But my effort is paying dividends both big and small.

And that’s mostly on me. I’ve had help. I’ve had coaches and friends to cheer me on when the going got tough or bitch-slap me back to reality when I wanted wallow. But mostly it’s all me.

It feels good to be me, something I am gradually growing accustomed to feeling.

Coping with past histories

M and I have been married nearly 20 years, together for more than 25. A long shared history.

However, we both had lives, friendships, relationships before we became a couple. Like everyone else. Not so stark difference with us is that vast majority of my friends pre-M have become part of the fabric of our lives post relationship. In fact, many of my old friends became close (or sometimes even closer) to M through the years. M, however, took a 20 year hiatus from ALL his closest friends in his long running career. I mean, zero contact. It’s made for an interesting integration in the years since he began running again and crossing paths, making inroads into the old trail running ultramarathon world.

And being absolutely honest: it’s really hard for me. After a few false starts where I felt trapped or ignored or minimized or any other range of negative emotions – only a fraction of which are all in my mind – we have come to a solution that mostly works for us: M attends significant events alone.

It’s not that the runner people are mean or unpleasant or don’t try to somehow integrate me into the conversations. No, not all all that. There is just this whole big giant block of shared history and then 20 years of catching up and including the shared history, and then there is this non-runner wife who is clearly bored AF by endless running stories and updates on new running adventures and yet more rehashing and retelling of stories and memories that have absolutely nothing to do with me or my life with M.

Even typing that, I feel the twinge of childishness creeping into my own judgment. It’s not like I haven’t tried; I have. But my own capacity and social skills have me hamstrung, and it’s hard to bridge the gap with folks who treat running as a religion and your husband as a trail running legend, if not elevated to demigod status, retired or not. Because of that, I must be equally special or gifted somehow with the fleet-of-feet sport, right? Fuck no. I’m accustomed to that surprise-to-incredulous expressions that cross their faces; sometimes I’m even mightily amused by it. Their eyes go from glowing in anticipation to anywhere but mine when they try to engage me. Because I don’t run. Like Ever. Maybe if I’m being pursued by someone with murder and mayhem on their mind, but since that has yet to happen to me, I cannot be sure. Possibly I could be persuaded to run under those circumstances.

I sound really small and petulant, particularly to myself. But I’m over it now. I’m tired of trying to fit in with the great unwashed asshat community that are many of M’s former competitors and “friends” in the racing circuit.

Anyway, when we have invited runner people to our home, I’m fine to infinitely better. We are hosting, I am busy, I have a relevant role. In another type of social setting – at a race, at a banquet after the race, at other running events – I feel like an unnecessary accessory. This does not come from M; that part originates with negative girl and persists in my general boredom. Bad, bad combination.

I’m wrestling with it again this afternoon. M is attending a wedding, the groom is his best friend’s son, and my hyper-responsible side is sort of squirming. M had said we would both attend, and after a bit of a snippy tiff this morning, we agreed it best if I stay home. I do not typically fail to meet my commitments unless the reasons are valid. My not wanting to go is not really a valid reason in my book.

Snippy tiff – still not sure if this was me picking a fight or me just expressing how I feel and it falling short of M’s expectations. Bride and groom have this magical and romantic love story, per M’s telling. Since I barely know them – the groom have met in passing a few times, have seen the bride from a distance on another occasion – they quite honestly mean very little to me. Wife of the best friend – we have nothing in common, and as far as she’s concerned I’m dumb as your average box of rocks, not at all socially prominent, and therefore someone to be polite to and then set aside. It’s fine with me; we are just very different. I will not fake what I don’t feel, and I quite sincerely wish the happy couple well, but I do not find anything especially romantic or extraordinary about their relationship. Maybe I was a lot too blunt about it, but I essentially said to M that they really do mean nothing to me. I’m happy for them. I hope they have a long and happy union. But I’m not all ooey-gooey about their romance and very special love story.

M thinks my outlook is dark. I think I am realistic and honest about how I feel. However, he felt it would be unlikely that I could avoid showing my indifference. The rest of the tiff – M’s joking references to A and K as “future ex-son-in-law” or “future first wife” have not set well with me and I have told him so in the past. But compared to his glowing optimism and joy about the “specialness” of this union, frankly it irritated me far more than usual. I saw or heard little of this sort of thing when G and K got married, although we both love and adore K and G and K as a couple. For C and A, there has been a conservative concern about their long-term relationship, because there are some unique challenges built in. Our concern as parents – we want our kids to be happy, to have healthy and thriving relationships – and the way we show it is just different. I get it. But since I’m already in a bit of an iffy, vulnerable state, it’s impossible to not feel a little hurt by the contrast.

So I am sitting at my desk pondering things rather than watching the this couple walk down the aisle and then eating and drinking and being merry at the reception. And we are all so glad. I’m actually happier here, and in truth it’s healthier for my own relationship that I am here.

But I wonder if I will ever be confident enough to withstand running-related events. M does not compete anymore, but he’s still highly regarded and respected in the running circles he travels. Many, many of his good old boy network is still active in local ultramarathon circles, including volunteering at races, mentoring others new or growing into the sport, crewing other runners during actual races.

Many of the folks M knows and hangs with now – I enjoy being around them and would gladly, happily go to their weddings or events. Thing is, these are relationships M has begun, fostered, built during our marriage. I am not just the woman he left racing to find; I’m the one who finds dirty, sweaty people standing on my pool deck when I get home from work. I have shared history with these folks along with M.

However I try to describe it, it is just different. And while our solution to my feelings seems extreme (even to me), it is also the only thing that truly works. Hating myself for feeling the way I feel does no good, and in truth M is comfortable with going alone. While he will never openly agree with me, he enjoys himself a lot more not having to be concerned about me.

By the time he left for the wedding, we were fine. Usual, typical, relationship normal type fine.

Like weddings, life and marriage are imperfect. Many a bride has hopes and dreams of the “perfect” wedding and something goes wrong or falls short of lofty expectations. Same with marriage. In my own, it’s fortunate we can be honest about our disagreements. M doesn’t always see the snubs and such that I feel, and I accept full responsibility for my own insecurity and social awkwardness. This world of his old friends, many of whom are athletically-snobby (M has his own strong and wide bias in this area as well) – I don’t belong there. It’s good that I recognize it and dial direct in dealing with it.

But I don’t always feel great about it. Human here, with my own little fragile ego to make me absolutely certain it’s real.

Houseguest

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06/23/2017 – “Cheepers” watching YouTube with M.

In general, M and I try hard to be gracious hosts. Apparently our hospitality extends to the feathered in our midst.

M rescued this baby bird from the heat on Tuesday. This is the second such rescue this year, the first, Birdy Bird, resulted in a tragic and untimely death of unknown causes. Not for lack of trying on M’s part, though. Birdy Bird was with us for almost 2 weeks, during which time he would wander around the house perched upon M’s shoulder while M attended to whatever it was he happened to be doing throughout the day. Then one morning he was dead in the cage and M was broken hearted.

Then he found Cheepers, near death on the ground in the heat. Cheepers is either significantly younger than Birdy Bird or brain damaged from the heat, but he’s a bit on the slow side about self preservation and feeding himself. Yeah, this one is more high maintenance throughout the day. But still sweet and responds to M’s voice and presence. I can walk through the room and the cheeping for food continues. M appears and Cheepers stops talking and shows his tonsils waiting for the mom figure to put forth the grub. He also expresses his strenuous objection if M walks away to get his meal while he’s still starving. Me? Cheepers thinks I’m part of the landscape, and I’m okay with that.

Last night I came home to find Cheepers parked on a towel on M’s chest watching bird videos while M was talking on the phone. Cheepers was rapt by the video of big giant bird doing whatever he was doing on the screen and talking back to big giant bird. Terrible picture, but M didn’t want me to use the flash lest I frighten our guest.

*eye roll*

Welcome to my world.

Training #78 – Bang the drum all day

Monday morning, training with J. Today was all about new warm-ups and very ab/core focused. A lot of stuff I have done before or already on a List somewhere, with a few new goodies thrown into the mix.

Super excited about this. While it seems like a “light” day in terms of working hard at a weights List, warming up is something I tend to take very seriously. I have my standard that I have performed daily for several months now, but this is somewhat of a big booster enhancement. On its own as a warmup, running through a single set would be maybe 15 minutes once I get the rhythm and timing of it down. I am already contemplating pairing it with the cardio List as well for a super set before an older go-to workout. Hazy plan to try it sometime this week, depending on energy.

While I am waiting for J to update my List for today, I am pondering a lot of gym-related thoughts.

The warm-up routine suited me perfectly today, because I felt a little low-energy and not much in the mood for training this morning. I got plenty of sleep, did pilates yesterday and felt pleasantly buzzed about exercise, but just was not in the training session zone this morning. Probably this feeling relates to new things I am doing to streamline my mornings, but I was feeling apprehensive and anxious about going this morning. Sort of silly, and I was fine once in the gym and working.

But moving along through my usual warm-up and training itself, I felt … off. Like I’m not working hard enough. This has been an enduring feeling of late, like I am not paying enough attention or working hard enough or giving enough genuine effort. Every day I think it will pass, and most of the time I have been fine, pushing myself to push harder to overcome those feelings. Last night I began to realize I have been spending more time than typical on social media sites. Not only is it a complete time-suck, it’s damaging to my mental health. Most people can probably do these sites successfully; me, I end upon taking it way too personally and starting to feeling inferior and inadequate. Time to stop and just say no.

It’s not that I am slacking … too much. I am in the gym and working 6 days out of 7, and I am doing pilates on Sundays. I have been hitting yoga classes 2 or 3 night per week for the least few weeks. But (and isn’t there always a “but” when I say these things) M expressed some concerns about my sedentary work and how it impacts my lower legs. One tiny comment, made out of genuine concern, and I’m diving down the vortex of doubt and failure. Failure I say! Let’s go forth and embrace my old friend and throw out ever List and accomplishment of the last year.

Mental and emotional muscles are still on the weak side under pressure.

About the comment – I have this tendency to wrap my right leg around my left while sleeping or sitting, hindering circulation, and the result is ongoing bruising in my lower leg. Being diabetic, M imagines the worst possible outcome. It’s why I have a treadmill desk at home. It’s why I should have one installed at the office as well.

The bruising has faded significantly in the last year since I began my quest for regular exercise. However, the last few months have been insane with work, and I have not been using my treadmill desk as frequently as I might. So M noticed a couple of new spots appearing on my leg and has grown increasingly concerned. While he does not nag or yell, there is a “tone” in his voice that immediately makes me defensive and angry. Imagine a fire and brimstone preacher looking down from the pulpit and glaring and singling you out in the congregation while yelling “REPENT!” and you’ll get an idea of how I hear that tone. I know he speaks from concern – this is not him trying to be controlling or worse – but that tone in my ears implies bad things about my character. When we have discussed this at various times through our years together, heatedly and within shoot-to-kill type intensity, he defends himself in not saying anything of the sort, and I defend myself with this is how my head hears it so adjustments must be made. So we end up taking a step back, a few (dozen) deep and calming breathes, and then wade back in and try again in a less vitriolic manner.

Yep, human here. And in a normal, healthy relationship complete with arguments and fights.

But in the back of my mind, I feel like maybe M is confronting me on my lack of effort in my exercise pursuits. Maybe I need to work harder?

Which is, to borrow a favored phrase from a good friend, utter bollocks. That’s my shit, and the responsibility for it lies on me. If M felt I needed to put more effort into my exercise pursuits, he’d say so, possibly without that tone in his voice.

Not sure what is going on with me. Probably nothing. Possibly fatigue from the rest of my life leaking into my typically protected gym time.

A lot of negativity swirling around lately. People whining about fatigue, yet staying up way too late doing whatever it is they do. Complaints too much work or not enough time to do what they wish to do, yet floundering around trying to figure out their own priorities and such. Gossip and trash talk about families and friends. The election and politics needs a whole other blog post for the litany of hysteria surrounding it.

All this stuff impacts me on some level or another. This morning, I simply was not in the mood to work really hard. And I hate that. I hate feeling as if I have the potential to waste my hour of opportunity to learn new things, ask questions that occur, hone my focus on my exercise technique. Consoling myself that it is one hour out of however many I have left in this series and of however many future series I will pursue. My point here – one day of not feeling on top of things is not going to cripple me today much less forever. Tomorrow is another day, another opportunity to give it a try. Or I may cruise into the gym tonight and run through a List, just because I can.

And it just occurred to me – J is sneaky. J is smart. J is pretty well prepared for our sessions. J probably has already uploaded the List while I’m sitting here navel-gazing and weenie-whining about my diminished attitude. Of course, there it is, waiting. So, about what we actually did today:

Bands

  • Squat-to-row
  • Right horizontal choppers (double band)
  • Step-to-press
  • Left horizontal choppers (double band)
  • Straight arm pulldowns
  • High-to-low choppers (double band)
  • Low-to-high choppers (single heavy band)

Stability Ball Core

  • Glute bridges
  • Ball pass
  • Hamstring curls
  • “Russian twists”
  • Bird dog
  • Stir the pot
  • Roll outs
  • Reach up crunches

So that was lunchtime, and here I am long after the office workday is concluded and after running through several tasks for my own little business. Busy week this week.

Despite my low energy and general feeling of internal apathy today, I really enjoyed this new warmup stuff. It was not super hard working at weights type training, but it is an important part of my daily routine.

The bands are all familiar exercises that have appeared on various Lists throughout the last year. The squat-to-row does appear on another warm-up List, but for some reason I have never really taken to it. I don’t ever really tire of goblet squats, so that could be why. I can see how this is a more compacted version of the daily warmup I typically pursue.

Keeping it real, horizontal choppers with a double band are not a favorite. They are not nemesis, but they are in that limbo land of if they never appeared on a List again I would not rejoyce but I would also not be whining about it either. The horizontal choppers, especially with the double band, are such a pain. If I am not completely focused on what I am doing I am falling over sideways on the return. I know they are effective; they are just not an exercise that makes my mind perk up and take notice at the challenge it presents.

Step-to-press, once situated so that band is not slapping me in the neck or the face on the press portion, is a favorite. I have zero aspirations to take up boxing of any stripe, so this is about the closest I will ever come to throwing punches. Imagining myself actually hitting someone I’m irritated at is rather exhilarating, and I find myself smiling more and more every time I do these kinds of presses with those sort of violent (for me) imaginings in my head.

I do straight-arm pulldowns with the bands every single day I am in the gym practicing or training with J, so I was and am happy to see they are retained on this List as well. Still working hard at standing up straight, or tall and upright, and keeping shoulders down and back. These computer use-induced shrugging habits are so hard to break.

The high-to-low choppers with a double band are not nearly as ho-hum as their horizontal brethren. Part of it is the set-up makes more sense to me. Part of it is the band stays in place and doesn’t creep when draped over the TRX bar up top. But the biggest draw is the downward motion and the sort of side bend/rib tuck. Now that I know for sure how it feels and such, I like the challenge of the form without having to contend with band creeping down the stanchion. When J demonstrates he’s perking along in a graceful, elegant manner that is a much peppier pacing. When I am going through them myself it is slower, more deliberate, and the difference in our ages and gym experience is very apparent. But oh well. I doubt anyone is standing around with a stopwatch timing me.

The low-to-high choppers with a single heavy band are mostly okay. I am getting the hang of them now, and then today J mentioned and these being kind of that motion. Gotta say, kind of ruined the experience for me. I hate golf. I am so not a sporty girl anyway, but golf – I just don’t get it. At all. I will have to contemplate my imagery to get through these. That will be fun.

Going through this sequence as a warmup was fun and not terribly challenging. I worked, but not as feverishly hard as I feel like I do on a typical training day. And today, it was just right. The stability ball section was where the intriguing stuff came today.

Today was a first foray into glute bridges on the stability ball. Man, I loved these. I have no idea why – maybe my glutes and core were completely numbed from yesterday’s pilates class, which was all abs almost all of an hour. For whatever reason, I just really, really dug these. It was kind of weird at first – I was maybe not listening or thought I heard hamstring curls? Anyway, once I got it straight that this was bridges, not curls, I found them delightful. No idea why the feet elevated on a ball makes such a difference, because I hate them when my feet are on the ground and have been trying desperately to figure out new ways to distract myself through the long hits of them when they occur. These were fun.

Watching J demonstrate the ball pass, I was doubtful. Really doubtful. Of the things we did today, I thought sure these would be fast track to nemesis-ville. But no, they were not so bad. I have observed others doing these and thought they looked really hard. In reality, they have a level of challenge, but I think I am mostly up to it. Going to take some practice, but I believe I have the basic shape down and can probably replicate it tomorrow. We shall see.

Finally we reached the hamstring curls. Not that I was eagerly anticipating them so much as these were at least familiar. Still find I am having issues with the tighter positioning of the knee tuck, especially at the end where the most contraction happens with the tightest tuck. Keeping hips elevated remains key, and I apparently do not want to keep hips elevated. Nice thing about these as a warmup is that if I am doing them all the time (read: daily) I am bound to improve my technique. It happened with Bulgarian split squats and it can happen with these.

Another first, the Russian twists. These look so deceptively simple, but alas there is some technique involved. The lean back with tall spine makes a difference in whether or not I’m feeling it in my low back. Once I got the basic shape down and the hang of the twist portion with the tall spine, they were not bad at all.

The bird dogs on the stability ball are more of a challenge than just doing them on the mat alone. I cannot quite articulate why, maybe it’s just because the ball is pressed up against the core, but I feel these more in my abdomen than I do from the mat on the floor. The look so deceptively simple – lay on ball, raise arm and opposite foot. Except nothing is ever that simple anymore, or probably ever.

While I know we have previously done stir the pot, it’s been quite awhile. Another one of those deceptively simple movements that require some technique and concentration. Just body stretched out from knees, elbows resting on the ball, making small circles to the left and then to the right. Sounds really simple, right? Except it’s not. I feel this in my shoulders, my abs, my middle/upper back. All good. Not a fav, not a nemesis; just an ongoing challenge.

Once I grasped the complexity of the roll out, I knew they would either go straight to nemesis stable or hover above it until I get a better feel for just how freaking complicated they are to perform. It’s not the rolling the ball beneath the hands to forearms to elbows while keeping body straight that is the hard part. It’s the getting back to starting position with hands on the ball while keep spine straight and tall and pressing forearms down onto the ball. For the most part I understand what the objective is with this one, but I can already tell just thinking about it 13 hours later that it’s going to take some focused practice to feel competent.

The reach up crunches are still my favorite ab exercise, mostly because I love the part where I am just laying on the ball before and afterwards. Feels fantastic on the back and shoulders.

And that was our training session today.

My low-energy mood and funk-light has lightened significantly after an email ass kicking/pep talk  from friend J. Plus as the day passed and work flew by so quickly my spirits began to really perk up as well.

I am excited to test this warm up tomorrow and to return to my roots with an older List. It’s also work from home day, so I need not be in an uber rush to get in and out of the gym.

There are definitely some new challenges in these warmups and I like that. I also think backing away from social media and too much communication with certain factions of people within our lives is in order. I am on a good roll with my eating and my exercise habits. I don’t need to screw it up by letting peripheral drama harsh my daily buzz.

 

Zoom, zoom, zoom went the Saturday

Less than a week away from the wedding, and things this shit is getting real! But thankfully I have other stuff to download about today, other than wedding shopping, etc. Of course, my other themes – diet and exercise – loom large right now. I feel like it’s cresting to a new transitional something and once more the peanut gallery is full and expressing opinions. I have a whole other post on that in process as well.

In other words, bear with me. The shopping craziness is over and the wedding is less than a week. I keep telling myself to grin and enjoy it, maybe take up medicinal drinking, too. We have a couple of those airline size bottle of booze hanging around from other occasions and I was sorely tempted to slam one down tonight. Purely medicinal, of course. I avoided it, and a trip to the nearest grocery store stocking ice cream, chocolate, soda, and not necessarily in that order. Instead my experiments with vegan muffins continue.

Anyway, my day went something like this.

Wedding gown drama. There is a big huge difference between The Dress (mine) and The Gown (K’s). The Gown has been through 2 rounds of alterations and is still not fitting comfortably. Last Thursday was supposed to be the final fitting, but it was still too tight in the hips and thighs, rendering walking difficult and sitting nearly impossible. So this morning K had an appointment for the last fitting – hopefully the shop had gotten it right and fitted so she could actually walk and sit down in it. I asked last night if she wanted me to go with her, for moral support if nothing else. Her reply “If you want to. It’s probably going to be more of the same.” was not exactly inspiring for her frame of mind. I gave her the happy platitude that all was going to be fine, all the while realizing I am platituding her because I don’t know what else to do or to say. This morning, at 7:45 while I’m at the gym getting into my practice, she texts that she would really like it if I would accompany her, because she’s afraid of what happens if it still doesn’t fit. I’m fine with that … except the appointment is at 9:15, and the shop is downtown, about 40 minutes from my house. I rush through a little of each of the remainder of my List, try (not 100% successfully) to quash all feelings of guilt, and console myself that running out of the gym counts for something.

This time, dress was better and worse. She could walk and sit down comfortably with room to spare, but now it was too big in the waist and gapped and gathered inappropriately and the top was still not laying correctly. We are less than a week from the wedding and it STILL doesn’t fit right? K is understandably upset. The problems started long before the seamstress got out her pins and started the alterations process. The dress was supposed to be here at the end of June but did not arrive until mid-August. When K would call to check on/track it, she was told every week for multiple weeks that they didn’t know where the dress was but it would be here in plenty of time. Alterations were started 2 weeks ago. When she went in Thursday things she thought would be done were not done. Same story again today. Monday she’s back for another fitting and will be picking it up on Wednesday no matter what.

This whole process has been a horrible nightmare. At the end of the day, the dress doesn’t matter; this is about Graeme and Kayla. But it’s sort of heartbreaking on top of everything else going on that must be dealt with. What is it about weddings and funerals that bring out the worst in families? Except for us, anyway; we are probably kind of awful in a lot of little ways all the time.

While K was changing the seamstress looked at me and said she would work very hard to perfect the dress for K. I explained that the whole family are a planning breed, that the pressure of time and deadlines is weighing upon us and it feels like the problem is getting worse instead of better. There is a bit of a language barrier, too; this woman is originally from south America somewhere and she’s not only difficult to understand, she speaks very fast and says the wrong things. At one point she told K her body was “complicated to fit” for this dress. Seriously? You work with brides all day every day and you have one already unhappy and upset and you say THAT to her in the middle of a fitting? It was a very tense time and I am now really glad I went.

Work. The dress fitting also took long enough that I had to push back an appointment with a client across town. He’s leaving the country for a month and he had a list of extras for me this month, all of which can wait to be started on when I return from my vacation. I haven’t seen him in a couple of months and was surprised at his appearance – he’s been using a meal preparation service and has leaned out and looks nearly gaunt in a good and healthy ways. Next up: he is switching over to an even more vegetarian diet (is not yet ready to acknowledge he’s going more vegan), giving up the last of his poultry and fish.

Suit shopping with M. From there I raced home and went with M to pick up his suit, which fit perfectly, debated the tie issue again, dropped his shirt off at the dry cleaners to be professionally laundered and pressed. Other than a t-shirt that actually fits his runner skinny self, he’s ready to roll.

Domestic choring. And finally back home for M to finish cleaning up the back yard – an ongoing daily chore – and fold the laundry that seem to have piled up all week while I have been busy with other things.

That’s the highlights of the zooming. It’s just been a very busy, hectic day thus far, but I am not especially surprised. Our ducks are mostly in a row. I still have more cleaning to do, a bunch of stuff to drop at the donation place, and plans to firm up for social events this week. It’s crazy, but we’re working at it and getting it done.

But as I said, while I know it will be wonderful, memorable, and absolutely magical, right now it’s a lot of work, pressure, and stress. Plus trying to keep everyone together and calm.

Amazingly, I am the calm and clear-headed parent in all this. I must be am better at this mom stuff that I ever realized.

Shopping, dropping, not again soon-ing

Yesterday was all about wedding shopping. For M. And it was not fun for either of us, but since G and K’s wedding is now less than 2 weeks away, it had to be done.

As in most things, M and I have wildly different tastes. But in this case as well, we had wildly different tolerances for how much we are willing to spend on clothing and shoes for him for this eventful occasion. In suits, everything I liked was at least $600 on sale, which M thought was precisely 3 times more than he wanted to spend. Everything within M’s preferred price range looked and felt exactly awful, so he grudgingly agreed this was not the cheap-out hill he wanted to die on, especially when it’s so close to the wedding and I am starting to crack under the pressure of his procrastination. I suppose it doesn’t help that I was seeking something specific and limiting our choices within the more cost-effective, rarely worn suit styling realm. But I want what I want – medium to dark gray, no pinstripes, no patterns in the weave of the fabric. Had I been willing to wander from my own criteria, there were several suits in M’s budget range that could have worked. But I didn’t like them for this occasion, so I voted with our wallet. The occasions of “I work  hard, I work long hours, I deserve …” rarely occur to me. However, this was the unusual event that I was unwilling to compromise (much) and we were going to drop the cash necessary to make it happen.

At our third stop, the salesman tried a coat on M for size, which finally hammered home for him what I was talking about in fabric. It made him look about 110 years old, like Gollum in the Lord of the Rings. It was also a short, and while I could not put my finger on it at the time, I did not like the fit at all. The guy pulled out a regular in the same suit; better fit, still disliked the fabric. When I explained to salesman in more detail what I was seeking, he pulled out a medium gray that was actually very nice, a touch lighter in color than what mind said I wanted but really nice fabric. Once M tried the jacket on – for once it was a good fit, no further alternations needed – he finally saw what I was talking about with the fabric and drape and such. Third store, second suggestion, done.

The pants – OMG they were huge! But the tailor did his magic chalk marking and they should be perfectly tailored by next Saturday.

Shirt is white, tie is a solid teal that is a pretty close match to the darker teal of the bridesmaid dresses. M was of the opinion that Kayla should weigh in on all this stuff, and while K had no strong opinions on the suit itself while we were shopping – although she did agree some of them did not photograph that well – we had a lengthy text discussion over the various teal-shaded tie choices while M was with the tailor and then trying on the shirt before we decided on the solid. Just to be fair I did show the ties I was considering and he immediately went with the solid, a stripe being a very distant second. So that was good as well. M and I should look appropriately matchy-matchy prom-y in the wedding photos.

K, from the stylist’s chair test driving wedding hair, had a blast shopping with us by text. M and I were certainly not having that much fun in the moments. Now that it’s done, I am both relieved and happy with the choices, but at the time, not fun at all.

From there we stopped for a quick lunch – hence yesterday’s post – and then at home for dress socks to tackle shoes.

Men’s dress shoes are nothing like shopping for women’s shoes. That’s likely why in the big giant shoe warehouses men’s shoes get 2 aisles and women’s get 20. And I apparently have not spent much time actually shopping in a mall recently; I am now feeling the weight of every single one of my years and the accumulated judgment about clothes and fashion. Either that or I was exhausted from the ordeal of shopping with M for M. Shopping with M for me is far more controllable; I can just come back later and try on or purchase what I think I want without him. Shoes especially – multiple stores, multiple pairs of shoes, finally found something that works. And I knew this would be difficult; M lives in running shoes with jaunts into flip flops and has many pairs of both. Dress shoes? Like a foreign country. Multiple stores, multiple pairs of dress shoes, and finally something wearable and if not exactly agreeable at least not offensive to his eye. By that point I did not care what they costed; I just wanted the nightmare shopping to end. Fortunately they too were on a sale – $59.95 and we are done. Except for dress socks; the tan ones M was using yesterday are not going to work.

So after what seems like an enough shopping for one lifetime, the last pressing issue for G & K’s wedding is done. Thankfully.

In other weekend news, I was actually glad to be up and moving around a lot yesterday. One of my yoga postures went awry when I lost my focus and fell out wrong. No lasting damage – just a muscle cramp that sort of slowly worked its way out of my leg through a day of mall walking and standing around or fetching shoes for M while he tried on every single available pair of something the potentially could work. It gave us both something else to talk about other than the misery of buying men’s dress-up clothes.

Today leg is pretty much fine, although I was listening to it during pilates class. Leg was whining to take it easy, that it hurts, and mind was saying “shut the f**k up and deal, you lazy limb.” I took a different class at the other studio location, and it was okay. I definitely prefer the earlier (7:30 versus 9:30) class time. I’m not sure how much longer I will continue with the pilates; my interest in waning now that Sunday’s 7:30 a.m. class seems to have been overtaken by the instructor I like the least. I don’t know – maybe everyone else likes booming, enthusiastic boot camp instructors at 7:30 on a Sunday. I could be in the minority. After the wedding, after our vacation, I may switch up my away-from-they gym day and try something else new. I shall become an exercise adventurer and try something else next.

And despite the zoom-zoom-zoom pacing and having lost 2 different items of significance and no idea where during the course of it, the weekend has been very pleasant. But my absent-mindedness is starting to mildly freak me out. Yesterday it was a credit card. I stopped to get gas on my way to the gym and discovered later in the day that it was missing from my wallet. No problem – probably in my gym bag. Came home and emptied it out, nope, not in my gym bag. Then I thought surely the jacket I was wearing, but nope, not in that pocket either. M and I both looked in my car without any luck there either. I have no idea where I dropped it, but I have reported it as lost and it has been cancelled.

Today it is my sunglasses. I had just yesterday been telling M that I felt like it was time for an eye exam and possibly updating my prescription; today, I have lost my sunglasses somewhere between 2 stores. We stopped to pick up M’s wedding band at Shane Company, then walked across the parking lot to a small, jammed to the rafters lighting store showroom. We checked both places, although honestly if I set them down somewhere in the lighting store they are lost forever. That place was a scrambled mess! We saw a couple of really cool (and expensive) fixtures as potential replacements for our dining room light, but it was beyond inaccessible for a handicapped person. The aisles were so narrow it was barely roomy enough for M and I to get through them single file, and we are not extraordinarily big or wide-bodied people.

Anyway, I’m frustrated with myself for being so forgetful and not paying closer attention to what I am doing. Between the wedding and general workload, I have been pretty busy lately. At least I have a tracker and app for my keys, since I lose them in the house all the time.

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8/28/2016 – Cube tracker for my frequently misplaced keys.

So, a new month starts in a few days, and I had very pleasant surprises this morning from both the scale and the tape measure, both of which I still detest. While I don’t feel particularly tinier, they say yes, it is so. I find not caring that much means not getting overly excited when it says “Janelle, you’re smaller.” I get a much stronger happy zing when my meter says my blood sugar is staying well within the normal range and my carb counting says I’m within 10% either way of my daily budget. This eating thing, despite doing it my whole life, is so much harder than dragging my butt out of bed for the gym every morning.

I am off to finish writing down my weekly meal plan and putting lunch together for tomorrow. Have a great week everyone!

Losing my stuff

Titling this post “Losing my shit” would have been more appropriate, but I am trying to be considerate of those who are not quite as salty as I am in my language habits.

Most of the time, I think I am pretty rational and organized. Then again, most of the time I seem to spend working. In my professional life I am practically a professional organizer.

Personal life, not so much. Nothing like starting your day by frantically searching for your keys at 4:45 in the morning. I looked in all the usual places, checked a half dozen other improbable possibilities, and finally gave up and took M’s key for my car so I could get to the gym and not be supremely annoyed for losing my keys AND missing practice.

While I take ownership of my responsibility for my own stuff, this is partly M’s fault. Last night there was a major miscommunication – totally my fault – that resulted in a short, intense disagreement between us. I freely admit to not handling conflict well and that it takes a toll and sometimes takes a bit of time and/or space to completely purge the negative emotions from my system. What happened is G and K had made arrangements to store wedding beer in one of our refrigerators, and I completely forgot to tell M about it. As in, they arrived unexpectedly (for him – I knew about it) and that’s a big no-no in our house. So that was strike 1. Then M goes into this long, elaborate explanation with the kids of why it’s better to leave the beer in the house (thinking fridges are both sort of half full), only to be told by my son that I have already cleared out the refrigerator to make room. That’s strike 2. Then G and K are purchasing our former vehicle and may be selling G’s car, which was a surprise to M yet should not have been because I told him what I knew about it last weekend. So that’s sort of strike 2.5. So I get home, step out of my car, and M is at the door venting all his pissed-off-ness at the situation I put him into and complaining, loudly, that he seems to not be a resident of our household, that to other people it’s my house.

Fuck that. The kids did the right thing, made the arrangements with me, and it is 100% my fault that I forgot to tell him. Do not play that “the kids are shit because they treat me like I do not exist here” bullshit. Had I told him the kids were going to be dropping by with the beer, he would have asked what time, I would have said I don’t know, why don’t you text them and ask? And all would have been fine. But I’ve been busy with other things – like making a living – and simply forgot to tell him. Trying to lay blame on the kids does not fly well with me and I told him so very tersely, so it was not a pleasant get home from a busy, stressful, crazy day at the office.

Somehow in that tense discussion I tossed my keys on the desk and they flew off the edge without my noticing. They were  hidden in plain sight on the floor in the office. After getting home from the gym and frantically tearing through the house looking for them (and thus harshing my post-shoulder practice buzz), I happened to bend down to pick up a piece of paper off the floor and spotted them.

Thing is, the whole lost and found search for my keys has this domino effect of setting me up and into a pretty foul mood. Then I forgot to leave the gate unlocked for the pest control people … who were supposed to come yesterday, except I forgot the gate then as well and M was gone much of the day, but they were running behind and pushed us to today, and I forgot again. Fortunately they are running behind again today and M just got home to unlock the gates.

Kind of a sucky start to a Friday. It’s working out, but still. I feel like such a drama princess right now.

So, in order to hopefully save me from myself and this sort of bad feeling, I have bitten the bullet and ordered one of those key finder tag apps. I actually ordered 2 of them, so I can keep track of my work keys as well. Maybe my angsty drama at 4 in the morning can be avoided in the future.

And finally, in my when undelightful things happen, Monday trainer J showed me how to use the hamstring curl machine. Wednesday when I went to try it on my own, it was out of service. Bummer. Last week (I think) he showed me how to use a shoulder machine upstairs. Today when I went to use it, it was out of service.

If the dip machine I learned yesterday is out of service tomorrow, I am going to take it as a sign of something. Bad luck? Poor timing? Coincidence? Black clouds around me when it comes to machinery?

Still freezing in my office, so we are closing up at noon and all working from home. I cannot wait for hot yoga at 5 so I can warm up. And I am looking forward to getting home and getting back to baseline emotional normal while being mindful of where I leave my blasted keys.

Happy Friday everyone!