Earlier this week it was 90 degrees and sunny. Yesterday was 60 and cloudy and prone to dramatic cloudbursts of dramatic rain.
Today, the high was around 45.
My knees ache and my ankles keep giving out. I collapsed on the floor at one point, scraped my knee and tore my fancy, super soft and cozy joggers I bought at Stitch Fix’s Bizzy Hizzy employee pop-up store.
So I’m currently in bed with my electric blanket and two three-legged cats.
Tomorrow I will finish my May edition of the Silk & Sonder wellness/self-care planner. Even though June starts on Tuesday, apparently Silk & Sonder starts all of its planners on Monday, so Monday May 31 is part of the June planner.
The June planner shipped in mid May, with an anticipated delivery date of May 24. According to the tracking information, it arrived at our regional post office about 10 miles away in the early afternoon on May 18, but didn’t arrive at our local post office 2 miles away until 4 days later on May 22.
It has languished there for a week.
Now, in the great scheme of life, this planner is not vital. But it is rather pricey, and I find a weird emotional sensation in stressing over planning my mental wellness strategies because my calendar is lost in the mail.
Receiving a calendar that suggests you plan for the future with reflection and mindfulness AFTER the month starts defeats some of the purpose.
And if there are problems with the United States Postal Service, shouldn’t the merchant find a new method of delivery? The product is time sensitive.
Honestly, I find it difficult to evaluate if the planner has allowed me to plot a calmer and more mindful future/existence because I’m too busy freaking out that tomorrow is Sunday, that I have to not only work Monday but work day shift, and I can’t even fill out my to do lists, meal plans and other Silk & Sonder pages.
I don’t know whether I should apologize, explain my absence or dive right into this messy, stream of consciousness blog entry. Nothing new is happening but so many little things have brought joy to my life.
I had a great week at the Bizzy Hizzy. I spent most of my week in QC, and I hit 80% of the daily production metric except for one day when I hit 90 percent. But I just can’t seem to replicate that success. Last night I was in receiving inbound processing where I unboxed and received a pallet which included Democracy Jeans and Market and Spruce shirts. I caught a mix-up in tags. And I met a young man whose name is an abbreviated form of Jesus’ Angel because he was born three months premature as I was.
A few nights ago, I was listening to a podcast, probably Mayim Bailik’s Breakdown. They were discussing the ACE Childhood Trauma Test. So I took it. That was a mistake. It made me think about a lot of things— my past, my mental health, my relationships. I didn’t expect the results and I suppose in a way it was profound.
But as much as life may have had some dark spots, the foster cats sure bring joy. Hermes of the Greek Pride is already starting to bound with his new dad. (And even broke something expensive.) Louise the Tripod had a meet and greet with someone interested in adding a new cat to their household. And Parker and Extra Crunchy of ten little kittens are now playing and acting cat-like. Even Touch of Grey seems cheerful.
I picked up my new glasses, replacing my previous pair. I have abandoned my sexy librarian look and regained depth perception.
On another podcast, I heard a host discuss someone who wrote a memoir from her 20 journals. What a joke! He said 20 as if that number is impressive. I have been journaling for 30 years! I lost count after 100 volumes.
Speaking of journals, I splurged on a Silk and Sonder self-care planner/journal. It’s a monthly subscription and I am already anxious that it will stress me out. My regular journal is more or less a bullet journal now. I think another book that requires a daily check in might not be worth the pressure. And it’s $20/month. That seems expensive. More to come. Including unboxing and review.
Speaking of unboxing, I bought myself a Lite Brite in a moment of nostalgia. #NoRegrets
I push myself—hard. I can be relentless and tenacious.
It can come in the form of trying to get over that 90% hump in metrics at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse. (I picked 495 items on in my 5.5 hour shift tonight.)
It can come in my past fitness challenges (but apparently not in my current battle with stress eating).
It can come with my personal projects and grades and overachiever attitude when it comes to research.
I can go on and on.
When I saw that my friend Fausta and her co-facilitator Vira were hosting a free online seminar on Mindful Self-Compassion, I was very excited to sign up. The seminar was 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. which meant getting up early and potentially rushing out the door at 3 to get to work for my 3:30 shift but I had to do it.
I wasn’t even sure exactly what Mindful Self-Compassion was but based on Fausta’s enthusiasm for it, an educated guess that it involved some meditation, and with Fausta’s background in therapy and being a holistic life coach, I had to do it.
My therapist has been telling me for years to be gentle to myself and this Mindful Self-Compassion stuff sounded perfect for that.
I even requested a late start at work. Now me being me, that made me anxious. Should I start at 4? I might have to eat something. 5? (I never considered 4:30.) What’s the point of starting at 5 p.m. if break is at 5:30? I opted for 6. And it was approved!
And then this week happened—let’s just say teens and animals and an incident with the dog and the hammock and the new fosters and my body hurting and the hormones of a 40-something woman… I didn’t make it to work the night before the seminar. And do you know what? My supervisor told me to “take care of myself.” I felt like I was being treated like a person.
That time— that sick day on Wednesday night— gave me the space to rest, clear my head, and focus on the seminar.
And it was so worth it.
I’m responding to it now from memory and will gladly talk more about specific exercises and lessons if anyone desires. I bet we can ask Fausta for her input too. And my apologies to Fausta if I misrepresent any of the concepts as it is 1:30 a.m. and I am not looking at my notes.
That Mindful Self-Compassion is a way to process emotions that combines meditation exercises and rational analysis to allow yourself to feel the feelings but also try to heal the feelings.
A big part of the practice is to accept/embrace your own imperfections.
We explored a Japanese concept of life’s purpose.
We examined physiological responses to different emotions.
We designed a personalized loving-kindness metta meditation.
We developed our individualized core values.
We grounded ourselves via a soles of the feet meditation. I’m using the word grounding since I’m a witch and that is totally what it felt like to me.
Meditation reminds me of the prayer practice of centering— and I had forgotten how good I was at that.
I’ll review my notes and write more soon. In the meantime…
Today’s blog post will ramble through my everyday activities as they often do, but I will also attempt to show how attitude, reaching out and communication can overcome life’s anxieties.
First thing this morning I saw a post from my new-ish internet friend Fausta advertising her one day free seminar on Zoom covering Mindful Self-Compassion.
We were on our way out the door first thing this morning, teenager #1 and I, to take our kitty cat osteosarcoma survivor, Opie, to a new vet, Canyon River Run, to have the lump on his neck checked.
Although in the pandemic era, we only met the vet tech, teenager #1 and I were very pleased with their service and demeanors. The prices were reasonable, too. They even called my former vet’s office (Wright’s Veterinary in Bethlehem) when I didn’t have Opie’s most up to date shots.
The vet reported that in her opinion the lump of his neck is not cancer as it is clearly in the skin and not deeper. I have to follow up because the verbal report relayed to me said it would need to be surgically removed but I don’t know if it would be a cosmetic one or a diagnostic tool to confirm her opinion.
That was the first of several anxieties addressed.
On a side note, I tried the cold brew at Wendy’s. It was quite delightful. Strong but not too bitter.
I also contacted Bird Mania, the establishment where I acquired Nala, to sow them our new photos. (They approved, Joan.) I hope to take my four baby budgies to them tomorrow as they should be young enough to hand tame and rehome.
My bird overpopulation is another anxiety addressed. Though catching and surrendering my chicks is another.
The teenagers had some issues last night, some of which remind me of college roommate situations. We shall work it all out, but since the vet took longer than I anticipated and I worked a 10-hour shift last night, my phone battery was down to 15% as the conversations continued throughout the night. I’m glad we all started a conversation about it as that’s really the only way we can initiate a solution.
Before all this started, on my first of several 10-minute breaks last night, I used my pick Chromebook to request a late start next week for Fausta’s seminar. That’s when I also noticed one of my supervisors had sent me an email requesting my presence for a chat.
Later that night. New anxiety. In several of my previous work environments, meetings never meant anything positive.
My final break came. My meeting with the leaders was 10:15 p.m. Break was 10 to 10:10 p.m. I wasn’t sure what to do with that five minutes. So, me being me, I returned to QC and folded one more fix before leaving my table at 10:15.
It turns out that my “chat” was to check in about how I’d been doing split between QC and pick. And to announce that as of Monday, they would test changing my basic schedule to move between pick and QC in a regular fashion, starting the “morning” (I assume this means the first half of my shift as we start at 3:30 p.m.) in pick and moving to QC later.
We talked a bit about numbers and strategies and once again, as I have mentioned to other leaders, I reiterated that I know I will never be the fastest though I know I will grow more efficient. I try to make up for my lack of speed and natural dexterity by being dependable and flexible and finding ways to work smarter. I also pointed out that while I haven’t hit the best metrics, my metrics are consistent.
“Can we clone you?” one leader asked.
Finally, I bought some clothes at the Stitch Fix Employee Store. I wasn’t going to visit the store this time around, but in the end my issue with ill-fitting and disappearing clothes urged me onward.
The store has been open almost two weeks so there is not much left. And some of the things I most wanted weren’t available. I wanted jeans as I’m still not thin enough to fit in my size four wardrobe from the pre-Corona days but the hand-me-down size eights are getting too baggy.
I also wanted nice t-shirts. Everything I own appears to be sleeveless or shapeless.
As Joan the photographer reported when she got her first Stitch Fix box, the Democracy Jeans are comfortable but the zippers-for-pretty get caught on everything. These are beige camo, not a print I wanted. I didn’t want a print at all. They are skinny cut, not my favorite cut either. And they are too long for me, which makes them very wrinkled.
The Michael Stars top is amazing, fits great, looks very feminine and so comfortable. And I feared it would be too big.
Finally, the yoga top/lazy woman’s sports bra thing from Free People movement actually holds everything in like a sports bra but looks really cute. It retails for $30 which is insane. But I’m a forty-something woman who is very surprised this skimpy top works for me.
I have a gift of stressing myself out even on the best of days in good circumstances and this very bad habit causes more harm than good.
So, yesterday I talked to a very friendly and helpful mortgage broker through Quicken Loans/Rocket Mortgage. And by today I managed to doubt the whole idea. It’s not resolved yet… and my concerns about it are so minimal. I would instantly pay off my car and still have the house paid off in ten years or less. But the payment is $50/higher than what I am paying now (and would save me $150/month total versus what I pay now).
Realistically it would be better for me to keep saving and pay off the car with cash. I’m in casual conversation with the broker about it. If it’s already too late, so be it.
But I woke up at 6:30 am today thinking about it.
And then it was snowing. I shoveled, with teenager help, but still managed to hurt my back. But good news is— I hurt my back in the normal spot and not a different spot as has been happening at work.
I ran an errand this morning and it was messy out. The snow kept falling. I had to slide my way into the garage with an oil truck backing down the alley toward me and I thought, “maybe I should stay home.”
So I called out.
Even though it’s pajama day at work and I already had on my Cat in the Hat fuzzy pants.
But it does feel good that no one makes you feel guilty for calling out. We have to “call out” via email and it’s usually a pleasant exchange.
As soon as I did, the plow went through.
I ended up watching some of MTV’s Catfish while cuddling the cockatoo. I then took a brief nap.
I struggle amidst the stasis of life right now to stay connected with friends, get the adult interaction I need, somehow be Mom and keep the house clean and kids fed.
But between my change in physical fitness, my weight gain and my being unable to break this new binge eating habit, my mental health is suffering.
To combat this, I’m going to make a list of things I can do at home when I am in a weird mindset.
It’s 11 a.m. on Friday morning— it looks crisp and clear outside. Teenager #2 is in school. Teenager #1 just emerged from her room as we both got to sleep around 3 a.m.
Mandatory overtime and lack of sleep are kicking my ass. My household is experiencing some knocks too as the Roman Pride tuxedo kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab are vomiting. We hope it is because of a recent change in their food.
I wish I could say the birds have been quiet. But alas, alack, the cats broke into my room while Boo-Boo the yellow parakeet was free-flying and Boo-boo flew downstairs. Now Boo-boo is not a hand-tame bird.
This occurred while I was wrestling clothes in the Quality Control Valley 2 of the Bizzy Hizzy at Stitch Fix. Teenager #1 heard Boo-boo screaming because two of our household cats had taken to swiping her out of the air.
Teenager #1 rescued Boo, who was still feisty enough to bite her repeatedly.
So there was that.
Meanwhile, at the Bizzy, I was thinking about numerology and “angel numbers,” thanks to a podcast I heard the other night. In the midst of all this craziness, as I was leaving work the other night, my odometer read 33533. Palindrome. Prime numbers. “Sacred threes.”
So the boxes that got returned to me last night were sent back for issues with wrapping. One of the people training me finally came over and asked how I tear my paper. I showed her. Carefully. Almost daintily.
“Ah, she said, “there lies the problem. You need to rip it fast like a bandaid.”
I did and the results were very different and better.
I thanked her for the tutelage and laughed, pointing out that this was not something that did not come naturally to my skill set. I have no depth perception when related to placing items in containers. I suck at folding clothes. It’s agonizing for my body to stand still for 8 hours. And I have no concept of straight lines.
But all in all I am improving and I truly enjoy the challenge of learning something new. It reminds me of when I first learned cash office at Target. I wanted to vomit every time I started my shift.
The person overseeing me thanked me for taking criticism well, and again I laughed, and reminded her that I needed her it. She said a lot of people get frustrated. And I assured her that I was indeed frustrated with myself for repeating the same mistakes. She quickly revised her statement— “No, she said, people get really frustrated with me.”
And that struck me. Because I know what she means. And I have to say, in both my professional and… let’s call them survival jobs, I have had supervisors that understand how to deliver constructive criticism and all kinds of feedback and those supervisors who care about the mission, the corporate line, and/or themselves and how they look, more than they were invested in the people.
So far in the Bizzy Hizzy, I have not met one of those. I also feel I am in the honeymoon phase at Stitch Fix. My judgment may be skewed.
This mandatory overtime stinks. We’re all exhausted. And even the scrambled egg appreciation breakfast and free snacks can’t push us past that.
This might be the spot to mention that one of my supervisors spent most of the night running around with a squealing plastic chicken.
The nurse wandered into the Valley about 12:30 to check on everyone doing overtime (as the “deep cleaners” worked around us— which by the way, they move nothing and just wipe shit down. I find more dust and grime when I do my nightly wipes). I showed the nurse my new skill at tearing craft paper. She gave me a gloved high five.
I’m working a normal 8-hour shift tonight then returning for an 8-hour double time shift tomorrow morning. Now if you excuse me, I must go lay out my quarterly budget as it is 2-weeks overdue.
Since recovering from Covid, I have tried to focus on healthy food choices and cooking at home instead of eating out. I believe good food is key to regaining my strength and moving forward in losing some weight, but more and more I find myself viewing food as a friend.
In other dietary confessions, twice this week I have taken advantage of the snacks in the breakroom to have 500 calories of honeybun at 10 p.m. And I’ve noticed, that seemed to be the only thing that gave me the energy to improve my performance. I have always had a strong physical reaction to sugar so this is no surprise.
I think the moral is that I need to balance my meals prior to work and “save” some carbohydrates for treats at my final break.
Tonight I find myself without teenagers and having eaten decently throughout the day, I have some “calories to spare.” I decided to use them for some healthy snacks while I watch Bridgerton. I find the series quaint and endearing, with amazing costumes and scenery. But I don’t see anything worth the extreme hoopla I see on social media. But there is a beauty in it. And I hope I am wrong, but I am almost done with episode 5 and so far while it is charming, it is predictable.
The snack I prepared were some pumpkin seed and raisin crackers, Harvest Snaps green pea snacks, Smart Pop popcorn, and Smartfood caramel apple popcorn.
Loki Dokie Puppy Turkey of the Norse Pride went home to his FURRever family today and I am feeling the absence of crazy kitten antics. Two of my personal cats, Oz and Fog, have curled up in bed with me. I have missed Fog’s attentions.
Other recent meals that I enjoyed:
A little about each meal:
1. Salad of romaine, shredded cabbage, kalamata olives, wasabi peas, sliced almonds, feta and fresh strawberries.
2. Chicken with a “hash” of spinach, spaghetti squash, butternut squash and Brussel sprouts.
3. Salmon. I used the cooking method from the Whole30 and seasoned with dill.
4. Cornish Game Hen. I seasoned it, used a little smoked flavor, and cooked it in my chicken bone broth, diced carrots, and kale. I didn’t care for it. Too much work to get the meet off the bones. Fog loved what he stole.
5. I had a craving for good old fashioned processed beer battered fish— might have been Gorton’s.
6. Croque Monsieur. Teenager #1 made the béchamel sauce, and I didn’t think to warn her how temperamental a roux can be.
7. At Lidl, I came across some discount thaw-and-eat frozen sushi. It was 50 cents a pack. It was edible but the rice was completely al dente.
8. I have been aching for avocado and eggs. So I bought avocado and forgot to make it when I made egg-and-pepper omelette.
9. Some chicken I bought on clearance cooked in butter, lemon and dill. Then I sautéed some cabbage and added some leftover corn from earlier in the week and the rest of the pepper I didn’t use for yesterday’s omelette.
I know 2020 dealt a lot of people a bad hand at cards, so to speak, and I know so many people have suffered— loved ones lost, food insecurity, unemployment, instability, break-ups.
I naively believe every year will “be a good year” or a better year… but let’s talk Turkey for a minute: I have a disability (cerebral palsy), I come from a certain socio-economic bracket that has made it difficult (but not impossible) for me to achieve long term financial stability, and my own job choices have often valued community, family and altruism over traditionally-defined middle class life.
2019 was the year I resumed my professional career after taking ten years “off” to raise my daughter. (I worked for Target for those 10 years and they gradually increased my part time hours to full time and so I opted to get paid a professional salary versus a retail wage if I were to put that many hours in.)
My husband and I separated in 2019. That was a huge change after 20 years, and it still pains me. My husband is one of the kindest people in the world, and while I still lament that we couldn’t fix our problems, the end had to come.
So what were the joys and lessons of 2020?
Let me share.
Cats. December 26, 2019 through late January 2020, the teenager trapped the feral kittens born under our neighbors porch. We kept two of them. Taming feral kittens gave us so much reward. And led to us working with FURR. Our fostering career has involved 12 kittens so far, in seven months. And I cannot tell you how much I love having babies around all the time. On days I don’t want to get out of bed, I do for them.
Birds. I met Nala on December 28, 2019 and brought her home in mid-January. By dealing with this obstinate Goffin’s cockatoo, I learned a lot of patience. And the best way to top being “a crazy cat lady” is to be the crazy cat lady with birds. And my parakeets had babies for Christmas 2020. I have three chicks that I have seen grow daily.
Professional and personal growth.I found myself crying at my desk more often than I like to admit in 2020. It became apparent by the end of January that my boss was an incredibly toxic person. At the same token, I learned so much from her that when she dismissed me during the pandemic, I could use those new skills to help a young nonprofit grow. Between my original job and my volunteer work with new nonprofits, I showcased this knowledge to steer these organizations to grants. And the success rates for grants, publication of an first-ever annual report, and various media placements throughout the Lehigh Valley was exhilarating.
Expanding family. As my faithful readers may know, I have a second teenager staying with me. This teenager has turned our lives upside down, but has shared in our joys and tribulations during the last four months. I always wanted a larger family— and I got it this year: a menagerie of birds, cats and teenagers. It’s been amazing to share our joys and traditions with someone and see my daughter react to no longer being an only child.
New attitude toward challenges. I am always the person you can count on when you need someone. So people don’t realize that I am often terrified and insecure. Being “alone” and a single custodial parent has gotten me over that. I had five months with no income and I lived on the $4500 I had in savings. I ended up in the hospital with a cat bite during that time period and it was such a great learning experience. I learned a lot about myself, my neighbors, my friends, and how amazing teenager #1 really is. And then I finally get unemployment after I get my new job at Stitch Fix. I promptly use it to pay off some of my medical bills and a few living expenses I had put on my American Express.
We will move beyond Covid. I finally got a job and three weeks in, I contract Covid-19. That whole experience was something, but again— I learned to ask friends, neighbors and family for help. And that GrubHub gift certificate I received during the summer months sure came in handy. This whole pandemic world has me mapping out whom I would recruit for my squad in a real catastrophe.
Maybe I’m just weird— but I see a lot of hope and triumph emerging from struggle. Cheers to 2021.
This is my last weekend before starting a full time position as a retail warehouse associate at Stitch Fix. It sounds similar to what I used to do at Target, but without people and more walking.
I’ve read some online reviews and exchanged some texts with some Target folks who also went to Stitch Fix and my concerns are two-fold:
Can this forty-something body with cerebral palsy handle being on my feet walking more than 12 miles a day?
Can I survive on the pay?
But one positive is that the extra steps should help me get my weight under control and increase my fitness fortitude.
Or so I hope.
My accident was a week ago and I’m starting to think that I didn’t hurt my rib but instead really did “pull my boob” as in manage to pull the muscle that supports my right breast. I’m tired of being in pain.
Okay, enough whining.
The day started with a strong cup of coffee shared with my cockatoo, Nala. (YouTube Video: Coffee Time)
And then I heard a ruckus and thought the cats were fighting. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Fog had caught himself a mouse. (YouTube video: Mouse Adventures)
My mom stopped by this morning and transplanted the snake plant that the kittens destroyed. Then Mom and I went to Lidl where I not only got croissants to go with my delectable quince jelly, but I got discounted naan and lots of seltzer. In new flavors! Yes, Lidl has new flavors of seltzer including grapefruit.
I did lots of dishes, vacuumed the downstairs and my room (the roomba is functioning great now that I cleaned it, and washed the dining room and living room floors.
In between these tasks, I cuddled kittens and watched Car Masters: From Rust to Riches on Netflix.
In the last three days, I’ve managed to watch both seasons of this program. I love cars. My dad was a diesel mechanic and truck driver for much of my childhood. He can fix anything and I have a certain admiration and attraction to people who can fix things.
I’ve had the same cell phone number since 1998 because my dad gave me an old 1984 Ford Escort whose carburateur would flood and leave me stranded with every rain storm.
Some of my favorite memories are of watching my father work.
I recommend the reality series Rust to Riches — it features some serious strategy in building some amazing cars and also has more drama than one might expect.
The people who staff Gotham Garage in California include a woman who specializes in motors and knows classic muscle cars.
I made the teenagers a cheap knock off of seafood Alfredo for dinner.
And now the teens are playing Monopoly with a friend downstairs.
Tomorrow I will be getting a facial at Lucha Bella, hopefully making a trip to the Dollar Tree and taking the foster kittens, all seven of them, for shots.
Happy Friday, my faithful and potentially new readers!
I started today somehow determine to clean my room and perform the weekly maintenance on my roomba that should have been done at least three months ago.
That took a lot of time and energy, especially since my rib is still bothering me from my fall last Friday. This is one of the many things that keeps life spicy when you have cerebral palsy.
But the unseasonably warm weather and everything fluffy kept me happy amidst my chores.
Then my silly Goffins cockatoo, Nala, decided to dive into her water bowl.
I received a text from one of my neighbors inviting me over for coffee, so I took my filthy self, my quince jelly and my last two English muffins and enjoyed some chit chatting with my other half (she owns the other half of my double). And Buddy, her dog, was handsome as always.
Then I heard from another neighbor, Sobaka’s mom, that “cookie walk” could be scheduled for about 11:15. Cookie walk is a trip around the neighborhood where we visit with another neighbor’s mom and step dad as we collect treats for the dog.
We decided to do errands together with me as chauffeur. After a trip to the ever amazing Carmelcorn in downtown Easton (I did not go in— she who has a BMI of almost 27 and no income does not need candy), we finished our outing with a stop to CVS where I needed to grab my prescription and some food deals.
I came home and made some DiGiorno frozen pizza. Teenager #1 and I agree that the stuffed crust on the stuffed crust DiGiorno was delicious, but the pizza was lackluster. The four cheese DiGiorno was incredible.
As if that wasn’t enough goodness from today, I received a text from Zeus and Apollo’s new mom. She says they are doing well. And sent photos!
She has no idea how happy her text made me. This is some of what she had to say:
I wanted to tell you these little kitties are amazing. They are fearless even around our other kitties. So far everyone seems to be getting along , they are very curious about each other. The little ones are still timid to get pets but took treats and played.