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.
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.
I’ve been focusing more these days on home improvement and home decor. Hubs and I are planning some pretty major upgrades for our town home, which will, hopefully, be completed before Thanksgiving. New carpet is going in first, sometime next month.
I’ve got a lot of words on my walls. I may have overdone it. I think, being a 54 year old white woman from the Midwest, having so many pieces of “words as art” on my walls might make me a cliche. At the very least, I ought not to buy any more.
That by no means is me declaring that I don’t on some level enjoy each and every one of my word/art “pieces”. But I also wouldn’t want to fuck up the other scenery inside our empty nest. Overwhelm our space with words which would, no doubt over time, diminish their meanings.
How about you all? You’ve got words adorning your walls in the name of art, right? Perhaps it’s just an American thing? I wonder about that.
I think it all started with the small framed piece of art I bought at one of those home decor parties I attended when we lived in Wisconsin, probably in about 2002. It has the word “Faith” emboldened on it. I felt a bit obligated to purchase something (you know how that goes, right folks?). Seeing it on our wall was a good reminder for me at the time, what with the challenges of raising two kids with Hubs, working full time as a case manager, and managing the stress/anxiety that accompanied those roles. It now lives on the wall above our town home’s staircase. I probably don’t take note of it as much as I should.
One of my most recent “word art” acquisitions was found on Etsy. It’s a slim piece of wood with the words “Everything is Figureoutable” on it. It’s cute, though perhaps overly optimistic. But I like it just the same. It sits on a buffet table in our dining area, in front a lovely plant and next to pictures of our kids and our grandson.
Then there’s the also made-of-wood but glittered up word “Peace” that sits above the gas fireplace in our living room. I bought it at TJ Maxx a few years ago, when I was searching for new Christmas decor. I haven’t been able to bring myself to take it down since. It’s a pretty reminder of my desire to maintain peace within my home. As well as a reminder that outside of these walls, peace is something that is sorely needed and something I must actively cultivate.
In this post, I wrote about the funky sign my dad, Babe, hung in his beloved garage for years. For the longest time, I had it hanging beneath my vision board in our home office. Now that this is Hubs space as he’s working from home full time (and likely for the remainder of his career), I needed to find a new place for it. It’s now hanging downstairs on the wall across from our half bath. I think the words will be a comfort to visiting guests after using the facilities.
Speaking of my vision board, it’s now hanging above my small Ikea dresser in our walk-in closet. It’s a good place for it; however, it needs some new words and/or phrases. Probably another inspiring image or two. Nothing new has been added to it for probably 2 years. I must get on that soon.
But of course I have the “Live, Laugh, Love” phrase on my walls. My sister Kelly gifted that to me several years ago. I guess I wouldn’t be a “words on the wall” kinda gal if these words were not present somewhere in my home, right?
I look forward to hearing about your own (or your take on-maybe that’d be even more fun?) “words on the wall”.
In the meantime, enjoy this little ditty:
***Header image courtesy of yours truly. It might be my favorite . It’s the first one you see when you walk in our front door***
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?
My “Kindness Jar”, which I wrote about here, ended up being a bust in 2018. Don’t ask me why. It’s not because I stopped noticing the kindness of others around me, or because I did nothing kind for anyone at all this past year. I guess I just lost interest in documenting all the kindnesses. It started to feel like I was just repeating what I had done the previous year with my “Happiness Jar” (same jar).
So in mid 2018, I just stopped doing it. And truthfully, I hadn’t given my old jar much thought since then.
However, on New Year’s Eve, as Hubs and I were sprawled out on the couch binge-watching Netflix (OMG-you must watch Black Mirror), feeling a little buzzed on craft beer, we began talking about what could be lying ahead for us in 2019. Hubs declared that the word for 2019, the word that would be mantra for the year as we plunge into our 29th year of marriage would be this: Adventure.
Now, that got me excited. So excited that I was prompted to come up with a new use for my old jar. In 2019, it’s going to be referred to as the “Adventure Jar”.
This is not to say that we are going to write down an adventure we had each and every day. That would be ridiculous. And likely disappointing.
Instead, we are going to individually jot down, when the moment strikes, one small (or big) “adventure” to pursue in 2019. As I told Hubs, the “adventure” need not be anything huge. Or costly. Or terribly time-consuming. It could be anything from “let’s go for a hike somewhere we haven’t been before”, “let’s try that new restaurant”,”let’s write a blog post together”, or “let’s visit the Sand Dunes in Moab”. Simple, doable, new-to-us experiences.
The only real requirement of this plan, as I told Hubs, is that whatever the chosen “adventure” is, it has to be something that we have not yet done as a couple. Something new.
Then, on perhaps a weekly or at least monthly basis, we will pluck one of our little notes out of the jar, then proceed towards the chosen adventure.
We started living out our “adventure” mantra this past weekend, in fact. As we did nothing of any real interest during the Christmas holidays, and on account of Hubs being furloughed (because of a stupid wall no one really wants besides that big dummy in the White House) and him being stuck at home every day essentially since 12/22, we decided to go on an overnight adventure.
In the spirit of being adventurous, I approved Hubs’ suggestion that he could do all the packing. That way, he could simply pick me up from work promptly at 2 p.m. on Friday (have I mentioned how much I love my part time hours??) and we could be merrily on our way.
This was indeed an exercise in trust.
Now, this blog is called “Pollyanna’s Path” and I do endeavor to exhibit as well as inspire a positive outlook, so all I’m going to say about the whole packing thing is on a scale of 1-100, Hubs got a solid 80. I’m not entirely certain that in the future I would be quite as willing to trust his ability to remember every essential thing (essential according to me that is) I need to go from looking like a troll doll when I wake up to looking like a reasonably decent member of polite society. But we’ll see.
Okay, so we drove 1 hour away to Idaho Springs, Colorado. The primary point of us going to this specific locale was to enjoy some time soaking here. We did that on Saturday. It was soooo relaxing. And serene. And comforting. And romantic (despite the 50 + people of all ages, genders and nationalities frolicking in the warm, soothing water all around us).
On Friday night, we stayed at this sweet little B&B. It was cozy, the bed was comfortable and breakfast on Saturday morning was quite a treat. An unexpected added bonus was the chit-chat we had with the other two married couples over this breakfast of quiche, hashbrowns, ham, and toast with homemade jam. They were all close in age to Hubs and I. They all had grown children. They were also seemingly hungry for adventure, just like us. We chatted about places in Colorado the couple from California could see before they had to fly home on Sunday. We chatted about having grown ass adult “kids” and how things are different for today’s millennials than back when we were in our 20’s. We talked about the legalization of weed (general consensus: alcohol is far more dangerous in our society than weed ever could be).
During our convo with these other couples, I was told that I look like Jamie Lee Curtis. Hubs was told he bears a striking resemblance to this guy:
The ironic thing is, Hubs and I recently caught the movie “Vice” (I give it mixed reviews) and started getting into “Black Mirror” (mentioned above) and this particular actor, Jesse Plemmons, was in both of them (and of course in the movie “Game Night”-pictured above-which we really enjoyed). Upon seeing the first episode of “Black Mirror” I told Hubs that this guy looks like he could be his younger brother. His less-good-looking-than him younger brother, of course.
We also enjoyed a nice, “neat”, glass of whiskey at a local bar in Idaho Springs. And we couldn’t leave the place without scarfing down some awesome “Colorado style” pizza at the original Beaujou’s. They have a bottle of honey on each table to dip your crust into to enjoy as a little dessert.
This little getaway was very refreshing and re-energizing for both of us. I’m looking forward to more adventures with Hubs as this year goes on.
What’s in your “jar” for 2019? Or maybe you have a special word, as Hubs and I now do, to guide you through this new year? Please share in the comments!
This could just as well be called the “Where I’m at” post.
This is the post I’m writing just in case I don’t manage to get my act together and create a new post to publish on Wednesday centered on one specific topic.
Because I have company coming soon.
The company that is coming is my dear sister in law, my husband’s one and only sister.
Because I’m also working this week (one only gets so much paid vacation as a part timer) and I’m determined to make my sister in law’s Colorado vacay as awesome as can be, I’ve been in a bit of a mad rush these last couple of days planning meals and activities for us to enjoy together this week.
Bottom line-publishing a blog post is not quite as high on my list of priorities at this particular moment in time.
Please know that I am not complaining. This planning and hosting people we love coming from hither and yon in our empty nest is totally my jam.
I’ve got a ton of draft posts started, which have largely been inspired by interacting in my new bloggers group on Facebook (shout out to Gin and Lemonade blogger’s group!). One is a movie review. Another is about food. Another is a funny anecdote about my mom. It’s a toss up as to what I will actually publish next.
But truthfully, you probably won’t see any of these posts this week. Because I will be too busy enjoying catching up with Miss Mary, showing her the sites (likely many of which neither Hubs or I have not yet seen), and of course, working.
Merry Christmas, one and all! ‘Tis the season to reflect on Christmases past, enjoy Christmas present, and dream a bit about Christmas future.
Every single Christmas during my childhood, I watched as my mom sprayed the (always real) Christmas tree with noxious white spray from a can. Lord only knows how many of her children’s brain cells were unknowingly killed over the years. But the tree always looked spectacular.
Opening presents on Christmas Eve: Everyone at the same time. It was sheer, giddy, joyful, chaos.
Flash forward to my first Christmas with my in-laws, about 16 years later: Opening presents on Christmas morning. One person, one gift, at a time. This process took what felt like hours upon hours (that first year anyway). Especially with several in-laws who chose to open their gifts carefully to preserve the beautiful gift wrapping for future Christmases.
The funny thing about this, however, is that in the following years, on those Christmases when it was just the four of us at home (Hubs, me, and our two spawn), we chose to continue the Christmas morning gift opening, with one of playing “Santa”, tearing into each gift, one family member at a time.
Then there was that one Christmas spent at my in laws (about 2007?), who were living in Iowa at the time, where we all gathered around the Christmas tree and listened to the tapes of Hubs and his younger sister that had been produced when they were kids for their grandparents who lived in Florida. Hubs and his sister told stories about what they were into at the time, like 4-H club and horses. Listening to these tapes gave me precious insight into their childhoods and made me feel like a member of the Davis tribe. And we howled with laughter the whole time.
Christmas Present: Now we are two empty nesters winging it in a new state. Things are simpler, quieter, now. But we will make the very best of it nonetheless. We will be watching Christmas movies, making and eating high carb foods (we are currently in the throes of decimating a roasting pan of homemade Chex Mix) and (yahoo!) going out to the movies and out for dinner. And of course, missing our kiddos. And our almost 4 year old grandson. Like crazy.
Christmas Future: We will be warm and cozy together in our cabin in the woods. There will be lots of Christmas lights inside and out. Christmas music will play softly in the background. Every family member, young and old, will be there that can be there, God willing. Our two dogs, one a little pipsqueak mutt and the other a black lab, will greet guests upon their arrival. There will be good cheer and laughter, catching up, playing games. Ice cream drinks and hot toddies and lots of fun appetizers will be served. As a group, we will watch Christmas Vacation. And later, travel into town in a caravan of cars to see all the holiday lights. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? I’d say I can’t wait, but that would take away from enjoying Christmas present.
I hope that each and every one of you have the merriest of Christmases!
Long gone are the days when my friends and I would gleefully skip/run through our small Minnesota town on a chilly Halloween evening, unencumbered by parents, fueled by sugar with the promise of more to come.
Also gone are the days in which Hubs and I would guide our spawn in choosing the perfect costumes at our local Goodwill store and hide all the candy we bought perhaps much too early (in my defense, as the chief candy buyer in the household, I didn’t want to wait too late and end up having the lame choice between those awful peanut butter kiss taffy things or a bag of apples). I was simply not willing to tarnish my reputation as the bestest chocolate giver-outer of our neighborhood.
Now my reality is I have a 3 year old grandson in Wisconsin who, depending on the day, either wishes to be a “Doctor Fish” or have 5 different Halloween costumes. I sincerely wish my daughter the best of luck with this.
Times, as they say, have changed. Now parents escort their youngins from house to house in their neighborhoods though the especially smart ones take their costumed kiddos to the “better” neighborhoods to ensure the highest quality and quantity of candy possible. But as merely a middle aged, empty nester observer, it appears to me that a large chunk of parents these days choose instead to cart their kids to the nearest mall, church, or grocery store not on Halloween, but the Saturday before because it is simpler. More convenient.
I must say that I think that’s a little sad. Don’t you?
I do get it though. Times are different now. Thanks to the inundation of horrifying news stories about unimaginable harm being inflicted upon children these days, we are all more skeptical about engaging with strangers. On top of that, parents of little ones are often working their tails off to pay the bills while simultaneously doing their best to ensure their kids are not only safe but also participating in activities that will give them the most well rounded childhood experiences possible.
That said, it is completely understandable that creating the perfect Halloween experience for one’s offspring is not necessarily at the top of present day parents priority lists. But it is still a bit of a bummer, isn’t it?
So in honor of those good ‘ol days when we knew and trusted our neighbors enough to enter their homes and accept their sugary offerings on that one magical night of the year, and our moms had time and energy (because we were all playing outside after school instead of being shuttled to and fro-to dance lessons, piano practice, soccer games and the like) to make our Halloween costumes, I present to you pictures from Halloween’s past.
Pumpkin desserts…mmmm. I have collected a good number of recipes for delectable pumpkin treats over the years. Like pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin pie cake, and pumpkin ice cream dessert. The one I’ll be making this week, in honor of my sister and brother in law coming to visit us in Colorado for the first time ever, is Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt cake. I’m more than happy to share any or all of these recipes. All you have to do is ask!
Beautiful fall colors outside. The colors of the changing leaves this season to me are breathtaking. I imagine when Hubs and I are old and gray grayer we will be one of those couples who takes a vacay out East to marvel at the spectacular fall foliage there.
Premieres of my favorite t.v. shows. After a summer of ho-hum t.v. viewing, I embrace the fall t.v. season. This is Us premieres tonight (btw, am so happy that Sterling K. Brown won the best actor emmy. His character is the heart of this show). The Good Place, Hubs and my favorite new show from last fall, has already premiered and it continues to be the most awesome show since like, ever. Then there’s Scandal, which sadly is on its last season. I can’t wait to see how Olivia Pope is going to behave sans white hat. You gladiators know what I’m talking about. And good old Grey’s Anatomy, one of my all time favorites. I sure hope the writers finally wind up the love story between Alex and Jo once and for all.
Halloween!!! After approximately 18 years of having a kid-focused Halloween (aka going back and forth ad nauseum with our spawn about what freaking costume they want and hiding candy that I bought too early that was always found and mostly consumed before the big day), Hubs and I have re-claimed this holiday for ourselves. Last year, we dressed up as Walter White and Jesse from Breaking Bad. Picture will not be made available. Complete with fake blue crystal meth (Hubs, being a scientist, relished the opportunity to create this product). This year, I’m thinking either Samantha and Darren from Bewitched because I tend to have witchy tendencies and he is a great straight man of course. Or Peg and Al Bundy from Married With Children though I’m not sure I can pull off spandex pants in public.
The cool air in the house as I’m sleeping. Nothing says “Nighty Night, Sleep Tight” to me than breathing in the cool air from our bedroom window while spooning with Hubs under soft, freshly laundered bedding.
Nesting. The cool chill in the air makes me go inward. As in, I crave the creature comforts of home right now more than any other time of year. I tend to come up with totally awesome home improvement/decorating ideas this time of year, often to the chagrin of Hubs. I get a huge kick out of going through boxes of fall themed home decor items which Hubs lovingly refers to as either crap or junk, depending on his mood. I am pleased to report, however, that last weekend he and I started a kitchen pantry re-organizing project which has weirdly filled me with glee.
Talk show Halloween hijinks or pranks. I discovered these on You Tube a couple of years ago. Here’s a sample:
Vikings football. Until about 3 years ago, I could not have cared less about football. While Hubs has been a huge Vikings fan all his lifelong life, I essentially focused on making and/or eating football fare like chips and dip, little smokies, and pumpkin bars instead of trying to follow what I believed to be a hopelessly confusing and complicated sport. After a couple of seasons of focus and patience, I now have a good rudimentary understanding of the game. I even found that it is possible, heck even enjoyable, to cheer on our home state’s team while simultaneously snacking my heart out.
Fall clothes. Oh, comfy, cozy, soft sweaters. And fleece! Lovely colors to wear like plum, burgundy, gray, and the always flattering black. With the temps rapidly falling here in Colorado, I’ll be bringing my fall pieces out in no time.
Getting company. For several years now, fall has signaled a flurry of guests coming to visit us, whether we lived here or in Wisconsin. My sister and three of her best girlfriends would come to Wisconsin for a 2 day girls trip during which we would stay in a hotel in downtown La Crosse, and get our fill of shopping at the local boutiques and shops during the day and slurp down our favorite adult beverages while scarfing down appetizers at nearby restaurant/bars in the evenings. Friends or other family often come to visit during the fall as well, to celebrate Oktoberfest (which is a La Crosse, Wisconsin annual several day long party, complete with lederhosen and plenty of beer infused revelry).
Since I don’t happen to own any livestock, this word has a different meaning for me.
Fodder is indeed raw material for my creative writing.
It’s kind of like Kettle corn, hot and fresh, right out of that big black pot, for me anyway. I can’t ever have enough of it.
My goal every day is to keep my fodder radar at the highest level possible. This requires me to be present, in the moment which is a gift unto itself. Sometimes the fodder is crap, when I start thinking about how I can use it to pen a great post. Other times it will spark a new idea, something unexpected. That’s when writing is especially enjoyable.