Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Because we’re friends

One of my closest friends is doing a 14 day yoga and cleanse challenge. She posted on Facebook asking if anyone would do it with her, so I raised my hand.

I’ve known Kerry since 2001. We shared a back wall for our cubes and worked on the same technical training development team. We’ve been there for each other through good times and bad, and there’s not much I wouldn’t do for her.

In early 2006, after my sixth major abdominal surgery, I begged Kerry to go to Pilates with me. I told her I needed someone to go with me because I’d never done it before and because I thought it would be good to have an accountability partner. I was—no joke—afraid my guts were going to end up down by my knees if I didn’t get my abs in order. She agreed without hesitation and we had a blast going first to Pilates classes and then later, after we met Cindy (an instructor who is amazing—long story but trust me, she’s awesome), we included yoga too. I credit us going faithfully twice a week for me really kicking off my dedication to staying fit and also with my much faster recovery after my seventh major abdominal surgery later that year.

She stuck with me long distance too, when we moved to Boston. In fact, other than my younger son and his family, she and her husband were the only ones to come visit us. That meant the world to me because Boston was not an easy place to live and while I made some good friends, I missed the KC ones.

This year, she and her family relocated to southern Georgia. I think in many ways what she’s done is harder than when Kent and I moved. She’s lived in the KC area since she was about five (except for college) so this is home in a very real sense. Her mother and sister and nephews live here, and her husband’s family is from Emporia, which is just a couple of hours south. So she’s completely uprooted herself.

Now you might think that I’m not one for cleanses and you'd be right; I’d rather live right every day. The foods that we’re supposed to eat in this cleanse? Well no. One of the presenters said we should eat things that animals could find and eat in nature, and I agree with that. She said you’d never find a brown rice pasta bush in the wild, but then went on to say that we should drink a green smoothie (that has protein powder as an ingredient) every day. I’m absolutely positive there are no green smoothie trees or protein powder bushes out there in the wild.

And the one thing that drives me batty about yoga is when I inadvertently find a work out (sorry, I’m not calling it a practice) that emphasizes the spiritual side of yoga. I respect that others feel that way but I don’t. However, for Kerry I will most definitely ignore the ohms and any talk about a higher power (or more likely just repurpose it to align with what I believe).

So far, I’ve done three days of workouts—the first day was pretty good, all about the abs which I’m always up for. The second day . . . well let’s just say I did the abbreviated version and then did aerobics. Today’s session was a great workout and I tuned out the instructor’s spiritual talk.

Probably the best part of doing this (aside from wanting to be there for Kerry, the way she’s always been there for me) is that I don’t know these workouts. I can’t just phone it in and that’s a very good thing. But I’m not going to drink any green smoothies.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Out the door

The shoes, that is. Also the rest of the clothes we've sorted and decided don't spark joy.

And I'm out the door too. I leave tomorrow for the 2015 Society for Industrial/Organizational Psychology conference. It's in Philadelphia this year and this will be my first time attending. I'm pretty stoked.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ah shoes

I’ve mostly finished using Kondo’s method to sort through and store my clothing. By mostly, I mean I’ve gone through probably 90% of my clothes and shoes, discarding those that just flat don’t spark joy. But I’m struggling with my shoes, and it’s an odd sort of struggle.

I’ve got a pile of the shoes that need to find another home. But that pile is still in the house . . .  Those who know me will agree that I’m generally prone to acting too soon rather than dawdling. So why haven’t I just donated them already?

It’s not guilt, at least I don’t think it is. The money I spent on shoes that ended up not working is long gone, a total sunk cost. Or maybe that’s exactly what it is. Adding up what I spent on them, these shoes in the go away pile, well let's just say it's not a low number. I’ve never been able to wear cheap shoes, they are always too wide, and so while the shoes weren’t extravagant, they were also not cheap. Some of them were needed at times when money was tight, so they also represent harder times for me.

I’ve hung on to this pair for nearly 10 years. They are brown suede Van Eli heels, a much richer brown than the photo shows here, and they fit me like a dream. I have not worn them since September, 2007 when I wore them to my older son’s wedding. Unlike the rest of the shoes in the good bye pile, these don’t hurt my feet. But they are brown, bought during a stage of my style evolution where I thought I ought to wear brown. That stage lasted a nanosecond, long enough for me to get these shoes and then I very quickly realized that (a) brown doesn’t feel right on me and (b) I don’t much like it anyway. But they do fit beautifully*, and as I wrote about here, that’s a rare thing.

Kondo’s book says we hang on to unsuitable things for one of two reasons: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future. When I look at the pile of shoes and examine my reluctance to just toss them already, I don’t really fear the future. I have a couple of pairs of shoes that work well and I’m firmly committed to never again compromising on my shoes.  I guess it could be an attachment to the past, although that doesn’t quite ring true for me either.

Maybe it’s wishful thinking—that I would have been more discerning and even pickier in the past. And also yes, it’s the money. Salvation Army is going to get some awfully nice shoes and I really hope the women who buy them love them. I loved them too, at one point, and if they didn’t hurt my toes, they’d spark a lot of joy.

*In fact, Van Eli shoes from around that same year did fit me well with no pain but alas, they’ve changed their style and their current shoes look frumpy/ugly to me.

Friday, April 10, 2015

There's a hole in the bucket

First, thank you for your comments on my last post. It’s very helpful to me to hear what others have experienced and how they handled it.

Second, I’m still not sure if this is the big ol’ change or not because it could very well be massive stress. Last week, things were up in the air for me in terms of the next job and the uncertainty was definitely intense. Long story short on that, I accepted a full time permanent position and I’m scheduled to start May 4.

In addition to my job situation, we’ve been having some foundation work done on our house. The front half of the house (street side) is about 2 ½ to 3 inches lower than the middle. This is old settling but because we want to replace windows in the basement and the bedrooms, we need to get it fixed. Plus the slope is quite visible in our dining room. We have built in storage the previous owner put in and she accommodated the slope. That’s all fine and good since the shelves are level but when you look at the top, the slope is really obvious.

There are two ways you can fix this kind of settling: you can lift the frame of the house from the inside of the basement, or you can lift the foundation. Obviously lifting the foundation fixes the root of the issue and equally obviously, it’s a more expensive solution because holes have to be drilled through the basement floor and dug outside along the foundation. But we’d found a company based on a recommendation by a friend and their price was pretty reasonable, all things considered.

We think now that they anticipated the job would be pretty simple and that they could squeeze it in between other, bigger jobs. Ha.

As specified in the contract, they were going to dig 18 holes total, eight in the basement and the remaining 10 outside. They started a week ago Wednesday and by Monday morning this week, it was clear this was a very slow process. I don’t know if that’s because the digging went slowly but I do know that they were showing up after 9 AM, taking a good two hours at lunch and leaving by around 4 PM. So Monday morning, Kent mentioned that the project really needed to get moving since he would be out of town all next week. They decided to lift the house with just the internal holes dug—just eight of the 18.

Well nothing happened. I confess, it never occurred to me that maybe the house wouldn’t lift. But the part that just annoyed us both to no end was the sales guy going on and on about how it wouldn’t lift, we should just go with the internal frame lifting (remember, that’s the cheaper solution and doesn’t require holes dug in your basement floor), you might have structural damage (first that ever came up), etc etc etc.

This isn’t our first reconstruction rodeo (yet another thing to thank Boston for) so we’ve made it clear that the job needs to be done as specified in the contract with all 18 holes and lifting both inside and outside the basement. We may still be on the hook for additional work because our front porch may need to be removed so they can get to that part of the foundation. Fair enough, if that’s the case we’ll deal with it.

But yes, more stress.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Is this what it looks like?

Seven and a half years ago we were visiting my younger son and his wife right after their first child was born. Our visit wasn’t planned for being so close to her birth—she was just a few days old when we got there—but that’s how it turned out. I remember my daughter-in-law said that she’d been very well prepared for what she’d feel and experience while pregnant and also while giving birth, but no one had told her how she would feel afterwards. And she did not feel good and would like to have had a heads up about that part of having a baby.

Similarly some women friends of mine and I were discussing why it is that women don’t give each other a glimpse of what lies ahead in terms of aging or menopause. We don’t normalize these things for each other. Sure, we might tell horror stories but we don’t do much in the way of validating or offering comfort. It’s very helpful to me to talk with my women friends about what getting older feels like and what’s worked or not worked for them in managing these kinds of changes.

Today I’m wondering if I’m finally hitting menopause. I have no older female relatives to ask since either they’ve already died or had surgical intervention and never went through it. I’ve read the symptoms and can really only check off one: insomnia. Oh and night sweats, but see here’s the thing. I’ve had those since I got pregnant at age 20 with my first child who is now 34. So that’s not exactly a reliable indicator for me.

But the insomnia has gotten bad, really bad. So if you’re reading this and you’re a woman, tell me about your experience. I really want to know. Help me make sense of being the age I am with no other symptoms except that I cannot sleep. I’m not looking for advice* or horror stories. Just normalize this for me.

*Believe me, I've read up on this and tried pretty much everything: the melatonin, the sleepy time tea and other over the counter remedies and either they give me freaky restless nightmares and no more sleep or they flat don’t do anything at all. I already work out a fair amount, so I’m not sure I can do more there. I get offline an hour before bed etc etc etc.