Sunday, July 27, 2014

Maxi Moxie

Last summer my sister gave me two lovely, floaty maxi-skirts. I hauled them halfway across the continent, then they sat in my closet, unworn, for months. I considered donating them.  As much as I'd like to be a woman who can successfully wear a long, gauzy skirt, the reality is that I'm kind of a klutz. I had visions of getting a foot caught in the excess fabric and doing myself an injury. 

These visions were not unwarranted. Though I've never been injured, I have practically disrobed myself when wearing skirts of the floaty variety. Imagine crouching beside a child's desk in a voluminous skirt. Got it? Now imagine standing up suddenly, not realizing that you've caught your heel in the back of the skirt. If the skirt isn't firmly in place, your waistband is going to slip floorward. Not a good look for an elementary school teacher. Enough said. 

A few weeks ago a, during the World Cup, a local pub invited all England fans to gather and watch the first game against Italy. Hubby and I decided to attend. And we decided to walk. Easy decisions. What I found more difficult was deciding what to wear. 

The pub is about 3 km from our house. I knew I needed something comfortable for walking, but I wanted to look decent when we got there.  I finally decided to try one of the maxi skirts. 

I'm pleased to report that the skirt was a success. No injuries were incurred, I was comfortable, and I managed to stay decently dressed throughout the match and on the walks to and from the pub. An impressive feat, considering the amount of beer involved. If only England's performance had been as successful as my first foray into the world of maxi skirts!

Linking up with Patti and the lovely team over at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday. Head on over and check out the fun!

(Oh the irony. Today, after planning this post, I caught my heel and fell up the stairs while wearing this skirt. No permanent injuries. Yellow card for the skirt!)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Overheard at the Beach

OK, I think we've established that I'm an introvert who likes quiet. I can also be fairly quiet, and as such, I hear things. No, not like that. I overhear things. Sometimes what I hear is sad, or disturbing, and sometimes what I hear makes me laugh. Quietly. To myself.  

The following snippets were overheard on a recent trip to the beach. Hubby and I both laughed over the comments of these two young beachcombers. 
 "Spider crab! Spider crab!" 5-6 year old boy
This one led Hubby and I to a rousing, but quiet, rendition of "Spidercrab! Spidercrab! Does whatever a spidercrab can!". We didn't take it any further. The song loses something when it doesn't rhyme. And we don't really know what a spider crab does.
 "I found a geoduck! It's squirting my balls! It squirted my junk!" 8-10 year old boy 
This one wasn't really difficult to overhear. In fact, there was no avoiding it. I'm sure the entire beach heard about this boy's intimate interaction with the wildlife. Still, it made us laugh. And watch where we were walking. 

Not a spider crab.
I'll likely share more of the things I overhear when I'm out and about. It gives me the opportunity to listen better, and it gets me off the couch and out the door.

Also not a spider crab.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


At the end of April roadwork began outside my workplace. Every day, for six weeks, we were subjected to the cacophony of construction. There was continuous thumping, beeping, shouting, roaring, grinding, scraping and jackhammering. 

In addition to the constant noise there was dust and inconvenience. Some days the road was closed. Some days the sidewalk was inaccessible. There were occasions when the entire block was without water. 

Strangely, the chaos didn't seem to deter our customers. While other businesses suffer when the roads are ripped up, our loyal clients kept coming... and commenting. It seemed like every single person had some remark about the activity outside our door. Some behaved as though I had personally requested the roadwork, and they felt I should have answers about, and control over, the situation. Others behaved as though I had no idea that there was roadwork happening, and they felt obligated to let me know. There was a steady stream of questions, comments, observations and complaints. 

While my work life was nothing but noise, my after-work life was consumed by "Quiet". I had been on the library waiting list for months, so the arrival of Susan Cain's book about introverts was a well-timed coincidence. 

The book led to several personal insights. One of the first was an awareness of the impact of my environment. I was cranky at work, and exhausted at the end of the day. At first, I didn't think to attribute my mood to the noise from the construction. Then came the day when it was so loud I worried about the impact on my hearing. I popped in some earplugs. Tension and anxiety eased immediately. My shoulders released. My neck softened. I was surprised at the difference the earplugs made. I was also surprised that I noticed. Prior to reading Cain's book I'm not sure I would have been aware of the difference that moment of quiet made.

Unfortunately, there was just that one moment of silence. The earplugs were a very temporary solution. My job requires constant interaction with customers. It usually helps if I can hear them. Usually.

That the noise was having an impact was one insight. I also realized that customer interactions were wearing me down. I'm not comfortable with small talk, and it seemed like everyone I spoke to wanted to engage in discussion about the construction. There were days when I felt completely unable to respond to their comments, so I didn't. I must have come across as surly. Or deaf. 

Realizing that I'm not the only one who struggles with small talk was a relief. I'm not dysfunctional. I'm introverted! Eventually I developed a strategy that worked for me. Every time someone commented on the construction, I tried to say something positive. It didn't seem to matter that I used the same observations again and again and again. Having something to say made things a bit easier. 

Of course, I was still exhausted at the end of the day. Nothing was getting done around the house. I wasn't writing. I wasn't connecting with friends. All I wanted to do was sit on the sofa and read. So that's what I did. And I felt bad about it. Once again I felt that there was something wrong with me, then I realized that this was my way to recharge. Work was loud, and customer interactions were difficult. I couldn't avoid or change those things, but I could give myself permission to look after myself when I had the opportunity. Many, many books were read during those six weeks. 

Not only could I give myself permission to recharge, I could ask for what I needed. I could ask Hubby if we could leave the television off after particularly chaotic days. Small thing I know, but recognizing and asking for what I needed was new to me.

As the weeks went on I found other strategies that worked for me. The radio stayed off in the car. I found a place to park that allowed a lovely, peaceful walk to and from work. I went for long walks on my lunch break. If I was too tired to cook at the end of the day, we went out for dinner. 

Over those six noisy weeks, Cain's book allowed me to learn new things about myself, and about introversion in general. Not the least of which is that it's OK to be an introvert. Who knew?