Breezes of the Desert

75ccc72e53440b46961e7776d2add1faimagesEarly this morning I awoke around 1:30 am, windows open in my Roadtrek and the gentlest of breezes was beginning to blow. I love the desert. When the night breezes begin, the desert is beginning to cool down from the heat of the day. My RV begins to cool off and now it is a time where snuggling into the blankets begins to feel really good.

Coyotes are howling out in the countryside. Despite how I worry about coyotes and Elsie the cat, I love them. They remind me of the wild country before we had big cities. They remind me of Jim, (one of his major spirit animals) and they give me comfort. I embrace the wild-around me and in me. It gives me the will and desire to wander into uncharted territory.

Instead of worrying about not being able to sleep through the night, I accept the waking and explore the dark, welcoming the moon and the moonless nights. I listen to the wind. Reaching over I open another window so I can get a cross-breeze. I love the feel of the coolness on my face, arms and hands.

Sonoran Desert

Sonoran Desert

Before I arrived on the outskirts of Tucson, where I am for the next few days, I was in the desert north of Ajo, AZ. I was boondocking(dry camping). I had driven about a half mile off the main road into the desert. Each day I would go on my own short walk-about, exploring my temporary home. For two days I sat in silence. My only conversation was with Elsie the cat. In the distance I could hear the occasional braying of the local wild burro population and the occasional coyote. Silence is hard to get used to at first. Then it becomes familiar. Then I embrace it. It is hard to let it go, when I go back into the city or even the small town. I hope that some of the silence follows me back into the noise of the everyday world.

Wild Burros

Wild Burros

In the quiet I can begin to hear and feel in a deeper and clearer way. I feel the gentlest of breezes and welcome it’s whisper, quieting my heart and mind.  The sky becomes clearer and the world around me brightens. Sitting out after dark I begin to hear the scurrying of little critters and have a passing hope that a pack rat is not setting up home in my engine, they do that.

When I first moved west I thought I was going to see sand and dirt and nothing.  The desert is so alive. There are plants big and small and so many different cactus. The birds and wildlife are varied. In Suguarjo National Park there are over 200 species of birds. They all have their own unique way of surviving in the hot summer months and cold winter months.

Late Afternoon Hike, near Gilbert Ray Campground

Late Afternoon Hike, near Gilbert Ray Campground

I would like to consider that I may also have my own unique way of surviving. This is why I sold my home last July. This is why I moved into my RT. This is why I accept my questioning spirit. This is why I know it is OK to grieve. This is why I know it is OK to roam and wonder what is next. Maybe just maybe when the wind whispers, I will hear the answer I am seeking.

 

 

 

 

Into the Desert

img_7051Last Wednesday, Miss Elsie the Cat, the Roadtrek and I left San Diego for points southeast. The desert was calling my name. The dentist gave me a reprieve and so we departed into the vast Sonoran Desert.

It is winter here. It is chilly at night, if not down right cold. It is wonderful hiking weather during the day and after the rains the desert is alive and the color green is showing up everywhere. The Octotillo are already blooming here at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

Why the desert? The desert is the place I go to seek solitude, solace, to think and sort and grow. There is something about the wind and the animals and the vastness of the desert that is wonderfully healing for me. I slow down and really observe my surroundings.

Roadtreking Together

Roadtreking Together

I am not alone. I met up with Mary, a friend of mine. She has a Roadtrek too. We are exploring the desert together. We get along well. One of the nice things about having our own vehicles is that when we need time to ourselves we can retreat to our tiny home on wheels. I appreciate the fact that we both are respectful of our need for our own space.

I enjoy sharing my life with others. Mary asked me if I felt that things were getting easier for me, regarding Jim’s death. This is a very interesting question to ponder. I don’t always take the time to gauge where I have been, what I have achieved, and where I am going regarding Jim. Now the question has been asked I will take some time to bring this into my awareness.

Before I left my friend Nancy mentioned she was having a hard time remembering what I was like before Jim. And there it is. I will never return to who I was before Jim. Who I was before him, during our relationship and who I am now is a cumulative effect of all that has preceded this day, this moment in time.

Years ago Jim and I rafted the Grand Canyon. It was a life altering event. After the trip was over, we often would mention before Grand Canyon and after Grand Canyon. I notice there are times where I regard my life as “before Jim’s death and after Jim’s death”. How have the past four plus years affected who I am today? Well that could be a loaded question. I mean over six years ago I was entangled in the the whole breast cancer issue, that led right into Jim’s diagnosis and his death a year and a half later.

Most of the time I see those times as a hard exercise in growing. I had always heard of others who went through periods of trauma (all kinds-you pick it) and then life smoothed out again. I am hoping that my time of trauma is smoothing out. There are issues still to address but for the most part I would like the smoothing to start.

I miss Jim. It is not often that I feel that overwhelming raw grief that carried me through the first few years. I am thankful for that. I was reminded of it, once again, after the National election results this year, and although the grief was strong I knew to step beyond it quickly. Raw grief is not somewhere I want to stay. I find I like to carry him with me, in the stories I tell and the photos I look at. I guess I feel he is here and I can still advance forward in my life.

Janet, Hiking Alamo Canyon

Janet, Hiking Alamo Canyon

Most days I feel I am doing much better and am working towards sorting out my own life. Grief has no timeline. I am not even sure it ever truly goes away, it softens over time. I would like to consider the possibility that grief is softening for me. I am doing better at meeting people I don’t know well and enjoying their company. I have needed to re-teach myself how to reach out to others and know I will be accepted. Being alone most of the time is not good for me. I am enjoying the moments of meeting others and feeling valued as a person. One positive experience leads to the next.

While this all goes on within, I find I am enjoying each day, sometimes a little and sometimes much more. I am enjoying the desert. It was time to leave San Diego. I did not know that when I left and yet it only took one look at the Anza Borrego Desert, as I was coming down the mountain, that I knew I was where I needed to be.

Gila Woodpecker

Gila Woodpecker

Even in an organized campground, with people around the quietness of the desert is everywhere. I wake each morning to a Gila Woodpecker on the cactus next to my campsite. It is good to get up early to greet the dawn and enjoy the wildlife before they disappear in the warmer part of the day.

Elsie is slowly adapting to life on the road again. Thanks to the calming flower essences my friend Beth gave me, she is quietly and shyly coming out to explore. I appreciate my steady little companion on this journey of mine. At night she curls up on the bed with me. Like I said, a good companion.

I will be returning to San Diego, late in March-one more dental surgery to go. I know some of you have been waiting for an update. It is because of all of you out there in the world, known and unknown to me, that I can continue forward with the adventure of life.

Each day, I am getting ready to hike and explore this marvelous country.

Year Four-How Are You Doing?

Jim and me on our last travel adventure together, Peru

Jim and me on our last travel adventure together, Peru

October 17th was the fourth year anniversary of Jim’s death. He was and still is (in a way) my husband. He died from metastasis of salivary gland cancer. We had a really good relationship. I miss him still.

Each year at this time I have people call me and ask how I am doing. It always baffles me, a little,when this happens. I don’t miss him more on the day of his death. I miss him every day in little and big ways. Does it mean I think of him all the time? Well no. I might find myself doing something and then think, Jim would have loved this or he would not have. I know my friends are being kind and thoughtful and I appreciate that. I am just not always sure how to answer that question. At the time they ask, I might be doing fine or more than fine. Usually I am busy.

Big Waves

Big Waves

This year I was bicycling from Monterey to Pacific Grove and back, seeing a chiropractor (I slipped on the step to my RV & thought it might be a good idea to get an adjustment) and enjoying the day outside.

While biking, I stopped to watch the waves for a while. You may have guessed by now, I love the ocean and the bigger the waves, the better. I met a woman, Phyllis who was sharing the same bench with me. I am a strong believer that not much happens by accident. Phyllis has been divorced, widowed and now married for a third time.

I have found, since Jim’s death, if I want to ask a question of someone, I just do. If they want to answer, it is greatly appreciated. If not that is OK too. I asked Phyllis about her experience through grief. I really wanted to know someone else’s take on this.  I follow a couple blogs of women who have lost a partner, yet it is not often I get to talk to someone in person about this topic.

Grief is personal, yet I have found that some experiences are common to many. My question to her was about fear. I am not usually a fearful person. Since Jim’s death, fear has become a close ally. When people say to me how brave I am, selling my home and traveling, I marvel at the comment. If only they knew how fear is usually present in everything I do. I don’t get it. I didn’t used to be this way. Phyllis works with hospice as a volunteer. She said that fear appears to be a part of the grieving process for many. It was for her. Whew what a relief, I thought it was just me.

I am curious why fear? There could be a lot of emotions but why is fear mine. I will not claim ownership, yet fear is certainly close, much of time. I don’t have an answer to that question. Fear does not have to be negative. It is a good thing when it stops me from doing something stupid. It can also be good if it increases my awareness of my surroundings. Fear, though can also stop me from trying something new or different or reaching out to others. That is not good.

imagesEach day I walk through fear, to other side and open my eyes to the world as it is right now. I step into my RV, thank Elsie for her presence, have faith that all is well with the day and move on. On the days I stay still, I read and contemplate and enjoy the quietness of the ocean and the forest and for the next few nights a view of Hearst Castle.

I refuse to let fear control me. Since fear seems to remain present in my life, I will consider it an ally. It will teach me and then one day,  I truly believe it will not be present in my daily life. As an ally I can call for fear when I need it, thank it and then put it back in it’s place until I need it again.

Moving on through my life.img_4873

 

Change-Big Change is Coming

Search-Colorado-Springs-MLS-Homes-for-SaleThis past Monday, my realtor and I went “live”. My home is up for sale. I have been working on the house since February getting it ready for this moment. My broken ankle slowed the process down for a few months. Now that I am walking and doing better each day, it is time.

Today, Tuesday, two interested parties came to view the house. When I received the first call, I was nervous and excited and a bit anxious and scared all at the same time. There are so many mixed feelings with this move.

cardinstallation_02@2xEver since I was diagnosed with breast cancer I feel as if my life has been tossed up in the air, like a deck of cards. While I was picking up the cards from this incident, Jim was diagnosed with cancer. Up went the cards again. Eight months later he was diagnosed with a metastasis from the original cancer, up the cards went once again. With his death all those cards have been taking their time coming down. I have been slowly picking them up, one at a time. Picking up each one has certainly been taking time. No set schedule here.

I thought I would sell our home  3 months after Jim died. I now understand that was way to soon. Grief needs time and I needed somewhere comfortable and secure and safe to manage the initial stages of grief and loss. There was nowhere better than the home where Jim’s and my relationship flourished.

Janet driving in the alley in Chicago(3)

Me & the Trek

I have been trying to figure out what is next in my life since Jim’s  death. I have been waiting for a grand moment of awareness. It has not arrived. I am going looking for it. Miss Elsie the Cat and I are going to make my sweet little Roadtrek into our home for the next year. It may be longer than a year or it may be shorter but I have decided to go traveling. I love to travel. I enjoy learning and meeting new people and exploring this grand country I live in. And to create some expansiveness, I am including Canada in my travels, as well.

Link to Listing

I don’t plan to set out until the house sells, unless it is on the market for a while. If that happens then I will be heading out before it sells. Maybe I will figure out where I want to live. If not it will be one grand adventure. I look forward to seeing friends, friends who I have known forever and newer ones as well.

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The nervousness and anxiety comes from the unknown. It is a little overwhelming to put my trust out there in the universe that all will be OK. I have moved several times in my adult life. Each time has been just a wee bit harder than the last one. I am not sure why that happens, but I do think it has to do with age. Maybe as I have gotten more mature I have found myself more settled with each move. I do have friends in so many places and I hope to meet up with as many as I can. It is time to catch up.

I am getting ready to roll. What should I take? What should I leave? Where am I going? Is this crazy?

Then there is the house. It takes a bit of effort to dismantle a house. I have been in the process of doing this for the past few weeks. I still have a ways to go, yet even this is manageable as long as I don’t get too stressed.

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Miss Elsie

And then there are the memories. Sigh. Even this is OK. It can even be therapeutic. And the bottom line here, is I need move ahead with my life. I want to create adventure and exciting, happy challenges. I am ready. Miss Elsie, well who knows but she is coming along for the ride.

Getting ready, change is in there air.

 

 

 

Waiting

images-1I have been asked by a few friends when I am going to post on my blog. Oops, I realize it has been a while since I have posted. I think I have been waiting. Waiting to get out of my cast (remember the fateful fall in the desert), waiting for the next step, waiting to finish the house. Well it certainly looks like I have been waiting.

The work on my house is finished. I have a newly painted interior of my house. My sidewalk and yard drainage is complete and I have a new driveway. Everything that was taken down is back up and the house looks fresh and pretty. Next step is to get my friend and realtor, Barbara, out here to help stage it. Then when I can walk, it goes on the market. Finally. I will continue to wait to see when this all happens.

Yesterday my cast finally came off. Yes!!!! I am in a boot, definitely not as pretty as my casts have been. I am able to practice partial weight bearing for a week and then progress. It was good to see my leg. It has gotten thin. Where did all that Scottish Dance muscle go? I have been promised it will come back.  The first thing I did when I got home was to get a bucket of water and soak that right foot. I have missed it, so I am planning to treat it real nice. It felt good, first time it has had a bath since I was in the desert.

What does one do while one is waiting.

  • Read
  • Discover Lyft. I can go to the local coffeehouses when I get bored at home.
  • Watch good movies.images
  • Read
  • Muck around on the internet.
  • Take photos. I really like this one.
  • Breath and Meditate and do chair yoga.
  • Read
  • Rely on the goodness of friends to get me out of the house once in a while.
  • Watch the finches at the feeder-take pics.
  • Read
  • Contemplate life and other profound questions.
  • Enjoy spring in my yard.
  • Read
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Spring in the Yard, Finch

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Spring in the Yard


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Spring in the Yard

Well, you can get a good idea. It is a good thing I like to read. It has helped to have such good friends close by. Phyllis, Dee and I worked well as a team getting the blinds, mirror and shades back up. Phyllis has been so instrumental in helping me move forward with house preparation. I would not be this far along without her. Thank you Phyllis.

Having only one leg and being unable to drive, has made me revisit the fact that it is OK to rely on other people. I don’t have to do everything myself. There are other ways to approach a project and all of them are good. I tend to want to be extremely self sufficient. It is hard for me to be patient and let others complete a project in their own way and on their own time. I have been learning to sit back and graciously accept help. It helps me to remember to breath and remind myself that I really cannot get up on that ladder right now. My main job is to heal.

I am grateful for all the help others have offered. Whatever the activity, it may seem small to the person offering, to me it is huge and I am warmed to the core of my being by the simple acts of kindness of others.

Excuse but, now I have to get back to waiting. 😏 sad-waiting-for-you-quotes-for-google-plus-2-5990c8cd

 

Letters of a Relationship (#1)

UnknownLast week I was once again purging my house. This is an event that started with Jim’s death and continues periodically ever since.

With this purge I found a box containing every card or letter I had ever sent to Jim, over the 22 years that I knew him. It also contained Christmas and  Birthday cards from members of his family and my sister, Ginny. I sat and read every single one of them. I enjoyed reading them and following our courtship through the ensuing years. It made me feel good.

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cards

These letters and cards also held some surprises for me. I would like to share a few of these with you.

  • I can write. I know you might be surprised to hear me say this, being that I have been blogging for 2 1/2 years. I really never thought of myself as a writer. I have always considered myself as more of a story teller.
  • I wrote my own poetry to Jim. Some of the poems were not too bad and some were corny and amateurish. They were heart felt.
  • Our relationship progressed fast. As I read, I realized how quickly we knew that we were ready to commit for the long run.
  • Both of us were emotionally and intellectually honest one hundred percent of the time.
  • I was willing to bare my soul to him. I did not seem to have any fear of not being accepted for who I am.
  • I can be a mush and a romantic. This is not how I would describe myself to anyone, ever, in my whole life.
  • Some of the cards were funny and punny. We shared a similar sense of humor. That certainly came out in the cards. My humor developed over the course of our relationship and even if it is off color, I exhibit that humor more often now than I ever have before.
  • Jim brought out a playfulness and joy in me. When I feel safe and loved this trait is released into the world more.

Now I have discarded the letters and cards, except for a handful. Why?  I don’t need the physical cards to remember the specialness of the relationship. Every time I speak of him and our relationship, I am expressing the depth of caring and fun we had together. Who I am today is a direct result of being in such a fine relationship for 22 years. And…I am purging.

I also have a box of letters and cards that Jim sent to me. As of right now I have not sat and read all of them. I will hold on to them for a while, yet. These hold a different significance. It helps me to remember what a special person Jim was and how significant and good our relationship was. It also reminds me of how valued and treasured I was by this very good man. When I am feeling sad or a bit down it is good to have a visual reminder of how much I am loved and cared for.

I love the feeling of purging. Everything including myself and the house feels so much lighter. It feels right to do this. I have a long way to go before I can release emotional attachment to my belongings. Each time I purge though, I feel I get a little closer to this goal in my life.

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El Cat

Never fear, I will not purge Elsie the cat. She and I are in for the long haul.

 

Hope Changes Everything

Wow, January has been a busy month. Besides work, hiking, home repairs and improvements I have also had my friends from Chicago and Florida visiting. And it has been fun.

Helen

Helen

Helen arrived early in January. It was so good to see her and spend some time with her. Our lives have intertwined for many years. About 3 weeks after Jim died Helen came to town for a week. Friends are amazing in knowing just what you need. At that point her visit was just what I needed. This January, once again, her visit was just what I needed.

HOPE

One of our discussions struck a chord with me and I have been pondering this since her visit.

Hope can be defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Or, to want something to happen or be the case.

Hope is something we all need. It is part of our every day lives, even though we don’t specifically address it. Sometimes it helps me get up in the morning. Sometimes it helps me to go to bed at night. Hope is a part of my everyday life. Often it surfaces and I don’t even know it is there.

Helen’s mom is in her late 80’s. MJ is not able to live at home and has not lived there for many years. Until this year they have been able to keep MJ’s home. Early on they would take her to visit and she would travel from room to room and review her treasured collections. That house I believe, represented hope for MJ. It may have given her daughter hope as well. No one knows what the outcome of any single event in our lives will be. Hope lets us know there are options.

Jim on Our Property

Jim on Our Property

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Spring on my property

When Jim was diagnosed with the metastasis of his cancer the first thing he said to me was “Let’s  sell the land in Colorado” (We have 45 acres of bare land and we were planning to build and move there). I told him no,I did not think we should worry about that and if it became necessary I could take care of it later. I am glad I told him this. I believe that the land symbolized hope for a positive outcome. Although that did not happen, I recognize now how important it was for both of us to hold on to that property and know there was more than one possibility there.

Now hope helps me see the future. Hope I believe is part of the grieving process. When the days are not so shiny and positive hope helps me get through those moments, knowing that the next moment, hour or day may shine a little brighter. My friends and even strangers also help me hold hope in my heart. It is because of the love and support and caring of others that I am able to lift myself back up out of those darker places and move forward with my life and know there are unknown possibilities ahead for me to explore.

My days have been much brighter since about a week or so  before Christmas. Hope helps me to see a future with possibilities. It helps me to grow and expand. When I am feeling sad or low hope certainly can help me remember to call someone or take a walk and get myself going again. Hope also helps me see beyond undefined fear that has become more prevalent since Jim’s death. Hope pushes aside fear and I am glad that hope is the stronger of the two emotions.

Hope is always part of my adventure into life. It has been since I was young and it will be until I am too old to move any more. But you know, even then the face of hope just changes. It will be always a part of my life.

How does hope affect you? I would love to have my readers share this with me.