On vanities

Metaphorical vanities? Not really my focus.

I’m talking about the physical type here.Bathroom towels on vanity

My bathroom vanity.

And, knowing me, I may throw a bit of metaphorical mumbo jumbo in at the end. Spoiler alert.

The work I have done for the past few years has been steady, good work. Award-winning work, in fact. Recognized by professional organizations as outstanding.

Normally, that is a great thing. It shows me and the world that my creativity has not dried up; my talents are still lush and in full bloom.

Hold that thought.

I have been doing this work on a contract basis for several years. I enjoy working for myself. Being my own Boss Lady. Makin’ the bacon from home, where I can balance a workload with a life so much better than I ever did in a tiny box in a high-rise working for The Man.

Due to some changes and updates in contract and healthcare law, steady work—as in annual contracts, renewed year after year (read: steady income) are a thing of the past.

This change in my work becomes effective just before the holidays.



Employ (me)!. (Sorry—that last one was my subconscious speaking out of turn. It so likes to rhyme.)

In case you do not know, I am a security freak. I like to know where the money is coming from, that I am being paid on a regular basis, that the roof over my children’s heads will be a consistent one. Maybe this does not make me a security freak, per se. It probably just makes me human. I know very few people who do not like to know their bread is buttered.

(I’m getting to the bathroom vanity bit. Really. Give me a minute.)

Messy white bed and pillow, in the morning
Warm milk, warm milk, warm milk

In days of yore, I would have panicked, let anxiety keep me awake for hours at night or gone full force at resorting to finding the type of job I used to have—high pressure, high stress, too much travel.

None seem like particularly wise choices at the moment.

Hmph. This wisdom thing sucks sometimes. I mean, what now? When you don’t go for your old favorites, you’re forced to come up with some new ones.

I know so much more now than I used to know. Have been through the fire over the past few years.

And so, my choices are laid out before me but they look unfamiliar.

The other day, I almost went back to the old set of choices. Panicking seemed an extremely good option at the time.

You know what I did to stop myself?

(Of course you don’t. I may appreciate predictability in income but I do not appreciate it in myself.)

I organized my bathroom vanity.

Are you sensing my deep stores of wisdom now?

I thought so.

Before you go huffing off, I am not speaking nonsense. Even though I am.

When faced with things that seem out of my control, being overwhelmed is an easy response. A natural response. Incredibly predictable and human.

Having reached out to many in my network and done all the appropriate things I could do that day, I was spinning my mental wheels. Finding it hard to focus and concentrate.

In medical terms, freaking out.

(What are you talking about? I’m sure that’s a medical term. Somewhere. In a land where unicorns roam wild.)

I did what any sane person does when confronted with an unwieldy situation in which waiting plays a key role.

I controlled what I could.

At the moment, my locus of control seemed limited to my bathroom vanity, given that I have accepted the long list of things I Am Not In Control Of. Which include getting my dog to obey the “stay” command for more than five seconds straight, making a perfect roux and taming my hair on humid days.

My bathroom vanity overflowed with sundries.

I realized, as I tackled it, how tough the past few years had been.

I felt a compassion for myself I had not felt in a long while.

three tube deodorant insulated on white background
An unintended stockpile

What kind of stress must you be under when you end up with eight containers of deodorant? Ten hairbrushes? Enough feminine protection that if I don’t hit menopause until I’m 75, I think I’m still covered?

Kind of hellish stress, I think. (And yes, I’m sure “hellish stress” is on a clinical spectrum somewhere.)

I was so focused, so in survival mode, so trying to make it ok for my kids, that I went into autopilot.

I righted what I could. Took stock of my stockpiles. Felt a sense of accomplishment when done. Relished being able to open and shut drawers without an avalanche of any sort occurring.

It was about all I could control. All I could make right in the moment.

It was the one vanity I may be able to keep.

The rest have mellowed, as I realize that my employability is not always about the quality of my work. Sometimes the world just changes and I’m the unlucky recipient on the receiving end of a less than welcome change. Awards won are great and they will help. But they are no guarantee of a mortgage payment or food on the table.

Perhaps a bonfire of the vanities is in order.

But it will not include the one in my bathroom. It’s finally shipshape.

As I hope life will be at some point soon.



22 Comments Add yours

  1. KM Huber says:

    I have yet to meet the human who initially welcomes uncertainty as a gift, although I (and you) know there is something to that thinking. I suspect uncertainty is a teacher but often it is easier to experience in hindsight. I have had my own version of uncertainty of late–my independence is at stake–and just now am seeing some possibilities, maybe even opportunities–it’s early days. 😉 This progress has come from accomplishing what I could on any given day. As you say, making right in the moment I had. I think that has an accumulative effect, at least upon our psyche. Keeping a good thought for you, Kay, always.

    1. candidkay says:

      So very nice of you, Karen, to keep me in your good thoughts. I am glad you are seeing some possibilities! And you’re right. Accomplishing what you can on any given day helps. It should be enough, really. And it is, when I can quiet that critical inner voice.

  2. markbialczak says:

    You were there to give me a morale boost after my layoff, Kay. For a smart, hard-worker like you, things will come back quickly. I know you’ve got the stuff.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Mark! An exercise in patience and trust, that’s for sure:).

  3. When I received the news about my mothers terminal illness I was already up to my armpits in the mud of the marital property settlement, managing the business, negotiating its sale, and getting ready for my son’s upcoming wedding. The news hit me like a sledge hammer and I was overwhelmed. I had twelve hours before flying out to see her and a moment of stuff to do regarding the said mud lists. What did I do? I washed sheets. For hours and hours. As you say, my life became uncontrollable and I HAD to do something I could control. I like your idea of the vanity clean-up!
    I do hope you resolve the work / employment situation to give you the security you crave (and deserve) for yourself and your children.

    1. candidkay says:

      Ah, yes. Laundry! One of my favorite “meditations.” And yet you feel so productive. I get it, needless to say. Thank you for the kind words, Elizabeth.

  4. Seriously, can you just stop writing my posts for me? My husband’s contract is up December 31 and as of today he has no viable work options. At least none in the city we live in. The only option on the table is thousands of miles and a different culture away. Well, that’s how I see New Orleans anyway. So this weekend my son’s closet was emptied and reorganized. Twice.

    1. candidkay says:

      If we really put our heads together, we could halve our blog writing work:). I mean, really. I’m so sorry to hear that. It is tough when getting work has less to do with talent than a mandated time off from your largest clients. It is somehow comforting to know you are emptying and organizing as I do. I bet there are many more of us all over the country, unfortunately.

  5. Aunt Beulah says:

    The husband of a dear friend of mine lost her husband years ago after only six years of marriage. Her reaction, on learning he had died, was to scrub out her bathtub because “People will be coming by and it’s filthy.” Periodically, for the next two years, I found her mid-scrub in the bathroom. The first time she told me it was because cleaning the tub was something she could do quickly and well that made a difference when it seemed there was so little she could navigate easily or quickly anymore. Sometimes I scrubbed the basin while she tackled the tub.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, that makes my heart ache. First of all because I can so relate. Second, because you helped her. Nothing better than a friend who not only pitches in, but indulges us even when we don’t totally make sense. Says a lot about your character.

  6. I, too, find uncertainty very uncomfortable. Doing something you have control over definitely soothes the brain in these times.

  7. Amy says:

    You are capable, talented, hard-working, intelligent — everything that makes you a highly desirable candidate. You have so much going for you, my friend, and I just know there are good things on your horizon. I so love that you’re funneling your energy into getting things shipshape at home. You are one amazing person, and I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: you are an inspiration! Wishing you every good thing. xox

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Amy. What would I do without wonderful schools like you to remind me of what’s important? I don’t think I want to find out 🙂

      1. candidkay says:

        Kind souls! Not wonderful schools:). Autocorrect strikes again.

      2. Amy says:

        You’ll never have to. You’re stuck with me! xox

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this Kay, thank you! 🙂 I can so relate. I, too, can so easily spiral down and drown in my emotional whirlpool! Interestingly, synchronistically — and this isn’t to advertise my post/blog — I just published a post with a similar theme: Surrendering. I’m still honing that skill. During those times, though, when I was able to practice allowing, flowing and surrendering, in the end, things did work out — as I’m sure they will with you, undoubtedly! 🙂 And later, when you write about your process and insights, I’m sure it will be another post that I would also thoroughly enjoy reading! 😀

    Blessed be.


    😀 ⭐ ❤ ⭐ 😀

    1. candidkay says:

      I cannot wait to read your post. Thank you so much for sharing and for stopping by my blog. The kind words mean a lot. I think it means so much when we write and we realize others can relate or feel because of it.

      1. You’re most welcome Kay. It’s a wonderful boost when we know others can relate, eh? 🙂

  9. My best wishes, Kay. Good on you for controlling what you can, when you can, and your writing, good sense and personality are such that I have great hopes that you’ll find just the thing you need.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Cynthia. I have great hopes also. Things have a way of working out:).

  10. Sleepless nights and panic attacks. Fears and harsh realities — all have become fallout from our leaner, meaner society. Thanks for reminding me about the “control factor.” Control what you can and leave the rest. And perhaps most important of all: Stay true to who you are so you remain the person you need and want to be for yourself and for your family.

    1. candidkay says:

      It does seem that many people suffer from anxiety now if I’m to believe my doctor friends and what I read. Am hoping we all find a way to balance humanity with productivity, beauty with progress, etc.

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