Tag Archives: friends

Left Out

I haven’t thought at all about popularity since high school.  I was so glad to leave those days behind and move on to college, which was much more my style.  I loved meeting people from different geographic areas and eventually found my niche.   Nowadays, at work, I’m more of a loner but it’s of my own choosing.  I have work friends but I often have to run errands or unwind with a magazine or book.

As a working parent, my time is mostly devoted to work or kids.  We rarely get any couple time.  I see my family because they help with the kids.  I’m happy to get one hour of exercise per week. It’s easy to see how friends fall to the wayside.

What makes it worse though is that no one is inviting me anywhere.  I find out about casual family get-togethers a day before because everyone assumes I can’t make it on the weekends.  This is sort of true but it’s a strange assumption because I’m not always saying I’m busy or tired and I didn’t start turning down invites; the invites just stopped coming. 

I should be glad because it spares me from having to make excuses.  However, I would have liked to join in on some events if only I had been given more notice.

Of course I’m assuming that I haven’t turned into one of those annoying parents who can only talk about their genius kids.  Anyway, I should just tell people and hope that invites start coming again.  What stops me is that I will probably end up turning down 99% of invites.

This brings me to another related topic. I hate Facebook and smartphones, or rather technology’s influence on my relationships.  In pre-Facebook days, or before all my friends started using it and smartphones, I received long emails on a frequent basis.  Now most only update and post photos on Facebook so you get out of the loop if you don’t use it, too.  And instead of emails, I usually get a quick text update written on their phone.  I know it takes more time to write a separate email to that one friend when you can update all your “friends” at once, but I like to think that there are/were some things that you share with a particular friend, not everyone who liked you on Facebook.

How do you stay in touch in this tech-driven age?  Do you ever feel like you’re the last person NOT on Facebook? Or do you love Facebook and think hold-outs are out-of-touch Amish-types?

Time Envy

For someone who has only occasional envy issues with the mythical wealthy Jones family (i.e. keeping up with the Joneses), I do get jealous of family and friends more often than I like to admit.  I wish I could offer a solution (i.e. how to overcome envy in 10 easy steps) but I’m not quite there yet and not in any position to dispense advice.  I do know that long-term envy is not healthy for me or anyone, period.  No wonder it’s one of the seven deadly sins!  

My envy is very specific.  It’s rarely about money. Although I do want more money sometimes, I realize that most people that earn more also work at more stressful jobs than I do.  It’s hard to manage employees and answer to demanding higher-ups.  The trade-off is not worth it for me.   For me, envy rears its head when I think about people with more free time.   

Strangely, my envy is usually directed at my stay-at-home mom friends.  I  say “strangely” because I’m not under any illusion that staying at home is easy or relaxing.  No one I know well has a trust fund or are stay-at-home and childless, two groups which probably really deserve anyone’s envy.

So right now, my envy is directed at those who have quit the rat race, especially those with school age children.  While I know it’s still work and there’s a house to keep clean on top of everything else, these friends seem to have more time to work out, read books or just visit the zoo on an uncrowded day!  And if life is anything like those depicted on mom blogs, home life is 50% crazy (kid eats crayons or throws tantrums) but also 50% slower

I fully understand that a slower pace isn’t all fun and games.   A lot of that time is spent managing a household from laundry to doctor appointments to cooking 2-3 meals a day.  However,  I also get the sense that their time is less hectic overall (again, with the caveat that this is my perception once their kids or at least one kid is in school).  When you stay home, you’re the master of your own time.  You don’t often have deadline-oriented projects.  You’re not bombarded with requests and questions via emails and instant messages.   You have time to just move at your own pace.

It’s important to note that I’m not dismissing homelife as anything less, just because it’s not as busy as work life.  Obviously taking care of children is important. ( I also do not say ‘raising children’ because I believe both working and non-working parents raise their children.)  However, I think that our society has placed such importance on busy-ness that even stay-at-home spouses have to say that they’re as busy as everyone else.  I don’t know many SAHMs who would say that they have more time than those working, so my theory is based on reading blogs and personal observation.  When I’m off on weekdays, I run into calm-looking moms strolling through malls with their kids and friends.  They have downtime to smell the roses, so to speak.   I suppose that’s the benefit of not having to cram errands in between a commute and deadlines?

These feelings of envy are often followed by guilt. I know I shouldn’t feel this way and just be happy for others.  I also know that doing endless loads of laundry and household chores would make me very unhappy!

On a personal note, I’m dealing with my time envy in a few ways.  I think it was a suggestion from Tragic Sandwich but I’m trying to take at least one vacation day per month.  If I remember correctly, she uses it for organizing but I’m not that virtuous.  However, that one extra day allows me to stretch out my time and work at my own slower pace.  I’m able to get things off my to-do list and also find time for exercise and just playtime.

That’s not to say I’m not still enjoying parenthood overall.  I love watching my kids play (they’re quite close in age) and letting them discover their own games like peek-a-boo and “let’s-roll-over-on-each-other-and-laugh” plus the usual bickering and bopping each other on the head. 

Is my impression of staying home completely unrealistic or is there a grain of truth?  Do you envy those with more money or more time? 

9 Tips To Simple Living While Working Full-Time

My idea of a simplicity is a slow-paced life somewhere in the countryside.  No one is rushing around.  The most common reply to “How are you” isn’t “I’m so busy.”  I have a lot of time for daydreaming, reading, volunteering, eating, relaxing, and spending time with family and friends.  I haven’t quite figured out how my husband and I make a living in this scenario but it would NOT include a 9 to 5 cubicle job with a long commute.  (I do envision some kind of work; it’s a simpler life, not retirement!)

When I read articles or blogs about people already living the simple life, I am filled envy and inspiration — an odd mix, I know!  Unfortunately many magazine articles make it seem so simple to just pack up and move to a rural area.   Sometimes one spouse has a regular job while the other does a homesteading/pioneer women kind of life.  Sometimes both eke out an existence via odd jobs.   What about family?  What if you’re so ‘poor’ that you can’t afford to visit them?  What if you’re too proud and independent to ask for help?  What if that level of frugality just isn’t for me? 

So while I wrangle with all those issues, I thought I would put together a list of simple living tips for those who are still in the working world.  These are things that I am doing right now, or try to do, not generic tips that can work for everybody.  An obvious tip is cutting your commute time but I’m not listing that because it’s not applicable in my life right now.

1 ) Buck tradition.  This will not work for you if you love weddings, baby showers and celebrations of all kinds.  You have to be honest with yourself.  If you want a big wedding, just do it and don’t say “I wish I had eloped” because you don’t.  For my husband and I, eloping made sense.  I don’t regret not spending months planning that single day.  No matter how simple you try to keep it, planning a wedding takes up a lot of time, time that could be better spent sleeping in and relaxing.

2 ) Limit Technology.  I love blogging and reading blogs but I refuse to go on Facebook or Twitter even though I understand the appeal.  The problem is that technology speeds up your life in a way that can be very stressful. When you constantly receive Tweets, email pings, instant messages and so forth, you forget how to slow down and enjoy the little moments.

3 ) Be a Late-Adopter or Never-Adopter:  Again, this is related to technology. Many new tech toys make life easier.  I really want a smartphone so I can check emails and browse the web like everybody else.  However, the more tech toys you have, the more time you have to spend maintaining it.  I have enough running around to do just to maintain my car, computer, dogs, self, etc..

4 ) Run Errands at off-peak hours:  This is more of an efficiency tip but saving time is important if you want to simplify daily life. If I’m really good, I can get to the market before work to grab a few lunch or snack items from my list. Since there are all of 5 customers in the store, I get to check out quickly.  I also noticed that if I head out to lunch just 15 minutes before noon, the parking lot is less full and lines are shorter.  

5 ) Keep A Few Close Friends:  Skip this tip if you’re a social butterfly.  It just works for me.  It’s a bit sad when no one I know is throwing a New Year’s party but overall I enjoy having fewer social engagements on my calendar.  Whether you’re more social or not, I would suggest distancing yourself from drama queens, frenemies or any ‘type’ that tires you out rather than enhances your life.

6 ) Pick 1 or 2 Hobbies:  A friend of mine spreads herself thin because she tries to learn too many things at once.  While curiosity is a great thing, trying too many new things  can be exhausting.  I have a long list of things I would like to learn/classes to take but I limit myself to one new activity at a time.  Plus, I’m generally happy with simple activities like cooking, eating, gardening and reading. 

7 ) Channel Your Inner Teenager:  No, I’m not talking about angst and rage…(or was that just me?)  I’m talking about letting things slide a bit.  There was a time when I didn’t notice dirty dishes in the sink or for that matter, clothes lying on the floor, a dirty bathroom, dust, unmopped floors, etc..  Now that I’m older and thoroughly brainwashed by home/design magazines, things like dirty dishes and bathrooms bother me A LOT.  I still don’t notice dust but it does bother my husband.   This works out in our household because he usually does the dusting and vacuuming while I clean up the sink and the bathroom.  And when I do get upset about some mess, I try to take a deep breath and think of that carefree, messy teenager inside of me.

8 ) Work 40 hours a week:  I have a heinous commute.  Sometimes I have to stay late or work through lunch, but I don’t work longer hours on a regular basis.  I rarely think about work once I get home.  For this, I’m grateful.

9 ) Automate: Get alerts from your bank, automate bill pay or set bills to go to your credit card, write less checks, set automatic money transfers, whatever it takes to take your mind off of little yet important things like money and bill-paying.

I would love to hear your tips and ideas for simple living, especially if you’re still “stuck in the trenches” like I am!