Assumptions

Lately I have become aware of the common assumptions many of us make. As an example, “I didn’t invite you because I didn’t think you would be interested”. This is a very common one, one that, I am so sure, I have made many times over the years, without considering what I have done. Why we make assumptions about others appears to be a very human condition. Is it a good idea to make these assumptions? I am beginning to think that it is not. It short changes me and it short changes others.

An assumption directed at me, recently,  is that Christmas and the holiday season is not a big deal to me. When Jim was alive we usually spent the Christmas holiday with his family. I enjoyed the company and fun day we all had together. It was good to be with family and friends. I love gatherings.

Since Jim’s death I have been wading around in uncharted territories. I don’t know what to do with myself. I mean, I would love to spend the holiday with others, however,  it is a time for family and often family forgets that there are those of us who are single and alone. I find myself hesitant to invite myself to other’s homes. I don’t want them to think they have to say yes. It becomes a trap for both sides. Instead I buck it up for another year, find things to do to keep myself occupied and move on.

Our society has become more and more insular. As it has become so, many people, such as myself, are trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. I find the holidays to be a lonely time for me. My family is 3000 miles away. Friends who are involved with their church or others are busy and often don’t remember to include solo friends in their plans. Do I let everyone know I am sad, or I have no-one to celebrate with or do I buck up and tell everyone that the holidays are no big deal to me? It is a conundrum. I don’t feel comfortable with either statement

Jim and I loved to include others. We invited our single friends to go on vacation with us. Our hosted dinners were an inclusive affair, everyone was invited. You didn’t have to be a member of a certain group of people. Singles and couples were invited. I know I tried my best to include everyone. I love my friends in all their forms, single, married, living alone, living with others. I find it easier to be inclusive than exclusive. It sure makes for a more animated and fun event when others get together.

Before I met Jim I was single for my whole adult life. I was also working as a nurse. I often would work the holiday shifts, money was good, and it allowed others with family to have the time off to enjoy their holiday. If I wasn’t working I went back east to my family’s for the holidays. Now I am many years older and still trying to figure it out.

I love adding events to my calendar. So far there are two and I look forward to both of these parties with anticipation and joy. I have decided to go see the Nutcracker. I know it is a bit of a cliché but I love the ballet. I would have gone to the Nutcracker with Jim, but he was somewhat of a bah humbug when it came to this holiday. I believe I need to find the events that speak to me and take action on them.

Today I left my house and chicken sitting job for the last time. Elsie and I have moved in and are in east county San Diego, to camp and enjoy some time at Santee Lakes. I will remain there through the holidays. I am looking forward to being back in my small home on wheels. I am gradually looking forward to the Christmas season. I may stumble my way through it ,yet, I will seek out those moments of joy and fun.

And, for the coming year I am going to attempt to be aware of the assumptions I make regarding myself and others. I would like to stop assuming. If I want to include others in my adventures, I will out right ask them to come along. If they say no, I will try to remember it is not personal. Sometimes others may have other things to do or they just aren’t interested. And, just maybe, when I invite others along, one of them may say yes. Oh what fun will ensue.

Working my way into December. Feeling thankful.

 

 

New Friends

Last week I spent six days with friend of mine, Mary and her dog, Shay in Idyllwild CA. Idyllwild is in the mountains approximately one and a half hours north and east of San Diego. It is a delightful small mountain town that relies on tourism and second homes. Mary gets to enjoy this town as her first home.

Jim, my husband, was first the Director of Admissions and Records and then the Dean of Counseling at Grossmont Community College, in San Diego County. He had many people working under him. More than half of them were women. I heard many stories about these colleagues of his over the twenty one years we were married.

After his death, six years ago, several of these women stepped forward to support me in this life change. We went to dinner. We went to the movies. We walked on the beach. We talked, a lot. Over time, as expected, many of these friendships have faded. There are a few that remain and continue to deepen over time. I am grateful for these few.

Mary & Janet-finished the raise bed garden

Mary is one of those friendships that started while Jim was still living. Since his death we have met up several times. Over the past few years we have become closer friends. I enjoy spending time with her. We walk, we talk and mostly we enjoy each other’s company. Mary inspires me with her political and social activism. She inspires me with her can do attitude. There is a comfort level between the two of us that is often found in much more mature friendships than ours. In the six days Elsie and I spent with her we did projects (put together a composter, built a raised bed garden, stained boards for her new deck) and boy did we talk. When stupid accidents happened (I am the queen of these), we laughed, cleaned it up and moved on.

I am so thankful for our growing friendship. It is important to me. I like friendships that show promise of deepening and strengthening. I like friendships that make me laugh and encourage me to grow and become more.

Yvonne is another woman I initially met through the college. She and I are tour guides in San Diego. Since Jim’s death Yvonne and I have found time to do “stuff” together. We explore pubs together. There is nothing better than sharing a beer and catching up with a good friend. When I am on the road the phone will ring and there is Yvonne calling to catch up. I appreciate these calls when I am alone out there in the world. Each one means so much. For that moment in time I feel a little less alone. It reminds me I am part of something greater than myself. It is a good reminder.

Today I am thankful for Mary and Yvonne. Today I am thankful for my family of friends.

 

 

Shay the Dog vs Elsie the Cat

Hi I am Shay the Dog. I wanted to get my two sense in first. I live with my human, Mary in the mountains. It is really pretty here. I love to chase deer. Several days ago this other human, Janet showed up. She is really nice. I like her a lot. I put my paw on her arm and leg and ask kindly for affection. She gives me rubs and pats and talks really nice to me.

There is an issue with the above situation. Janet showed up with a little kitty named Elsie. I immediately knew that I did not like having her in my house. She lived in the front bedroom while she was here and I couldn’t get to her because the door was closed. I tried to break in the sliding glass door without success. I tried to jump up and down so I could see her in the front window. That didn’t work either.

And here is the real truth of the matter. I am afraid of that little 6 pound kitty. I am glad they are leaving soon. I like Janet but Elsie can just leave. I don’t want her in my house.


Hi, this is Elsie the Cat. Shay the dog is a pain. He barks and paws at the doors. He think he can get to me. Well bring it on. I may be small but I am mighty. I blow myself up big and dance towards the door. I just dare him to get to me.

Jeez I don’t why Janet keeps introducing me to these somewhat awkward situations. I love traveling with her. I like adventure but sometimes other animals are a bit too much. I was scared of Shay because he is big, and, then I heard Mary say he is really scared of me. Ha, Bring him on.

Tomorrow we return to the chicken house. I will take chickens over a noisy, scaredy dog. What a life I lead.

Arf Arf, 🐕 Meow Hiss. 🐈😼

Scholarships, Dinners & Donating to Good Causes

Two nights ago I attended the Chancellor’s Dinner for  Grossmont & Cuyamaca College. I was invited because, with the help of the college, I created the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship after my husband, Jim died six years ago. I am always a bit hesitant to attend these events. This dinner is held annually to thank organizers of the scholarships.

I usually feel a bit awkward and out of place at events such as this, yet I really wanted to go. What did I do to make myself feel a little more at ease? I invited a friend of mine, Yvonne, to attend with me. Yvonne worked at Grossmont College. She is a bit more outgoing than I am and I figure she would know some of the attendees. I am glad I invited her.

It was a lovely evening. We were greeted by a music trio, all students at Grossmont College. It was a delightful blend of jazz and blues. The lead singer had a strong, steady and good voice. The dinner was prepared and served by students of the Culinary Arts Program. It was a delicious if not over-filling meal. It was fun to see all these students show off their talents.

This time of the year is full of memories of Jim and myself. As I introduced myself to people and let them know I was Jim’s wife, people’s hands would rise to their heart and sigh. I am glad when that stopped, I really did not want tears to flow. It was good to know they all remembered him with such warmth. I know he would be embarrassed by this display, I am not. I feel grateful that people remember him with such kindness and warmth. He was a good human being and it is reflected in these spontaneous demonstrative moments.

As I enjoyed an evening at the college with others who care about student achievement, I couldn’t help but feel that creating the scholarship in Jim’s name was definitely the right thing to do. He cared deeply for the students and the staff at the college. I am glad that I followed through on this idea.

At this time of the year I usually give my readers information on how to donate to the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship. This year the west has been inundated with some horrific wildfires. One of the latest is the Camp Fire. It destroyed the town of Paradise. I decided to forgo the scholarship donation request and ask, instead if you would donate what you can to help these people in CA who have lost everything. They will need to rebuild their lives from the ground up. Below are listed some options to donate financially to help these people.

Often we don’t think small amounts of money help, yet they do. Even a small donation may make such a difference. Please reach out if you can and help those in need. This is all we can do for each other and it makes a difference. It makes a difference in your life and in the lives of those that are in need.

Today I am thankful for the kindness of people.

 

 

 

House Sitting Review

Today is Elsie’s and my last day in this beautiful home. We have had a good month. Elsie likes the room to run and I have enjoyed the quiet and beauty of this home. I have learned a few things.

  • I don’t need 2500 square feet to live in. When I first arrived I went from my bedroom to the kitchen. After finally giving myself permission, I expanded my space to the den and sun room. The formal dining room and the master suite were areas that I explored very little, if at all.
  • I like being still. I liked having a place to come home to after appointments and walks.
  • I really like being surrounded by beauty.
  • A good hot shower was a delicious treat for me. The shower in my RV is a bit on the small side.
  • Another treat is having a washer and dryer handy.
  • I enjoyed Therese’s art room. It is light and airy and has really good vibes.
  • As I lay in bed at night it was a delight to hear the coyotes howling in the canyon. I really like coyotes.
  • I like chicken sitting but I would not choose to be an urban farmer. Fresh eggs were a treat to be savored.
  • When the hip bursitis got bad I fell in love with the couch in the den. It was one place I could lay without any pain. It is a magic couch.
  • Sometimes it is good to have someone take care of your home. A week ago one of the drip irrigation pipes broke. I went outside to find water rushing down the driveway. This neighborhood is so quiet, it may have taken a while before anyone noticed this.
  • I like the pool but I am not sure I would like the maintenance and upkeep.
  • I liked having a garden that I could play around in. I love pruning and making a yard look nice.

Here is the beginnings of a list of what I will look for when I am ready to move back into a sticks and bricks type home. The longer I stay in one place the more I begin to long for a sense of permanence. I continue to recognize the longing for community. It is hard to do when one is “on-the-road”.

I am not done with this house quite yet. I move back in for two weeks over Thanksgiving before my house sitting gig is done. It has been a fun and interesting adventure.

Today I vacuum and dust and clean. I want my friends to come home to a happy and well cared for home. I know they will have many tales to tell.

Tomorrow Miss Elsie and I move back into our small house on wheels. We are going to camp on San Diego Bay for a few days before venturing off to visit friends.

Today I am thankful for good friends, lovely homes and my Roadtrek RV.

 

Aging, Limping and Medicine

Aging is not always fun. My body changes shape. Wrinkles show up. Aches and pains are not as easy to get rid of. Words that I still have to get my brain around – hot flashes, menopause, osteopenia, cancer, arthritis, weight gain and more. My latest one is Bursitis.

I limped into San Diego. Yes limped. By the time I arrived here a month ago I had a sore right hip and knee. The IT band felt like it was on fire. Immediately I started the rounds. Chiropractics and laser helped some. Acupuncture was another good alternative. Myofascial Release and Massage also helped trim the pain. Nothing was getting rid of it.

After this past week, continuously being sore in my hip and leg, I decided it was time to visit the Doctor. Off to Kaiser and a meet up with a very nice doctor. After reassuring me that he did not think this was cancer he did several tests, including kinesiology (how cool is that for a western doctor?). I was diagnosed with Bursitis in my hip.

He recommended a cortisone shot into the bursa in my hip. I was hesitant. We spoke of the side effects and the expected outcome. He told me that he was glad to see I was being a strong advocate for my health care and he would do whatever I would consider best. I left with my first cortisone shot ever.

By the time I went to bed last night the pain was essentially gone. Wow!!! It felt good, really good. I got a good nights sleep and today my world looks a little brighter. I have exercises I need to do, probably for the rest of my life. I am OK with that. Most of them are very yoga like. I really enjoy yoga.

His instructions were to ice it, exercise but if it starts to get sore stop that exercise. My chiropractor tells me not to sit so long behind the wheel of my rig and walk around frequently, both good suggestions. I guess I will be back to setting my alarm so I get out of the RV every hour.

Now that the pain is mostly under control, I will now work with all my practitioners to help to heal my bursa. I am not giving up dancing or hiking or walking or cycling. As long as we all understand that then, as a team, we can work on healing my sweet hip.

I have my Masters in Holistic Health Education. I have always been an advocate of a holistic approach to my health. Holism means that I use the best of all worlds of medicine that are available to me. I also believe that it is important to go from least invasive to most invasive, and that was the path I chose when I returned to San Diego.

It is OK to employ western medicine. I mean there is so much out there to help, why wouldn’t one use it? I went to school with so many people that despised anything to do with doctors and hospitals. As a former nurse, and holistic practitioner I had a hard time grasping the concept that western medicine could be so evil and bad. I saw how much it helped so many. Doctors and hospitals are not the enemy and I for one am thankful that I can include this medicine in my holistic approach to my health care.

As I limp a little less into my day today, I am thankful. I am thankful for Dr Ceccilio who encouraged me to be active in my choices. I am thankful for all my healthcare team who can support me in the choices I make. This morning I am thankful for that little shot of cortisone.

Now it is time to go to the storage unit and go to work. Yep, like I said I am not stopping.

Birthdays, Breast Cancer, & This Time of the Year

As October winds down, I am feeling relief. Relief that this month is done.

Every year since I had breast cancer (I was diagnosed February 2010), this month has been a bit hard for me. I don’t like pink, never have and never will. I feel kind support for those who walk for breast cancer, who shout about being a survivor, however I am not one of those people. I have found nothing to be grateful for, for having been through the experience of a breast cancer diagnosis. Mostly I find I have residual anger, residual PTSD, and residual everything surrounding this diagnosis. I am grateful to be alive and I would like to see this event take its place in the far reaches of my memory. As you might tell, I am still working on it.

Each year at this time I worry a little bit. Is my mammogram going to be normal? Will my surgeon and oncologist find anything? Is that weird pain in my hip cancer? Ay Yi Yi Yi.

Jim

Jim, my husband, died from cancer 6 years ago on October 17. Shall I mention that this is the day after my birthday? He went into the hospital the day before his 60th birthday (October 10) and died the day after mine. Well there is something to get through. I have not enjoyed celebrating my birthday in big bang up way. I like to be quiet now and contemplative.

I describe those three and half years between my diagnosis and his death, like a deck of cards. They were thrown up in the air the day of my diagnosis. Just as I was beginning to pick up the cards, boom, the next event happened and the cards flew into the air again. I have been slowly picking up the cards ever since. I still can’t find some of them, ergo, I remain living in my RV and drive to the next destination hoping to find another card. This has been an adventure, a painful process, a lonely one too, times of great fun and exploration and everything in between.

Here is what I am appreciative today.

  • My kind and wonderful friends from all over the world who call, email, text and contact me through social media. When I need someone to talk to, out of the blue one of these friends will call. They have saved my day, my life, my moment more often than I acknowledge.
  • I am financially comfortable. I could buy a cute and fancy RV and move in. I can afford the repairs (they don’t come often), the gas and everything that supports this nomadic lifestyle.
  • I am alive and able to go on grand adventures, both small and large.
  • Elsie the cat-what would I do without her? She is one of the most adaptable and loving companions I could have. We are into our fourth year of adventures together. She remains a delight.
  • I am glad to be able to see the sunrises and sunsets. Each day I wake, is another day to be grateful for everything.
  • The doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturist, massage therapist, myofascial release practitioner, and all those other health care workers on the broad holistic spectrum that keep me tuned up and moving.
  • My friends and acquaintances that offer me a bed in their home, whether it is a visit or house sitting. Sometimes I need a respite from my little living space.
  • I appreciate everyone waiting and giving me room to figure out what is next? No-one else is judging me. I need to stop judging and being hard on myself. You know that saying, “It is all about the journey, not the destination”-I still need to learn this.

    Jim & I flying to Baja for a week on a deserted beach.

There are three days left in this month. I don’t count them down anymore. I feel I have made progress in acknowledging this month and not feeling quite as sad or out of sorts. One of my friends asked me this month, how I felt about the “whole Jim thing”. Well there is a loaded question. Each moment of the day the answer could be different. I believe I have come to a softer acceptance of this month, of the events that transpired six years ago and I still miss by dearest and best friend. Jim saw things in me that no one else has ever seen and I will always miss this about his love for me and mine for him.

I bid farewell to October, thankfully doing a bit more than just getting through the month. I embrace and welcome November. I embrace and welcome each day I wake up in the morning and am able to figure out what small adventure I will take myself on that day.

Today I am grateful for all of my friends, acquaintances and all of the followers of my blog,  who send me messages of support and encouragement. Today I am grateful for people.