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.

 

 

 

Uh Oh-Camping Trip Interrupted

After a brief visit with my Ohio sister, Ruth and my great nephew, Ward, my New Jersey sister, Ginny,  and I left for a camping trip to the east coast and her home.

Well that camping trip did not last long. We camped for one night on a beautiful reservoir that border Ohio and Pennsylvania and then…..being sick happened. I was hit first. We instantly made a decision to head to I-80 and head for home.

 

Here is what I know today.

  • I love my sister, for doing the five plus hours of driving. She never flinched, just got behind the wheel and rolled. (80 on 80 she says). I don’t even want to know.
  • I love the fact I was in an RV. I disappeared to the back and was able to crash on a comfy bed.
  • I love the fact that said RV has a bathroom.
  • I love rest stops on the interstate.

A day later Ginny succumbed. By then we were home and she could retreat to her comfy bed. Then a day later her husband, Frank, succumbed. Ay yi yi. We are all in recovery mode and life is looking a little brighter. Food is beginning to look and taste good and we have survived another sickly adventure in life.

Being sick is no fun. Listening to what my body needs, takes a little attention and agreeing that I don’t need to be strong. There are times that the best thing I can do is crawl into bed and feel sorry for myself and sleep it off. Sometimes it is OK to let others help you out. As a proud and independent person, this is not always easy to admit.

A good thing about family is that we can push past the barriers that one sets for oneself and help each other out. Ginny helped me when I was at my worst. Frank and I helped Ginny when she was at her worst. And the two sisters were there for Frank when he was at his worst.

The real bottom line, here, is IT IS NO FUN BEING SICK. Yet when it does happen it is good to have family and friends close by who are more than willing to jump in and help out.

Hmm, I am getting hungry.😋

Sisters

Traveling solo in my RV can, at times, be a lonely existence. There are days that I grow weary of my own company. I miss companionship. I have discovered over the past few years how fun it is to travel with others. There is more laughter and definitely more talking. I have enjoyed the times when I have traveled with others.

I am on my way to northern New Jersey, to my sister’s home. Miss Elsie the Cat and the rig are going to spend the summer there, while I travel to South Africa. Miss El and I know how fortunate we are to have a place that is safe and secure and loving to go to. 

A week ago I texted my New Jersey sister, Ginny, and suggested that she fly to Ohio, where my other sister, Ruth and my niece and her family live. She could then ride back to New Jersey with me. I totally expected her to say no. And, I would have understood. It was a last minute kind of thing. 

You know what she said? “I am already packed!” Woo Hoo! I was immediately surprised, excited and happy. We are going on a road trip. Ginny and I have done road trips together before. There was that time in Maine when we got so mad at each other, we had to pull off the road so we could yell at each other. By dinner we were friends again. 

We have explored the West Coast, the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce together. One of our last trips was to western Massachusetts and New York State. I was doing a “Fam” trip (familiarization trip). I was exploring the area before I took a tour group into the area. We have discovered interesting places together. Near St Johnsbury, VT we were guided by a local retailer to seek out the Dog Chapel at Dog Mountain.

Dog Mountain is set on 150 acres on a private mountaintop spot. The grounds are always open to people and their dogs. Stephen Huneck and his wife, Gwen, bought the property in 1995. They turned the barn into studio space. Stephen was a hand wood carver. During a serious illness Stephen had a vision to create a space for dogs including The Dog Chapel. What an interesting find. the whole area on the top of a mountain is dedicated to dogs. Inside the chapel the walls were covered with photos of dogs who have passed over, others that were sick. We added a picture of one of our favorite kitties, Wally. It is important to encourage diversity. Stephen and his wife, Gwen, have both died. A foundation continues to run and manage Dog Mountain.  There are hiking trails and a dog agility park. All dogs and their humans are welcome. Yes I would encourage you to explore this unique find when you are in the are

Tomorrow, all three of us sisters will be reunited, however briefly near Columbus Ohio. I look forward to seeing both of my sisters and my great nephew, Ward. My niece and her husband are out of town. After a good visit, Ginny and I will get in EmmyLou the RV with Miss Elsie the Cat and we will venture the backroads to northern NJ. I am looking forward to the company. I am looking forward to what we might discover.

Hopefully this will be the beginning of others, and you know who you are, joining me for long or short trips in my RV. I will treasure the company. My world appears to be expanding.

 

 

 

 

On a Roll

Miss Elsie the Cat and I decided it was time for an adventure. This morning we packed up and headed north and west. The coolest thing is that for once, I timed the traffic right in Los Angeles and rolled through that major traffic jam without a hitch. Whew, thank goodness.

My goal is Pismo Beach, on the west coast of this nation. There is going to be an informal Rally of Roadtreks for four days. We are gathering at an RV Campground and doing something. I am not sure what, but I am going. It is time to walk away from stress and decision making for a few days and have some fun.

The funny thing with a diagnosis of cancer, I immediately am sure that I am not going to live to see tomorrow. I wonder  if it is a bit of let down to see the sun rise the next day. I just don’t think so. A brief update before I move on to brighter and better subjects. I am putting a puzzle together. As each piece fits into place, my decision gets closer to being complete. I have all the pieces but one. May 15th, I have a second opinion at the Moores Cancer Center in San Diego. Hopefully, the visit to the Moores Cancer Center will give me the last piece of the puzzle, for now. The decision I need to make is: Am I comfortable with delaying surgery and the radioactive iodine treatment until fall, or do I have it done now? What confuses this decision, a good friend of mine and I have a two month trip to Africa coming up in July. Although everyone has told me to go and have the surgery in the fall, I am still needed a bit more confirmation. I have had a lot of indecision around this and finally saw a therapist to help me sort it all out. So stay tuned.

Steve, Debbie, Lynn, John

Meanwhile, back at the beach…..I have decided that I do not want to drive long distances any more. I want to have enough energy at the end of my day to enjoy a walk or a bike ride or a hike. I don’t condone exhaustion anymore. Once I was through LA, I thought I would head into the hills, ah the beach was calling and the hills will have to wait. There are these funky campgrounds between the railroad and the ocean as you drive from Ventura to Santa Barbara. I have always wanted to stay at one. Tonight is the night. Our view is the ocean. Yup right out the back door of the RV. I am not sure Elsie is as happy with this situation as I am. She takes a few looks and then heads to the front of the RV. Silly cat.

 

Tonight I met Debbie, Steve, Lynn and John, newly retired and testing out the RV lifestyle for two years. They are jovial and fun and have offered me dinner. Well yum. I enjoy meeting other people. I did the whole camping experience this evening. I had a burger with all the fixings and S’mores for dessert around a campfire by the ocean. I am still needing to give myself encouragement to interact with those I don’t know. I have struggled with this since Jim, my husband, died. It is fun when others make the first move. I am then more comfortable chatting it up and enjoying dinner and companionship.

Currently Elsie and I are bundled up inside our warm and cozy home. The ocean is our backdrop this evening. Hopefully the waves crashing just below me will lull me to sleep. If not, I will enjoy lying here listening to them.

Tomorrow will bring another day of wonder.

I am thankful today for good and kind people.

I am thankful today that I woke up.

 

Moments of Pure Joy

 

IMG_8385Have you ever experienced a moment of pure joy? You know, the moment I am talking about. You see something or someone and you feel true happiness or delight in what you are seeing, hearing or doing. The joy can be so overwhelming you may even giggle or laugh right out loud.

Last Thursday I left Port Townsend and began to travel south along Kitsap Bay. My destination was Suquamish, not too far from Seattle and yet isolated enough to avoid the busy-ness of the city. I am visiting with Jean and Jim who I met through the Roadtrek (my RV) community. Currently I am sitting on the deck looking out over the bay and enjoying the sailing regatta in the distance away.

Port Gamble

On my way to Suquamish I discovered the town of Port Gamble. The community, originally known as Teekalet and later renamed Port Gamble for the bay which gave it access to ocean commerce, was founded as a company town by Puget Mill Company in 1853. The town is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. The community has a wide range of shops from antiques to a tea shop and an old-fashioned general store that is a popular tourist destination

As I was walking around town I discovered the post office and a whole garden filled with the most delightful dahlias. It was one of those moments of pure joy. I looked at all those flowers and laughed right out loud. They were beautiful. Out came the camera and for the next half hour I reveled in this beautiful garden. Those flowers made my heart glad. Dahlias were one of my father’s favorite plants and it immediately brought both my parents to mind. Such a delight.

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Enjoy the slideshow of these beautiful flowers. Maybe these photos will bring about your own moment of pure joy. If this is not your moment, go out and find yours. It is often waiting in the most unexpected of places.

 

A Quick Update About My Busy June

Ultimate Alaska

Whew, what a whirlwind the early part of June has been. June first I left for a small ship cruise to Alaska’s Inside Passage. it was a great opportunity and an amazing trip.

Upon Returning to Boise I turned around in a day and headed north to the Roadtreking Rally on the east side of Glacier National Park (over 70 Roadtreks from all over the the country). My down time has been minimal. I want some time to recover and adjust to life on the road with Miss Elsie the Cat.

Glacier National Park

 

Due to some minor mishaps with my Roadtrek I am in Kalispell, MT for the next few days, waiting for a part to arrive, so my Roadtrek can once again look whole and pretty. The nice thing about having to sit still is that I am finally having the time to regroup and figure out what is next. The other nice thing, I get to interact with the local community.

  • Last evening I went to a special event at the Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell. Earlier in the week I met Deborah McAllister plein air painting near Many Glaciers Lodge. She informed me of an event that was culminating last evening. Several artists spent last week painting in the park. Last evening was the opening exhibition and sale. I put on my somewhat nicer clothes and went to the opening. there was food and wine and live music. It was a delightful evening.

Plein Aire Painting in the Park-artist Deborah McAllister

  • Today I went to yoga. Tomorrow I think I will return and experience aerial yoga. It is a nice community yoga center.
  • Now I am at the local coffee house waiting to get my nails done. I will almost be civilized.
  • After all this I am off to the visitors center to discover what else is happening in the area.

Where am I going to travel off to next? I am not sure. That is what regrouping is all about. My intention is to continue to head west to the coast. Hopefully over the next week this picture will become clearer.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

A Sight Seeing Day

Late last week I said a regretful farewell to my sister, packed Miss Elsie and me back into the Roadtrek and began to meander west through northern Pennsylvania. It has been a pretty ride.

I wandered to State College to visit some other Roadtrek people. Mary Jane and Toby were delightful. They gave the whole front of their home to Elsie and me. People are so kind and generous. This was the first time I met them. I was given a wonderful tour of the town and the campus of Penn State. Mary Jane and I spent most of the time talking and enjoying each other’s company.

Today I began to head south and west again. I did not get very far. I became distracted by one of those familiar brown signs on the side of the highway, which usually indicate something of national interest. This time it was a sign that said Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site. Well, I just had to see what it was so I exited and took a tour, self guided.

At the top of the incline there was a train barn.

Pennsylvania, it seems was concerned about losing population and business to New York, so they decided to build a canal, east-west, across Pennsylvania. It just so happens that the Allegheny Mountains got in the way, so, if you can’t go around them, then darn it you are going over them. As part of the canal system they built a railroad system of ten inclined planes, five up and five down. They rigged up a fancy pulley system, put the boats on the rail cars and hauled them over the mountains. It was a part of the canal system. With the completion of the Mainline Canal they could move goods and people across the state in five days instead of almost a month.

Skewed Arched Bridge-the trains went through this

Now, I love trains and I had no idea of this history or this site. It was a fascinating morning and worth the stop. I spent time in the visitor center before I hiked to see all the areas that remain of one of the inclined planes. It was well worth the stop.

When I was finished with this tour, I move southwest a little more and visited the Flight 93 National Memorial. Whew-what a touching place. I debated whether I wanted to go there or not and I am glad I chose to go. It was very peaceful and very well done. I along with many others left a little prayer for the spirit of the place. I am glad they have done something like this in our country to remember the events and the people involved of 9/11.

This is the entrance to the visitor center. The black walkway indicates the path of descent of the flight.

A 1/2 mile walk from the visitor center is this wall with the names of the passengers and crew etched into it.

 

 

Now I am camped on a beautiful lake and trying to figure out my day tomorrow. Elsie and I took a walk after we arrived here but she got nervous about the water so I carried her on most of the walk.

I find after I have been visiting with others I enjoy the quiet of the evening alone. It is my regrouping time. I know I need keep moving west. Pennsylvania is another big state and I could spend a lot of time here. Everywhere I go there is so much to see.

Tonight I am grateful for another day on this earth.