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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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)

If we went to lunch…

I love going to lunch with friends, catching up on all the good (and difficult, and crazy) things in our lives and spending an hour or so having a genuine heart-to-heart chat. In that spirit, if you and I went to lunch today, this is what I would tell you (this post idea is blatantly hoisted from Nilsa over at SoMi Speaks, btw):

I would complain about the pollen and my insane seasonal allergies and the cost of prescription strength (but not covered by my insurance) medication. I love the springtime blossoms, but I love the rainy days even more because it keeps the pollen on the ground where it belongs and not in my nose, eyes, throat, and sinuses. I may also tentatively suggest that winter stick around just a little longer; I hate the heat, am no fan of the sun, and definitely don’t mind snuggling up with some peppermint tea and a good book.

I would gush about how much I am enjoying my job. It’s not something I thought I’d get in to, or stick with for so long, but after 4 years I am dedicated and invested and I really love it. I have consistently asked for additional responsibilities and projects, and have been given the opportunity to prove what I can do. My to-do list is miles long, I stay late many evenings (balanced by no-work weekends and a few early-off Fridays), but I am happy; happier than I’ve ever been from an employment situation.

I would confide that learning to live with a boy full time has been…an adjustment. We are fine, that’s not what I’m trying to say, but I didn’t realize how much of a change it would be having Blue Eyes home every night. We are living together, really, for the first time, only without most of those honeymoon-y butterflies. They have been replaced with humorous (but also, sometimes kind of annoying) statements like “Why is your hair always clogging the tub?!” and “Is it so hard to just throw your dirty socks 2 more feet so they land in the hamper!?” and “Why is my towel wet? Did you use my towel?” We are learning and adjusting, but, um, it’s a lot of adjusting. Apparently we were both pretty set in our individual ways (and sock-throwing habits).

I would announce that last year I gave up sugar and carbs for Lent and I’m trying it again this year (but not for Lent, just, you know, for the last little while). It is both harder and not nearly as bad as I remembered. The harder part comes from the days where my planning leaves a little to be desired and I’m trying to eat on the fly and find something that fits into the “no pasta, no bread, no rice, no cookies, no corn, no carrots, no fruit, no sugar of any kind” restrictions. The easier part is that, oh yeah, this isn’t actually as bad as it sounds. Lots of veggies, protein every day, a small snack between breakfast and lunch. It takes planning, but it’s not difficult planning. (This is a short-term “cleanse” type of thing, not a forever diet change.)

I would sigh and admit that as much as I enjoy my job, I sometimes daydream about being one of those ladies of leisure, the type that goes to mid-morning yoga (or can go to yoga AND the gym any given day without making working out the only other priority in her life outside of the office), or sign up for a weekly painting studio session, or a cooking class, or go to long lunches with other leisurely ladies, and volunteer for a Good Cause more whole-heartedly, and sometimes, to be completely honest, to spend several days parked in front of Netflix with a bevy of sweet and salty snacks and a never-ending supply of Diet Dr. Pepper. I know that after a little while I’d crave the structure and workings of an office and co-workers and the projects I’ve spent the last 4 years contributing to; and I also know ultimately that a life of leisure would not make me happy. But GOODNESS, sometimes it just sounds so wonderful.

I would let you know that being a stepmom is hard. Not that hanging out with Blue Eyes’ kiddos is difficult, nothing like that. In our situation (kids live out of state, I see them every couple of months for a weekend and then a longer chunk of time in the summer and at Christmas) I see my role in many ways as closer aligned to that of a favorite aunt than that of a parent. And I’m really good at being the favorite aunt. No, for me the kids are not the difficult part. It’s Blue Eyes’ x-wife. For years she has been the biggest cause of angst and anxiety and rage for both of us (and, sometimes, between us). She is truly a piece of work; I try and keep most of the bullshit off the internet and in my therapist’s office, but DAMN, she is a particularly nasty brand of CrAzYtOwN. If you recall, this is the woman who told outrageous lies about me and my writing and, ultimately, bullied and badgered me into shutting down my old blog completely. I tell you, she’s a gem. And SHE is what makes being a stepmom so damn difficult, not Blue Eyes, not his kids, not the child support and other payments, not any of that kind of stuff, just her. All by her (nasty) self.

I would probably swoon over the fact that without necessarily intending to, Blue Eyes and I have taken a page from RA’s book on not scheduling social things for at least one or two evenings per week. Last week Blue Eyes and I had zero social obligations; we both worked late here or there, but there was no rushing to somewhere else, no faking happiness or lack of fatigue when we’d really just prefer a nap, and no trying to one obligation early to tray and catch the tail end of another one, and no pinchy pants or shoes. We’d come home, change directly into pajamas and just…be. To end the day with snacks and books and conversations and Netflix in jammies and fuzzy slippers for SIX DAYS IN A ROW…ohmygoodness, it was the most refreshing thing. Dear Self: Please Create More Evenings Free of Obligations. Love, Harriet.

How about you? If we went to lunch (or out for coffee, or whatever), what would you tell me?

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