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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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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Life Lately: Spring Madness

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, Arizona

I’ve decided not to issue any apologies for being away for a month, or for totally failing to stick to any sort of schedule in this space. I am sorry that I haven’t had time to keep up with posts – to read, enjoy, or interact with my virtual buddies. I’ve really missed that more than anything, but I suppose in some cases catching up in fits and starts has it’s advantages (e.g., when there’s a serial-style story going on and you get to binge).

Spring here in the desert is often short and chaotic; so far this year has not been any different. The wildflowers erupted into a riot of color most people wouldn’t believe possible here in the desert, and we’ve been lucky in that the green has stuck around just a bit longer than usual. There was a week there in March where temps reached almost 100 and everyone seemed to think we were done for! Luckily a windstorm blew through and cooled things down just a bit. Some places have that last minute snowstorm, but here we just get a summer preview! I expect it to be a long, hot summer here in Arizona this year, and I’m not looking forward to it – at all.

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, Arizona

My life has also been a riot of chaos these last couple of months. Work has been absurdly busy (especially for the time of year), I’ve had ongoing health issues, and I was without a phone for a few weeks (the last being the worst of the three I think – #firstworldproblems).

All I will say about work is that it’s work. Any thoughts or feelings beyond that are better left for my private journal or perhaps another day. The health stuff is a combination of work stress and biological quirks – not fun, but also not life threatening. I’m really grateful to be one of the ones with good health insurance and awesome doctors. I think of that every time I go – just how lucky I am to be able to access top grade health care. But that’s also another story for another day, maybe.

The phone thing though, I will share (likely in more detail than anyone cares to know). Back around the holidays, my phone screen randomly cracked. I didn’t drop it and I hadn’t dropped it (at least not recently), but crack it did. Given my undying love for my particular phone (and the fact that it’s been discontinued – don’t even get me started on that), I opted for screen repair. Half a new phone later, the screen was whole again. Then a week later, the phone stopped vibrating. Now I can’t tell you what my ringer sounds like, but I can hear that bad boy vibrate from a building over (sad but also true). So in it went again – luckily the part was covered by warranty – and we were in vibrating business once again.

Until I noticed last month that my power button didn’t work right. Closer inspection revealed that the precious, uncracked screen appeared to be popping out of the frame. So back to the repair shop we went – where they told me the battery was expanding (!!!) and pushing things out of place. They ordered a new battery and I got to suffer through two weeks of waiting (the first battery was mysteriously “lost” in transit). I could see notifications pop up on the screen, but I couldn’t unlock the phone or reply. I can’t decide if that was better or worse than no phone at all – probably better, as at least I still had a watch of sorts. Anyway, they eventually replaced the battery and we’re like new again! I sincerely hope that’s the last problem for my dear phone because as far as I’m concerned we’re working on a three strikes you’re replaced situation here. And that would just be tragic for all involved parties…

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, Arizona

So there you go – terribly exciting story, no? It sums up my life pretty well at the moment. (ha!) I suppose I can say that while my laptop was my only connection to the outside world I did manage to get moving on some personal goals. Those have pretty much taken up my limited non-sleeping personal hours, but I think they will benefit all of us in the long term. I need a change for the better – all around.

P.S.
While I may not show up in this space as much as I’d like, I’ve had better luck with consistency over on Instagram – feel free to follow along there for more frequent randomness! πŸ™‚

P.P.S.
Photos are from Tonto Natural Bridge State Park (AZ).

2017 Ramblings

As much as I enjoy sharing my annual inspiration, I truly love these travel posts. (smile) There’s something about looking ahead at all the fabulous adventures that just makes my heart beat a little faster!

Vik beach, Iceland2016 Review

I did pretty well for my 2016 travel list. I did visit White Sands National Monument in New Mexico (see below), ventured on a South Dakota road trip with my family, and spent plenty of great quality time in California with my niece. Although I did not mark off all of my Arizona Bucket List, I did make it to a couple locations so maybe this year I’ll see the rest! I also didn’t make it to Santa Fe or San Francisco. One day…

What’s interesting is that I ended up in Iceland (see above) last year. Of all the places I had in mind while writing last year’s post, Iceland wasn’t one of them. But it turned out to be the perfect location to celebrate my brother’s 40th birthday. I’m still working on editing photos, but I will definitely be sharing more adventures on the blog this year! (In writing this post I’ve only just realized how far behind I am in travel stories πŸ˜•Β  )


White Sands National Monument, New Mexico2017 Destinations

Arizona: I really want to finish off that bucket list – namely the slot canyons (e.g., Antelope Canyon) and Chocolate Falls.

California: As always, I want to spend as much time with my friend and niece as possible, but I would also like to take some time this year to drive up to Big Sur. I hear such wonderful things about the area, I think it’s time to make it happen!

Alaska: My dad is officially retiring this year and has requested that we all join him on a family cruise to Alaska to celebrate. As I’ve kinda wanted to do this forever, I’m totally on board!

Ireland: This is the year of the solo tour. I’ve traveled all over the world, but never have I ever traveled totally by myself. Someone’s either been with me from the start or I’ve met someone at my destination (even if they were total strangers). I’ve wanted to go solo for some time now, but it hasn’t worked out for one reason or another. This year, however, is my year. I have a nice little cottage on the coast all booked and ready to go and I am unbelievably excited! Here’s to a week of peace, quiet, and breathtaking landscapes! (smile)

What are your travel plans for the year??

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