My Bounce Around Month-The Challenges of Personal Growth

Sunset on Squaw Lake

After spending two weeks in the desert I once again have returned to San Diego. No, wait, I am in Santa Barbara. I call this month my bounce-around month. I am moving about the southern California area to finish this visit for the year.

Why am I bouncing around.

  • I really wanted some time in the desert and two weeks was all I could find this year to venture to the east.
  • I received my second Pfizer vaccine on March 1 in San Diego. I am doing well.
  • My rig, EmmyLou is getting things done. First, she had the outside fixed. Now we are working on the inside.  RV’s need check-ups. Today we are in Santa Barbara to meet up with Dan Neely. He is one of the Roadtrek Gurus, traveling up and down California to make it easier for his customers to meet up with him.
  • I have to return to San Diego as I have a few more tests to finish up my first post-year thyroid check-up. (I had thyroid cancer a little over a year ago) Oh and I am getting old, I have to have my left eye checked for a cataract. But I don’t feel old!

Rope Canyon & Peggy

Ladder Canyon & yours truly

My trip to the desert was grand. I camped and hiked and biked and kayaked. Although most of my friends were not in the desert this winter, a few were. Peggy and Roger have managed to figure out how to be in the desert and social distance this year. Peggy took a few nights to come and camp with me. It was good to meet up with her. We did some amazing hikes-ones that challenged me. The most rigorous one was when we took an early wrong turn in the Mecca Hills and ended in Rope Canyon instead of Ladder Canyon. After we tackled the first rope in this beautiful slot canyon we decided we were in the wrong canyon and hiked back out. Then we decided to tackle Ladder Canyon. It was a challenge but after Rope Canyon it was definitely easier. It is a beautiful place in the desert.

Squaw Lake Kayak

I met up with Cori another Roadtreker at Squaw Lake, a dammed lake on the lower Colorado River. There are several lakes just north of Yuma that is part of the Imperial Dam Water District. This is a great place for boaters, fishermen, and other watersports lovers. The lakes are gentle and easy to navigate. We also kayaked to the River and went up river first so we could float back down to the lake entrance. It was a fun adventure with Cori. We hiked and kayaked for two days before I needed to return to San Diego.

My adventures in the desert were not always fun. Friendships can be hard as well as rewarding. I sometimes wonder if I know how to communicate as well with others now that I have been on my own for so long. I tend towards introversion (yes, really) and since I have been staying away from people I wonder if I need to break into the world of others more carefully and slowly.

I have learned a valuable lesson on my desert trip this year. Being respected is important to me. I try hard to respect others and I have grown enough, now to count on others to appreciate me. When that doesn’t happen then it is time to leave and regroup. I also need time to remind myself that I am a good and worthy human being and worthy of being appreciated.

Argh! Growing is hard and challenging. I have a friend who turns 90 this year who told me once that I will still be growing when I reach 80. When growth is easy, it is fun and exciting. When growth is not so easy, it is challenging and hard. It is often the challenging steps that are the most rewarding.

A Santa Barbara Sunset

I will be in the lovely town of Santa Barbara for two more nights and then will head south. I am staying in an Airbnb in a quaint section of the city. I am one block from the beach and it is quite beautiful. This morning I dropped my rig off and then bicycled the 13 miles back to my residence. This afternoon I will repeat the process to pick her back up.

The adventure of life continues. I am grateful for the challenges that come my way. I am grateful for my friends who love and respect me. I sometimes grudgingly appreciate those who challenge me and help me grow. I am thankful for the mechanics and others who help my tiny home of wheels stay in tip-top shape. I am really thankful for my tiny home. Today I am thankful for a blue sky, classic sunny southern CA day.

 

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.