Grateful for a Summer at Home


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Photo by Kary Schumpert.
In the last week, I read a travel memoir, skimmed through an atlas, made a list of cities I would like to visit for weekend trips, and scoured a travel website for tips on my dream journey of a lifetime. However, I have not been outside of my current locale, Albuquerque, in more than three months and I won’t be going anywhere this summer, either. I have a serious case of wanderlust. I was feeling discontented and disappointed that travel is not going to be much of an option for me in the next few months due to budget constraints.

I knew I needed to sit with my disappointment, instead of denying it. After giving myself a little time to deal with this homebound reality, I discovered that mostly I was feeling hemmed in by the seeming lack of adventure in my near future. I was feeling sad, because I had expectations that were different than my reality. I realized that was my problem. When my expectations and my reality align, I am blissfully content and joyful. I was out of alignment. My wanderlust ideals were colliding with my local existence.

Believe me, I am a homebody. I love to stay home and curl up with a good book, my favorite music playing in the background. I love cooking dinner at home and savoring a glass of wine. I love puttering around the house, or enjoying a morning on the patio drinking coffee and watching the sky turn black to pink to blue. I love going to a nearby park with my borrowed telescope and viewing the stars and planets. What usually feels like a cozy option, though, was feeling more like a punishment or a slight curse.  As soon as I voiced my discontent to myself, while making breakfast one lazy weekend morning, I got a little perspective. I realized that I needed to look at my feelings of being chained at home through the lens of gratitude. I made a list of things that I was grateful for, with this idea in mind.

I am grateful that I will have lots of time at home in Albuquerque this summer.

I am grateful that I will get to make a serious attempt at a patio garden this summer.

I am grateful that I won’t be fighting highway traffic or having to share a beautiful vista with countless others.

I am grateful that I have summer employment to fill in the gap of my school-year job.

I am grateful that I live in a beautiful place with lots of hiking trails and biking routes and access nearby.

I am grateful for a summer to concentrate on some spiritual, physical, and mental fitness goals.

I am grateful for health, employment, and contentment with how things are in my life.

I am grateful that I will have extra time to finish a large writing project.

I am grateful that I will have time to complete an online class that I have been postponing.

I am grateful that I have a whole shelf of books that I have been meaning to read over the last couple of years.

I am grateful that I have a few friends who will also be in town this summer.

I am grateful that I will have a chance to put together a budget and plan for a dream trip to possibly take in a couple of years.

I am grateful that I invested in a few books about sightseeing in Albuquerque and New Mexico.

I am grateful that I have a pantry full of ingredients and a shelf full of cookbooks to try new recipes and dishes and share with friends.

I am grateful that I have made a list of some out-of-town-but-still-close places to see and visit this summer.

I am grateful that several museums, that I haven’t visited yet, offer upcoming free and/or discounted entry fees this summer.

I am grateful that I have a good camera to take pictures and find some new angles from which to enjoy my favorite local haunts and landmarks.

I am grateful for a small and cozy home in a gorgeous city.

I am grateful that I am taking initiative to invite friends from nearby towns, who might also be on the same kinds of budget constraints, to come and stay with me.

It only took a few minutes to change my perspective. I usually think that travel does that. However, I realized that the view of home, all of a sudden, looks very lovely indeed. What other parts of life, where there might be discontent, also need a new view through the beautiful lens of gratitude?

 

 

 

Olympics Fever


By Original author: Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937) (Manual reconstruction by Denelson83) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Original author: Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937) (Manual reconstruction by Denelson83) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
I have Olympics Fever, but it has been years since I was infected. Growing up, we watched the Olympics as a family. My mom lifted the limits on how much TV we could take in. We found the countries in the atlas, memorized the flags, and watched in rapt attention at the athletic prowess of the competitors. The fever was contagious and particular in the novelty of only every four years for the Summer Games. The Winter Games, while beautiful with snow and ice, don’t really fill me with symptoms.

After eight years of missing them, I tune into the Rio Games. I am house-sitting and that house has a TV with reception, so I have been able to partake of the games in all their summer spectacle. I uploaded an Olympics app on my phone, so I get the notices of who has won the various medals of each event. I receive the daily e-mail newsletter from the New York Times sports reporters and editors. They send weird snippets, as much about the cultures and the background, as the competition itself. I subscribed to get texts from another New York Times reporter, who sends pictures and comments on the inane, like why the water at the pools was green and that badminton is the only Olympic sport requiring its competitors to play with their right hands. This adds to the fever.

I haven’t watched every day, but I have watched a lot. I scour the track events for runners whose names I know and read track commentary on the Runner’s World website. I cheer for all, regardless of their nationality. An Iranian woman won a bronze in taekwondo, the first female of her country to medal, with history and sport coming together in that moment. I cried and yelled in excitement for the Refugee team as they entered the Olympic stadium during the opening ceremonies. I try to ignore the soap opera of the U.S. swimmers and the story that went from “we were robbed” to something else indeed. The fever continues.

The Olympics fever, though, is not just about the chirps from my phone with updates on medal counts. It is not just about the national anthems being played during the medal ceremonies. It’s about the “sickness” while I move through my own routines. I point my toes in the morning when I stretch and get out of bed, mimicking the divers and gymnasts. As I run two or three miles, I imagine I’m an Olympic marathoner. In a speed session at the track, I am sure that I could take on the 800 meter runners. I hop on my new road bike, and all of a sudden I know that I am Kristin Armstrong (not the writer I love with the same name), winning her third Olympic gold. In the pool, when my goggles go on, I have the competition beaten, worthy of Michael Phelps or any of the other gold medalists. A hike in nearby open space turns into the awkward and yet admirable gait of the speedwalkers. Just before dinner, when I pull out my knife to dice onions, for just a moment I fence in the open air of my kitchen light shadow. I gallop like a little kid to the mailbox and immediately I transform into an Olympic equestrian.

The closing ceremonies are tomorrow night, but I expect this fever to last at least a few more days. I am sure I can twirl some ribbon, find a trampoline to bounce on, use a water gun as an Olympic shooter (now that should be an Olympic sport), and find some sand, friends, and a volleyball.

The Olympics are here and I am infected. I will enjoy the sports and dedication and training. I will ignore the commercials and the politics. I will witness elation and heartbreak. I will take the inspiration and speed up and find new fortitude in my own athletic and workout routines. As the fever dies, I will be left with solitude and silence and my own gasping breath as I swim and run and bike and compete with myself.

 

A Week


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It was the first week in August. It was a big week. It was my first week back to work after taking the summer off. It was full and fun and exciting and stressful and disappointing and wonderful. It was a week.

A promotion
Over the summer, I applied for a new position and was excited to get the job, a promotion. I still work with the same environmental education program, but now I have a raise and am in charge of the program. The best part, though, is that I get to do as much teaching as before, which is my favorite part of the job. The first week back wasn’t without its bumps. I had to fill out paperwork, as is to be expected, but there was a delay, so my first day back was Tuesday, instead of Monday. I got an extra day of summer break, and a little time to take care of last minute errands. I got to reconnect with co-workers and volunteers and started to get to know a new staffer. It’s a new school year and it feels full of promise, like a bundle of new unsharpened pencils.

A lot of fur love
At the end of July, I started a two-month house-sitting stint. It includes two dogs, which is my real reason for saying yes. I love dogs and want a dog, but a small apartment and a full calendar (full-time work and a return to full-time evening classes) don’t quite welcome a furry-four-legged friend. Now, I visit two sweet dogs a couple of times a day for feeding, playing, and loving. Sometimes I spend the night, but also have the flexibility to go back and forth and stay in my own place. This week, a dear friend also asked me to dog-sit for his two fur balls for an evening. I spent the night at the friend’s empty house, and stayed with these old dogs, and it was like a good visit with familiar friends. Getting to visit with four dogs in two separate houses was fun and frenzied and my clothes show the remnants of all the fur love. Completely worth it, dogs stepping on me, rubbing against my leg, and sitting right next to me. Sweet, unadulterated, unapologetic in their affection, the dogs were the perfect accompaniment to the week.

A publication
At the beginning of the summer, I wrote a personal essay. I submitted it to an online magazine and quickly received a rejection e-mail from the editor, saying it wasn’t right without a rewrite. I decided to save it and use it for something else. A couple of days later, I received an e-mail from another editor who was looking for new writers for a website revamp. I sent them the same piece, and a month later they told me they wanted to publish it. This week it appeared. I shared it with a few friends and relished seeing my byline, even if the topic was a bit painful. If you care to read it, follow this link. It was interesting to read the essay and to see how things have changed, even within a couple of months. I write, hoping to connect with others, but sometimes I connect with myself all over again.

A messy mistake
Relationships with people ebb and flow. Some relationships stay close, some people fade away. I have been overly attached to one friend, and perhaps, as a result there have been some stumbling blocks. In the last week or two, it seemed we had made some progress, after an incident in May. We communicated fairly frequently over the last week, and it felt much like old times, funny and friendly. Then Thursday, well, I made a messy mistake, completely accidental. Remorseful and embarrassed, I piled on the apologies. Our friendship feels as though it is on fragile ground again. Two other friends, with whom I shared the embarrassing incident, advised me to remember the Serenity Prayer, written by Reinhold Niebuhr.

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I have taken a few deep breaths and said the wise words to myself. I will see what happens after the stumble and hope that things are okay with the friend. No matter what, though, I am learning the lessons of intention and apology. Yet again, I am learning the peace that comes through the Serenity Prayer. I am also learning to find the beauty in the mess and the power that comes in forgiving myself. I also realized that the two friends I turned to in the aftermath were very new to me. That I felt comfortable to share and that they provided wisdom, comfort, and space for me to be raw was a welcome discovery and another reason for gratitude.

A need for speed
I signed up for a speed dating event for Thursday night. I have been interested in trying this for a few years, but never committed to going. There happens to be regularly scheduled speed dating outings in Albuquerque. I signed up with one of my new friends and we met early. Originally, our plan was to be early to get comfortable and to get ready for speed dating. Instead, I cried in the parking lot, relaying my messy mistake story while she provided tissues and a friendly ear. We ran back to her car, while I got myself together (it was too late and too hot to try makeup) and I consoled myself with the fact that at least I wasn’t wearing the crying raccoon eyes from mascara tears. Then we entered the restaurant, our new friendship cemented into something more.

We each grabbed a glass of sangria filled with enough strawberries for a fruit salad and waited to enter the banquet room reserved for speed dating. Eight tables were set with cheesy valentines and LED votive candles and we each wore a nametag with our first name and a number. There were eight men and eight women and the event felt like a cross between a very organized happy hour and mini job interviews.

At the end of the night, my new loyal friend and I then peeled out of the parking lot in her car, searching for dinner and time to decompress and debrief. We tucked into a booth and ate cheesy garlic bread while we compared notes and waited for our dinner. We both thought it was a good way to meet people, especially if you don’t do it all the time. It felt like a safe and time efficient way to meet potential dates. After years of using online dating sites, and mostly enjoying the process, I am excited to try a different mode.

A spin
I joined a gym a few months ago, and already it’s my favorite gym ever. There is a good mix of ages and abilities, always with a happy roar of weights clanking, music coming from the exercise classrooms, and enough people to feel busy, but not crowded. I use the pool and some of the weights to supplement my outside runs, but have been wanting to take a spin class. As with anything new to me, I always feel a bit of hesitation and intimidation. Luckily, on the first Friday morning of each month, they offer a beginning class. I made plans to attend and got to the gym in just enough time to sign in and feel the pull of the spandex of my cycling shorts. The class had about 20 people and the instructor led us through the basics on how to adjust the bikes for our height and comfort and how to add the clips or pedal cages. Once we were mounted, with bright yellow towels on our spin bikes, he led us through an abbreviated spin workout, explaining numbers of effort, heart rate, and the gears on the gym bikes. A runner and biker in his 50s, he had a calm and cheerful demeanor while pushing us through the burn of our first spin. I loved what he said at the end. “Go to a few different spin classes in the next couple of weeks. Check out different instructors and different styles. You will love it or you will hate it, but you will be glad that you tried it.”

The weekend
After working half a Saturday for a meeting, I plugged into my weekend of downtime. I met a friend for coffee. I took a nap with furry dogs snoring nearby. I made a simple dinner of fish and pasta and sat on the patio and drank a glass of wine. I watched some volleyball and swimming of the Olympics, celebrating that my two-month house-sitting gig comes with a TV that gets reception and all the channels, while my TV at home only works with a DVD player plugged into it. On Sunday, I went for a run and a swim, did some housekeeping chores, and caught up with a college friend on the phone.

It was a week. While time may be a human construct, we can feel it. A week is seven days. It is a clear grid on my dry erase board hung in the hall. It is the song of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. It was full. It was eventful. It was ordinary. It was just part of the life I am living, the good, the bad, and all that in between. It was about friendships, fur, and new experiences. It was the beginning of a new work year. It was a week.

 

 

A Go, A Goodbye


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You sat at the bar. I was a couple of minutes late, as usual.

You looked at your phone. I opened the door. You glanced up at that moment.

It might have been my imagination, but your grey eyes lit up when you grinned.

I walked in and headed straight to you.

We hugged. The bartender smiled.

I ordered a beer.

You signaled that my drink was on your tab.

I asked about your commute. You asked me about packing.

We relaxed. It was quiet for a moment.

It was comfortable.

We caught up on the day.

We told silly jokes. We laughed.

We turned to each other.

You told me about your upcoming fishing trip.

I described my upcoming writer’s retreat.

We finished the beers.

I walked outside.

You settled the bill.

You gave me a t-shirt with the brewery logo.

I thanked you.

We held hands and stepped off the patio.

We took your car to the grocery store.

We giggled like little kids in the deli section.

We picked out dinner, a Wisconsin specialty. Brats.

We walked to the liquor store for more beer.

We drove to your house.

Your dog greeted us, all puppy enthusiasm, muscles, and expressive ears.

You built a fire in the basin of your grill in the backyard.

I teased you.

You lit the fire.

I sat back, in a blue dress, petting your sweet puppy.

We watched the sky.

The fire warmed us on a rare cool summer night.

You fashioned tree branches into grilling sticks.

We roasted brats over the fire.

We were distracted by the shooting stars of the meteor showers of August.

We ate enthusiastically and unapologetically from sticks and chuckled at our summer feast.

We gazed at the fire and found peace in the flames and sparks.

The sky turned darker and the wood burned down to embers.

The large pile of firewood shrank to twigs and scraps of bark.

We were silent. The pops and cracks from the fire punctuated the night.

The fire burned down, the night became morning, the summer diminished.

We held on for a brief moment, a few weeks.

We found summer.

You grabbed your keys, folded down your collar, and headed down the highway to work.

I put the last box in my car. I looked up at the trees.

The train screeched on the tracks around the corner.

I lingered and took a deep breath.

I opened the car door.

I slid the seat forward and my sunglasses slipped.

I straightened my blue t-shirt, the brewery logo reflected in the rearview mirror.

We were like the campfire, a brief intersection of two flickering flames.

In that moment we found healing.

We helped each other to dust off our hearts.

We helped each other get ready for the next, to prepare for real love.

Then there was goodbye.

My mind turned to my new home, the direction of my heart, a dear friend, school, writing, running, and teaching.

Your mind moved to work, your friends’ upcoming visit, making a home, fishing, and the dream of someone new.

I drove to New Mexico to begin.

I remembered what you said, “I’m glad we gave this a go.”

A summer, a fire, a go.

Goodbye.

The Heart of Summer


DSC00008Summer is heat. It is sun. It is fun. It is vacation. It is escape. It is release. It is light. It is love. The heart takes itself out of the darkness. It is out for sun and summer.

This summer, for me, is also transition. I am between things. I am packing, one foot still planted here in Colorado. I am moving, one foot flying towards New Mexico. I am saying goodbye, preparing for hello, and all the while my heart is open and wild and unruly.

Here in Colorado, I have had six weeks of my in-between state. I am wrapping up projects at my old job. I am writing bits and pieces, finding it difficult to focus. I am working sporadic shifts, temporarily, at a hotel, helping an overwhelmed staff. I am visiting friends and saying goodbye. Slowly and surely, I gather my belongings and put things in boxes. All the while, I do not know what to do with my searching, fast-beating heart.

In early July, I load my phone with a couple of new apps, linked to familiar dating sites. I am not new to the phenomenon of using online sites to meet people for dating purposes. This time I do it, thinking I will use the sites when I finally get settled in Albuquerque at the end of the summer. I am impatient, though, and try out a new-to-me site with its simple six pictures, short profile, and the option to “swipe” left for no or right for yes. I swipe left and right at prospective dates as if it is a game.

My phone pings with messages from the yeses that matched their own yeses to me. A few messages are exchanged and I feel exhausted. Another message catches my eye. It is different, somehow. The picture shows a man with kind eyes. I respond. We send short messages, quick questions, fast answers. We text and send funny jokes. In an hour we make plans to meet for a drink on a Wednesday. It will be the day after my birthday.

We meet. We talk about everything and nothing. He reminds me of boys I liked in high school and college. He is enthusiastic and there is no cool demeanor. We have things in common. The drink stretches out. My heart beats with the thrill of summer. In my first message to him, I tell him I am moving and am not looking to date in my final days in Colorado. During drinks, he says he understands, but he wants to date me while he can.

We see each other again. I meet his dog. There is friendship and, dare I say it? There is summer romance. It is simple and sweet and will be short. He makes guacamole and brags of his barbecuing skills. He plays bartender; he is from Wisconsin, after all. We trade Wisconsin stories. I tell about New Mexico. We both love music. We listen to records. We hold hands. We go bowling. We play with his dog.

We are efficient with our currency of limited time and fast-moving summer days. He has friends visit from out-of-town. I have a move to coordinate. We talk on the phone. We trade more text messages. I make plans to say goodbye to family and friends. We talk about camp fires and road trips. He tells me about a canoeing adventure with his sister. He plans a new home-brew batch with his roommate. I talk about star constellations and my love of teaching. He talks of settling in at his new job and loving Colorado, just six months after his move from the midwest. During the day, while he is working and I am packing boxes, we send each other suggestions for new music to listen to, funny pictures to peruse, and links to articles to read.

We are free and light. It is a summer romance, flirty and fun. We do not evaluate each other for long-term compatibility. We are not caught up in sadness or missed opportunity. I have no expectations and I set myself free. I have no attachment. I like him, but I also like the freedom of goodbye. We connect in the here and now. We are patient and kind to each other. Somehow, it is mutual. We care for each other’s hearts, for the short time that we will share them. We talk mostly of now. We do not talk much of the past. We do not make plans for the future.

Sometimes, we are destined to help nurse someone’s heart back to the living. Sometimes, we are the practice routine for a serious romance to follow. Sometimes, we are full of summer and light. Sometimes, we are the one to meet after a long one-sided crush. Sometimes, we are there to remind each other that there are many suitable people left in the world. Sometimes, we connect because we can. Sometimes, it is about who we are and who we have been and who we help each other become. Sometimes, it is about Wisconsin stories and guacamole and a dog. Sometimes, it is about music and stars and dreams. Sometimes, it is about a short friendship and a little romance. Sometimes, it is about the heart of summer.

A Loosey-Goosey List for Summer


Rabbit Mtn 12“Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that makes you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”–Mark Twain

It has been a little more than a week since the Summer Solstice. It is 85 days until the Autumnal Equinox. Summer is upon us.

Summer is the season of light and sun. It brings us the feeling of vacation, and even if we do not travel or take time off, we luxuriate in a relaxed pace. We plan hikes and brew sun tea. We gather friends and family for picnics and barbecues. In the heat, we move slower and soak up the sun. We find patches of shade and sit still, even for just a bit. We relax and breathe. We even adopt that attitude in our lives, at least for the summer. A loosey-goosey feeling pervades the season, along with the smells of burning charcoal, freshly-mowed grass, and the pierce of the mixture of sunscreen and swimming pool chemicals.

For most of the last decade, I have enjoyed summers off in my work as an environmental educator. What that really meant was unemployment and the need to find a summer job. I always appreciated the chance to do something different for the summer. This summer I am taking loosey-goosey to a new level in my life. I am not returning to my job in the fall, I am moving, I am starting school. Some things are set up, but I am taking a relaxed approach to these plans and ideas. Loosey-goosey is now running through my veins and I am taking the advice of one friend when I confessed that this lack of a clear and definite path feels exciting, yet unnerving. The advice, “Enjoy!”

That simple advice and this new approach is good for me. I still want to strive, but relax into it. I want to be in the moment and realize I am the maker of my journey. As much as we think we have control and know the next steps, they really are illusions anyway. Things can change in an instant. In a move that seems counterintuitive to the approach described above, I made a list of things I want to work on and do this summer, to accomplish before the Autumnal Equinox. The difference is doing so with a more relaxed, loosey-goosey approach. I know what I want to do, but may not necessarily have the particulars figured out yet. I have some idea of structure, but don’t want to get too fixated on how I think my life should be. Instead I want to find and create what will be.

I do not mean waiting for things to fall out of the sky, but putting my resources together so that I can respond quickly to opportunity. I want to be more responsive, more authentic, more flexible, more spontaneous, more relaxed, more loosey-goosey. I want to match up my passions and talents with new directions and outlets.

There is a quote from some movie that is floating in my head that seems to fit this moment, right now. “Loosey-goosey, baby, loosey-goosey!”

Here is my loosey-goosey list, baby!

1. A weighty issue!
I have written before about my goal for losing weight. I have lost a substantial amount in the last year, and I have just a bit more to lose to reach my goal. This is for me, for health, and yes, even a bit for looks. I am really happy with my body and health right now. I bring that comfort with me. My goal is to lose a certain amount of weight by the Autumnal Equinox, but to continue with this, “I do not hate my body and I refuse to do so.” I look forward to some new workouts, new strength challenges, and new routines for weight loss, strength, health, and happiness. I am on the cusp of the goal and look forward to the journey, as much as the arrival, and will enjoy every stop along the way.

2. Bookin’ it!
I took part of last summer off to work on writing a book of short stories. I spent part of this spring focusing on writing more of those short stories. This summer, I want to finish the book. It means more writing, more imagining, more editing. It means getting brave and getting out of my way. I have a few more short stories to write, quite a few to edit and rewrite, and quite a few to send out for edits and suggestions. The goal, by the Autumnal Equinox, is to have 26 short stories written and edited. And, if possible, I want to schedule a writer’s retreat in South Dakota, which I have delayed for a year for various reasons, for August or September to work on the stories and manuscript. Whether or not this book gets published is another issue and will become a separate question and a separate goal for a later time.

3.  Training to be a Personal Trainer!
In the past year or so, I have run a marathon, lost some weight, and have pondered future career changes. After doing quite a bit of research, and then contacting a dear friend from my high school days, I landed on personal training as a possible side career. I would love to take my own personal momentum and be able to help others on their paths to fitness, weight loss, and health. I would love to help take the intimidation out of going to the gym or entering a triathlon or running a marathon. I would love to be that encouraging voice and the accountability for someone just getting off the couch. Over the winter and spring, in informational interviews, I asked two personal trainers about their career paths, their thoughts on certification, and being a personal trainer. All of this research has convinced me that this path is a good one for me, even if it is part-time and on the side of some other things. The goal is to study for and pass the Certified Personal Trainer Exam to become a Certified Personal Trainer by fall.

4. Swimming to Lifeguard!
Last summer, I fell in love with swimming. Years before that, though, I fell in love with the idea of being a lifeguard. It started when I was little and I had a bit of little sister syndrome, as my older sister was a lifeguard and everything she did seemed cool to me in elementary school. And then in high school it seemed like an awesome summer job. Now that I am approaching 40, it seems like an embarrassing aspiration, but I am caring less about what others think. Now it’s about testing myself and doing something different. Now it’s about my comfort and endurance in the water. Now it’s about going for new swimming goals, longer distances, and races. I will take a lifeguard class and pass the lifeguard test, much like the way I entered a triathlon last fall, to prove that I am up to the challenge physically. I am swimming laps and treading water and getting ready for a class in late summer. Lifeguard certification goes quite well with personal training and I would love to be able to help people with beginning to swim and trying triathlons.

5. Moving, moving, moving!
For almost my entire adult working life, I have talked about my desire to return to live and work in New Mexico. As the years have passed, the craving has only increased. After spending half of last summer in New Mexico, I knew I needed to figure out a plan. Several long weekend jaunts during the school year only cemented the idea in my head and heart. The two weeks in early June when I stayed in Albuquerque was the push-turned-to-shove to make it happen. After a few more days in Colorado packing and wrapping up some things, I will be an intinerant visitor. I will spend some time in northern New Mexico with my mother and possibly do a bit of traveling. By the end of the summer, though, I will have an apartment and mailing address in Albuquerque.

6. New work, new life!
Most of my life, I have cultivated my sense of identity from my work. I have worked for nonprofit environmental and conservation groups. I found my dreams matched up with my skills and I found my passions became my avocation. I always patted myself on the back that I didn’t just have a job, but a cause. I am not giving up that idea, but I want to stretch my wings and try some new things. I will find a job to meet my needs. I am quite sure that I will return to teaching, possibly getting my teaching licensure, but not yet. For now, I am sending resumes out, calling people in my small network, and beginning. I realize that starting a job is the first step, while creating an avocation is a longer process, but that’s okay. It is exciting and scary and oh, so very good!

7. Starting anew at massage therapy school!
A couple of years ago, I started massage therapy school here in Colorado. The introduction was amazing and I knew that I had found one of the things that I wanted to do in my life. I loved the focus on healing and relaxation and therapy. I loved that I could focus on sports therapy. Juggling school and work, with a long commute and other duties became too much. I could not do it all, so I put school and those dreams on hold for a while. I found a great school in Albuquerque that seems to mesh quite well for me. The schedule and timeline and flexibility are perfect for combining with full or part-time work. The focus and approach of the school is exactly what I want. This is the beginning of something. I will begin massage therapy classes at the end of summer. I am rounding up friends upon whom I can practice what I learn. I begin anew.

Sometimes shaking things up is what is needed. Sometimes it takes a season to get things in order. Sometimes it helps to realize you were moving in the direction all along. Sometimes it takes the encouragement of friends and listening to the inner voice. Sometimes it means looking deep and going against the grain. Sometimes it means taking a new loosey-goosey approach.