I hate grocery shopping. I hate the grocery store. But on Monday I had to go.  I had nothing else left in the house that I could creatively slap Nutella onto and call it lunch for the kiddos. I ran in around 5:00 pm, which was really fun because it was dinner time and the store was super crowded. In my rush to get the whole process over with  I ended up getting a grocery cart with a wonky wheel. Grocery shopping already sucks, so this just adds insult to injury. You know what I mean by a wonky wheel right? It’s that awful wheel that refuses to do its job, making your job of pushing it very annoying. Of course by the time I realized that the wheel was going through a teenage rebellious phase I had too much stuff in my cart and too little time to switch everything out. Sometimes I get a wonky wheel cart and I don’t care, after all I am perfectly aware that in the grand scheme of things this is no big deal. But then there are other days where I get so pissed off about the wheel. It’s extremely awkward when you get to the end of an aisle and you can’t turn your cart. You end up looking  like you are trying to play a game of chicken or challenge the other shoppers headed your direction to a duel. Being the idiot I am, I decide this a perfect time to accept a phone call from one of my best friends. So now I am trying to have one hand on the phone, and another trying to push a stubborn cart, eventually having to fold my arms and hunch over to use full upper body strength to steer this metal beast. This of course makes me extremely self-conscious and I convince myself that everyone in the store is looking at me wondering why I can’t push a simple shopping cart. I make a mental note to make sure I check the wheels on the cart before the next time I go shopping, but that’s easier said than done. No one wants to be that picky cart person, who pulls out a cart, inspects it, then puts it back. That holds up progress and you look extremely high maintenance. Sometimes you just have to put up with having the cart with the wonky wheel.

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I turned 40 at the end of December and sometimes I feel like my life has a wonky wheel. I have one high-heeled foot in my clients’ closets, trying to wear all the hats involved with owning your own business,  while my other foot has on a Ugg boot and sweatpants trying to manage kids, laundry and just taking care of my house like a grownup. Everyone does this to some extent, we all need to balance our want to with our have to list, I think I just felt like by this age I would have been doing a better job of it, or at least of parts of it. I thought at 40 I would make my bed everyday and have a car that I washed and vacuumed.  In reality I only get around to making my bed around twice a week, and sometimes that happens only right before I get back in it. There is enough dirt, food and who knows what in my car that a forensics team would have a field day. It’s these kind of things that make me feel like I need to go take a class on how to be a proper grownup.

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So when my birthday came around and a few days later was followed by the New Year, I vowed to make some changes. Nothing drastic, just some small changes that would make me feel more organized and responsible. Oh and then I went out and adopted a puppy.

Hear that? That’s the wonky wheel screeching along the floor. My sister says I am a ready, fire, aim type of person. I totally agree and I think this mentality has its own set of pros and cons.

Here’s how firing first (adopting a puppy) has affected my goals for 2017.

More dates with my husband.

Well I kind of blew this one up. In July we had to say goodbye to Duke, our 15-year-old beagle. We still had Annie, our 12-year-old beagle, whom we adopted when she was 10, because yes I am the weirdo that adopts a senior dog. So my husband and I had discussed getting another dog and we both agreed that we wanted to get another beagle, preferably a boy, who was housebroken and out of the puppy stage. We had good reasons for all of these stipulations and we were in full agreement.Then I went to a rescue to drop off some old blankets and towels I was getting rid of. I went with the intention of donating, not adopting. But my heart leapt out of my chest when I held this pup.

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This is Boca. Boca is pretty much the exact opposite of everything we agreed on. She is female puppy, only 3 months old,  And she is not a beagle, she is a half aussie red healer half corgi. There is probably more breeds mixed in because, as my vet pointed out, a corgi and a shepherd would be a challenging and awkward date. But the result is that she is as cute as a button. (I’m not really sure what that saying really means as I don’t think anyone’s ever looked at a button and thought, Awwww….what a cute button! I love your sweater…it’s buttons are so cute!) But seriously, she is adorable and warm and cuddly. We both have wrinkly and expressive foreheads and she has anxiety and fear of people. So basically she’s me in dog form. I’m sure there is some kind of psychological explanation for this and it just means I have deep seeded issues.

I have not gotten to spend any more date time with my husband, but he hasn’t divorced me over puppy-gate and that feels like a win. My husband protested for a bit but gave in , requesting just that he could pick her name. Boca, named after Boca Grande Florida, a favorite family vacation spot of ours, was now a Gaffney, and she is loved by  all of us, including my husband who I am nominating for sainthood.

Wake up earlier.

I am not a night person, never was and never will be. I love sleeping. I am good at it and can do it pretty much anywhere anytime. I could very well have narcolepsy. The earlier the bedtime the better, so lights out at 8pm sounds heavenly. When I can get to bed early I love waking up at 5 before the sun. I love how quiet our house is, how peaceful it is to start my morning slow and steady. But life has been busy and I had been staying up later and waking up later, which makes me cranky because I feel like I am already behind. But since we adopted Boca I have been up early every day. A puppy is like a teeny tiny trainer who requires your participation and interaction. Except hopefully a trainer wouldn’t crap on your floor and eat your sofa if you tried to ignore them. The kicker is I think the puppy could actually sleep in a little bit longer but our senior beagle is pissed and she’s letting me know it by deciding she is hungry at 4:45 in the morning. Have you ever heard a howl bark combo? It’s awful, worse than any of the alarm noises on your iPhone. I supposed I can’t blame her. She’s about 90 in dog years so it would be the equivalent of taking a hyperactive toddler with A.D.D. to play with your grandmother while she is trying to drink tea in her rocker at her nursing home. That shit ain’t gonna fly and grandma is going to want to beat the toddler with her cane.

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Keep up with cleaning the house.

You know all those blankets and towels I donated to the animal rescue? Yeah I need those back. I’m doing more laundry than Oprah’s housekeeper (you know she likes to sleep on a clean set of sheets every day, for real, you can look it up). If you want an insider stock market tip invest in paper products and cleaning products, especially those that say urine remover. There must be something in the water around here because I can name about 10 different families who have also lost their damn minds and adopted a puppy. It’s as if just as life was getting a bit easier we all decided we weren’t ready for easy street.

There’s a good chance you’ll find me sniffing in the aisles of Target. I’m not getting high, I’m doing research on the entire product line of scents available from Febreeze and Glade. It’s imperative that I stockpile the ones I think are the least likely to smell like a freshly cleaned latrine. It’s not like we are not taking the dog outside to go the bathroom, trust me, we are out there like weirdos talking to our dog , begging and pleading for her to “Go Potty.”  But puppies are stealth and they will wait you out only to come back inside and do business where it is warm and cozy. This means I am cleaning the floor nonstop. It’s clean, so clean you could eat off of it, or be like Boca and pee on it. Another positive is that my floors have been clutter free. My kids have shed too many tears over destroyed socks, shoes, and whatever else usually ends up on the floor. I’ve given up protecting their things so they know they are playing a very risky game if they dare leave something lying around.

Redo the family room.

I really wanted to get new couches and carpet for the family room – nope, not happening, because I don’t think it’s funny to burn my own money. Plus I’ve already spent any furniture money on the adoption fee, vet visits and shots, 18 different types of chew toys, crates and 4 different types of collars and leashes. Dogs are not an economically sound investment but they pay you back with warm hugs and soulful glances, kind of like Olaf from Frozen. So if you come to my house my family room is not the way I want it to look. But the couches can fit our whole family, dogs included, and we can use them without stressing. And my son is thrilled there is no carpet. This allows him to keep knee hockey going every morning and every night. He uses an oversized stuffed bear as a goalie. It’s definitely annoying at times but I’m also well aware that there is not many more years left for him to be a kid and just play. If he is still playing knee hockey in our family room in his 20s we may have address some serious issues.

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So right now my life has a wonky wheel of sorts, but I am fully aware that I chose this particular cart. Sure I could have grabbed one that is brand new and perfect, gliding through the isles like an Olympic figure skater, but where’s the fun in that? Sure I’m jealous of the woman going through the store with not a hair out of place, wearing the perfect outfit with no wrinkles. You know that kind of woman, she’s the one that you are convinced never drops anything, trips or breaks a sweat. She glides when she walks. But perfection is overrated, it always has been and it always will. It’s also not realistic. That woman you think looks so perfect? On any given day she could get the wonky wheel cart because she has and she will. So the next time you see a woman shopping with the squeaky dysfunctional cart please be sure to give her a smile. And if you find yourself pushing a messed up cart please take a second to take a deep breath. You are in the store doing what you need to do, it won’t always be perfect and it won’t always be pretty, but you can trust me when I tell you that you are not alone. Sometimes you get a bad cart and sometimes you get a good cart, just remember that we all take turns with the good and the bad, which makes us so much more alike than different.

*Insider Tip – Edit and Store

Are you still reading? Gosh, I’m sorry. That was a lot of babble but there was a lot of noise in my head and it took that stupid grocery cart to help me get it out. I saw mid-life crisis in my title but hopefully you can tell I am using that as a joke. However there are many woman I have met who are going through their own form of a crisis, all relative to their life and their circumstances. When things are unsettled in our lives we usually want to take control over something, anything really to feel more in control. Cleaning out your drawers and your closet is a powerful tool to make you feel like you are making forward progress. But what holds most people up is the decision-making process about what to keep, what to toss, what to store and then what to do with all those piles. Because of this most people avoid cleaning out their closet and their wardrobes because it just feels way too daunting. Here’s my advice – do a half-ass job. I know it’s not often you hear that and it probably doesn’t sound like it makes a lot of sense but hear me out. Sometimes we just need what we don’t want or can’t use out of our way. You can always take out the pieces you don’t fit or you don’t know if you want or not and toss all of them in an extra closet or a bin. You don’t have to do the fully monty when it comes to cleaning out your closet. If you keep waiting until you have the time and the emotional fortitude you may end up never getting to it, leaving stuff to keep collecting and essentially disappearing into your closet. It’s okay to not know what you want to do with it or if you want it, really. The important first step is to get the clutter and the noise out of the way. Just practice taking this small step, one drawer at a time, or one closet section a month. I love going in and doing a full-on edit and clean-out, but I can tell you it’s not for everyone. It takes a lot of time and you need to be ready, mentally and emotionally. Taking a half step is not a bad thing, after all even a half step is a step forward.

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Thank you so very much for reading!

Suzie