Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Right Here, Right Now

While on a girlfriend road trip two years ago, my Alaska buddies asked me if I was going to retire when I turned 60. Uh, no, I said. I'm working for medical insurance. They reminded me that I had worked in Tier 2 for the State of Alaska and since I had vested I would qualify for retirement at age sixty. When I got home from that trip, I did a little research and here I am, 3 days away from retirement thanks to the State of Alaska, my ex-mother-in-law (who encouraged me to work for the state), and those girlfriends who were looking out for me. I pushed legal papers at the attorney general's office which was perhaps the most boring job I've ever had. 
Today I turned 60.
It feels weird to say that. I don't feel like what I imagined 60 to be. I did a little body inventory this morning. Besides the tiny ache in my fingers from what I can only surmise to be inflammation, or arthritis trying to come on, I feel healthy. Oh, and that pesky presbylarynx I was recently diagnosed with.  I was sitting with my cup of coffee, looking out the window, when a strong sense of connection to my past came wooshing in.
I have so much to say.
I have so much to say that it falls apart when I think about how I would go about saying it. My writer friends who read this know exactly what I mean. Trying to reel it in and write it so it makes sense and maybe can help someone else who has struggled with life decisions is like nailing jello to a tree.
I don't need to have a near death experience to have my life  flash before my eyes. It happens to me on a frequent basis. One day while I lived in Alaska, while riding the bus to work at my state job, I looked out the window and thought shit, is this all there is? I just didn't buy it. I was unhappy. Things would go so far downhill from that moment and I didn't even know it.
But I survived.
I only have 9 minutes remaining to finish this post before I have to get ready for work. I can hardly wait for my time to be my own.
This story to be continued.
love, susan


Monday, May 27, 2019

Monday Upsides: Indecision

 This would have been my last Monday working at the county attorney's office but for the holiday. Four days left and my days will be different for awhile. People keep asking me what I'm going to do after I'm not working. The only thing I can say is I'll do exactly what I do now when I'm not working but more of it, ya know? I picture taking a longer route for my morning walks with Remi. A life goal is to try wearing her out, and topping my personal best on the Fitbit. I don't know what that number is but let me just set it at 15,000 steps, right here right now.
We're not sure exactly what our next step is to be. We need to really sit down and have some serious conversations about it. The time is right to sell this place and move to a smaller abode where maintenance is far less. Yuma, Arizona is high on our radar. The thought of moving is really daunting, especially with 3 dogs. We have big items that need to be sold or donated. I'm personally not in a hurry to make decisions about it but the thought of living another winter like this last one where we had 8 snow storms in a month ... well ... you know. I see no reason to stay through that. But, it could happen. I was talking with a good friend yesterday and she said they had thought about selling their place but then talked it through and changed their minds. I feel like we haven't processed completely yet what we need to process.
The Denver road trip is so close that I am thinking about it constantly. My friend from Alaska and I have not seen each other for two years now. The way I am figuring it, we'll have approximately 35+ hours of  road time to talk to our hearts' content. I love that kind of undivided attention.
The hubs has been doing some outdoor painting. He thinks the stake I placed in my herb garden is a perfect place for hanging his painting glove while he rests. (eye roll inserted here) Regardless of what our next move is to be, we have a wagon load of work to be done around this place.  I am up for living in a place where there is far less maintenance to do.
Only 4 working days remain.
The sun is shining and there is a slight breeze. Perfect weather.
My work clothes are all clean and hung up today.
We haven't gotten into another war yet.
My 60th birthday is this week!
We have choices to make and time to make them.
I'll be writing a final Monday upside next week and then I will move on to something else. Got ideas?
love, susan
The hubs was painting this week.

We're working on some chair time this weekend.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Monday Upsides: Don't Stop This Train

Book Club was on my mind this morning as I was walking my dogs. We recently read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I had heard it before (audible) but if I haven't said this before, the beauty of getting old is that everything is new. Movies, books, conversations. My memory is not what it used to be. I loved this book the first time I listened to it and I loved it again this time. If you are a creative, this book will speak to you.
One of the questions we discussed in book club was what inspires you? I'm not very quick with my answers to questions like that. Seasons inspire me in different ways. I'm inspired in the dark winters to write more. Summer light causes me to spend a lot more time outdoors with my camera, where I see everything. But on my morning walk today, it came to me that music is an all-season inspiration for me. I listen to a set playlist every morning on my walks until I can't stand it any longer and change it up. John Mayer, Van Halen, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Seger, etc.
John Mayer wrote a song that I identify with called Stop This Train. I'll leave you with my favorite lines from this song below but they are even better when he is singing them. I'm his number one fan.
Monday Upsides:
  • This is my last working Monday. We have a holiday next week and the 31st is my last working day. It's getting very real.
  • The sun is shining today.
  • My cactus are blooming.
  • I am back into my Bright Lines Eating book. I've gained 23 lbs. since last July. I am not a quitter so I am simply back at it ... one day at a time.
  • At least I have stretchy skirts I still fit into.
  • All my medical insurance cards have arrived. We are covered!
Stop this train (John Mayer)
I want to get off and go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can't
But, honestly, won't someone stop this train?
So scared of getting older
I'm only good at being young
So I play the numbers game
To find a way to say that life has just begun
Had a talk with my old man
Said, "Help me understand"
He said, "Turn sixty-eight
Had a talk with my old man
Said, "Help me understand"
He said, "Turn sixty-eight
You'll renegotiate"
"Don't stop this train
Don't for a minute change the place you're in
And don't think I couldn't ever understand
I tried my hand
John, honestly, we'll never stop this train"
love, susan

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

What Up Wednesday!

❡ Since the sun has arrived, my world has been busy.  Here it is Wednesday and I never got my Monday Upsides written.  The time between now and my last day of work seems to be dragging like ... I don't know what. Slow motion. That's what it feels like. ❡ Late last week, I received my medical insurance cards from the State of Alaska, which means we are officially covered starting June 1. When I applied for retirement through the State of Alaska back in January, I was ahead of the game but then it was sit and wait time. They don't really communicate very well so I had to trust the process. Over the years, I've become good at that. Still. I did worry a little about it. We cannot afford to be without medical insurance. Luckily, through my current job, I am covered through the end of June, so if things got messed up with my retirement, at least I could beg for my job back. But, alas, there will be no begging. ❡  Can I just say ... I am ready to move on to what's next in my life.   Well meaning people have asked me what are you going to do when you don't work anymore? I can't help it, I think it's an odd question if you know me. My life is so full beyond my work hours. But, since they ask, I give them a run down. Read, write, photography, walk the dogs, made fabulous meals for the hubs, wash my car, etc. You know. All the things you never have enough time for. There is a whole blog post waiting to be written about time anxiety. ❡  But for now, I need to get through the next 2-1/2 weeks. After that, I have a week off and then heading out on a road trip adventure with a good friend for 11 days. ❡  I'm upping my Fitbit game since the weather is better and my dogs never balk at going for a walk. I long for the day when I can go a little further than yesterday. I put on 14,000 steps yesterday! WHAAAT?  Yes, I did.  ❡  Well, that's it for now. Later gater.  love, susan

Monday, May 6, 2019

Monday Upsides: Too Many to List

Only 4 weeks of work left. I am not going to lie ... it has not been easy to keep going. I think partly because I haven't had much on my evening calendar, the days are a little slower. Meeting up with a friend tonight after work. Hoping to put some other events on my calendar this week. I like having something to look forward to on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis. Not to future trip but just knowing there are fun things ahead helps get through the days. Yesterday, I drove out to the farm and took photos of 3 rescue pitbulls. I have gained a great appreciation for this breed because of my volunteer work. They are characters. They come in all sizes and I sure like the small ones.  We had a friend from the west side visit this weekend. I got some weeding done on my real estate, and slipped a nap in yesterday. We also took a road trip to Walla Walla to share an omelet at a local café  (The Maple Counter Café) I have been wanting to try. It was worth the drive. 
The sun is shining and we're going into the 80's this week.
The ibuprofen I took last night before bed helped with my aching back after weeding.
Change is in the air.
I've got ideas.
After today, I have 2 Mondays left. My last week is a holiday week!

Got upsides this week?  Tell me!

love, susan

Monday, April 29, 2019

Monday Upsides: Puke and Get on With Your Life

Monday Upsides ... because if you look hard enough, you can always find an upside. Am I right?
I had a full weekend with dog sitting for friends and fitting chores & some fun things in. Saturday I met up with a young friend who is mother to this little baby angel. We had breakfast and then hung out the entire day until almost bedtime. Baby N is growing like a weed. She was born 3 months ago just under 5 lbs. and is now a whopping 8 lbs. Her mama decided to take a hot shower and I got hold and take these fun photos of her right before she projectile vomited her entire 6 oz. of milk. The cool thing is she never cried or made a fuss about. Just puked and got on with her life. I haven't held a tiny baby in a long time. Truth be told, I'm really rusty at it and I am glad to have spent a whole day with her so I can get my baby skills back. There will be an adopted grandbaby in my future.
After today, I have 3 official working Mondays.
It is May this week!
Talked with my son yesterday.
Finally got to see my hairdresser yesterday for a trim.
My young friend turned me on to YouTube channels and now I'm thinking of things I can watch.
I watched an entire movie on Amazon Prime yesterday called Life Itself. It was pretty dark but I loved it.
I got more of my summer clothes hung up and put away.
We are still doing the taco crawl this week.
The sun is shining and it will be in the 70's this week.
What are you upsides today?
love, susan

Saturday, April 27, 2019

PIGGYBACKING: Pause, Breath, Stretch, Sip That Water

You may know from reading some previous posts that I have been seeing a speech therapist this month. She is bomb diggity. Three sessions in and I have some work to do to change my behavior. Old dog, new tricks.
This week we talked about fitting so many tasks into so little time.  A visual for you:
              This is how many things I have to do.                     
      This is how much time I have.      
So the idea of piggybacking tasks is not foreign to me. I do it all the time. Right now, while I am writing this post, my hair is drying. If I was a better multi-tasker, I'd have a load of laundry going and the lawn sprinkler on.
SIPPING WATER One of the behavior changes she asked of me is to sip water all day in place of clearing my throat. Clearing my throat constantly is damaging to the vocal chords and will only make my voice worse. I am not a big water drinker but I got myself a container and started consciously sipping water all day, especially when I feel like clearing my throat. It works. When I told her how successful that task has been, she said it gave her goose bumps. My thinking has been ... why go to therapy if I don't take her suggestions? It would be a total waste of her time, my time, and money.
BREATHING TECHNIQUES I am struggling with the assignment for belly breathing vs. shoulder breathing. I think once I am retired, I will be able to focus on this whole heartedly. Right now, the job I hold has me putting out fires all day long on the phone and in person. When I'm talking to people, especially on the phone, it is difficult to pause and take a deep belly breath. I'm not good at it ... yet.
SPEAK IN SHORTER SENTENCES and AVOID SPEAKING WHEN THERE IS BACKGROUND NOISE This has been easy to accomplish. Quite frankly, I've been talking my entire working career and I am ready to give it a rest. I don't do a lot of talking outside of work but when I do, I now need to think about what I'm going to say and try to say it in shorter sentences. Or, if I am going to have a long dissertation about the topic, I'll need to use my pause/breath/pause behavior. Trying to talk over other people or noise (read: in a noisy restaurant, in the car with radio blasting, social gatherings with several peeps, etc.) is a thing of my past.
NECK STRETCHES My therapist brought to my attention that I carry my stress in my neck, and my shoulders become earrings by the end of the day. She is not wrong about this. Taking this topic to piggybacking, we came up with different times of the day where I will do some neck stretches to coincide with a task. For examples: Stretch first thing in the morning while I'll in front of my S.A.D. light, stretch when stopped at stop lights, stretch when I'm throwing the ball for my dog, stretch when I set my alarm clock. All these daily things I  already do become a trigger for doing the stretch. And, you know what? This idea of piggybacking freakin' works! 
Lastly ...
PREPARE BULLET POINTS FOR TRAINING I will be spending the next month training a new person to take over my job. It will require a lot of talking. We came up with a plan where I will try to type up some bullet points and written material for support of what I'm teaching. Brilliant in theory. Now, just need to make the time to implement.
POST IT NOTES The last thing I'll share here is that I will be putting up some post it notes around my house, car, and temporarily at work to remind myself to pause, breath, stretch, shorter sentences, and sip that water.
I hope there is something here that might help you in piggybacking a task, chore, or behavior that you've had difficulty with. How could you use these ideas with something you need to change in your behavior?  If you have any tips for me, I hope you'll leave a comment.
love, susan

Friday, April 26, 2019

Upsides: Crack Coffee

I missed my Monday upsides this week due to a dog sitting job. I wasn't home for 9 days. It doesn't mean I didn't have upsides. There are always upsides.
The best upside at the top of my list is I only have 35 days to retirement. Dude! This last 6 months has been long. I told a friend at work that May 31st is like a due date for a baby. I've been growing this baby and imagine what it's going to look like, what I'm going to name it, how I'm going to raise it, spend time with it, nurture it, etc.  
The other upside is that my replacement has arrived at the office and I am starting the training process. It is a gift that we get to have her to train rather than hiring someone after I am already gone. I have already started the process of knowing that on my last day, as I walk out the door, I need to let go. Easily said. We'll see how that works out. I'm pretty good at letting go out on a daily basis. Nobody is more ready to spend her days differently than I am.
About the cup of coffee pictured here. Last night my friends, hubby, and I went on the local annual taco crawl and our last stop was at a fairly new Cuban restaurant. We had no idea it existed. They are only serving tacos for this crawl, which I think is a brilliant marketing plan because it got us there. After finishing our tacos, the owner came to our table and offered us a cup of coffee on the house. Imagine my surprise when he brought us these "demitasse" cups of jo. I knew it would be strong but was not prepared for the slight sweetness and hint of chocolaty flavor. This coffee is to die for. I was up most of the night. We shall call it crack coffee. Definitely going back to this place for dinner sometime. They serve a root plant called yuca (Cassava) so I think I can fit into my plant based plan.
Another upside is that today is Friday. Next week it will be May. My birthday is at the end of May and I plan to call it my birthday month. I'll be 60 and I am a little giddy about that. I plan to milk it!
Gotta go now and get my day on.
Have you ever had a Cuban coffee or yuca? What are your upsides today? Tell me!
love, susan

Monday, April 15, 2019

Monday Upsides: Tax Day

Well, here we are again. Monday and clear blue skies after a weekend of windy, cold weather. That's okay. I'm going in with an upside attitude. Over the weekend, I hit the send button on my taxes, and went photo walking with my buddy despite the arctic wind that put a chill in my bones yesterday. We couldn't figure out what we wanted to photograph so I pulled up a photo scavenger list online and we went with that. It was great fun. We spent about 5 hours scouting around for images to check off the list. Scavenger lists are a great way to wake up your creativity. I'll post a few pics at the bottom of this post.
  • We go live with a new database at work this morning. It has been a long time coming.  The old database brought out the worst in me in that there have been times I wanted to pour a cup of hot coffee over my hard drive but I would never waste a good cup of coffee for that. It will be a challenging week learning the new program. I say BRING IT ON. Upside: We are going paperless!
  • There is something in the works at my job that will unfold today or tomorrow. Luckily, I am a person who knows how to go with the flow. There is a definite upside in learning to not be a future tripper. I just stay in today and know that things are just as they are supposed to be. (Been listening to Dan Harris' 10% Happier Podcast ... can you tell?) Upside: win/win/win
  • The tulips are all blooming in my front landscape. I wish I could convey how happy tulips make me feel. The color, their shape, how they survive the cold ... all of it. If I was a flower, I'd be a tulip. A pink one. Upside: happy girl
  • I'm starting a 9 day dog/cat/house sitting job tomorrow for a friend at work. She and her husband built a beautiful home with floor to ceiling windows in the front. It always feels like a vacation when I sit for other people. Plus, I love other people's animals and it makes me feel honored to get to care for them while they vacation. Upside: Netflix non-stop
  • 5 more Mondays Upside: I see the light at end of the tunnel and it is not a train.
Got upsides? Tell me about them! 


Monday, April 8, 2019

Monday Upsides: I Got Plenty of Them

My dogs got new beds yesterday as I visited the pet expo. Buying things for them is always a crap shoot because I never know if they will like what I bring home. This bed was intended for the border collie but as you can see, the top dog in this house claimed it. She also promptly rounded up all three elk antlers I brought home to claim them for herself. I constantly have to put this dog in check.
I did some yard time on Saturday, took a nap, watched The Highwaymen on Netflix with the hubs (he loved it), and did a lot of laundry. I also input data into TurboTax. I haven't hit the send button on the taxes yet because I don't trust the numbers. I like to sit on them a day or two and go back with a fresh mind. I visited my friend who I'll be dog/house sitting for next week to get the lowdown on what I need to do. I was tickled pink when she said the dog and cat will both sleep with me every night.
Today is my first of three speech therapy appointments this month. I haven't written about it here but I'm having trouble with my voice. I noticed about 8 months ago that my voice was changing. I mentioned it to my primary care doctor in August and she said it was probably the heavy smoke from fires we were experiencing at the time. When I went to see her 4 months later, she sent me to an ENT doctor. He put a scope down my throat and says I have bent vocal chords and referred me for speech therapy. Whew, at least it's not cancer. Every doctor in this area takes a month to get in to and I've been at this since January. Today is my first session. What caused the bent chords? Likely aging and the fact that I talk all day long on a switchboard. When I met for my speech intake, I discovered that I project my voice differently when I'm talking on the phone. I attribute this to cell phone coverage. Often people cannot hear well on them and so I have to change my voice to accommodate. Often times, people are calling from their speaker phones while they are on the road. Long story short, however it happened, the damage is done and now I am hoping the therapy helps. Other remedies are cutting back on coffee, drinking more water, humidifier, and no whispering. Whispering is the worst thing you can do to your vocal chords. Who knew?
  • 6 Mondays to retirement
  • Speech therapy finally
  • I did some meal prep yesterday so I've got salads for a couple days
  • Taxes are almost done
  • I got a great idea for something to grow from a reader (thank you The Widow Badass) Go read her awesome blog!
  • Change is in the air
Got upsides today?  Tell me about them.

love, susan

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Redneck Gardening 101

The garden got some of my attention today. My back is feeling it, too. Last fall, for some reason, I didn't get dead stuff picked up like I usually do so it has been waiting for me. I'm really not a good gardener but I do enjoy putzing around outdoors, picking things up and trying to make it look nicer. Once I am retired, I hope to spend a lot more time trying to grow more. I really like perennials but I have to put them in  decidedly so I can fence them off from the dogs until they take good root. My dogs think I plant things for them to later dig up. Home wreckers, all three of them.
I planted some sunflower seeds in dirt in an egg carton today and made a little terrarium with a produce bag. My mother would be proud of my ability to scrounge around and see what I can find to make it all work. The solo cups with tomato plants were given to me by a friend who apparently has this gardening thing down. I'll be placing these tomato plants in a topsy turvy planter and hanging them out in another two weeks. It is still too cold to put them out.
Near my house, there is a guy who has several potted cactus, mostly chicks & hens strategically placed in his side yard that I'd like to copy. I have no original ideas when it comes to placing things in my garden so I'm always on the look out for something that I can copy.
Tomorrow, I'm going to tackle the cactus garden I have out near the street. I'll take a before and after photo so I can feel good about myself when it's all done.
Do you garden? What would you recommend for a person who has little gardening skills who needs something easy to grow to make her feel about the time spent?  Tell me!
love, susan

Right Here, Right Now

While on a girlfriend road trip two years ago, my Alaska buddies asked me if I was going to retire when I turned 60. Uh, no, I said. I'...