move forward, live fully, breathe deeply....

there are so many areas in our lives in which we can get stuck...drowning in things, worry, anxiety. Here is my journey to live simply, with the fantastic freedom of 'less is more' as my mantra.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Retirement Adventures -- Has it really been One Year?

       Where has the time gone?? Getting used to being and living in the civilian world again has it's sunshine and shadow. First, the Colonel has to get used to life out of the uniform that so defined him for 28yrs (plus 4 more in college).  Getting used to the shirt and tie, the hair (oh!! The hair!!! Full Beard displayed daily now!!), the almost normal hours of 9 to 5 ...

How does someone know that the Colonel has been a Leader of young men? He guided and led men to become their best selves--by allowing ideas and innovation to be viewed, discussed, implemented or discarded. The Colonel quietly led, never boastful, never overbearing, taking the time to personally help those whom required the most gentleness.....doing the right thing when it would've been easier to let the system take over -- I can't go into detail, there is a need for privacy-- I just feel that it needed to be addressed here...

Now the Colonel's focus is a bit different. Presently it seems like he's "in the trenches" with his coworkers...some who would've been one of his soldiers in the past.  The salutes are gone now, replaced with a hard-won acceptance and trust that the Colonel is "one of the boys" ---an experienced, capable, resourceful coworker (who sometimes needs the help of others! And isn't afraid to ask!!)

Time passes and we change to accommodate the newness of it. The Colonel is doing well-- adjusting to the Retirement Adventure as quickly as possible--- sometimes we have to utilize patience a bit more than we'd like! Getting the military retirement and disability benefits have been a struggle --changing policies and new laws/policies/definitions make for a roller coaster ride that are long-lived and bumpy.  If you're leaving the military, make sure you begin your information gathering and out-processing in a timely manner!!! I believe there are new requirements that include mandatory classes --pay attention to your out-processing time lines!! Don't put things off!! -- the Colonel took a "new" course and didn't get everything required from the "old" set of courses/standards...and it affected Everything!

Accepting our new path is paramount to living fully, in this present circumstance. Some things just plain cost more....Health Insurance is not a rise (I am Always surprised when I visit the pharmacy!!). Being older means our bones start creaking! Our eyes become less focused! Our stamina is not what it once was! (Many years ago my home would be "put together" both inside & out within months--presently we're still (!!!) working on it at the 12+ month mark!). We can rant & rave about the awfulness or? We can just age gracefully, accepting what is....making the wisest choices to lessen the blow on our mind, spirit and bodies as well as pocketbooks.

Not a bed of roses by my standards...I have struggled mightily with depression over the last 5 to 6 years.  This last year has been a curse as well as a blessing.  I finally had enough. I finally felt like the time had come to get more than just the status quo of help.

So I had a little adventure that reminds me vaguely of the movie 28 Days with Sandra Bullock.  She had a substance abuse problem...mine was an eating disorder I had hidden for too many years and the depression.  I went off to take care of both. And am still on my path to healing.  I'm finding that it's very difficult to find professionals that work with eating disorders partly because it's difficult, and partly because people with eating disorders hide it and try to keep it a secret. I've decided for myself, that I am no longer willing to hide.  It's time to let go and trust God and myself to take care of this one precious life.  Whew!! Thanks for letting me get that off my chest....I've started to ask forgiveness of those I had separated myself from--through isolation and even flakiness over the years. There's some forgiveness, sometimes not.  It's okay. Either way, it's time to move forward. No more stagnation for me baby!!!!

So even though the leaves may be turning brown and dying...I am looking at this fall season as a time for renewal. A time for rest (of sorts) and time of clearing away the debris to make room for the new, healthier, brighter days ahead.  


                          The adventure continues!!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Retirement Adventures continue on....My Birthday!!! Yay!!

Time flies doesn't it?? whether we're having fun or not....but this month has been a phenomenal month of fun, work, goal setting, weather whirlwinds, empty days, grayness-gone-wild!! haha...but it has been an adventure of my doing, and, in a way, undoing...

With the crazy winter weather we've all experienced this's been a great time for catching up on much needed fibromywhatsis was definitely calling for rest!!! though I tried on many occasions to participate in the "doing" of tasks...ranging from cleaning house, walking dogs, moving furniture (what?!?! now that wasn't wise...), painting our front door--spilling a half a gallon (!!??) of paint--now that's a story all it's own-- painting bathroom cabinets, painting hallway molding...spending numerous numerous hours on Pinterest and playing Candy Crush Saga--nothing like a little truth to keep it real--keep it real....

Early in the month I had the pleasure of flying to Tucson, AZ for Art Retreat in the Desert....I was so very excited to take some classes to teach me as well as help me practice previous learned skills in jewelry making and bookmaking.  Oh! what an adventure trying to get myself together, and off to the airport!! Oversleeping, not being completely packed, pulling my insulin pump canula out right before heading out the door (?! I mean, really???!!) Loading the dogs in the car--to take them to the kennel--getting to the airport finally and rushing through security...and lo and behold! I didn't have to be wanded!! Yay!! did I say Yay!! then finally making my way onto the airplane--after a few delays in the airport due to weather...halfway to Tucson, we have several delays...due to weather (I mean, really?? Mother Nature...please give us a break?) I didn't take time to eat between flights because there was nary a moment to spare--only to sit for a few hours hoping our plane would be repaired and make it out of the docket in the same night! We did!! and arrived safely and securely (yes, it was the wee hours of the NEXT day I was finally in my hotel room! but safe it was.) sigh....

The art retreat taught me a few things--that I was able to participate socially even when I didn't feel so very hot--but also that I couldn't participate physically as much as I wanted to. That was the hardest part--accepting my limitations. With grace. With contentment. Without apology.. I must admit it was a process.  I got there...eventually!!... I met some fabulous people...members of "my tribe"...joyful, earnest, lovely souls who enjoyed the instructors guidance...enlightening each other and spreading laughter and expertise while tentative formed sparks of interest in each our craft..were cast about.  I met Generous spirits who permitted themselves and others the gift of friendship, of belonging (my Prairie Pearl friends--Kathleen, Yvonne, Rita, Barb, Erin, Diane, Deryn, Cindy, and Marcie you were there in spirit).  I finished one and a half projects (out of three) would think that would make a soul weary, down-trodden...but I found I was okay...okay to spend time alone, time to heal, time to re-energize. and I found there was kindness in abundance--my new friend Wendy--amazed me with her sweet offer to help me finish that "half" project which I couldn't complete...and my new friend formed from being brave enough to have a roommate, Marianna, was a beacon of artistic ability and inspiration..I met so many wonderful ladies!! Marcella, Kristin, Robin, Julie, Lori, Karen, Riki, Jeana...and many many more that I did not have the time to get to know very well...but would like to...someday!!
My old friend Reen flew out for a few nights--and took the Heirloom Relic book course with me--we had a wonderful time at our table of naughty girls!! well, not really naughty, Kim and Marsha just gabbing--goofing--etc. and laughing...that's what I remember most is the laughter floating through the air like feathers--floating---

Tucson Airport Shuttle Service
Getting home was also an adventure--rarely do we have flights cancelled in the Deep South due to weather...but we did this year...and after a 24 hr delay I made it home...safely..again safely...thanking my Maker that I was able to spend time with friends, new and old alike..

Being home has been quiet, recuperative... Home....this house on it's rocky, boulder-filled perch is home...warm, welcoming.... our project-filled, dreams-may-become-real castle...not what I thought I wanted, but I am changing my attitude and accepting the here-and-now...

So come along with me my friends!! The adventure continues!! Or Begins Anew!! It should be quite an interesting ride as I learn to accept the here and now, myself as well as my see, when I think of myself, I see myself as a 20-to-30-something person...with the capacity, the skill, the know-how to do so much...but the modifications I must make as I age in "retirement," in dealing with a body that has a mind all it's own...the adventure will I look forward to new challenges--new adaptations....

Oh! and today is my birthday!! 
and I am going to ride my bicycle with a dear friend of mine!! 
and spend my day being kind to me...
Happy Birthday


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Retirement Adventures--Alabama New Year...

Wow! where has the time gone? It was just Thanksgiving yesterday it seems...Travel, family, friends, fabulous meals, somewhere in there is a few hours of sleep isn't there?  Christmas flew by! Working doggedly to organize clean paint wrap cook decorate and slow down to focus on all happened! and it happened well...lovely time quiet time with family with love. with focus.

today is the day decorations find their homes in storage. memories attached to the "things" speak out and tug at heartstrings so full of gratitude and peace. happily i move among the detritus of the earthly belongings...but my mind and heart are already on other issues of the day.  once i hold an ornament that my son has given me heart full and nostalgic - i hesitate to put it away -- the time is so little spent physically anymore with our young man struggling to get through grad school and exert his total independence...other ornaments speak of moments with a husband so gentle and kind and funny...loving me quietly in his own way.

 cleaning up the ribbons and little bits of paper offal from Christmas dinner....memories of smiles and fun...of silliness and miniature plastic toys flying everywhere, confetti of the heart as i look around and see with my mind's eye

 family gathered around the Christmas in the moment as we play together around a table cleared of dishes and holiday dinner, reminiscent of my Colonel's family Christmases past...

the vision of our Christmas difficult it seemed to put up and decorate this year..eventually done closer to the actual day of Christmas...was it less a festive time??.. in retrospect, maybe it was a more serene, simple time with the focus less on commercialism and more on what Christmas is:  Emmanuel, God with us.

New Year's eve was full in spirit - in presence - in bodies lounging about comfortably after chinese take-out...and the banter of children both old and young talking smack as the Texas A&M football game is taking turns nobody could foresee. gig 'em everywhere i turn -i see family- i am thankful for these moments.

breakfast comes too early!  then black-eyed peas greens cornbread - holiday staples made favorite through years of cooking and enjoying. somehow the kitchen is put to order in record time and we say our goodbyes and hugs and smiles and waves...and waves ... of gratitude and love and peace in each moment of it all ...

walking around the house of the Colonel's dreams...slowly finding little hints of home, of my belonging here, of being present in this place that gives shelter and love and comfort and yes! even joy. i find my place - my spirit lifted. it's been a while..a struggle of monumental proportions for me, for us, this retirement adventure so far...i think it must be like this for most folk who move at the end of a career to a new community a new home a new state of mind as well as physical location.

this year will bring stability...and i hope less and less walks through dark valleys for me as we won't be packing up and moving with all of the stress and physical agitation. i am seeing a stable-ness that i haven't had in such a long long while. dwelling on this new year i would like to focus on the word gracious...grace...gracious of spirit of love of forgiveness ... these are what i hope to bring to all of the hearts i may come into contact with...and with all of this it is time to be about it all now..


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Retirement Adventures....of the quiet kind...Look Up!

Today's post is a rambling stream of a moment in our Retirement Adventures of quiet reflection--time spent at home...alone with my cocker spaniel and sheltie.  The Colonel's at work--hunting & gathering. My moments are quiet--tv off, quiet all around except for the occasional acorn hitting the rooftop.  sometimes alone doesn't mean lonely. sometimes alone is a time of restoring, rest, letting body & soul be healed by simple beauty and gifts in my own environment.   Here is a moment shared through prose....

As I go out the door
On a crisp fall day..
Wondering where the day holds it's magic
Wondering if it will be a riotous joy
Or a deflated tired empty balloon of nothing

The dogs burst through the back screen door
with tails wagging and loud cacophonous yips
and deep sonorous bays
as they almost stumble down the stairs to
hunt for and find the scent of their prey

I look about my feet-- bare
on newly painted boards bedecked in rust and gold
and browning offal from the swaying giants above
Stepping lightly-- rifling through the crunch beneath
to find the hidden wonder of the day      

Peering over railing replete with 
half eaten acorns I see
slashes of shadow long and striking amidst the stones
Beauty hides in nature's paint upon the ground
forcing my eye to  see. To see. 

Looking up-- i find the magic
in the Son's glorious movement above
in the grandness of the trees as they sway
to gentle breezes--rustling the leaves still there
like hair being kissed by gentle hands

lovingly holding autumn in a moment 
of bliss. This gentle rocking of my soul
calling Look Up!! Look Up!!
I Am there Always there.
Look Up!!  be assured..
I Am there.

I hope you have a day full of gratitude and thankfulness...a day with blessings overrunning your vessels of life. 


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Retirement Adventures...It's not all a bed of roses..the petals have fallen off the stem and left me bleeding from the thorns..

.deviantART: More Like FREE grunge texture by

When sharing the Adventures of our retirement from the Army life...I've tried to keep it light of heart and light of myself to what I want to be or think that I was at one time in my life.  Brave, strong, fun, and funny...dependable, kind, giving.

Though I have taken a few paths that I've been ashamed of in the past--being angry, petty, mean-spirited, clique-ish, out-of-control--I've tried to make reparations and amends for my bad choices and bad behavior.  Living with the consequences of my choices and actions has proved painful at times--shame and sadness can steal my joy in the todays--even when I am years past the hurting, the hurt and the asking for forgiveness.

In recent days...and weeks...I have found it harder and harder to be awake. To be present. To be thankful in my circumstances.  My body feels so heavy--both physically and metaphorically--I just want to lay it down. To let it go. Fly away somewhere where there is no more weight.  Where the alone doesn't matter any more

Murky Water

Then I pick up my phone--that modern necessity most of us utilize like it is air, or water, or clothing to start the day--and I open it to the blog:  A Holy Experience by Ann Voskamp ( and read Missing Him:  31 Days of Jesus and today's blog post. And yesterday's and last week's...

Today's post is titled:  If you Need a Therapy that Really Calms the Heart.  It's about a man, a husband, a father, who is coping with his wife's depression.  How his courage, his love, his patience and persistent "being there" is part of his cellular makeup.  What hits me in the gut-wrenching soul part of me is it describes my husband.  I am that woman who has that thing that "grabs a hold of a woman and makes her fear a day and herself and letting anyone get close" ... those of you who know me and love me may wonder where this comes from?  I am a dual person...there is one of me who sings my inner song to strangers, who picks up a stumbled and alone elderly woman, who finds peace and joy in watching the trees sway with the power of the breathe of the Holy One.  Then, there is one of me who allows "joy to be elusive and cynicism to be easy and stress to be normal..the same me that chokes down pills and food and shame instead of choking out what's wrong"...the me that is "scared to death to be real"...the me that "just lives to be dead"... So I battle daily to be be find the ray of sunlight...the little heart signs that God leaves everywhere--in the trees--in the rocks--in the fallen leaves or clumps of dirt upon the floor--in my dear friend's reaching out to hold prayer, in thought, in presence. 

I could let this blog post be a damnation of my struggle...or, I can read to the finishing the instructions on a find what it has to say. For my husband (the Colonel) or for myself (inner understanding?)...and I see that ..I SEE that... in finding a something to be joyful in--be it a child's play, or a toddler's reaching up to hold a hand, the warmth of my cocker spaniel's bottom as he rests on my foot, the clump of dirt on the floor--miraculously shaped like a heart-love... there is joy to be found.  Then the rest of the "instructions" are for me to be thankful in whatever circumstances that I am wail to my maker to take my anger and my make me well again.  Because the "anger is making me sick and weak and bound" and "the therapy is in the thanks".

can you see the heart-rock-love--lying on it's side?

I could quote the whole shebang...all the wisdom, and worry, and angst, and joy, and love, and anger, and constant dullness of depression...but I think you would do better to read the post:
Maybe you could give a little prayer for the Colonel as he holds me til I can find my way again. Maybe you could pray for me to find my way into the sunlight, the thankfulness, the joy of what and who God is in the breathing and the living in the light.

I am thankful in this this light...xoxo

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Retirement Adventures: Re-Inventing Myself in the South

photo borrowed from Southern Living blog

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a wonderful event:  SOUTHERN REINVENTION--hosted by Tasia Malakasis and held at the new 
Belle Chevre Creamery in Elkmont, AL. 

It was a beautiful drive into the country with sunny skies and good company. The Colonel & I chatted pleasantly with one of my girlfriends who sat in the backseat as we found our way to Elkmont.  It was a drive of unfulfilled hopes of southern music (I kept trying to get The Civil Wars track, Barton Hollow, up & running) to get us in the "mood" for our outing. Little did I know that I would have such difficulty with getting the track from my smart phone onto my husband's new car stereo with bluetooth capability.  I'm the kind of gal who likes to read and apply the how-tos in life...and even after pulling out the owner's manual I couldn't get a single bar of music out of that car stereo by the time we made it to Elkmont!!   
Now, I was so Happy! to finally make it to the event...the beautiful new creamery was a wonderfully refurbished warehouse that was dilapidated only last summer! The soiree was to showcase the best of what the south has to offer where handcrafted and artisan are synonymous with quality and ingenuity while bringing new life to old buildings with a zest for community.
People came from many communities far and wide to support and enjoy the day with samplings of food, music, cheese making, clothing, and storytelling.
Clothing Designers Billy Reid and Natalie Chanin had items available to purchase--both Alabama natives with a connection to community--they make a metaphorical statement that being Southern is an asset! not a hindrance.

We had introductions to some of the wonderful artisan-made libations of Shine of  Stills Crossroads, AL( and the Back 40 Beer Co. of Gadsden, AL(moonshine and beer! Seen, not tasted! except in poached persimmons and beer vinegar respectively)


   Recipes from Southern Living editors ( goat cheese cheesecake---divine!! Deviled eggs w/ goat cheese & pickled okra---yummy!) 
Southern Living editor Scott Mowbray on R

We had a fun time kneading and rolling our own goat cheese into logs before they were cut into little logs for taking home to enjoy --- though a few impatient persons unnamed enjoyed licking our fingers on the way to the wash stand afterwards! 

Sitting on bales of hay with burlap seat covers we enjoyed a repast provided by
 Jim&Nick's Community BBQ.   We feasted on BBQ sausage, brisket, and hot wings with multiple condiments rounding out the palate.  I was sooo tempted to revisit the goat cheese cheesecake bites...but decided to play nice & share. I wish that I had had enough forethought to take photos of the lovely food -- next time I promise!!  While fresh bottled water was provided aplenty, I purchased (as I always do!) a quart of icy cold herbal tea&black tea mix named Pom Pearadise! from Samovar Gardens of Brownsboro, AL.  Never ever disappointed with their tea!

On the way out..we purchased a Chocolate Bourbon Pecan pie from the Pie Lab also of Greensboro, AL .Check them out! Not only are they producing wonderful pie...but they are producing social change in their community!

                                                pie lab

We cornered Tasia for a quick photo under the new entrance wall of the creamery.  What a gracious lady! 
me! Jen (sister-in-law) & Tasia

What a lovely day out with my hubs, family and friends.  Though I am born a Southerner (you all know what that means!) I am reinventing myself Alabama.  At times, it's a rather daunting task...but then I meet brave, strong individuals who dare to dream and then work like the dickens to accomplish those dreams!! I am inspired once again to pull up my cowgirl boots and get to work!

I am at once overcome with bittersweet memories of where I've been...but am determined to be happy and enjoy this new In Alabama!!  There's beauty to be found here. XOX.

poetry on the wall of Belle Chevre Creameryby Tasia Mala

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Retirement Adventures--the way to the The Retirement Home

What an adventure...not all happy...not all bad...just a roller coaster of emotions and experiences at a time where I could use less stress instead of more.  Things don't always go as we would like or as we would see them in our own mind...and when that happens, you can roll with the punches or have a hissy fit..

Me?  I have been the user of hissy fits way too many times in my life. I hate to admit that, but I will be real with you. I also will share with you that it really doesn't work for me. ~chuckle~ As a result, I have learned to roll with the punches a bit more than I would've expected to.
 our retirement home..

Our house-hunting expedition was epic (in my mind). I wasn't able to find my dream retirement flat chicken coops. What we found will be a home that my husband is ultimately very happy with. His mom & step-dad love it so much they offered to trade with us! Smile.  Don't get me wrong--it's not terrible--it's actually a lovely home. It's on a half acre of rocky hillside (in my mind, maybe part of the lower Appalachian trail? I just need to look harder for the holler and the still!)  ~chuckle again~
As you can see, lots of boulders in the yard...and the dark place under the deck does NOT have a still..or a winery. Sigh.

What it does have is lots of wonderful little paths...beautiful trees...and boulders with weathered, rain beaten hollowed out bowls..full of moss and bracken(the latter after a rain).

Our trees sway slightly as the gentle breeze catches the leaves throughout the day. There are no sounds of highway autos or the general din of living. It is quiet here. Perhaps it will be peaceful after a bit of time?

 Our adventures have led us to expect the unexpected:  Employment not coming as quickly as planned...Retirement checks being "lost in the proverbial mail" (purely symbolic!) as the clerk who entered our account number put in one too many digits...thus, it ends up taking a month longer than expected!  We were able to close a week early on our home...but it still wasn't enough time to enable us to paint the whole house before the Colonel started work.  So we're piecemeal-ing it for now. wallpaper off..painting some more.
All of the things you have to do to make an older home "yours".
Finding all of the little "surprises" that an older house brings: uneven floors, funny smells, interesting design choices from decades past (and maybe present?) It has been overwhelming at times...thus, the hissy fits! And comparing to the newly updated, beautiful homes we had seen (though out of my comfort range for mortgages) it is difficult to look at the updating that will need to be accomplished over the next 5 years. (yes!! I said it! we're on a 5-yr plan!!)  At times, I feel as though I have spent my whole life waiting ...I know it's not really my whole just feels that way...waiting for the house that will be our place to nest. To feel like I have roots. To watch the flowers bloom every year. To know my neighbors for more than a year or two. A safe, peaceful place...that may even have a hen or two that scurries about. 
For now, the Colonel and I are climbing the mountain of boxes that comes with every move.  I am collecting quite a ream or two of white tissue paper as I discover the moving company wrapped even some of the smallest seashells in 2 or 3 sheets! Funny how some items are "over"wrapped and others just tossed in a box willy-nilly.  I can still hear my mother yelling at me to do a job over (and over!) if it wasn't done right as I wonder if people aren't taught to do their best anymore?  Some must be as evidenced by my tissue paper collection.  I think I'll dwell on that for now.

Our vacuum has to go to the appliance hospital tomorrow..I think I'll shop after dropping it off...purely an extravagance as I should be unpacking!  Sometimes, a girl's just gotta do what a girl's gotta do! After all, the knobs need replacing...and the rooms need lighting (no overhead lights!! what planet am I on??!!)...The boxes will be happy to see me when I get to them...I will try to put on my happy face and look forward to the challenges ahead.

 Until then.. Adieux!