When Did Busyness Become a Crutch?


“How’ve you been?”

“Good!  Really busy, but good!”

Honestly, that used to be my default answer pretty much any time someone asked how I was doing—even if I wasn’t all that busy.  Last week, I moved from Washington, DC to my hometown of Chicago.  In DC, I worked full-time, maintained a fairly active social life, and always made time for yoga.  I wasn’t exactly drowning in extracurricular activities, but I felt reasonably busy and was always tired at the end of the day.  I know women who work full time, have children, are active in Junior League (or other volunteer-based organizations), and run marathons.  Busy is, I suppose, in the eye of the beholder, but those women certainly seemed a whole lot busier than me—yet, I always claimed to be a busy little bee.  I did so partly out of a habit—after all, it’s boring to just answer “oh, fine” when someone asks how you’re doing—and partly because that’s what most women seem to say.

Well, no more.  Not after reading this Inc.com piece on busyness being the new status symbol.  The author of the piece draws the phenomenon back to the old adage “time is money.”  So, it stands to reason, that if you’re very busy, your time must also be very valuable (i.e., valuable in terms of dollars and cents).  The author goes on to suggest that this dynamic is beginning to shift as employers put a renewed emphasis on work quality—especially as more and more people take advantage of telecommuting and flexible work hours.  After all, just because you’re sitting at your desk doesn’t mean you’re fully immersed in official business.  I can’t be the only one who occasionally gchats with their friends during the work day…right?

Now that I’m really thinking about it, I was way busier in college than I am now/was in DC.  I was involved in my sorority and in Student Senate all four years (it should come as no surprise that I landed in DC for 8 years after graduation).  I had class during the day and then meetings until 8 or 9 at night and then would head out to, um, fraternize with friends—I’d wake up the next morning, fresh as a daisy, and do it all over again.

I guess this is all to say that, when people tell me how busy they are, I’m going to take it when a grain of salt.  Since I’m not working full time right now, I have very little business saying it myself.  Also, I’ll get more creative with my response to “How are you?”—“I’m fulfilled”, “I’m cranky”, “I’m hungry”, “I’m content,” etc.

Goodbye for meow.

Moving Day


As I write this post (from my iPhone), Burrito and I are sitting on the floor on our empty apartment while David and my dad go fetch our moving truck from, this is no joke, the tow lot.

Yesterday, my dad flew to DC to help with the move. Everything, up until about 80 minutes ago, went so smoothly. Picking up the moving truck, the movers themselves were fantastic, cleaned the apartment, had pizza for dinner, and in bed by 9 0’clock. Woke up this morning at 6:30, ate some breakfast, and we’re ready to hit the road. The previous night we had secured a permit from our building to park in the alley behind the building. By 6 o’clock this morning, the moving truck had been towed. As you may know, DC got some snow last night. We were told that the snow would not interfere with our ability to park behind the building as they were spaces privately owned by the building. Well, I already told you the punch line.

The truck got towed.

Here’s hoping my dad and David make it back here in no time at all. But I fear tow lots are even worse than the DMV. Good thing I have Netflix on my phone. I’ll let y’all  know how this turns out. It’s gonna be a loooooong day…

Goodbye for meow.

UPDATE: $330 later, we’re on the road and Chicago bound!

5 Things Friday

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5 Things Friday.  Hopefully you’re spending your weekend doing something much more exciting than packing.


5. Children Invade Dad’s TV Spot.  Children are, I’m told, a blessing.  This video of a guy talking about the South Korean President’s impeachment while his kids disrupt him is too good not to share.  I love how the daughter marches into the room, followed immediately by the baby who rolls on in.


4. Lululemon Align Pants. By far my favorite yoga pants–they have a very light compression so you feel ‘held in’ rather than ‘sucked in.’  Be careful with the lighter colors though, they do show sweat.  And that’s all I’ll say on the matter.  Athleta appears to have a similar style pant, the Salutation Pant, for $20 less that I’d like to give a try.


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3. Relationship Status: Cats.  My new errand running bag and I couldn’t be happier.  I walked around the apartment last night, wearing the bag, and telling David we were no longer married because my relationship status is CATS.  I’m delightful and not at all annoying to live with.


2. Rose’s Luxury.  For my final dinner out in DC, my friends and I are going to the Michelin starred restaurant, Rose’s Luxury.  They don’t take reservations so my dear, dear friends are going to wait in line and I’ll join them once David and I are done packing for the day.  Given that people pay $25-50 for a professional line-waiter at this restaurant, not having to wait in said line is a tremendous going away gift.


1. Girl and the Goat.  One more restaurant to round things out.  My friend and my co-worker got my a gift certificate to Girl and the Goat as a going away gift.  If you live in Chicago, you’ve definitely heard of this restaurant and, even if you don’t live in Chicago you may have heard of it.  I’ve never been and based on their Open Table availability, I’ll have to wait a little while.  Items like bleu cheese sweet potato pierogies and escargot ravioli have me pretty jazzed about trying this Chicago hot spot.

Goodbye for meow.

Top 5 Worst Parts of Moving

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Less than 7 days out and the apartment is in full-on tornado mode.  The posts for the next week or so will be pretty sporadic, my apologies.

Everyone with a pulse knows that moving is stressful and moving across the country increases that stress tenfold.  I give a tip of the hat to my husband, David, as he’s really done the lion’s share of the packing thus far.  We’re at a place now where 40% of the apartment is packed up and we still have 60% left to go.  While progress has been made, there’s still a ton to do–no matter how much we pack, more stuff inevitably materializes.

Here are some of the worst parts about moving…

5. Zero Counter Space.  This is most evident in the kitchen, where endless bric-a-brac is on every inch of the counter top.  Nowhere to make my breakfast!

4. Boxes.  Boxes everywhere, as far as the eye can see.  Big boxes, little boxes, medium-sized boxes.  Full boxes, half full boxes, not yet assembled boxes.  Jerry Seinfeld was right.

3. Laundry.  We move next Tuesday, I still need clean clothes to wear.  When do I do the last load of laundry?  When do I pack up my remaining clothes?  What do I do with dirty clothes after that?  How can I live like this?!?

2. Walking Through the Door.  Since we started boxing things up over the weekend, every time I come home I’m reminded “yeah, you’re moving and this is what your life looks like now.  Now and for the foreseeable future.”  I spent so much time making the apartment look nice and now I’ll have to start all over again.  Which, don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about, but it’s also daunting.

1. Trying to Explain Things to Burrito.  This is a challenge, because she is a cat.  She’ll have a long drive on Tuesday and I’ve tried telling her this, but it’s tough to know if she’s really hearing and understanding me.

Goodbye for meow.

5 Things Friday

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Happy Friday, everybody!   Working for the weekend, am I right?!?  At any rate, here’s some stuff…

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  1. Kind Bars.  Specifically, the maple glazed pecan and seat salt flavor.  I really have nothing more to say other than these are absolutely delicious and they only have 5 grams of sugar (which really isn’t that much, all things considered).  I eat one every day as a mid-afternoon snack.  I eat a lot of snacks.  It’s normal.

    PORTRAITS OF COURAGE A COMMANDER IN CHIEFS TRIBUTE TO AMERICAS WARRIORS, (HC)

  2. Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors by George W. Bush.  I really want this book. Look, I get that he might not be everyone’s most favorite president and that’s OK, but he was on Ellen and it was terrific and proceeds from the book go to helping post-9/11 veterans.  Can’t think of a better thing to spend $35 on.

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  3. My cat is weird.  David figured out that every time one of us turns on the stove, Burrito immediately jumps up to the top of the cupboards and it’s at least 15 degrees warmer up there.  She has her own personal steam room.  And, even better, she has cognition!  My cat is both weird and very, very smart.

  4. Relief. Such relief that my blog got a decent reception after I let my social media friends know that it existed.  Everyone was really nice and no trolls so far (I think you only get trolls once you actually have a readership…so, ya know, something to work toward).

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  5. Pilates.  As I’ve talked about (extensively), I love yoga.  But, I also love Pilates and I think the two really complement one another.  One a typical week, I do yoga 5-6 days a week and a Pilates Reformer class once a week.  Granted I’ve only been to one studio, but I think Fuse Pilates in DC is, hands down, the best.  Their Reformer classes  are awesome–it’s a great work out, but it’s not exhausting.  That said, you will definitely feel it the next day.

Goodbye for meow.

Why I Love Yoga

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I really, really love yoga.  As I’ve discussed before, I may even want to do yoga teacher training at some point in the not too distant future.  I’ve been practicing yoga 5-6 times a week for the past two and a half years or so.  After my first yoga class, I’ll never forget how tired, sweaty, and sore I felt.  I don’t remember feeling tranquil or zen.  At all.  I wish I could tell you what made me want to come back to another yoga class after that.  I remember that it was a fairly quiet work week and my husband (then boyfriend) was out of town, so I just went back.  I’d say after my third or fourth class, I started to feel hooked.  The following weekend I went to the 7:30 class on Saturday morning.  I’m not really a morning person, so I was really starting to turn over a new leaf.

Before too long, I was planning my whole week around when I could get to yoga and how I could squeeze in an extra class.  I mostly practice yogahour at Capitol Hill Yoga.  Yogahour was developed by Darren Rhodes–it is “an accessible, affordable, expertly-taught flow class that offers clear and specific alignment instructions.”  It’s different from a typical power yoga class in that there aren’t as many transitions or chaturangas and there are set sequences (a ton of them, so it never gets boring!), so the poses start to feel familiar once you’ve gone to a few classes.  I like all forms of yoga, but yogahour will forever be the style of yoga that gave me a consistent practice and I’ll miss it dearly when I move to Chicago.  There are dozens of yoga studios in Chicago though, so I really do look forward to finding my new yoga home.

But let’s get to answering the question at hand–why do I love yoga so much?  Before yoga, I went to the gym maybe twice a week and really didn’t like any minute of it.  I did 20 minutes on the elliptical and 10 minutes on the rowing machine and called it a day.  It was always such a chore and yeah, I guess I felt better after having done it, but it was still a drag.

After I got over the initial post-yoga exhaustion, I realized I’d found an exercise routine I didn’t dread–I actually looked forward to it!  Seeing a pose, practicing it over the course of days or weeks, and then finally being able to do it was really exciting and something I was clearly lacking in my work out routine.  I really like how in yoga you’re totally free to hang out in child’s pose if you’re not feeling 100%–in fact, a good teacher will practically encourage it, they’ll say something very yogi-ish like, “listen to your body and honor it by taking a rest if you need to.  Be at your limit, but not beyond it.”  You definitely don’t hear that in a spinning class or a barre class.

All this is to say, I like that yoga challenges you just as much as you want to be challenged–no more, no less.  And, of course, I like the blissful savasana at the end of class.

Goodbye for meow.

5 Things Friday

5-things-friday-1Happy Friday!  I really like when bloggers do ‘5 Things Friday,’ so here’s me giving it the old college try…

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  1. This purse.  I saw it at Banana Republic a few weeks ago–just before a particularly traumatic dentist appointment–and thought very seriously about treating myself.  Well, now it’s on sale.  So, I have to treat myself, right?  Right?!

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2. These shoes.  I’ve mentioned previously that I fancy myself a bit of a sneakerhead and I really like these.  My husband thinks they look like nurse’s shoes.  I should buy these and show him they’re just what the doctor ordered!  Hmph.

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3. These mala beads.  I ordered some mala beads (basically prayer/meditation beads that can be worn as a necklace or a bracelet) earlier this week.  Yet again, I fell prey to a sponsored Instagram post!  I know mala beds won’t make me be able to execute a perfect forearm stand or crazy inversion, but I can dream.

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4. Volunteering.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I expect to have a lot of free time in those first few weeks back in Chicago.  With that in mind, I’ve started researching places where I can volunteer with cats.  I wonder if I’ll have to change their litter…

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5. Early onset nostalgia.  I had my last meeting on Capitol Hill this morning.  Even though I’ve worked off the hill for the last two years, I still spend a lot of time there for meetings, briefings, etc.; so it was very bittersweet.  It was exciting and humbling to work on Capitol Hill and there’s a lot I’ll miss about Washington, DC–that view is surely near the top of the list.

Though, this view isn’t so bad either…

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Goodbye for meow.

Leaving That 9-5 Grind…For Now

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When my husband and I move to Chicago in a few weeks I won’t be working just yet.  I’m giving myself the freedom to get acclimated back in Chicago and maybe then see what the job market looks like for ‘ole Elaine.

Like a lot of people my age (freshly minted 30-year-old), I’ve been working since I graduated college eight years ago.  I worked on Capitol Hill for six years and have worked at a foreign policy think tank for the last two years.  Not that I’m some grizzled veteran of the workforce of anything.  Believe me, I know that’s not the case.  I’ve been really fortunate to work in an area that I enjoy and am equally as fortunate to be able to take a little breather for the time being.

This is probably true everywhere, but in Washington especially, so much of your identity is wrapped up in ‘what’ you do and, in many cases, ‘who’ you work for.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes me nervous for my ‘identity,’ going forward.  I can imagine it now…

SCENE: A cocktail party at a swanky Chicago bar

Acquaintance: So, what do you do?

Me: Oh, um, I do a lot of yoga.

Acquaintance: Oh, that sounds lovely.

Me [sensing judgement, where there is none]: I JUST MOVED HERE, OK?!? MOVING IS STRESSFUL AND YOGA HELPS ME RELAX AND I ALSO HAVE A CAT THAT I TAKE CARE OF AND SHE DEPENDS ON ME AND THAT’S A FULL TIME JOB.  Sort of.  I mean, not really.  Anyway, nice talking to you.  Better get home to my cat.

That was fun.  Let’s dig a little deeper now.  I’m equal parts overjoyed and petrified.  Let’s start with overjoyed:

  • I’ll be closer to my family and my in-laws.
  • Chicago is an amazing city!
  • I’m ready for something new, but still familiar (I grew up in Chicago, but haven’t lived there since I was 18)–I have lots to rediscover!  Which brings me to my last point…
  • Without a full-time job, I’ll have loads of time and freedom to rediscover, explore and, get settled.  For the first time in eight years, my time is fully mine and this is a luxury I surely won’t take for granted!

Ok, now onto petrified:

  • What will I do with my time?!?!  Exploring and rediscovering will be fun for about three days and then I’ll be bored to tears!
  • What if I want to start working full-time again, but no one will hire me?!?
  • What even are the part-time jobs out there?!  People tout the benefits of part-time work and a flexible schedule, but what does that really mean?!
  • What if I get super lazy and unmotivated and just hang out with Burrito all day?!

So, yeah, between the made up conversations with well-meaning acquaintances and the constant pro/con list, it’s an interesting time to be in my head.  I know everything will get figured out and it might take some time and some maneuvering.  If anyone has gone through a similar transition, please share your insights!

Goodbye for meow.

Yoga Two a Day

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Today I did something pretty out of the ordinary.  I went to two–count ’em–two yoga classes in one day!  I did my normal yoga class in the morning and then tacked on a yin yoga class afterward.  I thought it might help with some knee pain I’ve been having.  I’m heavy on power yoga/any yoga that is more physically demanding, so it was nice to try something a little slower.  I don’t think it helped my knee pain, but there’s an ice pack in the freezer with my name on it that has been helping ease the discomfort.

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I started doing yoga about two and a half years ago and absolutely fell in love.  Seriously, I pretty much plan my entire week around when I can make it to yoga and, if I have to miss a class, I do my best to find a way to sneak in another class.  I’ve toyed with the idea of doing yoga teacher training, but a few things have held me back:

  • Working full-time
  • I like to keep my weekends to myself (not that I do super fabulous or interesting things, but I just like my time to be my own)
  • Most importantly, the very real fear that doing yoga teacher training would make yoga seem like a chore instead of a hobby

Moving to Chicago might provide the perfect opportunity to give it a go.  We’ll see.  I’d honestly appreciate any insights from other yogis out there who have done yoga teacher training.

And, to close things out–here’s an outtake of Burrito photobombing one of my yoga pictures.  Happy Sunday!

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Burrito sniffing around my yoga books

 

Goodbye for Meow.

 

The Leap Begins

Allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Elaine and my cat’s name is Burrito.  We (and my husband, David) are moving to Chicago from Washington, DC in exactly three weeks.  David and I are both from Chicago (Burrito, as a rescue cat, is from the Washington DC-area, I presume), but I’ve lived in DC for nearly 8 years.  I moved here to work on Capitol Hill in 2009 and, for the last two years, have worked at a foreign policy think tank.  Come March, we’re loading up a moving truck (with some help from my dad) and making the 11 hour drive to the Windy City!  Our families are both in Chicago, but it will still be a huge adjustment.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond excited–David and I have been wanting to move back basically since we got married (in 2015) and the time finally feels right!

I plan to use this blog to chronicle that move and beyond, but also share some things I love, which include:

  • Cats, obviously (see: blog title). Specifically, my cat, Burrito.  A stunning Russian Blue-mix.  (I’m, like, 95% sure she’s a mix and not a full Russian Blue.  Any cat experts out there, please leave a comment as to what you think her breed origins are.)
  • Yoga. For about two and half years I’ve been an avid yogi.  My preferred style is a hatha-based yoga called yogahour.  Sadly, there are no studios in Chicago that offer yogahour, so I look forward to trying out many studios and settling on a new yoga home. I’ve taken a few classes at The Lab in the West Loop and have been really impressed.  I highly recommend!  (If you’re in DC, you can take yogahour classes at Capitol Hill Yoga.  It’s an amazing studio and I’ll miss it dearly when we move.)
  • Food. I mean, I’m not a foodie per se, but I do like a good restaurant and make a pretty decent eggplant Parmesan.  I don’t know, I’ll write about good restaurants and stuff.  David will provide some content on food as he is a much more voracious eater and views every meal as a competition with a clear winner and loser: him or the food.

Shopping/Buying things.  I haven’t had much time recently to go shopping, but it’s truly a passion.  I like a good deal, especially at retail stores that are constantly having sales (looking at you Ann Taylor, J. Crew, Gap, and Banana Republic).

Ok, I think that’s a decent intro.  Goodbye for meow.