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Feeling 30

My head has been sloshing around with negative thoughts lately but occasionally, little bubbles of positivity seem to rise through the sludge, somehow having survived. Since overthinking the negative is something I specialize in – and rarely never gets me anywhere – I thought I’d instead entertain the positive.

Lately I’ve been feeling more my age. I turned thirty last November but you can’t really turn into an age in one day. It has taken many months to let this new decade – an undeniably, wholly adult decade – settle over me, for me to find its comfortable grooves. And just to be clear, this is a positive thing. Aging is scary, sure – but acceptance of where you are in life at any particular moment is always the surest way to feel content.

Here are some things that make me glad to be thirty and feeling it:

1. I’ve grown into wearing nicer clothes. Maybe it was being a student for so long, or living on the west coast, or looking younger than my age, but through most of my twenties I felt uncomfortable if I wore anything dressier than jeans and a decent top. Blazers, nice skirts and dresses, and tailored shirts all felt like playing dress-up. I still dress fairly casually – I work in research science after all – but now when I catch sight of myself in the mirror on my way out of the office bathroom, I sometimes spot a respectable-looking professional. And I like that.

2. My house is mostly clean, most of the time. We were never total pigs, but we definitely tested the “maybe if I put it off a bit longer it’ll magically get done” theory a little more (fair enough, it is worth checking that one out thoroughly). Nor have we since reformed into clean freaks; our kitchen cupboards are still grimy if you get up close, the floors will rarely be clean enough to eat off, and you’ll find all kinds of funky dust bunnies under the furniture. But in the last couple of years we’ve gotten to the point that if someone was to randomly come to our door, for example, to exchange a gold-painted rock for “something larger” as part of a game they were taking part in, I can have them step into my home without embarrassement. Our house looks lived in – there might be some dishes soaking in the sink, some crumbs on the counter, and a pile of unopened mail on the kitchen table – but it looks lived in by adults. Mostly. (We ended up giving them a box of tissues in exchange for the gold rock.)

3. I have gotten relatively comfortable having friends over for dinner. Because of my perfectionist tendencies, hosting will never be completely stress-free for me. I will worry about the food turning out right and at the right time, I will worry about our dog being a nuisance to non-dog people (she likes attention), and I will worry about how long these damn people are going to stay in my house because I’m ready to go to sleep now! But I feel comfortable that John and I can host a decent social gathering. We can cook some yummy things, we can trade off on kitchen duties without ever pausing the conversation, and we never take ourselves so seriously that our friends don’t feel comfortable grabbing what they need if we forget to offer. Oh and since the wedding, we have some kick-ass wine glasses too.

4. I’ve started to see the value in spending more for the things I use everyday. Maybe it’s realizing that I have arrived as much as I will ever arrive (meaning I’ve realized there is no such thing), but rather than grabbing the cheapest thing that will do the job I’ve grown more patient in waiting for the right thing and then being prepared to pay for it. For example, we bought a new couch a few months ago to replace the Craigslist find that had served us for six years. We thought long and hard about what to buy and ended up ordering a couch from a shop in our neighbourhood. The couch is made locally and in the fabric we chose. It cost more than an IKEA couch for sure, but not obscenely so and we felt really good about buying it because it was exactly what we wanted and we’ll be sitting on it practically every day for years to come (or more accurately lying on it – which we can both do AT THE SAME TIME!). Recently, I splurged on a nice powder brush and realized for the first time how amazing a quality makeup brush feels. It’s like a silky hug for every pore of my skin! I’ve since decided that each month or two I’m going to replace one of my worn, drug-store brushes until I have a good set. “Spend money” is not the aging lesson I’m trying to convey here – it’s spend money on the right things. On the things that will add value to each and every day.

What are some things that you appreciate about growing into your age?


Tie breaker

When we were home-hunting, we found two places that tied for the top spot. They were the same price and size, only about 7 blocks apart, but one was more dressed up with new floors and gleaming bathrooms while the other had room for improvements but a more open and pleasing layout. It was a toss up that was keeping us up at night.

On a quiet spring evening, we decided to walk around the neighbourhood of both homes to get a better feel for them and also hopefully clear our heads, because this home buying stuff was making us both a little nuts.

Right by the room-for-improvements place we stumbled onto a pedestrian overpass across a major road. But it was so unlike any overpass we had ever seen. Lush with plant life and paved in charming little stones, you could hardly even tell there was traffic below unless you climbed up the banks on the side to peek over.

We then followed this path directly into our home-buying tie-breaker: the most charming little park in Vancouver.

The park is along the seawall that connects up most of the shores of Vancouver. It is almost entirely an off-leash dog park, with a small elementary school and playground tucked onto the side. The dog area is large and laced with little winding paths. It has a giant field for running your doggie heart out, a duck pond for our feathered ‘friends,’ lots of fun little crevices to explore for semi-edible things to chew on (Cassie’s specialty), and a small waterfall with a pool below to cool off in. Yeah, a waterfall.

I think it’s safe to say these dogs are spoiled rotten.

I still have to pinch myself daily that this is the place where I get to go walk my dog. In the sun of May, it is easy to love as everything glows emerald green and a cool breeze off the inlet washes over your face. But even during the bleakest of rains in February, when the park is nearly empty of colour and visitors, it is still remarkable. In fact, it inspired the name of my blog, which is appropriate since most of my blog ‘writing’ happens when I’m walking along its paths with Cassie.

Pondering to perfection

John and I move slow. Reeeeeealllly slooooooow. I don’t mean literally – we’re known to knock over amblers on the street – I mean in life. In decision making. We like to take our time, really ponder our options. Maybe sleep on it for a night or 400 (or 4000 in the case of deciding to get married). To us, every little task in life is like docking the space station: we must approach it at just the right time, at the optimal angle, and with peak efficiency or the consequences will be dire.

We might choose wrong.

Of course, most of the time the consequences are just that we might not get the best lamp ever made, or we might be forced to pick a new paint colour, or be subjected to a movie that didn’t move us to our very core. Horrible outcomes clearly, but not dire.

The irony is that we are immobilized more by the little things than the big things that actually could have dire consequences. We bought our home within days of hiring a realtor and haven’t regretted it once. We did our research ahead of time but in the end, it was largely a decision based on our gut and one we made in about 48 hours. But ask us to pick a rug for said home? Well that took months. I have a hard time making decisions, John has a hard time acting on them; turns out we perfectly complement each other in ensuring that we never get anything done.

No surprise then that the major projects in our home remain undone nearly three years after we moved in. That’s three years into the five that we initially planned to live here (though that timeline has likely been extended – turns out five years is not that long and we’ll need at least a couple of years just to decide to move).

In that time we’ve managed to tackle the small things. Things for which the decision making was relatively simple and the first step was clear. Pick a paint colour and then slap it on the wall. Remove the old door handles and screw in shiny new ones. Rip out old crap from the closet and install new shelves.* Not that it still didn’t take us forever to do all those things but we managed to overcome the hurdles because the decisions were at least limited. And we knew which decisions were there to make.

It’s not nearly that simple when you want to gut and replace an entire bathroom and most of your kitchen. These tasks actually start to resemble that space shuttle docking a little more. We have done research, we have talked to family members with renovation experience, we have gotten ourselves a clue, but we are not builders. We have never done this before. Half the time we don’t even know the right question to ask, never mind the terminology to make the question understandable to someone who doesn’t speak in whatchamacallits and thatmetalthingamagigs?

And digging right to the heart of our reason for stalling: What if we start but don’t do things in the most, bestest way ever? Or god forbid, what if we make a mistake? We don’t do mistakes. We ponder our way out of ever having to make one.

Which is why our bathroom has been sitting half ripped apart for the last two months.

But hey, you know what that means? We ripped it apart!! And that, my friends, is progress in our book trilogy.

* No, our closets still do not have doors. After many months, we finally gave up on the Doors from Hell and disposed of them. As for why we haven’t bought new doors, see the above post.