Category Archives: Changes

The Space I’m In

It’s Sunday morning and I’m in the camper (aka our current home) with Hubs and Radar.

Radar is sitting across from me at the dinette, thoroughly engrossed in licking his nether regions. He’s on the bench seat that I keep covered in a beach towel for his comfort each night.

The summer is almost over.

The summer of 2022 has been a little wild for me. Certainly strange. There’s been some surprises (of which I am generally a fan), good and bad in unequal measure.

What’s your take on life’s surprises?

This summer has also been invigorating: the fresh and clean breezes, frequent deer sightings, the birdsongs. Stimulating but also grounding for me. Radar making new friends.

Radar with the neighborhood pooch, Maya

It’s been a memorable season of our married life for sure. Living in a 21 foot camper for more than 2 months has been interesting, to say the least. We’ve joked that moving about the camper simultaneously is like playing “Twister”.

This upending of our lives to move back to Wisconsin has made me more acutely aware of a slew of things; namely the things, ideals, and people I will die on a hill for. It’s solidified my priorities. Given me more clarity.

I can now see more clearly how I want to live. I’m devoted to learning and growing, from my creative writing habit to gardening to grandparenting. My MIL has offered to teach me how to can, using the vegetables in our new-to-us garden. And I’m eager to get back to learning how to play my ukelele.

I think I just seriously aged myself in that last paragraph.

Whatever.

Maybe I will learn how to play and sing along to this lovely medley:

Isn’t this fantastic?

We are now less than 2 weeks out from moving into our sweet new house.

I’m aiming to do more of the enjoying of the present than wishing the time away.

But. It’s. Hard.

Because my head is swimming with ideas about what furniture is going to go where in the new house. The color schemes in each room. Where that beautiful new art piece with the lillies is going to be hung.

I’m missing our youngest, who has remained in Colorado. Though I am a bit less worried now about how they are going to fare without us a half hour drive away than I was when we arrived in Minnesconsin land in June. They now work at a place where they get to provide direct support to a very marginalized population. I am incredibly proud of them and hopeful they will persist, as I’m certain that workplace is better with them in their presence. And vice-versa.

While his mom’s at work, I’m taking care of our 8 year old grandson for several days between now and when we move into our house. 3rd grade in a new school starts right after we move in.

I think it’s fair to say that as a grandma, I’m a work in progress. I continue to learn as I go. But I’m up for it. The kid is so worth it. He’s been through a lot. So many changes in a short period of time.

My grandson is very bright, but also quite oppositional and reactionary. He’s also very funny, but sometimes gets carried away with it physically and ends up accidentally hurting himself or wrecking something. Suffice it to say, he requires a lot of energy from me.

Note to self: schedule a massage, STAT!

As you can see, I’m also a work in progress when it comes to self-compassion. I suspect many of you are too.

I have probably said this before in one of my blog posts, but I know for sure that writing these personal essays and getting them out there in the world is, for me, part of my self-compassion practice.

Anyone else feel this way about blogging?

Let me leave you, dear patient readers, with this creative rendition of a classic, feel-good Beatles song. Because life goes on. And as a tik-toker I came upon recently said “we’re not here for a long time, but we’re here for a good time”.

Isn’t this kid something else?

House Hunting Amidst the Chaos

I think we Americans are at the very start of a revolution.

All of us are pissed about something. And rightfully so.

I’m beyond pissed that Roe v. Wade is now part of our past. I’m pissed that a woman in a black robe agreed it should be. And that the rest of them that agreed with her are all men. I’m pissed that SCOTUS has devolved into an entity that we can no longer trust.

Others are mad pissed about the price of gas or increased inflation. It’s all they can talk about to anyone who they think might listen.

Some are pissed that Trump isn’t behind bars already where he fucking belongs.

I am looking forward to a beautiful blue tsunami in November.

Amidst all of this, life carries on for all of us.

Me and mine are in a good place, here in Wisconsin in the summertime.

Hubs and I, along with our furry pal Radar, are living in our camper in his parents yard, while we are house-hunting here in beautiful northwest Wisconsin. Our daughter and grandson are bunking inside the house, until they move into their new apartment next week.

It’s been interesting, living in such a small space. I’m thankful that it’s temporary, but having less stuff is kinda nice. It’s simple. Less to clean. Less to manage. I actually appreciate the challenge of having to organize things in this space. It really brings out my resourcefulness. It turns out that the shower in our camper can double as a closet, thanks to a simple, inexpensive shower rod (and the ability we have to use the shower indoors).

I regret all that time I spent on my computer, househunting, in the months leading up to this period of time. As if even one of the houses that piqued my interest was still going to be for sale once we got here, sorted ourselves out, and actually had the time, energy, and resources to begin the bona fide hunt.

It’s not as much fun as I remembered it being, this house hunting. It’s aggravating. It’s frought with disappointment. Like what we thought was the absolute perfect house on the Apple River, which turned out to be too rural for high speed internet (a must for Hubs to work from home). Like the house on a lake that looked spectacular online but had the weirdest layout I’ve ever seen (kitchen and dining room in the basement and oddly shaped unused space on the main level).

Hubs and I are grateful, however, to be here. We are grateful that our townhome in Colorado sold quickly and for more than the listing price. And we are determined to find our next house here. We’ve agreed that our backup plan, should we not find the right house by the end of the summer, will be to purchase a less expensive home in town, not on the waterfront, to live in for a couple of years while we work and save to buy a piece of waterfront property and build the house we really want.

Hopefully we won’t have to go that route. I mean, who wants to tack on another move after this big move? Not me. But we’ll do it if it means not spending the winter living in our camper.

We just gotta take things in stride.

At The Moment

Is it starting to feel like summer where you live? Are the kids you know and love all graduated and working towards getting ready for their next chapter? Are you eagerly anticipating the next great summer pop song?

I’m cautiously optimistic about this new life that we, as a couple, are going to craft beginning this summer, in Wisconsin.

Hubs, our good boy Radar, and I will be hitting the road in less than 24 hours.

Towing this:

Our summer home!

But for this brief moment in time (aka me trying to remember that #thistooshallpass), things in these parts are super wonky.

Examples:

There is a box of cleaning supplies sitting on top of Hubs’ office chair at this moment.

My dining room table is filled with a combination of disposable grocery bags filled with clothes that need to be put in our camper, 2 old computer monitors , recently found plastic easter eggs with jelly beans inside them (score!), and a parking ticket courtesy of the city of Denver (my bad-but hey I got it paid online just now!).

We cannot park our Tacoma in the garage any longer. It’s filled with stuff for the movers to put in their truck, stuff for the junkyard dogs to pick up, and whatnot.

But that’s the sucky part of moving, right? And it’s almost over.

Did you know that prairie dogs are plentiful in Colorado? Well, now you do!

Hubs and I will be celebrating our recent 32nd wedding anniversary on the road, as we make our way to our next (and final?) destination. To find our “forever” home, as they say. The home we will die in. Or maybe not actually physically die in. I will just say the odds are that it’ll be the house in which we reside when we take our final breaths.

Ok, that’s just dark. Sorry folks, my anxiety is showing.

Really, what Hubs and I will be doing on our cruise through the upper Midwest is a lot of talking. We collectively have some shit to process. Stuff to discuss. Ideas to share. Plans to make. Pages to get on.

But also: the two of us have this unfettered opportunity to cut loose and have some fun. Maybe try some new food and drink, discover new places to rest our heads at night, and just sort of savor the quiet.

I am trying to resist the temptation to segue into how I hope for things to turn out beyond this road trip. Once we’ve landed in small town Wisconsin and reunited with our family and old friends.

At the moment, however, I’m going to make the wise choice and live in the here and now. Give myself and Hubs the “present” of being plugged into our present.

Raise a glass with me, friends! Cheers to a happy, fun, and safe summer!

Ch Ch Ch Changes, Part Two

My first ever post on this blog was entitled “Ch Ch Ch Changes”.

I wrote it as a way to introduce myself. To share the major life transitions that led me to where I was in that particular moment of my life: unemployed and living the “empty-nester” life with Hubs in a new state.

As of April 1st of this year I again am unemployed (by choice). Because of all the things that need to be done. Addressed. Thrown out or given away. Packed.

Our move back to Wisconsin is slated for late May/early June. Between now and then, my mental and physical energy will be split between reviewing the past, savoring the present, and planning for the future.

I, along with my family, are in the throes of transition. I am a bit freaked out and searching for the balance in all of this.

Reviewing the past will include playing the “should it stay or should it go” game with all of our worldly possessions and the reminiscing this will bring about. There are countless pictures and assorted memorabilia to go through. You can no doubt expect blog posts to come out of this.

This is a good thing, because I’ve got some catching up to do. I’ve all but ignored my blog for the last couple of months. Case in point: my 5 year blogging anniversary came and went with zero fanfare.

The present: practicing self-compassion and actual mindfulness, which I now realize I’m only beginning to grasp after using it as a buzzword willy nilly in the recent past. Making memories with my daughter and grandson, as these two will not be living with us indefinitely. Come summer 2022, they will most likely be living in their own place again. Spending quality time with Kid #2, who intends to remain in Colorado while the rest of us are moving to Wisconsin.

The future: staying on top of the housing market in the area of Wisconsin we plan to settle in. Finding the house that will suit us best. One on the waterfront, large enough to host friends and family on the regular. Familiarizing myself, via the internet, with the area and getting a feel for the job market there.

Time is of the essence for me right now. I aim to use it wisely so I can avoid being overwhelmed.

Where Grandma Works

Do you remember where your Grandma worked? Did you ever get to visit her workplace?

To my knowledge, neither of my grandmothers worked outside of the home. It’s entirely possible that one or both of them at some point did work, maybe before I was born, when my parents were still children.

But to me, their only job was being “Grandma”.

One day last week, my daughter and grandson came to visit me at work for a couple of hours.

Fortunately, I work at a very kid-friendly and family-friendly place. My grandson learned the concept of volunteering. He made new friends and picked out a new blanket.

In our food pantry, Beth helped him find a variety of empty boxes to take home to build what he called a “cardboard castle”. He and his mom enjoyed some snacks.

He jumped on the trampoline while chatting with Alicia while she was vacuuming the gym floor. Later, Alicia walked him through the food pantry as if he was a customer as he picked out some food and a new violet (his favorite color) toothbrush on our hygiene rack.

He spent some time in the warehouse with Maureen, sorting through donated clothes and talking about avalanches. She told him that she was happy to make a new friend.

I overheard him as I was on my computer taking care of some admin stuff for the food pantry saying “I love to volunteer!”

It was a good day indeed. That is why I’m sharing it here today. I want to always remember it.

He will turn 8 soon. Due to his time and place in life right now, it’s so beneficial for him to interact with women. Women who are also mothers. Women who work together. Women who show each other respect and work as a team to get the job done.

My heart is full as I write this. I am full of hope for this beautiful, smart, extroverted, and sensitive boy.

At almost 55

Super self-indulgent title, right?

Yet I think it works.

Buckle up while I summarize my current status:

Tomorrow I turn 55. I don’t recall freaking out inside about my birthday since the day I turned 31 (for real). But, I accept it. What’s the alternative? There is none.

Shit, I wouldn’t want to turn back the hands of time even if I could.

While “balance” is my word for 2022, “Moving Forward” is my new mantra. Or “Progress, not Perfection”. It’s a toss up.

In that spirit, off I go.

Hubs and I’s empty nesting status has been on hiatus for the last 13 days. We are now a household of 5, for the time being. It’s nothing I want to delve into on this platform at this time. But it’s important for you to know if you’re going to stick around, because my whole world is in the most transitional period since 2014, and because I know that part of my self-care routine (I despise this overused and abused term but am in the flow and choose not to google synonyms right now) is writing these blog posts. Because it’s going to affect everything you read here from this point on to some degree or other.

I’m determined to focus on the present moment. One day at a time. While of course planning for the near future (aka our move back to Wisconsin). Along with simultaneously doing my best to wrap up the Colorado part of my path in the neatest, most colorful bow, with the exception of my talented artist kid Rabbie and Karl the cockeyed cat, who intend to remain here, work-wise and beyond.

One thing I don’t believe I have done a good job of communicating to you about on this blog is that I love numbers. I find meaning in them. I enjoy making mathematical calculations in my head. I notice numbers all the time. It’s kinda weird.

That, among other reasons, is why I’m going to simply share the Top 5 things that are making me happy these days.

  • Hearing and seeing my almost 8 year old grandson laugh at his own jokes.
  • Having the support of my employer with reducing my weekly hours.
  • Listening to books on Audible (Jen Mann’s most recent one simply spoke to me while making me laugh).
  • Witnessing the bravery of my adult children amidst life’s changes and challenges.
  • Blogging, and the fact that I feel great enthusiasm about writing on topics I haven’t covered in the almost 5 years since I started this blog. The primary topic I’m feeling now is under the umbrella of “Work”.

This song is dedicated to my kids. I think you might like it too.

Recovering, Reflecting, Revealing

Since my last post, I’ve been gradually recovering from the chaos that was December 2021.

Anyone else?

I’ve also been reflecting a lot lately. Reflecting on my recent past as a blogger, my current work life, and what I’ve learned and accomplished, not only in 2021, but since moving to Colorado with Hubs in 2016.

I am in a better frame of mind than I was when I wrote the last post of 2021. Time and the quiet space of my home have made that possible.

Checking some major things off my “to do” list at work has also made that possible. Grant submitted. Inventory done.

I guess you could say that right now, I’m breathing a long sigh of relief.

Lucy Relief GIF - Lucy Relief Pfew GIFs

And I’m ready to begin to share in this space what I’ve learned so far: as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result of living, loving, and working in Colorado since 2016. As a result of parenting adults and being someone’s grandma. As a result of the meaningful friendships I’ve had (and still have) in my life. As a result of this being the year in which I turn 55.

Not to be dramatic or anything.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go into all of that right here and now. I think it’s safe to say that I’ll get into it when I get into it. In 2022.

Because I have had a big old pin in something I’ve wanted to tell you all for the last couple of months.

If I was going to be dramatic and ridiculous here, I would show you this image before I spat out what it is that is housing (ha ha) the pin. Was that a pun?

Coffee Breaking News GIF - Coffee Breaking News - Discover & Share GIFs

Okay, so here it is:

I’m certain that for at least part of this year I will reside in Colorado. I will have a new zip code before the end of 2022. The license plates on the truck will be changing.

You get where I’m going with this?

Yes, of course you do. I know you all are not morons.

Hubs and I are moving. Our time in the great state of Colorado will come to, what feels to me, while not entirely pleasant and actually sad in some important ways, a natural end.

In 2022. To either Minnesota or Wisconsin; closer to both of our families and life-long friends. We are making some updates to our town home here, selling it and heading north.

So that’s my big news. I couldn’t just write a regular old post this week and ignore this major life decision I was holding in.

I’m going to buckle up, and if I was going to be dramatic, I’d tell you, as a reader, that you may want to as well.

2022 is bound to be quite a trip.

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.