Quarantine 2020 Pt. 2

We’re back on lockdown here in Washington state, with numbers of COVID cases climbing higher than they ever were last spring. It seems like the shutdown won’t be as bad this time;  a lot of businesses that were closed altogether last spring are allowed to remain open at 25% capacity, and a lot of places are already set up to offer curbside pickup and alternative purchasing options. But it’s still a tough hit to places like restaurants that can only be open for outdoor dining and takeout, and gyms and movie theaters that can’t be open at all. It makes me worry for my friends who are back on unemployment again, and it makes me worry for all of the places we love that were already struggling this year. And although right now the lockdown is only supposed to last until December 14th, if a lot of people go against guidelines and have big family gatherings for Thanksgiving and the number of COVID cases doesn’t drop, I don’t feel confident at all that the date won’t be extended out.

I see people on social media saying that the lockdowns shouldn’t be happening because they hurt small businesses. Others counter that without the lockdowns we won’t be able to stop the spread of the virus. To me, it seems like we’re in a position where the lockdowns really are necessary, but I can’t help but feel resentful toward the people who resist wearing masks and following social distancing guidelines because I feel strongly that we wouldn’t be in this position now if everyone had taken recommended precautions. I also am aware of the reality that there are a lot of businesses that barely survived the first round of quarantine that may not be able to make it through this one, and that people who are back on unemployment are struggling both financially and emotionally. We’re in a tough spot with no easy answers…and it didn’t have to be this way.

I’ve been feeling beyond burned out and, pandemic aside, part of that I’m sure is because Bill and I haven’t had a full week off since August 2019. Since then, we’ve taken some long weekends but not a full week of vacation time. When we first started working from home last March, we delayed taking much time off because at the time we didn’t realize just how long life would be different due to the pandemic. Now we know that we won’t be traveling anywhere too far from home anytime soon, and the latest update we have from work is that we won’t be returning to the office until at least the end of June. And so, we decided to take next week off even though we can’t really go anywhere. I want to get started on my Christmas shopping, as I have vowed I’m spending money locally this year and not on Amazon, and we have some house projects we’d like to do. I’m hoping the time off helps us to feel refreshed.

I’m trying to hold on to hope. Hope for a COVID vaccine and a return to something resembling normal life, hope that our new US president will restore empathy and rationality to the country, hope that this is as bad as it gets.

Struggling

Despite intending to, I haven’t been doing much writing lately. At the beginning of the pandemic the world felt very chaotic, but I was doing okay. I was (and still am) grateful for my safe home to quarantine in, and my ability to work from home exclusively until things were calmer. I was settling into a new routine and things felt like they were reasonably under control.
Since George Floyd was killed in May, I’ve felt a lot less like things are reasonably under control. The US has broken out into the most intense social unrest that I can remember, and with the presidential election just six weeks away I feel like no matter what the results are that things are going to get immediately worse here. I’ve tried to do my part to learn and listen, and I feel like I have a better understanding than I ever did of systematic racism and just how much it plays a part in every aspect of daily life, from its implications in healthcare to education to housing. It feels like no amount of reform will fix an entire society built on a foundation of inequality, but how do we tear it all down and start over? The enormity of it overwhelms me. I realize now that I was able to grow up blissfully ignorant of all of this because I am white and I’m struggling with this knowledge and upset that those in charge of educating me participated in such blatant whitewashing (whether they knew they were doing it or not). I’ve tried to do my part by donating to organizations that are working to help and by speaking up, which has brought me closer to some people and pushed me farther apart from others.
I’ve lost a lovely friend I met at Zumba class to cancer, and former coworkers to COVID and to suicide. There were no funerals for them because of the pandemic and even though attending a funeral is not high on the list of things I would ever say I “want” to do it would have been nice to be able to say goodbye to them among other friends and loved ones.
I worry about people I love whose mental health is suffering from all that has happened so far this year, while I can feel my own declining as the months pass. I don’t exactly know what to do about it. I try not to vent too much or complain too much because honestly, I know how lucky I am to be in the position I am in and so many have it far worse than I do, so what am I feeling so low about? I I know all of the tricks and tools to work through anxiety, it’s just hard when it feels like I can’t even take a breath before the next crazy thing happens.
For most of last week we were shut in our house with the windows closed because of the wildfires raging across most of the west coast. Not being able to go outside or breathe fresh air was very draining to me. I went to bed a couple of nights ago and as I was trying to fall asleep I found myself abruptly feeling incredibly angry. Nothing provoked it, I was just lying in my bed, but I suddenly felt enraged and I had no idea why which just added confusion to the anger. And below all of it was guilt for being so upset when in truth I was so fortunate that I was safe and that no fires were threatening my home. It could be so much worse….but of course, that doesn’t mean it’s good.
Our oldest cat, Oliver, is having health issues again and it makes me so sad. My sassy orange kitty, who once weighed upwards of twenty pounds with an attitude roughly the same size as his body, is as feisty as ever but continues to decline physically. He is barely ten pounds and is skin and bones. He had his teeth cleaned last week and the vet expressed concerns to me about how frail Oliver looks these days. We do blood work which keeps coming back relatively normal and we have no real answers about what’s causing his weight loss but if he continues to decline I worry that we won’t have him that much longer. He’s fourteen, not a young cat by any means, but he’s been in my life since he was around six weeks old and the thought of losing him breaks my heart. I’m just so grateful that I’ve gotten to be home more and spend more time with him, even though I would never have wished for this pandemic and I am not happy it has happened.
I miss the outlets for stress that I used to have, especially dance class. It used to help so much to go spend an hour dancing with positive, amazing women and that time always helped me feel better about everything in life, no matter what was going on. But I cancelled my gym membership when the gym reopened in August because I just don’t feel comfortable going back in the middle of a pandemic, and with the way things are going I know that isn’t going to change anytime soon. But oh how I miss it.
I feel overwhelmed and I feel guilty that I feel overwhelmed. I’m trying to focus on the good in my life and take comfort in that.

An Edmonds Kind of Lunch Break

On afternoons when I don’t have a lot of meetings, I like to order tea from the Starbucks down the street from me. Although it’s only a little over a mile of distance and so theoretically very walkable on my lunch break, the Starbucks in downtown Edmonds is located in what’s referred to as the Edmonds Bowl, which is a valley about 400ft of elevation below my own house. So in other words, to get back home I have to walk up a very steep hill….so I usually opt to just drive to fetch tea.
I absolutely love downtown Edmonds. Even though I could probably find a parking spot right in front of Starbucks, I usually opt to park a block or so away so that I can take a short walk and pass by the shops and restaurants that line Main Street. Never before in my life have I had such a sense of place as I do here. Now that I work from home full time, I get to spend more time in my own community and it has really reaffirmed to me that I picked the right place to call home.
Although I usually skip the Main Street hill during the middle of my work day, Bill and I do climb it nearly every evening after work when we take our walks and on weekends when we venture into the Bowl on foot. Last Saturday we walked down, got takeout from Rory’s, one of our favorite restaurants, and ate our lunch at the beach. I was surprised that the waterfront wasn’t more crowded on a nice summer afternoon, but we were easily able to distance ourselves from other people and found a spot to sit and eat our food while we watched cars load and unload on the ferry.
When we talked about things we wanted when we were house shopping two years ago, Bill and I both agreed that we wanted to be within walking distance of downtown. We knew that finding a house or condo in the Bowl that was in our price range and had everything we wanted was unlikely, but we both wanted to be close enough that we didn’t have to rely on the car every time we wanted to go out to dinner or to the Saturday Market in the summertime. Even as I write this I’m still amazed that we were able to find our condo, which is so perfect for us and gives us the walkability we wanted so much.
Today I was in sort of a funk, so I ordered myself a tea and headed down to Starbucks to get it. I was instantly cheered up by the atmosphere in downtown Edmonds as I parked a block away and walked the rest of the way to get my drink. I admired a cute outfit on display on the front porch of Rogue, a boutique clothing store that I love. Even through my mask I could smell the delicious scents of food being prepared at the Market, a great place to get fish and chips. I could look down the street and glimpse views of the Sound. Just the experience of being there, even for a few minutes, lifted my spirits and completely changed my mindset.
The hit of caffeine didn’t hurt either, though.
 
 

Looking Back on Two Months of Quarantine

It’s been nearly two months now since Bill and I began working at home exclusively, and over a month since Washington state initially gave residents a stay at home order. As of yesterday, the stay at home order will last until May 31st and then things will begin to reopen slowly in a four-phase process, with an estimated three weeks spent in each phase. Our company is taking a particularly conservative approach to having employees return to the office to work, and right now the earliest we would be going back is September.
Bill and I are incredibly lucky and I am grateful for that every day. Our lives are different of course, but our situation is about as ideal as I think anyone could hope for given the circumstances. Unlike so many, we are able to comfortably work from home and we aren’t worried about money during this time. Our local grocery store offers curbside pickup and so every week I can go online, fill out an order, and then pick a time to go retrieve it. My groceries are loaded into the back of my car for me and I don’t have to worry about walking through stores among people who either aren’t paying attention to or don’t care about social distancing precautions. And since we don’t have kids, we’re able to focus on our busy professional lives and spend our weekends unwinding, without worrying about entertaining (or educating!) small people of our own creation. I’ve seen people online joking about divorce rates going up post-quarantine, but for us the additional time together has brought us closer and strengthened our bond.
I know not everyone I work with is happy to be working remotely full-time, but I have to confess that I’ve come to really appreciate it. I love being able to sleep later, I don’t miss that 5am alarm or the hour or more each way I’d spend in traffic driving back and forth to the office five days a week. Now, instead of getting up before dawn and rushing to get a shower and get on the road before traffic hits its peak, I wake up to the sun and spend the first half hour of my morning working out before I take my shower and log into work for the day. There’s a moment in the mornings, when I’m fresh out of the shower and making my coffee before I check emails, when I always feel calm and accomplished and ready to take on the day. September feels like a long ways away, but I know time will fly by and I know I’ll be sad when I don’t have that moment in the mornings anymore.
Like a lot of people, we are home a lot more than usual now and we’ve been trying to put that extra time to good use. We’ve enjoyed watching movies and discovering new shows together, and we’ve been doing some projects around our condo that we’d intended to get to for ages but never seemed to have the time for. We replaced the light in our dining room, and Bill has been going through the house and changing out all of the outdated-looking brass fixtures for more modern matte black ones. We now have new doorknobs, hinges, and door handles, and it’s amazing how much of a difference those changes make in how the house looks. I love our condo. I’ve lived in some houses I liked a lot, but this place is by far my favorite.
I’ve always loved baking, but I just never seemed to find the time and motivation after a long work week. Now though, I’ve been having a great time trying out different recipes and experiments every weekend, and have produced (and consumed) far more cookies than any person probably should. Thank goodness for those morning workouts!
For the most part I feel like I’m in a really good place mentally amid the chaos of this pandemic. I’ve accepted that it’s a wait-and-see situation and the only thing I can do to be helpful is to follow the stay-at-home orders, so I’m taking that very seriously. I’m trying to stay focused on doing a good job at work, keeping our house clean and comfortable, and enjoying all the good things I have that I’m so grateful for.

My Ten-Year Blogiversary

Ten years ago today, I was inspired to start writing this blog as I prepared to change my life forever. I was packing up all of my belongings and getting ready to move from my home state of California to Washington – a place I had only visited twice in my life on vacation. Looking back, I’m a little surprised that my then-timid self was actually brave enough to make such a drastic move, but I think I knew something had to change. I was working a job I hated and my life felt stalled. And so, I took a huge leap of faith and left behind everything and everyone I knew to start over.
At first, it was hard. I desperately missed my family and friends back in California, and I was sort of in shock trying to adjust to the dreary and rainy Seattle weather. That year, summer came particularly late and I remember driving to work one day in early July, wearing jeans and a sweater, wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into and feeling convinced that I’d never be truly warm again. But, things quickly improved – I began making friends, and I started being offered opportunities at work that never would have been possible for me had I stayed in California. I began to see that the decision to move had been a good one, even if it took some getting used to.
Even though so much has happened, it feels like the last ten years have flown by. Very little of my life is the same, but that’s okay because I’m in such a better place now. Of course life isn’t perfect but it feels pretty close, and I am grateful for all of the people that have come into my life and made it better, for all the experiences I’ve had, for all that I’ve learned. I have no idea what the next ten years will hold and honestly it would be nice if time would slow down just a bit, but that’s not usually the way it goes.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me and read my little blog and left comments over the years, it means so much to me. And to my friends I have met in the blogging universe, I love you and I’m so very grateful we have each other!
And as the world is currently very weird and a little anxiety-inducing, I will close this post by encouraging you to go to this link and watch the quarantined couple who recreated a horseback ride because it is hilarious and we all need a laugh right about now.
 
 

Let's All Stay Home and Wash Our Hands

Lately it seems like the only thing on any of our minds is COVID-19, the pandemic that has been rapidly spreading around the world. The first case of it identified in the United States happened to be in the same county I live in, and the majority of deaths in Washington state were in a facility not too far from the office where I work.
The company Bill and I work for announced that it would require any employees who could do so to work from home for the rest of the month starting on March 5th. At the time, I was simply proud to work for a place that cared so much about its employees that it would take such an extreme precaution. Now, although I’m still very proud of my company, I understand that the precaution of keeping us home wasn’t extreme at all, and was a foreshadowing of things to come. Today the work from home policy was extended through the month of April, and I don’t know that I even believe we’ll be going back to the office in May.
All of the schools in Washington are closed for six weeks. Restaurants and bars are now closed too, with the exception of those that are able to convert to takeout-only. It makes me feel a little better to see the state taking things so seriously, but it also makes my heart hurt for people whose jobs can’t be done remotely and who are now suffering financially because of this crisis. It makes me very thankful for my own job and that I’m able to do my work here at home without worrying about how I’m going to pay my bills. Not everyone is so fortunate and I think at this point I have absolutely nothing to complain about.
Bill and I have been getting into the new routine of working at home full-time. Although social gatherings are strongly discouraged, going outside is still okay and we’ve had some nice sunny weather here in Edmonds in the last couple of weeks. We’ve been taking advantage of it and getting outside to take long walks every evening. Our gym is closed indefinitely, so instead we’re taking advantage of streaming workouts that we can do in our living room and making sure we work out before we log on to work for the day. We’re trying to stick to our normal weekday meal routine, although I will admit that this is where I’ve struggled a bit because it’s just so easy to grab a snack when I’m home all day!
A couple of weeks ago people were hoarding bottled water and toilet paper; now they’re hoarding food. I usually love our weekly trip to the grocery store but now it makes me frustrated and anxious. I can’t plan any meals beforehand because I have to see what the store actually has before I can decide what to make. I’m hoping that the initial rush to stock up will be over soon and things will be more readily available, but at this point I just don’t know what’s going to happen.
Last week was our third wedding anniversary, and we still wanted to celebrate while also following the strong recommendations to practice social distancing. We ultimately decided to take a drive over to the Olympic Peninsula and visit Ruby Beach, the place where we got engaged in 2015. It was a cold, clear day, and we were able to enjoy a road trip together. I think it turned out to be one of the nicest days we’ve spent together in awhile, and we’re hoping to take another day drive somewhere else next weekend. It helps to get out of the house while safely staying quarantined in our car.
Things seem to change daily so it’s hard to predict what will happen next, but we’re trying to make the best of things. Until all of this quiets down, I’ll be hanging out at home, enjoying my stash of pizza rolls, diligently washing my hands, and avoiding looking at the balance of my 401(k).

Summer Reading List

I accidentally took a month off from blogging; work got super busy and I don’t honestly know exactly what happened but June is over and now it is July and you guys it is summer which just happens to be my favorite season.
Summer in Seattle is so much different than summers in California. Before I moved to the Northwest, I definitely took nice weather for granted and honestly I don’t remember feeling much of a pull to get outside and enjoy a sunny day. Now, though, once the temperature hits 70 degrees I want to ditch all responsibilities and just be outdoors. I love the warm sun, the fresh air, the long lazy days.
Now that I’m done with school, I plan to spend many summer hours relaxing with good books. I already have some picked out that I’m looking forward to reading, but I would also love recommendations!
Here are the ones I have so far:
Summer of 69 by Elin Hildebrand (my online book club’s pick for July)
Before and Again by Barbara Delinksy
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager (this one comes out tomorrow!)
Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin
California Girls by Susan Mallery
And I’ll probably also re-read Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster because it’s one of my all-time favorites and I usually read it once a summer.
Okay, what books am I missing? Tell me what you’re reading so I can add to my list!

Adultish

I am very happy to report that it appears Seattle’s 2019 Snowmaggedon is nearing its end. The snow has started to melt. By Wednesday, Bill and I were able to finally venture out and go to our offices to work instead of working from home, and I don’t think I’ve ever relished working in a cubicle quite so much as I did that day. I also took time to make my hair and outfit look nice, since I’d been living in my pajamas and forgetting to actually brush my hair most mornings since the snow began.
While we were housebound, one of the things we tackled was a thorough cleaning of our abode so that staying inside all the time would be more pleasant. In doing so, we used up a lot of our household cleaners, making a note along the way of each thing we would need to buy when we could again venture out. After our first day back in the office, we had enough daylight left to stop at Fred Meyer to restock.
Bill has a strategy for buying consumable products like toiletries and cleaning supplies: he buys multiple of each item, then typically buys more again when he opens the last new bottle/jar/tube of said thing. This way, he never finds himself in a position where he is totally out of something he needs. Maybe lots of people do this, I don’t know, but the idea of it was fairly foreign to me before I lived with him. It turns out that stocking up on things is one of my favorite adult things to do, which I think is likely because I’ve been so poor in my life that I couldn’t even afford to buy everything I need, much less to be able to buy multiples of any items so that I would have more for later. Now, being able to buy multiple sticks of deodorant at one time feels like the height of luxury, and I revel in it.
A few weeks ago comedian Bill Maher got flack for calling out people who refer to their grown-up activities as “adulting”, and for still liking the things from our childhoods like comic books and Lucky Charms (now, kids, I like Bill Maher even though I don’t always agree with everything he says, and I suppose he doesn’t do things like invent Eggos with chocolate shavings and powdered sugar on them when he has been snowed in at his house for over a week, which is something that I may have possibly done since the beginning of Snowmaggedon, so let’s not be too hard on him). The thing is, I agree with him on this but then again I don’t. I do adult things like pay my bills on time, and eat vegetables instead of Pop-Tarts for dinner, and hold down a steady job. I have a 401K and an IRA and more than the required $5 in my savings account. I can afford to buy more than one bottle of carpet cleaner at a time. So, I suppose I reasonably have my shit together.
The thing is though, that I don’t really feel like an adult, not a real one. Or, at least I don’t feel the way that I thought I would when I became an adult. When I was a kid, adults seemed so put-together and mature and confident and even though I’m in my thirties now I still feel like a kid playing house half the time. Maybe my parents’ generation wasn’t actually better at being grown-ups than mine is and maybe it’s all a big facade, but I somehow thought that when I got to this age I would have a different outlook on my own level of maturity. The truth is that all of the adulting things I do are because I have recognized that they contribute to my own comfort: I do laundry because I like having clean clothes (and clean sheets, there is not much in life that’s more wonderful than crawling into a bed that’s been freshly made up with sheets still warm from the dryer), I work because I like having money, and I buy things in bulk because the money I earn at my job allows me to and because I hate running out of shampoo and having to dig through the drawers and cabinets in my bathroom in hopes of finding a small hotel sample to hold me over until I can get to the store. I contribute to my retirement accounts because I know I want to retire before I’m a hundred years old and recognize that I need to be saving now for that.
I think we all have to find the things that make us feel fulfilled, and do them. Maybe for Bill Maher that’s putting on snappy suits and smoking lots of weed (not necessarily in that order). That’s the kind of adult he wants to be. I, on the other hand, want to be the kind of adult who can get shit done but who also still wears Vans as my go-to shoes and binge-listens to a podcast about the hit 90’s cartoon Gargoyles on my commute (it’s called Grotesques and it’s amazing).
But seriously, buy three bottles of Windex the next time you’re low on it. Trust me, it feels sooooo good.
 

The Dirt Box

Back when I first moved to Washington, I landed a really cool temporary assignment on a special project at work. Up until then I had always worked in call centers, and this was the first job in seven years with that company that I actually enjoyed. Within the project, there were five of us from the call center, selected because we had worked with the order and billing systems and were pretty savvy with them. The rest of our project team sat on the third floor of the office building, while we were sequestered on the fifth floor with the rest of the call center, so we didn’t have ultimate freedom but we still had a lot more than we did when we were tethered to our desks with headsets. The work itself was fast-paced and interesting, and I learned to do a lot of cool things that no one would ever have taught me when I was on the phone with customers all day long.
We five all got along pretty well, but one of the guys was training for a body-building competition and was really moody most of the time (I like to think that the lack of carbs was just getting to him and that hopefully he’s since eaten some bread and mellowed out), plus his insane diet consisted of a fair amount of dishes that smelled absolutely terrible, which I know because he took his meals at his desk and we were all subjected to the stench of microwaved fish and the like. His name was Patrick, and the rest of us took to calling him Patrick the Starfish (from the show Spongebob Squarepants, in case you live under a rock as opposed to in a pineapple under the sea and do not recognize the reference).
I would like to pause for a moment to note that the Starfish now lives in Hawaii with his extremely hot wife, so he is doing just fine and the story I’m about to tell neither significantly scarred him or ruined his life.
The Starfish had a rather intense personality, which made him a good person to talk to if something wasn’t going right but also made him difficult to joke around with. Any sort of good-natured teasing was out: he was easily offended and each of the other four of us had a row with him at some point during the months we were on the project. The nice thing was that no matter how heated we got, usually by the next day he’d be back in good enough spirits and all would be calm again, and over time we learned what things would make him mad and (for the most part) tried not to do those things.
One day in early fall, the Starfish brought in a tiny box filled with sand and placed it on his desk. Intrigued, I said something along the lines of “What’s up with the dirt box?” to which he rolled his eyes at my clearly uncivilized self and explained to me that it was a Zen garden. He showed me that it came with a little rake, and he could rake the sand just so and apparently when all those grains were perfectly organized then his mind also felt decluttered.
Several of us on the project team were intrigued by the Zen garden. For the most part we’d just ask him questions and have him indulge us by raking it while we watched, but one day my friend Maggie came upstairs from her desk and, upon seeing the sand, was curious about the texture and poked her finger into it. This action unhinged the Starfish, who had such an epic tantrum that the rest of our project team downstairs heard about it and asked me later on what had caused his meltdown. “Oh, Maggie touched his dirt box,” I replied with a dismissive shrug. My explanation amused the others, not just because of the ridiculousness of freaking out at work because someone poked your Zen Garden, but also because I kept calling it a dirt box and apparently that made them think of a cat’s litter box.
Not long after the poking incident, the Starfish came to work in a worse funk than usual (even for him) and in his mood he got on the bad side of a couple of the IT guys on our team. They decided to take their revenge on him and waited until one Saturday afternoon to carry out their plan. Only a few of us from each group in the project team worked Saturdays, including the Starfish and me. The IT guys popped up under the guise of visiting me while the Starfish at lunch, and then, inspired by my referring to the Zen Garden as a dirt box, placed a mini Tootsie roll into the middle of it to make it look like a dirty litter box.
I knew the Starfish was going to lose his mind when he saw what had been done so I made sure that I was in the bathroom before he came back from his lunch break. When I returned, he glowered in my direction and demanded I tell him what I knew about the defiling of his dirt box (I will give him some credit for never accusing me of being the one who messed with it). I walked over, took a look at it, burst out laughing, and told him between giggles that I had been in the bathroom and had no idea who was responsible. He flounced off to go downstairs and tattle to the boss about what had happened, and since there were only a handful of us around the suspect list was rather short. My boss totally could’ve pushed us to fess up to who had played the prank, but he was a super laid-back guy and just told the Starfish to take his Zen Garden home if having it on his desk was causing problems.
And so, that was the end of the Zen Garden at work and the Starfish was a lot more Zen himself with his dirt box safely at home in its raked perfection.
 
 

Gratitude

Standing at the sink in the kitchen of our new home, I can gaze out across the living room as I wash dishes. One weekend morning not long ago I did so as usual, cleaning up the dishes after enjoying the breakfast my sweet husband cooked for us. As I began cleaning up he had moved to the couch and the sight of him relaxing on a sunny weekend morning made me smile.

As I looked out at our living room, my husband on the couch and my cats stretched out in patches of morning sun, I felt so much gratitude for everything I was seeing. Life is short and ever-changing; my view from the kitchen won’t always look this way. The cats are getting older – hell, Bill and I are getting older – and with growing older I understand so much more that every moment is one to be cherished because it won’t be like this forever.
I don’t say this to be ominous. Life is the best it’s ever been and I am so incredibly grateful for these quiet and happy moments. I’ve had so many of them, especially since moving into our new home in April. We are both so in love with our new place and we spend more time at home now than we ever did when we lived in our rental. Our old apartment didn’t have a place for a table, so we never owned one, and the living room was only big enough for a love seat and an armchair. The apartment complex was on a major street, so it was nearly always loud when we ventured onto our back patio. Now, in our new home, we can do things that we couldn’t  before. We enjoy meals together sitting at the dining room table, we relax on our back deck on nice days, and we stretch out together on our giant, cozy new couch and watch movies together.
The happiness we feel doesn’t come from just the possession of the house itself, but from what it represents: an accomplishment we achieved together and can now enjoy together. Bill and I have shared so many adventures over the last four years, and home ownership is the newest but by no means the last one we’ll have together. There is no single item I have ever owned in my life that has given me the kind of peace and happiness that this life together brings me.
I admit that at times I lose sight of that feeling of gratitude and fall into the rut of just going through the motions of everyday life. Even though I generally can find joy in most things, there are definitely moments when I can’t find my shoes and leave late for work, or spill my coffee all over my car, and I catch myself getting way too riled up by these annoyances. Of course once that moment of self-awareness hits and I see how silly I’m being, then I regret allowing such small problems to make me fall short of being the person I want to be. Usually the things that frustrate me the most are the ones that I feel are rooted in my own shortcomings: running late makes me worry that I am not truly dependable, spilling things shows that I’m disorganized and klutzy.
In those moments where I’m falling short of my own standards, I’m learning to take a step back and imagine myself standing at the kitchen sink, looking out at my beautiful living room at my wonderful family. This image in my mind is soothing and grounding; it puts it in perspective to me how truly rich I am in this life and reminds me that small frustrations are such small and insignificant parts of such a great existence.