Tough Love & Hiking

I love to hike. I have been hiking since I was in my twenties. I have marched over hill and dale, sometimes carrying a loaded back-pack with me. I have camped in gorgeous places and seen amazing things. I have enjoyed the company of good friends and also being solo in nature.

Many years ago I did a nineteen day trek in the Himalayas. After this trip my enthusiasm for carrying a back-pack waned. These days I find I enjoy day hikes and carrying a much lighter pack. I also like coming back to my Roadtrek, to a comfortable bed and satisfying food in the evening.

When I am out on the trail and the going gets tough, steep ascents, too long of a day and I am weary, I get whiny. I don’t usually whine where others can hear me I just whine as I march along. I am very good at this. Sometimes it helps me reach my destination.

I used to hike and back pack with my friend Diane. We camped and hiked throughout the western United States. She may not know this, until now, but I used to march along behind her when there was that one more mile to go and whine to myself. “I don’t know why we can’t just camp here.” “God how much longer is she going to hike?” “Maybe I will just stop here and camp and she can just go on by herself.” Yet I would make it that final mile. The camp sights and the view were often the reward for that final mile.

I used to whine when Jim and I hiked. I was often a bit more verbal to him about this. “You just go on alone, I will wait here.” “Let’s make this your hike and mine, you go ahead and leave me behind.” he never did. Whine, whine, whine. One time after I was diagnosed with breast cancer I told him to just leave me in the desert and let me die. I got a major eye roll from him on this one.

A few days back my friends Sandy and Pat met me in the desert. I spent time with them before I went back to San Diego and met up with them upon my return to the desert. The last day they were here Pat came into their rig and said “we are climbing Coyote Peak”. I never thought to say, I am not coming, so off I went.

Sandy, Me & Pat at the peak.

Coyote Peak is not a long hike, approximately five miles round trip. It is however, straight up and straight back down. it starts at about 600 feet and ascends to 3165 feet in 2.5 miles. About three quarters of the way up I was tired and I began to whine. “Maybe I will just stop here. “I don’t need to see the top.” “This is really really steep.” “I know I will just stop here.” “Why are they so far ahead of me? I need to tell them that I am stopping.” Whine, whine, whine.

After we made it to the top I told them I had been thinking of stopping and waiting for them to return. Sandy said she thought I was thinking that way. She decided she was going to stay far enough ahead of me so that I could not stop them and tell them I was going to wait below the summit for them. Her idea was that if I couldn’t tell them I was stopping I would march my way to the summit. And I did.

Tough love is often used to describe a direct and up front approach in regard to helping someone addicted to drugs or alcohol. Tough love can have a broader context among friends or a teacher or someone who loves and cares about me. People who know and care about me, often can see when I really do have that extra half mile in me to reach the top. These same friends would also know when I had reached my limit and could go no further.

When I arrived at the summit of Coyote Peak, I could still smile and laugh. The view was amazing. There was even snow on the peaks of the Santa Rosa Mountains. It was a beautiful day on the summit. I was glad to be there. I felt accomplished and weary. Then we had to hike back down. On those steep ascents it is often much harder going down than up. I was glad when we reached relatively flat country once again. I was tired and happy and glad I had pushed myself to the top. 

I am very thankful for my tough love hiking friends. Today I am grateful for Sandy and Pat.

 

 

 

Money Money Money

Have you ever known anyone who has no issues around money? I have not. 

We have too little, we have too much. We spend it freely or are fearful of spending it at all. The stock market goes up, the stock market goes down. What do I do with my money and what do I do if I don’t have enough? Oh and if I have too much money how do I not become part of the one percent? (Not that I think that is a big worry).

MONEY MONEY MONEY  

This issues is raising its head or tail once again. I am planning a trip to Africa later this year. When my friend asked me if I wanted to join her on this adventure, my first reaction was no. Why? It is an expensive trip. And since we are going far we are going to stay for a while and see as much as we can. 

I immediately heard my dad gasping for air, although he has been on the other side for years. Where do these old tapes come from? How long do I need to hold onto them?  Can I change them? How do I tell my father to Hush it or at least tame it down a bit. When do I just bite the bullet and take the leap, and have faith that I won’t be homeless tomorrow? Oh wait, I think I am homeless. I have no home except for my sweet little RV.

When I was younger, if I had $5000 in savings I immediately would think, “it is time to plan a trip”. And plan I would. Now I have more than that and I get concerned about spending it. My latest statement I ask myself time and again is, “and how long do you think you are going to live?” The truth is, even if I don’t want to face it, I have a limited amount of time left on this earth. I have lived longer than what I have left, although I do plan to stay around for a while. 

There has to be a happy medium between being frugal and spending beyond my means. I am not always sure how to find that medium or even what that means. I have friends with enough money for the rest of their lives and yet they still worry over every nickel and dime. My accountant worries when I have to pay in taxes at the end of the year. I have friends that always express concerns regarding money. Now granted some of those friends are living on an extremely limited income and I get that, yet there are others that are not. They are the ones who worry the most. 

Another thing I noticed when I was single, pre-Jim, when I worried about my money, I often found I had less. When I gave up that worry, somehow I always seem to have enough. I had a roof over my head, food in the refrigerator and a job. If I was a little short one month I found I didn’t go to the movies or out to eat as often and I was fine. I always had enough money to go dancing. 💃🏻

How do I manage issues around money when they surface in my life?

  • The first thing I do is acknowledge that these issues are surfacing again. If I can say “hey here it is again” I then have the chance to acknowledge this event and breath and maybe change my feelings.
  • Maybe this is the time to review my finances and reassure myself I am OK.
  • When Jim was alive and I would ask him if we were financially OK. We decided we would do our banking together so I would always know what we had. I think this is a great idea. When Jim died the transition to doing my finances by myself was almost non-existent. Trust me that this helps a whole lot when a major life transition occurs.
  • It’s important to recognize what’s causing my anxiety. Sometimes if I write down what is causing the stress I can more easily recognize it. Keeping the list short can helps me feel less overwhelmed.

Regarding my upcoming trip, I have found it is helpful that I don’t have to put all of the money out at once. That is one good reason to plan a trip ahead of time. I have time to review finances as dates approach for more contributions to the full cost of the trip. Trip insurance is a must. When I was younger I never gave trip insurance a second thought. Today I do. 

Planning for this trip helps as well. As I plan and get excited about my upcoming adventures the money issues will fade into the background. That has been my experience in the past and I imagine that trend will continue as Africa looms closer and closer. 

Today I am taking a worry about money holiday and am planning to go and enjoy a beautiful Santa Ana day in San Diego. Taking time off will make my approach to this issue fresh tomorrow. In the meantime I think I will breath and enjoy the day.

 

Elsie Goes on an Adventure

I don’t know why Janet decided to title this post “Elsie Goes on an Adventure”, she was asleep, how would she know?

We are in the desert. It is kind of dry and windy and sandy. I am so happy to be here. This is my favorite dirt to roll in. There is just enough grit in it to give my back a little skritch. It feels, so good. And the smells, oh they are wonderful. I look down the little holes that are around the bushes and even stick my paws in them.

I am usually on a halter and leash when I go outside. I am never sure why Janet insists on it. I am a cat after all and I can go where I want. She mentions coyotes and mountain lions. I am not sure what they are but I bet I could handle them. I am not allowed out after dark. Who are those mysterious things that live in the darkness.

The first night we got here, Janet went to visit the next door neighbor and you know, she left the door open. I did not even have on my leash. I decided that she must trust me enough, and decided to go out exploring. Just as it was getting good, Janet came back to the rig and I high-tailed it for the door. She was really surprised and so was I. I had no idea that being on my own with no limits could be so fascinating. She was surprised because I was not on my leash. I was surprised when she saw me. 

 

We have been in the desert for over a week. I spend most of my days sleeping and eating and dreaming of another free flight. Last night I got my chance. Janet left one of the front doors open, just enough so I could slip out. Now she will never know whether I took advantage of it or not. And, I am not going to tell. Heh Heh. Janet did notice some interesting footprints outside that door this morning. Some of them could have been mine or not. Besides the little tiny prints there were dog looking prints as well. Were there coyotes or foxes out there? Inquiring minds would like to know. I think I will leave it up to you to create your own story. My secret is safe with me.


I am sleeping in the front seat now dreaming of my last night adventure. I am so glad to have this little house on wheels. It is blowing like crazy outside. If I went out now I would have to hunker down and make my ears flat. Instead I am inside, snug and secure and napping.

 

Into the Desert

I have been in the desert for over a week. To be more specific I am in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the town of Borrego Springs. I am boon-docking (dry camping) and visiting friends.

My usual way of doing the desert is to be as remote as possible, isolating myself from the world. I have changed up my game plan, thanks partially to Peggy and Roger. I am learning to be a bit more social. It is a casual social, nothing forced or big.

I am still doing what I love best, hiking and exploring in the back country. One day I found a wash that I followed for a bit, discovering natural water tanks, small waterfalls and of course flowers. The desert is blooming a little bit at a time this year, thanks to the abundant rain.

The first few days I was here I stayed with a friend, Phyllis, at a resort and spa. We did some hiking and then sat in the jacuzzi and rehashed our day. There is a very good massage therapist in Borrego Springs, Paul, and he just so happened to be working at the resort I stayed in. Massages were in order. I love a good massage therapist, my body loves it more.

I am camped just outside of the small town of Borrego Springs. Peggy and I have taken the opportunity to access what is available in this small town. We have gone to yoga class and played bingo at the senior center . I won $30. Peggy has become involved with the quilting community.

This town is celebrating the 6th year of the Borrego Springs Film Festival. The whole event is sold out. I was able to buy certain film blocks. I have been enjoying interesting and cool movies. People come from afar to be part of this weekend. The films I have seen have been extremely varied and different. After the movie block the film producers are invited up on stage and anyone can ask them questions. The attendees are friendly and interesting as well. This will definitely go on my radar for next year.

I have yet to explore the new library. I will get there. It is a beautiful and modern building. I am always anxious to explore libraries.

Almost every day I have gone hiking, alone, with Peggy and Roger or any combination of the three of us. I have been exploring old favorites and finding new places as well. Jim and I used to come out to this desert all the time. We only stayed for a few days. I am enjoying spending more time here to explore a bit more leisurely. We even hiked up a small section of Henderson Canyon in the rain. Yes, you heard me right, it has been raining in the desert a unique and rare event. One afternoon we went out in Roger’s jeep to find flash floods. We were successful and safe.

The sunrises have been spectacular. Each day it is a bit different. When I am living in my small RV my schedule shifts. I go to bed earlier and arise with the sun. Often I stayed curled up in bed yet there are mornings where it is worth the effort to rise and greet the dawn.

This next week I will be returning to San Diego for eight days. I need to get some work done on my rig. I will be there for eight days and then return to the desert and hopefully get ready for the “Bloom”. The desert is greening up. The ground is covered in green waiting to bloom, be eaten by caterpillars and fade into existence for another year. Ah the cycle of life. I believe it will be another grand wild flower year.

I look forward to seeing my friends in San Diego, once again. I also look forward to returning to the desert and enjoying the small town of Borrego Springs and hiking into the wild. 

 

 

Greeting Card Passion

Ever since I was a young girl, I have loved greeting cards. There is nothing better than walking through a Hallmark store or other specialty stores that have unique and wonderful cards to look at and touch.

As I grew into adult-hood I became card hoarder. I would buy cards believing that a special occasion would come along and I would have the perfect card. The occasion would arrive and I would decide I needed to buy a different card. I was too attached to the original one to let it go. Was the person special enough? Was the occasion the right one for that card? What if I found a more perfect card?

I continued to collect greeting cards from all over the world. I had boxes full of them. They were all so pretty and special. Some were funny , others were mushy (a little), some were ponder-some. The photos were breath taking.  I loved to find the ones that showed the wilderness or our National Parks. I love cards. Small ones, large ones, all sizes and types.

When I moved from my home I gave many of the cards away. I did keep some and found them the other day in my storage locker. It was a joy to meet up with old friends.

My Hand-made Christmas Card

This holiday season I received a hand made card from a good friend. I hope she knows how much it thrilled me to receive this card. It is now sitting on my front visor so I can see it when I get in the rig to drive somewhere. It and Beth continue to make me smile.

 

Along came the world wide web. I slowly stopped sending cards opting for e-cards on the free or almost free web sites. Jacquie Lawson is my favorite. I love receiving and sending these cards. There are many other sites and when I get a little blue I will peruse these sites, enjoying the novelty of animation and the beauty of the card. I even got one from a friend this Christmas that was an animated Santa who knew my name and talked to me like I was right there.

A few days ago I was meandering through Target while my Roadtrek was being worked on and I came across the card aisles. The pleasure of seeing paper cards has not decreased. I love to hold them and read them and enjoy a moment with this simple pleasure. Sometimes I just enjoy looking up and down the aisles and see the plethora of cards in front of me. What a simple delight.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I have become practical living this small home lifestyle. I read on my Kindle app or through the library, I watch Netflix on my Apple TV or my computer and I send cards on line. I am content, yet there is this wee little part of me that looks forward to the day when I can once again go out and buy a paper card. It will be good to be able to pick the perfect card for the perfect person. Until that time though I will meander down those store aisles and enjoy the beauty of all those cards.

Now don’t get me started on pens.

Plans & A Change of Plans

I am getting ready to become mobile in my Roadtrek with Elsie the Cat. Around this time I start to get questions from  others: What are your plans for this year?” “Where are you going next?” I often hesitate because I really don’t know the answer.

I was hoping to go to mainland Mexico with friends for the winter. The rig is ready, diesel fuel supposedly can be found better on the mainland than Baja, Elsie is set (records and shots are up to date), and then…..

I am staying within a day’s drive of San Diego for the next few months. Why? Yes indeed, why, is a very good question to ask.

Returning to San Diego is always an unknown. Can I come in and get back out without anything too caustic happening? This year I limped in and I am walking out, however, I will be back sooner than planned.

Surgery is pending on my thyroid. A pesky little nodule that was found seven years ago, following a bicycle accident, is growing a bit too fast. It is growing a bit too fast for the endocrinologist and my surgeon and me. The biopsies have been benign and the choice of what to do was left to me. Oh great leave a decision up to a Libra (sic).

After weighing all the alternatives, taking into account my history of breast cancer and my favorite surgeon retiring in a year- I decided now is the time. Now is a relative term. Sometime in the next twelve weeks I will get a call from Kaiser giving me a date for surgery.

Although heading for the desert is my goal-I plan to leave on January 8-the desert is going to be a little closer than originally planned. It is time to rediscover the Anza Borrego and the California desert. Palm Springs is on the agenda, too. When I get “the call” I will be a comfortable day’s drive back to San Diego.

So these are the facts yet the truth is, although I made the decision with wise and good input from people I respect, it is still surgery. If I take the time to let this chain of events into my every day consciousness, I am a bit nervous and unsure.

i don’t know the outcome. I don’t know what surgery will be like. I don’t know what recovery will be like. I know I will need to go on medication. What will that be like?

And even more basic questions involve the logistics. Where am I going to stay? How do  I get to day surgery and how do I get home? Where is Jim when I need him? How do I do this on my own? And the list goes on.

Here is what I do know. I want everyone to support me in the most positive way they can. I don’t want to hear any horror stories. You don’t need to share surgical or medical horrors with me. I already know them, remember I used to be a nurse. I don’t need anyone second guessing my doctors or the medical health care system I am a part of (Kaiser).

Please don’t suggest alternatives. You can trust I have researched them. My full medical team includes all of the above doctors mentions and an acupuncturist, a massage therapist and more. Hopefully I have got it covered.

What you can do is to tell me good stories and good outcomes. Give me a call. Divert my attention. Love me a lot or love me a little.. And if you can’t be positive then be silent and wish me well.

Meanwhile it is time to finish up in San Diego and get some hiking in. I need to find a few slot canyons and, hopefully enjoy a bit of warmer weather. It is time for Miss Elsie to roll in the desert dirt and sand. It is time to adventure into the New Year with as much gusto as I can.

Happy New Year and on to new adventures.

Tis the Season

“Santa Claus is the idea of giving for the sake of giving, without thanks or acknowledgement.”

Christmas is arriving very soon, five days to be precise. I chose, years ago to forgo giving presents to my family. The reaction from my family members was across the board. Some were upset. Others seemed relieved. I got tired of sending gift cards to people because I did not know what they wanted.

No gift giving has giving me a freedom to enjoy the holidays a bit more. I don’t have to try to find a place to park at the mall. I don’t have to deal with tired children and weary parents. I am content to stay away from the craziness this season often causes in all of us. It has allowed me some simpler pleasures.

This year for the first time since Jim died I decorated my little home on wheels. It makes it feel warm and cozy. I feel like I have taken a step forward in the “who I am now” process. I did not go all out but a few small battery run tiny trees with lights and lights around my kitchen window have made me feel like I am celebrating grandly.

Recently I read an article about a little boy being told the truth about Santa. The sentence at the top of this post, is what stuck in my head regarding how the father explained to his son what Santa really means. I like to think I can be Santa Claus all year long. I like the idea of giving for the sake of giving. Instead of doing it now I like to give when I find the perfect little item or card. I hope people enjoy the fact that I think of them and care for them all the time. Sometimes giving means that I hand my spare change or few dollars to the homeless. Giving from the heart, in the moment, is the true freedom of giving without expectation.

I treasure phone  calls from friends and family or when someone sends me an e-mail. It is personal and makes me feel special. Often phone calls come just when I need them. This coming year I would like to commit myself to calling my friends and family more often. They feel cared about and I feel less alone. It may even deepen our relationship. How much fun would that be.

As the season comes to a culmination I am celebrating in my own way, enjoying dinners with friends, wandering the San Diego Zoo during Jungle Nights, attending the Nutcracker, and even watching a live performance of La Traviata from the New York Met at a nearby movie theater with a friend. It is varied and such a lovely way to catch up with friends.

My birth family is approximately 3000 miles away. This year I will have to wave at them across the miles, enjoy their phone calls and watch for their posts on Facebook. Often this is how my family and I have celebrated many Christmases since I headed west in my mid-twenties. Ah this is the price of the adventurer in the family. Although I miss them, I have no regrets about exploring this huge and grand country and stretching my wings.

Christmas this year is in the home stretch. Hopefully most gifts are obtained and wrapped and ready to go. Dinners are planned and celebrations are near the grand finale. I know that I will contemplate a warm and wonderful day with friends. I look forward to enjoying the laughter and joy with Pat and her family. It is good to have good friends. It is even better when good friends are near by and want to include me in their holiday fun.

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Happy Hanukkah or Happy Whatever you celebrate. Embrace your family and friends and enjoy the day the week.

Miss Elsie says Meow.