Monday, July 26, 2010

Quiet Nights

Very often for me, not getting enough quiet time during the day translates into obsessive insomnia where I just eat up those quiet hours of the night and can't bear to sleep. This greatly decreases my functionality during the day. I need a solution. I did try hiding out in the car one evening when the kids were all screaming and refusing to sleep and fighting with each other. This was at the end of a loud, long day, and I was maxed out. My husband came and found me and tried to coax me back indoors. I told him he was lucky I was just in the driveway and hadn't actually left and gone to a hotel. He was kind enough to get the four wild ones to sleep (though it took over an hour) and then let me know when it was safe for my eardrums and I to come back in. He's a good man, that one.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rediscovering High Heeled Shoes

Yes, you read the title correctly. I have rediscovered the joy of wearing high heeled shoes. I remember getting my first pair when I was about 13 and tottering around until I got the hang of walking in them gracefully. Wearing heels was an unofficial entry into the world of adulthood. However at some point between having jobs where I had to be on my feet for long hours and then having kids to chase around and then eventually letting my love of fashion succumb to my affair with comfortable sneakers and yoga pants, I lost my habit of wearing heels.

Then a couple of years ago, I developed a shopping routine with one of my sister-in-laws living overseas. She has a huge shoe and purse obsession and couldn't easily get access to a lot of the fashion accessories I could purchase here in the US. We worked out a system where she would find things she liked online, we would both cast opinions for or against, then I would go shopping and get the items, and when a family member traveled through I would send our shopping bags to my sis-in-law with him/her. In the process of hunting down her items, I began coming across a few things I liked for myself. I remembered looking at pictures from a family wedding where we were all dressed up, and in examining my shoes, I was the only one wearing ugly flats while everyone else had on fabulous heels. I decided that maybe I should invest in one or two pairs of really good shoes for nice occasions. I bought a pair of super high, awesome purple heels and wore them for the next Eid. I spotted my husband's look of obvious approval while we were at a friend's house for dinner. I decided maybe the shoes were a good thing.

This week as I was sorting out the closet, I went through the shoes and piled up all the ones I didn't seem to be wearing so I could sell them on ebay or donate them to charity. As I tossed the purple heels and another blue suede pair onto the pile, my husband stopped and looked. He made a casual remark about not really having to get rid of all of the shoes. I remembered wearing the purple shoes on Eid, and the blue ones the next and really feeling dressed for the occasion. I fished them back out of the pile. I thought about the fact that I wear exceptionally conservative clothing, and I realized that one place where I could express my personality a little is through my shoes.

Then I did something unusual. I went shopping for myself. I left the kids at home, and hubby off running other errands, and I went to Macy's. I wanted shoes. Good shoes. And a bag to match. I finished my shopping with two new pairs of heels and a bag to die for.

Then I did another unusual thing. I started wearing them. When my friend Marissa called me for a long awaited girls' night out, I put on the new shoes and grabbed the bag, and off I went. When my youngest daughter and I went to Petco for a cat carrier the next day, I did the same thing again. And suddenly I realized that I felt different, better, when I was dressed up nicely. I felt like a million bucks cruising through Target in my great new shoes. I tried applying that to the rest of my wardrobe. My husband always compliments me on a red shirt that I have, and yet I don't wear it all that often. So I put it on the other day and actually applied some eye makeup as well. He noticed! And appreciated it. And I realized that even though I'm just around the house most days, maybe it's good for my self-esteem (and my husband's) if I can dress up a little like I used to back in the day.

I might mention that I am 35 years old- not 80, like I may sound. It's just that I am not a very materialistic person. Most of the time I don't worry about the unnecessaries. I don't drive the latest greatest car, and I couldn't care less. I keep my children clean and fed and happy, but I don't rush out to buy them the new must-have games just so that we're keeping up with the Joneses, so to speak. It's just not in my personality to obsess about those things, and I like to think that's mostly a good quality. On the flip side of that coin, though, sometimes I forget that presentation matters. If you cook a tasty meal, it's still tasty if you slop it onto plates from the cooking pot, but it looks so much better if you put it on a nice dish and garnish it with a little cilantro on top. I suppose the same thing goes for how we dress to an extent.

I will confess that yesterday when I had to take my four kids for vaccinations, drop off boxes of clothes and books at the masjid, and take the cat to the vet, I was back in my comfy flat sandals. But if you spot me at the park with my family tomorrow, check out my feet, because I may just be back in heels.

(The shoes I want next but haven't quite talked myself into buying)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Time. Consuming.

I spent 4 hours yesterday sorting out one box of memorabilia from the basement.

Four hours.

One box.

And there are other boxes down there. This may get ugly before all the sorting is done.

On the upside of this experience, I really enjoyed going through all that stuff. I tossed a bunch of redundant pictures. Why did I have them developed in quadruplet?? I threw out odds and ends of paper that no longer have value, such as insurance records for a car that I haven't owned in 6 years. But there were a lot of keepers in there. I found letters, notes, and cards from friends and family. I found my first ever hijab picture- a photo of me acting the part of the Virgin Mary in the Christmas program at church when I was 11. I found my band and choir pictures from junior high and high school. I found my old journals. I found my high school and university diplomas. I found tons of my kids' baby pictures. I found the notes from my "branding" exercise done at a regional meeting when I was a tutoring center manager (apparently my brand is "encouraging" but also "disorganized"). I loved reminiscing through all that old stuff.