Burnout

This morning, I got up a little earlier than usual so that I could work out before an 8am meeting. In between getting ready for work, I started a load of laundry, cleaned up the kitchen, and ran the dishwasher. I took a shower and had my breakfast, then sipped my first cup of coffee of the day during my meeting.

To an outsider, I’m sure this sounds like I’m doing okay. I’m being productive. But the truth is, seeing dishes in the sink sometimes makes tears well up in my eyes because I just can’t figure out how I’m going to have the energy to wash them. I’ll run a load of laundry in the dryer a second time, not because it’s still damp but because I just can’t make myself fold it yet.

Last week I was feeling anxious and out of sorts and by Tuesday I finally lost it and sobbed as I sat at the desk in my room that is also my workspace now. Sometimes I feel like I barely leave my bedroom, and I wish desperately for a different space to work from but there just isn’t any other place in the house that makes sense. I feel overwhelmed and frustrated and sad. Living through this pandemic for the last year and a half, pressing pause on pretty much every part of my life that I enjoy, and seeing just how little some of my loved ones care about other people has drained my very soul.

This week feels even more difficult, because the heat has returned along with smoke from nearby wildfires. Not only is it hard being cooped up inside because the air is too unhealthy outside to breathe, but I feel so depressed thinking of the fires and all of the loss of life and destruction that comes with them. I remember a time when wildfires were not part of Northwest summers and I hate that we as a species have hurt the very earth we live on so terribly that this is now a normal part of the year.

I know I’m fortunate to have a home and a stable job and that all of my basic needs are met. I am so grateful to all of the people who worked so hard to develop a vaccine so that I could have a little bit of my life back. I count my lucky stars every time I’m able to spend time with friends, because we got so very little of that for a year. I can’t imagine what it’s been like to be an essential worker for the last year and a half, being screamed at and talked down to and mistreated by people you’re trying to help, and it scares me to think that, as bad as I feel right now, that they must be feeling so much worse.

I wish I had something useful or positive to end this post on, but I have no helpful tips or advice for dealing with burnout. I’ve read a lot of articles on the subject and I honestly don’t know that there’s anything in particular that can help. So I guess for now all I can do is accept that I’m not feeling great and hope that writing about it will help purge it from my mind a little. And then I’ll brush away the tears, make another cup of coffee, and tackle my email inbox, because what else can I do but keep on going?

Riding the Wave

We’re in the middle of an historic heat wave in the Seattle area, with temperatures in some areas hitting (or breaking!) 100 degrees. Luckily it isn’t quite that bad in Edmonds, but we’re still seeing record heat and the high for today is supposed to be 97 (as I write this, it’s hit 90 and it’s just now noon).

While I am normally a person who loves summer and the warm weather that comes with it, we just aren’t prepared for this kind of heat in Western Washington. While more and more places are putting in central air conditioning, a lot of us still don’t have it and we have to rely on fans and window units to keep our condo as livable as possible. Even with that, it gets really hot in our house. Last night we went down to the beach, where it was breezy and a little cooler and where we could put our feet in the Sound and let the cold water cool us down somewhat.

Today is supposed to be the hottest, and thankfully temperatures will drop a little as the week goes on. But it’s not going to get “cool” by any means, with forecasted highs still in the high 70s to low 80s.

For me one of the hardest things about this weather is that not only is it next to impossible to keep our house cool, but I’m also stuck indoors because it’s just too hot to do things outside. My daily walks are just not a good idea in this heat and there’s no way I’m going to hit my June step goal. Bill and I did get up early this morning to do our workout before the day started warming up and I’m proud of us for that. It’s too hot to have the oven on so I didn’t get to make my normal breakfast of egg muffins, but I got the turkey bacon and egg white breakfast sandwich from Starbucks instead and I feel like overall it was a decent alternative. I have dinners planned for the week that are healthy but don’t require use of the oven, as I’m planning to run to the grocery store after work and pick up some premade chicken to put in my salads instead of having to cook.

I’m proud of myself for finding some healthy alternatives to stay on track, but I’m trying hard not to be really bummed about missing my step goal this month. I already knew that with my shifting focus on how I was going to count calories that the original goal I set at the beginning of the month wouldn’t work out, but I was okay with that because I felt like I was working toward a more sustainable and successful method of approaching my nutrition. But it’s hard not to feel a wave of emotion at what does feel like backsliding and missing multiple goals that I set.

I’m trying to be gentle with myself and also to remember that things like extreme weather do happen and that I didn’t gain all my progress in a week and I won’t lose it in a week either. I’m going to stay consistent with my workouts and focus on progress, not perfection.

Reopening Anxiety

Like most people we know, Bill and I are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. With the exception of flying to San Diego last month (something I never would have done prior to being vaccinated), not a lot has changed for us. We still don’t eat inside restaurants, we aren’t going to the movie theater, we wear our masks religiously inside stores even if it isn’t required anymore.

Truthfully, I still have a lot of anxiety about the prospect of getting sick. Even if I caught something other than COVID, I know being ill for the first time in almost two years would freak me out. And the truth is, I like not getting sick. I really like it. If wearing a little piece of cloth over my face means I never have to suffer a stupid head cold again, it’s well worth it.

While our closest friends seem to be on the same page as us and are remaining more cautious, I know plenty of other people, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, who have tossed aside their masks and are back to their pre-pandemic way of life. When a family member or friend texts me to gloat about how amazing it felt to go shopping sans mask, I don’t really know what to say. At this stage of things, I think they’re making a mistake, but it’s not really my place to tell them so. But I also don’t understand why these people feel the need to tell me about their behavior in the first place, since they are all people who know I think it’s too soon for that.

It’s okay to be anxious about the loosened restrictions and I am not going to be pressured into changing my behavior just because the option has presented itself. I have to do what I feel is right for me and what I’m comfortable with, and that extends into who I spend my time with. After a lot of anxious consideration, I regretfully turned down an invitation to a family gathering next month because it’s being held indoors and not all of the attendees will be vaccinated. Spending an extended period of time in close quarters with unvaccinated people is not something I’m ready to do and I finally came to the conclusion that the best way to handle these situations is to just be upfront about why I don’t want to go. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about my loved ones, but it does mean that I am prioritizing myself and my health right now.

I’ve had people tell me that I need to “just live my life”, to which I say, I am! I am not a shut-in. I have game nights with vaccinated family members and friends, and Bill and I have started dining out at restaurants that offer outdoor seating (and by that I mean true outdoor seating, not a fully enclosed tent which is now effectively just a new indoor space). When I flew for the first time, I was definitely a little nervous, but overall I handled it well and I am comfortable with the idea of doing it again.

I’m not sure when I’ll be ready to try indoor dining again, or go to a movie in a theater, or attend a party when I don’t know everyone’s vaccination status. I suppose I’ll watch and wait, and see if case numbers continue to fall or if we see another surge as a result of the loosened restrictions. As for masking up, I see that being a permanent staple in my life, at least in large crowds indoors and during cold and flu season. It’s such a small thing to do that yields such great benefits that I don’t see any reason to stop. After all, being sick sucks, no matter what I’m infected with!

Random Friday Off

Yesterday, I found myself with a random day off from work, which gave me a chance to do some things I’d been wanting to take care of but haven’t gotten around to doing after work. The weather here has been much warmer than usual for June, so I wore a simple black dress (with pockets!) and some sandals instead of my now-typical casual look of leggings or jeans and a t-shirt. It felt nice to look nice.

My first stop was Comstock Jewelers in downtown Edmonds, to drop off my wedding rings for their annual rhodium replacement. Comstock is a family-owned business that’s been in Edmonds since 1978, and I like to think that my grandfather Not only do I love that both of my rings came from a local jeweler (that was really important to me when we started shopping for engagement rings what feels like forever ago), but Comstock is fantastic and my rings always look amazing when I get them back.

After I’d dropped off my rings, I walked over to Rogue, a little boutique store that I love. I wandered around the store, enjoying the feeling of shopping at my own pace without worrying where I needed to be next. I decided to treat myself to two new pairs of earrings that caught my eye and liked them so much that I put them on as soon as I got back to my car.

Even though there was nothing particularly special or exciting about these errands, I felt so peaceful and happy while I walked around downtown. I like it here and I feel so lucky to live in such a great place, and even just popping into a couple of local shops and smelling the fresh popcorn as I walk by our movie theater is so enjoyable to me.

Later in the afternoon, Bill and I got to video chat with my parents while my dad opened his Father’s day/birthday gifts from me. They’re headed out on a month-long road trip, and so they won’t be home for Father’s day or the birthday that Dad and I share in July. I wanted to make sure that I got his gifts to him before they left.

Our evening wrapped up with my brother and sister-in-law coming over for dinner and games. I made a big salad, and bought cheesecake that I got from the PCC Community Market here in town.

I’m living exactly the life I wanted for myself and I never want to stop soaking it in and feeling grateful for it.

A Weekend in San Diego

Hey look, a travel post!

Prior to the COVID pandemic, Bill and I loved to travel and made sure that we did so as often as possible. Now that we’re both fully vaccinated, we decided that we were ready to try flying again.

My parents had booked a camping trip in San Diego, staying at a campground that we used to frequent as a family when I was growing up, so we decided to plan a trip to California to spend a few days with them. I hadn’t seen my parents since pre-pandemic, and we had all promised each other that once we were all vaccinated that we would find a way to get together.

Even vaccinated and masked, I admit I wasn’t wild about our first experience with flying. I didn’t realize that TSA will make people lower their masks when going through security, so I was a little surprised and not super thrilled to have to do that, but I didn’t really have a choice so I went with it. The airport terminal at SeaTac Airport was under construction and half closed, so there were a lot of people and it was really crowded. We did our best to find a secluded corner away from everyone else so that we could eat a quick snack and sip some water.

We pretty much exclusively fly Alaska Airlines, and they’ve been really good about health protocols. On the plane itself, we got seats in Premium Class and Alaska is still blocking off middle seats in that section. Bill and I had the row to ourselves which made me feel a lot more comfortable than I ordinarily would have, and I just watched Grey’s Anatomy on my iPad and read a book and didn’t look at anyone else around me.

I still don’t love the idea of a larger hotel, so we opted to book a condo on Airbnb instead. The condo we booked was one street over from Mission Beach, and I liked being able to smell the salt air and hear the waves when we opened the windows. The place itself was really cute and nice. We had two bedrooms, a full kitchen, and a nice bathroom. It was only fifteen minutes away from Campland on the Bay, where my parents were staying, so it was an easy drive to go visit them each day.

At my parents’ campsite, we were able to sit around a campfire in the evenings, and they had a great view of Mission Bay. At night, we were able to watch a fireworks display from across the bay at Sea World. A few things have been updated, but for the most part Campland is exactly the same as I remember it from when I was little. They’ve updated a couple of areas to be nice dog parks, which is really cool for campers like my parents who bring pets along.

On Friday, my parents took us to their favorite spot on Coronado Island, the Coronado Dog Beach. It runs along Ocean Blvd all the way up to the border with the US Naval Station, and offers great views of Point Loma and the Hotel del Coronado. And, we got to see a lot of really cool and adorable dogs! That trip was definitely one of the highlights of our weekend.

On Saturday my sister and brother-in-law drove down from their house in Beaumont to spend the afternoon with us. The weather was decidedly chilly and windy, so we retreated into my parents’ camping trailer and spent the afternoon blissfully playing cards and laughing ourselves silly. My sister brought Cards Against Humanity and insisted we play it. I was not sure at all how that would be received by my conservative parents, who are in their seventies, but they were very good sports and really got into the game.

Even though we had a condo with a full kitchen, somehow we never actually got around to stocking said kitchen with any food. Instead, when I got up in the mornings I would make a pot of coffee and sip it while I watched glimpses of the waves and surfers from our living room window, and when we got hungry Bill and I would walk down Mission Blvd to Sara’s Mexican Food, a little walk-up stand that sold tacos, burritos, and other Mexican fare. We instantly developed an addiction to their Chorizo breakfast burritos, which were big enough that we could split them and still have a hearty breakfast and that made for great sightseeing fuel.

Our trip home yesterday wasn’t as nerve-wracking as I expected it to be, but I was definitely more anxious because we weren’t able to get seats in Premium Class and I knew that meant we’d be sharing our row with a third occupant. Because Bill is so tall, I always end up having to sit in the middle, and I don’t love being squashed in between him and a random stranger under normal circumstances but I expected to dislike it even more now that I’ve been social distancing from strangers for the last year. I had to repeatedly give myself a pep talk and remind myself that I’m vaccinated against COVID, that I was going to be double-masked (for crowded places I wear a disposable mask under my cloth one for some added protection), and that people fly every day and that they haven’t seen any trends or spikes in COVID cases in people that have flown recently. When we got into the terminal at San Diego International, it was super crowded and I didn’t like it at all, but then we remembered another wing that we’d walked toward when we’d headed to baggage claim when we’d first arrived the previous Thursday. We walked over there, and sure enough it was totally deserted (AND I found a little store that sold healthy snacks and had almond milk so that I could mix up my Shakeology shake, which made me very happy). We were able to sit all by ourselves, with no one anywhere around, and we waited until we absolutely had to leave before we gathered up our things and walked back to the gate where our flight was departing from. Our seatmate turned out to be a teenager who put his head down on the tray table and napped for the majority of the flight, so being in close quarters wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Overall, flying was a little uncomfortable but I was very grateful for the chance to visit with my family again, and our weekend in San Diego was a pleasant one!

9-Week Control Freak: Day 1

Today is the day that everyone in my Beachbody group has been eagerly awaiting: the new 9-Week Control Freak program is now available in the On Demand library!

9-Week Control freak is the latest program from trainer Autumn Calabrese. When I first joined Beachbody On Demand, Autumn’s 21-Day Fix was the program that I followed and I really liked it, so I’ve been excited to try the latest workouts she created. 9WCF is a 9-week at-home workout program, with each workout lasting around half an hour. I love getting my workout over in 30 minutes, and Autumn is great at kicking my ass quickly!

There are two versions of the program so that anyone who works out at home can follow it. The first one includes equipment like door- or wall-mounted resistance bands, a core ball, and a step, but the second one is a dumbbell-only option called Off the Wall. Bill and I are following the second one, because we work out in our living room and we just don’t have room for all of the other equipment that the first version requires (especially the control tracks with the resistance bands – that is, unless Beachbody can figure out how to come out with a set that attaches to the back of my sectional couch). The only thing that some people may not like about Off the Wall is that not every single workout is unique; it offers five workouts for each of the three phases that can be cycled through to complete the nine weeks.

Of course, Beachbody is a business, and they want to sell their products, so there are lots of supplements and nutrition containers and all kinds of other stuff that they encourage using while doing the program. I’m a calorie counter for life and I don’t have any desire to change that, so I’m opting to stick with my LoseIt app for tracking my food. I do drink Shakeology every day because I like it, but I absolutely don’t believe that doing so is vital to success with this or any workout program.

Bill and I did the first workout this morning, and I really enjoyed it. The main workout consisted of completing a circuit of five different moves, twelve reps each, as many times as we could in twelve minutes. After that was the Tabata Cardio portion. Neither of us knew what the heck Tabata was, but we now have learned that it’s a form of high-intensity interval training that forces you to work at a very high intensity for short periods of time. For the first workout we did eight rounds of mountain climbers, working for ten seconds and then resting for twenty seconds before going into the next round. I liked that because I typically do not enjoy cardio and really have to push myself mentally. Knowing that I only had to do it for ten seconds at a time helped me to work harder and faster during that time.

I’m excited to be doing this new program and am eager to see what benefits I get from switching it up!

Figuring Out My WFH Style

Now that I’m officially working from home full-time (at most, I might start going into the office one day a week at the end of the year), I’m trying to address something that’s been on my mind for awhile – my wardrobe!

Working in my company’s corporate headquarters, I would wear dress pants and pretty tops or dresses to work each day. I rarely wore jeans and only own a few pairs of them, all of which I bought secondhand.

Before the pandemic, outfits like this were my normal office attire.

For the last year, I’ve pretty much lived in Victoria’s Secret leggings and oversize sweaters or t-shirts that I got on clearance from Target. When the weather got warm last summer, I bought three sundresses from Old Navy to wear for work clothes. I kept my purchases minimal, because I had no idea what my long-term working situation would be like and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on more casual clothes if I was going to return to an office environment.

Now, though, with my situation looking more permanent I feel like it’s time to figure out what my new, more casual style is going to be. I don’t really want this tee and leggings look to be all I ever wear, but I’m still trying to figure out what I do want.

What I want to know is, whatever happened to fashion blogs? Ten years ago, the Internet was crawling with twenty-somethings eagerly sharing their outfits with the world. Now it seems that no one has written an outfit post since at least 2019, and all those old blogs might as well have a stray tumbleweed bouncing along their once-frequently-updated homepages. Maybe they’re stuck in the same leggings-and-oversized-shirt funk that I am?

To try and get inspired, I packed away my sweaters and winter clothes and brought out my summer things from storage. While some of my dresses are definitely in the “formal” category, I do have some that I think I can dress down with a jean jacket, a sweater, or some sneakers. I don’t love wearing shorts, so hopefully being able to wear some of my dresses styled more casually will get me through this summer as I transition to a WFH style.

But if anyone knows of an active fashion blogger these days, send me the link!

One Year in Quarantine

It’s been a year now since Washington state went into lockdown in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. In some ways it feels like it was so very long ago since things felt remotely normal, and in others I can’t believe I’ve actually spent a year of my life working from home, barely seeing friends, and hardly ever wearing pants that aren’t largely made of stretchy.

I felt a little sad thinking of this anniversary, of the year of normalcy lost and the months stretching out ahead of us until Bill and I are eligible to receive the vaccine. We’re both healthy and we work from home, so we will likely be some of the last people who can get it, which I’m very grateful for even as I feel a growing impatience to regain some of our old life. It can be easy to feel like I’ve lost a year of my life, but I try not to think that way and instead think about what I’ve gained. Having so much stripped away made me realize what really matters to me and what things I want to include in my life going forward. And I can recognize that I definitely took things for granted, like being able to go out to eat in a restaurant, or going to a movie in a theater, or seeing a band live. There were times I had tickets to shows and didn’t end up going, not for any real reason other than that I was tired after a long day of work and decided I wasn’t up to going back out once I got home.

My hope is that we can find a new way to live, where we go back to the things we used to love doing with an even greater appreciation for them, and where our priorities reflect the lessons we learned in lockdown. Although I do miss some aspects of going to work in an office, my stress levels are a lot lower now that I get more sleep, regular exercise, and more time because I’m not sitting in traffic every day. I get to spend more time with Bill and with our cats Ernie and Saturday, and having more family time means the world to me.

Last Friday night, Bill and I went with two of our friends who are in our little quarantine bubble out to a winery. We were able to do a wine tasting while still following all COVID guidelines, outside in the fresh air. It was one of the few outings we’ve had in a year and it was the first time we’ve gone anywhere with friends since last March (although we do see these particular friends at least once a week now, either at our house or theirs). It was a simple thing, but it felt SO good to go and have fun doing something we enjoy and sharing an experience with people we love. I will never take things like that for granted again. I won’t allow myself to.

I’m not saying the past year hasn’t been one of the hardest years of my life. It definitely has been, for many different reasons. I have been reasonably unscathed in comparison to people who have lost their lives, their loved ones, their health, or their jobs – or a combination of these losses – because of COVID. Watching helplessly as so many people suffer has taken a toll on me. I want to help, but all I can really do is keep following guidelines and wearing my mask and keeping my butt at home when I can. It isn’t much but it’s what I have to offer. And when it’s my turn, I will get my vaccine, and I will keep following all guidelines as long as I need to. And hopefully by this time next year things will be a lot more like the world we remember, but with a lot of lessons learned.

We’re not done yet, although it feels like there is a lot to be hopeful about.

Reflecting on Four Years of Marriage

Today Bill and I are celebrating four years of marriage. Four years married to my best friend and the love of my life seems so unreal to me. I feel just as lucky to be with him as I felt on my wedding day four years ago, and if it’s possible I might actually be more in love with him.

Following our wedding, we spent a relaxing night at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle before heading off to Cabo for our honeymoon a few days later. We celebrated our first anniversary at the same hotel, and in 2019 we spent our second in Scotland. It was still one of the best vacations I’ve ever taken. Last year, our third anniversary coincided with Washington state beginning to lock down due to the pandemic, so we got creative and spent a day driving out to the Olympic Peninsula to visit Ruby Beach, the place we got engaged in 2015.

This year, we wanted to do something special but between the pandemic and our anniversary falling in the middle of the work week, we decided to celebrate early by spending a night in Mukilteo at the Silver Cloud Hotel. We’ve spent the night there a few times in the last several months and we adore it. The hotel offers a room with a Jacuzzi tub, overlooking the waterfront and the ferry terminal. We like to take our firestick so we can watch movies, and we can get room service from Ivar’s next door and enjoy fresh, delicious seafood without ever having to leave the comfort of our room.

Because it was our anniversary, I was excited to find out that the hotel offered an upgraded package with the Jacuzzi room that came with a bottle of sparkling wine and chocolate truffles. I thought it gave our getaway a little extra romantic touch.

On our way to Mukilteo, we took a little detour to Snohomish to pick out cupcakes from Simply Sweet, the same place that we got our wedding cake and cupcakes from. They’re still my favorite cupcake place ever! I chose a pink champagne cupcake and Bill got a vanilla coconut.

We loved our anniversary getaway and enjoyed the chance to have a mini-vacation, even a local one.

For our actual anniversary today, we exchanged cards (Bill always hand-draws my cards which I love, he is an amazing artist) and Bill bought me a gorgeous bouquet of two dozen roses.

I am so grateful for our relationship and marriage. Bill shows me every day what it’s like to be truly and unconditionally loved and that feeling can still take my breath away. Sometimes I have no idea how this kind, smart, funny man could have ever fallen in love with me and he definitely has the patience of a saint, but the two of us fit together perfectly. The last year in particular came with some incredibly difficult times, but having Bill by my side helped get me through and I feel like we’re stronger than ever.

Beauty in Simplicity

A fond memory I have is of my weekend routine when I was in my early twenties. I lived alone, and for the first time in my life I had a job that gave me weekends off. I liked to get up on Saturday morning, start laundry, and go to the gym to work out. From there I’d do my grocery shopping and run any other errands I had, and then return home to finish the laundry I’d started and to clean my little apartment. Although the place was nearly 900 square feet and spacious for a one-bedroom, it didn’t take much more than an hour to thoroughly clean it. I don’t love the experience of cleaning, but I do love the finished product. I would put on music and light a fragrant candle, so the experience wasn’t unpleasant. Once I finished, I’d take a shower and get ready to go out either on a date or with friends. Sundays were usually just spent relaxing at home, reading a good book or catching up on TV shows while I snuggled with my cats on the couch. It was a simple life, and a very satisfying one, at least as far as I was concerned.

Even though that was over a decade ago, I still remember the happiness I felt during the time in my life when I had that little routine. I know that I am a person who finds the greatest joy in simple pleasures, and I like that about myself. Having more things, even when they’re nice, just increases my anxiety. When I moved out of that cozy apartment and into a lovely, brand-new house a year later with my then-boyfriend, I thought that living in that lovely home with him would increase my happiness. Instead, I found myself feeling very stressed out – by the high price of the mortgage, by the tensions in my relationship with him once we were living together, by feeling very trapped in a job I had grown to hate but that paid me well.

Longtime readers of my blog know the rest: I ultimately left that big house in California and that relationship behind. I’ve learned that I crave an uncomplicated life and have spent the last several years building just that. My relationships with my husband and my friends are loving and free of dramatics. The home Bill and I share is much smaller than that first house I owned, and I love it so much more. Our little place is cozy and comfortable.

My routine these days looks different now than it did in my little apartment, but in many ways it’s the same. I like to get up first thing in the morning and exercise before work. These days my workouts take place in my living room and not in a gym, but I still feel just as accomplished when I finish them. Because I work from home now, I have more free time that was once spent commuting and I can put on music, light a scented candle, and clean the house during the weekday (and now I have Bill’s help!). Our condo is spacious for a two-bedroom but we’re able to do a pretty thorough cleaning in about an hour. On Fridays on my lunch break I pick up our groceries curbside, which is a lot quicker than doing the shopping in the store. Weekends are a relaxing time for us; we can sleep in, and watch movies or go for a drive or take a long walk together.

It’s a simple life, and a satisfying one.