Lost and Not Found; Weekend Update

Once again, MGM (9) and Trixie (8) were up well before an acceptable hour on Saturday morning, a fact that continues to be an agonizing irony in our world since waking them for a school day is akin to poking two hibernating bears. 

They decided to use their valuable morning time to make a fort:

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This involves no fewer than 75% of the pillows in our house and is not going to be fun to clean up at the end of the weekend. They seemed to be happy and occupied while I drank coffee, though, so I let it slide.

On a different note, I was horrified to discover yesterday morning when I woke up in my hotel room that I had lost all of my cosmetics. This is especially painful because – as I’ve posted before – I spent a considerable effort to curate a set of travel cosmetics that worked really well for me, including limited edition mini brushes collated from several different brands.

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As I was getting ready for work and couldn’t find my cosmetics bag, I had the following thoughts:

  • Maybe it’s in my suitcase and I just didn’t find it. Commence ripping apart suitcase; do not find bag.
  • Maybe I left it at home. This seemed probable, although it did not solve my impromptu no make-up look problem.
  • Maybe I left it last week at the hotel where I’d stayed. Due to scheduling, favorable weather and kids who seemed extremely lonely, I’ve been home every night this week except Thursday, so while I had my suitcase packed all week and in my car, I hadn’t opened it. This means that the cosmetics bag could have been AWOL since last week and I hadn’t noticed yet.

In the interim, I was stuck without make-up, which shouldn’t really be that big of a deal since I don’t wear a lot, but I still felt a wee bit naked.

I decided to wear my funky glasses, which effectively limits the need for eye make-up, and I subbed a pink lipstick as cream blush. In the end, I probably didn’t look much different than I normally do, which is not saying much regarding my usual look.

A search at home also failed to locate the bag, so it looks like I’m starting over. Fortunately, Bobbi Brown is offering a great deal this weekend where you can create a free five piece mini beauty set (including choices of mascara, lip color, cheek color, eye shadow and makeup remover) with any $100 order. The site is also conveniently featuring a lot of travel minis, so replacing my stash is fairly easy.

Big Sigh for My Life. And Happy Weekend!

 

 

 

A Figurative Gut Punch

In case you’re wondering what it’s like to be simultaneously eviscerated and kicked in the teeth, it feels a lot like this:

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I found this note in MGM’s (9) room while gathering dirty socks and other laundry over the weekend.

Cue all the tears.

I knew that the transition to my new job and our new life would be hard, and it is.

While I don’t think it’s necessarily harder than I thought it would be, now that we’re in the hard part, it’s just really, really difficult.

I hugged both kids so tightly this weekend and told them that this is temporary and we’re building for something better, but I’m not sure they were convinced.

The only upside to this was that I’d already given away all of our Girl Scout cookies to our babysitter, or I probably would have eviscerated those Samoas.

Big sigh for my life.

44

 

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Via Getty images

Today I am 44, a palindromic event that happens only once every 11 years.

I need to remind myself that growing older is a privilege denied to many, but dang, 44 really seems on the wrong side of youth.

Time to step up my skin care game.

It’s funny how much things have changed in the past year. I left a job that I thought I would have forever and I survived that quite nicely. I’m living more authentically than ever, even though that involves some temporary hardship as I live apart from Spouse and my kiddos until the end of the school year. My new job is even better than I imagined, though, and I’m just getting started.

Here’s an anecdote to illustrate the profound difference:

Last week I had to stop by the bank to deposit a check. I’d renewed my medical license and paid dues to several medical organizations, and my new employer cut me a reimbursement check, made out to me with “Dr.” in front of my name.

I had to wait in line several minutes at the bank and chatted with a few people around me. The old me would have been irritated with the wait and I probably would not have engaged with fellow patrons. The new me is not angry and talks to strangers.

When it was my turn, the bank teller immediately commented that we have the same birthday (And Happy Birthday to you, Lakeisha, if you are reading this!)

We joked a bit about how I was probably two decades older and then she looked at the check and said – with surprise – “Are you a doctor?”

I affirmed and she asked me what kind.

I said OBGYN.

She said that she always wanted to be an OBGYN.

I told her she should go for it.

We bantered a bit and she said that someone close to her needed fertility treatment.

I told her that, in fact, infertility was my speciality, she asked me several more questions and then requested four of my cards to give to people she knew. She effusively thanked me.

In the end, we both wished each other Happy Birthdays and left as friends.

As I drove away, I was smiling and thinking about the encounter. I asked myself how I was feeling and the answer came immediately: happy.

It almost brought me to tears.

On one hand, I was saddened that I didn’t recognize happiness during an ordinary day such that I had to question the strange emotion I was experiencing. 

On the other, I realized how far I’d come from my old situation.

I wouldn’t have stopped to ask myself anything. I definitely would have been annoyed by the wait. Frankly, I wouldn’t have been in the bank in the first place because I would have been too busy during the day to go there. The check would have eventually been lost in a pile of papers on my desk and I would have been out of luck.

Again: things have changed.

I had dinner last night with a former colleague and one of my best friends. I shared this anecdote with him and said that the biggest difference now is that I feel like I live so much more of my life as the best version of myself. I smile more. I engage. I am open to people. I laugh all the time. I am always, authentically me.

It took 44 years to get here and I’m still a work in progress, but it feels good.

I’m still making skin care a top priority for 2017, though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hotel Living – Part 2

Last week I published thoughts on hotel living, but there’s still a lot to say.

I’m in a hotel as I type. Again.

So far, packing hasn’t been too difficult. I’ve been using this medium rolling duffel from eBags and I re-pack it every week.

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During the week I place dirty laundry into a plastic drawstring bag (hotel closets almost always have one in them for laundry) and when I am home on the weekends, I wash and re-pack some staples like workout wear, pajamas, etc.

I plan the upcoming week’s outfits while I do laundry. I plan these one at a time to the last detail, including jewelry and other accessories so that I don’t forget to pack anything. I’ve been using strategies on capsule wardrobe building from the excellent website Travel Fashion Girl. I try to limit my outfits to two different bottoms (this week it’s boring but versatile gray and black slim “Sloan” ankle pants from Banana Republic) and re-wear one top each week. This week I also packed one black blazer and will wear that twice, once with each pair of pants but a different top. In the end, I usually need 2 bottoms, 3-4 tops, 1 blazer or cardigan, and one extra sweater to keep warm. The capsule strategy works well because I work at one clinic four days of the week and the other one just once, so there aren’t many people who could tell I was recycling an outfit if I choose to do this. Packing with a capsule wardrobe has been a fun experiment, and I’ve discovered that I typically need much less than I think.

For shoes, I’m really coming around to the philosophy that boots are all you need. I typically bring two pairs of boots, wearing one and packing one. The styles rotate between my new pointy toed Steve Maddens, Chelsea boots (most versatile), and old pair of knee-length Born boots or my beloved Rag and Bone Newbury boots. An extra pair of running shoes also live in my bag, but these only see the gym.

I’ve been using this Hudson and Bleecker bag for toiletries, and I keep it stocked and packed at all times. I’d read about these bags on other blogs but the price – $88 – kept me away. I finally broke down and ordered one early last year, and I’ve been very impressed. The zippered outer bag opens wide to reveal two clear bags that snap into place. These can be removed and used separately, or the bag can be used on its own without the plastic liners. There is also a zippered pouch in the middle that is good for holding small essentials like a tweezer, nail clippers, etc. You can fit an incredible amount of stuff in here, even for a product junkie like me.

I have a massive supply of previously pilfered hotel toiletries and cosmetic samples, and so far I haven’t had to invest much in anything new. If something runs low, I write a list during the week and dip into my stash to re-strock the bag on the weekend.

I already had an extra set of makeup that I used to keep in my gym bag. Now I bring it with me. Everything fits into a small Kate Spade bag:

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The small square Bobbi Brown palette contains corrector, concealer, foundation and powder, all in one tiny (probably 3″ x 3″), compact. It’s perfect for travel. I bring one champagne eyeshadow and a bronze-y eyeshadow stick, both again from Bobbi Brown. Rounding the kit out are tinted moisturizer, a small cream blush from Beauty Counter and a powdered blush/bronzer combo from Bare Minerals.

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Image via QVC

The brushes I use are also all travel sized. I especially love the mini blush brush from Bare Minerals. This was from a set that I ordered from QVC (I know) once when I was sucked into their programming on a Saturday afternoon.

Working out hasn’t been difficult. Everywhere I’ve stayed so far has a reasonable gym, usually with treadmills and free weights, plus extras like Bosu balls, resistance bands, etc. There is no excuse to not work out, so I do. I’ve recently become obsessed with the Netflix show “Broadchurch” and told myself I could watch it as much as I want if I watched it only while exercising. At least for me, this is a great strategy to get in an extra 15 – or 45 – minutes on the treadmill. 

Eating has been more difficult. I am really trying not to eat in restaurants whenever possible, both to save money and calories. I really can’t afford to overindulge on a daily basis, but without cooking facilities at my disposal, it’s been a challenge. During the day, I have access to a breakroom kitchen at work, so I typically stock up on yogurt, fruit, string cheese, etc, for breakfasts and lunches. I brought a shaker bottle and protein shake mix, too, so this has been an easy meal or snack many times. For dinner I will often stop at a grocery store (Whole Foods or another local chain that is similar) and get a salad, sushi roll or something healthy. The main issue for me is knowing the nutritional value so that I don’t accidentally eat more than I planned. So far, I’ve also successfully avoided room service altogether. This is a major win, since indulging in room service in my PJs was something I loved to do when I traveled for my former job. Besides the generous per diem food allowance at my old job, the big difference with that was that work-related travel was a spontaneous – not constant – thing.

Since the weather’s cold here, I also pack my winter accessories well. I’ll mix up the scarves I bring (this week it’s a fuchsia cashmere one from J. Crew) and I also try to bring a bag that is versatile enough for work and social events.

The bag is a bright orange Prada tote. I love it, especially against a black coat in winter. It’s big enough to fit my laptop, too.

There are a few things I discovered were valuable items to keep with me at all times:

  • Warm, thick, fuzzy socks to keep my feet warm and clean in the hotel
  • A thin cardigan to wear in the (often chilly) hotel room
  • Tweezers
  • Nail Clippers
  • Wine opener (not that I’ve been drinking a lot of solo wine, it’s just an item that when you need it and don’t have it, you’re out of luck)
  • Extra contacts and a spare pair of glasses
  • Chargers for electronics
  • Dry shampoo (my life staple)
  • A bottle of vitamins. This is easier than packing a small container every week.

While I don’t plan to live in a hotel for much longer, it’s been an interesting time. I’ve tried to use it wisely, including exercising regularly and using down-time at night to do things I previously skipped like skin care masks, etc. This is mostly making lemonade out of the situation, because the reality is also that I miss my kids, Spouse, kitchen and warm bed tremendously. 

I’m looking forward to when we get this move completed and start our new life here together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flashback

Facebook regularly provides me – and everyone else – with flashback posts.

Over the weekend, this one cropped up from my 2011 feed. 

This was pre-blog, so my Facebook update was sort of a mini blog post, definitely more than typical FB standards but not the lengthy missives I regularly publish here.

This is what I wrote back then:

Had off part of work last week and this is what I did:

– Took 4 yo son to see “The Muppets,” which he later declared “stupid” despite  sitting in rapt attention @ seat’s edge during the actual film.

– Ran about 50 miles on treadmill @ the gym while watching movies on my iPad. Not as bad as it sounds.  Clearly, I have been in an extended coma to not have realized this Ryan Gosling guy existed.

– Drank annual Grande, non-fat, extra hot, no whip gingerbread latte. Meh. Not as good as I remembered, but at least this year I didn’t spill most of it on my coat or notice the barista spitting in it for giving that order.

– Went to Old Navy for first time in several years. Left with 2 overflowing bags and then immediately felt guilty because someone, somewhere is being exploited when fleece vests cost $7.

– Sent wedding gift to friend who got married over Labor Day and baby gift to friend who had baby in October. At least these events were both in 2011.

– Spread out all Xmas gifts in dining room for wrapping (not done). Smelled odd odor and discovered dog has been secretly peeing on dining room rug. Do not feel that bad about rug, as it was purchased from a tent sale in the parking lot at the mall.

– Renewed driver’s license at DMV. Their camera did not subtract 5 years or 15  pounds.

– Found an unopened bottle of my favorite wine that was not drinking itself. Rectified situation. Watched a hilarious SNL with Spouse (a ritual now 20+ years old, although in college it was pre-partying) and woke up slightly worse for the wear.  Fortunately, I have experience in this arena and can handle it well.

Sigh. Back to the grind tomorrow.

Minus the interval of five years, I can’t say that anything else has changed.

Saving Good Things

Do you save good things?

And by this, I mean do you consider some items so precious that you rarely use them, lest they get, well, used?

I do. And this is not a Good Thing.

Recently I realized that I hoard some of my nicest stuff, ostensibly protecting it from wear so that it will be (mostly) pristine when I want to use it. Which is often never.

This Prada bag is a great example.

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I bought this a couple of years ago with the idea that it’s a classic and an investment piece.

By “investment,” I also mean in my image and not in potential re-sale value.

This bag was supposed to say something about me: polished, luxe, sophisticated.

Of course I am often not any of those things, so it mostly continues to live in a box in my closet.

When I do take it out, it’s usually to go to a work event, like a conference, and then back the bag goes into its protective home.

I probably feel this way because I didn’t grow up with designer anything around our house and luxury items still sometimes feel irreplaceable if ruined despite consciously telling myself they’re Just Things.

To me, true decadence is having something nice and not really caring at all about it.

A former coworker used to sling around this giant Vuitton bag given to her by her boyfriend like it was a hobo’s bindle. She would carry (and spill) her lunch in it. Toss it in the corner of Labor and Delivery at our hospital. Drag it behind her. I couldn’t imagine ever being that carefree about something so spendy, but the more I think about it, maybe she had the right idea. It’s Just a Thing, and a practical one that’s meant to be used.

My weirdness for saving nice things also extends to travel.

I hate taking worn-out things on trips, so I practically have a whole separate wardrobe of things to wear on vacation.

There are swimsuit coverups and sandals that only see exotic beaches. Cashmere scarves and cardigans that are only meant for drafty airplane coverage. White tees that stay unworn so they can stay white. Delicate clutches for nights on the town. A Kate Spade wallet that I only use for foreign currency (!). You get the idea.

While it’s unlikely that I’ll ever get to my coworker’s carefree state of mind, I think acknowledging the problem is step one to solving it.

The tricky part is that I still am waiting for a personality transplant where I stop ruining everything I touch. Wish me luck.

What about you? Do you save your best stuff or use it with abandon?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Movie Problem

As I mentioned earlier in the week, MGM and the babysitter watched the opening credits of a movie last weekend that was deemed “too scary.”

Even though the TV quickly was shut off, the damage was done. 

MGM was crying about the movie’s beginning and said that he couldn’t remember exactly what was scary about it, but he knew it was scary – so scary that he couldn’t even try to remember it in order to explain WHY it was terrifying.

For reference, this movie was “Cowboys & Aliens,” a 2011 movie starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde. I haven’t seen it, but the plot according to Wikipedia looks pretty stupid. 

As a pure outsider, I would deem it “scary” in the sense that relatively high-profile stars were somehow coerced (blackmailed?) into appearing in this theatrical dud, but not “scary” in sense of Things That Go Bump In the Night.

But I’m also not nine years old.

Spouse and I felt bad for MGM to the point that we acquiesced to his request to not sleep alone.

I let him sleep with me in our king bed (with Spouse relegated to the guest room or sofa) for two nights, and then I began to get suspicious over his pleas that the “Movie Problem” was still in full force.

Exhibit A:

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This card shows some Minecraft toy sets that are available for purchase.

Close up of the accompanying note:

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I think I’ve been had.

 

 

 

Humbling

Life is so humbling for me.

Spouse and I spent part of the weekend out of town (kids stayed behind at Fancy Pants Ranch with a 20-year-old babysitter), and it included two important meals. 

The first was dinner with another couple we do not know well, and I have to admit I was nervous going into it.

As a person who enjoys public speaking, live TV events and performing surgery, feeling nervous is an unusual state for me.

They are extremely elegant, worldly and sophisticated. Often, I am not.

While I joke that I am best described as someone with toilet paper stuck to her shoe, I discovered during champagne at their beautiful home that I literally had a wet leaf stuck to my foot. I discreetly removed it and put it in my Prada handbag. This may be the first and last time someone ever did that.

Ostensibly, the dinner was phenomenal. The food was great, the conversation flowed well and I left energized and excited for the future.

The next day we had breakfast with our friends P. and T., but there was also an agenda to discuss a huge undertaking we’ve got in the works.

That, too, went well, but the underlying stress of the weekend eventually caught up with me.

When Spouse and I returned home on Sunday afternoon, we were greeted with disarray.

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Not quite this, but you get the idea

MGM (9) and Trixie (7) had taken every last pillow in our home (and I have an insane quantity of regular and decorative pillows) and created a fort in the living room. 

Our 15-year-old toy poodle had peed in our bedroom.

And pooped in the dining room.

A (nice) bottle of wine was empty, although I really can’t blame the babysitter. I might have done the same.

MGM was crying over a scene in a movie they watched that was deemed “too scary,” even though it had been turned off after the opening credits.

Toys were scattered everywhere.

Dishes were piled in the sink.

And then, Trixie was jumping on our ottoman into the pillow fort and landed just right so that she smashed and broke one of the doors on our TV cabinet.

I lost it. 

I yelled at her to look at what she did and she immediately ran off and started crying.

Spouse kept his head together and started in on the sink. The babysitter exited. MGM was still crying about the movie.

I was seeing red but pulled it together enough to make a first stab at apologizing to Spouse and Trixie.

And then realized I needed to go to the gym.

One thing I learned recently: when I’m in stressful situations, I should try to step outside myself and check in, asking myself how I’m feeling and why. This doesn’t come naturally to me. Maybe it’s obvious and intuitive to you.

What I understood in that moment: I’ve got a big, exciting new thing coming to me. And while all signs point to it being awesome, it’s still scary and there are parts that are going to be messy and not in my control. 

So I went to the gym with MGM and Trixie. A therapeutic treadmill hour later, we were headed home. I had (almost) forgotten it all.

At a stoplight, I heard a tentative voice from the backseat.

Trixie: Mom, are you still mad at me?

Gut punch.

My anger had diffused nearly two hours prior, but she was still wondering. I felt awful, as I should.

Me: No, Sweetie. I love you and am sorry for losing my cool. I’m not mad. I do want you to be more careful in the future, but I always, always love you.

She accepted the apology. 

Ever the comedian, MGM stepped in:

Just think, Mom, there could be seven of us! Then you’d really come home to chaos.

Again, life is so humbling.

 

 

 

 

 

The Losing End of The Garbage Disposal

So, this happened last night:

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My wedding ring was on the losing end of a battle with the garbage disposal.

Here’s another look:

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Yeah, it’s pretty beat up. And some of the diamonds are missing.

Wearing it in its rough-and-tumble state also really isn’t an option; it’s too busted to fit.

Am I upset?

Sure.

I really liked this ring.

Nearly 20 years ago we had it custom made at a jeweler in the town where we went to college, and I’ve worn it ever since. (My engagement ring ended up looking dated and went by the wayside ages – at least 15 years – ago. It lives a lonely life in a jewelry box in my closet).

Am I mad?

Not really.

It’s just a thing. Albeit a sparkly one.

Frankly, repair seems impossible at this point, so I’m likely going to (eventually) get something new to replace it.

In a way, it’s emblematic of a lot of things going on with me right now: some things are getting beat up and going way, and I’m clearing the path for new opportunities.

But you can bet your bottom dollar that the next ring is going to be even sparklier than the last one.

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This should suffice.

 

 

If It Makes You Happy

I’m doing the solo parenting thing this weekend.

Spouse is re-living his glory days with his college buddies, and from the picture he sent of his feet in front of a campfire (with a caption that Friday evening was fueled by 25 year-old Scotch and Nicaraguan cigars), it sounds like he’s having a blast.

Back at Fancy Pants Ranch, I invited my dear friends J. and B. over last night. We had a lot to catch up on and a few things to celebrate, so this happened:

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My Recycling Bin, which is going to be *quite* heavy to take outside

The three of us also had a blast, but I was feeling a bit rough this A.M.

Fortunately, both kids were also interested in sleeping late and spending the rainy morning as couch potatoes…

Which led me to spend two hours pursuing on of my more embarrassing hobbies: watching corny made-for-TV movies.

Since this was “Hallmark Channel” and not “Lifetime,” it was about two seemingly mismatched strangers falling in love despite obstacles (versus Lifetime’s Woman In Danger trope).

Here’s a screenshot of “Stranded in Paradise,” starring Vanessa Marcil and James Denton.

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Actual screenshot, as this is my TV

There was one part of the film that leapt out at me. Laid-back James (LBJ) is having a conversation with Uptight Vanessa’s (UV) character about Life With a Capital “L”, and it went something like this:

LBJ: The last I checked, you only get one Go Round here. I figured it’s a shame to just go through the motions or live somebody else’s dream. You gotta find your own.

UV: You know, just so you know, it’s not that easy to drop everything and change your whole entire life.

LBJ: I think you’re making it a little harder than it is. You just ask yourself: Am I happy?

And if not, is there something that might make me happy? It’s not selfish or narcissistic. It’s just honest. 

But you have to find it yourself.

Laid-back James, you had me at hello!

Lately I’ve had so many moments to contemplate this exact question, and it’s something I’m determined to figure out.

A few weeks ago at Rock Retreat Run (read about it here), I made this list of things I value:

  • Authenticity
  • Family
  • Friendships
  • Independence/autonomy
  • Laughter
  • Happiness

Fortunately, I think the script for my Hallmark Movie is still being written (and let’s just hope that the plot doesn’t go all Lifetime on me).

 

P.S. Spoiler alert: In the end, Uptight Vanessa and Laid-back James fell in love.

P.P.S. It is almost 1 PM and I still have not brushed my teeth. I know.