The Date-Surgery is Scheduled

A little over a week ago I got the call from the surgery scheduling department. I am going for thyroid surgery, first case of the day, April 5. That sounds so easy to say. It gets put on my calendar. I still feel strongly this is the right thing to do and yet…..

I am nervous. As soon as I got the date, seriously, within twenty four hours, I was down with a cold. I have rarely been sick, despite healing from breast cancer, Jim’s death from cancer, selling the house and other such events that show up in my life. Yet the day after being given the date for this upcoming surgery I get sick. What the heck?

This is a big leap of faith. Faith that I have chosen the right course of action. Faith in myself. Faith in my doctors. Faith in the system. Faith in just about everything. Here is what I know, I feel strongly that this is the correct course of action. That has not wavered. I really like my surgeon. He is kind and strong and competent and treats me like an intelligent human being. This is a good thing. I also like my endocrinologist. He is another good man who has never said the words…”there is no need to worry”. I asked him not to ever say those words after I first met him and he never has. He is also knowledgable and competent and compassionate. I feel like we are a team.

I am getting my alternative healing team on board as well. I want to go into surgery as healthy and strong as I can be. It is time to book appointments for massages (Beth), acupuncture (Gayle) and myofascial release (Kelly). My background is in holistic health education-that is what my masters says-so I want a complete and whole team to help me go into surgery and heal in record time after surgery. It is a commitment I make so that I can be back into my life fully as soon as I can.

One recovers from colds. I am in the recovery phase. I am glad to be out and about and seeing the world at large, after lingering on the comfy chair in my friend Phyllis’s condo, watching Marvel Comic movies and sniffling and sleeping away five days of my life. Thor is still one of my all time favorites.

The good part is that Phyllis and I have a huge handle on our upcoming trip to Africa this summer. Whoo, planning takes time. Despite my sniffling and sneezing we are down to the last few reservations. Africa is on the radar. It certainly gives me something to look forward to. Now it is time to get down to reading about South Africa and Kenya. I need to learn Lightroom (I just subscribed). It is time to delve more into my camera and find more magic in the camera body and it’s lenses. Ooh and I get to go shopping.

First stop: Victoria Falls

Here is something I have learned about myself over the last many years. I am not fond of planning holidays. Jim always had to sit me down and firm up plans after days of putting it off. I love to travel. I am not a big fan of planning. And…I used to be a tour manager. What? How does that work?  I don’t know. I actually enjoyed putting together a tour. The more I focused on the planning the smoother the tour went.

I tend to be lazy. My traveling in a mobile home, my RV, has given me the ability to decide at the last minute. What direction am I heading? Who or what do I want to see? Does that campground look good? How about a road into the National Forest or BLM? I find this lifestyle lends itself to last minute decisions.

For now, I am once again stationary in San Diego. I have a great support team of friends around me. Even though I am stubborn and think I can “do it on my own”, I know that I will reach out to all these people who have supported me without question over the past six years and longer. I am glad they are around. I am glad they understand my stubbornness and show up any way.

And then there are those of you who are far away or who I have never met. With all the support known and unknown, I am ready to walk forward to April 5. And..I will come out the other side ready to travel east.

Always Moving Forward.

 

 

 

 

A Different Winter in the Desert.

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With daylight savings time arriving this weekend, I have been reflecting on my winter and the arrival of spring. This winter has been a very different winter than the previous two.

The first two winters after I went full time,  I went solo into the desert, in my RV. I saw a few friends along the way, and even traveled with a few for a short time. Those first two winters were solo winters for me. I withdrew from too much “people” interaction and contemplated life, my existence, what had happened with Jim and more. I call these two winters my existential winters.

It is not easy to delve into the depths of myself and work my way out the other side of some dark and truthful moments. Since then I have discovered that it is not unusual for people in their mid-sixty’s to go through this self evaluation and reflective time. It was very reassuring to discover that I was not alone and that it is a process that others might be going through as well.

And I thought I should be done growing by the time I arrived at this age. Ha!!!

This winter was very different. I chose to stay close to San Diego as I was truly hoping that my thyroid surgery would be behind me, by now, and I would be in the recovery stage. Well, guess what?, I am still waiting. The surgeons must be very busy.

I went to the desert about two hours east of San Diego and spent the winter. The Anza Borrego desert is an amazing place. It is alive and usually dry. It is a good place to be solo, yet my time there, over the past few months has been delightfully active with other people. I camped near a good friend of mine, Peggy, for almost two months. I enjoyed meeting her new beau and spending time hiking and exploring the area with them.

Friends in the Desert

Sandy and Pat arrived. They are fellow Roadtrekers and delightful people. I am happy to be friends with them. More hiking ensued, including a climb to the top of Coyote Mountain. The three of us met two winters back at the White Water Draw Wildlife Refuge (AZ) and we are friends. I cherish them.

More friends arrived, Karen, Larry and Joni. I had the opportunity to hike and camp with them in a different part of the park. Karen and Larry arrange private river raft trips. I met them when I became a swamper for Zee on the North Fork of the Flathead River, over a year ago. They are fellow desert hounds, hikers and explorers. 

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I took time to meet new friends on the east side of the Salton Sea. Rhonda and Jim are more fellow Roadtrekers. They spend part of their winter running away from Michigan, seeking the warmer weather of Southern California. I spent two nights at The Fountain of Youth RV Resort. For two days I enjoyed the hot springs and getting to know this delightful couple. They took me on a tour of Slab City, East Jesus, and Salvation Mountain. I might suggest a visit to this unique spot.

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A few days later Mary, (Zee) arrived after she traveled for two months in Mexico. After spending time on the east side of the Salton Sea and getting some serious bird watching in, oh those cute burrowing owls, we met up with Karen and Larry in Joshua Tree National Park. We arrived in time to witness a Superbloom on the south side of the park.

Being stationary near Borrego Springs gave me the opportunity to become involved in the town, meet the locals and check out small town life. It was a seven mile ride to town from my campsite. This is a small town in the desert and a hub of activity. I attended the theater, an Independent Film Festival, saw the San Diego Ballet Company perform, went to yoga, and enjoyed playing bingo. Their new library is also an amazing place to sit and work, read or ponder. Oh, and the best place in town for goodies is the Fudge Store. Yummy. (try their Maple Fudge-trust me it is to die for.)

fullsizeoutput_2921The desert has always been magic to me. This year was a very different experience. It was wild and rainy and flash floods became common. I have never seen the desert so green or so wet. On the intense rainy days, my favorite activity was to go see the flash floods. It was a very cool thing to watch. I hiked into waterfalls that usually are dry. Not this year. I love seeing nature at its wildest. This winter was the desert’s turn.

My winter was different. I felt ready to be more social. It was fun interacting with everyone and yet, I could still find time alone to contemplate and breath and just be. It was a good winter in the desert.

I have returned to San Diego. Currently I am staying with my friend Phyllis. We are intensively planning our trip to Africa this summer. There is work to be done, reservations to be made and much to discuss. We are doing well. We have not gotten into arguments yet. It bodes well for a two month trip to somewhere very different.

I enjoy San Diego. I am more of a tourist now in this city. I take the time to go see things that I would have put off, while I was still living here. Though I am enjoying my time here, my mind often wanders to those wide open vistas and a bit of longing fills my soul. I know that I will return to those wild open spaces as often as I can.

The world awaits— Out there awaits. 

I am on my way.

 

 

Roadtreking & Grief

“Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed.”

“Grief is a natural response to loss. It is the emotional suffering one feels when something or someone the individual loves is taken away. The grief associated with death is familiar to most people, but individuals grieve in connection with a variety of losses throughout their lives, such as unemployment, ill health or the end of a relationship.”

There has been an on-going story out of Kitchener, Ontario over the past several weeks. To make a long story very short, Roadtrek, the company who manufactured my RV, due to some issues that have yet to be revealed, is closed. This fine vehicle no longer has a mother ship to return to. And…I am feeling sad.

This company always welcomed me to it’s factory. I was welcomed as if I were family. When I had an issue I could chat with them on line or call them. Names such as Leo, Deron, Sean and others were my go to guys with all things Roadtrek. Now these people and nine hundred others have lost their jobs and are trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives. For some this was the only job they had ever known. It is a hard reality they have to face.

It is a hard reality I have to face, too. I no longer have a mothership to go to. Who do I turn to when no one else is able to solve my issue? Although I do have other resources out there, currently I feel like I am at a loss.

I started this post with two quotes from Wikipedia. I know grief, personally. My husband, Jim died over six years ago. Whew talk about grief. Many things are now better in my life yet this issue of loss still raises it’s tentacles and wraps around many parts of my life. Often I don’t see it coming until it is present and I have to cope and understand these issues all over again. 

I am grieving for the loss of this company. I have lost friends, I have lost the Company. I feel sad and a bit melancholy. And yes I am grieving. Thankfully this is not the strong unrepentant grieving of Jim’s death, but make no mistake about it I am certainly grieving. 

Like many of us who own these wonderful machines we are trying to figure out what is next. I am thankful I am no longer in warranty. I have resources. I know there are people out there who can help. I don’t have the easy fix of calling the factory. I am going to have to learn even more about how to take care of my home. 

I also understand that it is important to give myself this time to grieve. It is OK to feel sad or angry or melancholy or whatever other emotion I feel over this loss. 

And then….I will get in my Roadtrek, EmmyLou and go off on another adventure.

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.