Friday, March 15, 2013

Miller Time Friday - Some Deep Thoughts on Being At Home and an Update on the Peacock Blazer

Happy Friday!!!!

We are now officially at the Ides of March!  So stay clear of places full of people that might want to knock you off your pedestal!

When I was working full-time, especially for the last few years, Friday was the day I LIVED for.  Friday, meant I could get home by 6 and not work that evening.  Friday evening felt like freedom to me. 

Friday also meant I would be in my home again.  Oh sure, I was in my home every evening from Monday to Friday, but I can say, unequivocally, that I was not IN my home.  My head was always elsewhere, worrying over some issue like the little squirrel I watch out the window as I am writing this post.  I was never turned off from work.

I hope that most of you who are reading this are lucky enough not to have that kind of pressure.  But I think that the advent of technology has leashed us to our workplaces in so many unhealthy ways.  Until my break, I was on call 24-7 and even if no one was calling me or emailing me, I would still be at work mentally. 

One of the most interesting things about being at home is actually being at HOME.  The last time I spent any considerable time puttering around my house was 18 years ago, during my maternity leave for my son.   Even vacations were often spent travelling elsewhere, so the only other time I was really hanging about the house was Christmas time.  And guess what?  I love hanging about my house!

As I write this, the sun is just peeking through the trees on its way up into a beautiful blue sky.  I am fortunate in that I live 10 minutes outside of our small city on an acre lot surrounded by forty foot high pine trees.  The snow is actually starting to melt and I am starting to dream of yard work.  It is very quiet. 




My hibiscus tree is getting leafy again!
 Inside the house, I have had time to do things I have not had time to do in many years, or that I did not do in thoughtful ways.  My closets are cleaner, which makes me feel less disorganized.  I have a budget and I am being more careful with my money as I have had the time to pay attention to it.  Chores that I would do before were rushed through; I felt that I was in a race against time and that time was beating me; there were just never enough hours in the day.  Now I take my time and try to be more thoughtful about things.  Isn't it funny how going through something terrible like the death of my dad, as well as getting physically exhausted, is often what we need in order to wake up to what is not working? 

But the biggest and loveliest gift I have received during my time off is the realization of how much I love being in my home.  How those daily chores, when done with love and attention, can seem like little acts of goodness. 

The work of keeping a house nowadays seems to have gone to two extremes: 1) The Martha Stewart extreme, which would mean that by this time of day I would have already fed and watered the chickens and washed all of the windows or 2) the individual who stays at home to raise their children and/or care for the life of their family (or is on exhaustion leave, comme moi) and is constantly asked: how DO they fill their time and aren't they DYING to get "back out there in the real world?"

And yet, here is the secret no one talks much about until they get older: being at home is wonderful.  I have friends who are "officially retired" who say that they are the happiest they have ever been in their lives.  How they have time for everything from grocery shopping to reading a book to taking a walk.  They had forgotten how wonderful it is to just be. In that home.  The place they spent so many years paying for and fixing and decorating.



Barry reading a book this morning; he doesn't know I took this picture
 For the last couple of months I have been feeling a little like Pat Gardiner, she of the wonderful L.M. Montgomery book, Mistress Pat, who liked nothing better than to be in her own home.  I am now officially re-acquainted with ALL parts of house, as well as the rest of my non-work life and while I might have found that daunting and stressful in January, by mid-March I am finding it quite delightful!  That probably means I am pretty much rested now. 



















I asked my dad several years ago if things were as hectic for he and my mother as they were at that moment for Barry and I.  He thought about it for awhile and said no.  I asked if that was because my mother stayed at home.  He thought further about it and said no, that was part of it, but not the whole reason.  My dad had an excellent job where he was the boss of a large organization as well.  He felt there were two huge differennces: 1) he worked in an era of no emails coming at you 24-7.  "People would call you in the evening if there was a real emergency, he said, "but because they had to call you, they made sure it WAS a real emergency."  and 2) They didn't want as much.  "We didn't expect to take fancy vacations every year or have new cars or fancy stuff.  I never felt I had to keep striving to keep up.  We lived comfortably as a family of five on what I made and we lived within our means."

Hmmm.  Some good food for thought.  My personal story is a story of great imbalance - all of my attention prior to Christmas was divided as follows 1) my family, including my dad's care and 2) my work.  Almost nothing else.  I forgot about giving myself attention.  And one of the things that makes me really happy is being in my home more and really enjoying that time.  And reading.  And writing.  And chatting with you all each day, which has become such a source of great delight as you all have such different thoughts and experiences.

For me, life experiences are all about learning.  My life has never been a straight line and while I can see now that certain decisions made at certain times put me on the path that I was on, I am not sure I would have recognized them as such life-altering decisions at the time I made them.  What I KNOW for sure on a go forward basis is that the next round of decisions and the kind of work I choose to do (as I will be working at something!) need to provide me with a balanced life.

When I started this blog last June/July, I thought I would mostly be writing about clothes and my quest for a changing style.  It has certainly evolved since that time to something almost completely different (I am not sure what!) and i am grateful to you for continuing on the journey with me and for the conversations we have now that are about so many different topics depending on the day, conversations that it make me excited to get up in the morning to read your comments or go read your blogs!  I know I don't have an exciting life in the grand schemes of things, but I am excited by it now in a way that is completely different than 4 months ago. 

I know - very deep Friday thoughts.  To lighten the mood and get the day off right, I think this Miller Time could start with a little something warm and cozy: how about an Irish Coffee?

What you need
  • A glass
  • Sugar
  • Freshly brewed coffee
  • ¾ ounce of Bailey’s
  • Homemade whip cream
  • A stirrer
  • A warm spoon

Directions

In a preheated glass, pour the Bailey’s in. At this time you can add the sugar for a sweetened taste. Slowly add the freshly brewed coffee while continuously mixing the liquid. All of the sugar should be dissolved. With the back of a warm spoon, add the whip cream to the Irish coffee mixture. Be sure to not break the coffee’s surface with the whip cream.

I won't tell if you drink it this morning...Dani - I think you need to get one of those little heaters for your front porch so we can start sitting out there again when we all arrive!

So do tell: what do you like best about being in your home?  Do you have any big weekend plans?

And as a small postscript, I got the peacock blazer back from the tailor late yesterday.  I cannot recall which one of you brilliant people first suggested it, but the bracelet length sleeves make all of the difference!




Now - will one of you kind souls explain HOW that happened.  How did bracelet-length sleeves take my jacket from dowdy to chic???????

And as always: stay safe out there!  And remember:  just say no if Brutus wants to go for coffeee....

28 comments:

  1. WMM,
    First, I LOVE the peacock blazer.
    Second, "chatting" with you daily has become a delightful exercise for me too. I would like to offer you as a perfect example that people can make meaningful connections online!
    Third, I am going through something somewhat similar but inverse of what you describe. Like you, I worked at mighty places in the corporate world and was on call 24-7, but I only spent 5 hours at home between 15 hours days and college full-time at night. Now that I am in grad school, I "work" from home. I do my reading and writing in my home office, so I can never really BE at home and I am ALWAYS working. Curiously, when I was out of the house all day I managed to get everything done: long workdays, school, dry cleaners, grocery shopping and the like. Now, some sort of inertia pulls me, making me avoid leaving home as much as I can, which I find is not that great for my daily mood, or vitamin D production. Anyway, I won't bore you further. Here's to hoping that grad school and doctoral programs are a deviation from the norm. I wonder if I am ever going to be high powered executive, go-getter old me again.

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    1. Anthro Blogger - that is an interesting perspective and story! My husband is running his part-time business from home - he sets aside hours for it each week (in addition to meetings) but he also adds in coffee chats with friends, etc. If I do decide to change careers I would have to build that in for sure, as I think I could easily slip in to what you are experiencing. I do not think I want to be high-powered again, but I will need to feel like I am making a difference!

      And thanks re; peacock jacket!

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  2. I love my house, I love my family, I love my garden, I love my life. I do work from home but several years ago we were fortunate to buy adjoining property and build a small office. This has significantly helped with the separation of work and home...especially for hubs. I am and have always been a great "piddler". I have no problem entertaining myself and can always find something to do without doing much at all. Your jacket looks great...it no longer swallows you. This weekend Em and I will look for swimsuits for our cruise next week. Sigh..should be torture.

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    1. BB - I am saying prayers to the universe for you that each swimsuit makes you each look surprisingly slenderer than the last!

      I am working on my room of my own right now. Barry has a home office which is really his space and i do think the delineated space helps. I am also trying to put myself on a bit more of a schedule now, since I will be going either back to my old job or on to something else and it will be a shock to the system after this rest!

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  3. Oh I love Irish Coffee but one leads to three and that's about a squillion calories gone.
    Great pic of Barry and the jacket looks so much better, was it Kathy who suggested shortening the sleeves?
    Home - I am too happy to stay in mine, both mum and hubs have suggested that I have a bit of a problem and if I lived in the US they would have packed me off for therapy, I'm not agoraphobic but if if someone offered me a job earning £100, 000 a year outside of the home or a part time one earning £100 a week from home, I'd pick the latter and root through bins for extra food.

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    1. Well Barry (who never reads this blog) happened to look this morning and was HORRIFIED by the picture!!!!

      I am with you - maybe someone will send us food!!!

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  4. Lovely thoughts to ponder WMM. I've always loved being in my home. I think some of this comes from how much my mom enjoyed/s it as well -- we always talk about being "cozy in the house." I worked until I had my son, in my early 30's, and while I enjoyed it and felt fulfilled (well, by some of the positions), being at home is my favorite place to be. I chose to be a SAHM, and enjoy puttering around the house, when I have time. I don't like it when I'm "forced" to mass clean (e.g. showing our house), but I do enjoy the day-to-day upkeep and being able to have a fire in the middle of winter, and to wash some dishes with the windows open. I'm very much looking forward to our new home, and encorporating a good deal of gardening to the mix (we'll have more land). I will likely go back to work soon, when my son's in school, but I hope to do freelance writing work at home. I just don't think I can do the full office thing again!

    Also, LOVE the blazer alteration. Isn't it amazing what a difference that small change made? You've inspired me to take in a few items straight away to the tailor. :)

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    1. HI M! I am inspired to take a few more of my jackets in now that I see the difference - I must go back to the blogpost and see who the brilliant mind was!!! I am so excited for you with your new house and I am itching to start gardening again, but I think I will have to soothe myself by visiting greenhouses for the time being!

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  5. Dashing off to work- actually a respite today from all of the unfinished things I am leaving at home! I knew the shorter sleeves would work, although I don't think it was my suggestion. And how did you know Irish coffee was my very favorite drink, even though I have not had one in ages?

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    1. Knityarns, you seem like the Irish Coffee kind of gal!!!!

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  6. HOME WORK: Well WMM, I'll avoid the "tough" stuff and start by saying we've always had our Caifé Gaelach made with straight Irish whisky, strong black coffee and brown/raw sugar, not Baileys, which likely goes down a lot smoother. That noted, have you tried Baileys coffee with one of the newer flavoured versions? I had it with the biscotti one and a sprinkling of dark chocolate shavings on the cream at a friend's house as the dessert over the holidays, pretty delish. Flavouring the whipped cream can also be yum. Have also heard they have Baileys brand flavoured non-alcoholic coffee creamers (upscale version of the liquid Coffeemate) in the US now, but have not seen or tried.

    Think I am in a bit of Anthro Blogger's space at the moment. But as someone who has worked remotely/ from home/ road a lot over the past seven years, I would say Barry is on good track. Definitely need a dedicated "workspace" you can shut away from your home life at the end of the day. Ditto a routine that gives balance and structure. I think the "risk" to watch is either frittering because you are at home or submerging yourself in work because it is "always there" and there isn't a crowd of people around you heading home at 6 p.m. (fall in latter camp, rely on DH, friends, phone alarm.)

    I keep wondering if in the 21st century we will evolve our (particularly North American) perception and values of work/ worth, particularly that working from home isn't as "serious", that raising kids isn't the same or more important as another full-time career, that "having it all" is not always what it is cracked up to me, that non-mainstream choices are not less, and that women shouldn't have to do all the "Lean In". In the meantime, I think it is really wonderful that you are feeling at home. And I love that photo of the B.!

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    1. GF- I plan to read the Lean In book; from the reviews I have read, it sounds as though she has it right in that we " hold" ourselves back to some degree. But that can be by real choice for a certain kind of life. We all have also experienced workplace unfriendliness toward women if we are in male dominated fields. My generation shrugged it off to some degree, so I think it's better the younger ones are speaking out and not tolerating it.

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    2. I am like Lane - I need to read it the book more fully! GF - I absolutely agree - the older I get the more I think that different choices are neat and interesting and are not somhow worse or better, just perhaps worse or better for an individual. Who said comparisons are odious? I agree!

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  7. Sorry for ramble! P.S. Can't remember who suggested before we all chimed in yes, but bracelet sleeves are flattering on many because of proportion. They play up the usually slim forearm and cover the rest. Also balancing neckline v with arms for a good triangle of "show some skin". Kendall Farr talks about it much better in a book I library thumbed - Style Evolution.

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    1. I will have to look for that book!

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  8. What a beautifully written post! Yes I agree a porch heater is just the thing. I love Irish coffee but I never drink them, if I start having whiskey with my morning coffee that will be the end of me!
    I also love being in my home. Love it. I love to tidy and bake and dust things, get the laundry going and generally make things comfortable for my family. I think the simple things are the ones that make our lives rich and meaningful, going for a walk, baking something nice, dinner with the family. All things that cost nothing but time!
    That picture of Barry is so sweet, my hubs reads just like that, so concentrated, in his favourite living room chair!
    I do have a study in the house on the 3rd floor (Old Rascal's old room) where I do my administrative tasks for MrBP's business. It is excellent to have a completely separate place if one works at home. I can leave my work out on the desk and just return to it as I see fit. Then when I am finished I literally shut the door on it before I get back to my housework and family.
    I hope that you can have such a space for your next endeavour. It doesn't HAVE to look like Nigella's library/office but that would be nice! ;)

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    1. I am working on it right now and will take a pic for you!!! I only wish I lived closer so I could benefit from that baking!

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    2. Dani, the laundry is really what I like the least to do!!! Any tips so I could change this point of view???

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    3. Steph one thing I did was give up most of the ironing, now I just iron some linen napkins and easy things, my husband's shirts go to the cleaners. I enjoy laundry much more without the ironing.
      I take my time and don't rush the laundry and I fold it right away (if I don't then it becomes a real chore). I try to to do the laundry on the weekends now, we are on smart-meters for our electricity and it costs half the price to do the laundry at the weekend now, premium price for electricity is Mon-Fri, 9 to 5!
      I use nice soaps and I add in lavender drops for some natural clean scent. A clean laundry area helps as well.

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    4. STeph - I found making the laundry nicer helped, but honestly, my husband LOVES to do laundry so I usually give him the prilege! That military style training means he makes a lovely bed and is a great folder and ironer!

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    5. FunkySteph, I choose to think of it as the potential to have "that item I love" clean and ready to wear again rather than as "doing laundry." Of course, I'm a little crazy and hate seeing dirty stuff, be it clothes, dishes, etc.

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    6. Anthro blogger, you are making me feel better about the last 2 hours of cleaning and laundry!

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  9. What a wonderful post WMM... I didn't knew you were at home for a break ad I am sorry to read that... I have been very curious to learn more and I have browse through your blog... There are so many things to be said about the topics you cover, like the one in this post. The needs versus the wants... I have been delighted to read that you have also looked at the 333 project... I can tie that with my 150 project... Yes in those difficult time, it is important to recenter on what matters the most and try to find a good balance. Analyzing many things and being able to part the needs, the wants... Being able to step back. Here in Luxembourg the appearances are very important. It goes from the car you drive to the clothes you wear to the number of square meters in your house. Getting away from this to find your own balance is not always easy...
    Thanks for this thoughtful post and have a fabulous weekend.
    Steph

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    1. Thanks Steph - i keep winnowing and winnowing and winnowing things done. C'est bizarre, non?

      I agree - i am realizing that I need a lot less than I think I do the further along in this process! I need to visit Belgium, we drove through it en route to Arnhem and Holten in the Netherlands and it is beautiful! We stopped in a little village called Lille and found everyone so kind!

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  10. Jacket-- just better proportions. Looks great!

    You have written a wonderful post about important things. The time-money continuum. I have had more time in the past few months as well to enjoy just being, living in my house,cooking without a schedule and the perpetual list ( although I love lists so I still make loads of them).

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    1. lane - I wish you would make my lists for me! Today is housecleaning day - now that I am not rushed it is actually fun to do!

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  11. I think it was me who first suggested the bracelet sleeves, and others chimed in as well. Get Fresh nailed it about the reasons, and it did sort of "swallow" you before.
    I love being home too, and I think your dad's reasoning was so correct. I remember being a young child and on the way out to dinner with my whole family. My father had to make an "emergency" phone call for work, and we stopped on a street that had a pay phone booth. It was so odd, that I still remember it to this day! Now, we're never off those damn cells!
    I'm going to be turning our 3rd floor into a separate sort of space for me - for art (not oils), knitting, I want to learn to weave, etc.
    I'm so glad you're having this time to figure stuff out for you. The circumstances were unfortunate, but it seems like you've used your time and brain power so thoughtfully and will reconfigure your life to have more happiness and a lot less stress. You've given us all so much to think about and thank you!

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    1. Gold star to you Kathy - some other blazers will get a similar treatment!

      I do think that the difference then versus now and is that when working people were home then, they were REALLY home. I saw it evolve myself over 25 years, and it wasn't simply that I was moving into progressively more responsible jobs, it was the damn blackberry and email. It is nice now to read notes that are fun as opposed to "why the H)(*&##LL did you let THAT happen."!

      I am lucky I could get this reflection time and I am so thanksful for it!

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Kindness is a virtue...