Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dream Becoming a Reality–Lifestyle Change Ahead!

In my last post 4 months ago, I talked about how we were dreaming of and planning a lifestyle change and moving back to Minnesota.  Well …

Packing for MN move 03162017

No furniture to move, but there are boxes, bikes, and misc. items.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of putting our RV up for sale, packing, and finalizing other arrangements. 

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Last photo with our Montana, which served us well for 7 years.

On Tuesday, we sold our RV – our home for the past 7 years.  I confess my eyes seemed to leak a wee bit a couple of times on the day of the sale.  We had so many adventures and shared awesome moments during our time as full-time RVers.  Memories were made that we will cherish always. 

While we enjoyed those years as full-timers, there is a feeling of relief and excitement as we begin a new chapter in our life together.  Relief in the form of selling our RV while it was still in good shape; of being out from under the responsibility, expense, and physical effort of maintenance and upkeep; and, honestly, the full-time lifestyle.  The excitement is in beginning a new journey and returning to the North and Minnesota. 

It’s just time.  Time to move on.  Time for a change.  Time to simplify our life.

Due to Dave’s work schedule, we will be here for just under 2 weeks.  After researching available accommodations here, it made the most sense – cost, safety, convenience, comfort – for our needs to rent a travel trailer from a local dealer we have patronized during our time here. 

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Our “hotel room” in the same site where we have been.

While it serves our purpose of interim housing quite nicely, it certainly makes us appreciate even more the quality RVs we owned over the years – popup, travel trailer, and then the 5th wheel we called home.  We have items with us for interim living (cooking, etc.) and for what we’ll need during our trip to Minnesota (both warm and cold weather clothes).  The rest of our possessions are in a climate-controlled storage unit at a nearby facility.

With the “hard” items ticked off our “to do” list, we have this time to rest up in our comfortable routine of work and living until we get the U-Haul trailer, load it up, and hit the road.  We’ll downsize our truck to a “normal” vehicle once we are settled up there, so The Beast gets one more road trip!

To say that the past few weeks have been busy would be a gross understatement.  It.  Has.  Been.  Freakin’.  Crazy.

I wrapped up the last details of the sale today by cancelling our full-timers insurance and the extended service policy on the 5th wheel.

We’ll be going to a 55+ “cottage” in Minnesota, opting to rent vs. purchase.  Neither of us want to own property again, at least not at the present.  If something breaks … call maintenance.  Snow shoveling?  Nope.  It’s done by property management.  Sweet.  Simplification.

We’re not there yet, but well on the path.  At times we wondered if this was indeed just a dream, if it was even attainable.  At the beginning of this process, the logistics seemed totally mind-melting.  At one point, I just gave it all up to Spirit and The Universe – if it is meant to be, then it will be.

We are so grateful that aspects of this lifestyle change have been aligning, and that it does truly seem to be a plan that is unfolding very nicely for us.

I’ll repeat that.  We are grateful.  Very much so.

Thanks for stopping by!  Be careful out there, okay?

 

 

 

 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Winding Down 2016; Looking Towards 2017

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Holiday lights add cheer

Honestly, I’m looking forward to wrapping up 2016.  We’ve had the usual challenges of Life  this year and said good-bye to our sweet Maggie.  We continue to be grateful for each other, our home on wheels,  work, food, reasonable health for our ages, and so forth.  I’m ready, though, to put this year to bed and move on.

Speaking of moving on, we are in the planning and dreaming stages of transitioning to a new lifestyle.  We have had 6.5 years of living as full-time RVers, but – if all goes to plan - that time is coming to a close.  We are currently both working “normal” jobs (Dave in the community and me telecommuting as an admin assistant) with our home in an RV park.  We might as well be living in an apartment somewhere. 

While we experienced challenges from Mother Nature during our years in NJ as an on-site security team, Mother also provided us with rewards of the Spirit, magical and breathtaking moments, and memories for a lifetime.

Our souls were nurtured.   Our souls are currently starving.  Time for a change.

That, of course, is not the only reason.  We’re ready to get out from under the physical maintenance and related expenses associated with RV upkeep.   We want to sell the rig while it’s in good shape, before it gets much older.  The reality is that I need a home office, not just a wee desk in the corner by the kitchen, as my job has mushroomed over the past months and continues to do so. 

Workstation in RV August 2015

I find that violent storms make me uneasy in the RV, something which never bothered me before.  Of course, we had sturdy buildings in which to take shelter, something we don’t have here, and we primarily experienced snow storms, not the volatile thunderstorms and tornado warnings such as we get here in Texas.  We don’t feel “hitch itch” as in previous years, although we are looking forward to being on the road headed to our new location next year; we do miss seeing new places and the experiences that come along with traveling. Giving up the RV certainly doesn’t preclude a car trip by any means.   We’re tired of … people and traffic in large numbers.  We feel the need to be closer to Nature in a cleaner  environment, closer to wilderness.

So … the plan at this point is to sell the RV and move to a smallish town in northern MN, settling in a cottage within a 55+ community.   Maintenance-free living.  Simplifying our life and expenses again.  No snow shoveling!

Post wash street side 03162016

Will be  emotional selling our home next Spring.  She’s a good rig and provides us a cozy home filled with many memories. 

I hear you saying, “Minnesota?!  Northern Minnesota?!?!  But it’s cold up there!!! “ 

Yes, it’s cold up there.  That’s one of the reasons we want to go.  Having been back in Texas again this Summer, we realize we both need to be in a colder climate for comfort/health reasons.  We know about Winter in Minnesota, having lived there during  2005-2007.  Yes, it snows.    A  lot.  And it’s cold.  Really  cold.

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Walking around town and loving it – Hibbing, MN 2006

But you know what?   I have grilled outdoors with snow on the ground and more coming down.  Life doesn’t stop up there when it’s snow season.   We both still find magic in snowfall.  We miss walking hand-in-hand, hearing our boots crunching in the snow. The cold?  Well, you can always put on more clothes.  I’m a “sweater girl” at heart, and Dave is from Scotland.  There’s only so much you can take off when the mercury reaches 100+.  It’s a dry cold, too, and that makes a world of difference.  Trust me.

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Dave on one of our walks in Hibbing MN,  2006

Living in Minnesota is like … well, it’s like living in an entirely different country.  Seriously.  That’s what I thought when I first moved there in July 2005.  Obviously the weather is different.  Buildings are different, especially in the smaller towns.  It’s less ritzy and glitzy.  There is a unique and distinct Minnesota accent one hears.  We’re ready to be back in a small town.  Fewer people and less stuff  around,  enough to meet one’s needs (and ours are basic needs) – shopping, health care, etc. , and slightly larger and more prosperous than Hibbing, where we lived previously.   Where we hope to be is again in the northern part of the state – well north of The Cities - where there’s not much between us and Canada (again) except a lot of trees and a lot of bears.  I’m ready for clean air and clean water.  Fewer people doing stupid, rude, senseless, and violent acts.  I’m ready to return to an area where the predominant cultural influence is Native American.  My Spirit yearns for all this, as does Dave’s.  I’m ready to see Winter be so cold that it literally reboots Mother Nature for the next year.  I’m ready to be back someplace where we can pack a lunch and go out in nature for the day without having to drive and drive and drive and drive ...

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Dave at the head of the Mississippi on our of our day trips – MN, 2006

No, it’s not Utopia.  There is no such place.  However, we believe that our quality of life will be greatly increased.

We are still active and vital, and not ready for your typical “senior community” and rocking chairs on the front porch.  Except for a lazy afternoon when the weather’s nice.  Ha!   We are, however, ready to live in a mature community where – hopefully – our neighbors share the same overall values as us.   Our age peer group, if you will.

It also seems fitting that we return to Minnesota, as that’s where we started our life together here in the States.

So that’s the plan at this point.   The logistics are going to be … interesting, at the least.  But hey, this is the same gal who in 2005, put her Texas property on the market, sold everything except bare necessities, loaded the rest in a 6x12 U-Haul trailer (with the help of awesome friends) and headed solo (but with 2 cats and 1 dog) to Minnesota to an apartment she’d never seen (picked out by an aunt and uncle), to a state she’d never been in, engaged to a man 4000 miles away with whom she had spent a sum total of 2 weeks.  All that was accomplished in less than 30 days.

MN move 2005

Loaded  up  with the help of these 2 awesome friends (and others), ready to head to MN – June 2005

This is doable! 

If’s  … if our assignment in NJ had indeed lasted another 3 years, if by some fantasy that job opened up again, if we indeed had been given another assignment shortly after returning to Texas … we would be carrying on in the RV lifestyle quite contentedly.  But … things don’t always materialize as one has been told.    If we’d known there would not be more security work, we would not have returned to Texas. 

We’ve given this a year.   It’s time to make other plans. 

A bit of envisioning and manifesting going on with this blog post.  We’ve always said we would like to eventually return to Minnesota at some point down the road, and we’ve been talking about making this jump for months now, but this is the first time I’ve put it in writing. 

So, positive vibes, a goal to work towards and look forward to, and hopes I retain a wee bit of my sanity while we get our ducks – errr …. Canada Geese, more appropriately – in a row.  The prospect of this new chapter in our life together is exciting!

What’s on your horizon for 2017?

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Our Maggie

 

Maggie Cedar Park TX March 2010

Our Maggie  crossed The Rainbow Bridge on October 25, 2016

Our Wee Widget, our Little Stumpy Legs, our Little Jellybean, our Maggie Mae slipped from this earthly life and crossed the Rainbow Bridge peacefully on the afternoon of October 25.  Her health had deteriorated in recent months to the point where her quality of life was such that we realized we were being selfish in keeping her with us.  Comfortable on her pillow, lights low with only my Bear candle glowing to light her path, Reiki music playing, and our loving and releasing her … she now awaits to greet us when our times come to cross over.

Maggie became a member of our wee clan on February 28, 2010, adopted from a shelter in Texas before we started full-timing. I suppose she came full circle, her journey with us ending where it began – in Texas.

It was love at first sight for her, Dave and myself.   I just know she was waiting for us, as we were for her.  Our previous dog, Baby, had passed less than a month previously.  Dave and I both know that Baby had a paw in bringing Maggie into our life together.  She was a transfer from another shelter, and her prior history was unknown.  She was shy at first,  and during those first few days sometimes would look at us as if wondering what Life held in store for her.

Those first couple of weeks were about trust.  Reassuring her that she was indeed home at last.  Reluctant to believe the food bowl and food were hers and hers alone, I hand fed bits of kibble to her.   A few at a time for several days, until finally she realized that this was her  food and no one would take it away from her.   We came full circle with that, too, at the end.   In those last weeks when she was too weak or tired to stand at the food bowl, I would hand feed her once again.   Such a bonding, sharing of love, such an intimate act …hand feeding one’s beloved companion.

Seems like she was with us about a week before she did her “business,” and we were about to the point of taking her to the vet until one day … yahoo!  I tell ya, Dave and I were so silly and elated, like parents whose child had just achieved the milestone of being successfully potty trained.  We still laugh about that even now.  Our funny Stumpy Legs …

Maggie Happy Face Sikeston MO 2010

The initial shyness didn’t last long, and soon “Maggie’s Happy Face”  was a  part of our daily lives.

We embarked on the full-time lifestyle in our RV a few months after Maggie came to us.  She loved traveling and seeing-smelling-exploring new environments and meeting new friends, human and doggie.  For her protection, she rode in a spacious crate in the back area of our truck’s cab.  The ultimate road tripper, she was so quiet we joked that she must be doing crosswords or knitting back there.   She checked out countless rest areas during our time together.  Enjoying the break, she was ever eager to get back in the truck and continue on down the road.

Everyone says their dog is a good dog, a smart dog.  Well, our Little Jellybean was that.  She knew various commands, a few tricks and bunches of words and phrases. “Want to go on patrol?”  “Want to go to the beach?”  Oh yeah, you betcha!  More than that, she was attuned to us and our routines, as we were to hers.

Maggie New Jersey 01102014

Maggie loved snow, and got plenty of that during our time in New Jersey

So many adventures this wee doggie had in our 6.5 years together!

  • She traveled the eastern third of the United States
  • Two hurricanes and Superstorm Sandy
  • One earthquake
  • Numerous blizzards and Nor’easters
  • Holidays at the Jersey Shore
  • Two National Military Parks
  • Countless campfires shared
  • Geese, rabbits, deer, bears, horses, cows
  • Went on patrol with us when we worked as an on-site security team and hung out in our office
  • Many more …

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Peek a boo!

The three of us were together virtually 24/7 ever since that day in February 2010.  She spent only two nights away from us during that time, both for medical reasons at a vet.  Our lifestyle afforded us the opportunity to be together.  Maggie was our constant companion, very much a member of our family.  Dave and I do not have children together, so I think Maggie was that child, albeit with four feet, a fur coat,  and a very pink tongue.

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Happy to see  Dave home from his bike ride

If Dave or I were away from home and would call the other, you could hear Maggie barking in the background.  She knew it was us calling!  So funny, our girl.

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On patrol  in South Carolina

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Maggie and me  at Gettysburg

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Fun at the beach house on the Jersey Shore.

Bedtime and mornings are the hardest for me.  Maggie would perform her “turndown service” every night without fail, even in her final days.  I would turn down the top comforter, neatly  (remember this word “neatly”) arrange my pillows and linens,  and place her folded blanket at the foot of the bed.  I’d go brush my teeth.  On my return …

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Maggie’s version of turndown service

She would move to the foot of the bed while I was getting settled under the covers but, once that was done, she would come back up to snuggle by my side or – in colder weather – between my legs.  It’s going to be a colder Winter this year … no Snuggle Bud warmth in bed.   No quiet “woof-woof” while she dreams doggie  dreams.  Waking up was snuggle-and-silly time, an excellent way to start each day.

Maggie and Betty South Carolina 102010

Raincoat, sweaters, parka, boots – Maggs was a well-dressed pup, ready for whatever Mother Nature had in store.  We had been told by a neighbor at an RV park they waited each day to see what sweater Maggie would be wearing.

Maggie was a joyous dog.  She lived totally in the moment … she was Mindfully Present in the here and now.  She awoke each morning in a good mood, was never cross with us, actually enjoyed being clipped (something I did versus taking her to a groomer), and tolerated baths, reveling in “crazy dog towel time” afterwards.  She was not a “yapper,” but would sound the alarm when appropriate, and I could say “Tell me,” and she would respond in kind.  Big bark or little bark, depending on what I asked she do.   She “sang” to us and made what we called “alien noises” – not barking, but her way of talking to us, yep, those “alien noises.”  Although provided with all types of typical doggie toys (including old socks, you know dogs love tug-of-war with socks) and encouraged to play with them, she never took an interest.  First dog I’ve known or lived with who just flat didn’t care for toys.  That being said, she would play with us

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Silly doggie

She had a few health issues throughout her life, but obviously declined in the past months.  Liver issues or cancer were suspects.  Various tests were inconclusive and cursory treatments provided no improvement.   She had lost a dramatic amount of weight,  one-third of her original 15 pounds. Talks with our vet confirmed the ultimate outcome, so we opted for quality over quantity.   As a two-time cancer survivor,  I could not  submit our girl to the horrors of chemo,  given her age and other health issues.  Dave agreed,  and our vet said she would opt for the same path with her dog. 

As she declined, much of my day was devoted to Maggie’s care – feeding her, lifting her up on furniture and into the rig, keeping her comfortable, and seeing to her other needs.  Since she has been gone, I have realized I was subconsciously sleeping with “one ear open” in case she was in distress during the night.  Yes, she was a lot of care towards the end,  as one gives to a chronically or terminally ill loved one.   I am now left with a void in my routine and have realized that I have been tired – not just physically but emotionally and spiritually.  

Now I go to the bathroom unescorted … you know that’s what dogs do, they hang out with you, just like you do with them … The silence of the lack of Maggie’s presence is deafening at times.

The vet here determined that Maggie was older than we originally thought and, looking back at photos over the years, I can see that she had indeed aged.  Among her other issues, she had cataracts forming in both eyes.

It was tearing us both up seeing our little girl’s decline in health and her infirmity.   Having been down this path so many times before in my 58 years, I was seeing Maggie give me “the look,” and I knew she was asking to be released.  I knew it was time to let her go.   We owed her so much more than being miserable … we owed her joy and love, as she had given so unconditionally to us.   We wanted our little girl to leave this world peacefully.  We did not want her condition to progress to … well, something terrible. 

I would rather say good-bye a month early than a day late.

We owed her peace.

Maggie 08202016

October 2016

Maggie was cremated, as we obviously do not have a yard for a burial spot.  When I was in hospital in 2012, Dave bought the wee doggie in the bed because Maggie couldn’t be with me.  Neither of us realized at first, but the doggie “breathes” courtesy of an internal battery.  “Gee, that is so thoughtful.”   “Wait .. is that dog breathing?”   That kinda freaked us and the nurses out when we first noticed!  It has been in a cabinet, but I got it out and attached Maggie’s tags to its collar.  Her urn is placed next to this slumbering doggie, in the spot where her crate used to be.  She used to sit on top of the crate, looking out the window and soaking up sunshine.  It was one of her “spots.”

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Closure and comfort

Maggie's urn 11022016

This Tuesday will be three weeks and I am still blindsided by tears at times as I was this morning, but we talk about our adventures with our Maggie Mae, and smiles come more than tears these days.  It will get better, and perhaps sharing her here will help, too.  I realized today that I have always written about Life events in my blogging.  Once a prolific blogger/writer, that has taken a back seat in the past several months.  I am hopeful this will be a catharsis of sorts for me … more closure.

I also hope you enjoy reading about our silly, joyous little Maggie and our time together.

One of the lessons Maggie shared was to live Life with joy and to be present in the moment.    I know she would not want me to be sad because of her, but to live Life as she did.

After all, this moment is all one really has.  There are no guarantees of anything else.

I’m working on that, Jellybean.

Will there be another dog in our lives?  I don’t know.  It’s too early.  Time will tell.

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Maggie  Barnes, February 28, 2010 – October 25, 2016

Sunday, June 26, 2016

It’s Not That I Don’t Want to Blog . . .

. . . it’s just that I usually don’t have the creativity or energy to do so after working or even on my days off.

“Why not?” you ask.

Well, this afternoon and evening I worked on five different blog posts as part of my responsibilities for one of my clients.  That includes formatting, proofing, editing when necessary, inserting images, composing lead-in “teasers,” SEO and so on.

Yes, folks, I’m blog-faced.

So, you see, by the time I wrap up a day’s work doing that or even close out a “typical” day at 10 PM or so, I’m spent. 

Your next question is, “What’s in a typical day?”

A typical day in the life of this virtual assistant may include, in no particular order:

  • Reconciling bank accounts
  • Tracking and enrolling students using a variety of programs/platforms
  • Developing/updating procedures
  • Processing/composing/responding to emails of various natures
  • Preparing reports
  • Skype with client
  • Special projects, most recently background administrative assistance with a conference
  • Updating web analytics
  • Data input/revision on two different CRM platforms
  • Google Docs
  • Google Sheets
  • Web research
  • Spreadsheet creation and maintenance
  • Using Adobe in document conversion, editing, combination of files, upload, etc..
  • Uploading documents to platforms
  • Phone meetings with client
  • MailChimp
  • Various task management/sharing platforms
  • Blog work – not just the posts
  • Maintenance of various databases and systems (if I named ‘em all it would take a while)
  • Social media – maintenance, development, reporting, posting
  • Communicating with vendors on behalf of my client
  • Keeping my clients on track towards achievement of their tasks, goals and projects

I usually have about a gazillion tabs open in Windows on my laptop.

Oh heck, I know I’m leaving out things, but I think that gives you the flavor of what my work day may look like.

Yes, that can be in one day.  Yep.  Indeed.  Cool, eh?

Whew!

No complaints at all, mind you.  My days are varied at a lively pace and, while many of my responsibilities are now routine, there are daily “brain exercises” in problem solving, creativity, procedural development and the like to keep my gray cells happily ticking over.  I have been exposed to so many new programs, platforms, apps, etc. over the past several months . . . it’s great!  I have learned, and am still learning, so many new things.

That being said, I like the weekends, especially Sunday.  I’m off Tuesday/Wednesday and my clients are off on Saturday/Sunday.  There may be some interaction with either or both of them on Saturday now and then, but Sunday is usually a quiet day in that regard.  It’s a great time for me to catch up or work on projects which I find easier to tackle with “quiet time,” such as the blog posts today. 

I’m fortunate to provide services to two great clients who are flexible, who expect results but who in no way apply any stress, are willing to delegate (and sometimes eager, even - apparently they think I’m trainable – haha!), patient with my questions, and who I enjoy on both a professional and personal level.

So I look up and it’s 10:30 PM.  Egads.  Just about time for me to take a shower before Dave gets off work and heads home at about 11 PM. 

By the time my work day starts to wind down, I’m just done, as in stick a fork in me done.  All I want to do is step away from my desk and laptop, and let my brain veg out a bit, spend a bit of time with Dave when he gets home while we both wind down and then toddle off to blankies and wee doggie.

So there you have it, a bit of “Why I Don’t Blog Much These Days.” 

Thanks for stopping by!  Ya’ll be safe out there, okay?  It’s a crazy world we live in.

 

 

Sentimental Journey

Today was indeed a sentimental journey for me, as I ventured out to see Texas Raiders, the B-17 my dad helped restore decades ago when it was based at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston, TX.   I had already seen her in the morning; knowing her ETA at Easterwood Airport here in College Station, I stepped outside and – lo and behold – there she was, approaching from the southeast, turning and making her approach to the airport.

Have you ever seen and heard a B-17 in flight?  If you haven’t, you have truly missed out.  There is nothing like it.

“There she is!”

Okay, so there wasn’t anyone around to hear me, but I still said it.

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Texas Raiders at Astin Aviation/Easterwood Airport, College Station.  Isn’t she just something?  Those folks are being briefed for their flight.

I had not been in her presence since 1997, when I dispersed my dad’s cremains from her overhead hatch in flight.

Seeing her again, my heart was full.  My eyes were leaky.  It was . . . moving.  I had expected to feel emotional, but I was a bit taken by surprise by the strength of those feelings.

I touched her, giving her a “hug” in those touches and saying “thank you.”

In those touches, was a connection to Dad, to a time gone by, to all that is good, right and honorable with our country.

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TR Nose Art

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Front gunner position

I stayed for a while, as her passengers boarded for their flight, heard her engines roar to life once again,  watched her take to the air in all her majesty and saw her back on the ground safe and sound. 

Not too many photos, as I was more into experiencing the moment. 

It was spiritual.  It was awesome.  It was noisy.  It was joyous.  It was . . . a very meaningful experience for yours truly.

I went to see Her.  I went for Dad.  I went for me.

Mission accomplished.