Eight Years Ago


Jim, my Husband died on October 17, 2012. On November 17th that same year, good friends and family and I took Jim to sea, scattering his ashes out in the Pacific Ocean on an amazingly beautiful morning. There was no planned ceremony we were friends and family who had gathered, one more time, to send him off in an intimate and loving ceremony, to wish him well.

when this anniversary arrives I set time aside to reflect and remember him, before cancer, before death. I treasure the moments I had with him. We were together for 21 years. The time was too short. The time with him was valuable. The time was fun, happy, loving and complete. I miss him.

This year, for the first time, I made it through Jim’s birthday (10/10) my birthday (10/16), and his death (10/17) with little sadness. I was staying with good friends in Boise and despite my insistence to not celebrate my birthday, we did anyway. I had a red velvet cupcake. Yummy. It helps to be with friends. It helps to feel loved and acknowledge that I am cared about and valued. It really helps to be with others.

Each year when I return to San Diego I make time to dip my feet in the Pacific Ocean and say hello to Jim. I know he is not out there, yet this is the last place I put him, so I go to greet him and visit. I think of him often. I still look upon our time together as a valued gift. I loved him for twenty-one years and I love him still. I know I can carry him forward into my future. He and our relationship has shaped who I am today and it will continue to shape who I am tomorrow.

All love is to be valued and not taken for granted. This love, this relationship-Jim and I-will never be taken for granted and it certainly was about love and understanding, laughter and friendship.

Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to Jim. And hello to another year. I am still moving forward. Today I am grateful for Jim, a good twenty-one years, and the continuing love and support of so many good friends. 

 

 

 

 

 

Changing My State of Mind-Feeling Grateful

This morning I woke up feeling a bit sorry for myself. I miss Elsie, I miss Jim, I miss having a permanent home (sometimes-Oh wait isn’t my RV a permanent home?), I miss, I miss, I miss. Isn’t that a pleasant way to wake up? Not!

Once I climbed out of bed I decided I was going to look around me and find things I am grateful for. It is way past time to walk away from the “oh woe is me” thinking. After doing this, the sorries are gone and I am back on track, ready to take on another day.

What did I see that made me grateful and happy, if not, content?

I live in a pretty amazing small space. When I am cold I can turn on the heat. I am warm and dry and comfortable. I have a very comfortable bed, one I have been creating for as long as I have been fulltiming, to make it just this comfortable. It is hard to get out of comfort in the morning. This is a complete home, minus the cat, that fills my needs just as much as if I had a permanent spot on the map. I am so grateful for this little home on wheels.

Recently friends of mine, Helen & David, told me that the latest research shows that coffee may be good for a person. When I left their home in Nebraska this past fall I left with a filter, coffee filters, coffee, and a scoop. About once a week I indulge myself in a rather weak yet good cup of joe. Every time I pull out the filters and coffee I immediately think of my friends. It reminds me of how loved I am by them and so many others. Funny how just getting out the makings for a routine cup of coffee can remind me of such good friends and make me grateful.

Zentangles

I look at the front of the cabinets and there are small Zentangles that were drawn by a very long-time friend of mine. It reminds me of how the two of us have gone through so many changes in our friendship of close to thirty years and we still endure. I am glad I have Nancy to go to when I need an in-depth and hopefully honest conversation. We have helped each other over the years. Again I am reminded of friends near and far who love and support me, even when I am not at my best

Last night I had another potential Elsie sighting. I am so grateful to the people on the Santee Nextdoor App. More than likely this will not be Elsie, the description is wrong, yet I am so grateful for all these unknown people out there who have been supporting me through this hard process of trying to locate my lost kitty. They have been amazing and I will remain grateful for this community for the rest of my life. You might want to check out Nextdoor and become active in a different way, in your community.

I take for granted that I have clothes on my back and when they get dirty I have the money to go to the local laundromat to wash them. There are people who struggle to have one pair of shoes. As I look toward my sleeping area I see two pairs of shoes there. Today I am grateful I can have my pick of shoes and clothes and food and well just about everything else that makes my life a bit easier.

Have you ever noticed how unique and incredible the people around you can be? When I get up in the morning I usually check my emails, and then social media. It is not unusual to read a little of people’s lives on Facebook in the morning. I know that most of the time we present the better side of ourselves to the world, but, what amazing people I know. One couple is very involved with the San Diego Maritime Museum. They are always doing the coolest things with the ships that are a part of the museum. Their interest in the museum has even led James to a part-time job working for Scripps Institute of Oceanography, helping to captain their research vessel. How cool is that? Pretty darn cool, I think.

Others travel and learn. I have had friends who have hiked the Camino de Santiago. The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. I follow them with interest and a bit of desire and take pride in knowing them and sharing, even vicariously, in their achievement.

Ginny

My family is becoming more and more important as I have grown older, not old. I love the moments when I talk with my sister, Ginny, on the phone. We don’t often talk of anything important, though sometimes we do, it is the talking and sharing that is important. I follow my other sister and nieces through Photo Sharing and Facebook. I can share their joys and sorrows, if not directly through all these forms of media that keep us connected across the miles. My one niece is expecting a new baby in March. Yes, I am excited, although an absentee Aunt.

Everyone continues to teach me about love, acceptance, being human and more. I have friends who stand by me through thick and thin. Others, thank you Cynthia, teach me new and old forgotten skills such as crocheting. It is not just the skill that is important, it is the gathering and conversation and sharing that is. Each friendship expands my world and teaches me value.

And lastly, there is Elsie the wandering kitty. I had fourteen years of her company. Her toys are still out and her blanket is still on the front seat. She may come back and she may not. I have been slowly working my way towards acceptance of the latter part of that statement. I am grateful for every moment I had with that little darling kitty. She taught me a lot and was quite the reluctant social butterfly. Because of her, I have met so many people in the Roadtrek and RV world. People have become my friends and I am grateful she was my introduction to some of them. Not everyone came to my rig to meet me, but because of her presence, I have met kind and wonderful people.

Now I am feeling stronger and better. Being grateful is always a good thing. Some days, like today, I need to start out small and look about me, be thankful and get myself back on track.

The wind has died down and it is time to get on that bike and ride.

I wish all of you a very Happy New Year. May it be filled with adventure and gratitude. See you next year.

 

 

 

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.

Another Year

Today is my birthday. As I have gotten older, I appear nonchalant about this day, not much ado, just another day. Secretly, inside my heart and mind I want someone to remember, to call, to drop off an unexpected gift, to remember. All of this changed six years ago.

My birthday is October 16, Jim my husband died on October 17. Well there is a heck of a marker for this time of the year. It took two years after my 60th birthday to celebrate my 60 years. How could I choose to remember a milestone when Jim’s death was a much larger milestone and has over shadowed this time of the year. Sometimes I look at October as a month to get through. This year is a bit different and it feels like I might be returning to honoring myself on this day, at least a little bit of me is shining through.

I always had to be careful what I wished for when Jim was around. If I wasn’t careful those wishes would show up on or around my birthday.

  • A four hour horseback ride in the mountains. Please don’t even ask about the trick riding that ensued.
  • Soaring in a Sky Plane above Warner Springs. It was good while I was upright. When they turned it 90 degrees to the ground, I broke out in cold sweats and told the pilot  to turn it back up or I was going to throw up all over the his back. Jim didn’t go on this one.

    A Janet Original

    He had a thing about heights. When I landed he put his had on my back and said “your back is wet”. After I told him the above story I think he was doubly glad that he had not gone up.

  • Water Color lessons. Jim bought me my first five lessons and supplies. I studied with Hannah for over a year. This small gift became a move into something I loved doing until Jim died. I believe I lost my muse.
  • Diamond Earrings. I used to tease him about not having a diamond engagement ring. Several years later the earrings showed up.
  • Massages for both of us at Esalen Instiute on the Big Sur Coast. What could be better than sitting in a hot tub looking out over the Pacific while waiting for our massages?
  • We both celebrated our birthdays rafting down the Grand Canyon with AZRaft. The river guides baked me a delicious carrot cake in a dutch oven.

I assume you get the idea. How do I find my own way back,  to celebrate this time of the year? Does it matter? Wow there is a loaded question. I believe it matters because I have now lived a full 66 years. In a human life span, I believe that this is worth noting. Not everyone makes it that far. Jim didn’t.

Continuing with the theme of feeling better around small groups of people, I am going to a movie with a friend of mine later today.

Currently I am sitting on the sun porch enjoying a leisurely breakfast, looking out over the pool. As I look down, here is Miss Elsie the Cat sitting by my leg and watching all the back yard activity. This house is huge, she could be anywhere, yet there she is hanging by my leg. I like to think we are both enjoying a moment of companionship. This alone is a very good birthday moment. I am glad for this little cat who has adapted to a nomadic life.

Today I am finding my way back to being grateful to be alive. Today I am thankful for Miss Elsie the Cat. Today I am thankful for all my friends and social media friends who have taken a moment out of their day to wish me a happy day today. Today I am thankful that I am still here. Today I am thankful.