Changing It Up

Sunrise near Tofino

I attempt sometimes to post my latest trip news. Somehow when I read it, it does not seem real or honest or me. I am not a travel journalist or writer. I am not sure what I am when it comes to writing but I don’t think I am the above. It feels phony.

What is it that I write about? And, why do I keep writing? I am not sure of the answer to that question. Yet, write I will until I don’t feel like doing it any more.

When I first started this blog, my intention was to keep my friends and family informed as to my where abouts, as I traveled the United States and Canada in my cute little RV. Here I am five years later still writing and still sharing my feelings and adventures in my life.

After a month on Vancouver Island-I arrived there late in July-I am once again state side. I have been in Washington for a few weeks and am exploring all these new places I have never seen before.

A Month on Vancouver-Slideshow

My month on “the Island” was good. I met very nice people and did a lot of fun things. The smoke hampered my activity a little but, not much. By the time I left Vancouver at the end of August there were at least five hundred fires burning in British Columbia. Smokey, Smokey, Smokey. Fire in the west is what it is. It makes me feel sad for the people, animals, birds and more that get caught in its path.

This past spring was hard for me. I was sad and lonely. By early July I gave up and increased my antidepressant dose. I was on a minimal dose and decided to increase it, a little, to see if that would help. Amazingly it did. One of the young woman I had my hair cut and colored by, told me she is on an antidepressant. She said that if taking a small pill every day for the rest of her life allows her to enjoy her husband, children and her life, she is willing to take a pill to help her do the above. I think of her often and after she said this, I decided that I was going to give the increase dose a try.

I also decided that I was going to change up how I traveled in my rig. I suspected that if I was around people a bit more, the loneliness might lessen.

I belong to a couple organizations and I have not really accessed them the way I could. They are RV lifestyle organizations. One organization is Boondockers Welcome. If you are a host, you offer your driveway or yard to people traveling through your area by RV. Some of the sites are a driveway and you must be self contained. Others offer electric hookups and/or water. If you really lucky you may even be able to dump your gray and black water tanks. As a visitor you contact the people via the website and request a stay. The hosts can accept or refuse. It is not personal if they refuse, sometimes the hosts just have other things going on.

I started to access Boondockers Welcome when I was in Idaho. My first visit was under the tall pines. It was quiet and lovely, next door to a state park and near a small town on Lake Pend Oreille. The home owners and hosts were lovely. We spent an evening sitting in the driveway, exchanging stories and meeting the neighbors as they walked their dogs. It was delightful. They were delightful.

Since then I have been to several hosts homes and each one has led me to meet kind and interesting people. I love the socialization. I have perked up. I am glad that I listened to my inner voice that guided me away from the isolated lifestyle, I have chosen to lead over the past few years. Now I mix it up. I spend days on my own and when I feel the need to socialize I will look for a home site near me and park in the driveway for a few days. The hosts understand that you need time alone, yet we also make sure to visit and exchange RV’ing stories with each other. Sometimes we share a meal. And sometimes I end up making a new friend who hikes and explores their own home territory with me. Other hosts,  I am planning to meet again, “on the road”.

When things are not working for me it is certainly time to change it up. Thanks to organizations like the one mentioned I have the  choice to change it up. It is a healthy lifestyle choice for me. I am glad I could recognize the need within myself to try something different.

Tomorrow I am on my way to the Seattle area. I am going to be staying with a couple who I have met through the Roadtreking : The Group,  Facebook page. They have a full site across from their home. I can easily catch a bus to the ferry and take the ferry into Seattle. I am enjoying ferry travel this year. Another new adventure awaits. I am looking forward to meeting them and exploring a rather large city without having to drive my Roadtrek into the heart of it all. I am looking forward to meeting this couple and changing it up.

I think that will be my new mantra “Change it Up”.

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing For the End of Winter

I would like to express my gratitude to all the responses I received from my last post “Struggling Through Winter”. All of your comments were so supportive and helpful. I have read through them more than once. It has eased the feeling of aloneness I felt this winter. It has reminded me, once again, that those of us who struggle with depression and sadness are not alone. I am forever grateful to all of you.

As the daylight hours lengthen I have found I have more energy and interest in the world around me. And, I am beginning to prepare…prepare to move back into my rig and begin the life of a nomad, once again.

I wasn’t sure what direction I was heading when I left the bay and ocean, in San Diego. I kept waiting it out, in hopes that a small “aha moment” would appear and I would have it figured out. I now know my first destination. I am going to driving across the southern United States and then cutting north to Ohio by the second week in March. I leave my rental on February 28th. I will spend a few days at a campground, just to adjust and then I am on my way.

For those who have been following my blog, you may be aware that my one and half year old great nephew, Ward, was diagnosed with a Wilms tumor right before Christmas. After successfully removing the tumor and kidney, he recovered and is now in the process of receiving chemotherapy for several months. His family is adjust to this unexpected time in their lives. This is not an easy adjustment and they certainly can use all the support they can get.

My sister, Grandma to Ward, has been in Ohio  since the tumor was discovered. She is in need of returning home. I am going to be helping my niece and her husband out for a while. I will now have time to meet and get to know my great nephew. I am looking forward to meeting this little one and loving my niece and her husband.

This is what family does for each other. We may not always agree, or get along but when any of us struggle, my family is there to support and love each other. It is my honor to actively support and love this lovely young family.

As February begins to wind down, I am getting busy with my Roadtrek. I am getting it cleaned up and completing  all my little and medium size projects in the rig. I am cleaning, making lists and starting to figure out what I want to take with me and what will return to my storage locker.

Miss Elsie the Cat is making her own checklist. She wants to make sure she has all her creature comforts with her. 

I am looking forward to being on the move. I am looking forward to spending time with my niece and her family. I am looking forward to exploring places I have not been before. I am looking forward to meeting people along the way and visiting with friends. I am looking forward to figuring out my spring and summer. I am looking forward. Looking forward means that depression is lessening and I am entering back into life. Oh I am so glad for this. It has been a long few months.

Next winter I might go to New Zealand so I can experience summer all year around. 🌞

Stay tuned—-Life is picking up.

 

 

 

Struggling Through Winter

I have struggled, emotionally, this winter. I am not whining, I am not maudlin, I am not anything other than appearing normal on the outside. Inside my brain, my heart and my being has been in overdrive.

From the outside, everything looks fine. I exercise, I eat (well some), I talk nice to others and I feel compassionate and kind. Inside, I am confused, alone and worried that there might really be something wrong with me.

Three months before Jim died, my counselor strongly urged me to try antidepressants. After three and half years of the whirlwind of cancer for both Jim and myself, she and the psychiatrist who recommended the medicine felt that I was emotionally overloaded and depressed. Well, you think? I agreed to try an antidepressant to help get me through a difficult time. The dose started low but we had to adjust it upwards until I reached a dose that was acceptable for me. I come from a buck it up,  grin and bear it kind of family. Weakness is not in our thought process. It took a bit of encouragement to try the medicine.

Five years later I began to talk to the psychiatrist about coming off of the medicine. I mean how do I know that I really need it now that five years has gone by and I am much more together than right after Jim died? How do I know? Last June I began a slow weaning protocol. I did well until September and then I had to go back up on the dose a little. I remained there until I arrived back in San Diego.

Fall and winter are not my best times. I don’t like the shorter sunlit days, and I fight against coming inward and looking around in those quiet and sometimes shadow sides of myself. Winter is a classic time of being inward. I am glad I am at the beach because that has helped with this unguided annual review. Unguided means that I don’t actively seek out the coming within, it just seems to occur.

Did you know that depression is cyclical? I learned this from the psychiatrist. When people come off antidepressants, if a person is in an upswing they usually do well initially until depression once again raises it’s cyclical self. When I tried to take the final plunge to remove the medicine from my body I was in a more depressive cycle so I knew right away that this wasn’t good. My acupuncturist, Gayle, also relayed to me that she does not recommend for a person to come off these types of medicine as we roll into fall and winter.

So here I am, somewhat disappointed in myself that I could not take the final step to stop this medicine. I know it is not a sign of failure but it kind of feels that way, just a little bit.

Depression is nothing to take lightly. I have known others in my life who battle it in a way more severe form than what I am dealing with. It is easy to tell someone to get over it or deal with it or be positive, yet for those dealing with depression, these kinds of statements are painful and unsupportive. What would be a much better response, I think, is to say I am sorry you are going through this, what can I do to help? Or even better call them once in a while just to talk. Or even better, invite them to dinner, go to a movie, guide them gently in a different direction. No one wants to be sad or lonely or depressed.

Day at the tidepools-4

My therapist has given me some assignments. So I am trying these while I wait for spring and the longer happier days of that time of the year.

  • Set up a phone date once a week with someone I love and know loves and supports me.
  • Read up on the “Stages of Life”. I guess when you reach my age it is not unusual to review all of your life thus far and try to figure out what comes next.
  • Take my passion and do something with it. I have already been working on this with my photography and creating my web site.
  • Each month pick one thing that brings happiness or contentment into my life. Last month I started a photo a day project. It not only fuels my artistic side but it also gets me outside. this month, I am attempting to finally sit in meditation for five minutes a day.
  • Look for groups that have common interest and join in.
  • The worse thing I can do is to hole up. Each day I try to get out to walk, bike-be in nature. I do it alone and with others.
  • I have also decided to start a journal and write one thing I am grateful for every day.

This is just a sample yet I believe you get the idea.

As I write this Miss Elsie the Cat and I are in Idyllwild, CA visiting a good friend, Mary. This has been the best thing I could have done. I have been able to casually visit with Mary over the past few days. I am out and away and in the mountains. Each day I have been here I have felt better, emotionally. Mary and I are embracing each other’s company, sharing our woes and all our good and interesting times since we last saw each other. It is a marvelous catharsis for us both.

It is hard to admit this type of stuff to yourself. It is hard to admit it to the broader world. I have sat on this post for over a week, wondering if I should reveal this much of myself to the rest of the unknown world. I reviewed some of my other posts and some of them have been just as raw and revealing. Why hesitate here. I believe that depression has a stigma that surrounds it. What if I admit that I am not strong. Well everyone is suppose to be strong all the time, right? Well guess what?  That is not true.

I see this as a continuing part of who I am and dealing with grief. This too shall pass. Maybe, just maybe by sharing this someone else may not feel alone or the odd person out. Well here is a fact so no one has to feel alone, over 350 million people in the world suffer from some form of depression.

I continue to embrace each day with as much fervor as I can muster. Some days that is easy and some days my embrace is just on a tinier scale.  And…I keep telling myself, spring is coming, it is just around the corner.