Approach life gently. Treat life kindly. Live life fully and with enthusiasm.
Respect life--always.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How do You Roll?

How do you deal with disappointment? With bad news? With rejection?

Do you cry your eyes out, blubbering in your hubby’s accepting arms until your eyes are swollen and red? Do you replay every detail, searching out every piece of ammo you can use against the other person, even if you have no intention of actually going face-to-face or fist-to-fist with that person? Do you drown your sorrows in your drug of choice, (my choice being food)? Do you attempt to drown out the negative voices in your head with head-banging music? A little Zep until the walls vibrate? Do you search out an activity that is so involved you cannot possibly think of anything else but that activity, like physics puzzles on Kongregate? Or do you listen when your most loving person showers you with positive messages and tells you that the disappointment or bad news or rejection does not matter in the grander scheme of things? We will survive. Our plans will not change.

I did all of the above, and in that order too.

Now that the dust has settled, it does not matter what the bad news was. It is a new morning, a new bright, shiny day. The sun will always set on our troubles and will always rise again. Without the scary darkness and lurking shadows, the bad news doesn’t look so bad. I can deal with it. And Ken is right. Ultimately, it won’t change our plans.

Whether I am well or sick or even sicker, we will still travel. Whether we sell everything or give most of it away, we will still travel. Whether I can do my share or Ken and Trevor have to do most of the work, it will all get done, and without them complaining about my alleged laziness. They know me like no one else does.

All will be well. I will not lash out. I will forgive. I will give my troubles over to God. I will move on.

And that is how I roll.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Countdown Begins

Not ready yet, but at least there's soda.
Today is August 29th of one of the worst summers of my life, weather-wise. It started out without a bang, too cool and wet to even be considered summer as far as I am concerned. But then two weeks ago, the heat really took hold, and soon after, humidity followed. Humidity is the middle-aged woman’s enemy, I have discovered. I’ve never been bothered too much by any type of weather, enjoying warm summer rains as much as the next person, but this swampy weather is too much. I find myself wishing for winter even before the fall colors have set in. Okay, so despite my ranting, I must rave about today, for today is a beautiful 73 degrees. The morning was even a little misty, reminding me of many cool summer days I’ve spent at the beach. I absolutely loved it.

Despite my dread of heat and humidity, I had better not wish away the days, however, because we have too much to do before spring.

Six months is the timeline I mentioned the other day. I was “informed” by my sweetheart that it is more like 8 months. Darn. I was hoping for a huge bon voyage party for my 44th birthday. Since I now know our departure is more like 8 months away, let’s actually count that out and see where it lands. Hmm, if six months would have been my birthday, then eight months . . . wait, let me guess—that’s our 14th anniversary. I still see a party in our future! Yippee! What a better send off than having the party of a lifetime with our friends? Sounds like a plan to me. Sounds like a bon voyage party in the making!

Can you tell we are getting ready for a yard sale?
We have so much to do, so much so that I easily get overwhelmed by it all. We have to finish selling off all our stuff. Call it downsizing, minimizing, or just plain great bargains on great stuff for the rest of you all, however you say it, it all has to go. We also have to finish remodeling the interior of the Raven. Now, we aren’t doing any major overhauls, just little touches mostly. Ken has been diligently working on all that since healing from his total knee replacement.

For my part, I get to do some interior designing. I get to choose the colors and fabrics and all that fun stuff. I am so excited because I have never had a home that all its parts coordinated. Frankly, I’ve had very little coordination in a single room, let alone an entire home, even if that home is on wheels. I have decided to have that “perfect” home, finally—as in all matching dishes and linens and window treatments. I am so excited to get to create it all. I have never had a home with things exactly as I have wanted. I’ve always had hand-me-downs or garage sale items or whatever was on clearance, not that there is anything wrong with all of that. We survived just fine, but it was always someone else’s taste, not mine.

Where's dinner?
So far, we have agreed on our dishes: Portmeirion. I know. What kind of lunatic takes fine china camping? But we are not camping, per se. This is our home, our retirement home. We also have Oneida flatware and that beautiful stemware which sat in a box in the garage for the majority of our married life. What a shame not to use our pretty things while we can.

I have already reupholstered the sofa and the seats for the dining booth. I settled on earthy tones of greens and faded reds as the predominant colors, for the main living area anyway. The boudoir will be another adventure altogether. (Bring your mind back, front and center.) I pulled the window treatments down in the bedroom already. They are a hideous mix of pastels and a little metallic spattered in. I am trying to figure which decade that fabric came from. I am thinking more along the lines of the ‘80s rather than 1996, which is the year of our coach. Yuck. Before they go back up, recovered of course, I am contemplating making some Roman shades to match. Then I can get rid of those ghastly blinds, too. First, I will need to check out some of the recycled goods stores. We have several that offer reusable building materials, and then there is the main one I am thinking of, the Scrap store, which has craft supplies up the wazoo. I am looking forward to spending an entire day there, if I have to.

Ken has been working on a new center console, one that is not angled, because he knows as well as I do that Her Highness, Princess Tinker Belle, must have a seat of honor while we travel. It is either that or she will claim the dash, which is a no-no while we are in motion.

This week we are working on what seems to be the largest hurdle to our eventual departure—unloading all our stuff. Labor Day Weekend is almost upon us, and the weatherman says we will have almost perfect weather. So the sale is on, starting Thursday.
Hope to see you there!
My big closet got sacrificed for a pantry. I may not have anything to wear, but at least we will eat!

This small bathroom has more counter space than the one in our duplex.

Don't wake me until coffee is ready. No excuses, it is built in!
Aren't they the ugliest?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Busted Again!

“I’m getting full,” Ken said to me earlier today as we greedily gobbled down the biggest BBQ brisket sandwiches I had ever seen.

“Me too,” I answered back, with my mouth full.

“I think I will take the rest home for Trevor.”

“Here, you better finish mine.” I said as I handed him the last quarter of my sandwich. “Otherwise he will know I ate the bun.”

Ken put his half sandwich back in the earth-friendly to-go container and smiled as he happily finished off my sandwich. Then on the way home, he said that they were so good, he was contemplating pulling over to finish the other one too.

I just smiled, hoping I had gotten away with something but fearing all along that Trevor would know, the way a mother just knows things. He has that way about him.

Today we shopped the presale of the semi-annual consignment event where I had taken a bunch of my hardly worn clothing. I had originally decided not to buy anything at all at the sale. It kind of defeats the purpose, you know, of trying to get rid of all our excess baggage in order to travel comfortably in our 32-foot RV. Unfortunately, Ken, Trevor, and I helped out at the setup and sign in yesterday, and I spotted too many cute things to pass up. Besides, my darling husband/enabler kept holding up items for me to see as he was sorting sizes.

I have been praying that all my items sell so that I won’t have to bother with taking them to the consignment store next, but asking for all is being greedy. I prayed today, kind of jokingly (sorry), that enough stuff sells so that I can at least pay for what I spent today. Besides, there’s also lunch for three yesterday after our volunteering. We were ravenous and finished just about everything on our plates at the Black Bear Diner in Beaverton. This in itself was a miraculous feat, considering the humongous portions they serve.

Then there was today’s lunch at Sheridan Fruit in Portland. I was absolutely giddy as I perused the meat counter. I grabbed Ken’s arm, “They have clean meat!” No antibiotics. No hormones. Vegetarian fed. Locally raised. And for the most part, their sausages don’t have nitrates. I was in meat heaven, and that is why I persuaded Ken to treat me to lunch. Damn the wheat bun it was on, I was going to eat it anyway. It was amazing, especially with my sugar and caffeine laden real Pepsi. No diet drink today. I guess I figured I was already blowing my day by eating gluten, why not add sugar to my tummy troubles?

It is interesting living with two men. There’s my husband, who enables all of my bad habits (like gluten, sugary drinks, ice cream, shopping, being lazy), and then there is my 19-year-old son, who is a taskmaster. He sternly cautions me about whether it is a wise choice, what I am putting in my stomach, especially when it comes to gluten. When longingly eyeing a bauble or cutesy in a store, he reminds me that I said earlier I didn’t have that much to spend and I was only to buy necessities. Ugh. Yes, I remember saying that earlier. Thanks, son, for keeping your mother on track. He is such a sweetheart, despite his rules. He wakes me in the morning with freshly made carrot juice. “It’s ten, time to get up,” he says, as he steals my Tinker Belle to take her out. She is such a lazy dog in the mornings. She must take after her mommy.

All things can be used for good. I’ve heard it said God can use the bad that happens to us for good, so why can’t I use the behaviors/actions of others to suit my needs? I was thinking yesterday it might be a good idea to use Trevor’s taskmaster tendencies to help me diet and exercise. What a concept. I already have a built-in health coach.

And yes, he used his intuition on me again. When Ken gave him the sandwich, he took a bite and said it was good, which led me to slip up, “Yes, isn’t it?” He smiled his knowing smile.

Oops, I’m busted again.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Do Not Postpone Your Joy

What is joy? What is happiness? Are they the same? Not in my book.

What about joy and instant gratification? Are they the same? Certainly not.

Happiness has a tendency to be fleeting. By its own common usage, we assign happiness many times to a single day, such as happy birthday or happy anniversary. It comes and it goes. Many times it is used flippantly, not really addressing true happiness at all. I am happy the mail arrived. But I am sad it is all bills.

Instant gratification is undoubtedly defined by pleasure-seeking behavior. One’s need for instant gratification means that they cannot put off getting rewarded. They are not satisfied unless it happens now. I must have my spectacles within one hour, my pizza delivered within half an hour (without my butt leaving the sofa until it gets here), and anything and everything else via drive-thru, where I don’t even have to get my lazy rump out of the car. And then there is an offer of instant credit everywhere I go.

What happened to the anticipation we giddily danced about when we were children? Waiting forever for Christmas morning to arrive. Waiting literally years to be old enough to date or drive. Working our first job and waiting two weeks for that meager paycheck. It may have been small, but we earned it ourselves. Saving up those tiny paychecks to buy a name-brand pair of jeans or concert tickets, without the help of parents or credit cards.

Or the ultimate postponement for a woman, waiting 9 months for her baby to be born. Those last two weeks can be torture, especially when the baby is late. Though we may complain, God is in control of postponing that little bundle of joy.

Though many things should be postponed to maintain a healthy balance in life, joy should not.

Joy evokes a sense of passion for our desires. Joy is exceptionally pleasurable, not in the gaiety of getting our short-term wants met, but in the satisfaction of attaining our heart’s desires.

Joy is real and tangible and I can feel it bubble up inside me, spilling over into a smile or even an uncontrollable giggle. Joy is seeing my son getting excited about something he has done or wants to do. Joy is seeing my best characteristics coming out in my offspring. Joy is feeling the unconditional love poured over me by my little Tinker Belle, my assist dog, as she snuggles against my back to help relieve my pain. Yes, there can be joy in a painful situation. Joy and unconditional love go hand in hand. Joy is each step we take toward our mutual goal of traveling for five years. Joy is seeing my husband enjoy his retirement and actually seeing him truly relax for the first time in our 13-year marriage. Joy is knowing we made the right decision for him to retire even though it means less money and more rice and beans come dinner time. Ultimately, joy is knowing I am loved.

True, it seems we must postpone our joy at times. But even if your goals seem far away, always remember that there is immeasurable joy in each step along your journey.

I wish you joy. In whatever you choose.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Just Gotta Be Me

As many have attempted to do lately, my hubby and I are planning a five-year voyage across our great states. Now, this is not a pipe dream or something we just came up with yesterday. This is something we began dreaming about when my kids were still in grade school. It is now becoming more than a dream, now that my hubby has retired and the children are grown.

Sadly, we do not have the funds to just go out and buy the perfect rig and jump right into travel. Last February we bought our coach, a 1996 Firan Raven. This was the last year Firan was in business, but this is not to say our coach is a lemon. Far from it. Back in the day, Firan made luxury coaches, and our 32 foot darling has many fine attributes and quality workmanship which you do not see in a lot of the newer rigs out there. She is a well-made beast.

But, alas, she does need some work to get the interior just how we would like it. Therefore, we have yet to take her on a maiden voyage. Oh, how my feet itch to be on the road.

I’ve never been one to like being tied down for too long. These same four walls of our tiny duplex drive me nuts. We’ve lived here only a year, and I am definitely ready for a change. This is my pattern, though. Once I was on my own, I never lived in one place for longer than a year without aching desperately to move on. The only home I was content to stay settled in was the home I raised my children in. We lived there for 13 years. Even so, I yearned for the open road, for travel, for adventure, and we often took two-week trips in the travel trailer we had at the time.

I must sit on my heels for now, biding my time until all of our unnecessary possessions are sold and our coach is ready. I must also bide my time and do my best to get healthy. Lyme disease has been my constant companion for many years now, and it is time she leaves. Our goal date is quickly approaching. Spring 2012 we will be on the road one way or another.

At one of our recent yard sales, a customer asked why we were selling everything off, and also why I was no longer working in my chosen field, why I was selling my medical transcription books and such. I explained Lyme disease to her and how it had stolen my strength and many of my memories. She frowned. Then I had to explain how I had gotten Lyme in the first place—from a tick while camping. She frowned even deeper. “So, you are choosing to go live in the woods, the very environment that gave you the disease which is killing you?”

Basically, yes, but I pray not to die from it. You must understand, I have Lyme; it does not have me. I cannot not be myself. I enjoy the outdoors. I thrive with the sun and the wind in my face, with the smell of pine trees and the early morning chirping of birds you can only find in the mountains. I cannot deny who I am just because I am ill. I just gotta be me. And I just gotta be free.