Taking vitamins is hard

I’m trying to create healthier habits in my life, I eat mostly vegetables (and cheese), I am finally to a place where I’m regularly exercising and not despising it. I wear sunscreen always, and I decided that it probably wouldn’t hurt if I started taking a multi-vitamin. So, I bought a bottle of vitamins formulated for women (it doesn’t really matter which one, honestly, I bought the bottle that was on clearance because that is how concerned I am, but hey, baby steps to start). I’m supposed to take this vitamin with a meal and because I always eat breakfast I decided that would be as good as any other time.

Yesterday I made myself healthy breakfast (omelet with spinach and tomatoes from the backyard) but by the time I remembered about the vitamin I was out of my drink (I ALWAYS drink filtered water in Arizona, and always with a squirt of flavoring because the water here is cringingly bad (Especially to someone like me who was literally raised on mountain spring water our town collected from a burbling fountain coming out of the bottom of a granite mountain.).). Ok, so, fresh drink. Doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, right?

Ahem.

I added a little orange-tangerine flavor to my 24 oz bottle and grabbed the Brita pitcher out of the fridge. When I started pouring water the little plastic flap that covers the spigot fell into my tangerine sauce. I sighed and went to fish it out, getting bright orangey sauce all over my fingers, turning my nails orange (that’s….probably not very healthy). I rinsed off the little flap thingie and when I went back to finish pouring I knocked the pitcher which bumped my bottle which fell to the tile and sprayed orange droplets everywhere.

I maybe cursed a little and reached for the Clorox wipes, I wiped up all the orange droplets on the tile, and then used a little elbow grease on some other spots that I probably should have paid more attention to the last time I mopped.

….when was the last time I mopped the kitchen? Two weeks ago? Three? Uh, it might be longer than that. Eeek, that’s gross.

Some of the orange drops landed on the kitchen mat by the sink, which as an indoor/outdoor mostly plasticy rug I can clean relatively easily. I started scrubbing the worst spots with more Clorox wipes using the last in the canister. To the laundry room for more wipes.

While I was there I changed a load and started folding the towels as I pulled them out of the dryer, I sorted the dirty pile of the floor into the right bins and cleared off the top of the dryer. Why was I in here again?

Oh. Clorox wipes. Right. I swear I’m losing my ever-loving mind.

Back to the kitchen, hmmm, that rug really probably needs a good bath from the hose, actually, the orange isn’t coming out very well. I take it to the patio and turn on the hose, there are still a few spots that are staying orange…hrrm…. Baking soda! I could use some baking soda on it to get this stain out!

I put the hose on a dry spot in the grass and go back to the kitchen to make a baking soda paste, which I also rub on my orange fingernails and am surprised at how quickly it removes the stain. I probably need a manicure sometime soon, or at least should deal with those cuticles, eeek.

I rinse the baking soda paste down the sink and then remember I needed it for the rug. Batch #2 of paste (good thing baking soda is cheap) and outside again to deal with the rug.

The stain comes off just like that and I start watering my little plants, the squash and tomatillos and strawberries and beans are looking really good and I’m glad I moved the basil to a spot where it will get a little more sun! I pick up some of the trash that is always blowing into the corners of our yard and tidy up the seating area of the patio. I should probably check on the new plants in front as well.

The field of peppers I put in a few weeks ago seem to be doing well (literally, it’s almost 30 pepper plants, I believe “field” is the right descriptor here) and the musk melons should cover that bare spot nicely when they start sending out trailing vines. Dah, the front yard is looking so good! I can’t believe how much of a difference adding plants to our formerly solid gravel yard has made! Hot pink bougainvillea, bright yellow daisies, and rosemary and aloe and marigolds and petunias! Swoon!

Some of the gravel is lumpy and mounding weird, so I grab a rake to smooth it out. Then I track down the big sweeper broom to brush all the little rocks off the driveway and sidewalk and back into the gravel pit, I hate stepping on those in my bare feet.

Which…also, I need a pedicure. Oops. That sounds like a great plan for later this afternoon, I have a new deep orange polish that would be perfect for summer.

Orange.

Oh! I forgot to take my multi-vitamin! Dangit! It says “take with a meal” and breakfast was hours ago and I’ve been doing all this work since then….I guess it’s time for elevensies. I make myself a snack and retrieve my drink and settle down for another episode of The Great British Baking Show. And vitamins. Because, my health.

Yesterday morning was very much a “if you give a mouse a cookie” kind of morning. Being healthy is hard work, ya’ll.

On ruts (and vacuums, apparently)

Lately I have been wrestling with a MAJOR desire to get rid of everything “extra” in my life. I’m not talking about relationships or commitments, I’m talking about stuff. In the last month or two I suddenly am feeling suffocated by stuff, piles and piles of stuff. The almost non-existent closets in my house seem to be bursting (although, they actually aren’t) and it seems that every corner is “temporarily” housing a half-finished project or stack of things (also, not true). I’m not entirely sure what is going on in my brain to make me believe that I am going to be buried alive by unnecessary stuff…although, truth be told, I legitimately feel that way a lot of the time.

Now, my house is not a maze of piles, it’s fairly tidy, no one would assume that I am a budding hoarder. Nor do I particularly believe I am a budding hoarder…except, well, I might have something like 20 empty glass pickle jars in the garage….no reason, I just think they are a nice size, and they are glass, not plastic, and I think they might be useful someday…? Ok, so maybe a *little* bit of a budding hoarder. Don’t judge too harshly.

Here’s what I think: I think that I have been in a rut for a long time and I’m finally coming out of it. Without an actual medical diagnosis, I’m gonna call it: for months and probably years I have been noticeably depressed and unhappy and that has affected every other aspect of my life in large and small ways. I can finally see a faint pathway leading out to the rest of the bright, shiny world and I am desperate to get rid of everything that has been holding me back from that glorious sunshiney version of my life. Where constancy and sameness feels comforting and cozy while a big nasty Depression has its foot on my neck, now that I’m trying to shake all that dust off those “comforting constants” are suddenly oppressive. I have a palpable and tangible urge to run as far and as fast as I can. This is a new feeling, it’s strange and kind of unnerving. And exciting. And scary.

For most of my life I have been completely content with “good enough for now” and have sacrificed what I really wanted for something that was close, but not quite. Now, I’m a logical realist, my hopes and dreams have never been out of the realm of possibility, but they do require some long-term planning and a lot of patience, both of which I excel at but haven’t exercised in my personal life very well.

I bought a vacuum this week, not a $1,000 top-of-the-line machine that will steam your curtains and make you a smoothie, just a well-rated, not-on-sale model and I paid an extra $20 dollars for the automatic retractable cord because that is one of my favorite features of my no-longer-will-turn-on vacuum (RIP). Now, I vacuum several times a week, it’s an easy way for me to feel like my house is more put together and keeps the dust allergens at bay and my FitBit thinks I’m taking a walk and awards me activity points. Are you bored to tears yet about my home cleaning appliances!? It’s cool, part of being an adult is getting excited about a retractable cord on your vacuum. As I was comparing features and prices I had this very sudden and kind of sad realization: this is the FIRST vacuum I have ever purchased and the first new vacuum I have ever owned. For the last 16 years I have had a hand-me-down vacuum (from my grandmother, my aunt, my brother, my Dad, a friend). AND I’VE NEVER ACTUALLY COMPARED VACUUM FEATURES BEFORE. I’ve just accepted—gratefully—whatever reject was on its way to the donation bin and called it good enough. So, while most people would consider spending $100 on a vacuum a low-point in their week I am THRILLED TO DEATH about it. A vacuum! I just bought my own vacuum! One I got to pick from a zillion different models and options and with the exact features I want. I feel a little like a depressed 50’s housewife swooning over the latest nifty gadget, but also a lot like a liberated adult woman who picks out her own damn household appliances and pays for them too, thankyouverymuch.

I’ve been losing weight, and the clothes that currently fit me are YEARS old but mostly in great shape, I bought quality pieces back then and they have been worth the investment. I’ve held on to them, hoping they would fit again sometime. And they do, and I hate them. I’ve been putting shirts and pants in the Goodwill pile in the garage for weeks, I’m thisclose to giving up on some darling dresses that just don’t fit me the way I want them to, maybe they never did and I didn’t care? The point is, I care now; what used to “good enough” is no longer acceptable, I only want “great” and “wonderful” and “irreplaceable.”

(Sidenote: have you been clothes shopping lately? Why does every store seem to think that the height of spring fashion is athleisure or tacky fringed RTW circa 1992!? I have seen more broomstick skirts and janky denim jumper-dresses than were in my 5th grade class picture. It’s abhorrent. All the dress pants are cropped (huack) and the blouses have a distinct hippie vibe. I am not impressed.)

So. This is what coming out of a depression looks like? I rhapsodize about buying a vacuum cleaner while simultaneously berating “fashion” designers; I want to chop off all my hair and get rid of everything I own. Frankly, I sound a little bit like I’m in the midst of a nervous breakdown, which is maybe a necessary part of resurfacing after years of living in gloom?

Who knows. After years of sitting quietly (but miserably) in my deepening rut I’m just happy to be moving again; and I like to think that I’m climbing out, not digging in.

Sabbaticalette: Week Two

Whelp, my sabbaticalette is officially over and I am back at work, which has been exciting and wonderful in its own right. I intentionally took time off between my old job and my new one to try to decompress a little, get my heart rate and stress levels back to a manageable number, and to just be for a minute.

My first week, naturally, was JAM PACKED FULL of projects and activities and crossing things off The List. I don’t think I overdid it, I maintain that I needed to clear those things off my proverbial plate in order to get some relaxing in.

My second week? Oh man, those days were gloriously unstructured and downright slothful. The last two days I got a little antsy, but overall it was also exactly what I needed.

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I caught up on my 6-weeks-neglected feed reader.

I finished watching The Time Inbetween, one of the top-rated shows in Spain about a young woman during WWII who gets caught up in dressmaking and spying and espionage between Franco’s civil war and Spain entering WWII with the Germans. I mean, it’s in Spanish with English subtitles, so unless you’re fluent you do have to read the TV to figure out what’s going on. But it was wonderful. Recommended (via Netflix).

I went to lunch with a friend and I made fancy lunch at home–you know, an actual cooked meal instead of eating bits and pieces of leftovers while standing in front of the fridge. (I should note: I actually really love cooking for fun).

I continued to read and listen to audiobooks like crazy. I’ve finished 30 books so far this year and show no signs of slowing down.

I went shopping for pleasure for the first time in I don’t even know how long. Months? Almost a year? I didn’t go on a splurgy spree or anything, but I did buy a new pair of classy heels for my first day of work. At TJ Maxx. Ahem. My financial spending freeze experiments seem to be doing their job!

I planted some little seeds and puttered around with my flowers and vegetables.

I went on a really great hike at a state park near my house. I climbed/clambered/jogged 7.5 miles in less than 2.5 hours. There were zillions of cacti and wildflowers and it was cloudy and cool and, generally, perfect.

And the rest of the week? I slothed. I slothed so good! Part of me (the SUPER Type A part) is a little annoyed that I spent so much time doing essentially nothing; the rest of me, however, is thrilled about that choice. Good job, Harriet.

Sabbaticalette: Week One

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It has been only one week of my sabbaticalette yet three people have commented that I seem like a completely different person. I feel more myself than I have in months, and despite a very strange crop of zits all over my face (the hell, face!?) I feel like I look about 5 years younger than I did 3 months ago. I sometimes break out SKIPPING or GIGGLING for no apparent reason. It’s weird, yo.

So, what have I done with my newfound freedom and head space? Well, you know me (or you don’t, and the rest of this post will be very telling of my personality); I made a huge list and started checking things off one by one.

I painted the last room in our house, banishing the cardboard-box-brown paint that is ubiquitous in all Arizona homes forever. It is a lovely, soothing gray now and waiting for the last touches. (Check that off my New Year’s Resolution list!)

I pulled the millions of weeds in our yard, the rain lately has turned the gravel into a jungle. I also replanted a bunch of veggies and started two pallets of flower seeds for the front yard. I spent an entire afternoon pulling a WHEELBARROW FULL of concrete bits and rock out of the window box in our front yard. It needs some topsoil and then I can plant the lovely fuchsia bougainvillea bushes and bright yellow daisies in there. I potted a bunch of ranunculus for the front porch and back patio and am loving those little splotches of color.

I scrubbed all the corners of the house that have been neglected, I opened the windows and let the breeze blow through the rooms and air everything out.

I pulled up some nasty industrial-grade carpet that the previous owners GLUED to the side patio cement…I think a few months of the blazing southwestern summer sun on the remaining glue-gunk, with some strategic spraying and scraping will get rid of that stuff quite nicely. I’m just so glad to have it gone, I don’t like thinking about what was probably living/lurking in that nasty nasty carpet.

I’ve been to the gym, or on a walk, or a bike ride, almost every day. It has been GLORIOUS to move every day! My FitBit hardly knows what to do with me.

I did a mountain of laundry (see: deep clean everything) and watched some of my Netflix list for the first time in…weeks? (I’m watching The Tudors which is about the history of Henry VIII, because even my Netflix stuff must be nerdy. Hashtag: Harriet Life)

I’ve finished reading two books, started two more, and listened to three others while doing all my chores.

I went grocery shopping at Costco (for the FIRST TIME EVER! (I know.) (I SAID I KNOW!)) did some large-batch cooking, and filled up the freezer with some meals I can reheat later. I also bulked up our nearly non-existent pantry storage with a few cases of canned foods.

I unpacked the last of the moving boxes and have made a towering pile of things to send to Goodwill.

I’ve spent several hours on the phone with family and friends I love and feel I’ve neglected the last few months. I’m so grateful for technology, and simultaneously annoyed that I’m so far from the people I love.

I volunteered at a church event for young girls ages 8-11, we had a blast laughing and giggling and, uh, being super spiritual and stuff. Ahem.

Things I haven’t done, but intend to: hiking; painting on canvas/panels; a little photography spree to catch some early morning or pre-sunset light on the big rocky formation down the street from my house; take the pile in the garage to Goodwill; tidy up my side of the garage, especially the piles of project pieces that need to be corralled or recycled or finished up already; lunch and a movie matinee with a friend.

A few friends, upon hearing a little of what I’ve been up to, have commented that I don’t quite know how to “relax.” And…well, partly that is true. But the other part is something my friend Saskia wrote about, inspired by this article: There is a different between “self-care” and “resourcing.” Self-care is the spa day, or the massage, or the relaxing night at home. Resourcing is taking care of all the “life” stuff that you’ve somehow been neglecting. For me, before I can get into the self-care piece (hiking, painting, photography, etc), I need to take care of that resourcing bit that has eluded me for months. The resourcing part is almost done, I’ve got a few little projects I’d like to wrap up, and then I’ll have a few days truly to spend on myself, and then it will be time to go back to work. And for me, that sounds like the perfect sabbaticalette. (You know, because “two weeks in Europe” wasn’t quite in the budget/cards.)

How do you replenish yourself? Does the “self-care” and “resourcing” thing look different for you? If you had two weeks off, but limited funds for big adventures, what would you do?

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Not yet. But, soon.

For months I have been struggling, I’ve written about that struggle here a little, and I’ve internalized it a lot. I’ve suffocated panic attacks, and also let them destroy me in the dark hours in the middle of the night, leaving me exhausted but finally able to sleep. I’ve sobbed through books and songs that are not sad, I’ve been desperate for understanding. I managed to allow myself a little bit of hope. My struggles are not on a single track, it seems an entire web of hurt and pain and fear has been slowly closing in on me, slowly squashing the happy and sunny parts of my life, replacing it with dead shadows. I want to be clear that this is not entirely political, but the combination of politics, the hurts of humanity, my own relationships and my own demons. It is a very complicated web that I am tangled in, and it seems the struggle has only made the tangle messier.

For me, that web all came crashing down last Tuesday, watching in horror, sobbing in anger and fear, as state after state turned red. There are a lot of shitty things in the world, and also a lot of goodness. But on Tuesday night The Shit won. When you’re already walking on a tight rope, trying to balance and measure every step, it doesn’t take much to make you fall. I wore black the next day, in mourning. I have retreated some more, probably to a scary degree, actually. I am grieving the loss of so many things, and I cannot be comforted.

My entire life I’ve taught my heart to throw up walls, to grow spikes, to protect itself. For the majority of my adult life I’ve tried to remind myself not to build the wall and cultivate the spikes. I’m a warrior who is at war with herself. Years ago I received a piece of advice I think of often, but sometimes am incapable of the required follow through: Insulate yourself from the hurts of the world so that you may move forward shielded by your own, conscious strength. I’m still not 100% sure what that means, how do you insulate something without burying it in impenetrable layers? How do you move forward without turning into a prickly monster?

This is a puzzle I continually solve and then forget the answer. So I have to start at the beginning, again and again. It is exhausting. My unexpected, very emotional spiral immediately following the 2016 election is another setback for me, I’ve taken some time to be angry, and sad, and depressed. I’m not quite to the acceptance stage yet, I’m resolved to never refer to him as “President” but I’m also not (seriously) planning to move to New Zealand or Sweden or The Bahamas. But I am closer to moving forward. There is work to do, and I will sign up for all of it.

I’m not ready yet to sound my battle cry, I’m still picking up the pieces. But, soon.

Soon.

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