Friends

I wasn’t planning to post again until after my Wednesday visit but….this will be short.

I have all kinds of friends in my life. Long term ones, short term ones, ones who are occasionally there and ones I can rely on through thick and thin. I love them all. Sometimes I mistake what one friend can or cannot do. This is often my assessment of a situation that turns out incorrect. Mistakes can also come as lessons I need to learn.

This morning I am sitting at this lovely campsite and trying to figure out where to stay in San Diego. Yvonne is a friend who has surfaced since Jim’s death. She worked for him at the college. She is a fellow tour guide. When I asked her to accompany me to my appointment on Wednesday, she said yes. She is going to get off work early so she can be my second set of ears, a very important role.

Today, Yvonne offered me her driveway to camp in. Oh my goodness this is exactly what I needed. I don’t need to ponder and think alone in a campground for the next few days. She and her home, at the moment, are a gift to me. I am feeling blessed and overwhelmed and oh so grateful. It will be fun to catch up with her and Elsie will enjoy her backyard.

Today I am feeling grateful for all my friends in whatever form they take.

Today I am feeling so grateful for Yvonne.

“The Power to Rise Again”

There are times in my life when I can use encouragement, support and more from known and unknown sources. When life gives me a hard push or I am struggling with indecision or fear, encouragement in positive outcome helps me so much.  The known sources are my friends or people I know through social media, like those of you who follow this blog. The unknown sources may be inspirational books, poems, and news articles.

About four months ago a good friend of mine, Pat, introduced me to the “Sunday Paper“. The Sunday Paper is Maria Shriver’s free weekly newsletter publication that offers news and views for a meaningful life.  This newsletter is one I quickly began to look forward to receiving each week. I like to go to my inbox before I even get out of bed to read the inspirational message at the beginning of the Paper. Each week there is usually something in this message that resonates with me and gives me courage when I need it most. I feel like each week there is something in these messages that speaks directly to me.

Now before, you of different political beliefs begin to think, “Here is that liberal Janet speaking out” or “Maria Shriver-just another Kennedy” I encourage you to go to the web site and have a look around. It is amazing what she comes up with week after week. She posts you-tube videos that are pertinent to the weekly theme. There are interviews with authors. There is so much in this paper, that I rarely read or listen to everything before the next week’s paper appears in my in-box. Some weeks I just read the inspirational message and short prayer at the end of the message.

This morning’s delivery in my inbox is titled The Power to Rise Again. If you click on this title it will take you directly to her page.

I have considered and thought about this article of inspiration often through out my day. I needed to read or hear what she had to say. At times it is hard to deal with other human beings. I am dealing with some issues with another human being at the moment. It feels unfair how I am being treated and even though I know “this too shall pass”, well right now I am in the middle of it all and it is a struggle.

Here are some of the quotes that I have found encouraging in Maria Shriver’s message this morning.

These days when I go to church on Palm Sunday, though, I find myself really thinking about the significance of the day. I also find myself thinking about how fast the court of public opinion can change someone’s life, just as it did for Jesus Christ.

On Sunday, he was met with adoration. By Friday, he was dead on the cross. I mention this because if we spend our whole lives working for other people’s admiration and validation, it’s worth remembering that external validation can change on a moment’s notice.

“The game is going to test you, never fold. Stay ten toes down. It’s not on you, it’s in you. And what’s in you, they can’t take away.”

He was right. Life is a test. It was for Jesus Christ, it was for his mother Mary, and it is for each and every one of us.

Life will always test us. I know it has tested me, and I know it has tested you. On many occasions, I have found myself saying, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.” Or, “Wow, I have no experience for how to deal with that.”

But over the years, I have also found great moments of awe and wonder and joy in life’s surprises. Time and again, these surprises have led to me discover strength within myself that I never knew existed.

I say all this to remind you that if your week starts out great, but hits a bump along the way, you can still rise again by the following Sunday.

Life will test you and it will surprise you, but you have everything you need to rise up and move forward with strength and courage. I love knowing this to be true. I love believing it.

I have found such support in these words today. I will spend the rest of the week digging deeper into the Sunday paper for joy and enlightenment and support.

And then next Sunday….a new edition will be there to greet me.

 

 

Tis the Season

“Santa Claus is the idea of giving for the sake of giving, without thanks or acknowledgement.”

Christmas is arriving very soon, five days to be precise. I chose, years ago to forgo giving presents to my family. The reaction from my family members was across the board. Some were upset. Others seemed relieved. I got tired of sending gift cards to people because I did not know what they wanted.

No gift giving has giving me a freedom to enjoy the holidays a bit more. I don’t have to try to find a place to park at the mall. I don’t have to deal with tired children and weary parents. I am content to stay away from the craziness this season often causes in all of us. It has allowed me some simpler pleasures.

This year for the first time since Jim died I decorated my little home on wheels. It makes it feel warm and cozy. I feel like I have taken a step forward in the “who I am now” process. I did not go all out but a few small battery run tiny trees with lights and lights around my kitchen window have made me feel like I am celebrating grandly.

Recently I read an article about a little boy being told the truth about Santa. The sentence at the top of this post, is what stuck in my head regarding how the father explained to his son what Santa really means. I like to think I can be Santa Claus all year long. I like the idea of giving for the sake of giving. Instead of doing it now I like to give when I find the perfect little item or card. I hope people enjoy the fact that I think of them and care for them all the time. Sometimes giving means that I hand my spare change or few dollars to the homeless. Giving from the heart, in the moment, is the true freedom of giving without expectation.

I treasure phone  calls from friends and family or when someone sends me an e-mail. It is personal and makes me feel special. Often phone calls come just when I need them. This coming year I would like to commit myself to calling my friends and family more often. They feel cared about and I feel less alone. It may even deepen our relationship. How much fun would that be.

As the season comes to a culmination I am celebrating in my own way, enjoying dinners with friends, wandering the San Diego Zoo during Jungle Nights, attending the Nutcracker, and even watching a live performance of La Traviata from the New York Met at a nearby movie theater with a friend. It is varied and such a lovely way to catch up with friends.

My birth family is approximately 3000 miles away. This year I will have to wave at them across the miles, enjoy their phone calls and watch for their posts on Facebook. Often this is how my family and I have celebrated many Christmases since I headed west in my mid-twenties. Ah this is the price of the adventurer in the family. Although I miss them, I have no regrets about exploring this huge and grand country and stretching my wings.

Christmas this year is in the home stretch. Hopefully most gifts are obtained and wrapped and ready to go. Dinners are planned and celebrations are near the grand finale. I know that I will contemplate a warm and wonderful day with friends. I look forward to enjoying the laughter and joy with Pat and her family. It is good to have good friends. It is even better when good friends are near by and want to include me in their holiday fun.

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Happy Hanukkah or Happy Whatever you celebrate. Embrace your family and friends and enjoy the day the week.

Miss Elsie says Meow.

 

 

 

 

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.

Friends & Urban Farming

I have been in San Diego for a week. My re-entry to this community is usually a bit hard. I don’t think it is the memories. I feel it has more to do with me trying to decide if this is still my home.

Last winter I rented a studio at the beach for 3 months. It was delightful to be near the beach, yet I found I was lonely. When one disappears from their friends for a long period of time, well they move on and in some ways so do I. I wondered how I would feel coming back this fall.

My month long home

Things are different this time. For the first month I am here I am house sitting for good friends in a large, beautiful home that has a feel of a retreat in the middle of a busy city. Both Elsie and I are enjoying the space. There are ample opportunities to sit outside, by the pool, looking over the canyon and a cozy, protected side deck and yard.

Having this space has offered me the opportunity to invite friends over and enjoy their company. Many of my friends are curious about my current home, so they arrive in ones or twos to visit, catch up and take a look around. And, because the house comes with six laying hens, people can go home with fresh eggs.

I am learning about chickens. When one stopped laying a few days ago, I was concerned. Like all good techies or techie wanna-be’s, I headed to the internet to read up on why one of the girls is not laying.

  • Did you know that when daylight hours are decreased hens will stop laying? Yep…so I wonder if this is the reason that she has stopped laying. Chickies need 15-16 hours of light to lay eggs. Our daylight hours are decreasing, so this might be a normal event.
  • A chicken needs around 20 grams of protein to lay an egg. In addition to protein, chickens need: calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, fat and water.  A chicken also needs a lot of protein to grow feathers; feathers are approximately 80% protein. So a chicken only has enough protein to either lay eggs or moult, it doesn’t have enough protein to do them both at once.
  • Too many goodies-table scraps and such may also cause them to stop laying because they are not getting the nutrition they need from their main food source. OK I admit it, I have been table scrapping them. This stopped yesterday.
  • If they are dehydrated they will also stop laying. Chickens will drink around three times as much water by weight as they will eat. I don’t think that is a worry as I change their water every other or third day.
  • Are their nesting boxes clean? They don’t like them damp or dirty. Guess what I am doing this afternoon?

Now, you too may know more than you ever needed to know about the urban chicken craze. I had two pet chickens when I was growing up. I am enjoying being around them again. They are funny and personable.

I am house sitting for a month and then plan to camp and visit other friends for about 10 days and then return to chicken farming for another couple of weeks. It has certainly upped my game. I am relaxed and sleeping in and am enjoying exploring my new neighborhood. It is a beautiful area. For those who know the city I am in Tierra Santa and some of the trail heads to Mission Trails Regional Park are a mile away. Sweet.

I am enjoying seeing all my friends, a little bit at a time. I still do better in small groups. Large crowds continue to overwhelming to me. For all my San Diego friends. I am back and I plan to stay until January 2019. Please give me a call or email or text. I love this time of the year because I catch up with all of those who have been part of my social community for almost thirty years. I love all of you.

Today I am grateful for friends near and far. Today I am grateful for this lovely home and retreat. Today I am grateful for chickens. Today I am grateful.

Friends &Moving West

I have many kinds of friends. I treasure each one. I have ones that have been around since high school and some that I have recently met. I treasure them all.

Helen on Fish Lake

I spent 3 days last week with a very good, long time friend of mine in Fish Lake, Indiana. Helen and I lead very busy lives. She lives in Chicago and I live, well I am not sure. We stay in touch by email, text and phone. We don’t see each other very often. Oh, but, when we do….The talking and fun ensue.

When Jim died, Helen dropped her life and showed up in San Diego after my sister had returned to New Jersey. I will always appreciate the fact that she didn’t take no for an answer and just showed up. I will always love her for that incredible act of kindness, support and love.  She is just that kind of friend. It will be an act of generosity that I hope to emulate.

On this trip her husband, Norb got involved with the merriment along with their two cats. We visited. We ate, trying out some of the local restaurants and cooking at home. We talked. We kayaked. Oh, and we watched the Royal Wedding.

Helen and I are family. Despite our faults we love each other. Isn’t that wonderful?

I am in Iowa now and heading west. I will visit the Field of Dreams movie site before I hit the back roads. Alaska looms closer each day. Elsie and I must get to another family of good friends in Idaho soon. Today I must begin the push west. Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and finally Idaho.

Moving right along.

A Day at White Pocket-Final in a series of three

 

White Pocket

There are moments in life, I believe, I will remember and carry forward with me for the rest of my life. Sometimes it is a chance meeting, Jim, or a wonderful movie or play. Often for me it has to do with nature. I love the outdoors. I love the wildness of it, the unpredictability of it. I have been known to stand in storms, watching the wildness of a very restless, big ocean with giant waves. Thunder-storms enthrall me. A perfect fall day, hiking through the woods can ease a restless soul.

When my friend and mentor, Mary and I arrived in Kanab, I was introduced to two good friends of Mary’s, Sky and Bobbie. They opened their driveways to us as well as their home. When camping there is nothing better than taking a nice, long warm shower. Bobbie and Sky were gracious and wonderful hosts. And–they gave me a day of their lives to visit White Pocket.

White Pocket

Mary and I have tried for reservations for “The Wave” several times. It is a place many want to visit for its natural beauty. They allow 20 people to hike in there a day. We were thwarted on each of our attempts to visit it. Sky suggested we visit White Pocket instead. He said that it is larger than the wave and just as beautiful, if not more so.

On a lovely fall morning I joined Mary, Sky and Bobbie for 4-wheel drive to White Pocket. The ride in was bumpy and definitely needed a high clearance vehicle to get to the formations. When I first walked into the area all I could say and think was “WOW”. It seems that this word applies to most of this back country journey into southern Utah, this fall.

A pocket is usually a small area of land, this one is approximately 1 square mile, that is markedly different than the surrounding area. White Pocket is a group of domes and ridges, white and gray being the dominant color. Doesn’t sound too interesting does it? But wait, Mixed in with the predominant color are yellows, reds, oranges and more and it is swirling. This area shows upheaval in geologic time.

Remember you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

For a photographer it is eye-candy, everywhere. Yep, you can take a lot of photos here. The formations are beautiful, amazing and just wow. We climbed up and down being careful of the fragile formations as we explored this area for approximately four hours. Sky was our faithful and great tour guide. I don’t believe we missed much.

Off to the side was a cave with petroglyphs. I love this stuff. I have for years been totally fascinated by the ancient ones of the southwestern United States. I love to sit and imagine what their lives were like many hundreds of years ago. And where did they go? Lots of theories and yet no one knows for sure.

This was a memorable day. It was one more highlight of a three week journey that had many. It was the final highlight for me. I enjoyed the company of the people I was with for this day. I believe that Bobbie and I would be friends if we lived closer. I enjoyed spending time with her in the formations talking of deep and wondrous things. These are my kind of people.

Sky

Bobbie & Cyo (not sure of the spelling)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All too soon we returned to Kanab. The ride back from White Pocket and the Vermillion Cliffs was a beautiful late afternoon ride. The photo-ops continued to occur. The conversation was fun. After spending one more delightful evening with Sky and Bobbie, Mary and I departed. She was heading north and west to Oregon and I was heading east to Durango.

The Drive back to Kanab

Departure was hard for me. I enjoyed the company of the people I traveled with as much as I did the awesomeness of the places I saw. It was hard to say goodby. Teachers come in all forms in my life. People come and go, sometimes for a brief moment and others stay much longer. I can’t thank Mary enough for being a good friend and mentor. Linda, the other travel companion at the beginning of this adventure hopefully will be a life long friend. I can’t thank these two women enough for including me in their adventures and lives. Hopefully we will travel together again. Chance meetings, Bobbie and Sky and Bob in Escalante make me feel so honored and special to have met them and even for an instant, shared their lives, feelings and laughter.

Mary, Linda, Janet

Today I am thankful for September, for the wide open expanses, for the quiet, peace and solitude of the back country.

Today I am thankful for friends.