Category Archives: Changes

Defining The “Good” Life

Blogger Troy Headrick’s recent query, asking others to define what the “good” life is, really got me thinking.

Instead of responding in the comments section of his post, I’ve decided to write about it here on my blog.

If asked this question while I was growing up in middle class northern Minnesota in the 70’s and 80’s, my answer would have been something like this: the “good” life means you have oodles of money at your disposal. It means others envy you, as you sip champagne on your yacht with a perfectly coiffed poodle on your lap. The “good” life means you have connections to powerful people and you live in a luxurious home. Actually, if you’re living the “good” life you have several luxurious homes in multiple locales. You enjoy a globe-trotting existence with not a care in the world. You are unencumbered by any responsibilities.

In other words, the good life was unattainable. A mere fantasy. And, truth be told, pretty damn shallow.

Later in my life, probably somewhere in my 30’s, my definition of the “good” life became sharper, more defined, more personal. I witnessed my parents, after many years of hard work, building a business together even, retire. They were young-ish at the time. Bonnie would have been right about 60, Babe 67-ish. They had the good fortune of living as middle aged adults during a time where the economy was prosperous. They were healthy and possessed strong work ethics and managed their money exceedingly well.

Their retired life consisted of traveling to Europe, purchasing a cabin on a lake, along with a fifth-wheel trailer which they took down to Gulf Shores, Alabama for several months of the year for probably a dozen years or so. They had so much fun. They most certainly were living the “good” life.

Now that I’m in my 50’s and the kids are grown and largely self-sufficient, the “good” life that I envision for me and Hubs is starting to feel within our grasp.

Here’s what it looks like: a nomad-like existence for a year. Selling our town home and hitting the road. Spending time in all 50 states in our camper. As long as there’s wi-fi, as Hubs says, “I can work anywhere”. Without a mortgage to pay, we can surely manage on his salary alone. Then I would be free to explore. Free to express myself creatively. Free to give of my time, energy, and skills to volunteer somewhere.

After that year has concluded, we would travel in Europe for a month or so, then purchase a new home in Colorado. Preferably a solid, well maintained, 50’s era ranch home that needs a little TLC. Make it ours. Maybe I’d find a part time job in another non-profit that could benefit from my years of experience. Or maybe I’d choose to volunteer at a couple different non-profits instead.

If we continue to be smart with our finances, down the road we could buy a plot of land on a small lake with good fishing opportunities. Build our own cabin, complete with a dock, fire pit, and a large deck that overlooks the water. Friends and family would visit on the regular. We’d have a large garden and we’d host lively holiday gatherings. Now, that would be my definition of the final chapter of the “good” life. Fulfilling experiences, eye-opening adventures, and lots of meaningful connections with others.

How about you all? What, specifically, does the term living the “good” life mean for you?

***Header image courtesy of https://zaiderrr.medium.com/the-pleasant-life-vs-the-good-life-808021808469

The Year That Was

Pardon me for using the most frequently uttered word of 2020 here: but what an unprecedented year this has been. For me, for you, for all of us. All because of a virus, whose name shall not be mentioned because I know we are all sick of hearing it.

I am ready to usher in the new year, as I know we all are.

Beyond (or in some cases because of) this pandemic, plenty of unprecedented things happened in my world the last 12 (or should I say 9?) months:

I unexpectedly lost one job and gained another. Now I’m back to running a food pantry again, a job I never knew I could love so much.

We bought a camper! It was as much as “seizing the moment because we’ve always wanted one and who knows how many moments we have left” as it was “now we have the security of a home on wheels if we need to flee the country”.

I broke my first bone! On account of falling onto the pavement due to a rare combination of poor judgement and general clumsiness. I was fortunate in that the bone healed up pretty darn well after wearing a walking boot for 6 weeks. Who knew that in 2020 I’d gain such an appreciation for wearing two matching shoes?

I learned that sometimes gifts I give to someone can wind up being a gift for myself and both sides of my family as well as my spouses side. Yep, I got Rabbie, that kid of mine who studied history for almost three years at a state university, a subscription to Ancestry.com for Christmas. Now on the daily we are hearing fascinating stories about how my great great great great great great great great Grandmother Mary Chilton came over on the Mayflower. And other stories like how brothers Ira and Samuel Dickenson (Ira being my great great great great Grandfather, on my Dad’s side like Mary), came upon a bear in the woods in 1832 and proceeded to beat it with a cane. Word is their beating of this bear led him to become so docile that he became an exhibit at the zoo.

Don’t be surprised to read more stories of my ancestors adventures as 2021 unfolds.

Then there was the death and resurrection of Karl the cat. Back in November, he came down with a double ear infection. Poor little dude. Shortly thereafter, despite having started antibiotics, he developed pneumonia. Apparently it may be true that cats have 9 lives, because this one actually died on the couch one morning when I was at work. Hubs came to the rescue however and performed mouth to mouth resuscitation on him, inflating his little kitty lungs with enough air to revive him. He was rushed to the pet ER where he spent the night on oxygen. He came back home sassier than before, ready to climb on everything and taunt Radar.

All in all, it wasn’t for me the worst of years I suppose. It surely was an interesting one though. Let’s hope 2021 is interesting too. But in different, better ways, right?

Happy New Year!!

***Header image courtesy of https://cdacmohali.in/goodbye-2020-welcome-2021-images-quotes-wishes-status-whatsapp-dp/

What Can We Agree On?

The seed that sparked this post was a comment made recently on one of my blog posts. In that post, I simply stated “Yay-Biden/Harris won”. Now those aren’t fighting words, are they? Yet, another blogger chose to tell me they were glad that I expressed this. Because then they could “block” me.

I found her comment humorous and ridiculous. When I read a blog post and don’t agree with what the blogger is saying, I tend to keep it to myself. Choose in silence to not follow them. It was the first time I can recall that anyone on the interwebs stated they would not follow me because of my political persuasion.

Of course, my response to this blogger was not helpful at all. I said “You do you, Sweetheart!”. That was admittedly snarky of me and later made me feel like a jerk.

But here’s the thing: aren’t we all in this together? Aren’t we all Americans? Aren’t there some basic things we can all agree on?

The extremism is really pissing me off these days.

Yes, I am very pleased that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be our next President and Vice President. I think they are earnest and are going to try their best to unite us and enact policies to put us all on a better path. I’m not going to take that back.

But there are almost half of us that don’t agree with that, which of course is their right. But is it helpful that a percentage of those folks are digging in their heels and refusing to acknowledge that Trump really truly lost this election? Doesn’t it make sense for them to put down their weapons, so to speak, and acknowledge reality?

I sure think it does. I’m hoping that they agree with that before long. It’s in everyone’s best interest, regardless of what particular political party they are aligned with.

For those of us on the other side, many of whom were often spouting re: Trump “well he’s not my President” after he was elected in 2016, they need to stop gloating. It is not helpful. While I was unhappy when he got elected, I didn’t go around saying “well, he’s not my President”, because I did not think it was helpful in any way. And it wasn’t the reality.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this blog is not a political one. It is however, my blog. And since I see my blog as being running commentary of life from my perspective in the here and now, it would not feel right for me to keep my politics completely off the table.

Ultimately, I want to be helpful here. I want to engage with others and lift them up. I want to be radically hospitable and open minded within this blog and in my real day to day life.

So, that leads me to this final question: what do you think we can all, as Americans, agree upon?

I think answering this question is a way to start healing. To start coming together. We have to start somewhere.

I will go first with: I think we can all agree that (more) change is coming in American society, whether we welcome it or not. We are all going to have to accept that. We’re going to have to get off our high horses for the greater good.

Alphabet Soup Challenge: U is for Unexpected

Don’t you think that with age many of us handle the unexpected circumstances in our lives better? I think it’s a result of having more time here on earth than others. We’ve simply had a larger number of unexpected things occur in our lives. We’re wiser.

And I think that is awesome.

Not that when a curve ball presents itself we don’t freak out a little. We’re still human after all.

It’s just that we’ve got experiences behind us that tells us we’ve gotten through some shit. We’ve survived. Heck, sometimes we have even thrived after the unexpected invades our realities.

I had two unexpected pregnancies. In the span of two years. I feel like an idiot when I tell people this, but it’s true. And I wouldn’t change a thing about how it all played out.

I was on the pill when I got pregnant both times. First pregnancy was a pleasant surprise. Sure, we (as my mom would say), didn’t have a pot to piss in; but we were newlyweds in love. We made enough money between the two of us to pay our rent and buy groceries and we had the love and emotional support of both sets of parents.

Then, after living in Texas with our baby girl Amanda while Hubs took graduate courses in meteorology and did some student teaching for a few months, I missed my period. Scared out of my mind, I took a pregnancy test and sure enough, it was positive. As Clark Griswold would say, I was more shocked than if I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet.

Decisions had to be made. Staying in Texas would have meant that Hubs would have finished his Masters and put himself in a position to work at his (then) dream job: Professor of Meteorology at a major university. With people, the guy has the patience of Job, so I was confident he would rock that career path. The flip side, however, is that I would have to apply for Medicaid (we were poor, young,and dumb and had no health insurance at the time) for myself and baby Amanda. Then we’d be there in Texas, knowing only a small handful of people (and not very well), raising two babies under 2.

The decision we made was to move back to Minnesota. Where we’d have the support of two loving sets of grandparents to cope with this unexpected turn of events. The guilt I felt (in hindsight, this was wasted energy as it does take two to create new life) for “making” Hubs quit grad school to move back to Minnesota and find employment in his field lasted for years.

However…

While the three of us bunked with his folks and his teenage sister in (thankfully) a 3 bedroom apartment for a month or so, Hubs managed to get a job with a private weather forecasting company and we found ourselves a nice two bedroom apartment.

After Rabbie made their arrival during that hot as hell summer, Hubs got connected with a supervisor in the National Weather Service who hired him as an “intern” (a position that no longer exists) making $18,000 per year. This was sooo exciting! At the time. $18,000 to us in the early 90’s felt like a pretty good darn chunk of change. Only thing was, we had to move to International Falls, Minnesota. The “Icebox of the Nation”. Another unwelcome and unexpected thing.

Nevertheless, we made the best of it. Struggled, stressed out, but we pressed on as a team. As a family.

And now, here we are, married for over 30 years with two great kids in their 20’s and a smart as heck 6 year old grandson. Living in Colorado and as ready as we can be for whatever unexpected thing comes next.

What unexpected circumstances have happened in the course of your lives that changed everything? Please share in the comments.

***Header image courtesy of https://designpress.com/inspiration/32-fascinating-greys-anatomy-quotes/

Alphabet Soup Challenge: T is for The Top 10 Things I’m Sure of Right Now

A few weeks ago I was sure that I was at the beginning of a really meaningful career path. But it turns out I was wrong. I am now unemployed.

So here I am, trying to make lemonade out of lemons.

It’s going to be a process, people. I guess you can consider this my first step. Gotta start somewhere, right?

So here’s what I am sure of in this moment:

  1. I have more time for writing and improving my blogging skills.
  2. There are a lot of small home improvement/decor/organizational tasks that I can do around this joint to keep myself occupied.
  3. I don’t want to wallow in the sadness I’m feeling.
  4. Vodka pairs well with lemonade.
  5. My sense of humor is still intact.
  6. Music is therapeutic in times like these. Like this song that my blogger friend Mona at https://www.waywardsparkles.com/ recently shared with me.
  7. My family loves me unconditionally.
  8. So does Radar. Karl too, I’m told.
Karl the cockeyed kitty

9. I’m not the only smart, hard-working, talented employee to ever been given the ol’ heave ho in the history of the universe.

10. I will survive and find new ways to thrive. I am not stopping now.

Alphabet Soup Challenge: S is For Summer and Spirit Animals

It’s shaping up to be an interesting summer.

I’m marveling at how much my life has changed since last summer.

This summer we have our youngest kiddo and their cat living with us.

This summer we are limited in what we can do and where we can go because of a little something called Covid-19.

This summer we have our own camper which allows us to safely explore parts unknown (aka campgrounds).

And this summer my role at work is morphing into something unexpected and potentially very interesting.

Right now my spirit animal, the one I requested the in-house artist to create for me, is in a state of flux. Behold the Squirtoise.

The squirrel part is pondering creative ideas to bring into my new work project. She’s chewing on how best to support the kiddo in my house with the challenges they are currently facing, as well as the other kiddo who’s single-momming it over in Wisconsin. She’s spinning her wheels trying to figure out what needs to be said and what doesn’t need to be said within this blog.

The tortoise part is doing what she can to slow the squirrel’s roll. She’s firmly opposed to being rushed, particularly by outside sources. She’s soaking up the summer sun and pausing to listen to and appreciate all the other creatures in her midst. She’s the one to blame for this post not being published today instead the usual, Wednesday morning before work.

As you can see, my squirtoise is at odds with herself. She yearns to find a balance between attempting to do great big scary things in this world and enjoying the simple blessings of summer. That sweet balance between activity and relaxation. She needs to sort out when to let the squirrel be in charge and when the tortoise has to take over.

You could say the squirrel part of my spirit animal represents my enthusiasm for life. And probably my ADHD tendencies. The tortoise represents the wisdom garnered by my somewhat advanced age and desire to take things slow and live each day with intention. It’s not unlike a child/parent dynamic.

Any way you and I look at it, my squirtoise guides me as I write, work, parent, love, learn, play, and everything in between. Much like my personal Mantronym. For better or worse I suppose.

Do you have a spirit animal? What does it look like? Is it a real-life animal or person, or a mashup like mine? Please share in the comments!

Right Now And Write Now: How I’m Rolling

Things have changed in oh so many ways. And I suspect the changes in my life, both at work and at home, are going to continue, in wild and unexpected ways. For better and for worse. As all of ours will due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

I was banished from my workplace yesterday. It came to light via email yesterday morning that I may have had contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 last week. Not anyone at work, but an unknown individual (HIPPA prevents the employer of this person from publicly naming them) at a location where I was picking up items for our food bank.

While I donned a face mask during this pick up and am fairly certain did not get any closer than 6 feet from anyone else there, my employer gave me the rest of the week off (with pay, thankfully) as a precaution.

Me in my office last week. Gawd, I need a haircut.

So here I am now, at home, overthinking everything and anything. Unsure what to do next. Determined to maintain continuous virtual contact with my co-workers, at the ready to answer questions or complete other tasks assigned to me that can be done from home (what those tasks might be remains to be seen, but I am determined to roll with it). In other words, I finally broke down and decided it is in my as well as my employers best interest to sync my personal cell phone to my work email account. I suppose I’ll be setting up a Zoom account on this phone shortly too.

All that said, I am, alas, at home today until next Monday (with maybe one trip to the store in the mix). So clearly I ought to take care of our little sanctuary. Do some cleaning. Organizing. It’ll make me feel better and it will increase our collective level of comfort.

But not until I engage in some serious venting lamenting writing. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been fantasizing about just one day during which I inhabit the role of a full-on, at home, creative writer. One who furiously taps away on her Chromebook drinking an array of beverages all the while-starting with coffee and ending with a glass of fine Pinto Grigio. Wearing the comfiest of clothes , making sure to get up and stretch and/or dance to keep those muscles loose and the mental energy high.

So that’s my plan for today. I think anyway. Because I also know this….

Don't You Know I Have Plans for You? - First Churches of ...