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Posts tagged ‘FIve Year Plan’

Transitioning to the Land of Less

My closet has recently undergone a transition. In fact, it’s ongoing.

This is not just about changing from Summer to Winter, white linens to camel corduroy. This is about the year-long flux my closet has been in, ever since deciding to move to the city and to a life with less stuff.

Now, by normal standards (certainly by Steve’s standards…!), I have a lot of clothes. And shoes. And decorative accessories, and whatnots. I probably always will. But I have a lot less than I used to.

It’s not just about moving from a three-story suburban house with endless storage to a pied a terre less than half that size. It’s not about my weight (for once!). A lot of it is about realizing that the kind of life  we want requires less stuff and is indeed made easier–facilitated by, even–having less stuff.

We want smaller space, a central location, less time at home, more “better” stuff and less “meh” stuff, and the ease to pick it all up and move if we want to. Having one hundred and twenty five pairs of shoes makes that hard. Having a mere sixty or seventy? Do-able.

Being in a city has changed things, too. No car? No elaborate wardrobe, just-so hair, sky high heels, long sweeping coat, massive purse. Relying on–and preferring–the Metro, bus, and good ole’ walking has resulted in a necessary shift to classic, clean, and interesting outfits, simple hair that can be fixed once you arrive, practical stylish outerwear (…inevitable rain), a larger tote bag into which a small crossbody purse lives (along with my lunch), and commuter shoes. Hideous commuter shoes. But still. I am now one of those people who I never understood before: one of those people with like four pairs of shoes in her office.

No longer needing a suit one-two times a week, I’m now happily in the land of dresses and separates. So the eighteen suits I moved down here, not knowing where I’d be working or what I’d need to wear, have slowly been culled to ten. And they’ll probably get whittled to five or seven.

I was never, ever a sweats person, and I still am not! But I am even less so now. Running tights/leggings are my go-to lounge around pants, paired with a stylish tee or tunic or oversized but nice sweater. If I need to run up the hill for milk or grab an Uber to Hala’s in the rain for a night of tv and wine, that’s the default. I own maybe two or three pairs of jeans right now, and I’ll probably lose one of those because I don’t need a thousand options: I need one or two. Even my PJs haven’t been spared…I mean seriously, who needs all these things in the guise of options?! I’m learning…not me.

I’m not now living off of a capsule wardrobe or a monochromatic minimalist wardrobe, and I certainly haven’t been on any sort of ridiculous shopping bans. No. I’ve been increasing my stash in some areas. Jewelry and scarves, for example, have become an inexpensive, small, but powerful way to transform the reduced wardrobe, so naturally I’ve been adding there. It helps when your best friend sells excellent jewelry… 😉 I’m working on upping my blazer game, too, now that the reliance on suits has decreased. Flats and commuter shoes–preferably, non-hideous–are always on my radar. I’ve also amassed an appropriately large array of raingear, too.

This mindset has been hard to keep to, honestly, this time of year. Everything is on sale, it seems. And I find myself saying “Self, that’s a great deal! You should buy it!”

But I haven’t, which is huge. Aside from a few pencil skirts to replace some dated ones, I’m over shopping for myself right now.

In this season of “more is more,” I’m wanting less and less, and living with what I have. Living with it, yes, but also loving the process.

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In This, My 29th Year

I had a birthday a few weeks back–May 29th, to be exact–and ever since, I’ve been reflecting on what I want to do this year. It wasn’t an intentional reflective period, it just happened that way.
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Steve just celebrated his 30th birthday on Monday. We enjoyed a quiet but fabulous night out, eating all of the food at Smith and Wollensky (including 12 oysters, 6 littlenecks, three sides-for-two, and two massive steaks…and drinks…and there was beef carpaccio in there somewhere too). Steve, like many, does not love celebrating birthdays because to him, they seem like non-events. Paraphrasing how he sees it: congratulations, you didn’t die this year. But me being me, I still insisted that it was special–it is!–because if nothing else, I’m glad he didn’t die this year. Romantic, huh?

While we enjoyed our first drinks–I, a glass of pinot noir, Steve an Old Fashioned–I toasted to another year, and asked Steve what he wanted to do with this, his 31st year. He thought, then responded. I won’t share his response here because poor Steve didn’t sign up for every last thing that comes out of his mouth to be publicized because I have a blog. But I will share with you what I said when Steve turned the question on me.

In this, my 29th year, I aim to:

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A while back, I attended a professional training on how to influence people. My takeaway was really this: talk less, listen more. In order to really hear what the other person is saying, I need to keep my mouth shut and let that person frame the discussion him/herself. I am so trained to reflective, active listening (too much mediation training?) that I think it has taken over my ability to listen and hear.

Will this change everything? No. Will I all of a sudden become a mute listening robot? No. When I told Steve about this intention, it came with the caveat that he sort of has to do the opposite: talk more, listen less. See, we’re very different. I’m a Meyers-Briggs E, he’s an I. I process externally, he processes internally. It can make for a lot of seemingly lopsided conversations, in that I’m talkatalkatalking and he’s absorbing, silently. Then, minutes or hours later, he contributes a neatly organized sentence or two that sums up his whole position, and there I was, yammering on about mine forever because I think out loud and didn’t quite know how I felt about it until I said it out loud a few times.

My E tendencies won’t go away, his I tendencies are here to stay, but we’ll try to shift the balance and see what happens. It’s a stretch for the both of us.

Also, I think I have ADD.

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When we were still in RI, almost a year ago, we developed our first Five Year Plan, or our 5YP. I know, you’re thinking: How Soviet of you! The goal at that point was to build our savings–liquid and retirement–and equity in our home, develop our careers, and ultimately relocate to a different area five years down the line. To accomplish these tasks, we had charts and progress goals and check ins, networking and career skills plans, you name it. It was legit.

Well, we sort of did it out of order, huh? We shifted career gears quickly, decided to relocate, sold the house in three days, and BAM now we live in DC, new shiny careers and all.

Nothing major went by the wayside, but I’d like to take a step back and figure out what we need to do to get back on track in terms of liquid and retirement savings, especially. We need to discuss our goals and how we want our life to look and feel, and what we need to do–financially–to get there.

Honestly, what we need is a sit-down with a financial planner. But, we don’t have the same financial goals as many couples our age, and that’s making it harder to find someone who will give advice specifically for us. I want someone who can tailor advice to the following: we do not want kids and don’t need to plan for them and don’t want to be asked if we’ll change our minds every year (seriously world, noyb), we have owned a home and eventually will again but probably not in the next 5 years, our student loan situation is very different from that of our peers, our salaries took a hit when we moved to a more expensive area but can rebound, we are saving for retirement, we could be saving more for general purposes, we want to enjoy our lives more than we want to trudge through them. Internetz, FIND ME THIS ADVISOR. Someone who knows that we might be able to retire at a sensible age, that we’re not doomed to a life of visit-less nursing home times,  and that we can have a little more freedom in our estate planning.

Some of my smaller goal-making tasks in my To Do And Then series have addressed this, specifically rolling over my retirement moola to my new employer. There are more steps, though. Time to figure out what they are and how to get there.

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Some people can sing as beautifully as the angels, some can slip in and out of a dramatic role seamlessly, and then there are the graceful dancers and nimble, powerful athletes. But me? Nope. I can’t sing very well, and even so, my nerves keep me from belting anything out unless I’m safely sealed within the confines of an empty, moving car. I can sort of act out little bits but I can’t actually act act. My dancing is more like seizing, and my athletic skills are, uh, non-existent. You know what I can do, though? I can cook.

I tell everyone who will listen that if I could, I’d stay home all day and cook. And eat. And feed other people. It’s when I feel my best. I feel like it’s the one talent I have, the one art form at which I excel. I have a natural instinct for cooking, and dammit, I’m proud of that. I truly love it.

I’m not going to culinary school, I don’t want to be held to learn proper measuring and conversion methods, nor can I be bothered with the food safety unit that comes with every single culinary lesson (botulism schmotulism). So I’ll cook at home. And I’ll feed anyone who will eat. Usually, that’s me, Steve, occasionally Hala, and the dogs if they are lucky (ooh la la, boiled chicken and white rice!). I like being in my kitchen, I like watching people eat and enjoy food–mine or otherwise, in the least creepy way possible–and I like the feeling that comes when that bite, that meal, that taste hit the spot for whomever is taking it in.

I want to do more of that:

Cook more,
feed more,
nourish myself and others more. With food.
Lucky gal I am, I have some people to explore this with.

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I worked on the judging thing last year and made some great headway. It boils down to this: I have no idea why certain people do, dress, act, say, smell, whatever how they do because I am not them, I am not in their life, and I simply can’t know.

And it’s none of my business. And it’s none of yours.

And by pointing out those differences in a bad light, I’m the asshole, not the superior one.

I would want the same courtesy extended to me.

Simple as that. I believe the same basic concept applies to the complaining bit: by focusing on the bad, you are not improving anything. Focus on the good, work with or around the bad, move the eff on.

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I recently read somewhere that a marriage has to get used to–comfortable with–the season-less life without kids, mostly by making seasons and special carve outs within the marriage. As I mentioned above, we are the only people who will be occupying this family. Dogs, sure; friends and other family, yep. But for our family unit, it’s Steve, and it’s me, and that’s it.

Relishing our relationship and keeping it interesting and vibrant is important. Usually, you can find us sitting on the couch scrolling through our phones, yelling at the dogs not to bark at birds or old people or air, with Dexter on in the background (see: the past week). But sometimes, we want to go on a date. Something special. Doesn’t have to be fancy–a walk for some ice cream, or a trip to the super market on a Sunday morning will do–but we need to carve out concentrated time for our family; for me and Steve.

Date nights shall commence. We haven’t dated anyone in over a decade, and that includes each other (…we’ve been together, exclusively, since 2002), so we might be rusty at first. But we will enjoy this and see where it takes us, because honestly, it’s our future.

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I feel at home when I know my way around, know and use my resources, and can confidently navigate between routine, known options and known-but-novel options. We’ve started to do this with our little section of town, but I want to expand. I want to entrench myself in my new home and have a go-to place for X and a you-have-to-try-place for Y, and I want to just go and try and do.

There’s so much we haven’t done yet, and so, in concert with dating one another, we’ll try to maintain a rolling list of places to go, things to see, neighborhoods to visit, restaurants to try, walks to take. A passport, of sorts: when you’ve done it, check it off, but keep adding.

I think that the “DC as Home” concept will really be most tried around the holidays. We are going home for Thanksgiving, but not for Christmas. So, Christmas in a new city it is!

Here’s to a fantastic, growth-oriented 29th year, self.

 

 

To Do: Back to Normal?

I think we’re back to normal routines for a while. We’re nearing the end of a long weekend, work is normal again, no travel plans for a few weeks. Time to get back to what we need to do, then fit in the fun stuff in between.

The shortness of last week, made shorter by a day home from work with a migraine (and an ugly day yesterday, part hangover, mostly super sore throat?) made it hard to feel any continuity and to keep going with my list. But I did ok. Except for those long-lingering to do’s that maybe just get phased out at this point as undoable until further notice.

Here goes:

  • Sort through closets and pull anything I haven’t worn in one year. Screw this, I quit.
  • Walk home from work on Tuesday, despite the heat. See: “Screw this, I quit.”
  • Hit the pool at least 3 times during the work week. Once, on the 4th of July! I suppose I could still head up there today, too.
  • Put all my clothes, accessories, jewelry, etc. away as soon as I take it off. Aside from the night when I came home at like 1am, deere-runk, I did this. Go me!
  • Stop interjecting long, drawn out UMMMMMMMs into my speech. I’ve been pretty cognizant of this. Let’s call it done, but I’ll still be on the lookout.
  • But I should probably still pick a book to just, like, you know, read. I did this! Yesterday, Hala and I did a little stroll through Bethesda Row’s Barnes and Noble. I ended up with two books that I had heard of and had planned on reading anyway, My Berlin Kitchen and Ratio. About food, shocking.
  • Cook something new, and from an actual recipe (slight adaptations permitted, of course), at least once this week. I made a delicious mixed berry galette on Friday, with a homemade pie crust. I usually make a great pie crust, but I couldn’t remember the recipe so I followed a new one. Turned out great.
  • Dress in reds, whites, and blues to the extent possible. Navy skinny trousers on Monday last week, followed by a RWB sailboat top and red peep toe pumps, khaki colored linen trousers (…the white ones were ever so slightly too tight when I put them on and too-tight linen pants look good on no one). Thursday was a navy and ivory belted shift dress with red peep toe pumps and gold jewelry. For my night out with Hala, I changed into coral flip flops (plans involved lots of walking and a pedicure), a red cross body purse, and a Stella and Dot red statement bracelet. Friday saw a red strapless one piece, a navy and red anchor print mini skirt, and a classic blue bandana. Done and done, kids.
  • Make lunch every day this week. Did it! Aside from the day when I was home sick, both of us had lunches at work. They weren’t always fancy but they worked. Will keep this one up.
  • Wear makeup everyday this week. Just part of my routine now.
  • Re-pillow the living room. I looked, didn’t find anything  I liked. But I’ll keep looking.
  • Wear something each day this week that I haven’t worn recently. Gotta get that closet in cycle.
  • Buy two large scale house plants–trees!–for the apartment. We’re getting the windows replaced this week, so once that craziness is over, I can have my plants finally.
  • Finish the book I’m currently reading. I’ve been dragging along with this one, but it is not a reflection on the book. It’s In the Sanctuary of Outcasts: A Memoir by Neil White, it’s good, but it’s just dragged a little. I’m reading it on the bus on my phone, so maybe that’s not helping.
  • Clean the kitchen every night before I go to bed. I usually leave some dishes out because I’m lazy. It’s easier to just do that. But it leaves some unfinished stuff the next day and that’s an assache, so every night will have to change.
  • Finish rolling over my retirement savings from my old employer to my new one. Simple enough.

Getting into some routines this week, keeping up some old ones. What are you doing?