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.

 

 

 

Roadtreking & Grief

“Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed.”

“Grief is a natural response to loss. It is the emotional suffering one feels when something or someone the individual loves is taken away. The grief associated with death is familiar to most people, but individuals grieve in connection with a variety of losses throughout their lives, such as unemployment, ill health or the end of a relationship.”

There has been an on-going story out of Kitchener, Ontario over the past several weeks. To make a long story very short, Roadtrek, the company who manufactured my RV, due to some issues that have yet to be revealed, is closed. This fine vehicle no longer has a mother ship to return to. And…I am feeling sad.

This company always welcomed me to it’s factory. I was welcomed as if I were family. When I had an issue I could chat with them on line or call them. Names such as Leo, Deron, Sean and others were my go to guys with all things Roadtrek. Now these people and nine hundred others have lost their jobs and are trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives. For some this was the only job they had ever known. It is a hard reality they have to face.

It is a hard reality I have to face, too. I no longer have a mothership to go to. Who do I turn to when no one else is able to solve my issue? Although I do have other resources out there, currently I feel like I am at a loss.

I started this post with two quotes from Wikipedia. I know grief, personally. My husband, Jim died over six years ago. Whew talk about grief. Many things are now better in my life yet this issue of loss still raises it’s tentacles and wraps around many parts of my life. Often I don’t see it coming until it is present and I have to cope and understand these issues all over again. 

I am grieving for the loss of this company. I have lost friends, I have lost the Company. I feel sad and a bit melancholy. And yes I am grieving. Thankfully this is not the strong unrepentant grieving of Jim’s death, but make no mistake about it I am certainly grieving. 

Like many of us who own these wonderful machines we are trying to figure out what is next. I am thankful I am no longer in warranty. I have resources. I know there are people out there who can help. I don’t have the easy fix of calling the factory. I am going to have to learn even more about how to take care of my home. 

I also understand that it is important to give myself this time to grieve. It is OK to feel sad or angry or melancholy or whatever other emotion I feel over this loss. 

And then….I will get in my Roadtrek, EmmyLou and go off on another adventure.

Into the Wild, Well, Not So Wild, North

Good morning from small ship cruising on the inside passage in Alaska. It is not even 6 am yet and I am wide awake and ready to roll. It is hard to sleep when the sun rises shortly after 4 am.

The beginning of this journey to the north has been interesting and fun and awe inspiring. I have met wonderful new people, Jeff who housed my friend Leslie and I in Sitka, was the perfect tour guide. We hiked, we talked, we ate, we did yoga (Leslie teaches) and I personally repeated “Wow, Isn’t this beautiful?” several times while we wandered the darling town of Sitka. This phrase has continued to repeat itself since boarding our small ship.

The scenery is amazing. Mountains everywhere. Trees everywhere (it is a rainforest). The people I am traveling with are very eclectic, from all over the world and enjoyable. I have been fascinated by the lives of my fellow passengers. Some of the passengers are from AK. When you live in such a large state, you have to play tourist to see where you live.

While I am wandering the north country, life continues to go on in the lower 48.

  • My great nephew had his first post chemo scan and, thankfully, it is clean. We are all so relieved.
  • Elsie is adapting to life at Linda’s and Steve’s in Boise. It appears all the animals there have called a truce and are pleasently ignoring each other.
  • My RT, EmmyLou, has been in the shop and when I have reception I have been emailing Nelson’s RV and Linda (same friend as in the bullet above) has been managing the interaction between me and the shop. What a good friend. My propane leak is fixed (yay) and EmmyLou is getting ready to roll. It is hard to manage this at a distance.
  • Hopefully all my friends are doing well. Reception is spotty at best where I am so I am out of reach often. Today I am in and I am up early and I am writing.

This is Alaska, so far. Mountains, Eagles, Bears, Whales, Mountains, Dolphins, All kinds of ducks and more. It is relaxing and adventurous all at the same time. Yesterday we visited a Tlingit Village, learned about the life of the local tribe and watched and participated in dancing. It was delightful and informative.

Leslie and I are traveling well together, although this is only day five (Hee Hee). We are good roomies. We are not glued at the hip so we wander off on our own explorations as well as create time to explore together. This is an ideal travel relationship. When we are together, of course, we talk, it has been several years since we have seen each other.

I am off for another day of exploration. I am forever grateful that so many “have my back”. I carry all my friends, known and unknown with me wherever I venture and I am so thankful for the silent and strong support I feel as I adventure into the Wild North.

Sorry no pics because WiFi wont let me download them. They will come later.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

A Winter in San Diego

Crystal Pier Sunset

A month passes fast. I have been in San Diego for just over a month. Elsie and I moved into a rental near the beach for three months. It is nice to be able to walk the two blocks to the bay and then in a few miles be at the Pacific Ocean. I have missed “Big Blue”. I walk or ride my bike every day, in between appointments.

 

One of the reasons I moved back to SD was to get “stuff” done. Important stuff but still stuff.

  • Dental appointments, galore -I am on the finishing side of my tooth implant. My close relationship with the periodontist is at an end. He is a nice man yet I will be glad to put this chapter behind me.
  • All my doctor appointments are complete (many appointments in December) and I am good to go for another year. I know this sounds light yet, this is just the sign of relief I feel after being anxious about these annual visits.  I begin to fuss  about two months in advance. After having breast cancer, the trauma does not seem to totally go away.
  • I completed by new web site. It went live about three weeks ago. Go check it out. I am proud of it and if you want to purchase any of my photos it is all on the web site. Your comments are always welcome jarnoldarts.com
  • My storage locker is still there. I am starting to acknowledge that it may be time to get rid of some of the things that are in the unit. I am discovering that absence really does not make the heart grow fonder. I am beginning to realize that many things I kept because of sentimental value. After a year and a half away, the sentiment is growing less with each passing day.
  • I spent several days cleaning and sorting and fixing my Roadtrek RV. I enjoy doing this.
  • My rig is at the RV hospital getting repairs done and getting her physical check-up.

I could go on but you get the idea. The first month has been very busy. I am now finding more days that have nothing on the calendar. I am glad to see that because it means it is time to visit more of my local friends. I will enjoy catching up with everyone.

Another reason I moved into a “sticks & bricks” studio was to test the waters. Is San Diego a contender on the potential list of places to live? I figured that maybe moving in and staying put for a few months might answer that question. The jury is still out.

I have a good core base of friends in San Diego. I now realize that peoples lives move on, even my friends. They are caught up in their own lives, as it should be. I knew this was a possibility when I chose this current lifestyle, yet I miss seeing some of them and being more involved in their lives. You could say the same thing about me. I have changed and grown too. We are all caught up in our own lives. I do know that I need to reach out more and contact my local friends.

I really enjoy everything a large metropolitan area has to offer. I don’t like the traffic. San Diego is huge, the 8th largest city in the United States. It is spread out and rush hour traffic is a major hassle. Try driving it in a larger vehicle. People are impatient, and I get honked at and sometimes the middle finger is raised in salute. I don’t particularly like the hurriedness of it all. Being at the beach has helped. It has a different vibe.

And then there is the cost of living. I have spent some time on the weekends strolling the neighborhoods and stopping into open houses. Wow, the price of homes is amazing, really amazing. There is one that sold across the street from my studio that sold for $1.3 million. Jaw dropping, to say the least. Rentals are not much better. It is a landlords market currently and they can ask whatever they want. Thank goodness for my little rig.

Another reason to even consider this area is the weather. Many of you are currently in a deep freeze. It has been in the high 60’s and low 70’s in San Diego. Every day I spend time outside. I walk, I bike ride and hike and more. I love being able to access the outdoors every day.

Walking the Beach

The diversity of nature here is really a plus. For being such a big city, there is so much to do outside. Yesterday I walked the beach. I can go to the desert and to the mountains and many environs in between. I love this diversity. There are over 52 microclimates in San Diego county. This lends to some great exploring.

So here I am still in the “what do I want to do with this next phase of my life” issue. Who knows, maybe I am already doing it. I love to travel, the RV is certainly a good way to travel in comfort. Yet, I do know in my heart of heart’s that I want to settle into one place again. I am still exploring the where.

And, the jury is still out.

Another Year-Reflections

Tomorrow is my birthday.

The day after tomorrow will mark the sixth anniversary of Jim’s death. Time stands still. Time flies. It is amazing that it is six years since I last saw him. It is amazing that it has been six years since I last heard his voice. Well this whole process is pretty amazing and not always much fun.

I grieved when my mom died. I grieved when my dad died. I have grieved over the loss of friends and over the loss of others in tragedy, which we have seen so much of this year. The loss of Jim was different. I lost my life partner, my friend and my companion in mischief and dance. I describe the three and a half years leading to his departure, like a deck of cards thrown in the air. Just as they started to come down and I was picking them up, something else happened and the cards were thrown back up in the air again.

I am still picking up cards from six years ago. I didn’t know there were so many cards. Yet I have accomplished a bit along the way and each day I attempt to live life to its fullest. Some days it is a wee, tiny bit and other days are big a luscious and overflowing with awe and beauty.

I am beginning to realize that I may never have an answer to the question “What’s Next?” At my best I look for the large and small around me and find some marvel in it all. At my worst, I still find I can treasure my current surroundings and who I am.

  • I am not homeless.
  • I have this lovely little Roadtrek to call home.
  • My home is heated, which feels good on these chilly fall nights.
  • Elsie is always my faithful companion, in adventure and silence.
  • I know, oh how I know, I have many out there that support me daily, mostly in thought and prayer. Yet I know you are out there.
  • There are many books to read. On days where I don’t have much energy, I sit and read.
  • When I was younger I went through a short, period where everything was gray. I appreciate that I have never gone back to that place. I still can see and marvel at the loveliness of the places I visit and the people I meet. Color is a wonderful medium.
  • I have a family, sisters and nieces, that though not often heard from love me and support me.
  • And there is always my camera-I love taking pics even at my lowest.

There is always hope. In this coming year I am going to attempt to not be so hard on myself. I really don’t need to make far reaching decisions about anything. I want to focus on what is best for me at this moment in time, in this day and in this year. I want to experience a little more joy, wherever I can find it. And, although I am not sure I may want to settle down. I shall see on that statement.

I now understand a bit more of the statement from others that “you can move forward, while treasuring the moments Jim and you had”. I know that I can do both. And, ever since Jim’s passing he has been very good at helping me find my car keys. I have called on him more than once. This is one of the important reasons to keep him nearby as I adventure forth into life.

If you look on this site you will see a Go Fund Me tag. I have been raising money for the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship for 6 years. I am close to my goal of $25,ooo to make this a perpetual scholarship. I have about $8,000 more to go. I have been constant and steady in trying to raise this amount. If you would like to donate, small or large, some student out there at Grossmont Community College will thank you for your efforts.  I treasure each donation because I know about the thought and caring behind it. If you would prefer to donate directly to the college, here is their information.

Mail your donation to:

Scholarship Specialist
Financial Aid Office
8800 Grossmont College Dr
El Cajon, CA 92020-1799
Contributions are tax deductible

On to another year of discovery. Who knows what it will bring. I will continue to follow my own path, carrying the memories of my time with Jim forward. This year I pray that it will be just a wee bit easier. Each year seems to be getting that way. I am thankful for this.

I am thankful for 21 years of love, caring and relationship. I am thankful for being able to have those memories to help me move forward with my life, no matter what direction it takes.

Today I am thankful.

 

 

 

Totality


fullsizeoutput_8201My extended summer vacation is drawing to a close. I have had an adventurous and good time in Idaho and Montana. I can’t thank my friends, Linda (for her “cabin”) and Mary (including me in her adventures) enough. It has been a fun.

The finale to my time in Idaho and Montana, and a little bit of Oregon was watching the Eclipse in totality, with new friends. We were in Unity, Oregon. The eclipse was every cliche or phrase or word you have ever formulated for amazing. I had told myself that I would not take photos. I was just going to watch it. Well the best laid plans can go awry. I did get one good shot of totality. It was fun to take pictures of the people and the shadow, and the sunset. Yep it was downright awesome.

And to think, I almost missed it. What?, you may wonder. She was planning to do this since last spring. How could she almost miss it?

I have been out in the back country for most of the summer. I have hiked and biked and kayaked and more. I have spent a lot of time alone. When the news started coming in that they were expecting close to a million people in Oregon for the eclipse, I hesitated. McCall Idaho was expecting up to 100,000 people. People were worried about traffic. There was concern that gas stations would run out of gas. The more the reports came in, the more unsure I became. I was not sure I wanted to be around all these people. I have seen one other eclipse. I could easily head south and avoid the masses.

Mary & Janet waiting for Totality

What drew me to Unity to see the eclipse was my friend, Mary. I had made a commitment to her to share an RV site. I had made a commitment to be there. I like my friends and I really don’t want to disappoint them. I don’t break commitments very easily. So with some hesitation on my part, I drove to Unity, Oregon.

And the result? 

I had a great 4 days. The group I was with were delightful and easy going. The day before the eclipse we went to Unity Reservoir and mucked about on the water. Everyone got along. The town and the townspeople were welcoming and helpful. We had a great big grassy area to sit in, the morning of the eclipse. Other people outside of our group joined us. Everyone was having fun getting to know each other. There were no hoards of people. We left on the August 22. There was no traffic. We had no difficulty driving or getting gas. The trip to Medford Oregon was long yet easy.

 

I am glad I stretched myself. I am glad I pushed myself to step out of my comfort zone and mesh into a fine group of people. I believe that it is important for me to be a bit uncomfortable from time to time. The emotionally scary experiences help me to become more-more human, more whole, more of everything. I know several posts back, I spoke of fear. Fear has been pretty much a part of my day to day existence since Jim died. I can let it drown me or I can make it my ally. The trip to Unity is a good example of asking fear to be my ally. When I support this part of myself and push forward to a new experience I grow and fear becomes a tiny bit more distant.

Sunset in Totality

I am driving south. I am going to be in San Diego for two weeks, starting this Sunday. I have to visit the person I have an ongoing relationship with for another six months or so, my dentist.😁 I have to sign up for Medicare. Good heavens, I am 65 this October, how did that happen? The rig is getting checked out and serviced. It is time to get my eye exam and order new glasses. It will be a busy two weeks.

I am hoping to see all my San Diego friends. I have missed my major support group, since Jim’s death. You all know who you are. I hope to see each and every one of you in my two weeks in town before I adventure out again.

Tonight I am at the beach. I have missed the ocean and have felt a draw to the west to say hello to the Pacific, and Jim (he was buried at sea). It is time to get my shoes on and take a walk. It is time to say hello to the wide open ocean.