Onward

Ok, enough with the complaining.

Last night I had a full-on anxiety fest. (it was a quiet freakout, mostly me just going to bed early, freaking out in my head while trying to read, getting up to mangle a Shel Silverstein poem, then laying awake for hours. Fun!) According to my brain, I was about to be fired, moving was a disastrous idea, the future is bleak, I’m a terrible friend, sister, daughter, wife… you know the drill. No particular reason, just my brain deciding things were a little too boring, you know? Why not inject a freakout into the mix?

Today, for whatever reason, I feel much better. Work is fine, the future is bright, everything is fine. Thanks, brain! I may consider cutting out coffee (except for the weekends) for the remainder of this journey… just saying.

So, instead of freaking out and complaining about my overwhelm, let’s look at the good things ahead, shall we?

  • We are moving to the new house at the peak of Oregon beauty — it’s getting warmer, things are brilliantly green, flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, it stays light long into the evening. The new house has a large “meadow” surrounded by trees and blooming plants and lots of places to tuck a swinging bench or hammock for a lazy read in the shade, no neighbors to spy on you, and a large covered back porch to cozy up on. I am putting out to the universe that I would like a large outdoor-furniture couch, good for reading and lounging, to appear on Craigslist right when we settle in, for cheap (possibly a student clearing out at the end of the school year?). Thanks in advance!
  • The new house may be short(er) on closet space, but the rooms are large and airy with tons of windows (and lots of beauty outside those windows). Storage is always a challenge and there are always solutions. I am hereby not thinking about this anymore until I see what exactly we need to solve — and focusing instead on being excited about the possibilities.
  • We will be turning the one-car garage into Keith’s art studio and a laundry room… this will likely be done in several stages, the initial stage just getting it habitable so Keith can move his stuff in there. From there… who knows! I have ideas for a pretty laundry room nook, and am excited for Keith to have his own space to spread out.
  • Similarly, I am excited about my new office and the guest room — there is room in the guest room for a sewing table or other craft space, and my office will be in the current “yoga studio” — tons of windows, beautiful light, a beautiful wood floor, similar space to my current office (which is too large for my needs) but a better layout (cozier).
  • And on the smaller scale, I am excited about the kitchen bay window over the sink. I have ALWAYS wanted one of these, to fill with plants and herbs and pretty little things. I am super excited about this.

And in the bigger picture (not just the house), things are fine — better than fine. Life is good. I need to pay less attention to the news, drink less caffeine, shorten my vision to just what’s in front of me (I am notorious for planning WAY ahead and problem-solving things that are not yet a problem, and just be here now.

Maybe my anxiety-attack was my brain’s way of kicking me into shifting gears. In which case, thank you, brain. I think we can do this thing now!

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Whatifs

With apologies to Shel Silverstein, whose classic poem has echoed through my mind weekly since memorizing it in 3rd grade…

Last night, while I lay thinking here,

some Whatifs crawled inside my ear

and pranced and partied all night long

and sang their same old Whatif song:

Whatif no one likes me?

Whatif my cat decides to bite me?

Whatif I don’t do well at work?

Whatif the world suddenly goes berserk?

Whatif I make a mistake?

Whatif the earth begins to quake?

Whatif I don’t save enough for retirement?

Whatif I never know what it all meant?

Whatif I’m not a very good friend?

Whatif it all comes suddenly to an end?

Whatif I hate the new house?

Whatif the cat brings in a mouse?

Whatif my friend is more successful than me?

Whatif I never find my special ability?

Whatif I don’t get it done on time?

Whatif we become victims of crime?

Whatif my pants become too tight?

Whatif I never get it right?

Whatif I don’t read enough?

Whatif things get really rough?

Everything seems well, and then

the nighttime Whatifs strike again!

Sleep well, everyone…

The F*ing Seams

Long ago, my poor husband had a minor temper tantrum involving a checkbook mistake (or something) amid several other relatively minor life crises. I heard him from the other room, yelling to no one in particular, “Why is my life falling apart at the f***ing seams?!?” It was so over the top (from my view, several rooms away) that I couldn’t help laughing, and it has been a minor in-joke with a few close friends ever since, used in a very hyperbolic way to describe minor life upsets/discomforts/chaos.

Currently, my life is falling apart at the f*ing seams (stated with full in-joke status). Of course, everything is fine, and everything will be fine. But today my head feels like it’s going to explode — the arms-length list of bizarrely complex bill transfers and cancellations and installations and cleaners and movers and roofers and house-sale/purchasing details… the packing that never ends… the weekend trip to support my best friend’s master’s degree graduation two weekends before we move… the day job that keeps on rolling… not to mention my husband having two recent minor eye surgeries plus a bizarre fainting episode that required a trip to urgent care… I need to make a big checklist because I keep forgetting what I’ve called and cancelled and scheduled, but even just making the list seems like Too Much.

I’m supposed to go for a short hike with a friend this afternoon and it’s taking everything I have not to cancel. I know I will feel better after tromping around in the woods for an hour or two, but the voice in my head says, “But you need to call back the garbage company! And do those work receipts! And clean out your email because you’re probably forgetting something important! And wash the sheets! And vacuum! And dye your hair! And clean out the fridge! And pack some more boxes! And All The Other Things!”

I would like to end this post with a Plan, but I have no plan. I have a half-hearted scribbled list and a messy desk and a garage full of boxes waiting to be filled. Ok, so here is my plan:

  1. Make The Real Big List
  2. Pack 3 more boxes; bonus points for 4 boxes
  3. Run the magic robot vacuum cleaner downstairs
  4. Go for the hike
  5. Make the mail-order dinner
  6. Go to bed early
  7. Start checking off The Real Big List tomorrow

Moving in 18 days! I can’t wait both to be there, and for this to be over!

 

 

Phone Photo Friday

The weekly roundup from the phone…

The pre-move purging continues…

Keith had cataract surgery but we weren’t worried; the doc had a helping hand from the Big Guy, apparently. Immediately post-surgery Keith needed a cup of coffee before heading home; we pretended he was a pirate.

Unfortunately as soon as we got home, the anesthesia wore off and he had some pretty major pain for a few hours which required creative ice pack securing. Thankfully he’s feeling way better now.

Best of all, I had to run over to the new house today to get something and everything is in full spring bloom and gorgeous. This definitely cheered me up. Can’t wait to be there! (photos have a color filter obviously but still, SO PRETTY right now)

Happy weekend!

5 Things I Am Doing To Simplify Life

As previously stated, life is currently in transition. I find this exhausting. It’s kind of reaching that barely-keeping-it-together stage, where the house is full of boxes and every decision is too hard, and I just want this to be over.

So, we’ve been implementing a few things to make life easier while we get through this. Some of them I am considering implementing longer-term…

  1. Mail-order dinners (as Keith calls it): We have been getting those pre-prepped meal kits for the last few weeks and will do so through the move. Neither of us are particularly thrilled with it (we’ve tried a few and like Sunbasket the best), it’s not perfect, but at least three nights of the week we don’t have to think about dinner. I hate thinking about dinner. I like cooking but the decision of what to make is just too much sometimes. Currently: all the time. This solution is good for now but we’ll discontinue it once our new kitchen is set up and I’ll go back to my monthly meal planning tool (more on that later). The meals are generally good but I have to make modifications for my stomach issues and sometimes their portioning is odd, so we are looking forward to making our usual meals soon.
  2. Less dishes: We pared down our kitchen to just things that are in daily use (and packed up the rest). 4 large plates, 4 small plates, 4 bowls, 4 mugs, etc. This is good for a variety of reasons. The first is, obviously, there are less dishes to get dirty and they don’t pile up. The second is, they don’t really go into the dishwasher (we just wash them throughout the day), which is good because our new house doesn’t have a dishwasher, so we’re sort of training ourselves to get used to that idea. We may install one, but not immediately, so we’ll have some time to see what we think. I am actually loving this. I hate dishes piled up in the drainer or sitting clean in the dishwasher, but when there’s only so many dishes available, they get put away or used quickly. I am seriously considering keeping only a set of 4 in our everyday cupboard and storing the rest on a higher shelf or something for the occasions when we need more dishes for company or whatnot. This is definitely making things easier.
  3. Daily uniform: Generally speaking, I am sort of anti-uniform (at least for myself). I have tried this many times in the past and I just get bored. However, right now I just can’t deal. So every day I am wearing jeans and either a pullover sweater or an oversized button-down shirt. Occasionally I am throwing in a pair of loose pants and a long-sleeve T shirt but generally speaking, just jeans and those tops — I have aspirations of spiffing things up for working at home so I don’t feel like a total frump, but not right now. My compromise is that I’m trying to wear mascara every day. I don’t know, it helps.
  4. Working out at home: It is turning into a lovely spring and I have a wonderful walking area just three blocks away, but I am overwhelmed and can’t seem to get out the door to exercise. Keith has been feeling frustrated by the rain (his workout of choice is a bike ride) and we both need exercise for stress reduction. We bought a used elliptical machine for our garage — we have space for it now and will have space at the new house as well, so we went for it. I usually detest exercise machines (they make me want to cry — the futility of stepping and stepping and never moving forward! To close to actual life…) but I’m really getting into it. It’s so nice to just step out into the garage and do a 25-30 minute workout, listen to my music (I made a playlist that I love and that is a major incentive as I cannot listen to music while I work — I get distracted by words), and then just continue on with the day. Will definitely continue this, as we will be moving this into the large barn/garage, which will have the option of opening the big huge door and looking out into the yard while we work out. So peaceful! No rain! No public eyes!
  5. Eating (almost) the same thing every day: I mean for breakfast and lunch. In general, this falls under the same category as the daily uniform: I love the idea but I just can’t do it. I get bored. But lately, less decisions are good, so I’ve implemented a very limited menu for breakfast and lunch:
    • Breakfast #1: Super-easy miso soup — this is so good and I am not tired of it at all (yet) even after a few weeks of this. I just take some white miso, dissolve it in hot water, and add some cut-up tofu and nori. Trader Joe’s has a nice miso-ginger broth that I get sometimes as well.
    • Breakfast #2: A hard-boiled egg and peanut butter on banana. Plus sometimes a piece of toast (with butter and Marmite, this is my new thing).
    • Lunch #1: Sometimes I eat breakfast so late that I just skip lunch but I usually try to have something mid-afternoon — I’ve been making simple tuna salad (just mayo, tuna, pickles and seasoning), and a scoop of tuna salad with some crackers is an excellent lunch.
    • Lunch #2: Leftovers. Sometimes we have them and sometimes not but this is the world’s easiest lunch.

I’ve also been trying to go to bed earlier and limiting decisions in general — too many decisions are required already during the house-buying/selling/moving process and I’m at my limit most of the time.

I am looking forward to being in the new house and through this period of change!

Transitions

I know that all life is change, but I am ready for this cycle of change (moving, then moving again, then moving again) to be over. I am currently feeling sad about leaving our neighbors, although we will only be 10-ish minutes away and we’ll still stay involved in the neighborhood social activities — it is rare for me to feel like I am part of a group, and while I still don’t feel totally 100% part of this group (this is all me), it is hard to leave a community, by choice.

Our neighborhood is crammed full of houses and I don’t love the feeling of having houses and people pressed in close to us, but it is nice to have 8+ friends within a few steps, not to mention my best friend 2-3 blocks away. I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a place like this, where I know and am friendly with so many people within a block or two. It makes me wish that we liked our house and the surroundings more, but I just don’t want to live in this crammed suburban-development environment, it depresses me. However, I will miss the feeling of being able to just walk next door for “happy hour” or the “community tools” (everyone borrows everything) and everyone looking out for everyone else. Our new “neighborhood” is also populated with wonderful people that I already know, but we will have 3 neighboring houses (and a bunch of fields), not 450. This is good and what we want, but it will be different. I know they are all sad as well (especially my best friend and her kids), which makes leaving hard. I am using this opportunity to commit to staying involved and hosting star-gazing and outdoor hot tub parties at our new “country home” — we are joking that our new house will be the community campground/country home/park. It will all be OK, it is just transition and change.

This all makes me think about how I used to work with my favorite therapist on “making the tapestry match on both sides” — having my inside life and voice match the external life and voice. This is a lifelong struggle for me — I do not easily share my self or my deeper thoughts. It takes me a long time to become “real friends” with someone, but once I am, I am generally a friend for life. I can seem secretive or private, and I have a highly tuned “filter” — I definitely filter what I share with different people, based on their level of “access” — I don’t love this about myself, but when I do cut loose and do what I feel is “oversharing” I often regret it, so there is not much incentive to open up more in my everyday life. I am working on opening up more to people who are closest to me — that is an area that I know can benefit from me being more open and transparent. However, I am slooowwww. I think about this with our neighbor friends — we’ve been here a year and a half and I know they are all friends, but I wish I had been able to become closer to them in that time. I guess we all just open up in our own time.

However, I do communicate well in writing, and I missed this venue (my blog) as a means of sharing my inner life on a more regular basis. I am an INFJ and this is all part of my personality type (“…most INFJs are protective of their inner selves, sharing only what they choose to share when they choose to share it. They are deep, complex individuals, who are quite private and typically difficult to understand. INFJs hold back part of themselves, and can be secretive.”), so I comfort myself that it’s not my fault, it’s just how I am wired.

 

And, Introducing “Phone Photo Friday”

One of my favorite bloggers, Maria at Little Things Are Big, does a photo wrap up of the week every Friday. I’m going to give this a try.

I went to DC this week for work and gave out LOTS AND LOTS of Girl Scout cookies at our booth.

I put on a fancy breakfast.

How is this a panini?? Paninis are grilled. I felt very sorry for myself at this point in the travels.

But not as sorry as I felt for Keith at 2:30 am this morning when he fainted and collapsed in the bathroom, bashing in the wall with his knee somehow. He’s ok now, but it was scary. And now we have to fix the wall!

Happy weekend!

Counting down

One of the things I will miss about this house…

We are now officially about a month away from moving into our new, and hopefully “forever” house. I am excited, and nervous. I have been beset by cold feet. Is this the right thing? Are we giving up something really good? Is this a mistake?

The truth is that there are lots of things I’m going to miss about this house, of course.

  • The master bathroom (see above). It’s one of the best things about this house. A large soaking tub, plenty of room for both of us, two sinks, a huge window, etc. The new bathrooms have their charms but they badly need updating, and need storage. Trade off for the big tub is that we’ll have a hot tub: views of the trees and stars. I’ll use that more than the bathtub (which I use once a month MAYBE)
  • Closets: our current house has lots of roomy closets and a nice walk-in in the master bedroom. I’m a little concerned about closets and storage space in the new house overall. This can be creatively amended but nags at me. I try to remind myself that we did just fine in our little Livermore house.
  • Mod Cons: the new house is old and has funky old things like oddly placed outlets and no dishwasher and a septic system and a well. I like all of these things, but it is yet to be determined how it’ll all work out. Our current house has all mod cons and is very worry-free.
  • Neighbors: we have fantastic neighbors and a real neighborhood here — I will miss that. It has its downsides too, of course — noisy kids, noisy neighbor parties, too many houses, etc. But it is nice to be surrounded by community. This will not disappear after we move, but it won’t be the same.

Of course when I look at the bigger picture, I see that these worries will be fine. We will remodel the bathrooms eventually and create storage and enjoy our new neighbors (and new space between neighbors!!), and the new house is charming with great energy and over an acre to spread out, and is filled with lots of things we love. We like funky old houses. This is what we want. Still, sometimes it’s hard to make these leaps of faith.

Things I am looking forward to:

  • Loving my home. I like our current house, but don’t love it. I already love our new house and we’re not even there yet.
  • Privacy! Current house and yard are basically a fishbowl. I think this bothers me more than anything else in the current house.
  • Big windows! Current house has windows but it’s kind of dark, and there’s nothing to see out the windows except houses and roofs and garages and a few trees. New house has big windows that look into the meadow and mature trees. I’m really looking forward to that.
  • Lovely character. Current house is new and has almost no character. I find this DEPRESSING. New house was built by the original owner and has funky additions, old wood floors, real wood frames, old bathroom fixtures, etc. Some of it needs some love but it’s the sort of house that can accommodate MORE character — current house basically needs Pottery Barn furniture and nothing else looks quite right. We shop thrift stores and Craigslist for furniture. Our furniture doesn’t really go with our current house. If we replaced the doors in this house with antique wood doors, they’ll just look like crappy old doors in crappy non-wood door frames. In the new house, they will just bring lovely character.
  • The setting. Current house is close to a great park and I love that. New house is basically IN a park: better. And I love Philomath; I love the weather (cooler than Corvallis, evening breezes, better chance of snow), I love the surrounding hills, I love being closer to the Peak. It’s home.

So really, I have nothing to fear except the loss of a little convenience. Convenience is often boring, however. I’m looking forward to jumping in to adventure!

DC days 2&3&4

Ummm. So it turns out that the DC area is full of amazing things, the Mall is overwhelming, and I completely exhausted myself. BUT here are a few favorites.

I loved the library of Congress; next time I’ll try to take a tour.

All kinds of everything to be seen. I loved it all. Peacock room, Freer Gallery. Vampire bat skeleton, Natural History museum. Oscar the Grouch, American History museum.

Not pictured, the original Stars and Stripes, and the real Constitution, etc. Very cool and moving. The highlight of my first day was Julia Childs kitchen at the American History museum!

I rented a bike and did a self-guide evening tour of the monuments.

Day Three was Art And Air and a bit of neighborhood wandering:

And gelato of course.

I love the townhouses!

Today has been a more relaxing day; checking out of my Airbnb and into the hotel I’ll be at for the working portion of my visit, running some work-related errands, and am now resting a bit before heading to the conference center to set up our booth. A much needed “rest” day.

I will say that while I usually am an excellent packer, I have failed miserably on this trip. My shoes, normally fine, were giving me blisters by the end of my travel day. I knew by 9 am on my first day out that I was in trouble. Added to this, the fact that my jeans apparently lost all their stretch and were totally falling down, plus it was freezing and my jacket was totally inadequate. Thankfully the ladies at my Representatives office (I went on a Capitol tour through the office) saved me with a hint about the mall at Union Station. I got some cheap sneakers, some socks, and a belt, and the day warmed up so the jacket was ok although still chilly. Much better, except that the shoes are basically made of paper (zero cushion, seriously just one step above socks) and somehow I ended up with a size too large on the belt. Sigh. Yesterday evening I found a drugstore and got some cushioned inserts, which are helping, and the belt just barely does the job, so especially since I’ll be switching to work clothes soon, I can squeak by. The shoes will be going in the trash by the time I head home. At least they didn’t cause blisters! I’ve been enviously eyeing little old ladies and their giant puffy white walking shoes. They know where it’s at.

Washington, DC: Day 1

On my way to DC for work, with some vacation days sneaked in. I’ve never been, so I needed some sightseeing time!

Day one: Traveling Thoughts

It’s not glamorous but hey, free pack of Fritos.

The first leg of this journey found me sitting next to a man born in Eritrea, and his little girl, who were headed to Atlanta for a reunion of some kind. He’s lived in the US since he was little, after his family fled a refugee camp to come to America. Apparently his intrepid mother worked as a maid for an American oil bigwig who lived outside the camp (?) and saved up enough to come to America, settling in a working class neighborhood in DC. Once here, she worked as a maid and her husband worked as a cab driver and together they worked to send their son to boarding school in Virginia. This boarding school was founded in the Great Depression and was home to both inner city kids, poor Appalachian kids, and kids whose family couldn’t care for them (functioning partially as an orphanage). Fascinating! He went to college in Kentucky, started working in banking, then moved to Oregon and met his wife and started a family. We had the most interesting conversation, ranging from politics to racism to things to do in DC, to why you should take a risk and talk to a stranger, and how that whole thought process goes (“should I say hi or not?”). Such a great conversation and his daughter was delightful as well.

A good reminder for me; I tend to stick my nose in a book and ignore my seat mates, but I feel like I made a friend and it was truly a rare conversation. There’s probably a German word for this: the joy of a truly satisfying conversation with a stranger.