Doing Everything That Matters At Once, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:47am

I’d like to write something cogent about working, or identity, or even my worries about whether to water roses in the winter. On the other hand, I’d also like to get the lights off the Christmas tree and put its dry self out for the garbage truck. Then I’d like to clean up my garden and and go to Costco for toilet paper and cook some stews. Having of course gotten a pedicure and purchased a few wardrobe toys, after my annual physical and in my newly-serviced car.


Working means that you have to do everything you want to do at once, and, even more demandingly, at the same time as everyone else. I know that’s Grown Up Knowledge Lesson One, but even relearned lessons can feel new.

For walking to work in San Francisco

Here’s what I didn’t know before I spent two and a half years in retirement; the most annoying person to work with is me. I am the boss who gives vague assignments, sets impossible task lists, acknowledges success only when asked, and pesters my employee to relieve my own inner anxieties. This is not how I behave at work, mind you. Just when I am my own boss.

Ralph Lauren Black Cashmere Skull Cap for Women

For walking to work in San Francisco, cold mornings variation

So even though I am getting less done, outside of work, my inner life is calmer now than when I was retired. Inn fact, calmer than it’s even been. Because I used to think that if I just didn’t have to work, everything would get done, that all nagging anxieties would cease. But guess what? I retired. Everything did get done, finally. Nagging anxieties, however, persisted. Grew, in some ways, because that very freedom gained enlarged the territory for self-expectation.

Now that I know having time to do everything doesn’t solve anything, my capacity for So What? has improved enormously. So What is the greatest tool for To Do List anxiety in the known universe.

Ann Mashburn orange striped shirt for women

Under a navy blue cashmere v-neck

Roses behaving badly? So what! Hydrangea wilting? So what! Eating from the Whole Foods takeout counter too often? So what!

Liberty of London women's button-front

See cashmere v-neck, navy blue, above

The only things that remain on my To Do list with any tenacity are an annual physical, for obvious reasons,  car servicing, for equally obvious reasons including the horror of sidelining a Northern California freeway, and blog posting. I am hell-bent on keeping Privilege going and the weeks where I come up short drive me nuts.

Which brings us to the question, why include pictures of clothing today? Saturdays are generally image-free round here. Well, because, when you work, you have to do everything that matters at once. This is the stuff I’m considering acquiring after my finances recover from Hawaii. I figured I could list it here for my own review, and entertain you too. All at once.

Have a wonderful weekend.

J. Crew Field Jacket $148
Ralph Lauren Cashmere Skull Cap $119 sale price
Liberty of London Tana Lawn shirt £89.95
Ann Mashburn Boyfriend Shirt in orange $175

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  • I can picture you wearing the jacket and hat combo, walking to work.

    As for nagging anxieties, I wrote a post addressing some of my own in the context of the Fussell book one of your readers recommended in a comment on your post Towards A Broader Definition of “One of Us” and would love your thoughts when you have a chance to visit.

    Have a beautiful day!

  • Well, you know how I feel about eating at takeout counters, but at least it’s Whole Foods. ;) And I love your photos of clothes you own/wish to own, no matter the day of the week.

  • Love the orange-striped shirt!

  • Love your clothing choices. Buy them all! ;-)

    As for “So What?” I had that epiphany when I started taking antidepressants when my boys were little and I’d turned into a perimenopausal shrew. I no longer take the drugs, but the attitude remains. And that includes for things like physicals too. Every other year is good enough for me.

    Enjoy that lovely Northern California weather. It’s very cold here in the Northeast this week.

  • Neglect weekend housewifely duties to read Lisa’s latest amusing and perceptive post? So what!

  • So glad you want to continue blogging. Yours is one of my top favorites! Love your choices for work/v-neck items.

    As to “so what?” Balance is key in life. I am my own worst task master, I would like to now borrow your idea. The cupboards can wait to be cleaned out, n’est pas?

  • This is very interesting to me, an introvert. Working in an office made me a nervous wreck filled with nagging anxieties. I never felt like I got a thing done.

    Once I walked away from that & started making my own hours, I got to the Zen-like state of “oh well” that escaped you while staying at home. No anxieties for me, just a calm sense of flow and accomplishment.

    I’m thinking that what is really at play here is the introvert/extrovert dichotomy. We each excel in the environment that gives us comfort. No right or wrong– just different.

    7:53 am
    Lee Rosenthall said...

    Ally, check out this essay in yesterday’s Times. I think you’ll enjoy it!

  • The jacket is great!!
    It’s funny how we think the more time we have, the more we’ll get done…*not*! I struggle with this continually, as part of my work I do from home…and there’s always a distraction or two at home, isn’t there?! I am thankful for not having to go to Costco for TP on the weekends though…that’s most definitely a perk!
    It was wonderful to read about your Hawaiian adventure…and to see the photo of your kids, they’re gorgeous!!
    Wishing you a very ‘so what’ weekend!!
    xo J~

  • My first time commenting – just to say that I love that jacket!

  • Lisa, I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now, and have learned much about my own family’s heritage of style through your lens. I also adore all the fashion choices above, but the price of the RL toque hurts my knitterly soul. Send me your head circumference and the black cashmere wool will hit my needles tomorrow.

  • I have that field jacket from J.Crew and would not recommend it at all. Not warm, not cozy. The resin coating makes it very stiff. Trying to be a Barbour, but it’s not even close.
    THAT’S NOT MY AGE had a really nice looking parka with a fur trimmed hood from Land’s End on her blog yesterday? It looks so cozy and warm, and wouldn’t give you “hat hair”.
    I’m trying hard to cultivate a “SO WHAT” attitude about lots of stuff. Even bought a book, which I probably won’t read, but I like having on my coffee table to remind me ~ “A Perfectly Kept House is a Sign of a Misspent Life.”

  • This post was very interesting to me. By next December, I will be obliged to make a decision about retirement now…or later. And this gives me a bit of insight to the very thing I’ve been afraid of.

    Also appreciated the photos. This very day I had been thinking I needed blouses with more print…instead of simple stripes and solids.

  • Oh, I hear you, sister! And I’m well practised in the “So What” . . . although I’ll admit it’s been a marvelous, marvelous boon to have the man of the house retired and able to take care of many domestics in between his consulting gigs. We’re not Superwomen and most of those tasks are always going to be there. So far, I love my work, despite and because of its demands, and if I’m going to hang in there, at present energy levels, I’m going to have to keep saying “So What” loud and clear. Funnily enough, my blog also claims a surprisingly high priority in my list. You picked a brilliant two-birds-one-stone strategy with these wardrobe possibilities.

  • Liberty has the most charming prints!
    Lovely weekend to you, LPC!

  • So true! I’ve sort of learned over the last few years that if I’m feeling anxious about my ‘To Do’list, it’s not because I have too much to do, it’s because I’m letting anxiety and expectations get the better of me.

    It is hard to prioritise the things that are really important and let go of things that might be ‘urgent but not important’ or even ‘not important and not urgent’. Hardest of all, I find things that are ‘important but not urgent’- because they’re important, they play on my mind. Yoga helps.


  • I need to work on the ‘So What’ approach because at present, I find doing everything at once quite demanding – though I can always find time for blogging/looking at Liberty shirts!

    Have a great weekend.

  • That’s a really interesting observation – I wonder if I will ever truly be able to just let anything go – aside from my home which is no longer as tidy as it had been…

  • My recently and happily short-lived unemployment brought this to light for me. All the cleaning-out and reorganizing I’ve never gotten around to isn’t because I’m employed, because when I was unemployed it still didn’t happen. I did manage to figure out that we did have termites, and to get the termite people out to fix that situation. First things first as they say.

    I bought my boys cashmerere caps one year for Christmas. I just saw one of them the other day, on the head of a boy. Their longevity tells me they, or at least that boy, likes it. I think buy the cap.

  • These grown up lessons are hard enough the first time round. And I LOVE that paisley shirt.

  • You addressed the very thing I fret about most as I ponder the Early Retirement Question: me being my own worst boss even after having a productive day or week. I’d like to say that knowing others also struggle with this makes me feel better in a wierd way, but it also stokes the flames of my own self-doubt to burn a bit hotter.

    Also, I love the navy sweater with the shirts underneath in cheery prints and patterns. Kinda like having a personal ray of sunshine on chilly winter day!

  • Such a good point about trying to cram everything in on the weekends when we work Monday – Friday. I find myself almost RELIEVED when I get sick because then I have time to take care of little home/life-admin tasks that get pushed aside during the busy week.


  • LOVE that field jacket so much.
    And so very true your comment “nagging anxieties grew in some ways, because that very freedom gained enlarged the territory for self-expectation”
    Absolutely right my friend. Sounds like you are enjoying your work though – wonderful. x

  • I bought the field jacket a couple of weeks ago and love it. As I Tweeted upon receipt, it’s Belstaff/Barbour on a professor’s budget.

  • I’m all for the “so what” even though I am not working now. I have my own obligations, and have learned that I have to make my own priorities and stick to them. (and I am my own worst boss).

  • Pauline – Oh thank you! Welcome. We shall see how it is in person!

    Claire – Oh my gosh. I don’t really feel that I can ask that of you. I have to wrestle with myself. Do you really knit all the time for fun? I will email you. Thank you so much for offering. And for reading too.

    Kathy – Hmm. Now the thing is, I’m think of this more as a spring jacket, less for truly cold days. I’d already ordered when I saw your comment, but I take your opinion quite seriously. We shall see. A matter of great interest.

    Terri – I think Ally’s point about introverts vs. extroverts is a very good one. Looking forward to some thrifted prints on your blog!

    Mater – Well I’m glad your blog matters to you too. That way you’ll hang around:).

    Lenore – Oh that they do! I hope your weekend was lovely too.

  • Susan – I have to wait for the hat, having received a version of it for Christmas that was too large, but the merchandise credit is taking forever to show up.

    Jan – You know, I really miss eating my own food. It’s so much better.

    SewingLibrarian – Me too. It’s on its way:).

    Lee Rosenthal – Thank you for the permission! I needed it, I truly did. Unfortunately, we’re cold here too, or, what passes for our version of cold. Boo! Summer please!

    Mise – Aw. You are pretty cute, you know that?

    Mary Anne – Thank you so much. And yes, yes they can:).

  • Ally Bean – That’s very interesting, in turn. I am an introvert in the classic definition, i.e. to recharge I need time alone. However, in work, I am wildly extroverted, and prefer to process almost all information in conversations rather than on my own. So perhaps you are right in your assessment.

    Jessica – How did you know I’d run out of Costco toilet paper and had to buy some at Whole Foods instead?

    Eleanorjane – I agree. Yoga is one of the things I really miss in this new life of working fulltime.

    Jessica – With small children I think it’s much more difficult, if that helps.

    That’s Not My Age – Liberty shirts are works of art, so, kind of like gallery-hopping IMO:).

    RoseAG – Well yes. Termites matter. And that is adorable that your boy is still wearing his hat. I am mulling:).

  • one soul – You love it? Oh good. I was concerned it might be a tad old lady. Because grown up lessons need learning but still one wants to retain some traces of youth.

    Beautifuldreamer – Well, I find it reassuring that I’m not alone, so thank you:).

    Danielle – Sigh indeed.

    Sarah – Yes, work is good. And I confess I love it when you quote me:).

    Miss Cavendish – Aha! A vote for! We shall see. I do love data:).

    Mardel – I’m not surprised you are your own worst boss. I think it comes with high expectations.

  • I have that jacket! You have excellent taste ;-)

    It is not cozy in the least, but I don’t think it pretends to be. I wear it with a tee shirt as a blazer and with a sweater, as a jacket. It is a bazillion times lighter than my Barbour.

    3:56 pm
    kathy said...

    Mine was last year’s model. Could be much stiffer than this years. I do love the way it looks, and I do wear it as a blazer substitute, like Patsy does, but not for real warmth. It’s definitely great looking. Just thought you wanted a jacket for walking to work on cold days. Different story then.