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!

Merry, Happy, Blessed

Where I sit, the clock just turned over to December 24, 2016. Christmas Eve. The tree is up and there are some presents under it. We don’t have stockings, but that’s okay. I actually put up some lights on the thorny bush outside my door and they don’t look too bad, if I say so myself. E. was going to Denver this week, but his mom has a new job and they sent her out of town until the actual day of Christmas, so we will go up for an overnight next week. Thus, we’ll have our Christmas tomorrow and on Sunday, we’ll go to his aunt and uncle, who have kindly invited us. I’m looking forward to good food and good company.

I wish you all the same, a wonderful, happy few days away from the recent unpleasantness to spend with people you love and who love you. Laugh, hug, eat, play games, nap. Remember winter’s message to go deep so that we can emerge renewed with the light of Spring. All will be well. Don’t worry about how, it just will if you focus on the wellness instead of the lack.

Blessed be.

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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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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.

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!

Blessed Solstice

For all of you out there…

your debts forgiven

your wounds healed

your apologies accepted

your generosity expanded

your love educated

your desires clarified

your untold stories heard

your insight heightened

your load lightened

your wildness rejuvenated

your leaks plugged

your courage stoked

your fears dissolved

your imagination fed

Ten-Thing Monday

1. I am incredibly grateful to have found a most marvelous book called “Seven Sacred Pauses.” The wisdom it contains is beyond measure.

2. I am so grateful that it’s October, my favorite month. I love the bluest skies of the year, the suddenly shifting winds, the clouds that hold every nuance of grey, silver and pewter. I love the leaves that gild the trees, and I love watching them fly off ahead of the gusts. I love the angle of the light, the warmth of autumn afternoons, and the kiss of twilight’s cool breezes on my cheek.

3. I am definitely grateful that my grandson has no aspiratons to be a singer. (He’s wailing his head off to some song on YouTube with his headphones on as I write this. Simon Cowell would have a field day.)

4. I am grateful that the last contacts and conversations I had with the boys’ dad (more on that later) were upbeat and encouraging.

5. I’m grateful I got to see my other grandson this week, even though the circumstances were much too sad.

6. I’m grateful that my big pot of beef barley soup turned out exactly the way I wanted it to.

7. I am grateful to listen to the wind rushing around the house tonight, but glad I don’t have to be out in it.

8. I am grateful that E has made some good friends at school through playing football and that I’m getting to know them and their families.

9. I’m grateful that it’s now Monday morning, and I only have one more day/night to work.

10. I am grateful for the rocking chair in my meditation room and the funky 1950’s floor lamp I inherited that works so perfectly next to it.

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