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! 😉

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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!  (Ironically, their mothers both have the same name, so now I just use their kids’ names to differentiate 🙂 )

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: Journeys

I feel like journeys have become a theme in my life lately. From the literal to the spiritual, I have traveled many miles these last few weeks. I don’t feel tired so much as dazed, like my mind hasn’t been able to process it all quite yet.

There was a 3-day journey to Wyoming for work. Normally I love Wyoming, but as most of this trip was spent in a conference room it wasn’t quite the same. On the last day the snow came. It was absolutely gorgeous and as crazy as it sounds, I wish I’d had a day to enjoy it. Instead it was a slightly nerve-wracking drive back to the airport and a very bumpy flight back down to Arizona.

Frost covered trees in Cheyenne Wyoming

A very few short days later I was packed and off on another very bumpy flight – this time to Ireland. I think I’ll save the particulars for another post, but let’s just say it wasn’t exactly the trip I’d envisioned. In hindsight it was educational, as I knew it would be. At the time it was a combination of beauty and anxiety. An apt summary of my life. Overall, I enjoyed the trip and don’t regret it for a moment. It was something that I needed to do and I met some truly amazing people. Ireland is by far the friendliest country I’ve ever been to – the people are curious in their own way (but always willing to share their own story), always willing to lend a hand, and upbeat in a way that’s difficult to find these days. The country’s not without it’s issues, but I found it to be inspiring in its attitude.

I’ve also found myself on a less literal, though somehow connected, spiritual journey. I mentioned some time ago that I took a course last fall in intuitive studies. It’s all very new age-y, and I roll my eyes at myself when I try to describe it to other people. However, when I’m there, in that group energy, I feel at peace – I know it’s where I need to be. So this spring I signed up for a course on shamanism. Where the first course was fun, upbeat, and inspiring, this one is very… self-evolving. I feel like the best kind of martini – shaken up. We’re half-way through the course now and I feel like there’s something there, just on the other side of some imaginary mirror – if only I could just see through to the other side, I know it would be life-changing…

Poulnabrone Dolmen County Clare Ireland

So much of all of these journeys is a lack of dedicated time on my part to process them. I find myself running desperately on to the next thing as though afraid of what might happen if I just sit and think for more than 5 minutes at a time. I fear this space for the same reason – if I sit and write, what might come out? I’ve come to the realization that there’s a certain level of fear in my life that makes me feel comfortable – I’ve acclimatized to it. Any more or any less brings on the anxiety. I can see the changes to be made, yet I hesitate – what if things go wrong, or even more concerning, what if things go right? Either way I’ll be forced beyond my comfort bubble, forced to be responsible.

Right now I feel as though I’m standing on the edge of a deep chasm. The jump to the other side is really just a mere hop – and the entire Universe is on my side, just waiting to assist should it be needed. When my desire for change outweighs my fear, I’ll make the leap. I’ll move on to the next phase and find a new bubble. The process will likely repeat. There’s a certain comfort in that knowledge alone. But as I grow older I find myself standing at those edges longer and longer, worrying instead of leaping. If there’s any part of my 20-year-old self I wish I could recapture, it would be her fearlessness, her I’ll-figure-it-out-as-I-go attitude towards life. Damn the consequences.

Damn consequences.

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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 😕  )


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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Life Lately: Lucky 33

Aspen Trees, Flagstaff ArizonaWeather: Unseasonably (and record-breakingly) warm
Days til winter: Unknown

As you can see the weather outlook is back. Apparently, I was a bit optimistic in my last update back in September about that whole “yay, it’s fall!” thing. What makes me really sad about the weather is the realization that winter days here are finite and every too-warm day means one less cooler day before summer strikes again. I’m slowly moving from lovingly annoyed to downright resentful of the desert these days.

I feel like I have to at least acknowledge the whole election mess. I’ve debated writing more about the whole deal but I feel like I’ve still got a lot of thoughts to work through first. Even then I’m not sure if I’ll share or not. I do know that it’s been really disheartening to see all the negativity post-election. Perhaps if I was in a better place personally I might be able to put some kind of positive spin on it all, but right now I just don’t have it in me. Truthfully, that statement pretty much sums up how I feel about life in general right this moment.

Aspen Trees, Flagstaff Arizona

I’ve been pretty quiet the last couple months here on the blog and on other pages. I haven’t had much time to update my page or keep up with my usual reading – and I really, really miss it. I miss the interaction – every time I read a post I feel like I’m catching up with a friend and it’s been a little…lonely without that. I’m determined to re-prioritize as soon as possible, but in the meantime, just know my absence isn’t by choice.

The primary reason for the quiet is a perfect storm of maladies. My teammate at work was out the whole of October with pneumonia. It was actually pretty scary there for a week or so and I can’t tell you how relieved and grateful I am to have her back. The other issue has been my own personal health.

I’ve mentioned previously that I have fibromyalgia. I’m lucky in that my symptoms generally allow me to function fairly normally most of the time. But due to a number of things (aka “life”) I suffered a “flare” at the end of October that totally knocked me flat. Just as I was rebuilding from that I got the mother of all sinus infections that took me right back down again. And through it all I had to keep up with work while trying to keep myself and Oxford alive (he’s a very high maintenance cat). The last 6 weeks have been hard – and I am so tired.

Aspen Trees, Flagstaff Arizona

Ah but today. Today is my birthday. So, I’ve been desperately trying to keep a smile on my face and to be grateful for all of the good things in my life. Even though I’m having a hard time with positivity right now, I can always find a reason to be grateful. Gratitude has become a bit of a life preserver for me on those days I can’t pull myself out of the dark. It pulls me toward hope and that’s the best first step towards getting my head back in a positive space. So there’s my silver-lining – guess I had one in me after all! (smile)

Yeah, so this wasn’t really the birthday post I’d been planning. That one was a much perkier ode to the last year, full of positivity about the future. But this one is a more truthful account of my life lately and so I’m going to leave it as written. I’m tired and I don’t have it in me to pretend today. Besides, to paraphrase the song, “it’s my birthday and I’ll [insert verb here] if I want to…”

* Photos were taken in northern AZ back in October.

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