Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Simple Morning Routine (+ product reviews)


I've approached the age where skincare really matters: I'm young enough to still prevent damage and wrinkles, but old enough that I also need to focus on softening the lines I've already started to develop. Fortunately, I've given my skin a good deal of attention and protection since my early twenties, so my mid-thirties skin has only called for a bit of tweaking to my routine here and there. I should also note that I really like my mid-thirties skin! I also kind of love those little lines around my eyes when I smile...I'm generally happier and more comfortable than I was in my twenties, and I love that it shows on the outside.

I have a strong inclination toward a simple, natural-looking everyday face, which is how this makeup/skincare routine was born. I occasionally tweak individual products based on SPF, how my skin is looking/feeling, or if a new product has piqued my interest.

I am not a morning person by nature. I tend to get my second wind around 10p, which means early morning wake-up calls are extra tough. Therefore, my more intensive skincare treatments tend to happen before bed or on the weekends. My current morning routine takes about 5 minutes to apply, makes me feel put together, and has me out the door in a jiffy. On those occasions when I want to look a little more polished, I'll add some eyeliner, shadow and lipstick. I have some great standbys when it comes to those products as well. (Spinoff blog post topic!)

Before I get started, I think it's important to note that I'm at a place in my life where a full face of makeup isn't practical or particularly appropriate. I work in a hospital OR setting, so I spend my days in scrubs, a surgical cap, and 75% of the time I'm wearing a face mask. Though I imagine my makeup routine will always be natural-looking, the future may hold a more polished daily look depending on where life takes me over the next few years. We shall see.



1// Clarins UV Plus Broad Spectrum Sunscreen // I have used their untinted formula for about 6 years now and absolutely love it. The SPF 50 is bomb, and my foundation glides right on over the top. Gosh I hope they never stop making this product.

2// Benefit Gimme Brow in Medium // When I first tried this product in a sample size I wasn't super impressed: one brow would be darker than the other, there would be a glob that took valuable time to try and wipe off, or it left a flaky look. I can't remember why, but I gave it another try and now I use it every day. I scrape any excess product off the wand and apply in sweeping motions. With rare exception it gives me even, natural results. Though I discovered brow products later in life, I instantly feel put together when my light brows are more defined. Sonia Kashuk's Tinted Brow Gel also gets very high marks. I still have a tube and use it on the weekends or when the mood strikes. I used it for many years and would absolutely go back to it if I fell out of love with my current brow gel. 

3// It Cosmetics Superhero Mascara // This is a newer find (I've been using it about 8 months), which replaced the Covergirl Professional Remarkable Mascara I used for the better part of a decade. Covergirl's mascara gave me beautifully defined lashes, but took several coats to build up to adequate coverage. I gave the Superhero mascara a try and realized a one coat mascara actually exists! A single tube lasts me about 3 months, making it worth the increased cost, and I think it gets better with time (i.e. as it dries out slightly). 

4// Urb Apothecary Lips Cheeks Tint/Blush Stick //  I picked this up at a boutique in Portland and instantly fell in love. It offers a natural flush of color and a pretty dewiness to my cheeks. It blends easily and a single tube has lasted me the better part of a year. I love it when products made by small  businesses beat out big market products...and this does, hands down.  

5// TONYMOLY Panda's Dream Brightening Eye Base // This product is reserved for those days when I have a few extra minutes or want to look extra spiffy. Even though it's not a part of my every day routine, I included it because I really like it and use it often. It helps blur dark under eye circles and makes me look more awake. I apply it directly to my finger and pat it around my whole eye area. I wore it last week to my grad school interview and it perked up my tired post-travel eyes. After I apply it, I pat some foundation over the top to even things out.

6// It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream in Medium // Like their mascara, I'm fairly new to this product. I was looking for a bit more coverage from my foundation, and was pleased with the high SPF (which is my top priority). I apply this with my fingers, but may switch to a brush at some point if I want to make it extra flawless. I alternate between this and their CC+ Illumination version, and like them both. It goes on smoothly, a little goes a long way for me, and even a small amount covers any and all skin imperfections. (I like my foundation to look like I'm not wearing foundation but just have naturally even skin.) The Illumination cream is pretty, but I occasionally notice a couple glitter pieces on my face which catch my attention in the mirror. I'm not a glitter-wearing kind of girl, but it is not enough to bother me (or I simply don't care at 5:30a). Before this I wore Bare Mineral's Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream for 5+ years and loved it. It offers more sheer coverage and is a genuinely lovely product. I used up the last little bit I had left last weekend and was sad to see it go. I'd always consider going back, but I'm liking that extra bit of coverage at this phase of my life.

7 // Smith's Rosebud Salve Trio // I picked this trio up a couple years ago at Anthro and started carrying it in my scrub top pocket. I apply it throughout the day and it keeps my lips smooth + makes me feel a tiny bit more put together. I'm on my second trio and love all 3 flavors: Strawberry, Original and Minted Rose.

8 // Clinique Pep-Start Eye Cream // I'm not great at wearing eye cream, especially in the morning. These days I'm noticing more pronounced crow's feet, and have started making more of a consistent effort toward nurturing the skin around my eyes. My eyes are super sensitive, and I wear contacts, and normal eye creams creep in and blur/irritate/sting my eyes. In my experience, Clinique's eye creams stay put and this is no exception. It helps de-puff and my foundation glides on without tugging. I apply it to my finger and gently smooth it around my under eye every morning. It soaks in quickly, so it doesn't add but a few seconds to my routine.

That's it! On the average day I use 6 products and it takes about that many minutes. Tips? Product suggestions? Tell me everything. 

Side note: In all the years I've dabbled in blogging, this is my first white-background-product-collage. And it only took me an entire Saturday afternoon! Thank goodness for all those tech-savvy tutorial writers out there willing to share their wisdom. I'm woefully behind the curve.

Side, side note: #notsponsored (ever)


Friday, July 14, 2017

Seen, Heard and Bookmarked: Finding the new norm.


The second half of June was a funky month for this clan. In a matter of three days the following occurred:

Husband left for Tennessee on a week-long work trip; a patient went berserk and I was involved in a very scary situation at work; Kiddo flooded the upstairs of the rental we were departing; and our cat got into some meds and spent two days in an animal ICU (he's okay). Meanwhile, I had unintentionally agreed to work six 10-hour shifts in seven days at a job I desperately needed to move on from. Somewhere around 2am, while shop-vacing standing water from the upstairs carpet, I began to reevaluate the status quo as one often does when the proverbial shit hits the fan. Burn out was at an all-time high, and something had to give.

Within a week of The Great Meltdown of 2017, I was offered an awesome new position at work and received two graduate school interview invitations.

Because life has a way of making your priorities crystal clear, but only when you're really, truly paying attention.

We've since moved into our new rental and we love it. For the all the stress that an unexpected move caused, we are so grateful to be here. It's a fancy grown up house with the entertaining space our last house was lacking. In some ways I wish we'd been here all along. This is my first weekend home alone post-move, and my goal is to tackle the mounds of boxes so I can find things like hair ties and dental floss.

Today I wrapped up the first week of training at my new job. It's at the same hospital, but I've traded critical care for the OR. This is an amazing opportunity to see another side of medicine, have a ton of new experiences, and meet new people. I needed a challenge and a fresh perspective, and this fits the bill. Bonus: after my training period I'll be (mostly) making my own schedule which means better work-life balance.

Husband and Kiddo left for Montana last Sunday. This is the 3rd year they've left for summer break, and it is awesome all around. It frees me up to come and go during my (full time) training period, and instead of sitting around Kiddo will be helping out on my in-laws' ranch and vacationing at the lake shore.

Here's a few things that have recently caught my attention and/or helped make life lovely. These sort of posts are about all I can manage right now, but if they keep me connected to this space and writing even a little for pleasure, I'll take it. Happy Weekend!

During a recent trip to IKEA to brainstorm a prep station/island for our new space, Mario spied this work table. Though not necessarily intended for kitchen use, it's perfect! Later on it can easily transform into a desk or table to meet our other needs. (After some googling, we found someone else who had the same brilliant idea!)

Visiting Crater Lake has been on my Bucket List since childhood. Last weekend we took a mini road trip along the Oregon coast and down south to see it. It was everything I imagined and more...absolutely breathtaking. (The story of its formation is a fascinating read!)

This Strawberry Pistachio Nougat caught my eye + an ombre chocolate cake that is almost too pretty to eat. 

While out and about with a friend a couple months ago, I bought the Bb.Color Stick in Flamingo on a whim. Pink highlights without the commitment! (I feel so hip.)

A dairy-free cold brew recipe for those hot summer days. (Starbucks' Nitro Cold Brew is so good, but I'm cutting back on my pricey coffee habit after daily runs during the move.)

Bridget introduced me to Damn Good Face Wash a couple years ago, and I loved it, but after running out I never got around to ordering more. My nightly baby wipe routine has started wreaking havoc on my eyelashes (breakage!), and this stuff is gold. It was high time I started removing my makeup like a grownup should.

I'm revisiting this Gummy Bear Sangria recipe to bring to a friend's BBQ tomorrow.

Trying Green Chef's meal kit delivery this summer, since I'm cooking for one AND brown-bagging it 5 days/week. (The struggle is real.) Also splurging on Daily Harvest's smoothies since my mornings have gotten earlier and I'm not super keen on preparing breakfast during the 5:00 hour. My first shipments will arrive next week. (Will report back on both fronts.)

Reading all the articles on how to become a morning person. (Hello, new 4:45a wake-up call. Welp.) The Calm app has done wonders with helping me establish a better routine for winding down at an earlier bedtime. (Sleep stories are my new jam! Who knew they were even a thing? Life changing.)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Seen, Heard & Bookmarked: Blogger edition


Life lately has been busy. And though I've always felt the term "busy"is thrown around a lot in our culture, a general way to convey our level of productivity and/or personal challenges and/or a certain brand of hectic-ness (often of our own making), I can step back and acknowledge that this is genuinely a very busy season in our lives.

Our landlord is selling our house, forcing us to move for our remaining year in this neighborhood. Fortunately we secured a house just around the corner, which should make this involuntary move somewhat bearable. (Though moving is moving is moving.) I'm thankful that we get to retain our neighbors and school district and normal routines. Still, I occasionally find myself mourning the loss of a perfect (for us) rental. I'm working really hard to acknowledge my feelings as they arise, then free them to make space for more practical matters. These are the risks of renting, after all, and we are particularly grateful to be renters during this phase of our lives.

The graduate school application cycle is upon me, so my days off are consumed by essays and supplemental applications and transcript requests. When I'm not actively tackling tasks related to the application process, I'm composing essay answers in my head. Four schools down and several more to go. There is no Plan B, and where I get in will determine our life's path for the next few years, so I feel a lot of pressure to get it right.

Kiddo's junior year is winding down, technically, though in our house this means a ramp-up in effort to make sure all missing assignments are turned in, finals are studied for, and GET OUT OF BED ALREADY! Teenage boys, I tell you. Not for the faint of heart.

I am entering a new season at work as well, since I have made the decision to leave my current position. My prerequisite patient care hours have been met, and now it feels natural to find something, well, different. The thought of leaving my amazing coworkers breaks my heart, but the time is long overdue to move on. So in addition to my normal work schedule I'm interviewing with other departments in the hospital and, oh yeah, I've been picking up extra shifts in an understaffed area that was in desperate need of people with a particular skill set. (An example of aforementioned self-imposed hectic-ness ... just. say. no.)

These life phases, though always temporary,  are usually the time at which creativity is abandoned in favor of more practical matters. The opposite should be true. As such, I set aside a couple hours this morning to savor my coffee and catch up on my blogroll. Sometimes I bookmarked a recipe. Other times I caught up on the life happenings of a favorite blogger. In other instances I went down the "previous post" rabbit hole and read weeks' worth of posts. It was all good.

In honor of carving out time to do things that fill my bucket, here's a Seen, Heard & Bookmarked post dedicated to good things brought my way courtesy of a few of my favorite bloggers.

The discovery of a new podcast, My Favorite Murder, via Bridget (I recently finished S-Town, and have been itching for a new one.)

The "Personal Kanban" system which has me intrigued. Though I like to think I'm an exceptional multitasker, I can also see its draining effects. I'm eager to try this out. (via Ashley)

An exceptionally comfortable-looking bralette that would be perfect under scrubs or a t-shirt, via Kate. (I'm ordering one and will report back soon.)

Thought provoking insights into tiny living via Erin.

Summer reading recommendations via Caroline. (I own The Compound Effect but have yet to pick it up, and the Outlander series has been recommended to me many times ... I'm a big fan of the show.)

This breakfast salad from Sprouted Kitchen looks amazing. (I'm working my way through another Whole30, in addition to everything else going on, but with a couple cheat days sprinkled in to accommodate date nights and weekend plans. I am starting to feel those awesome effects that keep me coming back to the plan every few months, which makes the extra time spent planning/food prepping totally worth it.)

This cashmere eye pillow (luxury!) to accompany my new nightly meditation practice, via Lacy.

3 everyday outfits by Megan (we share a very similar clothing aesthetic—comfortable basics!— for the everyday).

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Musings on self doubt, disorganization and other such things.



Truth: on the list of things I didn't do, College Tours lingers somewhere near the top. I skipped the traditional path, unintentionally, in favor of marriage and family. Later, I got that degree. But the time had passed to live like a coed. In reality, my personality is probably not suited for house parties and sorority sisters. I regret nothing and yet one always wonders what could have been. FOMO and all that jazz.

These days high school is but a distant memory, made foggier by the recollection of more recent (pleasant?) milestones. And yet I find myself, now in my mid-thirties, having come full circle. My son is due to be a senior this fall (an opportunity to relive my youth minus the awkward social interactions!) and I have embarked on that long overdue college road trip. Only a more grownup version that cares nothing at all about the number of frat houses and very much about minimum GRE scores and expiring prerequisite courses. Last week saw Indianapolis and Houston, this week Salt Lake City. My days off have been spent in flight, renting cars by the day, and counting the hours of sleep I'll manage before work starts the next morning.

I'm so grateful I decided to get out there and visit graduate schools. Through an eye-opening but not altogether positive experience, I've learned that precious little can be gleaned from website info pages alone. Vibe, it turns out, is a crucial part of the vetting process for me. What is the director like? How friendly are the faculty and students? What are their hospital affiliations? What are their priorities when selecting an applicant? What are their teaching philosophies? These are all questions that swirl through my mind but are seldom satisfied by a FAQ section. And so. I travel to and fro so I may make the best decision regarding my future.

I'll be honest: this hasn't been the easiest process for me. I'm worn out mentally and physically. Doubt and fear of disappointment play regular roles in my self talk these days. What if I fall in love with a program only to get that dreaded rejection letter? What if, oh boy, I don't get in anywhere? All unlikely scenarios, but human nature is human nature. Meanwhile, my brain is scattered in many directions, and I'm not excelling in any one area. (I'd even settle for mediocre at this point.) I'm forgetful and restless at work, unmotivated and snippy at home, and chronically worried about the What Ifs. What if Kiddo doesn't go to college right away? Does he move with us? What if he fails that class? WHY WON'T HIS CHEMISTRY TEACHER RETURN MY EMAILS?! It's exhausting. All of it. (And therefore little things like the wrong milk in my latte seem like much greater adversities than they really are and I become annoyed with even myself.)

This morning my flight left at 10:30a. The airport is 20 minutes away from home. I somehow got it into my head, despite checking my itinerary more than once, that I needed to be at the airport by 10:30. Less than an hour before my flight was due to board I realized my mistake...and I wasn't even showered yet. Thank goodness I wasn't bringing luggage and the parking + airport security gods were looking down on me favorably. My adrenaline was good and pumping, so I spent the duration of my flight ruminating on all those What Ifs and feeling generally sweaty and anxious. Upon landing I recalled those two cups of black coffee I drank sans food and it was nearly 2p. Hello low blood sugar + caffeine jitters. (And 50 rounds of Candy Crush Soda Saga which further fueled the distraction and anxiety. Time for a technology detox, perhaps.) As I sat in my rental car, applying makeup to a bare face, I started thinking about the day thus far and had to wonder where this rather self destructive behavior originates. Why do I get overwhelmed and in turn make things harder on myself? A day trip to SLC could have easily been an opportunity to usher in some calm among the chaos. An oasis. (It still can be. I'm working on it. Starting with this purge of a blog post.)

A meal in my belly and a soothing cup of tea later, and I'm still wondering why I do these things to myself. Why I falter in the areas that matter most: family, food and friends (or anything that brings joy and a sense of calm like reading, embroidery, writing, etc.). When the going gets tough, I let go of the things my mind and body crave...and it takes forever to recover them in the midst of the commotion. Surely I can't be the only one who implodes under pressure. (Can you beautiful unicorns who crave yoga and healthy eating during times of stress teach me the ways?)

I can't remember the last time I made a home cooked meal and that bothers me. (My sweet husband has made many.) I'm trying to read 3 books at once, all very different from one another. (And investing poorly in each.) My bedtime has varied by as many as 6 hours over the last few weeks, and no two bedtimes have been the same. (Jet lag in my own time zone.) This morning, during my frantic shower, I realized I have been attempting to lather my body with a paper-thin wafer of soap for the past week and my record of excellent personal hygiene is in jeopardy. (I just ran into a random Whole Foods and bought a bar of soap to bring home in my purse. I know. It's a real head-scratcher, Mr. TSA Officer.) I still haven't sent my resume and other supporting information to the physician writing a letter of recommendation for me. (It's been over a week since I asked him and I fear I'm falling into flake territory.) I am so out of shape that I think I might be developing a wheeze at the slightest exertion. (I walk 10k steps a day at work, but nothing that gets my heart pumping. Which would help my anxiety. See above re: shying away from the things that help me cope.) I fell head over heels for the Houston program and no less than 10 people have since told me Houston is "disgusting." (I wasn't disgusted at all. But now I'm afraid I missed something big and scary in my short visit.) Husband is going through work changes, both good and bad, and I'm continually afraid he is sacrificing his happiness because he's the primary breadwinner. (He says that is not the case, and logically I know that to be true, but you know. Worry.)

Oh, and did I mention that after 3 years the owner of our rental house wants to sell so we will likely have to pack up and move into a new place for the one remaining year we planned to stay in our neighborhood. In the midst of everything else. Sometimes it's all too much and yet it doesn't escape me that my problems scarcely compare to those of my fellow man. (Cue guilt.)

Where am I going with this? I'm not sure. (Advice welcome.)

What I do know is that life chugs on. Kiddo will find his path. I'll find mine. What is meant to happen always does and this is no exception. Above all, I'm grateful for the means and opportunity to explore potential places for my future to play out. I'm grateful I was given this year off to spend with my family before 3 years of intense work begins. I'm also grateful for lemon cookies, massages, and clean sheets on freshly shaved legs.

This is the last of my school tours for a bit. Next week I head to Colorado for a crafting retreat, immediately followed by a girls' week in Savannah + Charleston (both are cities I've yet to visit!). This is a really exciting time in my life! So for today I'll own my angst, dwell on it a bit, but then I'll need to move on. It's time to get out of my own head.

Life in the meantime deserves to be lived to the fullest.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Changing seasons (and I don't mean the weather)



I've been hearing a lot about seasons. In the checkout line at the market this morning, a lady was proclaiming her profound frustration with the lack of spring weather. And it's not just Pacific Northwesterners. Morning news programs ruminate on those last spring snowstorms, and social media is flooded with the expressed desire to move on from winter already! It seems no one is exempt from the conversation about changing seasons.

During a trip to Hawaii last month, I got news about graduate school. I didn't get in. I was sitting on the hotel bed, checking my email. The answer was overdue and I'd been chomping at the bit to get it over with so I could free up my head space for those last few days of vacation. When I read the words I had feared hearing for so long, I instantly felt that stomach dropping disappointment we've all felt and wish to never feel again. Only, something surprising happened not a split second later: utter and complete relief. Like a wave overtaking my whole body, I was overcome by a sense of gratitude. Yes, gratitude. (I was just as surprised as you are.) The culmination of years of work, and I was grateful it didn't happen. So what gives?

I spent a fair amount of time reflecting on the outcome and my reaction to it in the ensuing weeks. The past 18 months (and 8 years, if I'm honest) of my life have revolved around this next phase and yet...the season remains unchanged. Or does it? You see, 2016 was my trial year. The year I wanted to bite the bullet when it came to all things grad school application: take the GRE (check); write a killer personal narrative (check); complete the requisite patient care hours (check); tackle the monotony of requesting transcripts and completing the extensive online application (check and check). There were a couple of big strikes against me, which I knew would greatly reduce my chances of acceptance: I only applied to a single school (mostly unheard of), and had only just completed the requisite 2000 healthcare hours for that school at the time I submitted my application last August (the average applicant has over 4000 hours).

Though I was thrilled to be taking some substantial steps forward, my application the culmination of years of hard work, all the while I was pushing some serious concerns to the back of my mind. They niggled at me quite frequently, but I was determined to focus on the task at hand. In hindsight, I realize I was spending a lot of time telling myself it would all work out and the uneasy feelings weighed on me more than I wanted to admit. You see, I had set forth a series of personal goals and rocked every one. That was HUGE. (Side note for context: I've been reading Gretchen Rubin's newest book, Better than Before, and oh boy am I an Obliger. That's a person who excels at external expectations but often fails to complete internally set goals. Me to a T.) What I'm saying is, I'm really proud of what I achieved last year.

Now about those niggles. The most serious was the likelihood that I'd miss the majority of my son's senior year of high school (and the summer before). I wouldn't be present to fundraise for class events or summer vacation with him or attend his last year of cross-country meets. (I live for his cross-country meets.) I would miss so many milestones in that oh so important transitional year. Instead I'd be spending that time with my head in a book. Nearly my whole adult life has been spent raising that stinker, and the prospect of missing even a single moment of his last year at home broke my freaking heart. Which is why I shoved my misgivings way back and tried not to think about them. Then there was the awful rush hour commute I'd be facing 5 days/week. I also started having some funky feelings regarding my chosen program, which became especially worrisome after spending a day being interviewed by the faculty and touring the facilities. There were several indicators that perhaps it wasn't my ideal match, and I felt like it was too late to follow my gut and bow out because my career path had become so intertwined with this particular institution. (Let's be clear: had I been admitted this year I would be overjoyed and excel at the curriculum. None of this is to say I wouldn't have received a great education there. My instincts simply told me that I am better suited for a different educational culture. It was a matter of the wrong place and the wrong time and I think we've all felt that at one time or another. The universe intervened and for that I could not be more grateful. There are no sour grapes here.)

Naturally, I went through a self-doubt phase of processing what happened: What if I never get in?! (Unlikely. I applied to a Top 5 school and got an interview on the first try.) What if this isn't my calling anymore?! (Also unlikely. I still love medicine.) Are my coworkers and friends going to think I'm a loser? (Not a single one.) Those fears have mostly faded away and I've since broken the news to my immense support group composed of family and coworkers. Once I assured them they were more upset for me than I was for myself, they continued supporting me just the same as before. Some even confided that they thought I was destined for something greater than that school could have offered me. And while I'm not sure about that, I'm so very flattered.

In the past month excitement has settled in for the first time in ages. Waiting a year has opened up so many options! Since I've now earned well above the minimum healthcare hours needed to get into a competitive program, I can cut back on my hours and potentially find another position. (This job has been tough. I adore my coworkers but am often repelled by the culture/workload/institution.) I have time to think about things like writing for pleasure again, picking up those neglected embroidery pieces, and attending to more creative endeavors. (Which means I can delete that digital Dear John letter I wrote to this blog some time ago and left in my draft folder.)

I've learned so many valuable lessons from this rejection. For one, I now know what I want in my chosen program. As such, I'm taking the time to attend information sessions at schools around the country. (Though we have decided to focus on institutions west of the Mississippi for the most part; we like living in the western half of the US.) Without the familial constraints I had this last application cycle, I am now free to explore programs that better appeal to my learning goals and desires. I have since realized how much the minutia of applying to higher education robbed me of the excitement I once felt about my impending career plans. In less than a month's time I have reclaimed that fervor and couldn't be happier about it.

I am a person who struggles mightily to live in the now. It has taken a great deal of self-exploration and natural maturation to appreciate the days immediately before me. Though nothing in the past few months has followed my predetermined plans, I still consider my life right now to be a success. Nothing big or life-changing has happened, and yet I can feel my life's season changing for the better. Less rain and more sunshine is on the horizon. A huge weight was lifted from my shoulders the moment I didn't get what I so desperately wanted, and that blows my mind almost every day. You see, I've been waiting for something, anything to happen, yet in the absence of academic advancement, I've progressed in life. Thank goodness.

Before I sign off I want to mention that, while this post was a proclamation to myself and a reintroduction to this space after a sizeable absence, it's also a love letter to my husband. I've never experienced such unconditional support as I have from him. He's willing to uproot his life, yet again, for the sake of my education. (We love it here, so that's no small sacrifice.) Every time I bemoan my job, he tells me to quit if that's what my gut tells me to do. He's kind and selfless and everyone deserves a person like him in their life. It hasn't always been easy, but I wouldn't want to do life with anyone else. A bad day with him is better than a good day with another. I'll eat you up I love you so.




Thursday, November 3, 2016

The productivity rabbit hole.



My current work schedule is an every other week rotation. It's ideal and fits my life as it is now, so no complaints. However, this is my 50-hours-in-7-days week. It's also the week before a vacation which inevitably means it takes 20 mental hours to get through a 10-hour day. Thus is life.

After a 3-day stretch, I have the day off. Husband is out of town and Kiddo is at school and our once-monthly splurge on a housekeeper just occurred. The house is clean and quiet and all is right in the world. There is a french press with my name on it, a nearly finished embroidery project, and one chapter left of The Hound of the Baskervilles. So what if my alarm clock erroneously decided daylight savings time occurred last night and changed itself? Thankfully Kiddo got himself up this morning in a somewhat timely fashion.

We hopped in the car in the pitch dark that now persists past our 7a departure time, and click click click goes the car engine. A tardy excuse note was scribbled and a bike lock key located, and in a matter of moments he was on his way to school. (His idea to ride his bike! How resourceful + flexible! The teenage equivalent of a lunar eclipse. There is a cupcake with his name on it for afternoon snack.)

I drank my coffee and showered and picked up my phone to call AAA. Only, my cell phone was stuck on the text message screen and stubbornly resisted my attempts at a restart. (One of many reasons I believe in keeping a landline, but I digress.) By 11:30 my car was jump-started then checked out by a mechanic and I was sent on my merry way, if only a little weary about operating things containing electricity.

These days I never feel like I have enough time. Logically, I see that I do. Every other week I only work 3 shifts, leaving me with 4 days off.  So why does my to-do list persist? Why do I feel like I never have enough time for anything? Days like today are the exception, not the rule. And yet I'm always playing catch up and bemoaning a lack of personal time to my poor Husband.

I realized something this morning: I am the reason I always feel short on time. You see, if today had gone as planned and I had puttered around the house all day in my pajamas, I would have felt horrendously guilty that I hadn't done x, y and z. You're so unproductive! I would have told myself, You have SO MUCH to do!. Instead of enjoying my coveted day off, I would have brow-beaten myself for literally taking a day off.

Alternately, there are the days where I force myself out, list in hand, determined to prove my domestic and organizational prowess. So I run into the city, inevitably getting trapped in traffic one or both ways, crossing off this or that that I didn't really need to do as much as say, sitting down to meal plan. But somehow I give myself credit for being moderately unproductive as long as I left the house and went through the motions.

Then there's the common practice of making something a much bigger project than it has to be. For instance, the other night I went into Portland to take a class. The class was cancelled, so I spent a couple hours grabbing dinner and aimlessly wandering around our big, beautiful new Anthropologie store. I picked up a scent diffuser for Kiddo's bathroom and other such things. Long story short, Kiddo loves the diffuser and moved it to his room because it smelled funky, too. (See above regarding teenage boys. Oy.) However, it was the only thing that finally made his bathroom smell like something other than a goat farm, and he embraces so few of my ideas, so now I'm fervently pursuing a second diffuser. Which means another trip to Anthro which involves nightmarish city parking and traffic jams and half a day off spent in downtown Portland when all I really want to do is finish my embroidery hoop and make a batch of banana bread. I could run 3 errands and be back home drinking a cup of joe in the time it would take to pick up that single superfluous oil diffuser.

So why do I feel so compelled to do these things? To stretch myself thin? Especially when I have to work all weekend and come Monday I know I will feel anxious and annoyed because my perception will be that I haven't had time to pack for our trip and meal prep for Kiddo (he'll be staying behind with a family friend). I'll snip at Husband because he was away on business and didn't help enough and once again lament my lack of free time. As history dictates, I'll likely leave for our vacation with the unpleasant feeling that I forgot 50 things and my kid will starve and my house looks ransacked and, and, and. (You know the feeling. The white hot panicky I left the stove burner on and the house will burn down adrenaline spikes that occur every 5 minutes for the first day of your trip.)

I could sit here and blame our culture for the pressure it puts on humans, especially human moms, to be everything, do everything, and accomplish all while keeping up the illusion that our worlds are maintained by a mixture of pure magic and elegance. But I can't do that. The fact is, I've let my thoughts and expectations become cluttered. I beat myself up for not being productive then kvetch that I spent my day off running errands. Lose-lose.

Today, in this very hour, I'm vowing to change my ways. If that plant dies because I didn't repot it today, it probably wasn't long for this world anyway. The crumbs on my counter? I scraped them into the trash with my AAA card while on hold waiting to place a service request. Twenty seconds and my counter was clean. It didn't have to go on a list and become some big bad project I revolted against because It's my day off, damn it!

Oh, and that oil diffuser? I woke up and realized I'm in the 21st century and things can be delivered to my door. Yes, his bathroom will smell like teenage funk for a week while I wait for it. That might just be the definition of a First World problem. Which meant I could sit at Starbucks and write a blog post, a pastime I dearly love but so often gets pushed to the back burner by unnecessary noise and feelings of obligation. (Bonus: I stumbled across the perfect Christmas gift for my sister-in-law and it's coming along for the ride. One less thing to do a month from now.)

Tonight's dinner will be something from the freezer and I will probably pack underwear and nothing else. Tomorrow, I'll pack something else. Oh dear! What if I forget something?! Chances are good I can live without it or a local drugstore will have a replacement. Oh no! What if I don't have time for a mani/pedi before we go?! Then I'll have chipped nails in Mexico. Who cares? Imperfection in paradise is still paradise. What if Kiddo can't find something to eat?! He's an able-bodied young man who lives 5 minutes from a grocery store. Fending for himself is something we've been training him for his whole life. Trust that you've done right by him. Guilt is no less toxic than rat poison and should be treated as such.

I'm convinced life is meant to be lived differently. More simply. With more joy and less errands. Life comes with enough inherent pressure and responsibility. Why add to it?

The first step: Start setting realistic expectations. The only way to truly step out of the rat race is to Marie Kondo my to-do list. I'm going to start by dividing it into two categories: What must get done and what would be nice to get done. They are not one and the same and should therefore be approached with a different mindset. Clean underwear, necessity. Rewrapping my kokedama, nice. Voting, necessity. Ordering my 2017 planner, nice. Buying car insurance, necessity. Buying another pair of ankle boots, nice.

Here's to a more sane, less guilty existence, and the ability to embrace the day (off).

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Seen, Heard + Bookmarked: Halloween Edition



Halloween is upon us!

But wait! Don't leave me, Fall. I love you! This is happening too fast!

We live in the quintessential Halloween neighborhood and I'm so thrilled about it. Lots of little ones and neighbors who dress up their homes in cute but rarely scary decor. I work this Halloween, for the second year in a row, but fortunately I get off at 7 so I still get to experience peak trick-or-treating time. Bonus: I can stay in my scrubs and call it a costume.

Kiddo loves Halloween as much as I do, perhaps more, but as he gets older this particular holiday gets tricky. Teenagers trick-or-treating is frowned upon, and so is running aimlessly around the neighborhood in costume, so what is a kid his age to do? Still young enough to want to celebrate, but too old to partake in the fun of the littler ones. Fortunately, he's found a great group of friends and was invited to not one, but two parties this year. His new found social prowess is impressive! I'm so happy he's found a tribe and a way to (safely + appropriately) celebrate. He doesn't even seem to mind that he had to dust of his Joker costume for the second year in a row. (Every instance of flexibility is a joy. Raising a teenager is not for the faint of heart, I tell you. Oy.)

Since my blogging has been spotty at best in recent months, my laptop's bookmark tab is bursting with ideas and finds and new favorites. In the spirit of my favorite month and season, here are some fall-themed things I've seen, heard and bookmarked as of late.

A free night in Dracula's Castle. (I'm not easily spooked, so I say yes. What an experience that would be!)

This Coconut Curry Ramen would be perfect on a cool night (give me all the ramen)

The October Crafter's Box has brought me back to embroidery after a summer off. Oh how I missed curling up with a project after work. (Sarah K. Benning's patterns are so lovely. I've also renewed my pattern program subscription.)

I'm living in the Sorel Major Low bootie these days. (I have them in two colors!) During a recent checkup, my GP was wearing their Addington Strap bootie and I loved them so much on her I bought them in black for those times when I want to step it up. (Literally and figuratively.)

A favorite movie in our house. (We just went and saw the play! It was awesome!)

Picked up this pullover the other night and it is beyond soft + cozy.

I'm WAY behind on my reading goals for the year in terms of classic literature, but I'm currently reading The Hound of the Baskervilles which is a great read and perfect for the season. Also, a list of the best scary novels just in time for Halloween, should you be so inclined.

Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding (you can see my own [poorly photographed] foray into sweet rice here)

This fall outfit. This pretty and simple one, too.

Happy Weekend!