Life Lately: Excitement & Doubt

Grand Canyon with Colorado River

I feel like these two words pretty much sum up the last several weeks. I finally got confirmation yesterday that I will be able to move to Alabama and keep my current position with my company. As of right now, I am planning to move back in late February or early March 2018. My dad needs time to get things set up and I need time to wrap my head around the reality of actually moving! (And also, winter is the best part of Phoenix, so it makes sense to enjoy that part before heading east!)

Reality is already starting to set in. I’ve committed to moving back to and being involved with my family. There is a big part of me that feels like I’m jumping from the proverbial frying pan right into the fire. Do I really, really want to do this?? Truthfully, no, I don’t. But my grandmother needs me right now and I need to get out of Phoenix. This is just one step forward down the path I’ve finally chosen. That last sentence has become my mantra…

I’ve also just recently come to realize how much power authorityΒ involvement in my firm I will be giving up. Right now I’m in the office most every day. I can see what goes on, interact and build relationships with my coworkers, play office politics, help out with various issues, join staff meetings, bake birthday cakes, etc. etc. When I move, I’ll be a one-woman show most of the time. I’ll no doubt be back to Phoenix for a few weeks during the year for meetings and big holidays, but it’s definitely going to be a very different dynamic. I know this is a sacrifice that has to be made if I’m going to move forward with my master plan, but I don’t for one second think it’s going to be easy.

I will miss all of my coworkers, but especially my dear, sweet friend M. We do stuff outside of work on a regular basis and there’s not a single day we aren’t in each other’s office to chat about things. We’ll still chat every day (online), but it won’t be the same. I’ll also miss my Phoenix friends outside of work. I’m going back to my childhood home, but I really only have one friend there that I’m still close with. So this is going to be a pretty drastic change in social life as well. I know how this is going to sound, but it’s my truth – I would almost prefer a clean break than a half-break. Right now this is just a separation before the divorce – all of the components are still there as a reminder of what was, which is bittersweet at best.

Clouds reflected on pond with reeds, Alabama

I know that with time all of this will be the new normal, at least until the next change. I know that I’ll grow, make friends, maybe (hopefully) strengthen my family relationships, and eventually move on to the next big change. All of that calms me down when the panic sets in. I did, after all, choose to make this happen. It was, and is, my choice. I know that for my health and happiness this is the right move.

But I also feel like hiding the doubts beneath the excitement is disingenuous. May 2018 would mark 10 years in Phoenix. I haven’t lived anywhere nearly so long since I left my dad’s house. This place, these people, deserve reflection and perhaps a little remorse, for I doubt very much that I will ever move back here. As various friends have moved away over the years, I’ve been struck by how difficult it is to be the one left behind. I’d forgotten how equally hard it is to be the one moving away.

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Life Lately: Heat Wave

Phoenix weather forecast

June 20-25, 2017

OMG you guys… I went on my adventure to Spain last week with my friend, had a lovely time, then returned to the deepest level of hell. My dad would say that’s being overdramatic, but there was one day where flights were canceled because it was too hot to operate the planes!! Ugh.

Monday morning I walked into the Orange County, CA airport with a sweater on; I walked out of the Phoenix, AZ airport and lost my breath. It was so hot my eyes felt like they were shriveling up in their sockets. Yes, it is a “dry heat” – ta! for the reminder – but let me enlighten you a bit on that “dry heat” – go and turn your oven on to 400 degrees (350 will also work for a 110 example; 400 is needed for the 120 effect). I’ll wait…… When pre-heated, place your face near the door and open it. That woosh that happens when you first open the door, that’s what it felt like walking out of the airport.

And Monday wasn’t even the hottest day this week! Tuesday flights were canceled because it was too hot for the planes to operate (seriously)! By Friday there were pictures all over social media showing various things melting. Luckily, the heat wave is supposed to break tomorrow, but summer is only just getting started…

So, why am I still here? Excellent question. This will be my 9th summer in Phoenix. When I first moved here, I was actually a fan of the heat. It was, after all, a “dry heat,” which at the time was much better than the tropical humidity of Miami, FL. All I really cared about was that it was warm, sunny, and free of major natural disasters. Phoenix is my shining example of that whole “be careful what you wish for” adage. Unfortunately, every year the summers are a little more difficult for me to take. I know what’s coming, but the temperatures never fail to surprise me somehow. I suspect it’s those lovely winters that do such a fabulous job of lulling me into complacency. I have a growing respect for the methods of the snow birds (summer in the north, winter in the south).

I find that the extreme temperatures wreak havoc on my body now days. I suspect the FM is to blame for that, but I’m mostly left counting down the days til there may be a break in the heat and dreaming of winter destinations. My whole outlook on climates has done a total 180 – bring on the snow! Although I’m calling this a lesson learned and heading to more temperate climes. I can always visit colder – or hotter – places, but there’s no need to live in one or the other.

Tossa De Mar, Spain

Along the Spanish coast

Yes, ladies and (perhaps) gentlemen, after almost a decade, I finally have a plan for my future that feels right, even exciting! Tentatively, this plan is to move back home to my dad’s house early next year. In an interesting turn of events, I will be keeping my current job and working remotely. If things work out okay, we may even open an east coast office; we’ll see how that goes. My five year goal is to get myself back in grad school for an MA in English Literature. Law school was my family’s dream for me; my dream was to be an English Professor. I tried their way, now I’m keen to try my own. I also have about a hundred ideas for things to do in the meantime, thinking of which keeps me sane during the long hours of intense sunshine. I have finally landed on a plan that I’m sure about – I haven’t felt this way since college to be honest, and it’s so nice to be excited about the future again!

I think I’ve needed to take a step back to reevaluate for some time now, but I had to wait until I was ready to understand what that meant. This plan allows me to stay in my comfort zone just enough to not be afraid to move forward with it. I’ll be able to help with my grandmother, and I’m hopeful that this will be just enough change to alleviate most of the stress that triggers the FM flares. It won’t be all rainbows and butterflies, I know that. I’ve resisted moving back for 15 years; I’m well aware of what awaits me. But I’m willing to give it a go, to take this step back in order to better see what my next step forward will be. The fact that I’ll have seasons again (even if not quite so pronounced as they might be elsewhere) is just a huge bonus! (smile)

Roadway through the painted desert, Arizona

My first “featured” photo on Instagram! @instagramaz

So life lately has been a combination of naps in cool places (heat fatigue is real), daydreaming about the future, and trying to appreciate every final moment here in the desert. There’s been a fair amount of travel in there as well (smile), but that will die down now until September (yay Alaska!).

Oh yes, I suppose there’s one other thing I wanted to share today… I’ve created a photography website! I’m not quite sure to what end exactly, but I felt compelled to create a separate space for my photos. It really all started with Instagram (as things do) and snowballed from there! The site doesn’t have much on there yet, but it’s been fun getting everything set up! I’ve got quite a few post ideas for this space, which I’m planning to share now that the travel is done for awhile. Then again, they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I wonder if that’s how I ended up here?! (ha!) Probably best to put those good intentions into play and actually post lest I land myself in another heat wave! πŸ˜‰

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Wild Ideas

Black and white tree with horse, Alabama

Have you ever had an idea come to you, seemingly out of the blue, that just totally makes sense?? The last couple of trips back to my dad’s house, I’ve had this idea nibbling away at the back of my mind. I’ve thought about it here and there and even discussed it with my dad a bit, but never seriously. It just didn’t seem to make sense. But this last trip, the whole plan finally just fell into place.

I can see every detail – how it would work, why it would work, and what it would take to make it work. I even sat down to sketch out a business plan of sorts and every single detail just slotted in ever so neatly. I’ve heard of this phenomena before, but I’ve never experienced it first hand. Frankly, it seems a little too easy to be realistic! And therein lies the problem. I’m a skeptic by nature and anything that seems easy is just too good to be true. I wonder how many brilliant, wild ideas have fallen to the wayside thanks to skeptical thinking…

This idea seems easy because, in truth, it’s been percolating for some time now. I’ve also lived and traveled around the world picking up little ideas and/or tidbits here and there that, when all combined, bind all the little details together. Looking back over my outline I can see influences from Miami, Phoenix, London, Ireland, Morocco, several Asian countries, etc. It seems a bit of a stretch that so many components could work together successfully in small town Alabama, but I have faith that it not only could work, but that it would work really well.

It’s only by traveling to these places, meeting so many different people, and having such a wide variety of experiences that I can even now contemplate the idea of moving back to Alabama. Apparently that whole travel the world to find home right where you left it thing has some wisdom behind it. Who knew? But now I know what’s out there. I’m much more confident that adventure is out there waiting for me whenever I choose to look, but I no longer need to live it every moment of every day. My home base no longer matters quite so much, or rather it does but in a different sort of way – i.e., home base no longer has to be an active part of the adventure, it can instead be a retreat. I need a retreat in my life (a lesson I suspect the Universe has been trying to teach me for some time now!).

Clouds reflected on pond with reeds, Alabama

I almost feel bad about not expounding on what this crazy, lightbulb-esque idea actually is now that I’ve gone on about it so. When it works out, I’ll share it – likely in more detail than anyone cares about. But the actual thought isn’t what my mind is focused on in writing this post – instead it’s about acknowledging how things can change, accepting that, and then deciding what to do about it. In the grand scheme of things, I may move from here to D.C. to London to Johannesburg and not get around to this brilliant scheme for another decade. It’s satisfying, regardless, to know that I have a place waiting for me with so many exciting options just wanting a bit of effort to reach fruition.

I left my dad’s house when I was 18 years old and haven’t lived there for more than a few weeks at a time since then. It’s only been in the last year or two that I have come to appreciate what it means to have a home, to have land, that’s a part of you because it comes from your family. I have not been sensible to that or appreciative of it – I couldn’t find those notions without some hard won perspective. Now it’s difficult to express my gratitude that it’s all still there, waiting. My poor dad. We don’t always get along, but he’s persevered and held it all together hoping for the day my brother or I would wake up and appreciate all his efforts. Well dad, the gratitude is definitely here now. We shall see what the future holds beyond that – small steps. (smile)

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Life Lately: Keeping Options Open

Upper Antelope Canyon, Arizona

I’m writing this from my dad’s house in Alabama. My BFF’s son turned 1 this week, so I took a long weekend to fly back for some friend time and forest bathing. My friend and I have been friends, quite literally, since kindergarten, and times like these make me realize how fortunate I am to still have her in my life. Now I have my “niece” in California and my “nephew” in Alabama – I’m all set!Β  (Ironically, their mothers both have the same name, so now I just use their kids’ names to differentiate πŸ™‚ )

I admit that I’m normally not terribly excited to come back to Alabama. My family and I have some major differences of opinion, but it’s a relief to see those mellow a bit with time. I felt like I needed this trip – I needed to see green things, put my feet in the grass, listen to the birds sing, and just breathe. So that’s where I’ve spent all my spare moments these past few days between grandparents and birthday celebrations and it’s been lovely.

So lovely, in fact, that I’ve found my thoughts going in a wholly surprising direction. It’s not a big secret that I’ve been wanting to move east. I’ve been looking at opportunities to do just that for almost a year now, but nothing has felt quite right. Recently, however, I’ve happened upon some potential options much closer to home that started me thinking about moving back here. As in back to my dad’s, as in the place I swore up and down for over a decade I would never live again (at least until retirement, and then only maybe). I have officially gone mad.

But the more I’ve thought about it this weekend, the more right it feels. There would be several ways it could play out and all of them potentially beneficial to myself and to my family. My grandmother really isn’t doing well since my grandfather’s passing, and it would be nice to be able to help her more. She’s been my mother figure since I lost my own as a teenager; I would love to be able to help her out even a tenth as much as she’s helped me through those years. There’s potential that I could even keep my current job and work east coast projects. At least until I am ready to make the transition into this other thing I have in mind…but that’s getting way ahead of myself.

I must be crazy. Absolutely mad. I have to be to even be considering this. Yet I’ve talked it over, in part anyway, with my dad and he seems on board with the idea. He has a lot of room here on the farm and there’s another dwelling that could be all mine with a little paint and TLC (okay, a lot of both but still). It would be a bit of a reset, a slower (and cheaper!) pace that might really be what I need to try to get some stress and my health concerns under control. My biggest con (among a well sorted and on-going list) is my pride – I’m not sure I could come back here and not see it as a negative set back instead of a simple step back. I would have to face up to and accept a lot of things I’ve been avoiding for many, many years. It could be the best idea ever or a total failure. Who knew moving home would be a leap of faith??

Anyway, all of this is just speculation at this point. I have a lot to think about and there are still several things that need to play out before I can make any final decisions. I haven’t given up on D.C., I’ve just opened up another option. We shall see which one plays out best in the end – I leave it up to the Universe!

Upper Antelope Canyon, Arizona

In other news, I’ve officially checked off almost every item on my Arizona bucket list! Last weekend we made it up to Antelope Canyon for a photography tour and can I just saw – wow! I was super impressed with the canyon (obviously), but also with the number of tourists up there (in a slightly different way). My first trip to Page was nine years ago and it was almost a ghost town. Too bad I didn’t visit Antelope then! I’m happy for the town and all of the lovely sights in the area that are getting their due attention. I just hope that they can figure out the best way to grow together sustainably. Anyway, I’ve been editing photos and hope to share more very soon!

Next month, I’m off on a very impromptu girls’ trip to Barcelona! My California friend and I have been talking about Spain for years, so it’s hard to put into words how special it is that we’re going together. I’m more excited for this trip than I have been in a long, long time!

I’ve also been feeling inspired to write again. I’m hoping the long, hot days of summer bring an opportunity to ease back into some personal pursuits. I feel like other things have taken priority for far too long – I’m looking forward to reevaluating and getting back into those things that make me happiest! That also includes reading more – one of my secret bucket list items has always been to read the classics, so I (somewhat randomly) downloaded this list and the fun has already begun! I feel like it’s a bit ambitious, but it’s a life goal so there’s time. (smile)

Toadstools trail, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Utah

Life is funny. You can go round and round (and sometimes quite literally around the world) only to find the answer you’ve been looking for right where you started. Apparently there was more to The Alchemist than I gave credit for… Perhaps it’s time for a re-read while I’m busy trying not to overthink some major decisions. But you know, as long as change is finally and indeed coming, I find I am content.

P.S.
As always, feel free to check out my Instagram for the latest adventures!

P.P.S.
You may have noticed a change in my Instagram name – all part of a new venture I hope to share very soon!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Autumn Nostalgia

Alabama dirt road

These photos may not be the most technically adept, but when I see them I’m always reminded of home. They bring back such vivid memories of fall in southern Alabama – football games, bonfires, snuggling with boys, laughing with girlfriends, baking with my mom and grandmas, and the start of the holidays. I’m immediately a teenager again and I can still feel that same confusing tug deep in my heart for some great unknown.

This week’s challenge is “nostalgia.”

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Dreams of Home

Yesterday was a very difficult day. It was one of those where I woke up quite excited and went to bed a bit depressed, which also means it was exhausting. I admit that I didn’t have high expectations for today after all that drama, but then I had the weirdest dream last night…

Lake Eufaula, Chattahoochee River, Alabama, fishing, recreation, boat

I dreamed that I was back in Alabama, near the lake we usually go to for family events and fishing (see above photo). Clearly very late for a family event, I was trying to gather all of our stuff so I could take it back home. Only I couldn’t be certain what belonged to my party since I wasn’t actually there for the party. I hooked up the boat I thought was my dad’s then went inside to gather things. The building was a cross between a pharmacy and my grandparents’ house (dreams, eh?). Although there was no one I knew present, there were plenty of strangers wandering around doing their thing as though everything were perfectly normal.

After I felt I had everything packed up, I went outside to get the truck. Only the truck was in the water with the boat (because that’s just how it happens in dreamland). I asked a very nice guy to help me unhook the boat because I wasn’t 100% sure it was my dad’s. I decided to leave it and come back for it with someone who would know. He seemed bummed I didn’t want to take the boat out and join his party, but did reluctantly agree to help me. I, for some reason, went to run around a fence I could’ve easily climbed to go assist this nice guy who had agreed to help.

Lake Eufaula, Alabama, black and white, lilly pads

Next thing I know, I’m running down the road in a fluffy white dress. I realize I’ve missed my turn so I climb that fence (which was much more imposing, especially in a dress) and cut across the park which surrounded the lake. As I crested the hill, the sky went dark grey and a perfect, radiant rainbow popped out against the clouds. Then the bottom fell out and a warm summer rain hammered down. I began to sprint along the path I’d come across and passed another girl in a white dress carrying an umbrella. We did the usual girly OMG-squee thing as we hurried in our opposite directions. Then it hit me that we were both wearing wedding dresses. The realization was so strange, I stopped and looked around. I could see another bride in her white dress running for cover amongst the trees near the water’s edge. She met up with her groom and they were laughing. Then I realized that I was laughing too. I wasn’t scared – just wet, somewhat bemused, and…happy.

I continued on my way to assist with the boat, but when I finally got to the boat launch, I found the truck and boat safely on land and perfectly parked (an impossible task). The keys were in the truck waiting for me. I unhooked the boat trailer and climbed in the truck to watch it rain and try to figure out why I was wearing a wedding dress. Then I was pounced on by a giant white rug…which turned out to be my cat causing chaos in hopes of an early breakfast (smile).

Lake Eufaula, Chattahoochee River, Alabama, fishing, recreation, boat

When I woke up, I was struck by three things: 1) I was smiling – as weird as it all was, I was indeed happy in that dream; 2) the dream had erased most of the negative energy from yesterday; and 3) I want to go home. Luckily, I have a plane ticket to do just that for Independence Day. I admit I hadn’t been looking forward to the trip with great enthusiasm, but now I’m ready. I need a break and a safe place to unwind, and no matter what changes, my dad’s will always be that place for me.

I can sort of piece together where all the different odd details came from out of this dream, but whether they mean anything or what that meaning may be (beyond a purging of my sub-conscious), I don’t know. And honestly, I’m not super sure I want to know. I really just want to hold on to this feeling and have a good weekend. πŸ™‚

Do you often remember your dreams?
Happy weekend everyone!!

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Life Lately: Holiday Edition

Arizona roadrunner

*beep*beep*

I am in total denial that Christmas is Friday – as in only 4 days away! It feels like this month’s moved faster than that little roadrunner up there! The gifts have been purchased (along with my ticket back to Alabama) and plans have been made, but I still feel like I’m forgetting something. I’m also not really ready to get back on a plane for an extended trip anywhere, much less for a whirlwind of family, but I suspect I’ll survive.

My primary hesitation in leaving actually revolves around one of my cats. He’s been sick recently and although he is doing better, it’s still touch and go. I’m afraid he’ll have another round while I’m away – I trust his sitters, but I would feel terrible putting that kind of responsibility on them. And of course his usual pet hotel was booked by the time I got around to checking! *sigh* All I can do is hope for the best and try not to worry about it all too much…

My best friend and her daughter (aka my niece) are going to come out to Alabama for New Year’s. We’ve talked about having her visit my dad’s for years now so I’m super excited we’re making this one happen! It’ll be fun to show off my old stomping grounds and to just play in the woods. It is a beautiful place and I know we’ll have a good time. From the beaches of Rio to south Alabama, adventure – and a good New Year’s Eve party – is all where you make it. (smile)

Unfortunately, the work opportunity I hinted at in the last update post fell through. With everything else that’s happened, however, I feel like it may be for the best. It just wasn’t the right time. But I’m definitely not giving up! Although I was pretty bummed for a while, I’m finally starting to see it as a positive thing. I can use this time to tie up some loose ends and prepare more for a big move. Plus there are some potentially exciting opportunities coming up at my current job. Who knows? Maybe this wait could pay off in bigger ways than I could have imagined.

fall leaves, Arizona

Over the last few months I’ve been busy editing photos and drafting content – all of which I was – and am – excited to share with you guys! Last week, however, I sort of hit a stumbling block that I’m still struggling to move past. Said stumble was over two articles I read about blogging. One suggested that if you want more followers you should write less personal content and more “directional” content. The other just implied thought bloggers are all narcissists. Ouch. Part of this recent break was to take time to consider what – if anything – I wanted to change about this space and how it operates. I’d become paranoid about writing only what others wanted to read, and I hated that. I don’t want to become a big time blogger; I simply enjoy having a place to share pieces of life and to meet wonderful people. Period. I thought I’d reaffirmed that over the last few months (to myself anyway) but based on my reactions to those articles, apparently I have not been totally successful. I’m not sure I ever really will be. But I don’t want to stop, so I’m just going to keep on keeping on and see where we end up.

The other blog related item is the decision to share this space with people I know IRL or to continue this semi-anonymous thing I’ve got going on. I’m only aware of 2 people who know me personally and know about this space. Some of the posts I have planned would potentially change that, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. It’s different when you come face to face with people in your life who’ve read your blog. I’m afraid it would change the way I write and perhaps not in a positive way. I don’t want to go right back to where I was a few months ago. Then again, thinking about it, perhaps that’s inevitable. Change is inevitable and it’s usually not for the worst in the long run. Maybe I need to be braver in my sharing. At any rate, I do need to stop worrying about it!

Rock behind tree limb, Arizona

In other news, tomorrow marks the winter solstice for the northern hemisphere (summer for the southern). I know a lot of people hate the shorter days but I’m not one of them. A small part of me will be sad to say good-bye to the longer nights, but there’s always next year. (smile)

I’ve been having fun with reflections on this year and plans for next year – particularly the travel plans! There are few things better than planning trips πŸ™‚ I’m also really excited to play with my new toy and only Black Friday indulgence – my new Nikon D7100. I’ve been using the D90 for the last several years so I felt like an upgrade was justifiable. I still feel like a traitor to my D90, but I think that’ll pass – especially considering I have big plans for that little body!

Okay, so I think that’s enough rambling for the month. I wish everyone a very Happy Holidays – Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and any other greetings that I’m missing!! Peace be with us all (smile)