Not Working

Today marks ten months since I quit my last job as a medical transcriptionist and eight months since I have been in Texas with friend A. Thanks to her generosity, I have managed to eke out my extremely meagre savings this long without having to seriously look for another job. And a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that I will soon be able to draw survivor’s benefits on my late husband’s social security, so it may be that I won’t actually have to look for a job any time soon. To say that I was surprised and stunned at this news is the understatement of the decade. Once again, my dead spouse is treating me better than any of the living.

I love not working. I have not had this amount of time off from a job since I started working for pay at age fifteen. I only took one month off after I had a baby and one month when I moved across the country from Atlanta to Pueblo, and only that long because it took a while to find a job. I’ve basically been employed for nearly 50 years, so it’s safe to say I don’t even know what it’s like to not work as an adult.

This is not to say I don’t stay busy. One of the reasons I came here was to help A out around the house, etc. I wrote about my sweeping duties and these have expanded over my time here. I do pretty much one hundred percent of the cooking and grocery shopping. The teenager can put frozen things in the oven and heat stuff in the microwave, but that’s as far as her cooking skills go. I showed her how to use my rice cooker and that made her really happy and now she even cleans it after she uses it. We take small miracles where we can find them. So, I sweep and cook and shop and keep things organized. I check mail for A’s brother, who lives behind us in a small house A had built on the property for her daughter years ago when she first bought the place. He suffered multiple strokes in February when we were having terrible weather and spent nearly sixty days in hospital and rehab facilities. For a while, I was making and taking him lunch three or four days a week and adding him into our dinner portions as well. Then he decided he needed to go to an actual rehab hospital for several weeks and he made great progress with them. Since he got back, he can move around more, and do is own cooking. But I am here if he needs help and he doesn’t hesitate to call.

These are all things that A would have had to manage while doing the full time job of teaching. So, I definitely don’t feel like I’m freeloading or being a burden. I’m also happy to run errands into town like picking up prescriptions or mailing things or whatever else needs to be done. Why wouldn’t I? I know what it’s like to work full time and never be able to go to the post office or a particular place because you’re headed to work before they open and not off till after they close. I’m happy to do these things for A because she’s my friend and because I can.

I thought for a while about trying to find some kind of job on line part time but as things piled up here and more things happened regarding brother, etc., I realized that adding an actual job into the mix of the things I was already taking care of was not something I wanted to do. I realized I like getting up when I want to. I like taking an hour or more to have coffee in the morning. I like jumping into the pool when it’s not thundering and lightening outside (we have had Noah levels of rain this spring!). I like working on my quilts and having dedicated space to do so. I like taking a nap if I feel like it. I get lots done every day, but every day I get to decide when and how I get it done. *I* get to decide. And if I don’t get to something on my list, no one yells at me. No one accuses me of lying about having computer problems or other situations. I get to do the work I do on my terms and my friend is happy with it. I can be her sounding board and her shoulder to cry on and vice versa. I have mowed part of the property once on the big zero-turn mower, and I will probably do more of that, but with all the rain it’s been hard to find a dry time to mow and I need A to be here at least a couple more times before I try it completely on my own. But I will conquer it!

I’m also learning pool maintenance. A’s cousin wanted to do something nice for her, so she paid to have the pool serviced and a new sand filter put in. Again, A was at work when the job was done, so the guy showed me how to do it (I made videos!) and I have been taking the water samples in every week, adding the chemicals, clearing the filter as needed, etc. Add one more skill set to the list.

So here I am. Apparently on my way to retirement in spite of myself and extremely grateful for everything that fell into place to allow me to do it. And now, the coffee is done and the sweeping beckons. See you soon!

Something Unexpectedly Nice

Fridays are my run-around days. They are also my Mondays, when I make the trek back to work and my insanely disturbed sleep schedule, so I’m not crazy about the day in general. However, I have managed to get them into somewhat of a routine. I get E. to school by 7:30 and then I go and donate plasma at 8 a.m. I started donating plasma about a year ago. It’s a two-fold advantage. I get to help people who need the things they use plasma for and I get a little extra money every week. I’ve settled on a Tuesday/Friday schedule and the extra has helped with a lot of little things without me having to dip into my savings more than usual. It works.

I’m usually done with the donation by 10 a.m. and after that I head to my favorite place in the world right now, Stitcher’s Garden, Pueblo’s lone specialty quilt store. I usually run by Starbucks and pick up coffee for myself and for Becky, the woman who works there on Fridays. She taught my very first quilting class and I have taken another class from her since and she is just an incredible wealth of knowledge about quilts, patterns, piecing, mathematics, you name it. She and a friend of hers have written several quilting books and designed a number of quilting tools called “squedges” that make the most amazing quilts. Visiting with Becky is definitely one of the high points of every week.

So this week, I did that, and got some thread and notions to finish my squedge quilt that I had put together a few months ago. I’ll be quilting it myself later this month on the shop’s long-arm quilting machine–my first time using it, so I’m excited. (quilt top photo below)

Anyway, normally after the quilt shop, I hit the grocery store, but I had already done that this week, so I had a spot of time between the shop and picking up E at 1 p.m. as he gets out early on Fridays. So, I decided to head to one of my favorite Chinese places for a bowl of hot and sour soup and some wontons.

This is a tiny place in a small strip mall next to an Albertson’s. It’s run by a very brisk young woman who is also busy raising a family while she works. When you walk in the door, there’s a round table for about 6 to your left, beyond that, one 2-top, another round table to your right, the service counter/register straight ahead and then on left along the wall, a couple of long tables that could seat up to 8 people and then 3 booths. Not a lot of space for just one person, unless you pick a single chair at one of the long tables. When I got there, all the booths, the rounds and the 2-top were taken. There were people sitting at one of the long tables, but I couldn’t determine if they were customers or family. I ran back to the ladies’ before anything, hoping perhaps someone would be done by the time I came out.

No luck. So, I chose one of the chairs at a long table, up against the wall. Then another lone woman came in and did the same thing at the table in front of me. The owner came and took my order and the other woman’s, made the rounds doing all the things you do when you work in a busy restaurant. I got my soup, and a little while went by and I looked up to see four people standing in the doorway, hoping for a table. I motioned to them and asked if they were all together. One of them said, no two and two. I said they were welcome to come and sit at the other end of the table where I was, which would have left empty chairs between us, but no one seemed inclined to do that.

Then, the lady in front of me turned around and asked if I was by myself. I said yes, and she said she was too. I asked her to join me if she wanted to and that would free up the table where she was. And she did. We struck up a very nice conversation, about kids and grand-kids, and house sitting and driving and weather. Then, one of the women who had been standing at the door came over and asked if she could sit with us, too. Turns out it was not two and two at the door; she had been there on her own. Of course, we were happy to have her sit with us. More chatting ensued. I got compliments on my hair, which I had dyed blue around Halloween and had mostly cut off, but there is still some solid blue highlighting my gray patch in front. I really like it! Then it turned out the woman in front of me had purple in her hair, which I hadn’t seen at first because she was backlit from the front window. I loved it! Two women “of a certain age” with brightly colored hair who had not known each other fifteen minutes earlier.

However, the place was really busy, and time was hard on for me to go get the boy, so I asked if I could just get my wontons to go. When I left, the other two were happily chatting together and I don’t think the people at the door had ever sat down. They missed out on a great experience. I normally am not terribly forthcoming when I’m out, but I’m going to change that. I’m going to be more open to these kinds of serendipitous opportunities. We did not exchange any information, I may never see her again, but I got her name, Iris, and I had a lovely time chatting with her for a few minutes, and I will always remember our encounter with a smile.

These days, that’s worth a lot.

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Discoveries

Time marches on and life goes with it. April was my first anniversary of being here in this little place. The past year has flown by and now we are deep into summer.

Discovery: I really like summer when there’s a pool right outside my door. I’m in there nearly every day, even when I work. I’ll probably go out for a dip right after I post this because it’s still early and it’s going to be fierce hot today (triple digits). I try to stay in about twenty to thirty minutes (without sunscreen) to get my vitamin D for the day. I haven’t burned and I have some tan lines!

I signed a new lease in June. I initially signed a 14-month one to get $100 off the deposit. This time the incentive was to sign a 15-month lease, get $200 off the next month’s rent and have my carpets cleaned. I knew I was going to stay here until E. graduates, so done. Next year, I’ll sign a regular 12 month lease and be ready for the next step in my overall plan by September 2018.

Discovery: I’m perfectly okay with leaving here and leaving E. without knowing what kind of a plan HE has for the next few years. That’s up to him. I’m giving him lots of fair warning.

Discovery: I love being single. Love. It. Oddly, a couple of guys here in the apartment complex have tried to start up conversations with me. I keep it on a completely superficial level. Couldn’t be less interested in anything more. I have no desire to have any kind of romantic relationship ever again. The relief of this realization is palpable. No more justifying my weird habits or my work schedule or my eating or anything else. No more “mushy” decisions, “If you want to.” or “I don’t care, you choose.” and then being wrong. Fuck that. I have a friend here and we try to get together for lunch on a fairly regular basis and EVERY time, I’ll say, where do you want to go, and he replies, “I don’t care.” There are times when I really HATE that. It sometimes makes me just not even want to go. Then other times he’ll text and say, “Half-price wings at Buffalo Wild Wings on Tuesday!” and I’m like YES, finally make a damn decision.

Discovery: I want very little. I’m on a 2-year mission to downsize. I am going to try to downsize five things every day. So far, I haven’t been very good at it, but that’s the goal. I recently ordered myself 2 new pairs of pants…linen…been looking for something like them for a while. But, when they arrive and if they fit, I will need to let go of at least 2 pairs of pants. I have been culling through my drawers on a regular basis…do I really wear this, do I really like this, does this really fit the way I like and will it ever fit that way? If not, gone! And that’s just clothing. I have more books to release. This morning, I woke up thinking about artwork. I have some genre-specific stuff in a foot locker that I will probably never hang. But they are great pieces for the right person. I started thinking of people who might like them and so far I think I’ve found homes for 2 of them. We’ll see how that develops.

Discovery: I like my little garden in pots. I’m getting lots of cherry tomatoes now, the basil is flowering and fragrant and I have discovered that squash plants do not like to grow vertically. The one plant I kept is growing in a bucket and it’s a beautiful plant but all the squash but one have shriveled and dried up before reaching more than a couple of inches long. I think it’s because the plant has to grow UP out of the bucket first. So, I planted another seed in a shallower planter and it’s coming along. We will see what happens. My cucumber plant succumbed to irregular watering and I think its pot was too small. We’ll try again next year in a different pot. Also next year: Peppers and eggplant.

Discovery: It’s all a grand experiment.

Discovery: If by some sick cosmic joke, Donald Trump gets elected president, I am seriously contemplating moving to Canada. There, I said it. That’s one experiment I don’t want to be in the middle of.

Up & Down

School starts next week. I’m looking forward to it, even though it’s been a really nice summer. Both of us have pretty much gone with the flow. I let him sleep mostly as long and as much as he wanted, unless we had something to do. I’ve tried to sleep more myself, and you all know that’s a struggle. I finally just broke down and put up blackout curtains last week, which work pretty well, except I bought curtains that were too short (they cover the window fine, but they really need to go all the way to the floor) and I should have bought tab-top panels so I could fit them around the sides of the existing blind rod. So, I’ll get another set shortly and the experiment will continue. I used the existing set of holes for the curtain rod, because I don’t have a drill and I didn’t want to put more holes in the apartment wall. It works. The room is a lot darker…I tossed up one of my sarongs on top to block that light and I can push open the curtains in the middle to get some daylight when I’m not working or sleeping. It’s fine. But for once, I’m not writing about my sleep problems.

Last fall, when the marijuana fiasco happened, we called social services and opened a voluntary case with them. Truthfully, they haven’t done a whole lot…the caseworker makes a home visit and he did help get me some furniture when we moved, and helped with paying for E’s football camp this summer. I can’t complain. Then, several weeks, ago my caseworker told me that if I was “certified” and got custody of E, I could receive what they call “kinship” assistance, which can be a substantial sum, as they pay the relatives as if they were foster parents. Yes, foster parents get paid to take care of children that aren’t theirs but relatives who step up don’t get anything.

Anyway, I thought, well, great. I had been playing with the idea of getting custody anyway because right now I just have a power of attorney, which works all right, but I’d like to get him a passport, and travel, and I’m not sure how well that would work in that situation. So I said, okay, let’s go forward. So I had to meet with the kinship person, who it turns out I knew from my days as a paralegal. We had a nice meeting but at the end, she asked me about a case number or something and I said, well there’s no case number because none of this went through the courts. E. has a court case, but the DSS never had custody of him as an abandoned child or whatever. Ooops, grind that bus to a halt. Nope. No DSS case, no help. Well, she did help me get a small amount of help with TANF for him only, and trust me, I am grateful for that…every little bit helps. But nothing else.

So, I tell my other caseworker and he’s apologetic, etc,. and then says, well we need to have this Family Engagement Meeting which we never did and maybe we can work it out there. So, I said fine. That was yesterday. And the caseworker and his supervisor was there, but the kinship worker wasn’t, so they brought in this other guy and I was pretty specific about saying, this was a VOLUNTARY case and there was no case in the court, and he said, oh, we’ll get you certified and get you a provider number or whatever and yes, you can get assistance. So we left quite hopeful.

So, TODAY, you guessed it. Other guy calls back and says, I need more details, and I tell him, I TOLD you and everyone yesterday there is no case in court that DSS initiated. This was voluntary and the court was never involved. Oh, well, then we can’t help you. And I confess I got a little “verbal” with him and he was like, well this isn’t a business, we don’t just pay you to take care of kids. And I said, It’s not that…I didn’t ASK about this assistance. I was TOLD about it out of the blue and now I feel like I have really been jerked around and had my hopes up for thinking maybe I could pay some bills and save some money for E for when he graduates, etc. And THEN, he asks me if I would consider being a foster parent. I was like HELL no, are you crazy?

So, after that, I called the kinship worker back, who I really do like and who has been the most clear about everything and she was really upset about everything that had gone down. She told me that pretty much the only way I might get anything was just to say I was done taking care of E. and just turn him over to DSS, and then THEY would have to start all those processes. Well, I don’t want to do that. I don’t even want to joke about it. So we ended the conversation and I was not in a very good place.

Because I had got my hopes up. I don’t get my hopes up too much anymore. Right now, and for the next three years, I’m just looking at doing the best I can to get through getting E to 18 and having some decent skills to take care of himself. I try not to focus on the fact that right now all he wants to do is sleep, eat chips and play Madden Mobile on his phone. I understand that he’s 15. But soon that will be 16, then 17, then…..

Then I remembered that I’ve been listening to my Abraham CDs in the car recently. I realized I had to let go of all this crap about the DSS money. All this is is circumstances. I realized I have to quit looking at the circumstances that are right in front of me, because that turns me right upstream. Nothing I want is upstream. I don’t have the upper body strength to paddle upstream for more than a short period of time. So, I started thinking about what we already have. I started being grateful for the help I’ve already gotten. I started realizing that we’ve gotten 4 new accounts on my jobs recently and there’s going to be extra work, so I can make that up. I realized that October is a month in which I get three paychecks, so that extra will go back into my savings. I started realizing that some hypothetical sum of money that isn’t going to show up won’t change anything in this now. I started realizing that I’ve always taken care of things that popped up in my life and I’ll keep on doing it now. I printed out a calendar for next week and I’m going to start using it to schedule my time once E starts to school. Summer is over and now it’s time to get back in the groove. It’s not going to be all about the rat race, either, but if I can put something down on paper, it feels more real, so I can schedule sleep time, exercise time, extra work time, etc. I can see it. I can follow it. Otherwise, I get here and find myself lost in Sherlock or Game of Thrones. Not that I can’t do that, too, but right now, these other actions are calling me as well. I’ve enjoyed the pool here at the flat, but that’s closing on Labor Day and it’s time to get back to real swimming and start planning another swim.

So, fine DSS, you go your way and I’ll go mine. I’m still headed downstream and everything I want is there and nothing is in the place where I worry about getting money that would likely have more strings than I want attached to it any way. I’ll just do it myself, thank you.

Blessed Be

Life is good and the Universe is abundant. I’d like to say a word about clarity. I am learning that clarity is the most important factor about any decision. You have to be clear about what you want. In fact, the more clarity you can bring to your desires, I think the quicker they will manifest. Just focus on the “what” and let how take care of itself. That’s the way we block ourselves. We have a desire or a wish or a whim, or even a flicker of a want and then Practical Side stomps all over it with, how you gonna afford that, and who’s gonna take care of the kid, and how will you get time off from work, and on and on and on until the poor idea just shrivels up and croaks. And you’re left with this sort of lost, nostalgic feeling of, maybe I could have…if I had made more money, budgeted my time better, whatever.

I’ve been manifesting a lot of things in the last few weeks…things I didn’t think I would ever be able to get in my life–or at least not for a long time. I have a very clear five-year plan in my head. It’s going to happen. I have no idea how it will. But I know it will. I think about it a lot. It makes me happy to project myself there in the 5-year ahead place. But at the same time, I’m happy right here. It’s all unfolding perfectly. You can’t rush it, but sometimes things happen unexpectedly quickly when you’re allowing. Take my little pot of basil. It’s growing really well…it now looks kind of like a basil chia pet. Then, the other day, I noticed there were two sprouts that were most assuredly not basil. I don’t know if they’re some kind of flower, or a vegetable (could be squash or beans), or even if they are the same thing. But I’m going to let them grow there. Flowers would be great. Any kind of veggie would be even better. They are just getting their second set of leaves now, so hopefully I’ll have a better idea of what they are in a couple of days. In the meantime, I just turn the pot around so they don’t get all bent in one direction, keep everything light watered and enjoy the mystery.

I’ve made a little progress on my grotto. I added some crystals to my leaf sculpture, and I still have my eyes open for the right Buddha or other sculpture. I’d like a Buddha, but I’m not wedded to it. One day, I’ll be at a yard sale or a thrift store or somewhere, and the exact right thing will present itself. I know it will happen. That makes me happy.

I can’t allow negativity in my life right now. As much as I enjoy Facebook and keeping up with friends far and near, I find that there’s so much negativity there. Not on just news stuff and horrible trolling, etc, but even in the groups I’m in. Too much of people stuck in victim-hood and defining their lives by what other people have done to them. I don’t want to do that. Life is too short to be negative. Sure, people do bad things, hurt you, call you down, whatever. So what? You don’t have any control over that. People are going to do what people do. You can remove yourself from the people, if it’s that bad. You can walk out of the room. You can leave the relationship. You can get another job. Maybe not in an instant, but you CAN do it. Make a plan. Get clear. Forget about how. Hey, I’m going to post that on Facebook right now! 🙂

It’s a process. It’s about breaking habits. It’s about saying “blessed be” instead of “dammit” even when you really want to say “dammit.” Because we live in an incredibly rich and beautiful tapestry. It’s not supposed to be just one color. How boring would that be? It’s light and dark and rich and bold and pastel and jewel-toned and off color and perfectly hued. Everything that happens to us weaves another thread into the amazing cloth of the Universe. So when you think about the night sky full of stars, or a night sky that’s cloudy and rainy, even the “dammit” moments can be blessed.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Allowing

morningpages (640x480)This is what morning looks like chez Granny when I go to bed at a “normal” hour and then pop awake at 3:30 a.m.  It’s all good. I realized I wasn’t going to go back to sleep (maybe I’ll carve out time for a nap later), so I got up and wandered around for a while. I heard what I thought was a flock of birds outside my kitchen window (which looks out onto the parking lot, well lit), so I crept outside to see what was going on with them. Turns out it was only ONE bird. Yes, just one, carrying on quite the merry conversation with himself. As near as I could tell in the light of the centrally located street lamp, it was a swallow. Probably the first time I’d seen a swallow sit still for that long. I attempted to chirp back at him for a bit, and we carried on a halfhearted conversation. He seemed quite surprised that anyone was responding. I would imagine so at 4 a.m. And then, I’m sure I speak swallow with a horrible human accent. But for a few minutes, we had a conscious exchange. It was very sweet.

The moon was nearly full in the western sky, the air cool. I stayed out a little bit longer, just lounging against my car, watching two stray (I assume) cats soaking up the residual heat from the asphalt. There was no agenda, gay or otherwise. I let myself be moved by whatever action thought popped into my head next. Of course, that was coffee.  After a few moments with the journal, I went into the pool area. Yes, that’s the pool there up above. Nice, isn’t it? After my first dip, I’ve been going in nearly every day. If I go around 11-ish, I’m pretty much the only one around, especially on weekdays. Do you have any idea how much fun it is to be the only one in the whole pool? Even a smallish pool? It’s just wonderful. I don’t do much actual swimming, but I sort of breast stroke and back stroke around the perimeter a few times, stretch my legs, work my hips, and just enjoy being in the water.  I’m already enjoying this summer more than I have any summer in recent memory. I only stay about 15 minutes, because I’m also not using sunscreen in order to take on more Vitamin D. Call it an experiment. So far, I have a tiny bit of color in otherwise pale places, but no burn. Win/win.

My basil is sprouting. I noticed it yesterday as I was leaving to get E. to practice. That made my heart swell with happiness. I don’t know if I’ll have the lush crop I had the last few years (the pot is much smaller for one), but I’ll have some basil at least. I’m casing the area to figure out the best place to put a potted tomato for next year. The trickiest thing will be watering. I’m wondering how I might collect some rainwater on the sly. There are gutters all over the place here, but sticking a bucket under one of them would be just a bit conspicuous. The basil is no problem…just use whatever’s left in my water bottle each day. Or I can move it out from under the porch when it rains.

The point is, I’m letting things flow. I’m allowing. I think for our Western, hurry up, goal-oriented culture, that’s a very difficult thing. Allowing is not a particularly active verb. You let things happen as opposed to making them happen. But here’s a funny thing…sometimes when you’re trying to make something happen, maybe it’s not the thing that’s supposed to happen. And you work so hard to make it happen that other things, good, real, necessary things, that might have happened or would have happened if you weren’t so busy actively pushing in another direction, then can’t happen. I know, that’s a lot of happening in that sentence, but I know you follow me.

It also doesn’t mean that you just sit around all day doing nothing. Although a day of that every now and then can certainly be refreshing. It means you learn timing. You learn that when all of a sudden everything feels like you’re walking knee deep in rough water, maybe you should quit slogging for a while and see where the current takes you. It’s okay to relax. It’s okay to have a different schedule. It’s okay to take a nap at noon or eat Chinese food for breakfast. Allowing small changes in your life or routine and pave the way for bigger things to happen quickly.

Allow yourself to breathe and observe a little bit. Rest. Let be. Peace.

What I Did This Weekend

It had a lot to do with these three:

tresamigos (640x480)They had football camp starting this past Thursday through Sunday morning. They all stayed here, and I trucked them back and forth to the practices and scrimmages. Fortunately, I now only live about 2 miles from the college where the camp was held (same place I swim), but combine multiple trips with my work schedule and trying to keep these three fed, it was pretty exhausting. They’re good kids, though, all three of them, funny, witty and sweet when you aren’t looking. Today, they’ve gone with the middle one’s family to a small water park in Walsenburg, about 40 miles south. E spent the night last night, so I’m having a whole day kid free–until later this evening when they come home and I promised them we’d go to Jurassic World tonight for the five dollar movie. Did I mention that our local theater has five dollar movies ALL DAY on Tuesdays? Yes, they do, so I am seeing a lot more movies these days as you might imagine. And loving THAT.

Then, tomorrow, E and I head north to Denver where we will have an overnight with his brother, who I haven’t seen since the day of his father’s memorial service. I got a hotel with a pool and an arcade and maybe we’ll go to the 16th Street Mall downtown or the zoo or the aquarium or wherever. Then E will spend the rest of the week there with his dad, I think.

Then, next week, football practice and conditioning start in earnest. It’s been nice to know this week is activity free, but it will be over too soon. Still, I have today, and that’s been good.

Summer in Pueblo is shaping up to be pretty good.

Keeping My Own Company

Yesterday was a long swim, nearly an hour. More than, if you count the undressing and re-dressing parts. Every time I go swimming after a long hiatus, I spend at least the first few minutes kicking myself that I let so much time go by between swims. The moment I slide into the water, my entire perspective changes. All is well. I can’t explain it. There is just nothing like being in the water. In addition to swimming my laps, I consciously tried to spend at least a few minutes just being in the water. That’s a little more difficult, but yesterday, after I finished, there was no one waiting for a lane, and only one other person in the pool, so just just hung out for a bit. Thing is, I am naturally buoyant. At the deep end, 13 feet, I don’t have to tread water, I just naturally bob out at about chin level. I could hang submerged in the water all day, if I wouldn’t completely shrivel into a prune. So, I just bobbed for a while, then walked a little back and forth in the shallow end, stretched and called it good…oh, I did swim about 50 laps first, so it was a good workout. Then, in the locker room, I struck up a chat with a woman who asked me if I worked for the college. I said, no, I just enjoyed swimming there. She told me about an on-campus challenge they are having, called the “Iron Wolf.” The CSU-Pueblo mascot is the Thunder Wolf, hence…

Anyway, the challenge is, for the month of June, to swim 2.4 miles, ride your bike 112 miles, and walk 26 miles…the distances of an Ironman Triathlon, but just to do it in a month. I thought this was a fabulous challenge. I am working on getting my bike back over here and saving up for a trunk-mounted bike carrier, and when I do, I am going to set this as a challenge for myself. Of course the swimming part won’t take me long, but I need to map out a few walking routes here around the neighborhood, so I can keep track of my walking and fortunately, I do have an odometer on my bike. I am really excited about this. I am following this amazing woman as she prepares for an Ironman, and so I will kind of feel like I am making strides in that direction myself. I will do my best not to let hot weather, etc. talk me out of it. And if any readers would like to throw some words of encouragement my way, I wouldn’t decline them.

Otherwise, E finished up 9th grade! I don’t know how good his grades were, but he’s got his schedule for next fall already, and now we are plunging into football with a vengeance. I went to the used bookstore today and picked up a copy of “It” by S. King to keep in the car. I spend a lot of time waiting for him, so might as well have a good read along with me. I’ve already re-read “The Shining” and something by Dean Koontz. I never got to leave books in the car before (NOTHING could be left in the car…well, tools) so I’m reclaiming that, too. Reclaming feels wonderful. In fact, I had to go over to the house again today to pick up my suitcase and an item that came in the mail over there, and I remembered this article that I read recently. G wasn’t there, so I spent a little time walking in the yard/gardens, and calling my power back to me. I saw that not only was the cherry tree gone, but also the apple and plum tree that we had planted the first week we moved in. I chose not to be sad about that. I choose to think not only was it about bad weather last fall, but also about me reclaiming my own energy from that place. I want to be able to drive past there or even go visit (I have been offered garden produce and I will take it!) and look at the place in a completely third person mode. So, by calling all of my power back from there, I can allow that to happen. It was a much better feeling than the last time I was there.

I’ve also started looking for places that I could possibly live for a year outside the country once E has graduated and moved on. He may not want to go at that time, but I am being clear to him that Hotel Gramma is closing in 2018. And once I turn 62, and have even the HOPE of Social Security, some plans and dreams are coming true for ME for a change.

So far, I am liking this challenge. A LOT!

Everyday Sacred

I continue to settle in. Went for a walk this morning. I got back from taking the boys to school (E’s friend A has been staying with us a lot–I don’t mind, he’s a really good kid and I like him) and came back with the intent to walk but once I got inside, the sleepies nearly took over. However, I can feel myself becoming more deconditioned and I don’t like that, so I did my stretching routine in the doorway and then a walk around the neighborhood. I have to say that I have entirely loved our long, lingering spring. We have had much rain, cool weather, cloudy days–more cloudy days in a row than I can remember since moving here. It’s nearly June and I don’t think we’ve had more than a day or so above 80 degrees, if at all. Suits me! Now I’m back and trying to work on, or begin, a project that popped into my mind this week.

At the other place, I had a meditation room, complete with altar. This was a large buffet/sideboard type cabinet that I inherited when my second husband passed. His grandfather had built it. It’s nothing fancy, but quite roomy and serviceable and a perfect height for me. It was excellent for an altar and storage for DVDs, extra quilting fabric, vacuum cleaner parts, etc. Now, this cabinet is in the living room with the TV on it and it’s doubling as extra kitchen storage for my stand mixer, crock pot, etc. When I decided to move, that was my intended purpose for it, but leaves me without much space for an official altar. I have several bookcases (two in the bedroom) and my dresser, but the bookcases are small and the dresser (at least right now) is too busy with other things.

However. I do have a sweet little space right outside my front door. This is a tiny little grotto under the stairs going up to the upper unit. It’s graveled over, it’s dry and protected from the weather (aside from post rain dripping from the stairs), and the other day, it suddenly called out for me to create something sacred there, or rather, to coax out or allow the sacredness already there to come forward. There’s also a rose bush right next to it, and a couple of small, flat rocks that I could put a little bird feeder on.

So, I’ve decided to start hitting the thrift stores to create my little outdoor altar. I already have a few small items, but I want some kind of a base, a small rug or carpet remnant to lay down first, and a Buddha or Kwan Yin, or just the right angel–I’ll know it when I see it. Of course, this will give me an excuse to hit garage sales, too, so it’s a win/win. I have a small set of wind chimes in the shape of a lovely Green Man that I got as a gift long ago. This has never hung outside, only in the meditation room, so it’s time for that to be up and in the breeze, too. And maybe I’ll add a hummingbird feeder. I heard hummers in the air this morning on my walk. If you hang it, they will come…

I’m excited about this. I feel good about having a calm and sacred space right as I enter and exit. I’m about 99% sure that no one will mess with it and if anyone does, it would probably be a curious kid, and that’s okay. But the beauty of it will be that unless someone is really looking at it, the whole area will be mostly invisible.

And isn’t that the way of the sacred? It often hides from us until and unless we stare right at it, and even then, it takes us a while to realize what we’re looking at. Sacredness is around us all the time–in nature, in our relationships (with others and with ourselves) and most of the time we pass it right over on the way to checking our next text message or e-mail. I want that little space there at my threshold to remind me, as I leave the house and as I enter, that blessings and sacred space are everywhere. All I have to do is slow down a little and open my eyes.

Blessed be.