Monday, January 5, 2015

Dear California...

California Coastline at Laguna Beach by kancp26

As my husband and I prepare to leave Southern California in just 2 days, only 1 day past the 6 month mark of becoming residents here, so much is going through my mind. 

SoCal has always been a part of our lives.  We vacationed here for years and eventually bought a second home in Palm Springs, CA.  Then we moved here, knowing it would be a stop along the way to somewhere else- but not realizing the stop was only going to be short one.

So as we move on, I will bid California farewell with this:

Dear California,
You are beautiful.  It is true.  Your beauty is varied and seemingly endless. 
You are warm and bright.  Your skies are bluer than I could have ever imagined.  
There is just so much to do here.  I now understand why Mark Twain said he wondered how anyone in California could ever die because everyone is so healthy here.
Your attitude is laid back and your people are more excited to greet the weekend or a holiday than anyone else I have ever met.  I am still so surprised to be told  'Happy Weekend' starting on a Thursday!

However, my dear California, I have also learned some truths about you.  You are crowded beyond belief.  Your traffic and costs are out of this world.  Its not fun to try to get to do all the wonderful stuff you have to offer when it's nearly impossible to get to those activities.  It feels like there ought to be another form of currency here so normal people can do such exotic things as buy a house or retire.  And California, your limits on freedom are certainly not for me.  It seems that your people are fine and good with tiny loud places to live and paychecks spread ultra thin while more and more rules drop into their lives via the government.
Oh California, how I wish I could keep your warm sun and live at the beach one day.  How I know that this experience of 6 short months will forever change how I look at life.  I will remember and relish the feeling of knowing that I can make it in a new home.   I will appreciate the fact that there is no perfect place and that everyone must find what works for them.  California, you didn't work for us.  We will visit you and we won't wonder 'what if'.  We are moving on.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It Came Without Boxes, It Came Without Bows...

Blue gift box, by Naypong, found at

"And the Grinch with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling.  How could it be so?  It came without ribbons.  It came without tags.  It came without packages, boxes or bags.  And he puzzled and puzzled 'til his puzzler was sore.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.  What if Christmas he thought, doesn't come from a store?  What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." - Dr. Seuss

 No real Grinches around here.  But people who are up to their necks in moving and haven't had the time to do the things that normally make us feel all 'Christmassy', yup we've got those. 
 I used to think that skipping all the decorating hoohaw and such might be just the thing.  I was wrong.  And a couple of weeks back I hit the dollar store and did a little instant decorating at the Palm Springs condo.  I also baked some cookies and mailed them to friends.  Haven't had the time to do all the things that make Christmas feel just perfect, but somewhere along the line Christmas showed up anyway.  Maybe it was when my good friend who is always short on funds sent me my favorite homemade peanut butter cups, even though I know she totally couldn't afford it.  Maybe it happened when my husband and I took the time to be silly and shop for crazy stocking stuffers like bacon flavored cotton candy for my nephew.  Maybe Christmas came when we decided that since we have to eat Christmas Eve dinner on the road, we will be leaving a great big tip for whoever the waitperson is at wherever we stop when the traffic gets to us.
 Whatever let the holiday spirit in, in the midst of our craziness, I am grateful.  And although the world is not all Christmas magic, just a little piece of the good side of humanity is enough for us this time around.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Once Upon A Time...

Sorry folks, no free cars here today- just a simple story of finding home...

It's hard to believe that it's been a little over 5 years since my husband came way too close to losing his very life.  (you can read about that  here but I must warn you it's a very long and involved post.)  It was not long after that moment when the two of us decided that it was time to start living like we really meant it.  No more dreaming of 'one day' as we had safely been doing from our little corner of the world.  It was time to really put it all out there.

Naturally, for my husband and I who met online way back in the day- when only researchers and supergeek college students lurked among the interwebs, this involved an internet search.  I guess we figured after finding a spouse online we could certainly find a suitable place to live.  We decided that a good bold move for us would be try to find a place where we could make our own way in this world, a place that felt like our very own to call home.  And not to simply rely on one of the places that either one of us had happened to land on, when we arrived on this planet.  My husband was far ahead of me in having already left his place of birth and NOT having so many people clamoring to assure him that the place he was born in was really the ONLY place to be.  I was excited to join in a new adventure and to find a 'home' of our own.

After a thorough internet/map/ideas of what appealed to us search, it was Texas, and specifically Houston, that came up as what might be the answer.  So we visited and we enjoyed and loved what we found.  Many people said we were crazy and that Houston was certainly not desirable, even Texas people said so.  But we loved it anyway and we set about to get there.  I felt sure we would do it.  I even started this blog.  And for those who have hung in there reading said blog, you know how much this has meant to me.  And also how hard this has been to achieve as we have come up against some major roadblocks- things like a nasty recession in which we would have had to sell our home at a huge loss and simply finding a new job anywhere was near to impossible.  But we pressed on, never giving up and remembering how awesome it felt to realize that one really could live in an affordable place where the sun shone in the sky far more often than in Seattle.

During this time, my husband and I learned a lot.  As our frustration grew we tried different angles.  We opened up our search to other sunbathed yet affordable cities and even purchased a vacation home in sun-guaranteed yet job poor Palm Springs, CA where we visited as often as we possibly could.  We even tried to secure some sort of remote position to no avail.  Meanwhile, we figured out that not all cities in the sun would feel right and that long drives to Palm Springs would get old.  So there we were having found a place we loved that we couldn't live in and still searching for a way to depart from the grey that we still felt we were paying too much for in Seattle.

Last Spring, we seemed to come up with at least a partial answer to our connundrum.  Having secured a job and sold our house, my husband and I would move to southern California where we could wait out finding a job in Texas while being close to our Palm Springs home and certainly getting our fair share of sun.  It would be fun; it would be like one big extended vacation!  We felt good and jumped in.

And we were right.  It has been good in many ways and very much like a long vacation.  Some of that has come as a surprise that we probably should have seen coming.  Have you ever noticed that after a long vacation there are lots of bills to pay and by the end of it you get a bit cranky and the only thing you really want to do is go home?  Yup, that's the point we got to.  Only now we felt like we didn't really have a home to go to and the closest we could find was our vacation home for the weekends.  And about a month ago, my husbands job took a turn towards watching many people in the organization lose their jobs and the offices being downsized in several locations.  Naturally, we realized the 'vacation' time was over.

But never fear, all that is good in the universe did not bring us to the land of Disney and crystaline swimming pools only to dump us on our butts and leave us bitter.  Oh no.  Suddenly all that work of making connections all over Texas was about to pay off.  My husband got a call from a firm in Dallas that had previously filled their position from within.  They were looking again and remembered him.  We were thrilled and my husband impressed them for the second time.  We were quickly in the throes of negotiation and planning a move to Dallas!  Finally, we would find ourselves in Texas! 

But wait, our story doesn't end here....  While we were super excited about finally getting to Texas, my very selfless husband suddenly had to admit that there were things about the JOB itself that left him concerned.  He wondered aloud at whether he was really a good fit for this particular job and if we might not find ourselves possibly needing to make changes yet again.  He was just not totally comfortable and decided to seek more information.  In talking things out with the Dallas organization, a truly amazing thing happened.  (Seriously, you cannot make this stuff up!)  Although the people from Dallas were convinced that my husband would do well with their company, one of them suggested that he check out a more traditional type of position in another location that might at least give my husband a good comparison.  This location had been looking to fill their position for a long time and it couldn't hurt to make sure everyone was happy in the end.  I was in shock yet again at just how nice those Texans are!

So it was off to Greensboro, North Carolina, where we had once visited my great aunt.  A whirlwind of interviewing, neighborhood touring and sincere consideration followed.  We had to take time back on the west coast, away from all of the excitement and possibilities, to really weigh out the choice.  There was Dallas- where we would be in Texas, the place we've been trying to get to for several years now.  There was Greensboro- where the job felt like a better fit and we realized could also be a wonderful home for us.

In matters of choice over the years, I will readily admit that my husband usually very smartly defers to me.  I am decisive, don't spend time regretting stuff and usually have the stronger opinion.  This story would be a true fairy tale if I told you that this time we gave the decision to my husband.  I would also be lying.   But I know he still got what he really wanted, because he told me so after the fact.  And I believe him.

In the end, the choice is easy.  In January we will be at home in Greensboro, North Carolina!  The job is just right.  The details of the offer and benefits will be life changing.  And after 2 years, my husband will be free to tranfer to any other office within the company that he chooses, including offices in Texas.  It's nice to know that offer exists, but somehow I doubt we'll need it.  After everything we've been through we've managed to find a place to call home that has a wonderful cost of living, a greater percentage of sun than Seattle ever saw, and is much closer to my husbands relatives and best friends.  There's not much more we could ask for.

Sometimes we dream of  home being something like this:
 But we are only truly happy when home feels like this:

Monday, November 17, 2014


Is it just me or do you also think of Carly Simon when you see that word???  Yeah, if you guessed I'm feeling a bit snarky today, you'd be right...

So I'm taking a cue from the guys over at  A Beer For The Shower  and I'm going to post about how my next post will be one that you don't want to miss.  Seriously, if you have been around and reading this blog for awhile you deserve to know that something big is up-  complete with twists and turns and Oprah style 'ah ha' moments.

I hope you have a great day and I'll see you back here soon!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

An Attitude Of Gratitude

Just about every year in November, as Thanksgiving approaches, I'm given to begin thinking in a bit more of an appreciative way.  We probably all do this in one form or another.  And as for me, I know I should do it more.  Every day.  It's one of my many important life lessons that I'm still working on and will continue to do so indefinitely.

This year I am particularly grateful for these things:
 1)  We finally managed to leave Seattle.  It was way beyond time and we needed to make the leap.  Seattle is good in many ways.  Being able to choose our own path is even better.
 2)  Major relief from allergies has been such a blessing.  A whole long summer of being allergy free was like a miracle.  And having noticed a more 'normal' seasonal bit of Fall allergies with the leaves finally on the ground- and full of mold and mildew spores- tells me that being born in a place with perpetual mold and mildew, I should have relocated sooner!
 3)  Connections with friends have been imperative to my sanity this year especially.  Move 1200 miles away and you really do find out who you're friends are!  And some new insights into putting a positive spin on just about anything have been a fabulous gift from one particular friend.
 4)  Dogs are just awesome.  They are there for you, give you purpose, love you unconditionally, and are the best form of entertainment around.
 5)  Seeing things with new eyes.  Slowing down and really looking at all the beauty, strangeness, people around me.  I have found so many things right there in front of my face that I know I would have missed had I kept up the rapid pace I had been and continued on in a subconcious way.  Really living conciously takes effort and it's worth it!
 6)  Being open to more change.  Embracing the unknown really does allow for greater possibilities.  I used to think that control over your life was the ultimate freedom.  That always knowing what comes next was the best way to meet goals.  I have truly changed my mind.  I'll always be a 'planner', but I now know the detours are often the best part.
 7)  I am super grateful for anything that makes me feel useful and productive.  Without much work since moving to California, I have needed to reform my idea of what makes me feel worthwhile.  I have a newfound deep appreciation for everything that anyone brings to the table of life.  We all have so much to offer in so many ways and realizing all the different ways that is manifested is awesome!

 Please do hit me up with some of your own favorite 'gratitudes' of the year!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It's Not Just A Theory

I recently moved away from a city that prided itself on being a frontrunner in the liberal race of ridiculousness, right over the cliff to idiocity.  This included the fact that they were very busy there getting things lined up such that everyone who can show up, breathe and do a half-assed job can be rewarded with $15 per hour.  Never mind that people who currently earn that wage will also then desire more, etc., etc....

 But there was also a nagging thought in the back of my mind that told me it would never be that simple for other reasons.  And now, I have seen it with my own eyes.  The other day, in small town Palm Springs CA where things happen slowly and the older than average population is resistant to change, there it was.  The 'it' that I refer to is an automated ordering system at a restaurant.  It was right there when you walked in, and for now it was just there if you wanted to try it out.  I could clearly see how this would be able to eliminate some need for human labor, so I asked a member of the waitstaff if he was worried some people might lose jobs because of this new device.  "No", he replied.  "They just won't hire as many new people".  Well, well, well...  You don't say!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bucket List

Thank you Sherry over at "Mama Diaries" for this fun blog hop idea.  I can't wait to see what's on different bloggers bucket lists!  If you followed over from Sherry's blog or another 'Bucket List' blogger today, welcome!  And to the regular readers, I hope you might be inspired to think about your own bucket list.

As someone who has had many life experiences all along the spectrum of positive to negative, I believe I am especially fortunate in the realm of never truly feeling as if I have 'missed out' on much.

 However, I am a big believer in having goals and a focus on the future.  So my 'Bucket List' is definitely a kind of blueprint expanding on the life that I currently live and am hoping to add to in the future.
 So here we go...
1)  To live in Texas.  If you've read me at all you know I've wanted this for a long time.  Even if I have to wait until I am retired to do it, I WILL live in Texas.
 2)  To have a ridiculous number of dogs in my household.  I used to think a pair or maybe 3 dogs was a good numberlike most sane people do.  Having met people who have the right resources and time who just relish in loving on a whole bunch of dogs, I believe I could be one of those people.
 3)  To go at least one year where I don't decorate for Christmas- hint, it might be this year!
 4)  To make a real difference in the lives of children.  I have no kids of my own.  I have worked with kids for about 20 years of my life and I take a large role in the life of my nephew.  I want to be sure that this item on the list does not end when I do.  I'm working on a way to keep this going long after I'm gone.  If it were not for some very instrumental people in my life, I never would have made it.
 5)  To get a private pilot's license.  As a self-proclaimed 'freedom freak' I crave any and all forms of freedom and flying seems like a wonderful one.  Plus I come from a long line of recreational fliers.
 6)  To learn to be as selfless as my husband.  He inspires me with his ability to be both selfless and happy.
 7)  To have a home that is both uncluttered and yet feels warm.  I think I am getting close!
 8)  To get to a point where I feel that I am fulfilling what I was meant to do.

Sorry I got to the party late today.  I actually had a surprise work opportunity!  Hopefully, I still get some readers over here today!

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