Coming Home to Yoga

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Have you ever had these moments in your life where it felt like you were coming home, invisible arms are there to welcome you? It may not be a physical place, it may not be an emotional place but still it feels like you are welcomed in and it is comfortable and real and important. It is your place.

I have been practicing yoga since the 1970’s. Those early classes were quite interesting as the eastern Asian flavor of those classes were strong. I would practice faithfully for a time, sometimes a semester, sometimes for years and then it would be abandoned, although, obviously not forgotten, as I would return to it again.

Jim, my husband who died 5 1/2 years ago, and I practiced yoga for a number of years. We started with a private center that eventually closed and we did not practice much. One day Jim asked me if I wanted to take a yoga class at  Grossmont College. Jim was a dean at this school. He had heard that the teacher, Jennifer, was getting rave reviews. Once again I returned to yoga. We took a several semesters and yes the students were correct. Jennifer is a superb teacher.

We also belonged to they YMCA. One day, at our local class they had a guest instructor, Lisa. I realized I had met another extremely good yoga teacher. I immediately went home and told Jim. We began a regular Sunday morning practice at the McGrath YMCA, where Lisa is a regular teacher. Jim and I practiced yoga routinely until his death. We even did yoga in his hospital room.

Both of these women continue to be dynamic teachers. Even better, they are both my friends. After Jim died, Jennifer invited me to attend classes at the college when I felt up to it. I was always invited. She also took me, as her guest, to Rancho La Puerta. The Ranch is a spa just south of the border, in Mexico. I could practice yoga to my heart’s content and enjoy many other amenities of the spa. I felt loved and taken care of.

Lisa and I have remained in touch, although I no longer belong to the YMCA in San Diego County. I delight in our continued contact and remain inspired by her as a teacher and a friend.

As I have begun to travel more, yoga has gone from a regular practice to an infrequent one. I know I could practice on my own, yet I feel much more inspired when I take a class and practice with others. I have gotten lazy and dealing with depression last winter did not help. I preferred to hole up rather than venture out, even when I know yoga is something I love doing and knew it would help me feel more whole and complete.

Today I attended a yoga class at the Kula Wellness & Yoga Center. As I walked through the front door I felt like I had come home. It was warm and inviting and welcoming. The people and the teacher were glad to see me, even though it has been more than two years since I had been there. I felt like I belonged. The class was a mixed level class and focused more on poses than a flow. We took a short time to meditate and relax before and after class. The breathing exercises cleared my sinuses. There were people of all ages in attendance. My body was happy to stretch and get the kinks out. My spirit is extremely happy at the moment and I am generally very content this afternoon. When I practice yoga, the world looks just a bit brighter, even on a gray and somewhat rainy day.

Why is it that those good things I do for myself often get shoved to the side? Why do I postpone or put them off? Is it the human condition? Who knows. I often have to remind myself that it is OK to stop my day and go to class. There is nothing else that I may be doing, which cannot be put off for an hour or two so I can focus on all levels of my being by taking just one class. Slowing down is OK. Being aware is OK. Taking care of myself is OK and a must.

Today I bought a 5 class pass. Since I am going to be in NJ for a few more weeks, the pass will encourage me to return to Kula for more yoga so I can continue to feel happy and content and stretched out. On these gray days, I choose not to be on my bicycle or hiking when it is only 40 degrees out (brr), yoga is a good and thoughtful alternative for my whole being.

Once again I have returned home. Ahhhh…..

 

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Volunteering to Help Animals-BARKS Garage Sale

These past 4 days have been busy. I volunteered to help my sister, Ginny, who lives in northern NJ, with the semi-annual BARKS  Garage Sale. The money from this super big and somewhat crazy garage sale goes to help the local animal shelter in this rural community.

For two days I helped set up. People were coming in trucks and cars and sometimes U-Hauls to drop off their “stuff”-soon to become someone else’s treasure. It is amazing the things people have and the things that people no longer want. All the volunteers helped sort through the boxes and put things up on tables. There were drinking glasses everywhere. The used electronics tent was filled to the max. Every holiday treasure that is no longer considered a treasure was delivered to us. The volunteers in that tent had their hands very full with unloading and sorting and placing objects-Christmas-Easter-Halloween-Thanksgiving and more. I am sure you get the idea. The Art tent was burgeoning with paintings, photos, and frames. Crafts supplies?, come to the garage sale.

Bicycles, Furniture, Toys, Clothes, Linens, Dishes, Books, Games, Puzzles, Shoes, Suitcases, Sporting Equipment, Lamps and Shades, Tools, Silverware, Glasses, Candles (melting in the sun), Jewelry, and even the Kitchen Sink. Chotskies galore-you too could have walked out with your very own treasures. One definition of chotskies is garage sale crap (I love this definition).

Finally, Friday evening arrived and we were done. Now we waited.

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We awoke to a perfect day, with temps to the 80’s F. and the sun was shining. My sister and I arrived around eight in the morning. The parking lot was already bordering on full. There were U-Hauls ready to take away treasures. The line of people waiting for the 9 a.m. start was snaking along the fence. Some were standing, others were sitting in their chairs. There were people with plastic sleds and wagons to haul out their treasures. Once we were through the gates all was quiet, except for the volunteers doing their final preparation. We were ready, the “stuff” was ready and there was an air of anticipation.

The gates opened and people quickly dashed in, well walked fast as they were told not to run. First stop was the suitcases which people took off to other areas to fill. Shoes?-gone. Computer Screens?-gone. By late morning we had sold approximately half of the furniture. By the end of the day about two thirds of the furniture was gone. Dressers, tables, desks, chairs, vanities, pieces of Italian marble and odd looking things that I am still not sure what they were-all gone.

It was interesting to talk to some of the people and find out what they were going to do with their new treasures. One woman was using an old wood mirror (sold for $15) in her garden. Old iron bedposts became a good trellis to use in the garden as well. A huge marble table that was almost too heavy to move, went to another person’s yard. There was a unique folding screen that was bought by an elementary school to use in a play. The play had a scene where the young actress had to change outfits. This screen would help her change without being seen, while it suggested more. The same school also bought several other pieces as props.

By the end of Saturday my sister and I were crazy tired. We were dirty and hot and done. Each day when we arrived home we immediate shed our clothes and threw them in the wash. Showers couldn’t happen fast enough.

Ginny Ready to Work

Was it fun? Yes. I enjoyed spending time with Ginny. We have always been friends, even though we live 3000 miles apart. It was an different sort of fun. As a one time event, yes it was fun. If it was something I had to do over and over again, well maybe not so much fun. BARKS took good care of it’s volunteers. We were watered and fed. Most of the volunteers worked well together. I met people who, if I lived closer, I might be interested in knowing better. One woman belonged to a group of people who are sectional hikers on the Appalachian Trail. They have almost completed the AT, with about 200 miles to go.

The end result is all about money. BARKS was introduced in 1973 for the purpose of rescuing and fostering sick, injured, abandoned, and abused animals.  The shelter sponsors proper veterinary care and foster homes until the animals can be placed in loving permanent homes.  Each year BARKS finds homes for over three hundred and fifty cats and kittens and one hundred dogs and puppies. All these animals are homeless or abandoned and many, because they are ill or injured, require extensive veterinary care as well as socialization to make them suitable for adoption. It is a very successful organization, which is evident by the number of adoptions which are achieved through a careful screening and application procedure.

BARKS is a non-profit organization. All revenues come solely from private, individual donations, adoption fees, and fundraisers. All donations are tax deductible. The organization is 100% volunteer driven. All donations go directly for the care and maintenance of the animals.

Like many small towns and communities they rely on donations and support from the local population and beyond. If you would like to make a donation just click on the BARKS link here. It will take you to their web site. They will be grateful for any amount you would like to give.

Now I am no longer a novice volunteer for the semi-annual garage sale. If I am back on the east coast at the right time of the year I would gladly offer to help again. I love animals and support organizations that help support animal welfare. And, maybe the next time I will find my treasure at the BARKS garage sale.

 

 

Catching Up


This morning I realized that it has been a while, 3 weeks since I last posted. Oh my goodness where does the time go? Where does my discipline go?

I have been on the move. I left my niece’s home at the end of the third week of March. All the grandparents descended on Ohio and it was time for me to give them room. Room to love their grandson and their children.

I had some time to visit with my sister, Ruth. We haven’t seen each other in a few years. It was nice to have the time to spend with her and her husband, Joe.

Ward is doing well. His first three month CT scan came back clean. Yes!!! All of us are breathing a sigh of relief. He will continue with frequent scans until he is three. I wonder if we will need to breath a sigh of relief after each one.

After leaving Ohio, I headed south. It was cold up north and snow was expected. I wandered my way through the New River country in southern West Virginia. It was day of beautiful waterfalls and water. I rolled through close mountains and gorges until I crossed the border of Virginia. All of a sudden the vistas opened up and I moved into rolling country.

Afrter spending a few days in Charlottesville I drove to North Beach, MD. I spent a few days with a long time good friend, Joy. We have been friends since high school. The two of us drove to Raleigh, NC to spend Easter with her family.

Best Buds

The thing you must remember is that I am now on the east coast. The states back here are close together, especially when you look at them from north to south. It is not like California here. It does not take two days to drive through one state. In six hours Joy and I went from Maryland to Virginia to North Carolina.

Whirligigs

My Easter was marvelous. I have not seen Joy’s sister since high school. Dee and her husband, Ken were delightful. They were the perfects hosts. We biked the greenway twice while we were there. It is pretty cool to accesss a paved bike system from you house. It was really nice. They toured us around Raleigh. We spent a part of day in the town of Wilson, where we met the mayor while we toured Whiligig Park.

The best fun was all the laughing and talking. We dyed Easter eggs. All of us pitched in to make a delicious Easter supper. It has been a long time since I have been part of a family for a holiday and this one was delightful. I would return again.

 

I left Raleigh two days ago. I am driving north to New Jersey to visit with my other sister and her family. I have been waiting for the nor’easters to clear out before I approached this area. And they are still having snow. Go figure.

Currently I am on the Delmarva Peninsula.  I crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on a glassy, still day. There was no wind to worry about on the 23 mile drive across the Chesapeake Bay. I have been wandering up the peninsula since. It has been many years since I have been out here and I am enjoying slowing down and enjoying where I am. I took time to visit one of the Nature Conservancy properties and despite the front that was coming in, took a hike through the preserve. I even saw a flock of white ibis. It was a new sighting for me and I was excited.

Last night I spent until sunset on Assategue Island National Preserve. Although I saw the ponies at a distance, remember Misty of Chincoteague?, my real joy was the birds. Many of the migratory birds are gone yet it was still great to see all the local wildlife. I was going to bike it this morning but it was 37 degrees F. I drove it. The egret rookeries were very entertaining. I also walked the Atlantic for a few miles before I decided I was just too darn cold.

Now I am rolling north and seeing what I can find to entertain myself as I drive. Elsie as always has been a delightful companion. Well mostly, she sleeps a lot. If all goes well I will take the Lewis-Cape May Ferry to New Jersey and maybe be at my sister’s tonight.

Since I left San Diego this trip has been about family. I love the ease of loving and being loved by all my families. I don’t have to struggle with what is correct. All of us just accept each other for what we are. I need easy in my life right now and family, no matter which one, helps me to be at ease in my skin, in my body, in my head and in my life. Family is not just the one we were born in to. It is friends who have been around long enough to feel that ease. I am glad for all my families.

Today I am glad for my life in all it’s imperfect and perfect forms.

 

 

On the Move, a Family Visit & Cancer

After a long and somewhat grueling drive across two thirds of the country, I made it to Ohio two weeks past. I found the drive grueling because I could not meander. I love to meander the backroads. I was on a mission to reach family in northern Ohio. So I pushed on.

It has been a good visit. I spent a week with my niece, Brittany, her husband, Trip and their toddler, Ward. I arrived to help this young family, while Ward is undergoing chemotherapy for childhood cancer. Well that sucks. Elsie and I got settled in to the spare bedroom and I met my grand nephew for the first time. And what a cutie he is.

Thomas the Train

I forgot how exhausting a one and half year old can be. I got up early and by the time I went to bed at night I was exhausted. As adults our main job is to entertain a young somewhat housebound toddler. It is hard to be out and about when one is immuno-compromised. I read books, put together puzzles, played numerous kinds of games and watched Thomas the Train many, many times. One knows when they have watched Thomas the Train one too many times. You know the characters by name, you know the plot and try not to roll your eyes when a little one asks to see the same movie three times in one day. 🙄

Brittany and I have had time to share our cancer stories and the stress that accompanies this diagnosis. There are a few clubs I wish I had never joined. The cancer club is definitely one of them. Cancer is a very personal diagnosis. The physical diagnosis is only a small part of the broad picture that cancer plays in someone’s life. Each diagnosis of cancer carries it’s own story. Each story is different. I believe that only those who have been slammed with this diagnosis can understand each other’s story on a different level than those who have not had that experience. We shared stories. Brittany asked questions about my diagnosis (breast cancer) and Jim’s. For those of you who are new to this page, Jim, my husband, died from metastasis of a salivary gland cancer over five years ago. All I can do is be honest with her. All I can do is support her and her husband’s process. And amid the stress, we can have fun and laugh and go out for a beer. The stress is not always visible but remains a presence even if lingering in the recesses of our daily lives.

Ward Rocking His Last Weekly Chemo

The good news is that Ward has completed ten weeks of weekly chemotherapy. He now moves on to chemo once every three weeks and will finish up in late May or early June. The story doesn’t stop there. He will continue to have CT scans at intervals for an undetermined time. Although cancer will recess into the further quiet reaches of the mind the stress revives with each doctor appointment or scan. All we can do is be there for each other.

Elsie and I moved into a lovely old hotel near my family. Grandma from Florida arrived today. She moved into the Porch house and we moved nearby. As it has sleeted and rained outside, we have been having a quiet day inside.  It is time to catch up and rest and plan.

I will be here for another week connecting with my sister, Ruth and continuing to support Brittany, Trip and Ward. Then I will begin to meander. I expect to be in northern New Jersey in early April to visit my other sister and plan time to visit friends as I travel in that direction. I did not expect to be in this part of the country, yet here I am. I want to make the best of it and it gives me the opportunity to visit and see places that I usually would not direct myself towards. Why???? Because I love the west and I miss it when I am gone. While the weather is cold and wet here in Ohio, I miss it even more. I will be heading west again sometime this spring. Those wide open spaces continue to call my name. How did a girl from Delaware end up calling the west home? Well this photo below may demonstrate a reason why.

Until I head west again, I will enjoy my time here in the east with family and friends. Life is just one big adventure.

Miss Elsie the Cat Checking In

Hi, Miss Elsie checking in. Where the heck am I?

Elsie in her tiny home.

Just as I was getting used to the studio at the beach, one day, Janet picks me up, puts me back in my tiny home on wheels and off we go. We drove and drove and drove. At nights we would stop and I would get a chance to go out on my leash. The next morning back into the house I would go and we would drive some more.

I had no idea where I was going, but as long as I was with Janet and in my familiar home on wheels I was good. I ride shot-gun now. I try not to tell Janet how to drive, yet  I keep an eye on the road, just to be sure. Janet says we drove through Arizona, Texas (for many days), Arkansas, Tennessee, and Ohio. It all looks the same to me when we drive. When we stop the smells are different and so is the scenery.

I am good at the riding. I used to sleep under the blankets all day. One day I got brave and came out to have a look around and discovered that it wasn’t so bad riding up front. Since that day, I have not gone “back to the blankets”. Janet bought me a soft fuzzy blanket for my front seat. I think she is a bit jealous of my blanket because I see she takes it and covers up in the evenings while she reads. I am OK with sharing, well, as long as it is not my food or my toys or the catnip.

Look at that little boy run.

After about six days we stopped and out I came and into another house. I am getting pretty good at finding my safe spots when we move into a room or house. I figure it out pretty quickly. This house is a bit more of a challenge because there is this little boy who runs around with a loud inside voice. He scares me some. He runs too fast, and startles me.

And then there is another cat….we have met through the glass door. I am outside and she is inside. There has been some growling but so far I am not too interested. there is so much else to absorb. The other kitty is name Callie. She is bigger than me. She is the princess of her house and I am the princess of mine. I am not sure how she puts up with that little boy. Whew.

Callie & Elsie meet

Callie keeping an eye out for Elsie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have my own bedroom suite. My safe spot is under the bed. I have discovered many safe places under beds. I discovered a box with clothes under this bed, and I have been pulling those clothes out so I can make a comfy spot under there.

My favorite times of the day are as follows:

  • Going outside. Each day Janet puts my halter on, carries me downstairs, keeping me safe from the other cat and the little boy and I go outside on my leash. I like being outside. I have found warm places in the sun to rest and watch and maybe even catch a catnap.
  • I really like the time I spend with Janet. She seems to disappear for longer periods of time. She says she is babysitting. I am not sure what that means but it gets a bit lonely. Then I curl up and take another nap and before I know it there she is.
  • I have decided recently that I really like my wet food. I love when Janet serves me my one meal a day. It is always a surprise. Sometimes she serves me outside, sometimes on the bed, and most times where all my other food is. That is just so common.
  • At night I sleep with Janet. She moves, I move and then snuggle in again.
  • I love my skritches. I have found if I ask, I usually get what I want. Hmm, there is a lesson there.

It is cold here. I am so glad that I have my fur to keep me toasty when I am outside. Janet seems to whine more about how cold it is. And then, there is this white stuff that occasionally comes out of the sky. It is snow. It is kind of fun to watch. I am not sure what snow is but it seems to come with the cold.

Janet says we are moving again, even though we are staying in the same area. Janet says that we are still not staying in our tiny home because it is “winterized” and it is cold and she is a “wuss”. I am not sure what that means, yet I am ready to take on the next adventure. Hopefully there will be no little kids involved.

Bring it on.

 

 

Friendship & Reality & Aging

Yesterday I had breakfast with a good friend. She is 85 years old and her company is delightful. We play scrabble when I am in San Diego. She has been concerned about her mental health for some time now. She is fearful regarding her memory. She worries about Alzheimers, which runs in her family.

In the past when she would mention that she felt like she was forgetting more, I was one who said, don’t worry about it, it is just age. When she told me yesterday that she is being tested and she may be in early stages of Alzheimers, I stopped and thought about what I have said to her on occasion over the past year. Don’t worry. It is just age. Your doing fine.

Yesterday I made commitment to stop using these phrases. Although not a definitive diagnosis, this is a real and valid concern for her. It does not help to support her or anyone by brushing it off. So yesterday I truly listened to her and made a vow to support her in an honest and up front way. I will no longer say such things. My question really needs to be, I am sorry you are dealing with this and what can I do to support you. That is a much more helpful response than brushing it off or speaking lightly of it.

We spoke yesterday about the importance of having our houses in order. As single women we don’t have the privilege of relying on someone else to do anything and we really need to take care of our personal life. I have considered this a lot since Jim’s death. I think as humans we always think there will be someone there to help us. The truth is, we are all in this alone. Even in a good relationship, someone has to die first. I know that sounds morbid and I don’t mean it that way. It is a honest fact.

What do I need to do to get my house in order?

  • Finances-I go through a yearly review with my financial institution to be sure I am on track with my money?
  • If you have a trust, is it up to date. What about a living will? What about a power of attorney? Is that up to date? What do I want done with my body if I should die?
  • My friend, is going to investigate extended care facilities so that she knows what her options are. Did you know that most retirement facilities offer a staycation. You can stay 2-4 weeks and test it out. I really like this idea.
  • Miss Elsie the Cat

    What about pets? My friend, Nancy has offered to take Miss Elsie if something should happen to me. Once a year I check in with her to make sure she is still good with this plan.  I have also provided money for my kitty’s care. Did you know there are cat retirement centers at places such as The National Cat Protection Society. They will take care of your cat until death.

  • Does the family know of my plans? I have no children so it is important that at least one of my sisters is aware of my decisions.
  • What happens if I have no family left. What if I really am alone? Well, I am not in that situation yet but I think it might behoove me to consider this and what my options would be at that point in time.
  • I realized that I need to look for services that could help me maintain my independence: carpet cleaners, maid services, grocery stores that let you shop from home and have your groceries delivered, and handyman services.
  • What about my home, when I have one again? Putting handheld shower heads in all the bathrooms might help if I ever need a chair to sit in while I take a shower. What would make my life easier?
  • It is important to tap into your circle of friends. Some of those friends may be my life line if I need assistance. Asking for help and assistance is not a sign of weakness. Most people are more than willing to give of their time. I have to be the one to ask.

I know this list could go on, yet it a list I often ignore. I am in good health, I have new teeth 😁, and I still believe that I have that 20 and 30 something mentality, well I am going to live forever. The truth is, I am aging. I am alone and I need to be prepared.

Yes, I do carry a copy of my important records with me in my rig. Sorry they are hidden so I can’t tell you where they are. I try to remember to update my sister before I start traveling again. I am fortunate to have friends who I believe, though I don’t know, will gather around if I need help.

Today I am going to create a check list and get my own “house in order”. I believe I am pretty much set, yet I know I am not complete when it comes to this topic.

Today I make a commitment to my friends to really listen when important topics arise. Fear is fear and concerns are concerns and if I can help to lighten the load, even briefly, I will sit and listen and honestly try to understand and support the other person.

All we can do is walk each other home.

 

Getting Ready to Move

I am in packing mode. Yes indeed, Miss Elsie and I are moving back into the RV on Wednesday. I am nesting. I am packing and sorting and rearranging. It is amazing how spread out one can become when they move into a place with space. Where did all this stuff come from and how did I get it all in my rig?

Pacific Beach

It will  be hard to leave the beach. I have really liked it here. Every day I walk to the bay, it is only two blocks away. About three times a week I walk the few miles to the ocean. It has been a tough existence (sic). The traveling gene is calling and I am heading out.

I have accomplished a lot in my three months here.

  • The dental work is done. Yay!!!! I have two new teeth and one is bionic 😏. Just kidding. I may be financially a little poorer, yet I have two shiny new teeth that I can show off.
  • Taxes are in process. They don’t need me to be present to finish them up.
  • All annual medical appointments are done. It is good to leave knowing I have a clean bill of health.
  • After many visits, chiropractic, massage, myofascial release, and acupuncture my back is feeling soooo….much better. I am seriously going to attempt to stay upright. No more falls are allowed, off my bike, off burros, or slipping on the sidewalk. Ay Yi Yi.
  • My Roadtrek has been checked out and inspected and fixed and is ready to roll.
  • My scooter has been tuned up and is back in my storage unit, ready for my next visit.
  • Thanks to the help of my therapist and the psychiatrist who orders my meds, I am emotionally feeling a bit more alive and ready to face the world. Thank gosh the sunlit days are getting longer, it helps my attitude so much.
  • I have had the opportunity to visit with friends. I have even made a few new ones. Sweet.
  • I finally found that document that was hiding in the dregs of my storage locker. Whew.

Shortly after Jim died, I started a scholarship in his name at Grossmont Community College. The accomplishment I feel strongest and happiest about, has to do with the scholarship. I donated the remaining amount of money needed to make this a perpetual scholarship. This scholarship will now continue indefinitely. Donations will still be greatly appreciated and the Go Fund Me site will remain on this blog page. It has taken the pressure off of me to raise the money needed. It feels very good to know that I have accomplished this very important goal. I have not done this alone. I have done this with the support of so many of you who gave either directly to the college or the Go Fund Me site. It was a team effort all the way. And I thank you.

I know there is more I could list here, these are the ones that come to mind at the present. Now my mental direction is shifting and getting ready to travel.

Ward

Where am I going? I am going to be driving across the southern part of the USA, and plan to be in Ohio by the 7th of March. I am going to help support my niece, Brittany and her husband, Trip with their son, one and half  year old, Ward. I posted about him back in December. Ward was diagnosed with a Wilm’s tumor in December. Since then he has had his right kidney and the tumor removed. He is now going through 21 weeks of chemotherapy. My sister, Ruth has been staying with them but she needs to head home for a short trip. I am going to be her replacement while she goes home. It is good that this young family has as much support as they can get.

I am going to enjoy meeting Ward. I have yet to meet him in a person. My personal hope for this time is that I might be able to relieve Brittany’s and Trip’s stress just a wee bit. This is what family and friends do for each other. We all help the best way we can. For me it has given me a direction when I get on-the-road.

I am off to pack some more. Stay tuned. The adventure continues.