On Being Late

4 Nov

I have been late nearly all of my professional life (and most of the last two years of high school, too). Except for a brief, shining moment when I regularly worked 11-7 or 1-9. But now that I work an 8-4:30, I have been late nearly every day for a while now.

I could tell you the myriad reasons this happens. I’m not a morning person, traffic is heaviest right when I leave – blah, blah, blah. I could also tell you the myriad reasons I use to justify it – I often stay late, who cares what time I’m here if I work hard and produce results, the phone barely rings the first hour I’m in the office, etc., etc.

However, ask most anyone who is chronically late to work and they will likely tell you: it doesn’t feel great. Your morning routine is harried and stressful – the slightest traffic hiccup makes my blood pressure skyrocket. I cringe when I open up the text I have going to my boss and coworker to let them know I’m running late and see the 10 other messages above it saying the same thing. My boss is kind enough to act like he doesn’t notice or care, but I know he’s keeping track and it could possibly affect any future raises or bonuses. My coworker feels put upon and frustrated, understandably. She’s a friend, too, and knowing I cause her consternation weekly makes me feel bad.

You’d think all this would be deterrent enough, and it is when I think about it later. But none of that goes through my barely-awake brain at 7 am when my first alarm goes off. Unfortunately it is this person who is doing the decision-making in that moment, not the rational, guilty-feeling person who exists by 9am.

The funny thing is I am almost never late to social events – I am, in fact, often ridiculously early and end up sitting at the bar by myself for a bit, or what have you. It makes sense on some level, right? Never late to fun things, always late to work? But it makes less sense when you break it down to never late to things that happen once a week or so, and always late to something consistent that happens 5 times a week.

Tardiness exists in a spectrum of people who don’t get the big whoop and people who think it is the worst thing ever. Predictably I have always fallen into the former camp. The only reason I have ever felt bad or felt pressure over it has been because I know I am disappointing people who I respect and value, and then again because it’s just the way the rest of world thinks and works so it’s hard to exist in the world without conforming to it at least a little. I work part-time as a stylist and, being appointment-based, I understand the importance of timeliness – I am almost never late. I confess to not thinking it matters very much if my coworker has to answer phones for 10-15 minutes longer because I am not there, or if my boss needs to wait that 10-15 minutes before I can type up a proposal – but it matters to them. And, since I respect these people and want to do my best work for them, that should be enough.

Again, tell me all this at 7am when my first alarm goes off. The message doesn’t get through. So this coming week, I’m going to try a few new strategies and see if any of them help:

  1. I’m aiming to leave the house by 7:20am. If I kept the same getting-ready routine I currently have, that would mean getting up at 6:50am. I know myself and I know how infrequently this would actually happen in practice, so….
  2. I’m going to try to change my getting-ready routine. I have never loved showering at night because I feel gross by, like, 2pm the next day – but I’m going to give it a try for a while and see if I can make it work. That way, I can just pop up in the morning around 7 or even 7:10 and do the minimal amount of prep left to be able to get out the door by 7:20 still. I may get some face-blotting wipes and dry shampoo, or some other “tools” to help me get through that next day intact.
  3. This will also mean some experimentation with sleeping on wet hair or blow-drying just before bed, as well as my morning styling. I’ll also need to figure out a good way to get my eyes “awake” – since a shower in the morning is so far the only thing I know that does that.
  4. If the showering the night before doesn’t pan out – I think I’ll just try setting my first alarm earlier so that I can get the same sensation of “sleeping in” and pressing snooze but actually be up and out of bed by that 6:50 mark still.
  5. I also need to try to get in bed sooner, and/or to take less time to fall asleep. I am not a fall-right-asleep type person, it takes me 30 minutes+ typically from the time I get into bed to the time I fall asleep.
  6. To help accomplish this, I’m going device-free after 9pm. I can read or do a crossword or play solitaire, but no screens.
  7. Much as I loathe it, I am also going to try to keep a more consistent schedule on my days off. I want to sleep no later than 2 hours past my usual workday wake up time (I currently frequently sleep 4 hours+ later on days off). That way it’s still a treat, but it doesn’t throw me completely off-whack. I might enlist Kendall to help wake me up since I also hate the idea of an actual alarm on my day off, but we’ll have to see if he’s brave enough (and I’ll have to be less annoying to wake up).

All of this, by the way, just makes me die a little inside. I think at least some of my resistance to this is a resistance to being forced into a box I don’t want to be in – not the job, just the world it is exists in, the one I have always felt not-a-part-of as an insomniac night-owl procrastinator. This is something I struggle with on the regular re: my “normal” job and my “cool” job. My identity has been so wrapped up in what I do for work – I never envisioned for myself a 9-to-5 existence and now that I’m part of the rat-race, there are aspects of it I resent and resist even now, while loving my actual workplace and the people who inhabit it. It’s all very confusing, and I think a big part of it has to with transitioning into the depressing side of adulthood – where you have to make better choices: go to bed early, eat well, don’t drink too much! And you sort of lose some of yourself in the process. Or at least that’s how it feels.

Anyway, keep your fingers crossed for me and if you have any tips, tricks, or suggestions, please leave them in the comments or on the link on my FB page!

❤ Emi

 

 

 

 

Peace

1 Nov

I had a moment yesterday. It was an approximately 3-hour long moment – you know the ones. One thing didn’t go the way I thought it would and then I just sort of got lost. And the being-lost had nothing to do with the thing that didn’t go right – the thing that didn’t go right was not a Problem. The stuff that followed was.

Do you ever have those moments when you just spiral out and away into a very dark place within yourself? A place where all your insecurities are laid bare, where all your fears rise to the surface, where your sense of self-worth takes an absolute plunge, a swan-dive from the highest building in that brain of yours? I was stuck there for 3 hours yesterday. Honestly, I was lucky it was only 3 hours. I’m still smarting from it today, but the worst of it was over after those 3 hours. I’m grateful for that.

Yesterday I felt very not enough.

Yesterday I felt very alone.

Yesterday I felt unheard, and uncared about.

Yesterday I wondered why I am here. Whether there is a greater purpose to my life or if it’s just another life, not special, not treasured. I think what really happened yesterday is I came up against the reality so many of us meet from time to time that we are not special, our lives are not Great. We are utterly and inescapably ordinary and common. But most of us keep a veil down over that knowledge most of the time. Sometimes the veil gets lifted and we are face to face with it once more.

These are always times of great reckoning for me. They are depressing as hell, but they spur me onward – they encourage me to improve the ways I define myself so that next time the veil is lifted it will be just a little bit less scary. I’m okay with being ordinary, with being mundane – what makes our ordinary, mundane lives special has nothing to do with other people, with worldly achievements and great accomplishments and accolades. It has everything to do with the people we choose to love, the things we love to do, the small scraps of contentment we can find along our way. In the face of the Darkness, it’s easy to forget all this or to let it all fall away and to see, simply, nothing.

Yesterday night I was unraveling. Today I have started the slow work to knit the pieces back together once more. It never fails to amaze me how much damage can be done in 3 hours, or even 3 minutes – and then how long it takes to crawl out of that place that took zero time to fall into. I think maybe the reality is that it’s been slow-building, I’ve been slowly slipping and falling – those 3 hours were just the bottom 3 (I hope that was the bottom). But it sneaks up on you all the same.

But tonight I will see a dear friend for a half hour or so, I will go home and cuddle my cat. I will make dinner and prep food to feed my family for the next few days. I’ll try to go to bed early. These next few days I will be kind and gentle with myself – as kind and gentle as I can be with my unrelenting schedule and these trains of thought rumbling through my mind. But I am also beginning to look forward to a life less full or, rather, full in the right ways. First, I have to determine just what that means, for me. And then I actually have to act to make it so.

It for sure means more baths, more candles, more sleep, more & better food, more silence, more free time, more time alone, more journaling, more blogging & writing – in short, more and better self-care. But the problem is that it also means less of other things, the topmost of which being commitments and responsibilities. I feel like I’ve been not-making these tough choices for some time now and it’s finally coming to a point where I can’t live like this anymore.

If I were a doctor, prescribing myself medicine, I would prescribe: certainty, predictability, stability. I would prescribe Knowing, which is a tall order indeed. I would prescribe self-assuredness and commitment. But I would also be cautious and prescribe Being-Okay-With-Not-Knowing, just in case the Knowing didn’t take (because it almost never does).

I prescribe myself Peace.

 

 

 

 

Comfort food

25 Oct

Today I have been scrolling through an all-time favorite blog of mine that I have lost touch with in recent years. I used to be a good blog reader – I used my Google Reader and set up all my favorites and religiously read through every single new post every day or two. I don’t entirely blame Google Reader going the way of the dinosaur, but I do a little blame that for my drop in blog-following. I tried Feedly for awhile and, if you can believe it, it was too fancy for me. Google Reader was utilitarian, where Feedly had too many bells and whistles for my tastes.

I think I also started getting all my non-news news from Facebook – instead of following particular blogs that interest me, I’ve moved to liking their Facebook page or just clicking on interesting links as they are shared by friends or otherwise pop up on my feed.

There are still sites I regularly visit, but those are almost universally sites with a strong Facebook or Instagram presence that I’ve clicked through from. It’s a little scary when you think I used to go out and get all that info and now I am only seeing what comes right to me – it’s a definite sea-change.

Anyway. Where was I?

Right. Posie Gets Cozy. Alicia’s blog just screams fall and winter to me – even in spring and summer. “Cozy” is the operative word and it really comes through. She takes amazing photos that make you just want to go cuddle up under a blanket (preferably in her beautiful home, preferably while she’s cooking a hearty stew or baking a beautiful cake). What I love most about her blog is that, even though everything looks so perfect and you wonder how she does it with a 4-year-old in tow, it also looks and feels very lived-in, very real. She seems down-to-earth.

Today, particularly, with the gloomy, gray day and my lack of tasks at work I am longing to be home, with something simmering on the stove, reading a book by the window with the cat at my feet.

I am on a “diet” (read: lifestyle change) to improve my health and lose weight. I got a diagnosis of pre-diabetes earlier this year, which has since been downgraded to, like, pre-pre-diabetes. Basically, we’re still watching it, but I’ve done a good enough job backing away from the cliff that they’re easing up a bit on calling it pre-diabetes. I joined a medical weight loss program and it has been eye-opening. The great part about the medical aspect is I have labs and regular follow-ups and have been given a ton of information about my body and the particular (and sometimes peculiar) ways it works. It is all very personalized and that has been super helpful, but at times also super discouraging in that when you find out the way your body processes sugars is basically fucked or the way your thyroid works is fucked – that can feel a bit insurmountable. And then it makes you feel like some level of poor health is inevitable. And then you just want to eat an entire chicken pot pie. Or whatever.

But Fall itself has also make me want to eat chicken pot pie. And potatoes. And cookies. And lasagna. Basically, all the high-carb stuff I’m not supposed to have too often. When I first started eating this new way, I was excited to see all the delicious fats I am still allowed to have – juicy steaks and hunks of cheese and greasy bacon. But I miss pasta, and rice. Mostly, though, what I miss is the mindlessness. I miss being in the mood for a food and just having it. I miss ordering whatever whenever wherever.

I have been cooking a ton, but reading Alicia’s blog today made me miss the peculiar thrill of getting a bee in your bonnet about trying some dish and then just going home and cooking it that very night – which is an urge that almost exclusively comes over me in Fall & Winter,and almost exclusively involves comfort food. I’ve found some good recipes, but I’ve yet to find a low-carb recipe that gets me that kind of excited –  Fall-cooking excited. I’ve yet to find what I would call comfort-food in this low-carb universe.

I always hit this point when trying to eat better where I just think, “what’s the point?” What’s the point if I’m going to miss out on these spontaneous moments? If I’m going to miss out on Fall Cooking? If I’m going to miss out on the whatever, whenever, wherever joy of life? I think there must be an achievable balance, but I’m having trouble finding it right now. And these pictures of homemade baked mac n cheese aren’t helping.

 

Hobbies & Passions

21 Oct

Today I was reading a post over on The Billfold about hobbies – how much they cost and the value they hold even if you don’t keep up with them. It got me thinking about my own list of spottily-attended-to hobbies and crafts.

I’ve always felt a bit of disappointment when a new hobby doesn’t reveal a hitherto-unknown talent. I keep thinking (hoping) that there has to be something I’m really good at that I just don’t know about yet. I flit from vague interest to slight curiosity and each time am disappointed when I am:

a. not immediately amazing – “my secret, hidden talent is finally revealed!”

and/or

b. not enraptured with this new hobby – “finally, I have found my passion!”

Like I just need one or the other. I don’t demand of my hobbies and interests that they all be stuff I’m good at – but just once I’d like to find something I just can’t get enough of. Yet nothing seems to be able to hold my attention. Up til now I’ve always taken that as a failure of sorts. But the post mentioned above helped me to re-frame these investments of time, energy, and actual cash money as valuable in and of themselves, regardless of outcome.

It is valuable to have something that helps you kill an hour here or there, even if you’re not particularly good at it, even if you don’t want to do it all the time.

It’s valuable to have something to do that isn’t watching TV – something to do that pushes you out of your comfort zone and works creative muscles that are otherwise threatening to atrophy.

It’s valuable, even, to give your mind the room to wander while you attend to something with your hands that isn’t particularly demanding.

For all the times I have wished for a hobby or interest that was all-consuming, I now find myself content with those that have consumed me for even 30 minutes at a time.

Passion has always been a tricky beast for me. I’ve lamented not seeming to have it in any area of my life while I watched my peers consumed and compelled by their own. I have amazing friends and acquaintances who are, among other things, professional filmmakers, ceramists, actors, musicians, activists, stylists. I have an even greater number of friends who are social workers, teachers, baristas, administrative assistants – but who doggedly pursue outside interests in their time away from their “day jobs”.

Part of it is perception, right? Like maybe what I am taking to be this huge passion for another person is just something they do often. I cook all the time and I do like to cook, but I would never say that cooking is a passion of mine. There’s a distinction for me between “stuff I enjoy” or “stuff I do a lot” and “stuff I feel passionate about”. I think what I’m learning is that it’s okay to just have stuff you enjoy doing that fills the time. Not having a passion doesn’t equal not being interesting or worthy, in much the same way that having a passion doesn’t necessarily make you interesting or worthy  – it just means you’re obsessed.

I guess I’ve always longed to be obsessed, consumed, enraptured, engrossed, immersed – by something, anything. But I’ve landed in a place where I think it’s okay to just be occupied, engaged, distracted, and amused instead.

Now if I only I could translate the same kind of thinking that I’ve managed to do about my hobbies to my professional life…

 

Unsolicited Advice, Part I

11 Oct

Welcome to a new feature I am starting called Unsolicited Advice. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but briefly: this is where I give you advice you neither asked for or may even want. Today’s is about what to do with yourself at the end of a relationship. Enjoy!

One of my favorite writers/website publishers/internet personas Ariel Meadow Stallings, of the Offbeat Empire, recently shared this piece she wrote for The Guardian about her divorce. You should really read the article, but I’m going to reproduce the list of 7 things she wished she knew before her divorce –

1. Trip out on grief – it’s a hallucinogen

2. Choose Healing

3. Shift attention away from your former partner

4. Grab reinvention by the balls

5. Try all the things

6. Talk to all the people

7. Know that it gets better (even if you absolutely don’t believe it)

It was spot-on for me in many ways, but I especially related to the “Choose Healing” bullet point.

2. Choose Healing.

In the first weeks of the separation, I desperately tried to hold the space for two parallel realities: on the one hand, I wanted to hold out hope for the salvage of my marriage. On the other, I recognized that I was traumatized and broken – and that I needed to heal. A month in, I had a panic attack that made it clear to me that it was beyond my capacity to hold both “healing” and “hope”. So abandon hope all ye who enter here. Choose healing, instead.

I chose healing, as well. It’s always kind of been my m.o. that I am loyal to a fault, devoted to a fault, I’m with you all the way – until I’m not. There seems to be a line in the sand – I’ll endure a lot, I’ll try hard, but once I cross that line I don’t look back. I’ve felt that certain very few times in my life. When I finally ended it for good with my notoriously bad college boyfriend, I felt that certainty – I was so done. I wrestled with the decision to quit my first “real” job out of college but it was emotionally and financially draining  – it remains the only job I have ever quit that wasn’t because of a move. It was the right decision.

And when Trevor and I decided to get divorced I was stuck in this weird limbo for about three weeks – that space Ariel talks about where you’re trying, impossibly, to hold both healing and hope – and then a flip just switched and I was done. And I think just how done I was surprised both of us, after nearly 5 years of marriage and 6+ years together.

It felt abrupt when in reality it had been slow building for at least a year. We had become more and more disconnected – we didn’t enjoy each other the way we once had anymore – I was spending increasing amounts of time out of the house, with other friends and family members while he doubled down and hunkered in, spending all of his free time at his computer, on one of the gaming consoles, or painting. When we looked for comfort we no longer looked to one another, we needed comfort about one another, about our relationship.

By the time we finally said the “D” word, all of this had been playing out for around 2 years. I briefly panicked at the finality of it all and even asked him to reconsider, maybe we could try counseling? But in the end he had the presence of mind to know me better than I know myself and to stick to his guns, he said no. And I’m so grateful he did. A week later, I was, finally, done.

And that is when I made the conscious choice to choose healing – I chose joy and optimism. I chose new beginnings. I chose falling in love again. And I encourage everyone exiting a relationship, especially if it is a difficult exit, to:

a.) Allow yourself to be. Be a puddle or be a whirlwind of activity. Distract yourself or wallow in it. Be sad or be overjoyed. Feel pain or feel relief – feel both at once! Do whatever feels right at that moment and don’t let anyone tell you to how to feel or respond – own your reactions and responses. Be.

b.) Talk to others. Definitely talk to your single friends and talk to your married friends – but mostly talk to your divorced friends and your recently-broke-up friends. If you don’t have divorced friends, make some. They will make you feel less alone, less crazy, less unlovable. They will make you feel normal again.

c.) Be alone. This sounds rich coming from me, the lady who started dating her current partner 2 months after separating from her ex. I love my partner, I hope we get married, I want to have a family with this man, and I wouldn’t change a thing about how we came together. But I wish I could somehow also have had alone time because without it I did all my processing and grieving and working through issues with my old relationship while I was starting my new relationship. It was hard on me, it was hard on him – it might have spelled doom if we hadn’t just been head-over-heels for one another. Love will save you, but as Joy Division so aptly said, “love will tear you apart”, too. I could’ve used some more put-the-pieces-back-together time on my own before embarking on a new relationship. We have been lucky (and my partner has been infinitely patient and kind), but I wouldn’t recommend it – some things are best done alone, and I’d count getting over your ex and all the baggage that comes with that as one of them.

 

 

I’m with HER

10 Oct

I remember an early conversation with my brother when we were still talking politics (we’ve since ceased doing so to maintain our relationship) wherein he expressed his belief that I and many women were going to vote for Hillary not solely but largely because she was a woman. At the time I recall bringing up many different reasons I would be voting for her and saying that, while that was a factor, it wasn’t a determining factor.

 

That’s changed for me. Don’t get me wrong, I was always excited by the idea of the first woman president. I have said before that no matter who wins this election, I will be crying – tears of joy and relief if it is Hillary and bitter tears of fear and anger if it is Trump. I tear up just *thinking* about a woman president – that it’s Hillary was, at one time, almost a disappointment for me. Do I still wish she was a more perfect candidate? Yes. I still wish she was less robotic and more broadly appealing. I still wish her (amazing, brilliant, nuanced, smart) responses were snappier, that she was more charismatic. I wish she would hit back harder, instead of simply treating the outrageous claims made against her as below her, not even worthy of response. I wish she hadn’t used that private email server or at the least had been upfront and forthright about it from the very beginning. I wish she wasn’t so hawkish. I wish she wasn’t so cozy with Wall Street, and Israel. I wish she wasn’t so “establishment”. Honestly, I wish she wasn’t a Clinton. It’s the same reason Jeb Bush’s candidacy was problematic to me – I don’t want the same two families running the country for decades.

 

And yet. There are many other reasons I do support her. First and foremost, she is our best option now. Like it or not, one of these two candidates – Trump or Hillary – is going to be our next president. One option is insane, the other is, well, not ideal. I’ll take “not ideal” over “insane” any day. But beyond that first, obvious, reason: no one can argue that she isn’t qualified. She has worked in law since her 20’s, and in government as a senator and then secretary of state since 2001. Some of the reasons so many on the left despise her (she’s establishment, she’s been there forever) are also the same reasons she is perfect for the job – this isn’t her first rodeo. She is famous for reaching out across the aisle and getting it done. She has always put women and children first and devoted years of service to uplift our causes. She is pro-choice. She is tough and can stand up to criticism. She is polished and professional. And yes, she is a woman.

 

The reason that is now one of the deciding factors for me has been because I have been watching during this election season and during these debates especially. I have always known that we need more women in power, we need more representation to make sure our needs are met and our causes are championed. There are many attacks you can make on Hillary that are grounded in her past actions, her policy proposals, prior statements, etc. But too many of the attacks that I have seen made on her and comments about her this election cycle have been misogynistic, sexist, and ignorant. The false equivalency of the two candidates alone stinks of sexism. It is the classic case of the underqualified man being held up as equal to the qualified and capable woman.

 

Many women have watched these last two debates, nodding our heads with recognition as Hillary is talked over and cut off, as she plays by the rules of engagement and Trump flouts them. We’ve heard the comments made about her smile and her power suits and her heels and her hair and her voice and her stamina. We’ve seen her slight smirks and shimmies as resistance, as protest – often these kinds of actions are all women are left when faced with having to treat as an equal a man below you in every way – uneducated and unqualified to even speak on the same issues, yet afforded the same status by the simple fact of his gender. In Trump’s case, he’s been afforded this status by the sliver of the electorate that actually came out to vote in the Republican primaries, not simply because he is a man – although certainly if a woman ran an identical campaign she would be laughed out of the race. But most women relate to this experience in general.

 

It’s been said before in terms of “can you imagine if Hillary had 5 children by 3 different men?” but really the question should be: “can you imagine if it was Daisy Trump, not Donald?” If Daisy Trump had 5 children by 3 different men, if Daisy Trump mocked disabled reporters, called Mexicans rapists, was caught on tape saying she can get away with groping men because she’s famous and that she goes after married men regularly? Not even Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann have said or done anything half so ridiculous or hateful and, while both have been successful local politicians, they have been summarily laughed off the national political stage. I’m not saying I want a Daisy Trump or a more hateful Sarah Palin – I’m just saying they aren’t allowed to find the same kind of success as candidates that Donald Trump has. His brash, “no-bullshit”, “non-pc” style? Unattractive and unappealing when coming from a woman. This is one of the numerous ways sexism, misogyny and even rape-culture have been the underpinning of this election cycle.

 

Now I will vote Hillary because she’s a woman. Because we need more women in power, because she has proven time and again an able champion for women’s rights. And because I see her now. I recognize the woman on the stage and I want her, I want all of us, to rise above this moment in our history – this moment when women, apparently free and empowered, are still so woefully under-represented in the halls of power, when our presence in this arena is an aberration, an irregularity. Hillary Clinton is not a perfect woman, or a perfect person, or a perfect candidate, but she’s my candidate, now more than ever.

 

Please, if you are thinking about abstaining from voting or voting third party, reconsider. If you are a Trump supporter, I know I won’t reach you (it’s unlikely you’d be reading this blog post anyway) – but, especially if you’re in a swing state, please consider voting for Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump is one of the worst human beings, let alone presidential candidates, that I’ve ever known of – don’t let your disappointment in our political system  or your own fortunes allow him to become leader of the free world.

It’s still zucchini

3 Oct

I’ve been cooking a ton lately (as in, yesterday I cooked no less than 5 recipes). I’ve been trying to meal-prep as much as possible since I changed my diet to low-carb. I’ve also been trying to trick myself as much as possible.

Some of the reason diets have always been a challenge for me in the past is that I don’t like much – I’m a picky eater and food is very important to me. In addition to being picky, I use food as reward or to wallow in (don’t worry – not literally). So what I eat is a BIG DEAL.

In the past I would try to change what I ate completely and try to force myself to eat stuff that was way healthier for me but that I just didn’t like – this was not ever sustainable.

So this time with this not-a-diet “lifestyle change” prompted more by health concerns than aesthetics, I’m really prioritizing experimentation to try to find foods that are both healthy for me AND delicious. The good news is: it IS possible! The bad news is sometimes you spend an hour on a recipe and then you take a taste and guess what? It’s still zucchini, no matter how much Parmesan you bake it with.

A few nuggets of wisdom from my first few weeks of trying to trick myself into eating better food:

  1. I just don’t like zucchini that much, or cauliflower. Sometimes a recipe that has a ton of cheese or seasonings might pass muster (I made zucchini tots that I genuinely loved) -but, generally speaking, they’re both kind of a pain to work with when you’re asked to grate or shred them and I’m usually not happy with the outcome. So those much-pinned cauliflower pizza crusts and mashed potato substitutes are not the saviors I once hoped they would be.
  2. Almond meal/almond flour has never worked out great for me. I once made a biscuits and gravy recipe using almond flour in the biscuits and that was really good….because it was covered in gravy. The biscuits themselves? Meh. The pancakes I made yesterday? Meh.
  3. I have more success when I just take things I know I like and try new preparations to keep them interesting. Chicken 3 days a week gets pretty boring, but less so when one day is curried and another day is chicken salad and the third day is pan-fried.
  4. It’s kind of cruel how many of the foods I I like and have in the past considered healthier choices are kind of bad carb choices: butternut squash, carrots, etc. But I still incorporate them, I just try to use them less than greens and other veggies.
  5. Calorie counts are secondary. I had a “bad day” last week wherein I ate really well all day and still went over my allotted calories for the day. It was super frustrating – it made me feel like I would never be successful if even when eating well – and eating stuff I actually liked, too – I was going above my calorie goal. But I spoke to my doctor shortly thereafter and we both concluded that, while it’s important not to bust through my calorie goals every day or by a huge margin, the calories are secondary to making sure I am keeping my carbs down and my protein up.We both chalked that once-disappointing day up as a success because I had, after all, eaten healthy, whole foods that I actually enjoyed eating and that met all my protein goals for the day.

Here are a few of this past week’s success stories:

tacos

  1. Low-carb taco shells. These are made of cheese, people! I did my own filling and it was rather saucy. The only thing I would do differently next time would be to do a drier filling, probably shredded seasoned chicken instead of beef. These were easier and quicker than I thought they would be and they tasted decadent without the carbs to match.
  2. White lazy lasagna. There’s something about the name “White Lazy” that makes me laugh every time, but this recipe worked out great. I did use a homemade marinara sauce instead of the canned alfredo (so I guess it’s technically more of a Red Lazy Lasagna). This was another one that turned out tasting really rich while still being acceptable for me to eat – it’s a good thing my new way of eating doesn’t limit fat as much or I’d really be in trouble! Cheese has been my savior.
  3. Spaghetti squash “spaghetti” with meat sauce. Kendall made this one and we just used a canned meat sauce we like (not gonna lie, it’s Ragu Meat Sauce). We prepared some Italian sausages to go with as well. I liked it so much I asked him if he would make it again this week. I’m a pasta fiend so that has been the hardest thing to give up. When I find substitutions I actually like, such as the “lasagna” and this “spaghetti” it makes me really happy!

 

Women Get Shit Done

23 Sep

Beyond the illogic of being mad about a man kneeling in protest and not mad (or not as mad) about the black men and women dying on the streets by police hands day in and day out, I am equally mesmerized/baffled by calls to boycott the NFL because of Colin’s protest and the organization’s “non-reaction” to it. Where were the calls to boycott the NFL the hundreds of times before this when athletes beat their wives, raped women, abused their children, etc and the NFL has completely failed to react in any real way? The majority of white american men are batshit-crazy-backwards on all this. Fucking get it together losers!

Also, while I’m sort of hovering around the subject: Let me say first that any and all officers/state actors who unjustifiably kill people should be charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, so don’t get what I’m about to say twisted. But it’s just funny to me that we can very quickly charge and arrest female officers, and Asian officers, but white men appear to be some special class that we give the benefit of the doubt to at all times.

Lastly, I’m going to just say it. Women are generally better at this shit (notwithstanding the Betty Shelbys of the world) – better at compassion and belief and support and doing the hard work. Better at self-reflection and change. I, for one, am more excited than I have ever been that we may soon have a female president – hopefully it will help lead to more women in leadership positions across the political and social spectrum. Because women GET IT DONE. We listen, we hear, we respond – we are the leaders our country needs at this tumultuous time.

I’m not saying men can’t be valuable (and indeed, necessary) allies or that men don’t get shit done in their own right. But too often they are all might and power and force with no ears for listening or hearts for hearing, especially about anything outside of their own lived experience, and I am so sick of it and ready for something different. I understand that in a million ways Hillary is more of the same – but in this one, key way she is altogether different and I am so excited to see what she can do. More importantly, I’m excited to see what WE can do, together.

Two years

29 Jul

I came to write a blog post today and was hit with an “it’s been two years since your last post” automated message. Two years?! This is incredible to me, shocking and yet not really that surprising once I think about it for a moment. Turns out it’s really only been a year and a half and apparently WordPress likes to round, but it has also been two+ years since my divorce, two years split between four different home situations, two+ years working two jobs, two years building a new relationship, two+ years with a nephew and more family obligations….the list goes on. I know that life goes fast for everyone, everyone is busy with all their own stuff, everyone has their own concerns and motivations – I am not unique. And yet just lately I have felt so drowned in all of it.

I stumbled upon this post today while searching for something else and it called out to me so clearly. I think we all read these things hoping somehow to find THE ANSWER there and it never is there (because how could it be?) but sometimes what you find is helpful, which was the case for me today.

I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about this issue – having two jobs, seemingly for all eternity, and the attendant sapping of my time and energy that comes with it. I recently made the decision to sign another six month lease at the salon. Although I’ve talked about the possibility of winding down my salon work in the near future, when the time came to make a definitive decision I didn’t feel ready to walk away just yet.

There’s so much tied up in the work we do – at least for some of us. I know there are people who just do the job and go home and if the job kinda sucks, oh well – it’s not an identifying feature of their life. But that has never been me. I’ve quit jobs that weren’t the right fit and I’ve gone back to school to try to jump-start a new career path. My feeling is I spend so much time at work, at the very least I want to like it, best case scenario: it’s fulfilling.

I used to be of the mind that it HAD to be fulfilling. The realities of adulthood have tempered that a little. I’m coming around to being the kind of person who looks for fulfillment in many areas of my life, not just work, not just my relationship. It’s hard, but it does free me up to care just that little bit less about what I am doing with my work day.

However, I still tie a lot of my identity to the work I do. I have identified for a long time now as someone who isn’t conventional, who eschews the cubicle – someone who does better with odd hours and odd people. But that hasn’t been my day-to-day for a while now (two years!) and I think I’m happier here. I’m certainly more comfortable – I make more money, I spend less time on my feet (although more in a chair, which is unhealthy in a different way), I have more control over my schedule – all good things.

There’s a lot about unconventional work that I don’t miss. It’s more that it had been a piece of who I was and now I can’t claim it anymore. I have this fear of being normal, this fear of being conventional that in practice is actually kind of a hindrance because it might stop me from living my best life.

But I also have this love of creature comforts, this desire for a beautiful home and free time and travel and the best food and drink – that I also fear could stop me from living my best life. This sounds ridiculous on the surface – like “isn’t that you living your best life?” But it makes me wonder if I could find something more fulfilling if only I had the courage to sacrifice for a while. Would it be worth it?

I have a growing sense that the older I get the better I get and the better life gets. I have a tendency to look at what’s happening to me right now and assume it’ll just be the same moving forward – that it’s relatively static. But I can look back only two years to a time when I was in a polite, but unhappy marriage; when I was managing a shop full of people who hated the shop where we all worked; when I was less self-assured than I am now; when I had fewer friends, fewer plans, and very few family obligations. I may be busier now and more stressed, I may feel like I am overworked and understimulated – but I like to believe my life is richer now, too.

 

 

Looking ahead

14 Jan

Almost to the day exactly, it has been a year since I first went into business for myself. I’ve learned a lot already, but I feel like I still have a long way to go.

Some people spend years dreaming about their business – planning, prepping, saving money. I had about a week. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve daydreamed about opening my own salon pretty much from the day I started beauty school. But I thought about opening an entire space where I would hire other stylists – I had a ton of great ideas about how I would want to run my business and treat my employees, largely influenced by the 6 years I spent managing someone else’s shop.

Managing a business without owning it is largely thankless, or at least it was in my case. You try to make changes where you can, but your hands are often tied by the owner’s vision, finances, and their own ideas about how a business should operate. You try to maintain great relationships with your crew, but you’re often stuck between a rock and hard place when it comes to being the go-between from them to the owner – often you can see both sides clearly, while each side seems incapable of seeing the opposite side’s point of view. So, my management experience taught me a lot, but was also incredibly frustrating and stressful. But that frustration was one of the main motivators for me to open my own shop – I wanted to finally be able to run things MY way, to test my theories on how things SHOULD work and see if they really did.

I pictured opening my own salon in 10 years, if I was lucky. Then the shop closed. The owner gave me about a week’s notice – the rest of the staff had about 4 days notice (another decision I would have made differently were it solely mine to make). I’d already been thinking about transitioning to another salon – I didn’t think I had enough of a clientele built up yet to lease a chair of my own (when we closed, I’d been cutting for about a year and a half). But suddenly I was out of a job. And I wanted to maintain what clientele I did have so I needed to move fast so as not to cause a huge gap in service. I needed to stay nearby, too. A friend of a friend was looking for someone to share her small studio with part-time and I seized the chance without really allowing myself to stop and think about it enough to really let it scare me.

But it has been scary. The first two months I only had my part-time work at the salon studio, and it wasn’t enough. I was able to cover my chair lease, but not much beyond that – this was going to be untenable in the long term. To make matters worse, my husband and I decided to get a divorce during this same period. We had never truly shared income, we kept separate accounts always, but he had certainly been helping me since my job loss. It became even more imperative that I find some other source of income since my business just was not capable of growing that much that quickly. I lucked out and found a well-paying part-time administrative job with an amazing company where I’ve been ever since – I love it there, and it’s allowed me to continue doing hair on my own.

As an independent contractor, I have to handle all aspects of my business, the day-to-day stuff and the bigger-picture stuff, too. Taxes are something I am still figuring out. I’ll know more about where I stand soon. I recently figured out that, while I didn’t make much from hair last year, I did turn a profit. While I couldn’t survive on doing hair alone, many small businesses are not profitable until their 2nd or 3rd year – so I’m still proud of what I have achieved.

This year, I am focused on growth. Last year was so much about learning how to run my business, and basic survival. That was true in my personal life, too – I had to learn how to be “alone” again (even though I am with an amazing man now, this is still something I am working on – the ability to be self-sufficient and self-contained when needed). It was such a big, difficult year for me, emotionally (and actually!) – I spent a lot of time just treading water, trying not to drown. Now I am ready to swim.

I want to establish more cohesive branding. I want to create new logo work to use across my marketing materials and a website with a portfolio of my work and descriptions of my philosophies toward hair. I have a goal of trying to attend at least one class/workshop/show each quarter – with a special focus on sharpening my color skills. I’d like to upgrade my equipment, and look into switching or adding to the product lines I offer my clients. I’ve already added an additional weekend day a month and am looking for other days when I might offer more appointments to my clients. Overall, I want to see if there are ways I can add value for my clients, whether that means complimentary add-ons, more availability, or something else entirely.

It can be hard to find the time and energy to make these changes, but in my mind I’m committed to another year, this time with more concerted effort to do more than just survive. I want to thrive.