I remember her two bedroom, one bathroom apartment. Looking back I am horrified that she lived there. Old linoleum and cabinets, even older carpeting, and I will not even start on the yellow bathtub and red carpeting in the bathroom — who puts carpeting in a bathroom, let alone a rental apartment? She lived there for at least ten years if not longer. All of her furniture was given to her by family over the years, and she cherished every piece she owned. Right down to the costume jewelry she owned.
I can remember sitting at her dressing table (that was used as a desk and was never used as a dressing table). There were three drawers on each side, and a narrow, long drawer in the middle. She kept each necklace and bracelet and pair of earrings in their own separate box. You know, the kind that you purchased the jewelry in. She kept the cotton filler intact, and stored each piece in that box, which often told you where the purchase was made. I would often adventure to the table and want to try each piece on and play with alternating the fake pearls with the gaudy earrings. She did not have her ears pierced, they were all clip on earrings (and I thought they hurt horribly) but put them on anyways.
It was not that she hated my trying it all on, I think she just wanted to keep everything in its proper place and well I was a fast little one and she could not keep up. I sensed her hesitation and I also always felt like I should not even ask to try it on. It was all fake costume jewelry so what was her hesitation? Today, I am not a fan of costume jewelry. I prefer the one-of-a-kind version, where almost no one has that piece that I do. Maybe the few times I played with her costume jewelry got the desire for it out of my system.
Over the weekend, I finished reading: “What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir” by Abigail Thomas. A memoir where the author is aging and she talks about her husbands, growing old, her kids, and grandkids. This portion made me think of my grandma, her apartment, costume jewelry, and how different she lived than I do today.
“Somehow it is more interesting to find something beat-up and handled than to get it new. My bureau drawers are stuffed with god knows what, and my daughters always go through them when they are here. It is a compulsion. My theory is that they are looking for the secret, the answer, the explanation for everything.” Page 72
Did those drawers hold any secrets or answers? Did I wonder if I would ever have such drawers and if I would allow my grandkids to unearth the treasures to see what they might hold in their eyes of wonder? Maybe.
I am someone who has incredibly high expectations. I am not sure when in my life it happened that my standards became so high. I was joking with a few colleagues the other day about how I was raised and how my dad used to vehemently remind us to do it right the first time. I know there are many ways of looking at the world, and that making mistakes is one where we learn the most. That, however, was not how I was raised. I distinctly remember a few specific examples. One time my sister and I were asked to clean our room (we shared a room). We cleaned it, but not to my dad’s standards. When we got home from wherever we were that afternoon, we walked into our room and found every drawer of our respective dressers empty, and every desk drawer empty, and the contents of our shared closet all sat in a massive mixed pile in the middle of the room. I remember him barking some sort of comment to us: “Maybe next time you’ll do it right the first time.”
I was horrified. I do not remember how long it took us to clean it up, or what my sister and I discussed during the process, but I will never forget what my room looked like that day. Now, I can think about a million other ways to get through to kids, and whether my dad was right or wrong, he was definitely creative about getting our attention. He also was a bit scary. I do think his “get it right the first time” mantra in some ways made me use problem solving tactics and critical thinking skills at an early age. You see, my dad could turn a million different ways and I had to be prepared for it, so I thought: “if I do this, what will be the outcome?” or “how about if I do that?” I was not always so savvy to be prepared for how he might react, but I was definitely aware of the consequences of my actions. Never mind that I probably should have just been out playing.
There was another occasion when it was my chore to scrub the bathtub, specifically the soap scum ring. On one occasion when my dad inspected the bathtub (it was a pink bathtub too), to see if it passed his inspection, he decided it was not clean enough and that I needed to start again. In order to ensure I would have to clean the entire bathtub again (and not just work on the soap scum) he poured ketchup into the tub. Again I was horrified. I just wanted him to show me where I missed a spot, and give me a chance to fix it. Starting again felt so unfair. Maybe that is why I detest cleaning the shower/bathtub (thank you Chris).
Did my dad ingrain in me the desire for higher standards? Maybe. Did he know he was doing it? I do not think so. I think I am a by-product of finding creative ways of knowing I had dotted all my i’s and crossed my t’s. I had a backup plan for my backup plan. My brain constantly looks for all the different scenarios and which ones to stay away from and which ones lead to the best possible scenario. It has helped me at home and in my professional life. There are way better ways to teach critical thinking skills and to learn consequences for different choices. I will not be passing on the ways of my father.
I sit a lot, I move a lot, and I stand a lot at work. I have days where I go from meeting to meeting, all back-to-back. I move constantly, and yet while in the meetings I am sitting from 30-60 minutes at a time. When I am at my desk, I am usually focused as I do not get that many minutes out of my day to focus on emails and projects. However, I often find that I want to stand both because I find I slump a bit at the computer and most of the time do not realize how bad my posture is altered while at my desk.
So, when I found these great yoga stretches for stress and to undo the damage of a desk, I was interested. I subscribe to a weekly 99U newsletter and I find it gives me different types of links about the office, managing, staying motivated, and much more. It is interesting how much your day and mood can shift even by the simplest of things: deep breathing is one way. We tend to hold our emotion, frustration, and stress in our body, and because we go all day long (and for me much of the night too) we never give our bodies time to chillax. I am the worst offender. I get 30-45 minutes to myself in the morning, and then I get ready, and am off to work, home by 6 usually, go for an hour run, shower, dinner, finish up work, then respond to personal emails + blog things, and by then it is 10 o’clock. Not much time to breathe deeply, stretch, and enjoy my hubby.
Rather than continue on this hamster wheel of constant and ongoing activity, I would like to stop and slow down a bit. I know I talk about that often, but gosh how I need to hear my own words. Yesterday I met a colleague for lunch, near the entrance of my work, we decided to take work bikes. The day was gorgeous and I loved being outside and riding off to lunch. Just the perfect get-off-your-butt adventure. I was even in a dress + flip flops. All fun, and all necessary. I think I might have to do that more often. Now I am plugging the idea of getting bikes (can you believe that we do not own bikes)?! with Chris.
My hunch is that we all could take more moments out of our days to stretch, relax, and breathe differently each day. I know I could use more downtime and allow myself time to stretch and work the kinks that my body has absorbed throughout my day. Bring it on!
A few weeks ago we purchased new desks for our office. We love them. After having a variety of online ordering issues pertaining to bathroom towel rods, odd fitting clothes, and furniture arriving damaged, I tend to have no idea how a product will arrive to our home.
We found Blu Dot desks on Fab.com when they were having a half price sale. We had explored many options from local modern furniture stores, others that were made out of reclaimed wood, and a variety of desks online. I had seen the Blu Dot desks online a few times but did not want to spend the money. When we found the half price sale we were ecstatic because it meant we were basically getting two desks for the price of one. The desks arrived, were easy to put together (or so Chris told me), and we love them.
Fast forward to yesterday. I received a hand written card in the mail from Fab. It says:
“Hi Tami, I saw your recent Fab order, and I just had to reach out! I absolutely fell in love with your powder-coated white desktops! The combination of warm walnut and bright white steel accents really cuts a chic silhouette. 🙂 I hope that your order is an utter delight, but if there’s anything you find yourself needing, I and my fellow crackerjacks are here to make you smile – we’ll do what it takes! Get in touch anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 877-463-4322. All the best, Tula/Fab Crackerjack”
I was shocked. It is 2013, and I just received a hand written thank you card from an online retailer. Yes, it is a sales tool, but one that takes the time of an employee and the cost of a stamp. A very nice touch.