Posted in Celebration, Life, My story

A Birthday – come and gone

Birthday Week has come and gone and overall this year has been a lot kinder to my heart. Somehow I took to heart your good advice and wishes for me to enjoy my special day, knowing that Mom would want me to, while cheering me on from above. There were moments of silence, of remembrance, of reminiscing, of missing her and wishing that I could call and hear her voice one more time. Thank goodness for the other recorded bits on the phone, still a far cry from the real thing. Yet I’m grateful to have those, although I am playing them less and less, not because I’ve forgotten and the need is no longer here, but perhaps until I reach the point where they don’t feel like daggers and inflict pain and self torture. I’m not sure if that day will come when I can listen to them and just smile.

It was a quiet day, peaceful, with many reaching out to wish me a happy birthday. I guess even a few “how old are you, are you single, I’d date you proposals” came through as well. I suppose I should feel flattered about them at my age lol. But instead I felt more surprised how direct and not beating around the bush at all these approaches have become. Just saying…and I suppose it’s the new face of social media. It has become a dating platform.

The day started with a surprise FaceTime call from my cousin in Germany. Despite a fuzzy picture and the connection cutting out, it was wonderful to see each other and to say Hi. Even more special since we were both smiling face to face after her telling me how important it was to her to reach me. It was a priority for her and it made my day. Breakfast waffles with fruit and Greek yogurt followed to start the day. Add a little drive in the country, ending up at a peaceful lake/reservoir, spread out under a large blanket after a short hike with Cinnamon, and the day was perfect. Even the weather Gods meant well and spared me the heat with more comfortable, a few degrees less temperatures. Needless to say it felt good and I enjoyed the little break. Besides a few pesky critters and something always seems to bite me. Blame my rare sweet blood type for it and this is why happens when you are too sweet, ha.

On the horizon was cleverly visible the big large plum of one of the two wildfires near me. So close to me, so far I have been lucky that the fires moved away from me vs towards me. Thank the winds for it and may it stay this way.

Driving over the large Dam wall we spotted that water was being released and it looked so powerful and like something you just don’t see every day. Cinnamon wasn’t tired anyways and up for another short walk, so we strolled down to the base of the wall where I captured this panorama picture. You’d think the walls would break any minute under the pressure of this powerful water release. It made the water look like white foam, shooting way up and down the River. I got pretty close and felt the misting. Had I not had Cinnamon with me, I would have stayed longer, maybe even ventured closer, but I was afraid of her falling in on the slippery rock. Either way this release was kind of symbolic for me, releasing the pressures of the past days, the fear of birthday week, and some other things I’ve been working on. The night concluded with a simple yet very tasty dinner, a bottle of Mike’s hard lemonade and just letting the day come to a peaceful ending. Not too bad at all and I know a foundation was laid to hopefully build on in upcoming years.

Posted in Inspiration, Life, My story, simple pleasures

A new level of simplicity

I once had what many would consider “All.” The white picket fence, a house, multiple toys such as cars and a motorcycle, even the successful career and financial independence. I had it all, but in reality I had nothing but loneliness and increased responsibility. I chased false ideals, instilled with the values of others, in the pursuit of filling a void, of doing my part to contribute and live up to my duties and obligations. After all, wasn’t life and success measured by such standards? Wasn’t it ultimately required to gain status which in return would bring acceptance from society. Wouldn’t your worth be determined by your achievements in material bliss?

After many years of fulfilling these ideals that were never mine to begin with, I started to uncover layer by layer, peeling back, simplifying my life in the pursuit of true and satisfactory meaning. Not the satisfaction of others, but the satisfaction and bliss of my own. It took courage but I can truly say that it was me making those changes. That it was me in charge. Changes that spanned over many years, but changes that made a difference over time and ultimately led to this point.

It started with becoming my best friend and caring about myself in a way I never had before. Society teaches us that we are selfish when we look after ourselves and too often we feel the pressure to put ourselves last. It took time to shed those beliefs and to muster the courage for a self love of the deepest care. I overcame the fear of being judged, misunderstood, and categorized. How you wonder did I do this? It wasn’t that hard once you realize that those things are not in your control anyways and happen regardless.

Life started to simplify once I’ve left the hectic retail management career behind. Not initially but eventually and I adjusted to a lesser income and also needing less, although the mortgage and the house represented a huge challenge. Material possessions started to lose their value and I realized that I simply had too much of a good thing and that those things didn’t make me happy. All those things that once earned status did nothing more than weigh me down in way that it felt like I was carrying a huge burden that was threatening to crush me.

Then there was still the matter of where I belong to and being torn between two countries. I had fought this battle with my estranged mother for nearly 30 years while she was alive. And what about my marriage that for the past 20 years was merely existing on paper, as roommates, sharing obligations and responsibilities! A failure that had to be faced. A love once close as best friends but now lost and history.

I continued to simplify my life in whichever way I could. I simply felt called to do so even if I didn’t have all the answers or knew how the story was going to develop. I was on my way to becoming a minimalist. Every possession had to hold value and meaning, it had to bring joy, otherwise it wasn’t needed. Slowly but surely I eliminated everything I used to cling to. Everything I had worked for all my life.

In the end, the house was sold, including one of my cars and my motorcycle. “Stuff” was donated or garage sale’d for a fraction of their worth and value. My life was summarized with a few pieces of furniture and around 60 boxes which a huge part was my crafting supplies for my Etsy products. A 24ft travel trailer would become my temporary but current home, teaching me to simplify at new levels. Thank goodness the process had started already and I wasn’t a total newcomer to it. Prior efforts would come in handy and prove themselves as useful.

These days most of my garments would be washed with the delicate cycle, meaning that I would wash them by hand, stringing them to dry on a clothing line behind the trailer, I called my backyard space. Old fashioned and like Mom used to do. I took comfort and offset the lost luxury of a washing machine by buying the best smelling laundry detergent I could find. I loved it and it even was soothing to my hands to work the suds. The wring cycle was a different story and I had to strain getting my hands to do the task. Yet I took comfort in the simple life although someone else could have easily labeled it a harder life. These days I was lugging water instead of getting it filtered out of the refrigerator. Cleaning the tiny abode was a breeze, but some spaces were absolutely tiny and required to step sideways around the bed when fixing the sheets. The fridge was on the small side too, but luckily I’ve always enjoyed playing Tetris and I was good at making things fit.

Life simplified day by day, stripped off modern conveniences, but happier and more fulfilled. And I was lucky to be in a place where others truly cared about each other. Having a neighbor drive by while being outside, asking if I needed anything from the store was a new one for me. How many years had I lived in my house and barely knowing anything about my neighbors that seemed to flee at the sight of anyone to avoid any chat or conversation.

I brought a jar of my Dragons-Blood elixir (Elderberry syrup) to one of my neighbors, an older lady, living by herself. Like me she is into holistic healing and a natural approach to balance deficiencies. She was so delighted and grateful, showed me her small herb garden and finally sent me on my way with a hand full of organic herbs. Some of which I used to cook and spice my meal that evening, adding the most amazing flavor to my meal. Later that evening I was still thinking about the kindness and the two gestures I had encountered. I remembered walking home, holding the herbs tight as to not lose a single stem. I felt emotional from a bunch herbs and I carried them as if they were my greatest treasure. Faith in humanity was restored and those simply acts made all the difference for me. Would somebody understood if I told them, or would they think that I have completely lost it? Would they understand the excitement about thunder and rain, to listen to it hit the metal roof? Could someone envision the joy derived from it? I contemplated the outcome for a moment, smiled, and nodded knowing it truly wouldn’t matter one way or another. This was my moment, something that had meaning to me and it didn’t require to be understood nor approved by others. It was simplicity at new levels that filled my heart, and this time was about me and only me.

Posted in Inspiration, Life, My story

Next phase loading

Looking back it’s clear as day that I have gone through a few phases over the past couple of months, perhaps all of my life, but then…don’t we all? For a long time it was a scary phase, a stifled environment that shifted to an almost panic phase. Next came a survival phase just making it through each day, fighting, arguing, just doing what was needed while trying to keep inspired and positive. It was a phase of merely living and my purpose was found in the outlet of writing and my creative endeavors such as my Etsy store Youniqua, which is not offering any products at this time. Each phase could easily be divided into several sub-categories that brought each their own set of emotions and feelings. But I knew that this too would pass and not last forever. In fact I had been here before, at an earlier time, during my first adulthood that held the values and morals society and my parents had taught me.

Leaving it behind me, I was looking forward to the next category, the next phase, perhaps once learned and lived, but at a different level with new insight. It had it’s place then and was important already, but it’ll be magnificent in what was lying ahead as another layer was shedding. Perhaps there was more shedding’s to come, each increasing in value, understanding and meaning, who knew. I was ok with it, actually looking forward to it, and each layer allowed me to see a little more of my true self. For the time being, life was holding a different magnitude, with more experiences, more wisdom and knowledge to feel it all. New adventures were around the corner, new experiences and new freedoms not previously experienced. Once again I was looking to the tail end of the phase when it all comes together, when you feel that you have entered a threshold of being truly alive vs just living and existing. The difference is indescribable and has to be experienced to be understood.

Posted in Life, My story

Adjustments, wins and losses

Over three weeks have passed since I moved and adjustments, wins and losses came in all shapes and sizes. Luckily the losses were at a minimum and perhaps couldn’t even be called a loss. I knew that in actuality they were gifts and just another form of adjustment.

Life had taken on a much slower pace and if you looked at my step count for the day and weeks, reminders would flash most daily that there was still time to get more steps in. I didn’t care, I was more concerned with listening to my body, and even the pressure of meeting my daily quota fell to the wayside. Good or bad, too little or too much, who knows…I just went with the flow and looked at it as a chance for my body to recover from the strenuous months I had put it through. The Metatarsalgia was not causing any issues as I was wearing wide, loose and open shoes mostly. Even the calcium deposits on injured joints such as my big toe and both elbows were receding and not as pronounced anymore. Not that I’ve been walking on elbows, but some stress some pressure had been reduced and I was healing in that sense.

I was back on over the counter meds to manage the pain body, and perhaps that had something to do with it as well. Slowly the tension relaxed and to some degree a new life quality was infused even if meds are not my choice of drug. I could comb my hair, even put it up in a ponytail. Dressing was not as painful and manageable. I knew that for the time being I needed them and “temporary” was my key focus in the matter. Now if it could only cool off a bit.

I quickly learned that it was best to cook in the mornings and enjoy a lunch, vs cooking in the evening, adding more heat to the already toasty tiny abode. I could just run the air conditioning, but even here I reduced my footprint and my use on the environment, turning it on only when I really needed to. A $39 electric bill were the fruits of my labor and I know the next one will be higher. This concept would have to be revisited, because my “need to” threshold was causing a borderline suffering through the heat. But in fact, I cooked when I felt like it and enjoyed plenty of fresh salads in between. I had enough groceries to sustain me, besides the perishables like salad and veggies.

Due to the heat I postponed my trip into town for replenishment, knowing Cinnamon would have a hard time with the heat as well. So far I had met my husband each time I went to town, so he could watch her and provide an air conditioned environment in the car for her. “I missed you guys” he said the first two times we met after the move, but by now, even for him life was settling in anew, perhaps with the realization that life was moving on, without me, which seemed at some point impossible to grasp for me, but now he did just fine. Life wasn’t all that bad with a gained freedom. Actually life was good and life without me wasn’t the end of the world but a new opportunity, and a new beginning. I think he was finally coming to enjoy his freedom.

By now he purchased a new home, paid it with cash from the proceeds of our other house, which mainly went all to him. Talking to him, I perceived it as fun to go shopping for a new couch, a new dining set and other needed things to furnish the new castle, although he never fully admitted to it. It wasn’t something to share with me. He was never good with money, but always great with blowing through it quickly. Perhaps it was what I said in the end, telling him to be smart with his money, that he had the opportunity to retire and never having to work for someone else again. Either way, the sale on his new house would closed this week, he has taken procession, and the movers were scheduled. Less than a month ago, items were placed into storage and now he was preparing to move them once more. At least his share of boxes and furniture. Mine would remain there for quite a bit longer, at least until spring of next year. There was a time when he was unsure of where he would settle, always talking about moving south, and in all actuality I was a little surprised that he decided to stay. Perhaps it was fear of being to far away, alone, knowing that if he called I’d come to help him in any way. Well, mostly in any way. Now, with having a local second parent, joint custody for Cinnamon finally became a possibility, and we were getting along well enough to help each other wherever possible. At least for now.

I was getting ready to shop and explore plane tickets to Germany. It left me feeling with mixed emotions, not ready physically and on the health front, about mandatory Covid vaccination standards and about what was waiting ahead of me, dissolving a household, a home of three generations and a ton of work all over again, including another deadline of getting it done. Pressure and stress, the enemy to my existence and contributor of inflammation and pain. I was yet to weak to go into this endeavor with full gusto. Maybe next week will look better.

Posted in Life, My story, Purpose driven

Soulcraft

An excerpt from the book I’m currently reading, called Soulcraft by Bill Plotkin. I have only started it but it’s said to be a survival guide for the wild soul at the heart of our civilized life. It sounds perfect and definitely perfect timing.

Many people industrialized cultures of western civilization recognize that a fulfilling life is not about superfluous economic advancement, that modest amounts of security and comfort serve adequately as foundation for a creative and soul-stirring life, and that each of us can bring a unique gift to the world, a world desperately in need of the socially transforming contributions of initiated, actively engaged adults. I hear the world itself calling for a Renaissance of the human soul or, as James Hillman says, for a psyche the size of the earth.

Posted in Awareness, My story

Again and again

It was the day after realizing, again, that my pain might come from trapped emotions and unprocessed feelings. How many times had I been here before, in the same situation, with the same epiphany, and yet every time seemed new, like it required some discovery period, finally arriving at that same conclusion. It wasn’t a given, nor was it something already learned, something organic, something that had baked in over time. No, each time was as if the previous times didn’t existed and I was stumbling into the same “aha moment” as if it was for the first time.

Anyways, it was the day after again and it felt like I was turning the corner once more. Perhaps, it’s far to soon to tell if it was really so and the rational mind tries to analyze it and throw doubt into the equation, but for the moment it was enough to marvel in the feeling of seeing a slight improvement. Just a little relief was all that was needed. A night that appeared to be a little less pain stricken. A morning that made it just a tad easier to comb my hair and to get about my basic tasks such as dressing. It was enough to fuel a little spark of hope, of willpower and determination to fight this battle for remission once more. But boy was I getting tired of being strong and fighting, period, no matter what required strengths and a fight. I wished for nothing in my life that required a fight, but for acceptance and just a way to be for awhile.

It would be unbearable hot for the next couple of days, and both Cinnamon and I struggled with the heat. The time had finally come, and avoiding the air conditioner would not be possible any longer. We did something completely new to us this morning and rested. We conserved energy and even got a nap in before noon. How long has it been, I don’t even remember! Later when it’s too hot to be inside, we’d make a run for the lake to cool off a bit and let Cinnamon burn off some energy, giving us both the opportunity to stretch our legs.

A new neighbor arrived at the park again, spending a short vacation and a few days off in the area. Quite a few have come and gone by now, but in my quarters, at the top, it seems like the permanent residents reside. The pirate flag is up and flying, kicking convention to the corner, rebelling against chronic diseases, defying the odds and questioning what is normal these days. It seems to have gotten the approval from at least one neighbor who gave an enthusiastic thumbs up, voicing that she likes it the first time it took its flight.

Posted in Base Camp, My story, Tiny Home

The new backyard

We got out a little today and stopped at our usual wifi hotspot after Cinnamon took a dip and ran like a mad dog up and down the beach. I was reluctant but took a leap of faith, trusting her, taking her off the leash. She had a lot fun and burned off some energy.

After a rough, sleepless first night in our new home, freezing temps outside, boxes everywhere, the heater not working due to the gas being turned off which was discovered later, a run to the storage shed the next day to dig out the heating blanket, we are ok and had a much better second night. Things are coming along. The boxes are getting fewer and we finally can move a bit. I can finally cook something other than microwave a can of soup. The outside area behind the trailer is turning into a nice little oasis, and we are settling in nicely. I promise to show pictures soon.

Posted in Challenges, Chronic illness, My story

Tangled up mess

I am planning to make weekly trips into town, for groceries, perhaps laundry, check the PO Box, the storage shed, and anything else that needs to be tended to. Such a trip is coming up for me on Wednesday, one week after our initial move.

We signed the final papers for the house the Tuesday before. Wednesday we vacated the house, and a final walk through with the buyers was scheduled later that day. Not that we had to be present during that time, but we were aware of it of course. Thursday morning we signed off that the house was accepted and all contingencies have been met. Our checks (separate checks from the house sale) would be ready by 2PM and I had to come back to sign, accept and deposit the check. Well it happened to be that there was no two separate checks, and the check was issued to both of us. Surprise, surprise, despite filling out a form about the proceeds division. Needless to say the entire check was deposited into my husbands account after we both signed it. With a two day hold nothing would be done until after the weekend. So here we were trying to figure out how to get me my money and bypassing the daily max of $2500 that can be transferred. A cashiers check it would have to be and I hope to deposit it next week during my regular trip.

In the meantime, the husband had found a house already and made an offer on it. I truly hope it works out for him and the offer is accepted. It sounded like a nice place for him with the potential of Cinnamon staying over, especially when I have to go to Germany. That would be a big load off of my back knowing she is taken care of and with someone she knows. As far as for him, I’m truly happy and hope this place can give purpose and a new outlook in life. Either way my fingers are crossed and I hope for the best.

Posted in Base Camp, My story

The first home cooked meal

Things are heating up, literally, in more than one way. The first home cooked meal has been prepared and went to Cinnamon, a slice of liver, one of her favorites. She was excited to say the least, barking while I was cooking it, standing up next to me, trying to get a glimpse of that wonderful aroma she was already smelling. As for myself, I have yet to prepare a substantial meal and my diet consists of cereal, some fruit, and a salad at night.

Outside it’s getting hot and it makes working inside the trailer difficult. I imagine we will have to run the AC for awhile. Luckily there is only one box left to unpack which I am extremely happy about. I even managed to repack two boxes of stuff I think I can do without for now. I did mention that I brought too much clothes didn’t I! But everything is slowly finding its home, although I imagine I rearrange a few more times until it’s the way I want it and most functional. As long as everything is put up and for now I’m looking forward to that being the main goal.

Sleeping remains to be an issue and I wake up every hour wincing in pain. At first I thought it was the thin RV mattress so I added memory foam. It’s not as lumpy, but not very supportive either. The pain reminds me of my initial bout with RA and I hope better times are around the corner once more. It wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve sent it into remission. I just need a break, a few lazy days, but with a furbaby this idea becomes challenging. For now and until everything is in place anti inflammatory meds will have to be my aid. You know I’m not a fan of it, but looking at it as a temporary solution will help.

Posted in Base Camp, My story

Creating Expedition Base-Camp

I’ve been working hard to create a place of zen where I can be comfortable and at peace. It’s a bit of a challenge when 10+ boxes (there were even more originally) are crammed into a 24ft new space. It’s an adjustment coming from a 2300 sqft home to roughly 240, but it’s good practice for a tiny home. First impressions are, cozy and neat, but too small for full time living, and I brought too many clothes. Surprise there and I suppose I will repack a box of things I don’t need to have as time goes on. Further thoughts are on what’s making it rough is the RA pain I hope to get under control once more. No doubt has my nutrition suffered over the last few weeks, from regular meals to valuable foods, but hopefully that too will change again.

I’d still like a tiny house, but just a tad bigger. Either way, this place is coming along and once everything has found a place, I’m sure I can get some rest as well and feel better, kicking back and enjoying the space in a different way.

Cinnamon is with me and I am doing my best to make the transition as easy and comfortable for her as well. While she requires walks and attention, in and out of the trailer, leashing up, I am grateful to have her with me. It wasn’t always looking this way and for awhile her future with me was uncertain. There was no joint custody to be considered while fear and anger was influencing my husbands thinking. At the end and after much heartache Cinnamon ended up with me and we are figuring out the remaining pieces of the puzzle, while letting the solutions come to me. Perhaps here too, I don’t need to have all the answers just yet.

Yesterday I worked a little on the outside space while keeping an eye on the little rascal. Unfortunately this is still the old picture and the place has changed already, but I can’t upload it. It is nice and shady there in the afternoons and I have some painting and staining to do. I created a bench out of Cinderblocks and a thick, sturdy piece of plywood. I will paint it, throw some cushions on top and voila, a what have we here…a seating arrangement right next to the hammock. Cinnamon is finding a routine in her days as well, she is chilling, chasing lizards, established a place to do her business, luckily away from the outside space and right now she is napping while I am typing this post on notepad to copy and paste later when we go for a walk, praying to the wifi gods to send me a strong enough signal.