Category Archives: Observations

10 Simple Stress Busters

It’s been a crazy few weeks.

DH has been busy with end-of-term meetings, presentations and the like. I’ve been in charge of scheduling contractors for lingering punch-list items including a sink replacement — it is SO much fun to have your children visiting when you can’t use the kitchen sink –, replacing two window blinds that had arrived damaged, painter touch-ups, fixing the garage door, etc. Plus finding someone to clean the windows, finding someone to cut the grass, and everything else we have to squeeze in before we leave for the summer.

I don’t do well with stress. (Does anyone?) So I try to remind myself to do these simple things:

  1. Walk whenever possible.  We now live about a quarter mile from the supermarket so, instead of driving over when I need a few things, I take the rolling grocery cart or a couple of shopping bags and walk there.  It takes longer but is weirdly relaxing.
  2. Buy flowers.  They smell lovely, look pretty, feel indulgent, and improve air quality.
  3. Spend time alone. Go for a stroll, take a bath, exercise, give yourself a facial… whatever clears your head (literally or otherwise).
  4. Read or watch something funny.  Laughter is the ultimate stress buster.
  5. Do something creative. It doesn’t have to be award winning or museum quality: Bake, garden, rearrange your closet —  anything that fuels your imagination.
  6. De-clutter. If there’s no time for a full reorg, even neat piles on my desk help me feel more in control.
  7. Simplify entertaining when you’re short on time. Unless you find it relaxing to make a fancy dessert or bake bread, don’t bother. Your friends want to spend time with you, not admire your gourmet prowess.
  8. Do the dishes tomorrow.  Guests stayed late? Put the food away and let the dishes soak overnight.
  9. Don’t overschedule. This usually happens because I (and you, too?) want to make everyone happy, often at our own expense. Be realistic about how much you can fit into a given day. If you have to cancel, do so as early as possible to minimize other people’s inconvenience or disappointment. And try not to feel guilty.
  10. Remember to breathe.  Inhaling lavender helps.
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Special shout-out to MSW blog for more thoughts on this topic.

Good News Monday: DGAS, a Benefit of Aging

There may not be a scientific study (yet) but I’m convinced there’s a provable curve between increased age and the condition DGAS (Don’t Give a S***).

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When we’re younger, we obsess over how we’re perceived at work and in our social lives. Do people like us, respect us, take us seriously, etc.? Is that compliment sincere, or does he/she just want to get into our pants? (And are said pants a size or two larger than they ought to be?)

The beauty of getting older is that, frankly, there are very few people whose opinions actually matter to us.  Yeah, we go through the motions and attempt to interact with people we basically can’t stand, but our universe of those we care about is subject to more important criteria than “What can you do for me?” or “Are you hot?”

For those of us who are shy about making new acquaintances, this might translate as: You seem nice and it might be fun to have lunch or share an activity and see if there’s more of a connection, so I’ll proffer an invite.

If you respond, great. If you don’t, well, life will go on and a year from now I won’t remember your name because, frankly, I can barely remember where I left my car keys.

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By this age, I have no patience for anyone who is faking it, on the make, or desperately lonely.  But I’m really excited to make friends with people with whom I share common interests, philosophies, or enthusiasm for 1) good food, 2) good wine, or 3) nice handbags.

Do we become more intolerant as we get older? Or do we become more discerning? I’d like to think it’s the latter. Or maybe it’s the same thing.

What do YOU think, dear readers?

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And the Oscar Goes to…

Yay, it’s the Academy Awards! — the ultimate insider spectacle where overpaid actors dress up in borrowed finery to congratulate each other for winning a trophy that will boost their income by several zillion on every subsequent film.

Back in the days before high-priced stylists and a “tightly scripted” 3-hour-plus running time, the Oscars were much more fun. (Who can forget,”You like me, you really like me!”)

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Nowadays, it’s all so predictable; no one-handed pushups or wardrobe malfunctions. Meh.

I’d much prefer to recognize the acting that goes on in everyday life. So here are this year’s nominees for Best Performance:

The maître d’: “Mais non, monsieur… the best tables are always next to the kitchen.”

The neighbor’s kid: “That window was already broken before my ball reached it.”

The dinner guest: “Mmm, this octopus-banana-zucchini casserole is really… creative.”

The colleague: “Your idea is so much better than mine!”

The hairdresser: “You’re not going grey. Those are silver highlights.”

The HR manager: “Nobody got a raise this year.”

The dry cleaner: “This shirt was missing buttons when it came in.”

The friend: “My skin secret? Just sunblock. I’d never even consider Botox!”

The delivery service: “We’re sorry we missed you.”

The spouse: “You’re as beautiful as the day we met.”

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Cue the orchestra!

 

A Punch List for Relationships

If you’ve ever been through a renovation or built a new house, you know that after 99% of the work is done, there are little lingering issues someone needs to come back and fix.

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Wouldn’t it be great if we could similarly correct all of our partner’s flaws, foibles, and idiosyncrasies? Then they’d be perfect, right?

Wrong! In honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s remember that we don’t need to “fix” either ourselves or our partners — unless there’s something really egregious going on.

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Imperfection keeps life interesting.

But I’d sure like our contractor to repaint the places where door locks had to be moved, repair the dent in the kitchen sink, and replace the wonky floorboard and kitchen cabinet door.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and those you love!

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The Ballad of a Thousand Boxes

IMG-1053Do you remember moving into your first apartment? Mine was a dark, tiny, one-bedroom in Springfield, Missouri – notable for its cheap rent and even cheaper-looking olive green shag carpeting on the walls as well as the floor. (Even for the 70’s this was mind-bendingly ugly.)

But it was my first post-college job and I was thrilled to be on my own.

Moving in those days was much easier.

  • We had friends to haul stuff and we paid them in beer or cheap wine — not the price of a European vacation.
  • I had more energy than possessions.
  • An old orange crate made a perfectly acceptable coffee table.
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Having just moved again for the umpteenth – and hopefully, last – time, I’ve noticed:

  • It costs more to move across town than it used to cost moving across the country.
  • I have way too much crap, even after endless trips to Goodwill.
  • I have way less ability to carry said crap, especially up a flight of stairs.
  • Young people don’t seem to accumulate china and crystal.
  • The more stuff we have, the more storage we need.
  • One TV used to be sufficient. Now we all have multiple TVs, each with complicated hookups and several remotes that have to be housed somewhere. Not to mention computers.
  • Sunnier rooms reveal flaws and dings in furniture that used to look pretty decent.
  • Change is good, even when it’s painful. And it’s better to share that pain.
  • Rugs and wood floors look a lot better than shag carpet.

 

Thanks to Laura S. for suggesting this topic!

Downsize Abbey

Dear Clever Readers,

May I enlist your help with a creative challenge? DH and I are in the process of moving into our newly built, smaller home and it needs a name — something amusing that seems “fancy” and looks nice on cocktail napkins.

The house name should sound grand (because it  isn’t) with an element of tongue-in-cheek whimsy, along the lines of “Fawlty Towers.” Currently, the front runner is “Tiddly Manor.” FYI, the building style is Arts & Crafts, it has a tiny yard, and it’s more urban than rural or suburban.

Any ideas? You’ll win my undying gratitude plus a small prize, and of course your cleverness will be duly recognized in these pages. Thanks, and love, Alisa home-sweet-home-3104968_640

Good News Monday: Fiction Isn’t Rotting Teen Brains After All

Researchers at University College London’s Institute of Education recently reported that teens who read novels rather than non-fiction are six months ahead of their peers in reading skills.

After analyzing data from 250,000 teens in 35 Western countries, they concluded that the 15-year-olds had significantly stronger reading skills than those who read non-fiction, magazines, comics, or newspapers for pleasure. The lead researcher pointed out that fiction requires a person to focus on long, continuous text, which improves not only reading skills but learning to avoid distractions.

This apparently holds true even when a novel is poorly written.

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