If we went to lunch…

If we went to lunch_feistyharriet_March 2017I love meeting friends for lunch, I love the quick download/upload of life things and thoughts and frustrations and struggles, both trying to pack in the most important pieces into an hour-long break. Although this doesn’t happen as often as I would like due to schedules and kids and work and distance and all the things, if you and I were to meet up for lunch, this is what I would tell you.

  1. I will be downright giddy about how much I love my new job. No, but for real. This has been a total game changer for me and the happiness and light-heartedness from having a healthy work balance is invading every other part of my previously grumpy life. I feel like I can breathe again! I know I’ve talked about this a few times here in the last couple weeks, but it’s just SO DIFFERENT and SO MUCH BETTER than where I was!
  2. I’ll tell you that for the first time in over a decade I finally have a job at church, something to do other than sit by myself on the back row. I will be working with the young women, ages 16-18, and I cannot IMAGINE a job that is better for me. I’m only a few weeks in, but I can already tell this is exactly where I need to be.
  3. I’ll probably gush a little bit about my new “Plan Out Your Life, Harriet! (Or At Least The Week)” plans that are centered on a spiral bound calendar-notebook planner book (that I bought on clearance, because, of course). I have a full month calendar view, plus a double spread for each week with a couple of categories I can fill in, one for appointments, one for my daily housekeeping To Do lists, and one to schedule out my other goals like writing and exercise. I have really loved getting a better handle on when I need to do what to stay on track with my priorities, it’s amazing how much easier and more effective this is for me with a paper and pen version over an app.
  4. I’ll ask you what you are reading, and then tell you about the last book I read and loved, which is “A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War” by Joseph Loconte, which talks about how J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were WWI veterans AND bffs, and how they used their experiences in the horrific trenches in France to influence their writing, specifically, the ancient wars of Middle Earth and Bilbo and Frodo’s quest; and the world of Narnia with great evil and goodness in each character. This was SO fascinating and made me want to re-read the Lord of the Rings books AND the Narnia series.
  5. Depending on how our conversation goes, I may get brave and tell you that for the last several months Mr. Blue Eyes and I have been going to couple’s counseling, and it has been so hard and so worth it in every way. We have been married for five years, but those five years have been unconventional in every possible way, living in different states for the majority of our marriage, dealing with court battles to have more contact with his kids, moving stresses, new job stresses (between the two of us we’ve had 5 jobs in 5 years)…it has been a roller coaster. A few months ago we reached the point where we both knew we needed some outside and professional help and we have both been trying to learn how to be a better spouse and a more healthy and well-rounded person, friend, and sweetheart.
  6. I doubt I’d make it long without squeeing about this next thing: as a five-year anniversary present to each other we decided to go on our first real vacation since our honeymoon. We’ve been on trips to see family (NOT the same as a vacation), and we’ve been on many long weekend adventures, but an actual week-long vacation just the two of us? Yeah, it’s been a long time coming. This spring we are going to BELIZE and GUATEMALA and I am so very excited about the whole thing. We’ve got almost everything booked, just doing a little more research on one of the ancient Maya ruins we want to explore. The first half of our trip will be spent on a tiny little island off the coast of Belize, it’s so teeny that cars/trucks are not even allowed, just bicycles and golf carts and fish tacos and beachy sunsets viewed from a hammock. It will be so dreamy! The second half will be spent in the jungle in Guatemala with howler monkeys and ancient ruins and possibly some time in a canoe!? Ya’ll, I am ridiculously excited about this adventure!!





PS. The lunch pic up at the top is from a delicious lunch at Serial Grillers, a delightfully macabre food truck turned brick-and-mortar restaurant in Tucson. You can order a Sweeney Todd, a Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or a Jason (meaty OR vegetarian!). Recommended!

If we went to lunch…

If We Went to Lunch

One of the truly glorious things about being an adult is regular lunch dates with friends. There are few things I love more than spending an hour or two gabbing with a friend, catching up on each others lives, talking through problems and brainstorming solutions. Or just discussing our latest Netflix obsession. Serious or light-hearted, I LOVE going out to lunch. If you lived near my Arizona suburb and we met for lunch, this is what I’d tell you:

1.  Despite some really valiant efforts, I am not adjusting very well to the suburban Arizona lifestyle. I desperately miss my mountains and the cooler weather they provide and I really miss living downtown in a mid-size city (vs the outlier in suburban desert sprawl).

2. One thing that is helping is a little suburban oasis in the backyard. It’s not mountains and it’s not a bunch of local restaurants and boutique shops, but it is a little patch of green and my own veggies to tend, and that sense of home and place has done wonders the last little while in helping me find a center here.

3. For the first time in a very long while, my relationship with Blue Eyes is….good. There was a bit there a while ago where things were really quite dicey. Merging lives is hard, ya’ll. And merging married lives that have been lived seperately, and then adding moving stress, work stress, blended family stress, and the rest of it….there were a couple of tricky months there. But, without intentionally risking the good thing we’ve got going here, it seems that Blue Eyes and I are in a better place than we have been in….years. And it’s probably the best, most hopeful, and most scary thing I’ve got going for me. Best and hopeful for obvious reasons, scary because it seems like it would be so easy to fall back into that tricky place. Deep breaths, Harriet. We got this.

4. I have been working my tail off for the last 8 weeks or so to lose some fluff that has been bothering me for months years. Turns out, when your marriage is stressful AND you move AND you aren’t settling well AND your job is crazy AND, AND, AND, and you eat chocolate and ice cream to cope? Yeah, that turns right into body fluff. Regular exercise has been kind of a difficult habit to form, but I think I’m finally on the winning side of that battle. And now it’s too hot to go outside much anyway, so my summer fling with the gym looks like it might move into Serious status. Real Talk: I hit my heaviest weight ever a few months ago, 198 pounds. I am 5’7″ and that is not nearly tall enough for 198 pounds of muscle and bone and fluff. Yes, healthy is more important than skinny, but when you are 45 pounds overweight and your medical doctor AND your physical therapist tell you so? Losing 45 pounds is about my health and it is about helping my body work better and it is about confidence to try new things like horseback riding, and continue old loves like mountain climbing. But I’d by lying if I didn’t also admit that losing 45 pounds will be a significant impact on my looks and my dress size (and bra size, and pants size. Forty-five pounds is a lot of fluff).

5. With the weight loss and exercise additions, I have been pretty careful about what I eat. I eat way more veggies, way less sugar and chocolate and bread, and the same amount of cheese. I am still kind of obsessed about local eating and am excited to find a CSA-delivery service for my area that is my new go-to for vegetables and eggs.

6. Um, farm-fresh eggs in the scrambled, hard-boiled, or over-easy variety (so, breakfast) are kind of an acquired taste. They are WAY eggier than my regular grocery store eggs, even the expensive cage-free, organic-fed, brown and speckled, $6.00 for a dozen grocery store eggs. Which should tell you a lot more about $6.00/dozen grocery store eggs than farm fresh CSA eggs.

7. Working from home has been a really rough adjustment. Well, let me back up a bit. Working from home with a new boss has been a really rough adjustment. My boss started last summer and she is not a favorite of anyone in my department. She is probably the only reason I am able to work remotely, but her leadership style (i.e. lack of) has made the working remotely much harder than I thought it would be. It is hard to manage up from 700 miles away. I don’t want to say much more about this (although, in person I’d talk your ear off about it) as it still is an in-progress adjustment, but MAN, I miss my previous supervisor and work environment!

What about you? What would you tell me if we went to lunch?

(That delicious looking burrito up there? That was from a fantastic lunch at The Cutting Board with Kelsey from Rising*Shining.)

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Life, or something like it


There is something so soothing about watching the waves; small ones lap gently on the beach while large ones crash furiously over treacherous rocks, leaving white foam and tide pools in their wake. Poetically, the ocean seems self-cleaning, constantly changing, spitting out shells and garbage and mermaids, sucking sand and unsuspecting tourists out to sea. Ok, so my poem is kind of twisted. (Also, mermaids aside, I am well aware that the health of our oceans has been on a constant and steady decline for years.)

My soul belongs in the mountains, so this ocean thing is kind of a tricky analogy for me (I want SO BADLY to make a “fish out of water” pun, but can’t seem to work it in properly, so you get this parenthetical instead. You’re welcome.); I feel like my whole life is somehow caught right on that line between sand and sea, being pulled both ways at every moment, trying to straddle two competing forces and stay upright. I’m not just talking about a split between my home here in Arizona and my heart-home in Salt Lake, although I’m sure that division is a contributing factor. I feel like I’m waiting for something big to happen, waiting for forward movement, just waiting. I feel anxious and kind of discombobulated most of the time, restless even, not sure what to do or say. Sometimes I’ll be on the verge of a weepy break-down for DAYS at a time. This is…not a normal state of being for me, I feel cramped and irritated in my own skin. This lack of confidence is a really uncomfortable admission for me, and I wish there was an easy fix…emphasis on the EASY part.

I know, I know. Life is not easy. It’s not supposed to be easy. Any major shift or movement requires a lot of consistency, small and progressive goal making and achieving, and a long-term goal to work towards. Maybe that’s my problem right now…for most aspects of my life I do not have a long-term goal, no guiding star to help me navigate. So here I am, stuck in  the waves, without any real direction or urgency for getting unstuck.

The Cheshire Cat says that if you don’t know where you want to get to, then it doesn’t much matter which way you go. So, here I am, all Alice in Wonderland-ing my way through the days and weeks (and months?) feeling like I’m wandering in circles and starting to tire of the endless journey. The last few weeks I have kept thinking about ways to pull out of this wander-y funk, and I tend to gravitate towards extravagant grand adventure type solutions. (Road Trip to Prince Edward Island! Or Alaska! Hike a Dozen 14,000′ Mountain Peaks!! Spend a Year Doing A Thing To See If It Makes Me A Better Person!!) Each suggestion seems more maniacal than the last. But, really, my restlessness in daily living will be right here waiting for me when I get back.

I need some long-term goals, Life Goals that can help reshape and redirect my actions and modify my behavior. That’s a very fancy way of saying: I Need A Plan. I hardly recall a time in my adult life where I didn’t have a solid idea of where I wanted to be in two or five years, but suddenly when I try and conjure that up, I draw a blank. I mean, I’ll be here, in this house in the desert, with Blue Eyes and (on occasion) his kids. But that’s all I’ve got. And, truly, that is not enough for me. A healthy marriage and a safe & comfortable home is a really solid base, for sure. But I need more than that.

For my own sanity, I need to fix this. I need to find some long-term goals that will stretch me and be something to work towards. I am actually kind of embarrassed to admit that I don’t have any solid long-term dreams right now. Embarrassed and sad, I am legitimately weepy. I don’t quite recognize this version of myself, the sort of sedentary content-with-the-status-quo person.

Do YOU have long-term life goals right now? In your relationship? With your family? Finances? Work life? Personal life? Athletic life? Academic life? What do you do to remember how to dream big?

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If we went to lunch…

I love meeting a friend for lunch and spending an hour speed-chatting and catching each other up on our lives. One of my favorite lunch times in recent memory was meeting Lou for lunch in Chicago, after not having met for YEARS we picked up like it had only been a couple of months. In exactly one hour we covered a tremendous amount of ground, real life stuff that neither of would mention on our blogs or social media feeds. It was glorious. This post–with a little bit of censoring–is what I would talk about if you and I went to lunch, guards down, masks off, real-talk.

I would tell you how much I miss Salt Lake, the mountains, the actual winter, and dear friends and family who are there. Yes, technology and electronic communication makes it easy to stay in touch, but not as easy to stop by for a silly string war with my niece, or to curl up on a friend’s couch and stay up talking until late into the night. And I just cannot find a replacement for soaring granite-topped mountains covered in snow rising from the valley floor like guardians. Stubby outcroppings of desert rock just don’t do it for me.

I would tell you that I am lonely. I work from home and while I enjoy my job (and IM my co-workers most of the day), I don’t have a network of friends here yet (or, really, a single friend), and at my church I’ve been asked to teach a room full of 5-year-olds. In my opinion, this is about the worst job ever. I don’t particularly like 5-year-olds, and certainly not en mass. I have zero adult interaction at church, it’s like I’ve been banished to the kids’ table and I do not like it.

I would probably talk your ear off about how excited I am to attempt a desert vegetable garden. Granted, the planting season here begins in FEBRUARY, so that is a big adjustment in my thinking. This last weekend Blue Eyes and I spent hours working in our backyard. He was finishing up the sprinkling system while I pulled weeds and trimmed trees and spiky fern thingies and tried to plan out garden boxes. We are going to the Home and Garden show next weekend and I’m probably more excited about it than is normal.

I would probably go more in detail about my role as a stepmom and the frustrations, anxieties, and very little joy that comes along with it. It is a ridiculously thankless job. Not that I’m expecting hand-written thank you notes from an 11-year-old or 13-year-old for making them dinner, nothing like that. Half the time I don’t even expect a verbal “thank you.” It’s the rest of the thanklessness that is hard. As a parent, you get these moments of joy and unconditional love for your child on the regular; I don’t have that. Ever. I am not “allowed” to develop that kind of relationship with my kids (and yes, I’d tell you the rest of the details about all of that).

I would tell you that part of my not-so-subliminal effort to make friends and put down some sort of roots here in the desert is by signing up for classes and courses. I’ve been looking at (but have yet to take the plunge) courses in Spanish, vegetable gardening, painting, and landscape design. I think it’s lucky that I moved to Arizona during their mild season, winter is when people get out and do things because it’s 60 degrees and blue skies. Come summer (my standard “get out and do things!” season), people tend to hunker down next to the AC and pray for the hellish heat to pass.

Hmmm…it seems I’m kind of a depressing lunch date. Hopefully in a couple of months I will find a better routine and some People (yes, capitalized) and come out of my shell a bit. Until then, what would you tell me if we went to lunch?

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Previous post: If we went to lunch… (July, 2014)

Spending less money: how it went

A month ago I decided to stop spending money more-or-less cold turkey. I mean, I still paid my bills and filled up my car with gasoline and went to the grocery store, but the plan was to cut out as much superfluous spending as possible. Overall, I am quite pleased with how I did on this. To recap, I had become very lazy about bringing my lunch to work, making my own dinner, and had dozens of little impulse purchases adding up to a significant chunk of money every month. I was still living within my means, but I was really surprised to do the math and see just where my money was going

In the last month I have not bought any clothes, not even a cheap t-shirt or pair of socks. I have not bought any books, which might actually have been a first for me in many, many years. I did not go to Target to wander and I did not buy any new beauty products to try. I cancelled my monthly car wash “subscription” and also cancelled my monthly massage–both of which I think will stay cancelled. I looked at my cell phone bill and my internet bill and have made steps to reduce the prices on both of those things. I was careful about my grocery shopping and made serious efforts to eat the things in my fridge instead of letting them go bad.

Now, the one area that had been the biggest offender of random purchases was in taking myself out to lunch. I wish I could tell you that I didn’t do that once in the last 4 weeks, but that’s not true. I was a lot more careful, and on the days when I forgot to bring my lunch I opted to get the cheapest sandwich instead of something I would truly enjoy. Not sure if that last part was really necessary, but it made the idea of going out to lunch a lot less desirable, which was kind of the point.

I also wish I could tell you that my bank account has eleventy-million dollars in it now, but, um, that’s not true either. I was able to put some extra funds in my savings account, and pay for some updates for the new house. Moving forward this summer I want to keep some of these changes and I want to be careful not to fall back into old, comfortable habits–especially the ones that involve waltzing myself to lunch five days a week–and I will be more diligent about creating and sticking to a monthly budget to save up for larger ticket items, contribute to my savings account, and generally curb my consumerism. Win-win, right?

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