Speedbumps on the Convenience Highway

peel hereWe all run through life in turbo drive, every day trying to do more in less time.  We live in a magical world where new conveniences pop up regularly, developed to match our speed, our lack of patience, and our need to “get ‘er done.”  Yet amazingly, we still yearn for faster and better.

I’m regularly astonished at myself for being frustrated if my computer gets bogged down and I have to wait a whole 10 seconds for a program or link to open up.  Or if I have to wait 8 minutes while watching my local news so I can see the weather forecast.  Or if my elderly dog is moving slowly during a walk.  Or if doing my hair in the morning takes longer than 5 minutes.  Heaven forbid I get stuck behind a “meanderer” in the grocery store.  And just the other day I “ran” in to a Subway restaurant, and got frustrated that there was only one person working, and four people ahead of me. I actually considered leaving, until I took a breath, felt badly for the woman who was doing her best to get to everyone quickly, and stuck in there.  I was back out the door in less than 10 minutes. Gosh, how did I ever survive it?

I do recognize my own impatience, and my seemingly lack of ability to slow down. I’m trying to kick it down a notch, really I am.  As a matter of fact, I have a goal someday, when I’m retired and in my advanced years, to be that woman who takes her time roaming through a store, who can patiently wait for something with no angst, and most of all, who can sit and watch the younger versions of myself run around like lunatics and laugh and say “I was you once.”   I’m already amused by some of the new products that come through that seem to take a step too far down the convenience road – like this weekend in the dairy aisle of the store I saw a “Deviled Egg Kit.”  Ewww, really?  I can’t even imagine what will be available in another 20 years or so.

I do believe however there will always be one industry that will continue to struggle with “trying to make life easier and faster”:  the packaging industry.   Forgive me, please, any of you who develop or design packaging. I know you are doing your best, with great ideas, using the resources available.  Even at my job, I’ve learned more about product packaging and the challenges that lie therein.  Yet there are some things that will forever slow us down, no matter how well-meaning, like speedbumps in the middle of our daily raceways.

Let’s look at a few examples:

Bacon packaging.  Tightly sealed envelopes of bad-for-us-but-yummy meat treats, with little windows designed to delude us into believing there’s some meat accompanying the fat on each piece.  At the very top reads an ever so handy phrase: Peel Apart Here. I have never successfully pulled one of those packages open.  The only thing that changes is the amount of time I will wrestle with it before just grabbing the scissors.

Produce bags.  Lightweight bags that hang in a roll in the produce department of the grocery store, that require a bizarre combination of finger wrestling, rubbing, shaking and peeling to open.  After three minutes or so of playing rock, paper, scissors with yourself and a bag, you realize you’ve been trying to open the sealed end, and have to start all over again.  All while balancing three peppers under your arm.

Anything with a plastic tab.  Water bottles, gum cups, deli containers – all of those nifty “convenient” openers that provide a tear-away seal for our safety… until the little nub or tab rips off prematurely, thus making the container virtually impenetrable.  Nothing worse than being really thirsty and holding a water bottle with a lid that won’t lift off.  Or being in the car with a new car-cup for gum and the tab breaks off – leaving you with a plastic vault that is now only good to be used as a baby rattle.  Speaking of being in the car, on a recent road trip, I had stopped at a service area for gas, and got a snack bag of trail mix for the next leg of my journey.  The “tear here” area at the top was impossible to tear.  The only way to open it would have been with scissors.  Which I don’t keep in the car.  Even poking it with keys or trying tearing it with my teeth didn’t work.  Gotta love staring at a snack with a rumbling stomach for three hours.

And finally, the worst modern packaging yet:  the kind of moulded plastic that holds everyday products hostage, like electric toothbrushes, lightbulbs, small electronics, and – ironically – even scissors.  There was a recent article in the UK’s Telegraph that aptly refers to the frustration of trying to open these containers as “wrap rage.”   Consumers report trying to use scissors, knives, razor blades and even hammers to open these devils.  And, you guessed it, many end up with injuries.  You may be able to quickly and efficiently brush your teeth with a nifty new powered toothbrush…. But it is going to take you an hour with three sharp tools to first get it out of the package, and likely a visit to Urgent Care.

Yes, I know, these are First World Problems.  What slays me is that in this very modern, wonderful First World from where we’ve put a man on the moon, we can’t master “tear here to open.”   Perhaps it is the universe’s way of telling us we need to slow down, to take deep breaths, to take our time in our crazy schedules, and that not everything in life should be rushed.

Either that, or we all need to carry an emergency pair of scissors with us at all times.

 

Posted in Chores, convenience, Food, home chores, housework, meals, moods, routines, shopping, simplifying, skills, Technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fairy Tale Slumber

Sleeping-BeautyThe National Sleep Foundation recommends adults age 26 – 64 should get 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night. So let’s take a quick poll. Real Women out there in that age range, how many of you average 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night? How many have had that many hours of sleep in just one night in the past two weeks? Past month? Yeeeaaahhhh, I kinda thought so.

We know that slightly over half of the U.S. Population is made up of women. Of those, approximately 60% of them are between the ages of 26 – 64. That means that a substantial amount of the population is sleep deprived on a regular basis.

Of course, we have good reasons. As young adults, many of us have babies or young children in the house, or even young pets. We are on duty 24 hours a day, and those young beings require frequent sleep interruptions at night. I remember when my son was a baby, I wanted to throw a party the first time he slept six hours in a row. Like all mommies, I learned that night terrors, bed wetting, and vomiting will all happen between 2 – 3 am. Like many mommies, I eventually learned how to feed, change, and soothe without becoming full awake, thus making the going back to sleep process easier. Eventually that phase changes, and sleep becomes a blissful reality again.

Until we move on to the next phase when we can’t sleep due to the life load on our minds. Anxiety, worry, stress, and no down time wreak havoc on our slumber. Those babies we had may now be out driving around at night by themselves. We may have other family issues, work stresses, you name it, and we have a new recipe for restless nights. We are queens of “brain overtime”. With luck and hope, this sleep deprivation is sporadic and eventually evens out.

Then we have the phase that I am now experiencing: menopause. The time in our lives where for no apparent rational reason, we just can’t sleep. It doesn’t matter how exhausted we are, or whether we’ve played by all the rules: no caffeine, no alcohol, no late screen time, get exercise, eat early…. It doesn’t seem to help. No rhyme or reason, we are just laying in the dark tired but not sleeping. I’ve never before experienced this extended a period of time of insomnia. And I really don’t like it. But I’m not alone. There are a lot of us mature women roaming around exhausted. In talking with other R.W.’s my age, I’ve heard things like “As soon as menopause hit, sleep went out the window. Four hours was my average.” Or “Oh, no, I don’t sleep. That’s why I go in to work at 6am – I’ve already been up for three hours.”

Don’t worry, guys, we know some of you have sleep challenges as well. But trust us, as the women who lay awake next to you listening to you snoring through the night, we know we have the corner on the market. The next time you guys are awake at 3am, rest assured that the woman in your life is already laying there making lists in her head, trying to solve world hunger, and calculating how many trips she’s already made to the bathroom. One of the things I’ve pondered while laying there is why Maleficent wasted her perfectly good spell on a 16-year old. If Sleeping Beauty had been in her 50’s, she would have welcomed the chance to sleep peacefully for a hundred years or so.

Thankfully the anxiety and panic I was experiencing when this phase of insomnia first started has faded. (I do fess up to one night of tears at 2:30am because I was fixated on having to get up for work in less than four hours).   Now I’m finding that I’m kind of fascinated by all of this. It is remarkable to me that so many women (and, yes, some men) are going about their normal routines on little to no sleep. Of course there are plenty of articles and medical warnings about problems that can arise due to not enough sleep: lack of alertness, impaired memory, stress… and possible long term issues like high blood pressure, depression, lower sex drive – oh, and even better, premature wrinkling, dark circles under our eyes and a break down of collagen in our skin. Great, so we can be tired AND ugly.   But in reality, most of us learn to cope for the short term, or even longer term, because we just can’t put life on hold. So far I can happily say that I have yet to fall asleep at work (thankful for a busy, fun job), nor have I viciously attacked anyone due to crankiness (my husband and son have learned when to hide).   I have found that some weird things happen, like the loss of my ability to use big girl words (already a menopausal issue), dropping stuff, and totally forgetting something I had literally remembered to do half an hour prior. But generally speaking, all of the women I know are still brilliant, talented, caring, beautiful, funny individuals even when running on empty. To me this certainly proves who’s the stronger sex.

I know that this too shall pass eventually, just like those other sleepless phases. A kind and thoughtful R.W. today sent me a book entitled “Sleep After Menopause.” I took heart in the fact that on the very first pages, the author assures us that “I’ll never sleep again” is really not the case. Whew. Life as a zombie sure could get old eventually.

So now I have something new to read at bedtime, to learn more about yet another phenomena in R.W.’s lives. We are never too old to learn and understand more about ourselves. Besides, maybe it will be magical and put me to sleep.

 

 

 

Posted in age, beauty, doctors, education, family, fitness, Health, home, Kids, life phases, moods, real style, real women, routines, self care, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Underlying Truth

old school garmentsFor many years, from college through my 30’s, I paid a lot of attention to my undergarments.  They were as much a part of my daily ensemble as picking out the right blouse or jewelry.  Victoria Secret was my jam.  Like many young women, I had lovely sets of lingerie ranging from sweet to naughty.  I had bras and panties that matched each other and ranged from cute to sexy.

As much as men would like to believe we wear fun under-things for them, that’s not really the case. (Sorry guys!) Sure, a happy coincidence to be wearing something fabulous when the moment is right, but really it is more about making ourselves feel special. I loved checking out new styles and picking out lovely items to wear.

Then something changed.  Over the past few years, the collection in my bureau drawers has somehow morphed into something….boring. And although I have not reached the give-up point of granny panties, I seem to have moved from lacy and strappy to full coverage and comfy.  It happened so gradually that I didn’t really notice the change.  Until recently.  A few weeks ago, while trying on new clothes, my BFF caught sight of my panties and was aghast.  She asked me how my husband ever wanted to be intimate with me when I wore something so hideous.  Ok, so I hadn’t planned for clothing shopping, and I happened to have on an old pair that had somehow been through the wash with something dark that errantly stained them a bizarre mix of yellowish-gray.  And they were kind of baggy.  Not my best look.   Then the other day when I went to use the rest room I realized the panties I had on had small holes in them from over-use and over-washing.  Hmmmm, I see a trend here.

As for the top half, well, gone are the fun bright colors and lace.  My bra collection consists of beige for under light clothes, black and navy for under dark clothes, and a couple patterned ones for the days I’m feeling wild and crazy.  And they are nothing special structurally.  One of my friends recently went and had herself measured and fitted and she invested in very good bras.  I say invested, because that’s what it really takes to have the perfect fit, and to have something that puts the girls back to where they are supposed to be.  I know I should take the time, and the funds, to do what she did.  After all, some anti-gravity support is important at my age.  Yet somehow I never seem to fit it into my schedule, and I end up doing what so many of us do… grab something off the rack at Kohl’s for 20% off, with just a few basic requirements:  a modicum of support, enough padding to hide our cold weather detectors,  enough structure to avoid the side pudge sneak-out, and a quality that will hold up at least for a few months.   Comfort isn’t even much of a consideration, because we are all so used to desperately ripping the garment off our bodies at the end of the day.  My friend with the good bras can probably wear hers comfortably for 24 hours at a time, and rest assured they will still look great years from now. I have another BFF who prided herself in always having matched top & bottom sets, and I’m betting she still does.  I’m impressed.  I gave up matching somewhere along the time my son was born.

Interestingly, a similar shift has happened with my shoes.  It used to be that the higher and funkier the shoe, the better.  I happily paraded around on anything that would make me 3, 4, even 5 inches taller.  Bright colors, awesome patterns, unique designs – all part of my collection. I remember shoe shopping and showing a friend one particularly awesome pair, and she asked me if they came with a free pole. Ah yes, those were the days.  Now, even though my love affair with shoes has not waned, and never will, I have gradually moved to cute and comfortable over tall and sexy.  This is partly because I work in a business-casual environment, but mostly because…. well…. I don’t know.  Because I have boring underwear.  And the two are somehow related.

Luckily, my husband, bless his heart, hasn’t seemed to notice this change. Or if he has, he is kind enough not to comment.   I’m sure there are days he wishes the me of 20 years ago would greet him at the door in a teddie, but really – that only happens in the movies now, right?   He’s much more apt to see me dressed in the dreaded yoga pants and baggy T-shirt.  But that’s ok, because he’s likely in his dirty stained workshop clothes too.  It’s what is on the inside that counts.

As we get older and busier, comfort becomes more and more important. We don’t have the patience for fussy and impractical. For those of us in long-term relationships, we start to cut corners with the things that don’t seem to matter as much so we can devote our attention to the things that do, because we are not trying so hard every day to impress each other.  And honestly, I’d rather spend the day being active and having fun with work, family and friends than spend the day trying to keep a lace push-up in place, deal with the constant wedgy of a thong, or limp from a blister developing on my foot.

All that said, my BFF and I do have a “don’t let each other give up” promise.  There’s only so far we’ll let each other go to the dark side of not caring how we look.  So in a nod to that code of friendship, I think I’ll take some time to do a clean out of my bureau drawer.  Say good bye to the torn, the stained, the stretched out, the ugly, and take myself on a shopping date like I used to when I was younger.  You know, actually browse new styles and designs.  Buy something other than beige and black.  Add a bit more spice back into my bureau drawer, a pep to my step, and a bit more lift to the girls.

No one else will notice.  But I will.

 

Posted in age, beauty, clothing, fashion, friends, men, real style, shopping, simplifying, Style, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bag It

purse.jpgMy husband is mystified by the quantity and variety of bags, totes and purses I own and use. More to the point, he doesn’t understand how or why I could ever possibly need more. Silly man, it is not a matter of need. Of course any of us R.W’s could live with one purse and one tote bag…and a few of those re-useable grocery bags…and one dressier clutch…and one beach bag…and….oh, ok, maybe it wouldn’t be so easy.

It is funny that he may mock my collection, but isn’t he the first one to ask me if I’ve got room to carry his keys, or his cap, or ask if I have any tissues with me, or do I have any gum…. Heck, just the other day my brother asked if I happened to have a measuring tape in my purse – you know, like mom always did.

Our need to carry a satchel falls into two categories: Let’s Make A Deal, and Fashion. I remember as a girl watching the old Game Show and being amazed at the stuff women would have with them when Monty Hall asked for obscure objects. Until I got older and started carrying my own purse – especially as a mom. Weird things would end up in my bag when my son was younger: matchbox cars, half-eaten snacks, rocks, bandaids, dirty tissues, crayons and broken pencils, works of art scrawled on scrap paper during church services…. And if you are also a pet parent, add in things like dog treats and poop bags.

If we happen to be in the midst of some sort of home project, the depths of the bag may contain things like that measuring tape, paint chips, a chunk of wood, cabinet knobs, or screws. And of course we have all of our emergency items that are musts just to get through our busy days: hand sanitizer, lipstick, panty liners, breath mints, a note pad, tissues, a bleach stick, hand lotion, hair ties and perhaps a spare pair of earrings. Of course the basic essentials are there as well, a wallet stuffed with credit cards but rarely any cash, a check book full of receipts, a phone, a hair comb, some sort of pouch to carry store rewards cards, and a key chain that weighs about 20 pounds – not from keys hanging on it, but from charms, lanyards and miniature versions of the same rewards cards.

Our bags become veritable cornucopias of pieces of our lives. We could learn a lot about a woman just by taking a tour through her purse. Grocery lists, to do lists, swatches, notes, ripped pages from a hairstyle magazine, you name it, you’ll find it. Yet reaching into the dark depths of a woman’s bag is not for the faint of heart. Ever ask the man in your life to get something out of your purse? He’ll get that stricken look of panic on his face, then pick the whole thing up as if it carries the germs of the bubonic plague and practically throw it at you to find the item in need.

As for fashion, this rarely aligns with the practical needs of carrying a bag.   We have all been duped into buying a purse or tote or clutch simply because it is adorable. Or we have ooh’ed and aaah’ed over some amazing designer bag that would cost more than a car payment. We have visions of strutting down the street with this fabulous bag swinging from our shoulder… then opt instead for one on the sale rack at Kohl’s. And usually when we impulse-buy a small cute purse simply based on it’s looks, we soon realize we are unable to fit anything more than one tube of lipstick and one credit card inside the trendy item. So we must decide – look sophisticated carrying our little slice of fashion that so perfectly matches an outfit, OR be ready for anything life throws our way and carry an ugly yet huge Mrs. Poppins satchel?

Some of the Real Women in my life are organized enough to be able to swap bags each day as a regular fashion accessory. When I try to do this, invariably the one thing I need (like my to do list or my keycard to get into my work building) is sitting in the bottom of the bag I’ve left home. So I tend to be a seasonal purse changer, or I will swap what I’m carrying for a certain event. Other R.W.’s I know really do somehow survive living with just one or two bags. They find something practical that works for them and carry it always. That is the smart thing to do of course, but I’m far too attracted to a pretty fabric or a funky design to be able to say no to a great bag at an affordable price.

Sometimes we luck out and find the best of both worlds: beauty and function. This spring my girlfriend and I went to visit my sister in Texas and one of our stops during our shopping extravaganza was Sam Moon. For any of you not familiar with Sam Moon, it is an accessory store on steroids. It took us about 10 minutes to each find purses we loved. Not only did they have great patterns and colors and were a useful size, but they had a funky pocket on the outside that zipped open from the side. We didn’t understand the point behind the pocket (I assumed it was to carry my iPhone) until my BFF picked up another similar purse that had a tag on it. The tag read: Concealed Carry.   Sure enough, the interior of the pocket was just the right shape to carry a small gun. Remember, we were in Texas. Of course now we just HAD to buy the purses, I mean how cool was THAT?!   And yes, I carry my phone in the pocket, in case you were wondering.

I guess I can understand why men are so mystified with our love affair with bags. After all, my husband carried the same big clunky utilitarian work bag for years until I got him a cool laptop backpack. He would never imagine using something else. But to us women, variety is the spice of life. If we are going to be called upon to be the carrier of all things necessary, then we darn well want to look good doing it.

The next time I put my purse on the counter of a store and go digging through it, past the wallet and lists and pens and hair ties and keys, trying to find a coupon that has fallen to the very bottom, at least the cashier will have something pretty to look at while I rummage.   If it is a female cashier, she will totally get it.  She will utter those words all of us in the Secret Society of Bag Adoration love to hear:  “Take your time.  Great bag.”

purse

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Cutting Corners

pantsI grew up in the days when 4-H was a thing. It still is a thing, a very good thing, but you just don’t hear as much about it in most communities any more. Or perhaps I’m just out of the loop. The last time I attended a county fair and saw a few girls sitting at a 4-H booth, I chatted with them and told them how I was a member from age 8 through my teens. They shyly and politely smiled at me and no doubt thought “wow, that must have been a really long time ago.” I decided against reciting the 4-H Pledge to them which to this day in still ingrained in my head. I didn’t want to become that creepy old lady who hung out too long.

In my day, in my community, there were two primary areas of interest for 4-H’ers: agriculture and home skills. Although I had friends who raised livestock and learned how to milk a cow at a young age, and I had a 4-H leader who lived on an active farm, most of my focus was on things like learning how to cook, sew, do tie-dye, build terrariums and make ice cream. Ok, maybe the making ice cream thing only happened a couple of times, but once you experience hand-churning for several hours, you don’t forget the experience.

Truly the skills I learned in those days continue to serve me well today. The fact that I had to give cooking demonstrations in front of audiences helped me get over any fears of public speaking. It goes without saying that learning to cook and bake has kept me and my family fed. Because I learned to sew, I made much of what I wore through my teens and even after. I made a nifty outfit of brown corduroy pants, a yellow turtleneck and a brown, yellow and orange ski jacket (what can I say, it was the early 80’s); I made each of my formal dresses for my high school dances. I even made my Maid of Honor dress to wear in my BFF’s wedding (she was by the way also a 4-H’er). We all learned how to model our creations, knowing how to step, pivot, and return without tripping all while looking at the audience – another confidence booster.

And throughout every lesson was the key message of practicality. We were taught to never waste money or resources: scrape the butter off the wrapper to make sure you got it all, save leftover fabric for crafts, and any time you saw a cute piece of clothing in the store, consider if you could make it for less and for better quality.

All awesome training for life. And yet… somewhere along the way, I started cutting corners. I started cheating. I think a lot of us move along at such a fast pace in life that as we get older some of the skills we developed in our youth get pushed aside or go unused. We start to take the easier and more efficient route to get to the end point, even if there’s some small voice in our heads that is going “tsk tsk tsk.” Perhaps we learned how to fix small appliances in shop class. But now we wrap electrical tape around a broken handle until we have time to take it to a repair shop or buy a new one. Maybe we learned how to solve complex mathematical equations but prefer now to use a calculator. We likely learned how to iron, but now hang our clothes in the bathroom and hope the shower steam takes out the wrinkles. Or we know how to change our oil but take our car back to the dealership for maintenance.

For me, sewing was the first to go. My sister, who was an even more avid 4-H’er than I was, still sews beautifully today. Me, not so much. As a matter of fact, some time ago I lost a button off a pair of my favorite pants. No worries, I thought, there are still two hooks there. Then last week, one of the hooks fell off. Ok, I thought, I should probably fix these. But instead I washed them and wore them again today. And sure enough, the last hook gave out. I spent the last couple hours of the day hoping my zipper would be enough to keep my pants up, wishing I had a safety pin. Speaking of pins, I have another pair of pants where one of the hems is coming out, so I’ve been walking around with a safety pin holding it up. For months. I know I could fix it. I should fix it. But heck, the pin is working just fine. Once in a blue moon, like tonight, I’ll get out a needle and thread to sew on a button. But most of the time now I will hide a cheater fix until I can get to a very efficient and talented alterations seamstress.

I do still cook and bake. Yet I’ve learned to cheat there too. I have pre-cooked, pre-cut chicken in the freezer for quick meals. I have brownie and muffin mix in the cabinet when I don’t have the energy to create from scratch. I now consider sandwiches, scrambled eggs, or pre-made frozen meatballs acceptable dinner food.

I shop for clothes. I no longer consider if I could make them at home for less.

I buy ice cream, I don’t churn it myself.

We all cut corners. We let past skills and talents languish. But that’s ok. It allows us to put our efforts into a whole different set of skills and talents, like being partners, wives, co-workers, moms, entrepeneurs…. And real women.

I think the next time I get the chance to meet some enthusiastic young women who are learning vital skills in 4-H or any other youth development organizations, I will encourage them to learn like sponges. Tell them to take the time to hone their skills. Become talented, strong and self-sufficient.

Then I will hand them safety pins and tell them trust me, some day you’ll be glad you have them.  

 

Posted in age, clothing, education, Helping others, home, meals, Professions, real women, skills, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ixnay the Ouldshays

morningThis morning my dog was bugging me to go for a walk. Yes, really, he knows how to communicate this to me quite clearly. What can I say, he has me well trained. I did have a few things I was planning to get done before heading to work. But it was a beautiful morning, and it would be too hot to walk later, so off we went. He even pulled me in the direction of one of our longer loops, thus ensuring that nothing on my To Do list would get done before I had to get ready for my work day.

I didn’t get an extra load of laundry done, I didn’t get the kitchen cleaned, and I didn’t get a gift wrapped. I did instead get a little exercise (not much, he’s pretty pokey because he has to stop and sniff every tuft of grass), I did breathe in fresh air, and I did admire how lush everything looks after so many days of rain.

So he was right. It was a nice walk, and a good way to start the day. But don’t tell him that, it would go to his furry head and give him even more ideas on how to control me.

We Real Women put way too many “should’s” and “need to’s” and “to do’s” on our plates every day. We are in perpetual motion, trying to fit too much into the hours we have. Of course there are things that can’t be ignored, and have to happen. Yet we apparently aren’t satisfied with our regular every-day chores and must-do’s, and just heap on more. Lately I’ve been obsessing about trying to clean out the house in preparation for a tag sale this year, and worry if I don’t work on it some every day. Then we all have people in our lives who we feel should be getting more of our attention, and home projects that ought to be done, we should be exercising more, we should be planning summer activities, we should be schlepping our children to events or helping them with their homework, we should be doing this, that and another thing. YIKES.

Sure, we talk a good game. We post lovely quotes on our Facebook pages and buy cute wooden plaques for our homes and offices, all reminding us to “enjoy life today because yesterday is gone and tomorrow is never promised”, or “live in the moment”, “life is short”, and of course “YOLO.”   There’s no question that we are all living very full lives. But are we filling them with the right things? Are we filling our time with the right stuff? Do we have to be in Turbo Super Woman mode every waking moment (and many moments when we are supposed to be sleeping)?

How often have any of us said things like: I don’t have time to take lunch, I have to answer these emails. I need to clean the house, I can’t stop and sit and watch a movie. No time to stop and chat, gotta run these errands. Would love to go get a pedicure, but I’ve got too much on my plate. If we could somehow step outside ourselves and listen to what we were saying, and watch ourselves run in our frenzied manners, wouldn’t we say “oh, holy cow, just STOP it.” Would we see that rather than living our lives, we were running them over?

Alright, maybe that sounded a wee bit dramatic. We do know how to pause and enjoy time with friends, or sit in the sun and read a book, or go out to a movie, or go on vacation. Yet we only seem to do these things after we feel like we’ve taken care of everything else we “should”, or “need”, to do, and made all appropriate arrangements, so we are exhausted by the time we are ready to have fun.

This morning on the Today Show, Natalie and Jenna did a story about their time at “Campowerment”, a “sleepaway camp-inspired experience designed to equip women to live life better.” AKA for women to take a few days off and have fun. For about $1500, you can relive your childhood summer camp days and get away to a beautiful location for four days to do things like boating, ziplining, dancing, crafts, even face your fear of heights on rope courses. I watched their story and had a couple thoughts. First, that’s nice, I’m sure many women would love that. Second, that it was a bit sad that places like this had to be created to convince women to disconnect and enjoy themselves. Third, that it was a bit over the top. Most of the Real Women I know struggle to find the time to go get their hair cut, or have lunch, or take a nap, or just sit and do nothing. Shouldn’t we start with the basic slow-downs? Oh, my, I said it again, didn’t I? I said should.   Ok, I’ll make this more simple: let’s stop saying should. Ixnay on the ouldshays.

We all need to start small. Log off the computer and go take a lunch. Sit and watch a chick flick. Get a pedicure. The “shoulds” will still be there when you are ready for them. So what do you say, let’s all drop one Should off of our weekend, then please report back with your success.

If you have a tough time determining which “should” to give up, perhaps it is time to listen to a dog. After all, they live by the motto “if you can’t eat it or play with it, pee on it and walk away.”   Pretty smart, if you ask me.

smiley juke

Posted in Chores, Entertainment, fitness, friends, Health, home, home chores, housework, Kids, moods, pet, real women, routines, Seasons, self care, simplifying, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creature Comforts

happy dog in carWe are enthralled with, and laugh at, our pets’ habits. They thrive on routine. Whether it is a donkey who wants to be greeted with a scratch behind his right ear, a dog who waits by the window when he knows it is time for the human to come home, a cat who demands just the right amount of water to be poured into the bathroom sink every morning, or a pup who refuses to walk on the other side of the road, their routines are cute, amusing – and sometimes – frustrating. Aren’t they funny critters?

Yeah….um… are we really that different from them?   Have you noticed your own habits lately? Sure, we all like to think that we are a little wild and crazy, impulsive and unrehearsed. Maybe when we were younger we could drift in whichever direction the wind took us. But as mature Real Women who have families to manage, jobs to hold, and our own mental states to maintain, we just have to be a wee bit more in control of our destinies. Or at least try to be. And let’s face it, there is comfort in the familiar.

It seems the word routine has bad connotations. When I Googled it, I found all sorts of quotes about how routines are basically the killjoy of life. We can’t possibly change our lives or succeed if we don’t break the “paralysis” of routine. Wow. That’s harsh. And I get it – if we never push ourselves beyond our comfort zones, or try something new, then we won’t grow and experience some of the more amazing things in life. I totally agree. But just because we like to plan, make lists, know where we are headed, and naturally do certain things virtually in the same way and at the same time every day doesn’t mean we’re not fun and experiencing life.

The tone of our day starts with our morning routines. Just like our pets rely on us to get them out and feed them at EXACTLY the same time every day, we rely on our usual plans to flow smoothly with as few crises, spills, and trips as possible. Like some sort of military operation, we have our mornings timed to the minute. Last week both my son and husband were up earlier than usual, which instantly caused a back-up in the shower patterns, and threw off the prepping-for-the-day process as if the earth’s axis had tilted. They didn’t notice anything, but the dog and I just kept looking at each other with a “this feels very off” look.

We are even predictable when it comes to getting our daily news and information. We have our preferred TV networks, websites or feeds, and spend pretty much the same amount of time on them each day. Before I head to work, I pick up my phone to first check work emails, then personal emails, then Facebook. In that order, every time. Then a quick check of Twitter and Instagram. I turn on the local news while I get dressed, then switch over to the Today Show at 7am. When the Today Show gang are doing the fluff segment of Trending, or Rossen Reports, I know it’s time for me to go downstairs and make my chai tea before I head out.

We have these weird little rituals all day long – sometimes we don’t even realize we are doing them. Routes to work, how we greet co-workers, lunchtime behaviors, after work activities… and, of course, at the end of the day, the whole going-to-bed process follows specific steps.

My BFF and I were texting each other the other night during one of our seasonal routines – cleaning out our closets. We agreed that we go through the same thing each time. As if it is a surprise, we realize that our style has changed, how things fit has changed and that impulse buys are generally a big mistake. Maybe we are slow learners, but more likely, we enjoy the familiarity of the process.

I understand that, like Google inferred, routines can make us sound boring and maybe even sad. But I don’t believe that. Because sometimes we are smart enough to take breaks and divert from the usual. To go on travel adventures, or take days off, or do something bold and different. You know, like take a different route to work. Or try something new for lunch. Or heck, even check Facebook BEFORE email.

We can have happy moments of spontaneity to perk up our days. And like a dog who’s just been offered a car ride, we can jump in, soak in the fresh air, tail wagging with the excitement of what might be around the next corner. Then go back to chasing our tail and taking naps later.

 

 

 

 

Posted in age, Chores, family, home, pet, real style, routines, Seasons, simplifying, Uncategorized, unfinished | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment