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Posts Tagged ‘personal’

image courtesy of Microsoft

image courtesy of Microsoft

About a month ago, I celebrated my 50th birthday.

Now, celebration is a rather broad term for what I did.  You see, I’m not much into birthdays.  But my friends told me that this was one to celebrate, and that I should do something extraordinary, like zip-line.

I said no to zip lining (at least for now) and yes to buying my plane ticket for the Camino de Santiago.   And I went out to eat with some friends.     But that still didn’t seem “enough.”  So I have spent some time thinking about how I’d like to spend my 50th year on Earth.   Here are a few things I’ve come up with:

1.  Do something that relates to my age, such as walk 10 miles for every year I’ve lived.   Ha!  That was easy – I sort of cheated on that one, since it just coincidentally worked out I would be walking the 500-mile trek to Santiago this particular year.

2.  Do 50 things that scare/stretch me.   This one could include all kinds of things, from driving in an unfamiliar city to attempting something new.   I tend to stay stuck in the familiar, and what better way to shake up life than expanding my comfort zone?

3.  Eat at 50 new restaurants.  This one might be hard to do, if I don’t count my time on the Camino.  My extended community has lots of restaurants, but I have a fairly limited diet, so finding 50 new restaurants where I could eat something other than a garden salad will be a challenge.   Plus, I tend to eat at home.

4. Cook 50 new recipes/use 50 new ingredients.   This seems like a silly goal for someone who likes to cook, but when I find a recipe I like, I tend to make it over and over and over again.

5. Read 50 books.  This one might be cheating a bit, since I do love to read.  I don’t keep track of how many books I read a year, but it might be worth noting.  And perhaps, since I’m stretching my comfort zone, I could read some genres I don’t normally read, like biographies and mysteries.

So that’s what I’ve got so far.  Any suggestions?

I plan to post how I’m doing on my 50 things list, so we’ll see how it goes.

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Recently, I was reading a Facebook post where the author asked her readers to think back to when they were young. She then asked her readers to post what they wanted to be when they grew up.

I couldn’t do it. My first memory of what I wanted to be is too embarrassing! You see, I wanted to be … Miss America!

All images courtesy of Microsoft

All images courtesy of Microsoft

Yep, Miss America.  Or Miss USA.  Or, if I got especially lucky, Miss Universe!  I remember being maybe nine or 10 years old and being enamored with these pageants.  Those ladies were so beautiful and talented and svelte!  Exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up.

But what’s funny about this memory is that I never ever, not once, acted upon my earliest ambition.  I didn’t enroll in pageants and I didn’t take music or dance classes.  Well, I actually did take ballet  but I was found to be woefully uncoordinated.  I couldn’t carry a tune.  Even more than that, I wasn’t especially girly and I sure didn’t pay much attention to my appearance. In fact, MamaNell had to constantly remind me to brush my hair!   I truly wanted to be a pageant queen in dream only.  And perhaps that was just as well…

About that same age, I spent a lot of time dreaming about and pretending to be a mommy.

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At the time, my family lived in a big old house in New Jersey with a wrap-around front porch.  The girls in my neighborhood and I would “divide” up my front porch, and we’d each claim a section as our “house.”  Our jobs were to be housewives, probably because our moms stayed at home.

One of my mom’s most intriguing tasks was grocery shopping.  I loved going to the grocery store with MamaNell.  I’d beg her to let me push the cart, and I’d pretend that I was the one shopping for my own family.  An embarrassing sidenote: I was especially interested in the baby food section.  All those jars of blended peas, carrots, pears and applesauce!  The baby biscuits and apple juice! I could stare at those items for quite a long time.  Funny that the diaper section did not have as much appeal.

Nowadays I’m not particularly fond of grocery shopping.  It’s a means to an end:  I like to cook, I like to eat, therefore I must shop.  And, for the record, I never had kids of my own, just dogs.   Perhaps that, too, was just as well…

As I grew older, the vision for my life expanded.  Sure, being a mommy is one of the most important jobs in the world, but I also longed to do something “creative.”   We weren’t allowed to watch too much TV, but when I was, I saw people who could sing and dance, like Sonny and Cher, the Jackson 5,  the Partridge Family, and the Carpenters.  I wanted to do that!  Oh, wait, you say, we’ve already established that you can’t sing and dance.  Correct, dear reader.  I don’t sing and dance.  But, I thought at the time, I could create routines for others to perform.  For several years,  I spent my creative energy making up dances and skits and dreaming of the day when my inspirations would be shown on a variety TV show.

dancers

Eventually my lack of talent in this area got the best of me and I decided to pursue other options.   By this time, I was in college and had to pick a major.  I thought about political science, but I just didn’t want to play that game.  I couldn’t balance a checkbook, so accounting was out.  I can’t draw, paint or sculpt, so art was out.  Finally I realized that I could put my interest in reading and making up stories to good use.  A major in Journalism and a minor in English it was!

writer

I wrote for the campus paper during the academic years, then interned at my hometown paper during the summers.  But timing was not my friend.  By the time I graduated, newspapers were closing and it wasn’t the best time to find work as a journalist.  I ended up working in PR, then retail, then restaurants, and now office jobs.  All along the way, I found myself wishing I had some great idea I could turn into a novel.  My writer friends are truly motivated and spend hours inside working on their ideas.  Meanwhile, I sit in front of my computer with a blank mind.  I found I’d rather be outside anyways.  So the writing dream was put on hold.  But to be honest, if I ever came up with an idea, I’d be chasing this dream all over again.

So one can see my “what are you going to do when you grow up” has changed quite a lot over the years.  My new dream combines my current interests in being outside, working to heal the Earth, and eating.  I hope to have a farm someday.

farmer

I’d love to have a big old house on lots of acres, where I could grow nutritious veggies, sumptuous fruits, and fragrant flowers.  In my dreams, I also conquer my introverted personality and convert my house into a B&B, where I welcome people from near and far.    There might even be a farm store to sell canned goods and crafts made with items from the farm.

Who knows if I’ll ever be able to farm for a living.  Right now, I have a fairly large garden and enjoy fresh produce almost all year.  Maybe that’s enough.  I’m hoping  my time on the Camino will provide me with insight about where to go and what to do next.

What did you want to be when you grew up?  Anything that can top wanting to be Miss America?

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thankyou

As I begin contemplating what to do next with my life (why wait for the Camino?), I’ve been prompted to write a list of all the good things I’ve received from my past jobs.

So here goes:

1. My current job gave me the flexibility to take care of, and spend time with, my dogs in their infirmed years. I am eternally grateful for this.

2. I’ve met some great people along the way. Everywhere I’ve worked, I’ve met interesting people. Two that come to mind immediately are A. and K.

I worked with A. in an insurance setting. We sat by each other and spent hours talking about a shared passion: college basketball. While we were both hardcore Duke fans, we spent hours watching other teams play as well. We would talk for hours most nights on the phone, dissecting plays, celebrating victories, mourning losses. Then we would begin again at 8:30 a.m. the next business day. We never tired of talking basketball!

I moved on to another job, and we continued to talk frequently until family obligations and distance got the better of us. A. passed away about seven years ago, and I have to say that tournament time is just not the same.  Though I do have to wonder if, like me, she would have lost some interest in the sport due to the “one and done” atmosphere that currently exists.   While I don’t begrudge anyone making money, I miss the opportunity to watch players develop and grow over four years. It’s just not the same family atmosphere.

Another very special person is K., who is truly like a younger brother to me. He’s funny, smart, empathetic, athletic … just a great all-around person and someone I’ll always feel close to, no matter how far away he lives or how little we communicate (he’s currently practicing law in the Midwest.) True tale:  one of my finest accomplishments in life was introducing him to the sheer yumminess of homegrown tomatoes.

Of course, there are many other amazing people with whom I’ve worked. Artists, musicians,and authors working in retail or the food industry while they nurture their true joy. Mothers who give me another perspective on life — and making me very glad that I’m not currently dealing with a teenage daughter! Fathers sharing pride in their children’s accomplishments. Students figuring out what they want to do in life, then going on to be successful in that very career setting. So many wonderful people with whom I’ve shared laughs and tears…

For all the joy of knowing these folks, there has been some sadness. A coworker was murdered, several have had cancer scares, others have passed away, and a student went crazy and started stalking people in our office. But luckily these challenging situations were few and far between.

3. Another thing I’m grateful for is all I’ve learned along the way. Because I’ve had such varied jobs (public relations, retail, food industry, office work), I’ve had the opportunity to learn about many different industries.  And because some of my jobs had major down times, I’ve been able to educate myself about my personal interests: gardening/microfarming; sustainability; spirituality; shamanism; and of course, the Camino!

4. I am grateful for the jobs in which I could work independently. Once I know what I’m doing, I’m pretty good at getting projects done, setting schedules, etc. I don’t need micromanaging. Luckily my last few jobs, I have been trusted to not only do my assigned tasks, but to also come up with more efficient processes.

5. Over the past 15 years of working in a university setting, I’ve had access to libraries, inexpensive gym memberships, and athletic and artistic events.

6.  I’m extremely happy that my recent jobs have not required me to “dress up.”    While I dress professionally for meetings, there’s just as many days I can wear jeans.

7.  I’m grateful that I don’t have an extremely long or difficult commute.

8. My job is conveniently located so if I forget to bring lunch, I’m near a dozen restaurants.

9.  When it’s icy, I have the option of taking vacation time rather than risking life and limb driving into work.

10. Maybe this should be number one, since it’s very important:  I am grateful for a paycheck!

I’m sure that if I took more time,  I could come up with more reasons to be grateful for the jobs I’ve held.  If you work, what are you most grateful for?

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courtesy Microsoft clip art

courtesy Microsoft clip art

At long last, I have a date for my Camino!

After close to two years of dreaming about this trip, I’ve purchased my airline ticket and made it official.   I leave the States on Wednesday, April 24, spend a few days acclimating and traveling to St. Jean Pied a Port, then begin my walk across Spain on Sunday, April 28.  There’s no backing out now!

Not that I would seriously back out, mind you.  I just had a brief moment of panic after hitting the “purchase now” button.  What was I thinking?  I haven’t re-learned Spanish like I had planned, I haven’t lost that last 20 pounds that seem to never want to go away, I’m not walking 20 miles a day with a 15-pound pack on my back.   And the biggest “what the..” of all:  I’m quitting my job with no idea of what I’ll be doing when I get back.

But then I calmed down a bit, reminding myself that I’ve been guided to do this trip, that I have phone apps to help with the Spanish, that I can always walk slowly and take my time (I have two months, after all!), and that I will have a lot of time to figure out the next steps in my life.  I’ll  literally be walking into my new life!

I still have to purchase some clothing and other items for my trip, and finalize arrangements with my wonderful house sitter (MamaNell).   Get some bills on automatic pay, get the car inspected early, and hire a lawn person to cut the grass.  Buy enough cat food for the ferals.  Write my letter of resignation.   Figure out what to do about my phone since my model of iPhone will not work in Spain.  And probably many other little things that I haven’t  thought of at this moment.  These next three months will fly by.

I can’t believe that I’m almost on my Way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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photo courtesy of Microsoft

One of my friends sent me a chain email today. It began, “In honor of Women’s History Month and Erma Bombeck, who died of cancer.”   Hm, I thought, this email must have taken its time making the rounds, because  isn’t October Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

A quick Google search revealed that March is Women’s History Month.  The search also revealed several inaccuracies in the email I was sent.   For instance, Bombeck wrote her list years before she was diagnosed with cancer.   Regardless, I believe the intent of the email was to get me thinking about what I would do differently if I had my life to live over again.

So I pondered a bit, and came to the realization that many of the things I regret about my past are things I’m working to correct.  So my list is divided into two categories:  things I have started doing since I turned 40, and things I could still do to improve my life.

Things I have started doing since I turned 40:

I worry less about fitting in and instead appreciate my uniqueness.  So much of my life was spent worrying about “not being pretty enough” or “not being thin enough” or “not being smart enough.”

Continuing in that vein, I try to focus on the positives and not the negatives, both about myself and about situations around me.   It’s easy to find fault, but it’s also just as easy to find good.  Not to mention focusing on the positive just feels so much better!

I am more inquisitive.  In my past, I would take what certain people (especially family members) said as gospel truth. Now, I do my own research and trust my own intuition.

I am now willing take more risks and even (gasp!) to fail.   For so much of my life, I wouldn’t even attempt doing something unless I thought I would be good at it.  For example, I didn’t even apply to certain colleges for fear of not getting accepted.   The fear of failure paralyzed me.   Now, I’m taking the huge risk of leaving my job without guarantee of another one in its place.  Yay me!  (Or stupid me?)   But regardless, something has to be done, and I’m taking a step forward without too  much fear.

Also in that vein, I would realize that nobody’s perfect, and you don’t have to be perfect in order to be loved.  And if someone demands that you be a certain way in order for them to love you, then maybe it’s not really love anyways.  Time to move on.

Things I could still do to improve my life:

Like Erma, I could worry a little less about the stained rug or couch and invite people over anyways.  Hey, I’m not perfect, and neither is my house!

I could learn to go with the flow and trust that I am exactly where I need to be.

I could appreciate each person’s uniqueness, even if I don’t always agree with their opinions.     I could spend more time finding commonalities and less time differentiating.

I could say at least one nice thing about my family or friends every time I talk to them.

I could pay it forward by doing more good things, while trusting that I am divinely taken care of.

I could work less and play more!

So … I’m sure there are more things I could do, but that’s all I can think of for now.   What about you?  What changes would you make  if you had your life to live over?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NOT the winning ticket

First off:  I did NOT win the $320 million PowerBall lottery.    But I had an enlightening time trying.

Normally, I don’t play the lottery.  I’m not against lotteries, per se;  it’s just the statistics are not in my favor so I don’t  bother.

But after reading an article about a hometown accountant who won $1 million last week, I thought I’d give it a shot.   The winner (who got five balls right)  said he had always imagined he would win the lottery one day.

Talk about the power of positive thinking!

I told myself that if this gentleman could win, maybe I could, too.  Why not?    Of course that meant that if I wanted to win, I had to play.   So last night, I  marched down the street to the convenience store and bought myself a ticket.    The big question was whether to choose my own numbers or to let the computer generate them.  I opted to go with the computer; I figured if I was destined to win, then the computer would know that and I’d get those magical numbers assigned to my ticket.   Plus, I don’t really have any lucky or special numbers anyway.

The ticket generated great numbers for me: 02 12 16 32 36 06.  I loved them!  They just looked like winning numbers, though to be honest, what would I know?

I held on tightly to my ticket during the walk home, on the off chance that some of the other folks visiting the little store would realize that I was the one with the winning ticket, not them.    I placed the ticket where I would remember to check the numbers first thing this morning.    The 11 p.m. announcement was past my bedtime and if I stayed up to find out I’d won, then I’d be up the rest of the night.

The ticket in a safe place, and the alarm clock set for 5 a.m.,  I settled into a chair, pulled out my journal, and began writing.  What would I do if I won the lottery?   The announced payout, if taken in one lump sum, was about $200 million.   Of course I would take it in one lump sum!

Now that I had some idea of what I would win, how would I spend all that money?

First, I’d quit my job.

I’d pay off my house, and finish the renovations/repairs that still need to be done.   That way, if I wanted to move and sell the house, it would be finished for the next owner.

I’d get my Ford F-150 truck tuned up and painted.  I only use this truck for hauling, but it is definitely past time for some TLC.

I’d buy my mom two new tires for her car.   I’d also set up some kind of fund where she could have some extra money available to her if she needed or wanted it.   My dad doesn’t need financial assistance, but I could buy him some really nice wine!

And while I was thinking of others, I’d give money to  local animal shelters and to one specific animal rescue group.  I’d give a little extra so they would have the money to help with the feral population in my neighborhood.  I’d give money to the church I attend sometimes, and to the local homeless shelters.

I’d set up some sort of foundation where I could make yearly donations to various causes.    I’d look into ways to promote random, anonymous acts of kindness.   I’d increase my support of programs designed to help at-risk youth.

Now, back to me:  I’d buy a Vitamix and a food dehydrator.  I would look into having a cleaning and lawn service to do the work when I don’t have the time or the desire.

I would travel more. I’d finish purchasing my supplies for the Camino and I’d buy my first-class plane ticket as soon as tickets for May are available for purchase.

I would begin looking for locations for my mini-farm/b&b, then I’d find a team of people to work with me on this endeavor.   I might also upgrade my home computer.  Perhaps buy a new outfit or two.

And then what?  Hm… my mind went blank.  That’s about all I want right now.  I went to bed all warm and glowing.

Then morning came and I turned on the news.  There was a winner and it was not me.  Sighing, I headed out the door to walk the dog.  Good thing I hadn’t called in my resignation last night!

This little exercise made me realize I’m pretty happy with most things in my life.  Having a boatload of money, or heck, even a canoe-load of cash,  would allow me to finish off some projects, be more generous, and travel more.  It would also allow me to fearlessly pursue my dreams.

So maybe I play the lottery again, or maybe I don’t.  But I’m open to receiving good wherever the source.

What about you?  How would you spend $200 million?

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image courtesy of Microsoft

I took off a few days last week, determined to be lazy. After all, it’s the middle of summer and hot, I’m not going anywhere on vacation and I’m flat-out unmotivated. If ever there were a time I should be allowed to be lazy, wouldn’t now be it?

Apparently not.

I was doing my best to just hang out, read some, and watch a little Olympics … But then I started noticing the ants. Hundreds of them. Around my dog’s food bowl. ACK!

So I picked up the dog bowl, threw out the remaining kibble and washed the bowl vigorously. I took the mat upon which the bowl sits outside and washed that down too. Then I mopped the kitchen floor using an industrial-strength cleaner.  Ants gone. Phew! I could go back to being a bum.

Later, I went back into the kitchen to get some water, and what do my eyes behold but more ants around the dog bowl!  Mind you, this was a clean dog bowl that had no food in it.  On the clean mat which had been dried in the hot, baking sun.  Why were these ants still coming in and hanging out in that one area? DOUBLE ACK!

I am not proud to admit this, but I got out the vacuum and proceeded to vacuum  up the ants. (My sincere apologies to all the little ants whose death I caused.)    Problem solved!

Until the next time I went in the kitchen and saw hundreds more ants,  marching around the dog bowl and mat.   Out came the vacuum and the mop.  Vacuum, rinse, repeat.    Several times.  Until I finally realized that those ants were there to tell me something.

So I pulled out my trusty Animal Speak by Ted Andrews, and looked up the meaning of ant.   I knew a little of what I would find, mainly that ants are industrious.   Great!  Just when I want to be lazy, I get a sign saying I need to work hard.  Is the world not fair???

After a mini-tantrum justifying my absolute need to be lazy, I read on to find that an ant totem can show up to help one recreate one’s life from the ground up.  Ah, now that’s more like it!

I’m currently  exploring ways to make money out of my passions, and to live life from a place of joy rather than one of  fear.  And I’m starting to publicly declare that I will leave my job in April, a week or two before I walk my Camino.    That’s a very scary thing for me to say, much less do, since I’m not sure how I’ll make money once I’m back.    But, hey, ant has come to help me out!

The ant totem also can help one’s work be of highest service to all.   Ant may help one realize that if the effort is true, the results will come; all one has to do is release attachments to those results and be patient.

Confession time: I’m not very patient.  When I decide I want to do something, I want results right then.  Forget that it might have taken me years to create a problem, I want it solved in a day.    And I tend to think that the very things that bring me joy (gardening, cooking, working with the earth and animals) are just a tad selfish.  So I really need ant energy to show me how I can realign my hobbies into a soulful career that is of service to others and the earth, and to be patient with the outcome, knowing that all roads lead to …  something.   In other words, enjoy the journey and don’t worry so much about the destination.

So I’ve been calling on the ant totem to help me with these situations.  And wouldn’t you know that, as of last Sunday, when I walk by the dog bowl, there are no ants?

Now to find out the meaning of that roach hanging out outside by the back door …

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