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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hippie Trippin'

     Last night, I read a novel (Yes, I read an entire novel in one night, and, yes, I know that makes me a nerd.) that was set in the summer of 1967.  A young man who was working for a Baltimore newspaper was sent to San Francisco, Haight-Ashbury to be precise, to send in weekly columns about the hippie lifestyle.  It was so interesting and different from other novels that I've read about that time period.  The novel made a point of explaining how the Haight-Ashbury scene started.  There were only a few people in the beginning, and what they wanted was for everyone to give as they were able, to take what they needed, and to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors.This is what I have been saying is my ideal world for years.  It is, in fact, true communism and socialism. 
     These two ideals of society are amazing if they work, and, for a time in the sixties, in very small communities, they did work.  We know that these ideals tend to become corrupted, but if they are kept pure, they are exactly the way that Jesus instructed us to live our lives.  I have made the statement before that Jesus was a communist and a socialist, and people have gotten really upset with me.  But, it's the truth.  He was the ultimate hippie.  He espoused counter-culture because the culture He was living in was so corrupt.  I feel the same way.  I think that I could happily spend my life in this type of society.  Yet, you hear people say things like, "Communists and Socialists are horrible people."  Sometimes the general public even likens them to the anti-Christ, yet that is patently untrue.  It is those who bastardize these ideals who are wrong, not those who try to live them honestly and purely. 
     All of us have also heard that if a person lives in a 'commune,' he/she must be part of some cult.  Really?  I am not saying that there aren't some cults out there, but they are not living the life I am describing, are they? Can you tell me with perfect honesty that you wouldn't want to live in a community where everyone treated everyone else the way he/she would like to be treated?  Where people gave whatever someone else needed, and people were able to get whatever they needed?  Where the color of your skin, your gender, the amount of money you had (or didn't have), the way you dressed, the way you looked, etc.  just did not matter?  If you can truly tell me that you would not want to be able to live that way, then you are completely beyond my understanding. There would be no poverty, hunger, abuse, bullying, mistreatment, class systems, segregation, theft, violence, lack of medical care, or lack of anything necessary for human comfort. 
     That is what I dream of... That is where I want to be... That is what Heaven looks like to me... If I could find such a commune here on Earth, that is where I would go to restart my life.  I'm not talking about doing drugs and "free" love; although that's what most people think the hippie culture was all about.  I'm talking about a way of thinking and living.  If I had only one wish in this world, it would be that everyone could live this way - in gentleness, love, and harmony, with no malice toward their fellow brothers and sisters.   This is something I have thought about for a long time, just ask my former students.  I was known as the hippie teacher.  LOL  But, I take that as a compliment.  I am going to leave you tonight with that picture of a wonderful world in your heads.  Peace out, friends.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What's New?

     Hola, mis hermanas y hermanos.  Como estan ustedes?  No, you didn't accidentally change the language on your computer - I did that once and learned "pirate-speak."  I know I haven't posted for a couple of days.  I have been a busy lady.  I have been thinking and dreaming and planning.  In the corner of my living room sits a personal exercise trampoline and a brand new Yamaha acoustic guitar.  Yes, I finally broke down and bought one that fits me.  Thanks for the loan, Dad, but I would have to have the hands of a basketball player to play yours.  On my kitchen table sits a "learn Spanish in 30 days" kit.  So, as you can see, I have lots of short-term plans.
     I intend to use the trampoline, along with a yoga cd that I already have, to do some exercise and stretches that will help my back.  I think I may also need a visit to the chiropractor. The guitar is to continue something that I started a few months ago.  I want to learn how to play.  I already read music, so it's just a matter of learning the fingering.  The Spanish kit is to help me brush up/relearn Spanish.  I used to be pretty fluent - at one point, it was my major in college - but languages are a use it or lose it skill, and I haven't used it.  I think that relearning the language will make me more marketable.  I may even apply for some translator positions, preferably written translations.  So, tomorrow, I am NOT cleaning my house (although maybe I should).  I am going to vacuum the living room so that I can exercise without inhaling enough fur to clone my dog and my cat.  Then, I am going to sit down and spend a couple of hours working on Spanish.  And, tomorrow afternoon, I am going to work on learning to play the guitar.  I am pretty excited to have a plan.  I am going to clean and do some laundry over the next few days, but I can do that in between the things that I actually want to do.  What? Are you shocked that I don't really want to clean and do laundry?  I am also going to make it a point to continue praying, reading my Bible, and listening for God's words on what I should be doing next.
     On the job front, I turned down a job this morning.  I found out that the job was over on the North Shore, which would make it quite a distance to drive for work each day.  And, it was solely paid on commission; there was no base salary.  I couldn't take something like that. I wouldn't even be guaranteed to make enough money to cover my gas every week. But, I did put in three or four more applications last night.  I have been putting in around ten or so each week.  As far as traveling and writing, I have been doing some thinking about that, too.  It still sounds appealing to me.  However, I began considering the day-to-day implications of that lifestyle, and I don't think I'm ready to be away from my family every single day for a long period of time.  What I am looking into now, instead, is possibly taking two or three, week-long trips to some places that I have been dying to see.  One will have to be to New Mexico - in the middle of that state - and the other has to be the Florida Keys.  I have not priced out these trips yet, so I don't know for sure when (or if) it will happen.  But, that is my new goal for now. 
     I realized that I cannot be happy without the people who mean the most to me, and that would be my family and friends.  Someday, I may still do the traveling.  This just isn't the right time.  However, the writing can still happen, and that is part of my plans.  I have some work to do on the house first.  I need to set up the spare bedroom upstairs with a desk and bookshelves and my filing cabinet. (This will require moving furniture from and re-doing the living room and moving furniture from and equipment to the family room.  Don't even ask why.)  That is going to take some work, but, once that is done, I will have a place where I can go and be undisturbed while writing. 
     I am also making a conscious effort to get out more.  I had lunch with a friend today, and we may hang out at some point this weekend.  I also heard from another friend; I have to call him back, and we will hang out, too.  There are a few friends who I need to see soon.  In addition, I am planning on heading back to church this Sunday.  Next weekend, I am going on a mini-vacation with my mom, one of my aunts, and one of my cousins.  We are only heading to Ohio, so I can still keep up with my applications - don't worry unemployment office. 
     I think that the only thing that could throw me off now would be any physical issues.  I had both of my necessary crowns done - just waiting for the permanent ones - so that is taken care of.  I saw the doctor about my back.  She recommended the low-impact exercise and stretches, so, hopefully, that will be taken care of - I may still need a trip to the chiropractor.  On Monday, I see the ENT, so my ear will be taken care of, which should stop these lingering headaches.  See, I haven't just been "doing nothing."  I do, also, need to research my health insurance options soon, before mine runs out. I know that my family and friends have been worried about me spending so much time by myself, but there have been good reasons, and I am handling them.  It's hard to go out and have a good time when you don't feel well. 
     So things are moving on for me.  I hope that all of you are finding your way on your journeys as well.  Please feel free to share your ideas, questions, comments, etc.  I would love to have this blog become a place where we can have a virtual coffee klatch.  I have never had the time to have a real one in the mornings with the other moms and women in the neighborhood, and maybe some of you have not either.  But, even if you have had, or are having, that experience, you will just have that much more to add here.  I hope you all have a wonderful night, or day, depending on when you read this. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ups and Downs

     I was so excited to see Brandon yesterday when he got home from vacation.  He seemed to have had a good time, and I think that the boys behaved themselves.  He even brought back a t-shirt and some shells for me.  Makes me smile to think that he thought of me while he was gone.  This morning it was back to school for him and back to work this evening.  I think it was a rough day.  He came home from work and went to bed.  But, to his credit, he didn't complain about getting up this morning.
     What else went on today?  I had to take back a coffee maker that I bought in June because it just quit working.  I was afraid that they wouldn't take it because it's been over a month, and I didn't have the original box.  However, I did have the serial number from the box - I taped it to the direction booklet, and I had the receipt. (There is a helpful hint for you.  Cut the serial number and the UPC code off of boxes and tape them to instruction booklets, and staple the receipt to the back page.  Then store all of these books in one "junk" drawer.)  So, I took it back to the store, and - YAY - they took it back for store credit.  That was fine with me because I wanted to get a new one, but not the same brand.  I originally bought a knock-off Keurig.  When I took it back today, I bought the real deal.  This was one time when it didn't pay to try to save money. 
     I also had to go to the doctor today for a follow up.  Remember the walking the dog debacle?  Well, my back has some degeneration in the discs, and my lower back muscles are in spasm.  She doesn't know why the spasms are happening, but she gave me a paper with some stretches on it.  I am looking at it as a kick in the butt to start doing yoga again.  I have been saying that I'm going to do it, and now I have to.  So, that is a good thing! Ups and downs... whatta ya gonna do?
     I feel like I've been much too "heavy" and serious lately, so it's time for some humor.  Did you know that there is a kids' game called "Doggie Doo"?  I found that out this weekend when I went to my parents'.  My mom watches two little girls - one is less than a year old, and the other one is four years old.  The four year old brought this game to my mom's house and asked if my nephews and I would like to play.  Intrigued, I said sure.  So, what exactly is Doggie Doo?  It is what it sounds like.  You cut out "dog food" from this goo-like stuff, and you shove it into the dog's mouth.  Then you stick a bone, lengthwise, into its mouth. (So far it's teaching the kid great things about dogs - they eat their own doo, and you should shove bones into their mouths lengthwise.) You roll the die, and then you squeeze a handle, attached to an air hose that goes into the dog, however many times the die says.  You are rewarded with some excellent flatulent sounds, and they sound like wet ones!  Each player also has a plastic shovel.  When it is your turn, you place the shovel under the dog's behind before you squeeze the handle in case he does the doo on your turn.  If you catch the doo three times, you win. Incredible! Now, what I want to know is, who thinks of these games?  Seriously?  How do you make money on a game where a dog takes a crap?  I also have to ask, who buys these games?  In this case, the four year old picked it out herself; so that is understandable.  But, other than me, who would buy this?  Because I would so buy it for one of my nephews or cousins.  (A few years ago I bought a game where you have to pick snot from a man's head for my nephew's birthday.  I am an AWESOME aunt!)  It would just never occur to me to make a game like this.  But, I will not be left behind.  I am already working on my million dollar idea.  I think it is going to have something to do with cleaning a litterbox and getting different amounts of points for pee clumps and cat doo. What do you think? 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Where Do I Go from Here?

     Okay, so I have been musing and pondering.  What else is new? Brandon, my son, was gone for a whole week, and I started thinking about what was going to happen in a couple of years when he left home for good.  It was an incredibly strange week for me.  I did have a plan for what I was going to be doing, so it wasn't even as tough as it could have been.  If I didn't have a plan, I don't know what I would have done.  It was lonely.  I just didn't know what to do with myself.  He has been my whole life for so long that I felt at loose ends.  I thought about that for a while, and I decided that I could take one of three paths.  Either I could sit in the house and become more of a shut-in than I have already become, or I could decide to be perfectly content doing things by myself and living by myself, or I could get out there and try to find a life companion. I am not sure what I am going to do yet.  I suppose I am going to opt for choice 2 or 3.  Whatever is the Lord's will...  But I do have to make some plans as to how I am going to get on with my life.
     I would still, ideally, love to travel and write.  In terms of where I am right now, this could be the perfect time for me to do that.  However, even though my son is mostly grown; he is still only 19 and in college.  Is it really time for me to leave, for any amount of time, and still keep him from feeling abandoned?  I know that, being in college, he could get roommates to stay in the house with him.  Between them, they would be able to make enough money each month to pay the utilities and the taxes.  So, is it just that I would feel like I was being a bad mother, or does he still need me here?  I just don't know.  I know that a lot of kids go away for college and leave their parents, so, logically, maybe I should leave and give him a taste of freedom in this safe place.  I am not getting rid of the house, and it is his home, so perhaps this is the way to push him to take on more responsibility and grow up a little.  It would probably be harder for me than for him.  One week without him was tough for me.  I really missed him.
     Well, if I do decide to go, I think I would try it first as an experiment - for say a year.  However, the next question is how on earth would I afford an RV, health insurance, car insurance, medicine, and daily needs?  The answer is that I don't know if I can.  Then, I began to think around the problem.  Could I, for instance, buy a used van and make that work as my living quarters for a year's time.  I think that I could do that, except I'm not sure if I could afford a 'tricked out' van which would make it really comfortable for me.  Then I thought about seeing if my dad would trade me his van for my car for a year - if he thought his van would hold up to a year of traveling, and I could pay off my car.  Or, maybe I could go to the car dealer and trade in my car for an older, used van that would lessen my payments, but is still in good shape.  I am so undecided. 
   Then, the next day, I am thinking about what I need to do to fix up the house.  The two ideas aren't mutually exclusive.  I mean, I will be moving back here.  This is my home, too, and I am definitely NOT going to go away and leave my son without a home to come back to.  It is important to me that he feels that he ALWAYS has a home with me.  My parents have always made me feel that way, and I have never taken it for granted.  Knowing that I could go home any time I needed to, and there were times when I needed to, got me through some rough spots in my life.  The fact remains that where I live is not my dream location, but I can't leave my family.  That is what has kept me here all these years. Should I consider relocating if I do find a place I love in my travels.  I would still make sure that there was a place for my son, but would I be pulling up his roots and leave him feeling homeless? Is it my fear that keeps me unfulfilled, or is it that I know what is most important to me and am not willing to give it up for other things that I know I want out of my life?  Again, only the Lord knows, and these are some of the things about which I have been praying and trying to hear God's will.
     Does this put me back at step one?  I don't think so.  I have thought through a lot of where I have been and where I want to go.  I haven't made any firm decisions, but I feel like I am moving toward something.  I just don't know personally or professionally what it is yet.  I am trying to be okay with not knowing; although it goes against my nature. Somehow, I have to figure out if I make a move before I will know if I did the right thing, or do I wait to know if it is the right thing before I make a move?  How long can/should I wait? Life is a journey, not a destination.  I just, somehow, have to figure out what my journey is supposed to include.   

Friday, August 2, 2013

Post-Retreat Ramblings

     Okay, so it's a new day - night, whatever.  I attempted the three day silent retreat.  I learned a few things along the way.  First, I cannot do a meditative retreat while I am at my house.  I am entirely too distracted by things that need to be done, and then by arguing with myself about why I am not supposed to be doing them. Second, I should probably go grocery shopping before locking myself in the house for three days.  Third, making a to-do list was helpful to try to stay on track, but I tend to be entirely too ambitious with my lists.  Then, when I don't complete all of it, I feel like I failed. Fourth, I would do much better to make sure that my dentist and/or doctor appointments are not scheduled during the retreat time.  And fifth, having to take care of two, very spoiled, animals does not make for a peaceful time for me. 
     So, the big question is, was my attempt successful?  That depends on what you consider success.  It was pretty laid-back.  I was able to rest.  I did some journaling to center myself.  I still have not figured out exactly which way to go with my life or my career, but I have ruled out a few things.  When putting in applications, there are some that I can't even stomach completing, so I am not doing those ones.  Where I would have felt that I had to turn in everything and take anything that came along in the past, I have learned that is not what I want or need to do this time.  I need to take some time and keep looking, praying, and watching.
     I wasn't supposed to be finished with my "retreat" until today, but I actually 'cheated' yesterday.  I had to go to the dentist, so I figured that since I was already out, I would hit the tanning salon.  Then, next to the tanning salon is a nail place, and I decided to get that pedicure that I had been promising myself forever.  It was my first time - I was a pedi-virgin, and, much like many firsts, it wasn't all it was cracked up to be.  Maybe I just didn't have the right partner, er... nail artist.  But, I did go home after that, and I didn't talk to anyone.  To be perfectly honest, I did 'cheat' a couple of times as far as watching TV or turning on the computer.  But, I figured that since it was my retreat, I could make up the rules and/or change the rules as I wanted.  I did much less watching and surfing than normal.  I think that going away would have made this all much easier.  But, maybe next time.
     Today, I decided that I was going to visit my parents.  I paid bills, balanced the checkbook, updated my job search lists, rounded up the dog, and headed out the door.  I figured an overnight at the 'rents was a good way to end a peaceful week.  I even got to hang out with my youngest nephew for a little while tonight after his football workout.
     I know, anticlimactic, right?  Well, I didn't expect to figure out how to save the world, but I guess I did have some expectations.  That epiphany as to what my future should be did not come to me.  I'm a little disappointed about that - unrealistic expectations?  I don't know.  For now, I will just keep plugging away and see what happens.  I will continue to pray, study, research, and job search. What is meant to happen will happen. 
    More tomorrow on adventures in Sandy Lake and travels down I 79 South.  Stay tuned; I know you're on the edges of your seats.  Until then, namaste.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Off the Path

     Well, this is the last day before my silent retreat.  Yes, I am doing it on purpose.  I am not being punished.  I am "going off the grid" by choice.  The only exceptions are checking my email once a day about jobs and answering the phone IF it is a potential job or my son.  I am excited but also a little nervous about whether I will 1. be able to keep everything turned off, including the TV and the radio, and 2. get everything out of this time that I am hoping to get.  I guess we will all find out this weekend when I post again. 
     I have lots to do today before my self-imposed exile tomorrow.  I have to talk to my parents, and I have to run to the store (even though I don't really feel like it) to grab the necessities.  I also have to put in as many applications as I can for the week.  There is one other thing that might derail me this week; I am waiting to hear from the doctor about my back x-ray.  But, overall, I am feeling pretty positive about the whole thing, and I am anticipating getting started. 
  Today's post may not be as entertaining as yesterday's, but I hope it may inspire some of you to give this a try. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Getting the Warm Fuzzies?

     Today, I planned to go to a friend's house for lunch, a movie, and some catching up.  So, I started getting ready.  These pink and purple highlights that are in my hair are really cool, but, they require some special treatment to keep them from fading.  I have to wash my hair with a conditioning cleanser - NOT shampoo, and I have to wash it in water as cold as I can stand.  I also need to wash my hair in the kitchen sink because the color will stain the bathtub as it begins to come out - it is only a semi-permanent dye.  Soooo... I was standing in front of the sink, setting the water to the requisite 33 degrees (didn't want it to freeze in the faucet), when I turned to say something to the dog. Yes, I do talk to my dog, and, yes, he does understand me.  Anyway, I wasn't looking, and I accidentally grabbed the sink sprayer by the handle and shot myself in my upper lady area with a blast of liquid ice.  (If you laughed at that, beware the kitchen witch; she'll get you, too!)  Did I tell you about learning my limits at the tanning salon?  No? Well, I learned a day or so ago that my limit is fifteen minutes.  Twenty minutes turns some of my lady bits to the color of flaming lava, and, strangely, a "fake" sunburn feels exactly like a "real" sunburn.  But back to the story at hand... The icy water colliding with the desert heat of the sunburn created a burst of steam that turned into a cloud around my head.  Having the wind knocked out of me from the cold and being temporarily blinded by steam, I took a step backwards and stepped on the tip of the cat's tail.  Mr. Feline Dramaticus took off yowling like a red-butted baboon with a case of hemorrhoids and knocked me off balance. Whereupon, I fell into the oven, which happened to be turned on and hot because, like the good friend I am, I was baking a chocolate soufflé to take to my friend's house.  When I hit the oven, the soufflé fell and was ruined. 
     Dang it!  I knew I was going to go too far.  It was the sunburn you didn't believe, wasn't it?  Well, the entire story was true, except for the soufflé. Who am I, Martha Stewart?  I mean, I can cook, but I would not attempt to carry a soufflé in the car.  Sure, that's why I didn't make one.  I'm not completely uncivilized, though. I wouldn't show up at someone's house empty-handed. I stopped at Sheetz and got a frozen latte for her.  I also didn't fall, but I did step on the cat's tail, and anyone who knows Colby knows that he tends to overreact. What?  You don't believe that I can tell what my cat is thinking either?  I have watched Cesar Millan, ya know?  Jeesh, it's not that hard to be a dog, or cat, whisperer.  I looked up everything he does on Youtube, and it has to be true because it's on the internet.  Oh yeah, I'm also dating a French model. 
     But, dating is a story for another entry...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mental Wandering

     I started my morning with an x-ray for my back.  I think the dog tried to pull my spine out through my shoulder yesterday.  Then I made a trip to Kmart.  How is it that I spent over one hundred dollars on stuff for a vacation that I am not even going on?  I guess my son will always be my baby.  Shhh... don't tell him I said that.  But, I had to make sure that he had sunblock and aloe and allergy meds, etc., all the things I know a teenage boy won't remember to pack.  When I got home, I made a few phone calls.  I got in touch with a friend who I hadn't talked to in months and months.  Strangely enough, our conversation was the same as it would have been months ago.  I guess some things really don't change. There is nothing new or exciting happening today, so I think this will be a philosophical post about change instead of a journal entry.
     What is it that causes some people to change completely?  Is it even possible to do that, or is the person just hiding his/her true nature in an attempt to get away from the problems in his/her old life? Does the person change for real if enough time passes?  You know, fake it 'til you make it? Let's try a "for instance."  You know how some women meet a guy, and, all of a sudden, her interests change to whatever his interests are? Maybe she was a minivan driving soccer mom, but he is a Harley riding concert going guy, and all of a sudden she is all about motorcycles and concerts, too.  If she stays with this guy long enough, does she really change inside?  What happens if they break up?  Does she go back to her minivan and soccer games, or does she stay with the Harleys and the rock bands?  It is actually an interesting thought to ponder because sometimes the impetus to change isn't another person. Sometimes it is within the person himself/herself.  If the person feels that he has had to stifle his true self to make everyone else happy, that may spur a change at some point - once he just could not face another day acting like someone he wasn't. I wonder if either of these situations is the real reason for a person changing, or if it is just that people have a natural tendency to grow and change as they get older and experience more of life.  Maybe it just takes people different amounts of time to figure out who they really are.  Maybe one person knows from the age of 18 who he is, has a life plan figured out, knows exactly who and what he wants to be.  But, maybe another person doesn't know until she is 45, and another may never figure it out.  Is this a sign of not being able to commit to a course and see it through, or is it a sign of not remaining stagnant because of an inherent curiosity about all that the world has to offer?  So, I guess my question boils down to this - is a person born who he/she is at heart (whether that is someone content with one path or someone who needs variety), or does he/she change depending on the society in which he/she lives, or does he/she change as he/she matures? I certainly don't know the answer.
     I guess, in some cases, it could be a combination of things. However, I think that if a person is trying to run away from life's problems, he/she is in for a reality slap upside the head.  Problems go wherever you go.  I also think that if a person tries to change to please someone else, that is a huge mistake.  Your whole relationship is based on a lie, and why would you want to be with someone who didn't like you for who you are.  Not to mention that at some point it would get tiring pretending to be someone you're not - unless you really do fake it long enough to make it true.  If a person is changing because he/she is evolving, maturing, curious, or trying to be true to himself/herself, I think those are the only acceptable reasons.
   You might ask why I would say that.  Who are you hurting by acting this way or that way?  Well, the truth is that you may be hurting a lot of people around you.  You may lose friends or cut off family.  You may cause a lot of worry/concern for people who love you.  So, I think that for a big change to take place in a person, there should be a very good reason.  It shouldn't just be something done to please others, to follow a fad, or done on the spur of the moment. I think that this person should also explain the change to those closest to him/her.
     Why is this on my mind?  Obviously, it is because I am making a big change in my life.  I believe that I am one of those people who crave a variety of experiences in life, and I always have been.  Look at my work record - I have worked in a million unrelated fields.  You could even just take a look at my music collection - eclectic is a nice way to describe it.  I also feel like I have been pushed into a box, for several reasons, in my life.  People see me one way, and I have always tried to make others happy.  I am at a point in my life where I refuse to be stifled anymore.  I have always had a creative streak in me, and that is what makes me happiest, so that is the path I am following now.  I am not changing for someone else; I am changing to be truer to myself.  I hope I am on the path to figuring out who I am, but I may just be one of those people who never does.  I may keep on reinventing myself until I am 90 and every day seems new anyway. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Walking Wonder

     Today I woke up and decided to get motivated and start doing some of the things I have said I was going to do. So, I called the dentist to get some crowns replaced before my coverage from work runs out.  I left a message, and, six hours later, I am still waiting for a call back.  I think they might be closed on Fridays.  Whoops... I have to remember to call on Monday. Then, I decided to plan out my day. 1. Take the dog for a walk. 2. Go tanning. 3. Do dishes. 4. Start cleaning/organizing some papers. You know about the best laid plans. Here's what happened:
     I threw on some clothes and a hat, and I put the leash on the dog.  For those who don't know, I have a Parson Jack Russell.  He is like a thirty pound ball of energy, but he's actually fairly calm for a Jack Russell, so I thought, "How hard can this be?"  I'm glad you asked.  Okay, so you didn't, but I'm going to tell you anyway.  As soon as I opened the door, he shot out like the porch was a cannon and he was the ball.  However, the leash only reaches to the end of the porch, so he bounced back like he was on a bungee.  It didn't seem to affect him, but I had to put my shoulder back in its socket before we could go.  At that point, I decided to tighten up the leash.  We walked down the driveway and out onto the road.  Actually, I tried to walk while he lunged until he choked himself on the leash, waited for me to catch up, and then did it again, over and over.  I think my arm grew three inches longer just walking about fifty feet.  I decided enough was enough, and I shortened the leash until he had no room to move except right beside me.  It was a loooong walk down my hill because he pulled against the leash the whole way, even though he was choking himself.  I was beginning to wonder if he had brain damage; you would think he would learn not to do that at some point. Now I live at the top of a hill that is about 300 yards from the bottom to the top bend, and it has about a 40 degree slope.  Going down is the easy part, and I knew that, so I wondered how I was going to get him back up the hill - I decided to worry about that later.  At the bottom of the hill, we turned right, onto the little side road.  Jax (the dog) was still trying to pull away, especially when he saw two dogs about ten yards ahead of us.  He was jumping and whining because he wanted to go play with them.  Luckily, the owner of the two dogs saw us coming, and he put his dogs inside of the fence.  I dragged Jax, trying not to look like an abusive owner, past that house while holding him down at my side, by my heel.  So far, I felt like I had been fighting to reel in a 30 pound fish for about twenty minutes - it's more tiring than you might think.  At the stop sign, I stopped to take a break and shake out my arm, and Jax stopped right beside me.  Well, well, things were looking up.  I reached down, patted him, and told him he was a good dog.  Then, I put him in place, at my heel, and said, "Heel," and began walking while holding him there. I continued putting him in place and repeating the word "heel." It took a few minutes, but he actually caught on.  He would stop when I stopped and walk when I walked.  I felt pretty accomplished, not to mention proud of him and of myself!  At the end of the street, I loosened the leash and told him to go run around for a minute.  He did, and then he promptly squatted in someone's driveway and did his business.  Thank goodness I came prepared with a baggie.  I cleaned up the mess like a responsible owner - thank you very much - and then looked for somewhere to throw it away.  I quickly realized that I didn't see anywhere to put it, and I definitely wasn't going to carry it around.  So, with Jax back on the short least and "heeling" like a champ, I snuck up to someone's trash can and casually threw it in without even looking.  (I don't think anyone saw me, but so much for feeling proud of myself.)  The walk back to the bottom of the hill was a breeze.  Jax was doing so well.  I just kept telling him that he was a good dog and petting him from time to time.  So there we were, at the bottom of the hill.  This was the same hill that I used to walk up and down five to ten times a day without even thinking about it when I lived here as a teenager, but it looked so much longer now.  Oh well, nothing for it but to climb up or call my son for a ride, and I was not going to give him any ammo with which to razz me for the next month.  We began the walk up the hill, and, about fifteen yards up, my lower back started cramping.  Oh no!  What now?  Of course the "what now" was to power through it, which I did, with only one rest stop in the middle. Okay, it was a ten minute rest stop, but whatever. However, by the time I got back to the house, my back was throbbing. 
     So, I walked in the house and called my doctor (who had just told me a couple of weeks ago that she didn't think I could do an intense yoga class because of my back while I laughed at her for underestimating me).  I really didn't want to make that call, but I have planned to go to a 26 mile yard sale with my uncle in a few weeks, and I need to know what the issue is. I am going to be really bummed if I can't do that trip.
     Right now, I am sitting here waiting for the doctor to call back.  I am thinking that it's a good thing I did the dishes and took a bath before I sat down because all of my other plans for today are pretty much out the window.  But I am telling myself that I'm not going to worry about it because everything will get done eventually.  What is harder is accepting that I have any physical limitations.  I still feel like I'm twenty-something, and I really hate those reality checks that slap me in the face (or the back) from time to time. 
     But, rather than wallowing in self-pity (okay, okay, I did that while I was in the tub), I have decided to make some realistic daily and short-term goals.  So far, I have been sending out at least two or three applications a day.  They have been for all sorts of different jobs; some of them I really wouldn't mind doing, and others I send just for kicks.  I have determined to keep doing that, even if unemployment didn't require three a week.  I am also going to write for at least one half to one hour a day.  Sometimes it may be here; sometimes it may be elsewhere - I think I have a book or two in my head.  My son is leaving tomorrow for a week-long vacation, so I am going to do my three day silent retreat here at home.  I really wanted to go away to do that, but I will do it here.  I just have to stay strong and stick to it.  No visiting, no talking, no computer, no TV, no phone, no shopping, no rearranging or cleaning the house... Just meditating, reading the Bible, praying, and writing in my journal.  I think that I am going to start on Tuesday and go through until Friday, so don't worry if you don't hear from me during that time.  I think I may have some interesting things to share after that little episode. As soon as I hear back from the doctor, I am also planning to add in a regular exercise routine every day.
     In the meantime, I need to go and help my son pack for his trip, wait for the doctor to call back, and catch up on Candy Crush (yes, I got sucked in a couple of days ago thanks to my family - jerks!). So, until our next mini-adventure, peace out!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wild Wanderings

       Welcome to the wanderings of my mind.  This is a brand new blog because this is a brand new chapter in my life.  I never thought that I would be recreating myself at the age of 43, but here I go. Recently, I made the decision to quit my job.  Some would, and have, say that is absolutely nuts in today's economy.  However, I was at the point where I had only three choices: kill my boss and get locked up, have a nervous breakdown and get locked up, or quit my job.  As I am rather fond of my freedom, I chose door number three.  I am waiting to see if it is the Lady or the Tiger.  I didn't know what I expected to happen after having been trapped in a job that kept me working almost every waking hour of every day.  But, I know it wasn't what has happened so far.
      I filed for unemployment, and I signed up on the job search site as required.  I knew that I had to do that, and then I thought that I would have tons of time to get to all of those household projects that I have had to put off.  Well, let me tell you about that. 
      First, the weed whacker broke, so I couldn't take care of the outside. Before you ask why I didn't at least mow the lawn, I will tell you that my mower is also broken.  I have a self-propelled mower on which the self-propeller is broken.  So, it is like driving a car with no power steering.  I have to rely on my 19 year old son to mow the lawn.  Needless to say, that is not being done either. I am currently living in that oh so natural habitat which I had envisioned when I thought about the places I could go since I have the time. (By the way, I picked a tick off of my neck yesterday.)
      My first weekend "off," I had a few guests coming.  I went to the "guest room" (more about that later) to change the bedding.  As I picked up one of the pillows, I realized that it was wet.  So, I continued lifting up layers of bedding, and each one was as wet as the last.  Between the last two feather mattress pads, I found a layer of black mold. I looked up and saw that the entire corner of the ceiling was bubbled and a few shades darker than the walls.  I had my son help me, and we threw away everything that was on the bed.  The box springs seemed to be okay.  A few days later, we had a big storm, and I put a bucket under the leak.  Well, my cat decided that he wanted to see what was in the bucket, and knocked it over, full of the nasty water that had leaked through the ceiling. I had already called my father (who bequeathed me this "mansion" in which I live) to tell him about the weed whacker and the leak.  The day that the cat knocked over the bucket, my dad and my cousin came down and fixed the leak in the roof.  They also threw away the now ruined box springs.  In addition, my dad took the weed whacker to fix it.  At this point, I have no guest bed and no weed whacker, and it has been weeks.  On the bright side, those are two less things that I have to maintain.
     In other news, I have attended a graduation party and family reunion.  Both of these were enjoyable, in spite of the tropical heat of the grad party and the typhoon that occurred during the reunion. I suppose this is a good time to inform you of my personal rain cloud that seems to follow me whenever I have an outdoor event planned. It has created some incredible (as in unbelievable) situations during my life.
     Unfortunately, in addition to trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up - I am considering going on the road in an RV and working my way across the country or freelance writing for a travel magazine - I have also had a lot of time to stare at the vast amount of work necessary to have done to this fixer-upper of a house.  I have ten rooms, one working (albeit falling into the cellar) bathroom, and one almost finished bathroom that has been twenty years in the making.  Of those rooms, I can use the living room, the kitchen, two of the bedrooms, and the laundry room (sort of).  Everything else, including the cellar and the outside shed, is still full of things that my parents left here when they moved into a five room ranch.  However, I have it on good authority that their things will be removed and the bathroom will be finished soon.  Hey, I've only lived here for a year and a half; these things cannot be rushed.
     On the plus side, I have been able to pamper myself a little bit. I have bought a tanning package.  You have to understand that I have naturally glow-in-the-dark white skin.  I am hoping that this will at least bring my color to that of a real live person. (So far, I have only burned my buns once, and I don't recommend it.) I have also had my hair colored and cut.  I asked my friend, who is also my hair stylist, to add pink and purple highlights just because I can.  I don't have a boss telling me that it is unprofessional, and I am enjoying it greatly.  In addition, I have learned that grocery shopping during the day is much less crowded, and there is a better selection because everything isn't picked over.  Making appointments for doctors, stylists, etc. is incredibly easy, and they all love me now because I am a breeze to schedule.    
    As of this point, I have not really accomplished anything that I thought would have happened by now, and "not working" has been more work than I was doing before.  The big question, then, is - do I regret quitting my job?  The answer is, no.  I don't regret it.  I am choosing to view all of this as a part of my journey.  Think about the last time you went somewhere.  Did everything run smoothly?  Probably not, and that is where I am.  This is the beginning.  I would love to have your company as I continue on my adventure.  It is hard to tell where we might go, who or what we might see, or what we might do, but I can guarantee that it will be interesting.